Hope you’ve had a great week. Today I’ve decided to take two big steps: (1) I unsubscribed from the Little League text feed in Falls Church, Virginia, because I just don’t need to know what fields are open 525 miles away. There was a time when this feed provided vital information, but that time is no more; and (2) I just changed my Facebook profile to reflect where I actually live, and it’s got me thinking. Tomorrow will mark the five month mark to getting the keys to our new home. It’s not a bad time to evaluate how things are going. Here are ten things I love about living in Tennessee.
- It’s spectacularly beautiful.
- I have a a new appreciation for clouds and their shadows.
- I love that I can see where I live from many miles away. It builds a funny anticipation about being home. Sometimes when the boys have events north of here on I-75, our mountain becomes visible when we are still twenty-five minutes away. It’s really odd, but there’s like a deep exhale when I see it, “Ahhh, home!”
- The viability of the daytime date. Life with three athletic boys is busy, weekday evenings are especially tough. If it is at all possible, parents of kids who do a lot outside of school, should utilize the daytime date. Every single time my husband and I have met for lunch we’ve had a great time. It’s short, sweet and a shot in the arm. The thing is it is so easy here. We live fifteen minutes from downtown Chattanooga, which has a surprising number of great restaurants. My husband works downtown. Parking is never an issue. Traffic is never an issue. It is a no brainer.
- From my experience, Tennessee is just not an uptight place. Yesterday, to celebrate the end of the baseball season for school, Nate’s coach threw the guys in a little bus and drove across town to the locals’ favorite ice cream shop. There were no permission slips, no signing kids out. When they got back they swam in the school “lake” and had a blast. But more than the lack of formalities like permission slips for every little thing, there’s just a vibe that’s chill.
- The people are welcoming and kind. When I tell people that I am new to the area, I often here the same refrain, “Well, welcome to Chattanooga!”
- Strangers are incredibly friendly, and I mean like strangers at the drive-thru. My oldest son has been playing two high-intensity sports all spring, and that means he’s eaten more fast food than he should. I have yet to encounter someone who wasn’t exceptionally kind in our many fast food stops. And who doesn’t want to be greeted with a smile and “How are you doing today, darlin?” There’s also a little coffee truck I frequent where a nose-ring might be a requirement for employment, but even though these girls are quite unlike other fast food employees in some respects, they are also universally kind and engaging. Looking people in the eye, and engaging in an authentic way is a southern thing. They start them young too. I know that it’s a generalization, but honestly when a culture stresses people skills — using good manners and being adept at conversation, it pays off.
- I live in a little town, on a mountain, with zero stop lights, but we have a gas station, a little market, a post office, a few restaurants, and the cutest park you’ve ever seen. Even though some days I go up and down the mountain three or even four times, I just adore the days I can reside wholly here. Who knew never seeing a traffic light could be so relaxing?
- We can walk to church and school. I drive Sammy to school every day because he and I do not want to make the mostly vertical trek at the crack of dawn, but he could practically roll down the hill home to me. And there is something to be said for bringing in your circle. The people we go to church with and the people Sam goes to school with are mostly neighbors within a pretty small vicinity, and that’s a gift I’ve not ever had before. I’ve teased the older boys about only making friends who live on our mountain. The paradox of bringing in my own circle while also blogging is not lost on me, by the way. I think that paradox fits me perfectly well. I love living in a small community and in the age of social media.
- Will has named our home Kristhaven because it is something like living in a retreat center, the setting is so quiet and peaceful. It is neither the biggest nor the priciest home we’ve ever lived in — in fact, we were quite intentional about not getting a huge house. And our favorite room is something like a library, but we call it the sanctuary. I ordered a deep-seated, down-filled loveseat for this room, and it is the most ideal place to have a devotional time I could ever dream of. I adore this room, and will have a hard time ever parting with it.
So I think things are going pretty well. The boys are moving in the right direction. But just because I don’t write about all the challenges of making this kind of move, I would hate to give anyone the impression that it’s been easy. I don’t know how making a change like this could ever be easy, especially when you were perfectly happy where you were. I’d give a lot of money to meet one of my girlfriends for lunch today — I desperately miss hanging out with people I’ve known and loved for a long time. But thankfully I have the gift from my grandfather of loving wherever I am. Eight years ago I wrote a piece for the Washington Post about how great it is to raise kids in DC with all of the opportunities for sports and culture. I believed every word. That’s where we were and I decided to love everything it had to offer. That’s been my mindset wherever I’ve lived, and yes, having that mindset in New Orleans did indeed result in significant weight gain!
But there is a spiritual principle in all of this, and that’s that we can decide to be happy. We can choose to be content. You may think some grass is greener. But when you get there, there are problems you didn’t expect. I heard Eugene Cho talk about this earlier this year. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “You think that grass is greener. And you know what? It probably is! But that should serve as a reminder to you to water the grass you are standing on.” Invest and love on and embrace where you are, and who you are with. You will never regret pouring yourself out.
Paul is, of course, the poster child for contentment. Here is what he said:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13
I have so so much to be grateful for, but I hope that no matter the circumstance, I’ll be like Paul, content and confident that I can do anything through Christ.
Have a fabulous weekend, and do make plans to visit Tennessee!