Day 19 :: Rescued by Nashville [+ a giveaway!]

on October 19, 2011 in 31 Days of Courage, Giveaways, Nash-livin' with 41 comments by

Congrats to Sarah for winning the beautiful board from Glory Haus! Hope it inspires and encourages you, Sarah. We have another gorgeous giveaway today… so keep reading!

. . . . .

As a quick recap from yesterday: God spoke Nashville into my heart in October of 2007. I moved there, alone with no friends or family, in August of 2008.

And it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But Nashville saved me.

Often people say, “Why do you think God moved you to Nashville?” and I still am not sure of the fullness of that purpose. I mean, I don’t have a list that is complete.

Because let me tell you, my hometown is great. My parents are awesome. My best friends are awesome. My job, my house, my church, all of it- totally worth sticking around for. So I didn’t move because I was unhappy.

It was because I was a wimp and because I had forgotten my first love. It was the only way God could save me from myself.

Nashville saved me from a life without courage. Many of my friends and family can live in Marietta and step into courageous situations, but I didn’t and probably wouldn’t have. I merely went wherever I could to be comfortable. And sorry to say, that isn’t a life that honors God to the fullest. [At least, it wasn't for me.]

Nashville saved me from a life where I love those around me more than I love God. I often used to make choices more dependent on my people than on my Father, and that won’t cut it. But moving to a city where Jesus was my only friend fixed that pretty quick. And gratefully, more friends came along, but that was only after I really learned, in the trenches per say, that Jesus is the only one that will be with me always.

Nashville saved me from a life of seeking comfort. I have said this before and I’ll say it 100 more times in my life probably- I am less comfortable, but more confident, in Nashville. Because I am so sure that God moved me there, I can be confident. But comfortable? Not always. Just ask Amber- she won’t let me wear fleece anymore; and if you ask me, that is the epitome of comfort.

Nashville saved me from a life of NO. For the first few months, I made myself say YES anytime someone asked me to hang out or go somewhere or do something. I mean, I had no friends, so anytime someone wanted to hang out, SO. DID. I. :) And then, a few years later, when I was offered the chance to live in Edinburgh, I was confident of my YES’s.

[See what God did there? I knew He was faithful with Nashville, so I could more easily say yes to Edinburgh. He's a genius.]

When God asked me to move to Nashville, I felt like He said, “Give Me your world.” And to some extent He did.

But the reality is, God said, “Give Me a chance. And I’ll give you the world.”

And He has. Nashville is the sweetest gift that I have ever received. The people…. don’t even get me STARTED on the people. I am the luckiest girl in the world, as proven by my 30th birthday. [Just watched that video again and I am totally boo-hooing right now. Ugh. I'm so grateful.]

My writing career has blossomed thanks to Nashville, including my first book, From Head to Foot, releasing earlier this year.

And God literally has given me the world- since moving to Nashville, I’ve gotten to say YES to New York, LA, Greensboro, Chicago, Seattle, Prague [on Friday!], Edinburgh, Dallas, London, Charlotte… and the list goes on. Would those opportunities have come along anyways? Maybe. But would I have said YES? Maybe not.

It hasn’t always been easy; it still isn’t. I still miss my Marietta life and people a lot [and often]. But I know the One who has called me is faithful. And looking back on the last 3 years, I can see how my life has morphed into a better story because He gave me the courage I needed at every turn.

My life is WAY bigger than I ever dreamed. And I am the braver for it.

And I pray that God uses this big life, as unworthy and flawed as I am, to inspire others to say YES to courage. 

. . . . .

I’ve saved today’s giveaway for this post exactly. Kandy at Bit O Whimsey had said it better than I ever could. [You can click it to see it bigger.]

One of you will win this beautiful 5×7 print … hopefully it will remind you to say YES to courage.

For the rest of us Less-Than-Winners :), you can get 10% off your purchase at Bit O Whimsey using the code ANNIEBLOGS2011 until October 31. Pretty much, I want to own every piece of art she makes. So. I won’t blame you if you buy too much.

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment [with a working email address] and answer this question:

When have you said YES and it changed everything?

[maybe marriage, a job, a city, a conversation, a purchase? there are tons of possible yes moments!]

You have until I wake up Friday morning [around 8am Scotland time, 3am EDT, 2am CDT, midnight PDT] to enter.

Go on… tell me your YES story! :)

zv7qrnb

41 comments

  1. Ann
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 8:14 AM  |  reply

    I said YES to transferring colleges when I was already halfway through school… it was a worst-best decision, for better or for worse!

