The slippery slope to bigotry and hatred

This past week’s events in Charlottesville have hit a little too close to home. We live just 100 miles, or less than 2 hours away. It’s a town I’ve been to many times. A quiet college town nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Not a place I would expect to see as the location for hate-fueled violence and death.

But it did happen. And it’s a wake-up call for me that there is no place immune to the dark nothingness of bigotry and hatred that infects our world, our country.

I realize that my generation is not the first to witness the fear-mongering and anger that leads to racism and division. But we are the first to see how technology and social media have become a new kind of fuel with the power to fan the flames of hate, causing them to spread further, faster. And as absolutely terrifying as the ones who stand on street corners, boldly shouting their hate-filled rhetoric, or drive their cars into crowds of people for no reason other than they disagree, it’s the people who sit on the other side of their computer and phone screens shouting and cursing and bullying that scare me even more.

Emboldened by the perception of a thin veil of anonymity Twitter and Facebook become a playground of lines drawn in the sand where groups gather on one side or the other and loudly condemn anyone who thinks differently from them.  Everyone is put into a group. We are an “us” or a “them”. You are with us or against us. And if you are a “them”, oh boy you are everything that is wrong with this world. You are stupid, blind, naive, evil, a bleeding-heart liberal, a crack-pot conservative, just plain wrong. You are worthy of every curse-word in the book.

And the war cries go out in 130 characters or less, and the troops rally. Friendships are ended at the click of the “unfriend” button. There is no room for respectful debate or common ground. This is where it begins. It is the slippery slope toward bigotry and hatred.

Because as soon as we, any one of us, are able to look down on our neighbor and elevate ourselves — as smarter, freer, better, more enlightened, shrewd, or reasonable — we have placed a foot over the line of intolerance; taken a step closer to fanaticism.

The only thing worthy of our intolerance is hate.

While we absolutely should and must speak out against hate, we also have to guard our hearts and tongues lest we allow the dark nothingness to seep into our words and relationships. None of us are immune to the shadows of hatred, or a heart hardened by anger.

“…Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters…Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:14b-18, NIV)

What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend is horrifying and unacceptable. That level of hate and anger can only come from those who belong to the evil one (1 John 3:12). If we declare that we belong, instead, to the Almighty Father then we must reside in love. Therefore, let us speak only truth and love, being cautious of what we say, post, tweet, or comment, but let us protect our hearts from the enemy by refusing to judge, discriminate, or look down on others. Jesus calls us to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, not try to elevate ourselves above them.

But most of all let us love with our actions. If you are appalled by the hatred and violence happening across this country; if you are worried about the future legacy we are leaving for our children; if you are concerned about the quality of people in leadership positions, get up and do something to spread love. Write your elected officials, volunteer at a local hospital or first-response unit, donate to the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund in memory of the fallen officers, pray for the families of those who were killed, speak to your children about acceptance, tolerance, and love.

Close your laptop, and power-off your phone. Sit face-to-face with someone who thinks differently from you. Buy them a cup of coffee and have a real conversation. Stop trying to decide who is an “us” or a “them” and instead let it be we who come together to trample condemnation, judgement, anger, and fear.

Love like your life depends on it.

1 John 3:18

photo credit: girl/afraid when life shows you signs via photopin (license)

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The surprising truth about parenting a teenager

You don’t have to be a parent to know that the general consensus around raising teenagers is “oh boy, hold on to your hat, it’s going to get bumpy” or perhaps something a little more blunt than that. There is this universal understanding that the teen years are the hardest to navigate as a parent, with perhaps the exception of the toddler years. I see it every time someone learns that I have a 14 year old daughter and they respond with a loud whistle or raised brows and big grin and say, “oh boy, you’re in the teen years!” or “phew! I remember those years, hang in there!” or even, “God bless you, teen girls are so hard!”

I’ve heard it all, and I’ve even said these things. I’ve joked with other parents about needing prayers to get through the teen years, or about the extra grey hairs growing on my head, and they’ve laughed or nodded knowingly. Because everyone seems to agree, parenting a teenager is challenging, trying, and even painful.

