One of my favorite parts of living in Nashville is the musicians that become friends. I have always had a deep love for all things singer/songwriter, and now these are my people.  I heart it.  Mucho.  And a few weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me a demo of a song he had written.  I can’t help but confess that I cry every time I listen to it.  [Someday when he gets famous for it, I’ll tell you.  I promise.]

The title is “A Year Ago Today”.

First he sings about a break-up…..

Where was I a year ago today?

I was sitting on Haley’s couch, my stomach in knots, while Haley, Molly, and I watched a movie.  I knew I had to tell them.  I wanted them to know about Nashville.  No one else but my parents and a mentor even knew whispers of what God was doing, but my best friends deserved to know.

I started the conversation lamely, something stupid I’m sure.  But they both knew in minutes that this was serious.  And as the tears poured from all of our faces…. I thought for certain I wasn’t strong enough to leave them. Or my family.  Or my life.

Then he sings….

A year ago to the day I thought my life was over….

my world stopped….

there wasn’t much of my heart left to break.

Oh gracious that was and is so true.  I literally thought my life was over.  I remember sitting there, on December 31, 2007, screaming at God in my head, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME DO THIS!!”

After many tears, I gave up and gave God my life, in a for realz kind of way; I told Him that He means more to me than anyone else.  And that if Nashville was where He was wanting me to go, I wanted to be there.

There were days when I literally didn’t know I was capable of being so brokenhearted.

And yet here I am.  Sitting on my bed in Nashville.  Crying as that song plays in the background.  Because looking back on 2008, I don’t feel like my life ended in August.  In fact, quite the opposite- I’m the best Annie I’ve ever been.  I keep on my computer a list of the friends I’ve made here, because I know that they are gifts from God.  Every writing opportunity has been a gift.  Every good time or funny joke or moment of “I Love Nashville” has been a part of Him giving me more than I could ever deserve.

And the chorus continues…..

By the grace of God, and the strength in me…

I’m stronger than I ever thought that I could be…

You’d hardly recognize my face…

From a year ago today.

I didn’t know I could do this. A year ago today, if you would have told me that I would be here, happy in Nashville, I would not have believed you.  I didn’t know that allowing God to have it ALL actually means allowing Him to give you ALL the good things He has planned.  I thought I was sacrificing. In reality, I was merely setting myself up for a tidal wave of blessing.  I gave Him a dollar; He gave me the world.

And then he sings…

I’m finding out that life’s all about living and learning…

Finding the joy in all the hurting…

Now I’ve got a smile as big as the ocean…

and everyday my arms are wide open...

By the grace of God, y’all.  That is me.  I’m stronger, calmer, and braver because of God and the new ways I know Him; I can honestly say that would have never happened if I wouldn’t have moved with Him to Nashville.

So would I do it again?  I hope so.  Do I know all the reasons why I’m in Nashville?  Not at all.  But if I’ve learned anything in 08, I’ve learned that obeying God doesn’t require that I understand His ways.

I only have to understand His heart for me.

2009 has some great promise.  God has some better ones. Hang on, friend.  It’s about to get awesome up in here.  (And I’m praying the same for you!!)

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”