Clear back in 1991, I had a conversion experience where Jesus became everything. I abandoned myself to his pull and on a typical day you would find me jogging around the lake near my house, praising God while listening to a Kim Hill cassette. I bet I listened to that tape a thousand times. One song, especially, spoke to me: Hold Me Close.

Last March, I got to meet Kim Hill at a Church 4 Chicks conference in Atlanta. Kim and I only spoke briefly, but became a little better acquainted via social media.

In early August, Kim mentioned something called The Nashville Treehouse. I emailed her asking if it was only for songwriters and other types of artists. She said no way, it was for all types of women who need to relax and be refilled.

Since self care is my mission, I cashed in my frequent flyer miles and booked a trip to Nashville, not knowing what I was in for.

 

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On Thursday I met up with Leith, another Colorado gal. She gave me a ride to the hotel and then she went to meet with old friends. I asked the hotel employees if someone could take me into Franklin.

I wandered the town and checked out the historic homes. Then I went upstairs to the Red Pony restaurant and had one of the best meals of my life. I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender. We talked about people, music, and Nashville. After dinner, I strolled the streets and listened to live music.

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The next morning, I took the shuttle back to Franklin to a place I’d often heard about: Merridees. Sitting on a leather couch, gobbling up a buttery omelette, I chatted with a fellow who was interested in the same books and researchers as me. We could barely stop from interrupting as we zinged authors and topics back and forth.

Leith texted me to say she was in Franklin. She met me at Merridees and we did a little more sightseeing.

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We went back to the hotel, showered, and headed to the Nashville Treehouse, knowing we were going to hang out with Kim Hill, but unsure of what else we would experience.971824_157168507822317_1954219266_n

We entered a place high in the hills. A place bursting with color, design, and warmth. A place with floor to ceiling windows that let in lots of light and greenery. We introduced ourselves to the other 18 gals who would soon become our friends. Kim came over and squeezed me. Not a wimpy hug, but the kind of hug that pulls you in, holds you tight and then pulls you even tighter. She oozes southern kindness and hospitality.

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We were treated to passionate talks from Paulette Wooten and Kim. Paulette is a  musician and chef. She inspired us to remember what gave us passion when we were younger. No one wanted them to stop talking.

 

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We spent the next several hours talking and creating collages for our journal covers. Imagine being surrounded by every art supply you can imagine: chalk, pens, paint, paper, magazines, scissors, cutting tools, and an insane amount of Mod Podge.

 

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Musician Margaret Becker gave a talk about how she journals; she showed us several examples. Then we were invited upstairs for appetizers and drinks. We mingled on the deck and heard a talk from Randy Elrod. Randy is a man with many talents. He’s an artist, a church leader, a visionary, a comedian, a wine connoisseur, a deep thinker, and an author. He has led creativity workshops all over the world.

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We ended with dinner and s’mores. Late in the night we drove back to our hotel.

The next morning we drove back up the hill where we were fed southern biscuits (from The Loveless Cafe), fruit, jam, bacon, homemade fruit/nut bars, and coffee.

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Margaret gave us a journaling exercise. We wrote in silence. With the techniques taught by Margaret, I had some cool insights and possibly even a topic/title for my next book.

Then we piled into cars and drove to a place called Leipers Fork. We passed miles of green pasture, horses, old barns, and beautiful homes. Artist David Arms opened up his studio just for us. Picture an old wooden barn that has been expensively refurbished. Walls dripping with rich fabric, and luscious art. Hear the sound of folk music playing. Smell the scent of calming candles. David was just as warm a person as you could imagine. In his suit and hand-made bow tie he smiled and answered our questions, while we lined up to buy bookmarks, cards, and candles.1187086_10151830364761774_902336182_n

We split up and wandered into artisan shops. Several of us ate at Joe’s Natural, a farm to table restaurant. (I had infused water and a plate of quinoa, roast beef, balsamic dressing, and feta, served on a bed of greens).

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We drove down winding country roads where the trees formed a canopy over us. Acclaimed artist Wayne Brezinka brought some of his art to show. He spoke about his childhood and his journey into the art scene. Then he gave us a hands-on demonstration for collage making.

 

Soon the snack bell was ringing. We got more food and Kix Brook’s (of Brooks & Dunn) Red Fox Red from Arrington Vineyards. Dinner was burgers: veggie, beef, or salmon, served with sweet potato fries.  I got to sit with Sue Buchanan, a very funny and authentic author.

 

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Finally, we headed downstairs where the craft tables had been replaced with cloth covered chairs. The room was lit in the glow of candles, and bowls of popcorn and candy abounded. Sue shared some encouragement and then the music began.

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Kim, Paulette, and Margaret sang for awhile before begging songwriter Stephony Smith to get up there and join them. Stephony is so sweet and unassuming. She spent most of the time preparing the food but then we found out she’s an award winning songwriter. (One of the songs she sang was, It’s Your Love a song that she wrote for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.)

 

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We laughed and cried. Then we drove back to our hotels around midnight.

The next morning, heart full, I flew back to Denver. Kim and her friends plan to host many more of these events. I encourage all women to take time to hang out at the Nashville Treehouse. For more information, email nashvilletreehouse@gmail.com 

 

My friend Reba also wrote about our weekend. You’ll love her photography: http://www.rebabaskett.com/2013/09/03/creative-weekend/

 

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Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.

She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."