Happy Nashvilleversary to Me!

It’s hard to believe I’ve lived here almost a full year. I took the picture below when visiting Nashville in April of 2017 on a spontaneous day trip. I remember loving this sign, loving the city and hoping with all my heart that I’d live here one day. And now I do!

Recently a friend recently asked me how long it took for me to feel like I had “arrived,” or finally found my place in this new season in life. My response was, “Oh, I’m not there yet. I’m a lot closer than I was when I started, but I definitely have more to go!”

I’ve written out 10 pieces of advice that have helped me navigate moving to a new city and starting a new season in life. Whether you’re starting a new chapter, beginning a job in a different city or looking to build deeper friendships, I hope you’ll relate to my journey and maybe learn a thing or two!

1. Show up alone.

This may sound terrifying to you, and it kind of is. Remember in high school when it was very uncool to go to the bathroom by yourself? You’ve got to do a complete 180 on this mindset! At first, showing up alone is hard. It’s awkward, it’s weird and it’s SO much easier to convince yourself to stay home and watch Netflix. But if you want to find your people and experience great things, you have to push yourself.

2. Do something brave.

Bouncing off of point #1, find something that you enjoy and DO IT. Well, I should really say try it because you don’t have to stick with it if it’s not a fit. I did theatre throughout high school, and I looooved it. I love to tell stories through acting, and as a kid, I always had a knack for performing. (Please don’t ask my mother for home videos.)

In April, I auditioned for Seussical the musical at a local community theatre. It wasn’t the audition that scared me, but the whole trying something new in a place where I had never been and knew no one 😳. I had no idea what this experience would be like, but I tried it. And I LOVED it.

Can you spot me? I’m a Who!

3. When in doubt, Google it out.

Profound advice, am I right? I’ve found Google to be incredibly useful for questions like, “Can you die from the hiccups? (Thank you, Grey’s Anatomy.) Can you blend without a blender?” and so forth.

Google is also a great source for finding community. Look up different churches around you, read about what they believe, if they have a young adult group, and try them out! Search for ways to get involved with a hobby you enjoy (how I found out about Seussical auditions) or places you can volunteer. Theses activities and communities are not going to show up at your doorstep, so do some digging and take the initiative yourself.

4. Accept that real relationships take time.

I really don’t have to explain this, because we all know it to be true. First, you have to find your friends (which takes time), then you have to get to know your friends (which takes time). When we’re eager for community, it’s easy to get impatient over the fact that knowing people on a deep level doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient! Friendships are coming, they just take time.

5. Have fun and explore!

Did I say I love Nashville? It’s a great city to explore! Last month I got last-minute, cheap tickets to see Third Day’s Farewell tour at the Ryman Auditorium on a Monday night, and I did it. Because why not? I went with my roommate/friend (a great combo) and two new friends from church. We had a blast.

(P.S. – Check out their new album, “Revival.” So good!)

Even if you aren’t in a “big city,” there are plenty of ways to explore where you live. Try out a new restaurant, visit an outdoor park or look for a place to enjoy live music. Open your eyes to what’s around you and be adventurous!

6. Know that your people will be your people.

College was an incredibly sweet time for me. So many of my close friends were just a quick walk across campus or late night Sonic run away, and now we’re spread throughout the country. The beautiful thing about post-college life is watching how true friendships transcend place and time. I may not see someone in-person for months, but when we talk on the phone for an hour or two to catch up, it’s like no time has passed.

People understand that life is busy, and it’s important to be present where you physically are, but that doesn’t take anything away from a good friendship. Plus, it makes real, in-person time spent together all the more sweet!

7. Realize you’re not the only one looking for community.

One time at church, I met a girl who said she had just graduated college and started a new job in Nashville. Instead of immediately blurting out “DO YOU WANT TO BE MY FRIEND?” I chatted with her, you know, like a normal person. After some small talk, the conversation turned to finding community. And what do you know, she was looking for friends too!

It’s a relief to know that you’re not the only person looking to make friends. It makes the entire process less intimidating!

8. Make time for a hobby you know you enjoy.

Adulting, plus living in a new city and trying to make friends, can be tiring and time consuming. Make sure you carve out time for a simple pleasure that you know you will enjoy––baking, reading, exercising, playing an instrument, you name it. A small activity can be infinitely refreshing!

Baking funfetti cupcakes is always a fun pastime!