    • Annie
      posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:22 AM  |  reply

      Amen, girl.

  2. Kim
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 8:36 AM  |  reply

    In every single way possible I relate to this! When I moved to New York last year, it was the single hardest thing I have EVER done. But God had plans. To grow my courage, my confidence, and to teach me more about him than I might ever have learned staying in Nashville where I was comfortable. Somehow you managed to say everything I was feeling then, and feel now!

    • Annie
      posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:23 AM  |  reply

      It’s good to remember that God always has a plan, isn’t it?

  3. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 8:37 AM  |  reply

    Annie, you are amazing. I feel so blessed to have bumped elbows with you during my time in Marietta!!

    After saying “no” to God for 7 years I finally said ‘yes’ to Him and took the first step into youth ministry by applying for and accepting a part-time position in a church. At the time, I thought I was being brave by moving the 5 exits around 2-85 from Dunwoody to Marietta. I also thought I was being courageous by finally choosing my career path — but what I didn’t know was that God was using this step to lead me to make some of the craziest decisions ever. [I'm not sure if we are talking courage here or insanity.]

    That first ‘yes’ led me to eventually say ‘yes’ to leaving the Atlanta area and moving to Myrtle Beach for another ministry position. Which then led to the ‘yes’ where left that job and a a steady paycheck in order to say ‘yes’ to a life of raising my own financial support.

    Over the past 10 years God has used that first ‘yes’ to take me from a safe career path where I loved students and talked with them about God to finding my life’s passion where I love Jesus and can’t stop sharing Him with students.

    Life is better because I said ‘yes’.

    • Annie
      posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:23 AM  |  reply

      I LOVE your story. And I’m glad it made us friends.

      Also- YOU ARE THE WINNER! :) Congrats. :)

  4. scaredy-girl
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 8:56 AM  |  reply

    I feel like there are a lot of situations I said “NO WAY” and God kept going with his plans and made things work out, but not so many “yes”es.

    One yes I made recently was to try out counseling…a friend and a person at my church had been pressuring me to try it for a few years–probably to work through how traumatic it was when I changed churches, and to get to the root of my temptation to self-injure…I wasn’t ready to work through that yet, and am not sure I’ll ever be ready, but I went to talk about stress (b/c I have such bad test anxiety that I feel like I’m going to throw up…) and the counselor redirected our goal to my social abilities because talking to people scares me so much we weren’t going to get anywhere unless that was addressed first…

    I’m not sure it is really changing my life by fixing my problems, but it is making me much more aware of how much I’ve let fear control my life which has at least motivated me to be more courageous even though I still prefer watching from the sidelines…I still hold that I will have a lot more fun experiencing retreats vicariously through pictures on facebook than I would have if I actually attended…

    • Annie
      posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:24 AM  |  reply

      Scaredy-girl, your honesty is beautiful. And all the normal people go to counseling. TRUST ME. :)

      Praying for you today.

  5. Anne
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:03 AM  |  reply

    I said Yes when I got accepted to my dream school. I should note at this point I had already graduated from one college- but the chance to study songwriting (my dream job is to be a singer/songwriter) and later on adding music business at one of the best schools in the nation for contemporary music- if not the world? Heck yes I’m going. It meant moving from southern CA all the way to Boston (I had never experienced “true” winters/snow prior to this. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and spent my first 24 years there. Who knew there was a temperature below 65 degrees? Snow? What’s that?) In the long run Boston has probably saved my life in several ways-the big one being during my 2nd year of school here I got diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have surgery and RAI. Locals that I had met who knew what I was going through kept on stating “well, if this going to happen- you’re in one of the best cities in the world for medical treatment.” SO TRUE. My Mom flew out to get me through the surgery- but for the most part I was on my own. I had some support from family and friends- but who really knows how to deal with cancer at any age, especially at 25.

    I’m currently in remission- but my friends from the christian fellowship at my school- they’ve seen me at my worse and have gotten me through it. Whether it was coming with me to doctors appointments, taking me in for treatment or coming to wait with me in the waiting room at doctors offices. There’s a line in Proverbs 18:24 “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.”(The Message). There are particular friends here in Boston who have become family..

    Yes, I do miss my family like crazy. I miss the comfort of home- oh man, there have been SO many times I have wanted to book flights home to CA for a long weekend (especially during the winter..) I’m getting ready to graduate in the next year and seriously am considering on not moving back home to LA but heading to Nashville to do the singer/songwriter thing. It’s a feeling I’ve had for a while…I’ll see where this road takes me.