But here’s the thing I’ve learned  since we entered this phase of life nearly 2 years ago, the surprising truth about raising a teenager: It’s actually the most extraordinary stage of parenting I’ve experienced.

Here’s why.

The relationship is starting to shift. Her needs have changed. My daughter doesn’t call me mommy anymore and she certainly doesn’t need me to hold her hand when crossing the street, pick out her clothes, or even pack her lunches. She is becoming increasingly more independent each year, and while that may sound sad at first, the reality is it has created space and allowed for a new dynamic that I don’t have yet with my younger two.

Beautiful Hannah

She doesn’t need me in the same ways, but she still needs me. Often for something really important like someone to listen to her (just listen) when she’s struggling with a particular friendship or obstacle.

She needs me to set boundaries and then step back and give her the freedom to try new things, even fail, within those boundaries, while remaining close enough to help her up when she falls.

She needs me to know that sometimes a good cry, for no particular reason, is cathartic and part of life. But a hug and chocolate can make it all seem better.

She needs me to speak truth into her life, about how I need and rely on God every day so she may learn to do the same.

She needs my advice about decisions that will shape the rest of her life — big decisions and character defining moments — but only when she asks for it.

She needs me to recognize that she is not a little girl anymore, but also that sometimes she still needs her mom and be ready and available for those moments, without hovering or complaining when they pass.

Mom and daughter

I’m not saying this is always easy, this shift in how she needs me and the ways we relate to each other. And I most definitely get it wrong! I criticize, nag, and yell. I have a tendency to be sarcastic when I should be gentle. I ask too many questions when she doesn’t want to talk, and sometimes offer advice before it’s solicited. I’m still learning.

And for her part, sometimes I am the best mom ever and she will thank me 100 times for something little, and other times I am the enemy or invisible woman who she takes for granted. She’s still learning.

But even with the parts we get wrong; even on the days it’s really hard and one or both of us feels angry, scared, or disappointed in the other, this new relationship is nothing short of phenomenal.

Parenting a teenager is like getting an exclusive preview of the adult this child is going to be. It’s like reading a book about your favorite character and actually getting to play a role in influencing some of their story.

Because you know them more intimately than anyone else. You know where they’ve come from. You know what they’re afraid of, and what they hope for. You get to see all the good in them and the potential that is yet to be realized, but also know there are real struggles and mistakes to be made, which make the victories all the more sweet.

I’m still fairly new to this parenting a teen stage. And maybe it will get more challenging in the coming years, or with my other children. But what I want to say to every other parent who is approaching this stage: Take heart! Because while it might come with some really difficult moments, it’s also so much better than anyone ever tells you!

mom and teenage daughter

What I learned from Clark Griswold

Some of you may already know this, but my family and I just returned from a two week vacation in which we rented a 30 foot motor home and drove over 2,500 miles,  across 6 states, visiting 5 national parks including the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone NP. While some people might cringe at the idea of spending two weeks in a 300 square foot box on wheels with three kids and their spouse, this was actually a vacation I’d dreamed of for a long time. I wanted to have a real-life Griswold Family Vacation (minus the dead great-aunt and dog)!

The decision to make the trip this year had a lot to do with me turning 40 and wanting to check-off a few things on the bucket list. But when my husband had a stroke less than a month before the trip, the significance and meaning of this trip took on even greater magnitude.

love at the Grand Canyon

I had begun planning for this trip months earlier. As I researched and evaluated each stop, campground, and driving route, I dreamed of the family time spent around a campfire; of my kids happily playing card games at the table while their Dad or I drove to the next destination; of the life-long memories we’d make together seeing some of the greatest sites in the country.

But as the trip got closer and closer I started to realize my ideas of the perfect family vacation spent on the road were highly optimistic, if not entirely unrealistic. I began to worry that I was building-up this vacation too much in my mind and that could only lead to disappointment when things didn’t go as planned. I jokingly referred to myself as the female Clark Griswold, but when I began to list the things that could  go wrong on our real-life Griswold Ballon Family Vacation, and calculate the chances I might have my own Clark Griswold-esque meltdown, I wondered: did I really want to try and pull this off? Wasn’t I just setting myself up for a huge, expensive disaster?

