I’m struggling this morning. While the world rejoices and debates the news of Osama bin Laden, I am still trying to find words to describe an amazing weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. The purpose for our visit was to run in the Country Music Half Marathon. Yet that wonderful event had so little to do with all of the other moments and memories of the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, completing 13.1 miles is never something I want to take for granted. I really soaked in each mile this time and enjoyed the journey. Yet it couldn’t hold a candle to the other hours in this city we have fallen in love with.

On Friday we made our way directly to Thomas Nelson Publishing. There are several people at Thomas Nelson that have been so good to my family and I. It was so good to put faces with names and see behind the scenes of this incredible organization. Greeting us at the front door is a friend I have the upmost respect and fondness for, Dave Schroeder.  Again, I can’t find the words to describe my respect for Dave and what his friendship means to Heather and I. He kindly took us around the facility to meet all of the people we have known “virtually” and several others. It felt so warm and comfortable.

Next up, Heather and I went downtown for packet pick up. There we met up with Matt and Rachel Wojnarowski. They too made the trip from Columbus to Nashville for the race. Though we didn’t coordinate our schedules, they were in line at the convention center too. Once we got our packets we met at a local restaurant to celebrate their anniversary and “carb up” for the race in the morning. We are so thankful for their friendship and have really grown to consider them family.

Saturday morning came earlier than I expected as I had trouble sleeping in the hotel. I got up around 3am and was surfing through some sports updates on twitter. I posted a quick “tweet” referencing the Tar Heels that had been drafted in the NFL draft and the Indians winning on Friday night with a walk off grand slam. Within moments, my cell phone alerted me of a text message….at 3am. My good friend Jeff Korbini (who was also running the race) was ALSO awake and reading twitter! We exchanged some texts and laughs about both being awake at this unbelievable hour.

After an interesting time crunch and a few traffic delays, we found ourselves at the starting line ready to run another half marathon. I knew coming into this race that I was not as prepared as I have been in the past. The key words were to “survive” and “finish”. I knew Heather would most likely finish well ahead of me and that was fine. I wanted to enjoy this run. I wanted to soak it all in. I wanted to see the sights, read the signs, acknowledge the supporters. I did all of that and more. The finish time was irrelevant. This is not a course you set out to “crush” although Matt, Heather and Jeff all did very well. I finished about 4 minutes behind Heather with a smile on my face and a point to the sky.

Now that the race was (thankfully) over, we could really start getting into what we came here for…the place and the people! We spent Saturday afternoon driving around and visiting some locations. The weather was absolutely PERFECT. We stopped at a little place in Franklin, Tennessee and had lunch on the outdoor patio. Words can’t describe sharing a lunch of dreaming, vision discussing, thinking, hoping, laughing and sharing with my beautiful bride. It was as close to perfect as it gets. It was the music building to a bigger moment in the overall song….

Saturday night was the highlight of highlights. It was a moment in time I will never forget and forever cherish.

12 people

6 couples

All coming together at Puckett’s in Franklin for food, fellowship and in the name of friendship.

A few knew each other but most were meeting for the first time “live”. God brought us all together and twitter was the vehicle. Although the band at Puckett’s was beyond loud (I was the guy that suggested we meet there), they all gave grace and understanding and made the best of it. It’s tough to talk when you’re seated next to speakers and the band is blasting 72 straight minutes of Carlos Santana hits. It felt so comfortable and warm. We felt right in a groove and a sweet spot in life. I just kept thinking how each life has blessed mine. How much they have poured into me. I hope, in some small way, I’ve done the same. I really can’t find the words to describe this evening. To Curt, Polly, Matt, Susan, Heath, Lori, Dave, Brooke, Matt and Rachel, my best words are “Thank You”. From the deepest part of me…Thank you.

Sunday morning we finished our Nashville tour and weekend by visiting CrossPoint Church. We have followed Crosspoint ever since we read “Plan B” by Pete Wilson. Last year when the floods hit Nashville, Journey Church made a contribution to CrossPoint for their efforts in the relief. I have major respect for their ability to be the “hands and feet” in so many ways. They already have teams in Alabama providing relief to those effected by the tornados. The worship was so moving and Pete Wilson delivered a timely message on the beatitudes. Heather and I were honored to meet Pete after the service as well. I took several mental photographs of the facility and how they are “doing things”. It’s always good to see new concepts and ideas for reaching our world and staying current. CrossPoint gets that. Great church. Great people. Great worship.

The 6 hour journey back to Columbus provided plenty of time for reflection and thought. Maybe it wasn’t enough time. I’m still thinking about the last 72 hours. I’m so humbly honored by what just took place. “Thankful” doesn’t describe my feeling for the lives and people we spent our time with. “Blessed” seems like bragging and that isn’t what I want to do at all. To each of you, know your fingerprints are left on our hearts and lives. We won’t soon forget this weekend and that is a great thing. This long, long post to say

I just can’t find the words….