I am a Music City Girl through and through. I can’t carry a tune (harmonizing and singing off key sound the same to me). I have limited music knowledge of anything before 1999 (The BeeGees sang what song???). And I rarely understand the actual words of songs (Macy Gray says “My world crumbles when you are not here” not “I blow bubbles when you are not here”. Who knew?) Nevertheless, I am a big fan of Christian and country music - especially when concerts and cowboy boots are involved. Music tells stories that I can’t tell. Songs open up doors to my heart that nothing / noone else can open. They trigger memories of parties and funerals and summers and proms. They open a floodgate of emotions of uncontrollable laughter and a broken heartedness and sorrow and summers (I’ve always thought “summer” should be an emotion, too). Part of why I love Nashville is that there is always a concert to go to and lots of great music on the radio and street corners. This past week I went to two concerts – both incredible.
Grand Ole Opry
On Tuesday night I went to the Grand Ole Opry with my friend Mackenzie. We were backstage, so we got to see all of the dressing rooms and the singers prepping to go on stage. During the show, we stood on the stage and watched from the back. It was neat to see the difference between how everyone acts behind stage vs. on stage. They check their zippers. They make awkward conversation. They kiss their baby’s foreheads for good luck. They let out huge exhales when their performance is over. They are so real. We saw Larry Gatlin, Heidi Newfield, Little Jimmy Dickens, Trace Adkins, and Rascal Flatts. All of them were great!
Heidi Newfield with Larry Gatlin
Mackenzie, My Concert Buddy
Standing Center Stage on the Original Circle
I don’t get star-struck very easily, but of course I was still very excited to see everyone. My lack of being star-struck? That comes from embarrassing myself a few times. When I was a teenager, I spent four summers in the Hamptons working as a summer nanny. Of course the Hamptons are just crawling with celebs. Of course I don’t easily recognize most of them. One time I was sent to the grocery store to pick up “2 hard cheeses, 2 soft cheeses, and a French baguette” for appetizers that evening. Growing up, the only differences that I ever knew about cheeses were “sliced” or “shredded”. So there I was in the grocery store (which conveniently offered valet parking), surrounded by all sorts of fancy cheeses. I had already discerned that a brie and goat cheese should be considered “soft” but I was stuck on the hard cheeses. I remember picking up a huge chunk of cheese, turning to the blonde beside me, and saying “I’m so confused. Is this cheese hard or soft?” As the words are coming out, I realize that I am talking to none other than Pamela Anderson. About cheese. Asking her if the chunk of gouda in my hand is considered a hard cheese. Oh. My. Gosh. I explained to her what I was sent to get and she just looked at me, giggled a bit, asked to see what I had already picked, swapped out my selections for better options, and then sent me on my way. Another time I was chasing my kids on the beach using my best “scary beach monster” voice and acting somewhat ridiculous. I had noticed a woman talking to my boss. Her child ran up to join in on the fun, so I started chasing him, too. The adults just watched and laughed. I mean, I was being pretty loud and crazy which is not the norm for me. My boss conveniently told me after the woman and her son left that I was making a fool of myself in front of Julianne Moore. Oh. My. Gosh. That broke me in pretty quickly.
On Wednesday night I went to a women’s event at my friend’s church. Natalie Grant came and sang / gave her testimony to us. I knew as soon as I was invited that I just had to go. You see, Natalie Grant changed my life a few years ago. When I was having a hard time, one of my dearest friends introduced me to her song “In Better Hands”. For about 4 months, I literally listened to that song on repeat, along with “In Christ Alone”, in the car, on my ipod, on my alarm clock… constantly. Those two songs pulled me out of darkness and gave me hope again. I remember one distinct moment of exercising on a nature trail when Natalie’s song hit me in a way that it had never touched my heart before. In that moment, I was struck with the faithfulness of God and the thrill of hope. I was so overwhelmed that I could do nothing but to stop running (okay… walking) and just sit in the middle of the pavement and cry. Sometimes God puts songs in our lives that meet us right where we are and tells us exactly what we need to hear. Of course Natalie sang that song on Wednesday night. It was gorgeous and emotional and I choked back the tears the entire time. And then, in a moment of “God is creating this moment right now just for me”, she sang In Christ Alone. As far as I know, she has never recorded this song. But she sang it for me, I am convinced. Someone must have told her I was attending.
Natalie talked about how in Jesus our passion meets our purpose. I know that I am destined to have a big purpose. I know that I am meant for something huge. I am grateful for every day that God prepares my heart and my mind for the things that he wants to do with me. I’m available. He knows that.
Let’s Be Real Here…
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not always travelling and going to concerts. Sometimes I look absolutely ridiculous and do things like paint ceilings. I’m embarrassed, but I’m real. This is what I look like sometimes on the weekend. Yikes.
However, it was worth it. I have never seen porch ceilings or window frames shine so bright. That’s what I keep telling myself.