One year ago, we left California and moved into our new southern home. (You can read more about that wild and crazy day here: If I could send a thank you to the great Volunteer State, I think it would go something like this…

Dear Tennessee,

Thank you. Thank you for a million little things and for very big things.

Thank you for fireflies that light up joy in my children’s eyes and thunderstorms that clear my mind and refresh my heart. Thank you for the magic of snow, the majesty of the Smokies and the ever changing landscape of wildflowers. Thank you for the best barbecue I’ll ever taste and the liveliest live music I’ll ever tap my new boots along to.

But mostly, thank you for welcoming me.

Thank you for not hating me.

Thank you for making everyone feel welcomed, even the increasingly despised, conservative Christians like me. Thank you for not labeling me a domestic terrorist because I voted for Trump or because I speak up for children. Thank you for being a proud sanctuary state for all that is good, like babies, and not for evil, like abortion and grooming children. Thank you for producing masculine men and feminine women. Thank you for building homes large enough for large families.

Thank you for being home to the kinds of people who would rather barbecue enough food for the neighborhood than have a peaceful night to themselves.

Thank you for children who say, “Yes, Sir”, “Yes, Ma’am” and for the countless other ways they show kindness and civility.

Thank you for teachers who love and teach truth.

Thank you for teaching me to slow down, look people in the eyes and listen.

Thank you for new opportunities and for revealing strengths and weaknesses I couldn’t see before.

Thank you for space, for green grass where kids can run, for rolling hills that reset my frame of mind and for back country roads.

Thank you for representing me. Thank you for giving me a voice. Thank you for acknowledging God. Thank you for protecting your own.

Thank you for drawing the biggest crowds to watch kids play their favorite sport. Thank you for loving families.

Thank you for your patriotism. Thank you for giving honor to those whom honor is due. Thank you for valuing children enough to teach them history.

Thank you for creating the kinds of liberals, like my neighbors, with whom we can respectfully disagree and enjoy a meal together. Thank you for showing me the meaning of true tolerance.

Thank you for restoring my hope in our country. Thank you for proving that people can make a difference. Thank you for teaching the world we don’t have to go along to get along. Thank you for filling hearts with courage. Thank you for creating people with grit.

God has been good to me through you, Tennessee. May you forever thank Him for all He has given you.

In Your Debt,

A Newcomer

5 Replies to “Thanks for One Year, Tennessee!”

  1. I have, also, just celebrated my first year in Tennessee, and what I have to to Julie’s heartfelt gratitude is, AMEN!!
    Daily, I am amazed and grateful for how God saw me worthy enough to be bless me with such a wonderful loving southern community!
    By choice, I would never trade my new life here in Tennessee!
    As Julie so beautifully expressed her joy and gratefulness, thank you Tennessee and to God! You are the Most Amazing Creator!

  2. Having just celebrated our 2 year anniversary here in TN, I couldn’t agree more! The thing I cherish most is that my 3 twenty something nieces are thriving beyond our wildest imagination! God has opened doors for us that we wouldn’t have even thought to ask/pray to be opened (with the oldest of 3 getting married in 2 weeks!)

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