9. Lean in.

Lean in to connections that you already have in place. If your mother’s cousin’s best friend lives in town and wants to invite you over for dinner, take her up on the offer! Or reconnect with a friend from high school who you haven’t seen in the last few years. Chances are, you have more built-in connections than you may realize. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

I love getting to spend time with my aunt, uncle and cousins who live nearby. Isn’t Caroline a sweetheart?!

10. Remember that no one will love you like God.

We all crave community. We want to find people who understand us, care about us and love us for who we are. While it’s important to pursue relationships with people, we’ll always come back around to an important reality: no person can fill the God-shaped hole inside each one of us.

There are times of loneliness and insecurity, and I won’t sugarcoat it as glamorous. But I’ve found that those tough moments are often what bring me back to the Lord, reminding me that true hope and peace only come from Him.

Ellie Holcomb speaks of this in her song “You Love Me Best.” We can search high and low to find unconditional love, when God, the perfect Father, is waiting for us to run back into His arms. Above all, abide in Him!

October 28 is a WONDERFUL day, because I have an excuse to tell the whole world about my incredible Momma! (I’ll spare you the “there are no words to describe how wonderful she is” spiell, but just know that it’s true.) I’ve decided to share some of the lessons she’s taught me throughout my life. So get out your journal and start taking notes! She’s the real deal!

[DISCLAIMER: Mom is my #1 editor and proofreader, and she doesn’t know I’m writing this. Hopefully you won’t find any typos!]

Mom taught me…

  1. How to talk to God like He’s real.

Yes, I know, He is real. But sometimes we don’t pray like it. Whenever Mom prays, she talks to God like He’s sitting at the kitchen table next to us. Whether she’s asking for a specific need, thanking Him for a blessing or lifting up a difficult situation, Mom knows that the Lord is there and that He is in control. I’m thankful for her open example of how to draw near to God our Father.

  1. How to load a dishwasher.

Silverware pointed down, cups and bowls on the top, each row filled, dishes facing inward. If it’s in the sink, you can find a way to cram it into the dishwasher! (Poor Dad and Andrew try their best, but somehow the message just didn’t completely sink in…)

  1. How to make life a musical.

Sometimes singing is more fun than talking. Sometimes good news calls for dancing. Sometimes we take catchy commercial jingles and make them a regular part of our vocabulary. It’s just better that way!!

  1. How to put others first.

You don’t have to watch through hours of our old family home videos to realize that I was… what’s that phrase? All about me. While I was a child, Mom taught me to put others before myself. As an adult, I see how Mom lives this out in her everyday life. She is servant-hearted, compassionate, empathetic and caring. She talks the talk AND walks the walk. What a role model for me!

  1. How to “let it go.”

Guess what? I’m not perfect. Guess what? Mom’s not perfect either. But guess what? THAT’S OKAY! As a Type-A, goal-setting, gotta-get-it-right kind of girl, I need to be reminded that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to have bad days and good days, to succeed and to fail. Listen to good ole’ Idina Menzel. (And of course sing along!)

  1. How to treasure God’s Word.

God’s Word is truth. No matter what happens, the Bible is our foundation. It never changes, and it never fails. I am so grateful for all the wonderful things Mom has taught me. However, her best “lesson” has always been teaching me to rely on God’s Word and to seek Christ in all that I do.

Happy birthday, Mom! We’re celebrating you today!

Like A Child

This summer I had the WONDERFUL blessing of living with my aunt, uncle and precious, rock-star cousins, Parker (8) and Caroline (6). I can’t tell you what a joy it was to come home from work to squeals of excitement, giant hugs and a million shouts of, “look what I did!”

I loved the everyday adventures of living with Parker and Caroline. Through laughter, tears and everything in between, they reminded me of what it means to be a child. God used this experience to give me a living picture of what it looks like be a child–His child!

Ask Questions

My favorite question of the summer was when Parker asked me what college was like. I begin to explain that I’m in 16th grade, I live without my parents [WHAT?!] and I sort of get to choose my own classes. Caroline looked at me with a squinty-eyed faced, like she was thinking hard. “Why don’t you play games instead?”

Good question, Caroline. If I get to choose my classes, why wouldn’t I play games instead? I said that the classes were for my “major,” which would hopefully lead to a job. I told her that I was majoring in writing.

Again, she makes the squinty face. “Why not crafts?”

Hmm. Why not crafts? I’ll have to run that by Aunt Angie and Uncle Don.