    • Annie
      posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:24 AM  |  reply

      You are a brave girl, Anne. Thank you for sharing.

  6. merideth
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:21 AM  |  reply

    The first thing I thought of was when I decided to move out of Massachusetts. My dad decided to make a mid-life career change and applied to law school, and he and my mom decided no matter what happened with his applications they were selling the house and moving and wanted me to go with them. I was a freshman in college and had no intention of leaving Mass., yet. I didn’t think I’d live there forever, but I figured at least through college. When I was home for spring break, though, I realized that my time there was up. It was really just a feeling I got as I sat in my room thinking about how someone else would be living in this house soon, and the yard outside my window would no longer be mine or the pool in the backyard, etc. I realized it was time to leave, and that summer I moved with my parents. Definitely the hardest thing I had to do up to that point(leaving my entire world), and the reality of the move hit me like a ton of bricks when I left. But, looking back, I see why God wanted me to leave there, and I’m so glad he did. He eventually brought me to Georgia, and if he hadn’t I wouldn’t have met some of my favorite people in the world or had some awesome experiences. I definitely would not have transfered to UGA and met you Annie. Overall, I love living in the south and so grateful for the Lord’s wisdom in bringing me here.

    • Annie
      posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:25 AM  |  reply

      Go dawgs. :) Grateful for your words today, Merideth.

      • merideth
        posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM  |  reply

        @Annie,
        I’m grateful for you Annie. Hope you are having fun with your fellow dawgs in Prog.

  7. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:31 AM  |  reply

    I am still in my process of saying yes. I’m scared but excited. It means leaving my house, my family, my church, my COMFORT, and taking a step to the unknown. There’s a part of me that wants to run to this unknown today, but I’m in the hard season of waiting for doors to open, guidance, and God’s timing. I know what He wants from me.. I know where He’s leading me. I’m ready to say yes as scary as that is. I’m just waiting for Him to ask.

    • Annie
      posted on Oct 23, 2011 at 9:25 AM  |  reply

      Very Abraham of you, Sundi. :) Hang in there — He will give you direction.

  8. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM  |  reply

    I relate to this story and yesterday’s post so much. In 2005 I left Alabama to move to New York City, where I stayed for five years. I was broke and friendless for part of that time (okay, broke for most of it) and learned God’s faithfulness in ways I never imagined (or would have asked for). I learned that his love isn’t always manifested in my success, but that it is a daily, step-by-step companionship that never fails, no matter what my life looks like. That shot of you in the car on the way to Nashville? That was me in the U-Haul pulling away from Birmingham, feeling my heart break in two. Five years later, I married my best friend (whom I met in NYC) and we moved back South. Above and beyond everything, I learned what God’s grace looks like–beyond what I expected or allowed until I left my home and comfort zone and watched as He revealed Himself.

  9. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM  |  reply

    We talked about valuing comfort at the Outbound conference this last weekend.. and I looove comfort very much so I didn’t enjoy that too much.. but I liked how you said, “Less comfortable, more confident.” Thanks for sayin that!

    Well there was this time I said yes even though I had definitely been planning for years to say no! I was coerced into trying this competitive Bible memory thing in highschool. And it took me from hiding/shy to actually being good at something and totally enjoying it.. and because I did it I’ve gone several places in the states and to Jamaica 3 times! I’ve actually been writing it for my 31 days topic. :) So thankful I said yes!

  10. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:42 AM  |  reply

    In February of 2010 I said “Yes” to being on the creative team to write/create a drama production for my church. It was something I had never done before, but I was willing. I ended up writing a big portion of the drama, and God used it in my life to show me more of Himself. Now a committee of 4 of us have just completed the writing process of another drama which will be performed at my church in mid-January of 2012. I am praying that God will use this drama to bring glory to Himself. It sure is an exciting thing to say “Yes” and end up being used by God for His purposes!

  11. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:47 AM  |  reply

    Annie, I’m so happy for you. I’m happy that you found home… your true home.

    Welcome home. Well, not yet, but you know what I mean! ;)

  12. Amy
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 1:18 PM  |  reply

    Oh, Annie-I just love you! I know we say that a lot in the South, but I really mean it. Quitting my job last year, leaving my hometown, coming back to England to live again this year-you described it so perfectly when you said: less comfortable, more confident. Exactly!!!

