TAKING ON TEXAS

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you've seen that I spent a few days in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Work brought us to the Lonestar State - we were scheduled to play a campus concert at The University of North Texas at Dallas. We have friends in the area so we extended our trip a few days to hang out with them and take on Texas! Texas is one of my favorite places - If I couldn't be from Carolina, I'd be from Texas. I love the landscape, I love the authentic cowboy way of life, and the food... OH, The food! 

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While visiting, we stayed with our sweet friends, Taylor & Klint Stallons in Fort Worth. If you've been following me and my band for a while, you may remember Klint as my fiddle player. Klint played with me for few years before meeting the love of his life and moving back home to Texas to get married, settle down, and start a family - and once you meet his wife Taylor, you completely understand why he felt called home to Fort Worth. She is the salt of the earth -  she's a total girl's girl, she's down to earth & genuine, and she's always pleasant to be around. To say Klint & Taylor are some of our favorite people to be around would be an understatement.

On the first night, some of The Stallons' friends invited all of us over to their house for dinner. We had a great time meeting new people and getting to know them. The food was delicious and the conversation was even better. The next day, John and I rode the train from Fort Worth into Dallas. Nashville doesn't have an elaborate train system but let me tell you, we need one! Getting from Fort Worth to Dallas by train was so easy and it was a really fun experience. Once we arrived in Dallas, we got off the train outside of the Texas State Fair. John and I LOVE going to a fair! You know what they say, "everything's bigger in Texas" and that's the case with the State Fair as well. Once inside the fair, we grabbed some food and made our way to our favorite part: the agriculture exhibits. John and I are both from rural areas and we love everything about farming and agriculture. We saw all kinds of animals! Llamas, piglets, buffalo, and of course - longhorns. We browsed around a few arts & crafts vendor tents too. We're not really in to riding rides at the fair, we really just like to grab some unhealthy fair food, browse vendor tents, and bring home a little purchase to remember our time there - even if it's just a caramel apple for the car ride home. This time, I snagged some really cute custom-made cowhide coasters to bring home! On Tuesday, we visited the Dallas campus of the University of North Texas where we performed for a campus concert. It was so fun meeting and performing for the students and they seemed to really like my music and hearing all about my career. After performing, we strolled around the Fort Worth Stockyards and watched the Longhorn Cattle drive down Exchange Avenue.

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There were really only two priorities we had on our trip: #1- Perform for the students at UNT Dallas. #2 - Have lunch at Hard Eight BBQ. We've eaten at Hard Eight on previous trips to Texas and it's one of our most favorite places! When you walk in, you're greeted by the smell of smoke coming off of the open smokers. At Hard Eight, you order by the pound and we go ALL OUT. We like to get a little bit of everything: brisket, sirloin, ribs, sausage, and chicken poppers (bacon wrapped jalapeños stuffed with chicken). Ok... my mouth is watering just reliving it! We ate until we couldn't move!

Before our trip, Klint asked if we would be interested in performing during his church's Wednesday night youth assembly and of course, we were all about it! Standing on stage, singing praises to our Lord & Savior - worshiping with friends, my husband, and 200 high school students was the high of the week for me. After the sermon, we divided into small groups with the high schoolers where we discussed our thoughts on the evening's sermon and sort of mentored to these kids. I joined Taylor with her small group of freshman girls and John joined Klint and his group of boys. Sitting around discussing life's obstacles and how no matter what - God's holding all of us in the palm of his hands and has BIG plans for each and every one of us - hearing what some of these kids are carrying at school and home, it was so great being able to reassure them that in the end, everything always works out according to His plan.

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We've visited Dallas/Fort Worth a handful of times (and we'll head to Houston later this week!) but I can confidently say this trip was by far the best time I've had in the great state of "Tejas" by far! We laughed REALLY hard, we connected on another level with friends we've known inside and out, we filled our bellies with good food, and most of all - we got to share our gifts and talents with the people around us. I can't wait to go back... which reminds me, I need to go pack for our trip to Houston!


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