My last week before my last month in Nashville.
I cannot express how excited I am about my new assignment in Birmingham. Every single interaction I have has with the people I am going to lock arms with and go to work has been sincere and motivating. God is being so gracious along the way- His kind hand is leading and protecting.
AT the same time- the relationships and uniqueness of Franklin and Nashville will always be a part of me. These last few weeks I have been running long distances and just drinking in the beauty of where I live right now. I love the Harpeth and I am going to miss it. I still laugh at the first day we just went for it and put in at Christ Community and floated to FieldStone Farms- my wife looked at me like I was crazy!
But we did it- and it lead to countless walks and rafting rides through beautiful banks and bubbling min-rapids. I met God there many times, just He and me, catching sunfish by the dozens.
Add to the Harpeth the Natchez Trace and the Percy Warner parks and Radnor Lake and we had out fill of venerable woods and water. Long bike rides, and runs, and hikes have been building spiritual memories and charging old batteries.
And my thanks to Chris Nishan, Field and Streams writer and guide, who allowed me access to one of the most scenic private lakes I have ever seen. I hope I finally pull in that 10 lbr. without breaking my line before I leave.
It's funny, when I left B'ham 7 years ago I lamented leaving the access I had to Shoal Creek, Greystone, and all the private bass lakes in Shelby County- God easily provided me opportunity to play Belle Meade and other great golf in Nashville. Now I go back and ,in time, I will get to commune with Him on a lake or on a course in my new home.
Another fun part of Nashville is the celebrity sightings and interaction. After a while, it gets less cool- but I have been very blessed to spend a little time with fun people that we all know. I have grown to love and admire Stephen Curtis Chapman and count it a privilege to have has his sons in class. Who will ever forget how that family walked through tragedy and the song 'Beauty will Rise' has become a personal anthem to me. I had the honor of having him sing a song for me at our football banquet in 2008. I also had the honor of John Elefante (lead singer of Kansas) dedicate a song to me in concert. It was hilarious having people look around and ask "Who is Jay Mathews?". John is another great brother in the Lord- and man can he sing! I also am very thankful for reconnecting with Glenn Garrett and think of him as an inspiration and his music is powerful. Terry Warren is one of my closest brothers who can sing a power ballad as well as anyone in the world- a man of God and a dedicated dad.
Others have included master songwriter, Tom Douglas- a real encourager in Christ. I have had funny encounters or a good story with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill at a 5th grade football game, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman at the Good Cup, Alan Jackson at a track meet, Michael W Smith at CPA, Vince Gill on the golf course, and Amy Grant at a track meet. All just regular people who happen to be in a profession that produces unimaginable recognition. My final name dropping memory is my friend Jim Weatherly- who told me the story of how he wrote "Midnight Plane to Houston" after talking to Farah Fawcett on the phone- which Gladys Knight got permission to change to "Midnight Train to Georgia" and the rest is history. Jim was one of my parents and his son will be a dynamo.
And last, how in the world can I mention all the friends and families who poured out love and service to me these last 7 years? I made a list in my prayer guide of those who really showed up when things went down. We had dinner with one of these couples last night and I sat there thinking- "How can I ever say 'thank-you'?"
I guess that is pat of what heaven will be about........