  13. Deanna
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM  |  reply

    Last fall, I felt like God was speaking to me about having a second baby. This was crazy – I’d already had one in graduate school and I was working very hard to finish my dissertation research and complete my PhD. I knew my husband and I wanted more children, but I was not even going to discuss it until I finished school. But, God. . . . very clearly at one of our small group meetings last September, I felt God saying to me, “If I want to bless you with more children, why will you not receive that blessing?”

    After asking forgiveness for being so stubborn about my own plan, I opened my heart to the idea of another baby, and got pregnant that night. (I guess God was quite ready to give us another baby!) Sure enough, nine months later, one week after the final defense of my dissertation, I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl – Mary Claire. She is the most even-tempered, sweet, loving, happy baby and more than I could have ever asked for or imagined. I’m so glad I had the faith to trust God’s plan for my family and not my own!

  14. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 2:30 PM  |  reply

    Yesterday and today’s posts are so encouraging to this heart of mine. Some of the reasons you listed resonated within my soul because I am and have been doing some of those very same things. Comfort, I am learning, is over-rated anyway.

    I am just now learning the power of yes. Saying yes to God and quitting my job has been the hardest yet most wonderful thing. I have lived so many years in a box of my own making. Yes it was comfortable but it allowed for now growing room and nothing, well… extraordinary to come my way. Saying yes to quitting my job allowed me to knock down 1 side of my box. Being able to see all that is out there excites me (okay and terrifies me) and now…I want more. I need more. And I cannot wait to see what He does in my life as I learn to say yes more and more.

  15. Melinda
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 2:38 PM  |  reply

    I said yes to a Mocha Club trip to Africa. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made!

  16. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM  |  reply

    hubby and i said yes to full-time Christian service here at Fort Faith Camp!! we work full-time at a youth camp…(not sure if you know this but i am the head cook here, i also clean and do book work/newletters, and hubby does groundskeeping, maintenance/building, etc)

  17. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 4:12 PM  |  reply

    There are too many yes things, so I’m going with two.

    1. I said yes to my God and accepted Christ at the tender age of 8. This.changes.everything.

    2. I said yes to my God-gifted husband of 6 years and now have 2 littles to boot.

  18. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 6:25 PM  |  reply

    Whelp, you know the drill, I was at summer camp 2009, God was speaking to me telling me to get prayer 3 times in 24 hours, I didnt think I had the COURAGE!
    I had one hour and I knew if I didnt speak up for the third time when we were treasure hunting then it wasnt going to happen!
    I finally stepped forward and some mighty youth + counselors prayed.
    It was then I had the courage and God has really used this moment in my life. I hve a pin free life, nd to God be the glory!! :)

  19. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 8:53 PM  |  reply

    I’m a senior in high school so the big college conversation is always at the forefront. I live in small town Nebraska and have been looking at going to a school in Texas. When people ask why I don’t just stay here I tell them that I am far to comfortable and that in order to do what God has called me to do and be who He wants me to be I have to. It will be hard, I know, moving somewhere so far away and with so few people I know, but I am confident that it is going to make me better in Him.

    What is extremely ironic is I literally had this exact courage conversation with a friend just a few days ago! God does some crazy cool things:)

  20. gmh
    posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:38 PM  |  reply

    God told me to adopt from China, so I said yes. Scariest and best thing I ever did.
    Single parenting is not for the faint of heart, but God is good!

  21. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:39 PM  |  reply

    I said yes to moving to Nashville (it’s a little eerie how similar our stories are) and I said yes to quitting my job so I could better focus on writing. But if I hadn’t uprooted my life to move to Nashville in the first place, I never would have had courage a year later to go hard after writing.

  22. posted on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:30 PM  |  reply

    I love this and reading all the responses. I can think of 2 off the top of my head.

    1. Saying yes to moving back to California for law school in 2008 after not living here since I was 10. It was a 2000 mile move and a big adjustment to a city I had never set foot in before in my life.

    2. Saying yes after taking the bar exam this summer to follow God wherever he took me, even if that wound up including ANOTHER 2000 mile move to a new city where I wouldn’t be licensed to practice law. (apparently God speaks to me in increments of 2000 miles)

    {don’t enter me for the giveaway. it’s lovely, but as I’m trying to downsize for the move I don’t need anything new, ha! better odds for everyone else!}

  23. posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 5:38 AM  |  reply

    I love how God had you “practice” saying yes to Nashville and the people there in preparation for Scotland.