So I tell you truthfully, there was no small amount of anxiety plaguing me in the days before we left, and even the first few days of the trip. But I decided the best thing to do was try to stay flexible (completely out of character for me), and know that things might go wrong, but that didn’t mean the vacation would be ruined.

And you know what? For the most part the trip went off without a hitch. Sure, we had a few minor issues, but none of them were enough to ruin an entire vacation, or at least we didn’t let them become so important they were allowed to ruin any one day of our trip.

It was, indeed, a wonderful vacation. And while I liked to tease the kids that I was making them learn on their summer break by going to places like the Pueblo Indian cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, or reading about the geological history of the Grand Canyon, I think I was the one who learned the most on this trip. Channeling my inner “Sparky” taught me a lot about myself and my family. Here are just a few of those things:

Be a family first.
In “National Lampoon’s Vacation” you hear Clark say over and over, “Why? because we’re the Griswolds!” I can’t say that I’ve ever said to my kids, “Why? because we’re Ballons! But I did learn from this trip that establishing  identity as a family creates unity.

Today there are so many places in which people claim an identity — even kids. We’re runners, dancers, drummers, teachers, students, etc. We belong to our employer or our school, our church and our clubs. And there is a sense of unity that comes when you claim them. Often they begin to define us. It becomes easy to forget that the first place we belonged was a family.

By spending such a concentrated amount of time together — away from our jobs, schools, and friends — we were able to just be a family. To be the Ballons. For 15 days straight we got to experience these wonderful places and things,  together. We will always have that. And while others may take similar trips and see similar sights, none will have the exact same experience that the five of us had together.

Garden of the Gods

Arkansas River

Sisters

 

When things don’t go as planned, have a Plan B, even if you make it up as you go!
Like I mentioned above, I had a great deal of anxiety leading up to the trip as I thought of every thing that could potentially go wrong.  Overall, we were fortunate that none of my biggest fears came to light. However, I don’t think it’s possible to go on a 2 week road trip and not have something go awry, and our trip was no exception.

We found out two days before we were to pick up the RV that we were not going to be able to get it before 4 p.m., when we had figured on a 1 p.m. pick-up. This meant not only a 3 hour delay, but also dealing with rush hour traffic in Denver. It didn’t take long to figure out that our original plan to drive three and a half hours that first day was not going to work out. After getting over the initial frustration, we looked for a new, closer destination for our first night and adjusted our plans accordingly. As it turns out, we loved the campground we stayed at the first night, even if it was a short stay, and by dedicating our second day to driving (originally we were going to visit Sand Dunes National Park, but had to scratch that plan to allow for a longer drive), we were able to go slower and enjoy everything we saw (see number 4).

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon tower

Jelise at the Grand Canyon

My body is still strong, even when it hurts.
So the truth is that I’ve been mourning the days when I was more fit and exercise wasn’t quite so hard. Turning 40 has magnified a lot of the things I don’t appreciate about the aging process…and gravity. But on this trip we did a lot of hiking and moving. In fact my fitness tracker calculate I walked over 140,400 steps, or 66 miles in two weeks! And I can tell you a big portion of that included some strenuous, up-hill hikes, and even climbing wooden ladders through rock crevices in Mesa Verde.

Of course, it hurt. I was physically exhausted each night, and took a few more ibuprofen than usual. But I did it. And it felt good. This 40 year old body is still strong and capable of new challenges.

Bryce Canyon

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

Sunset over the Grand Canyon

Enjoy the unexpected moments.
I’m a planner. Like my Sparky namesake, I spent a lot of time mapping out routes, researching parks, reading reviews, and making reservations. But, like I mentioned above, on a trip like this you will have moments that don’t go as planned. However, what really surprised me were the unexpected sights and experiences that became some of my favorite moments of the trip.