Be Messy

Sometimes I felt like a juggler, subconsciously waiting for something to fall, break, spill or who knows what else! But as time went on, I realized that making mistakes is part of the process of growing. If I never let Caroline hold her own milkshake, she wouldn’t learn how to keep it from spilling. If I always insisted that I hold onto the dog’s leash, Parker wouldn’t have the chance to practice being a leader and taking responsibility.

While I was always there to support and guide them, I couldn’t do everything for them. I’d be there before, during and after, but they had to learn some skills on their own!

Sweet Moments

So many sweet moments. This is a picture of a letter Caroline wrote me on a weekend when they were out of town. It’s just one of the many precious memories that I treasure from my time this summer!img_7818

Limited Understanding

This insight was probably my most impactful lesson from the whole summer. Sometimes children ask questions that are simply too big, too complicated and too above-their-heads to answer. I knew that they either could not understand, or they didn’t need to understand.

Friends, please stop and think about this in light of our relationship with God the Father. How many times do we ask, beg, yearn to understand things that don’t make sense to our small, earthly brains. God wants us to ask Him questions (James 1:5), but sometimes we’re not supposed to know the answer (Deuteronomy 29:29).

It’s hard, but it’s also comforting that we don’t always have to know. We can trust Him to be good, greater, wiser and better than our earthly perspective. Take a deep breath and let that sink it. That’s encouraging!

Limitless Love

There’s something unique about the pure, limitless love and adoration of a child. They aren’t afraid to wrap you in a hug, sit to by you during a movie or tell you that they wish you could stay forever.

As adults, we often think long and hard before expressing our feelings, especially to those we really care about. What if we weren’t afraid to say, “I love you” or “I need you”? What if we worshipped God with a pure joy that springs from the heart?

 

These are only a handful of the many lessons that God taught me this summer. Hopefully my experience will encourage you to examine your relationship with the Lord, the perfect Father!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).


 

Dear Freshman,

College is awesome. It’s fun, hard, exciting, complicated… pretty much all of the above! College is where you learn about yourself as a person and make decisions for your ever-looming “future.” Truthfully there is no blog post, book, or conversation that can fully prepare you for the journey ahead. But, I wanted to take the time to share with you a few tips from my experience. Sit back, hang on and enjoy the ride!

 

1. Go and do.

College is FREEDOM! Wahoo! You are going to meet a million people from a million different places and have a million opportunities to do things that are new to you! Whether that’s studying abroad in London or trying out the new restaurant downtown, this is your time to go and explore. Always be on the lookout for local festivals, outdoor activities, concerts and cool day trips. Grab a group of friends, split the gas money and have fun!

dreams lizzie

2. Be wise.

Mama always said, “If you have that funny feeling in your stomach that something is just not right, don’t do it.” Friends, mama is right. While college is a time to have new and fun experiences, don’t compromise your standards. Stick to who you are. Use good judgment and don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ You’ll always thank yourself for making the right decision.

3. Eat with people.

The simple but true strategy for making friends! Ask some classmates if they want to go to lunch after biology on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Invite the girls down your hall to join you for free queso on “Moes Monday.” Or–if you’re feeling extra on top of things–gather a few friends and cook one of your favorite dishes from home. Forget easy mac and Chinese takeout for one; meals are meant for sharing!

4. Miss home.

It’s okay. In fact… it’s normal! After spending 18 years of your life with the same people, it’s hard to not see them every day. FaceTime your family (and your dog) to keep up with those who love you the most. Plus, the time that you do get to spend with family is now even more precious!

rory calling mom

5. Really study.

College is no breeze, but it’s doable. My best advice? Study every week on a regular basis. Your next test may not be for two months, but boy do you need to know the material that you talked about in class today. Do the homework, read the books and–yes–go to class! Once again, you will thank yourself later.

6. Change your major.

But you’ve wanted to be a teacher since you were five years old! You thought you loved politics! You swore you’d never have the same career as your parents! I know. I’ve been there. You’re talking to the girl who used to consider becoming a lawyer, until journalistic law nearly put me to sleep. On the other hand, I thought I’d hate accounting, but I actually loved the class (#nerd). All that to say, be open minded! It’s okay to change your plan.

andy gif

7. Make many friends.

Friendships don’t happen overnight. As a freshman looking at a sea of hundreds of potential besties, it’s kind of hard to know where to start. I think It’s important for you to make many friends from different parts of college life. Don’t stick to one or two people and shut out everyone else. Take this opportunity to befriend lots of people, and be friendly towards everyone!