Category Archives: Nashville

Shine a Light on Slavery Day – April 9


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Filed under Change, Community, Faith, Missions, Nashville, Photos, Surviving the Dark Places, Who is God?

The Tradition of a Table

Growing up, I ate dinner with my family every night around the kitchen table—the same one that still sits in the kitchen of my parents’ house today. Each Sunday after church, we ate a home-cooked Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house (dinner = lunch for any non-Southern readers out there). Our family of four plus my grandparents sitting around a long table passing around southern style vegetables and pot roast. I have wonderful memories of those meals and conversations.

As a single adult, I don’t often sit at the table to eat. Sometimes I do, but I’m usually accompanied by a book or a laptop. Occasionally, I have friends over for dinner but not as often as I should. This weekend was a great reminder of why I should make the effort more often.

We were celebrating the birthday of one of my best friends this weekend, so I invited my friend C and her younger sister over for supper at my house on Saturday night. I planned an entire menu—a home-cooked meal of crab cakes, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, romaine salad with mandarin oranges and blueberries, rolls and a pie for dessert. It was so much fun to prepare a meal for my friends!

The table in my dining room (shown above) belonged to my grandmother—the same table where my dad ate dinner growing up, where I ate countless Thanksgiving dinners as a child, and where my mom and dad awkwardly sat as a dating couple while my mom attempted to make an extra-large hamburger disappear into her nervous stomach. Before my friends came over on Saturday, I set my beloved table with care. I lit candles; I used the best plates, silverware and glasses. I wanted to create a special ambiance for them.

C’s younger sister, B, is a freshman in college. Now that I have a home of my own, it’s easy to forget those days of dorms and cafeteria food. B was so excited to enjoy a real meal at a real table. When she texted her friends back on campus to tell them everything about the meal, I realized that my simple dinner was a big deal to her.

And I remembered those days in college when I lived on Captain Crunch cereal and rice with soy sauce. I remembered those days when I could not even imagine cooking a meal for myself, much less inviting people over for dinner. When I saw how much it meant to B, I made a decision. I will not let that dining room table continue to remain empty 95% of the time.

I want to carry on the tradition of my grandmother’s dining room table—a table where you come as you are, where you will feel loved, where you will laugh and eat until you’re stuffed. A table where, if you don’t finish everything on your plate, someone will surely ask, “What’s wrong? Are you in love?”—just like my grandmother asked me every single time I left anything uneaten on my plate.

What were some of your childhood mealtime traditions?


Filed under Community, Family, Friendship, Nashville

Happy 30th Birthday to Hilary!

One of my dear friends turned 30 yesterday. This weekend, we celebrated with a huge party in her honor. And today, my gift to her is in the form of a list:

30 Things I Love About Hilary

(1) She is brave

(2) She inspires me – to think deeper, to write more, to pray more

(3) Her energetic personality

(4) Her passion for the Lord

(5) She can dance to Billie Jean like no one else I know!

(6) Her beautiful smile

(7) She is introspective and self-aware

(8) Her love for her husband

(9) Her cooking skills; she invites me over on a whim and throws something (amazing) together

(10) Her passion for the cause of homelessness; she doesn’t just talk about it—she interacts with people on a daily basis who have no home

(11) Her adorable dog, Newman!

(12) Her blog

(13) She is spontaneous—she and her husband took a road trip across the entire country, camping along the way

(14) Her love for people, whether she knows them or not

(15) Her honesty

(16) She is transparent, even in the midst of really tough circumstances

(17) Her intelligence

(18) Her love for her parents

(19) She makes me laugh, a lot

(20) She challenges the status quo, especially in the area of “religion”

(21) The fact that she mourned the death of Michael Jackson for weeks (months?) and even wrote a blog post about him

(22) She doesn’t allow people to make her feel small; she stands up for herself

(23) She can be loud and crazy at times, and she can hold your hand and quietly pray for you in a public place with no hesitation

(24) Her dependence on God for guidance

(25) Her beautiful singing voice

(26) She encourages me to be the best version of myself

(27) She has big hopes and dreams

(28) Her loyalty to her friends

(29) She is beautiful—inside and out

(30) She is my friend!

Hilary, I am so glad that God made our paths cross (in a unique way)! I truly believe that he put us together at the exact right time to inspire and encourage each other. Happy Birthday! I love you and can’t wait to see what God has in store for your thirties.


Filed under Friendship, Nashville

The Cowboy Boots

It’s a winter Sunday morning, the week before Christmas. I get ready for church as usual. I’m running a few minutes late, but as I leave the house, I take a self-assessment. I feel cute. I’m wearing a gray sweater dress with my old, comfortable cowboy boots from college. I feel “Nashville-hip”, which is good, because my church is in Nashville and it’s very hip. I want to fit in.

Arriving a few minutes late, I sneak into the dark auditorium and savor the lights and the upbeat Christmas music. The sermon starts out well. It’s a nice message about loving everyone with text from the parable of The Good Samaritan. Then, the pastor starts challenging us about who we love and how we love. He challenges us not to place limits on our love. He shows a video about children in Africa with no shoes. There are 300 million people in the world with no access to footwear. He challenges us to “go and do likewise” as the parable states in Luke 10:37.

I am starting to get uncomfortable. What is he going to ask us to do? Throughout the service, I caught myself admiring my cute, old cowboy boots. I probably have over fifty pairs of shoes at home, but these are my favorite. Then, our pastor drops the bomb. He asks us if we would be willing to leave the shoes we are wearing at church today. He asks us to donate our shoes in the lobby and leave church on this cold December day with no shoes. As soon as he says it, I know that God is asking me to give up my beloved cowboy boots.

I immediately start rationalizing. Those people in Africa do not need my cowboy boots. How impractical would that be? I have a box at home full of shoes that I have already planned to donate to Goodwill. I’ll just bring those to donate instead. Deep in my heart, I know that God wants to teach me a lesson. As usual, I’m being stubborn. I walk out of that church wearing my cowboy boots—in addition to a little guilt and shame.

Arriving back home, I cannot stop thinking about what God asked me to do. I realize that although I give money to church and volunteer my time, I really don’t give up anything that hurts me too much. I play it safe. I start thinking about the rich young man in Matthew 19:22. I remember how he “walked away sad” because he couldn’t do what Jesus asked him to do. When I left church this morning, I walked away sad.

Right then, I decide what I need to do. I must be obedient in this small thing. God is asking me to do this, not for him, but for myself and for my relationship with him. Our church has a 6pm evening service which is a repeat of the morning services.

I get ready for church . . . again.
I put on my cowboy boots . . . again.
I drive to church and walk into the service . . . all over again.

I sing and worship and let the pastor’s message wash over me, again. Then, I walk out into the lobby, take off my “Nashville-hip” cowboy boots, and walk outside into the cold December air with no shoes.

I drive home very much at peace—and not a bit sad.

(Copyright, Allison at Anointed With Grace, 01/17/2011)


Filed under Faith, God, Nashville