For example, day two’s focus was on driving from Buena Vista, CO to Cortez, CO. The most direct route that Google Maps indicated was a 5 hour trip through the Rio Grande National Forest, so that’s what we did. What I didn’t know was that this path would take us through an area called Wolf Creek Pass, which was not only a beautiful drive across the San Juan Mountains, reaching 10,000 feet elevation, but it brought us across the Continental Divide, provided an unplanned snowball fight, and hike to see Treasure Falls. It was one of my most favorite days, not just of the trip, but of all time. Totally unplanned and unexpected.

Snowball fight at Wolf Creek Pass

Bison baby at Yellowstone

Bottom of Bryce Canyon

Everyone is allowed at least one meltdown.
So, Clark Griswold’s meltdown in the movie is pretty iconic and long been quoted. Watching the movie before we left I laughed nervously at that scene because I could totally relate to how he felt in that moment and knew that I was fully capable of having a similar meltdown if faced with a trip where it was one disaster after another, and a vehicle full of whiny, complaining family members.

I confess, that it didn’t even take a series of ridiculous events to trigger my meltdown. On our second-to-last night in the RV it took nothing more than fatigue, lack of fire-wood, and a slightly ruined dinner. While I was at least about my wits enough to know I needed a time-out and went to bed early, it was not my finest moment. As soon as my head hit the pillow I felt guilty. The next morning before we left our campsite I gathered my family to apologize and I was met with the most unbelievable grace and love. They understood and forgave. And then they all thanked me for the planning and effort I put into the vacation. It was a very sweet moment and reminded me that everyone is bound to mess up, it’s how we deal with the mess-up afterwards that matters.

Old Faithful

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde

Horseshoe Bend - Page, AZ

There was so much more I learned about myself, my family, and my country on this trip. But I realize this is already a pretty long post, so I’ll wrap it up with this: spend long periods of time with your family, disconnected from electronics. Take long drives and explore places you’ve never been. Be willing to let plans change, and make unexpected stops. And remember, if things go wrong, if you get pushed passed your breaking point, if you have a Clark Griswold meltdown moment, things always look better under the light of a new day and an apology.

 

 

Does he know?

Today marks 17 years married to this guy.

16830861_10210828152533042_1838160445855475706_n
I’ll be darned if he doesn’t get better looking each year, while I just get older.

 

It’s been nearly 21 years since our fist date…officially together for more of my life than not. It’s crazy to think about. Last week I was thinking about what I wanted to say about 17 years of marriage with the only man I’ve ever loved. I had this nice story I was going to tell about the antique rocking chair he gave me when our first child was born, how it’s been broken and repaired, much like our marriage over the years. A sweet analogy, but I’ll have to save it for another time.

 

Because everything changed for me on Monday when I got the call from my husband that he was on his way to the ER. And then three hours later the text that they were admitting him.

He’d had a stroke.

I was in the middle of teaching a class when I read those words on my phone. To be completely truthful I hadn’t expected it to be anything serious. He’d started experiencing numbness on his left side two days earlier, but since he had absolutely no other symptoms we thought it might be related to a recent surgery on his elbow and didn’t worry too much. Then Monday, when the numbness hadn’t gone, he went to the clinic at his work and his blood pressure was through the roof.

That’s when they sent him to the ER.

Even at that point, while I was starting to get more concerned, I really didn’t think it could be anything too serious. Because until it happens to you, you don’t believe it will.

A stroke.

He’s only 43 and he’d had a stroke. The only person I ever remembered having a stroke was my grandpa but he was sick from before I was born. Strokes only happen to elderly and very sick people, didn’t they?

As I made arrangements with my boss to end my class early and jumped in the car to start the painfully long drive from Centreville to Winchester there was one thought that kept going through my mind: Does he know?

Does he know how much I appreciate everything he did for me the last two weeks?

Does he know how his presence comforts me?

Does he know how much I respect him and admire him for all that he’s overcome?

Does he know how much I need him in my life?

Does he know how much I love him?

Because the thought that plagued me and left a knot in my stomach was that I couldn’t remember if I’d said these things lately.

