The Nashville Fellows program was not what initially drew me to this city, but I am so glad it has been a part of my life this year. Almost exactly one year ago I came to the conclusion that in my after college next-step it was of great importance for me to find a solid community. That was the main goal. As I researched the Nashville area I came across Christ Presbyterian Church. Through exploring online and having conversations it became clear to me that if I were to land in Nashville, CPC would be the church where I would settle into community. I contacted the church to see if there might be any women around my age in search of a roommate. It was in this phone conversation that the Nashville Fellows Program was first mentioned to me. I had never heard of a “Fellows Program” but as I became more educated on what the program consisted of I realized it was made up of everything I was trying to create for myself… and a whole lot more. I applied and the rest is history. I am thankful for the backwards way that I came across this program.

There are many aspects of this program that have allowed me to feel the embrace of community that I was yearning for (from my church placement at Christ Presbyterian, to my host family, to the community of the 10 other fellows and our director and teachers). I have been overwhelmed in a very touching way, with support, love, and care.

One thing that I have been learning more about during this program is the Family of God. Before doing this program I had heard of the term “Family of God” before but never took time to reflect on it. As I have been living in Nashville my paradigm of what the Family of God is has expanded. I believe that through this experience I have been gaining a more God-intended understanding of what it really means to embrace family life from a kingdom perspective.

Nothing could ever diminish all of the time and effort my mom and dad put into raising me. The work that a parent is called to is taxing and beautiful. I am thankful to my mom and dad for all that they have done as I have grown from an infant into a child and now into adulthood. As I have been able to have the experience of living with a host family I have picked up, from an adult perspective, on more that goes into raising children than I did when I was a child myself. From my long standing interest in adoption and being able to experience tight community I have come really see and believe that family the way that God intends family to be is not limited to blood type. While I am so thankful for my blood relatives the beauty of this inclusive family truth cannot be over looked. I have felt my paradigm of family expand this year as individuals in my fellows group have been vulnerable in sharing their stories, my host family has embraced me as another member of their family, and mentors and other individuals at church have expressed interest in my life like thoughtful aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas.

The community of Christ Presbyterian Church has a mission- to love people places and things to life. I have been one of the people that have felt loved to fuller life. The process has, I believe, been able to give me a better glimpse and taste of what is to come in the New Heavens and New Earth. I grew up learning a very different theology of “end times”. It was something that was always scary to think about, as opposed to hopeful. Both PCA theology and our Fellows seminary course have encouraged me to think about the New Heavens and New Earth even more. Doing so has allowed me to see, in the here-and-now, more illustrations of God’s goodness, grace, and love. Some day we will not be surrounded by brokenness or anything that taints true community. In this season I have been able to feel support, laugh, rest, use my talents, and learn more about myself, and the world around me. The paradigm expansion that has taken place in my life regarding the Family of God, as well as by seeing how God intends things to be has given me increased hope for what is to come, increased understanding of the brokenness I am surrounded by now, and greater insight of what my role is to be in this world.

I am incredibly thankful for my experience as a Nashville Fellow. So much of what I have been learning and experiencing has been rich. In this season I have not been surrounded by perfection; that will only happen in the New Heavens and New Earth.  I have been surrounded though by a reality that encourages health and points to hope (allowing a taste of what is to come). This program is one way I have felt the tangible effects of His grace in my life. I am excited for the ways this season will enrich the years to come. Whatever they might bring, I hope that some of the lessons I am learning now stay close to me forever.