    Saying yes to quitting my full time job as a dental assistant to stay at home with a long prayed for miracle baby changed everything. It allowed me to homeschool all my children and enjoy each and every day with them. It was a huge step of faith for us, but it’s the best “yes” I’ve ever said (besides to my Jesus and my husband). ;)

  24. posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:57 AM  |  reply

    I so related with your story because it was similiar to mine…I had been a professional actor on the east coast for a good many years, when I got an offer to go on another national tour and make put some money in the bank. I kept feeling like God wanted me elsewhere, and I moved on faith to Dallas. People thought I was crazy to turn down a done deal (and I thought so a little bit too at the time), and there was a lot of struggle. But God blessed it as I ended up settling there, and I also met my husband there just as I was thinking about leaving…
    I don’t know exactly why the Lord called me here, but I am so thankful for His provision and I know it wouldn’t have happened without courage!
    Thanks for your beautiful words!

  25. posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 9:10 AM  |  reply

    The time that I said yes to God’s calling for me to go into Culinary Arts. I haven’t started yet (January!) but I can tell that this is the right way for me to go! I am SO excited!

  26. posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 10:58 AM  |  reply

    I said yes once to enter a treatment program for eating disorders a few years back and it changed many things.
    I am now at a point where I need to say “Yes” again. To God, and ….well I have a few fears to release. That is a beautiful print! How inspiring.

  27. posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM  |  reply

    Oh, Annie. Although I don’t know you- your story hold so much beauty. Thank you for sharing.

    I am not naturally a risk-taker, but God tugged on my heart to spend a summer doing outreach with Campus Crusade for Christ in Virginia Beach. I had planned on doing an internship during the summer. After a lot of prayer and some letting-go-of-the-wheel-tears, I said yes and it changed my life. That summer, I witnessed genuine community, Christ-centered friendships, and experienced more boldness in the things of God in those 3 months than I did in my entire life.

    Saying yes to God is something I’ve never regretted. He so sweetly knows what we need.

  28. posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 2:54 PM  |  reply

    I love you Annie!

    I never regret saying Yes to Him, He knows everything that’s just perfect for us!

  29. posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:05 PM  |  reply

    I read through a lot of blog posts any given day but this one tugged my heart and left me quietly whispering (as if we are talking face-to-face) — “Dear Annie, what Nashville did to you and is what it is doing to me this year.”

    My husband and I were in Omaha on Thanksgiving of last year. Spending time with his family and raising support to go back to the Philippines as missionaries (our third year). There were a lot of hungry children to feed and beautiful young souls to disciple.

    Until we received a phone call that weekend. Our pastor from our Manila church told us that God asked him to move to Franklin and re-plant a church. There was a desperate need for true small group discipleship.

    The church never had a youth group and is craving for one. We were asked to prayerfully consider moving to Nashville instead of going back to the Philippines and start building a youth ministry.

    My heart jumped at the thought and got really excited. Then the flesh started to rise up. Everything we had was in Manila — a van, furniture, TV, books, clothing … uhm … EVERYTHING — literally!

    After A LOT of prayer and fasting, it was undeniable that God wanted us to pour into the lives of the students in Franklin.

    On the first week of January of 2011, we hopped into our car in Omaha and drove to Nashville. No place to live, only a handful of clothing, and nothing to put inside a home.

    Today, we are happily serving a youth ministry of about 60 high school students and about 20 middle school ones. Our 2-bedroom apartment is filled with everything we need. We still need to raise more monthly support but God has been faithful in His provision.

    Today, Nashville is home.

  30. Rachel Alexander
    posted on Oct 20, 2011 at 3:21 PM  |  reply

    I said yes to where I was supposed to attend college, and I’ve been forever changed!

  31. posted on Oct 21, 2011 at 3:21 AM  |  reply

    [...] found Annie’s blog about a few months ago. She is spending 31 days on the topic of Being Brave. Annie writes like an [...]

  32. Diane N
    posted on Oct 21, 2011 at 5:03 AM  |  reply

    As I type this my eyes are blurred from the tears. Annie, u truly r gifted from God. Thank u for sharing ur gift with the world, thank u for being real. I didn’t even know God yet, but it was Him working to literally pick me up and move me halfway across the country to come to know Him. I am not the same person, like u said He said “give me a chance and I’ll give you the world.” Oh my, how He’s given me the world and opportunities b?c I said yes to Him. Our God is sublime and u r a blessing for reminding us thru your words and experiences of just how awesome He is!! Thank u!

  33. Lauren Marie
    posted on Aug 04, 2012 at 12:25 AM  |  reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I really just stumbled upon your story and it has reminded me of the One I need to listen to and has brought me to tears. (Good tears) Thank you!

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