We’re pretty generous with the “I love you’s”, the hugs and kisses, and even the occasional cheeky text message. But they are scattered among lots of “did you remember to buy the milk?”, “have you seen the scissors?”, and the ever-popular, “what do you want to do for dinner?” So sometimes the other things seem to get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes you say and do those things every day and you wonder if the intent behind them is truly felt. Had I sat him down, looked in his eyes, and said how I really felt about him lately?

I thought about the night before and how we’d had a tense conversation about finances. It wasn’t an argument, but let’s suffice to say that there was frustration felt on both sides. While we hadn’t gone to bed angry, I couldn’t fathom the idea that that would be our last real conversation.

Oh God, please, don’t let that be the last thing we ever talked about.

I’m not going to sit here and tell all of you how important it is to tell the people you love how you feel. To never go to bed or part angry. To set-aside differences, forgive old wounds, and restore relationships before it’s too late. It’s been said a million times by every other person who has faced a medical scare, walked away from a near-death accident, survived cancer, or lost a loved one too soon. So I won’t say it again.

Because the truth I learned this week is that until you are driving like a bat-out-of-hell on the interstate to get to a hospital room; until you are there in that hospital room waiting for test results; until you hear the word stroke, or heart attack, or paralysis, or cancer, or worst of all, “I’m sorry we did everything we could,” the reality that last night’s conversation may have been the last one doesn’t fully settle into your heart, branding itself there forever.

Until that moment we may know intellectually all that is possible, but we don’t truly feel it. We don’t believe it could be us.

I’ve cried a lot of tears this week, taken a lot of deep breaths, and said a lot of words to God. I even laid in a hospital bed next to my sweet husband and told him that if he died and left me to raise our three kids on my own I would kick his a$$ when I got to heaven. Because humor is a coping mechanism for me.

But the heart’s intent behind all of those tears, and deep breaths, and prayers, and joking was simply this: I can’t imagine my life without you in it. I don’t want to do life without you in it.

I’m so very grateful that we get more time. That we are here today, celebrating 17 years of marriage. That today I can make sure he knows. And tomorrow, and the next day.

Because I don’t know which conversation will truly be our last, but God help me, whenever or wherever it is, I will not have to wonder again if my husband knows he is the love of my life.

 

The soundtrack

Forgive me for this slightly nostalgic and self-indulgent post. But it is my birthday. And my blog.

Earlier this year I wrote about 2017 being The Year of Living 40 and included a list of 40 things I planned to accomplish or do this year in honor of turning 40. I’ve been trying to keep myself accountable…I’ve even got a spreadsheet! (thankfully ridding myself of my A-type personality was not on this year’s list)

One of the items on my list was to make a playlist of my favorite 40 songs and listen to it often. Seemed easy enough, right? Until I tried to narrow it down to just 40 songs. I actually started with 130-something. After a lot of editing, I finally got it down to 75 and that’s as far as I can go. Because it turns out that music is innately tied to memories and there are some songs that are so visual in my mind’s eye that I cannot leave them off the list. Yes, as it turns out, my life has a soundtrack.

So, as homage to my first 40 years, here is the soundtrack of my life…in a somewhat chronological order of the memory the song is tied to, not necessarily the order of when the songs themselves were released.

  1. Country Roads – John Denver (1977 – born in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, this song has obvious meaning and connection. I also remember hearing this song playing on the radio in my dad’s old red Datsun 280z.)
  2. Superstar – The Carpenters (1979 – OK so maybe I don’t remember the exact moment I first heard this song, but I grew up on the Carpenters and to this day I have to belt this song whenever it comes on)
  3. Rainbow Connection – Kermit the Frog (Because I grew up on the Muppets.)
  4. Longer – Dan Folgerberg
  5. Beautiful – Carol King (Another one I grew up on. Still one of my all-time favorite girl-anthems)
  6. Imagine – John Lennon
  7. Yesterday – The Beatles
  8. Let it Be – The Beatles (I’m lumping together my favorite Beatles songs here. I honestly can’t remember the first time I heard them. Being born in the late-70’s it felt like the Beatle’s music was just always there and always special)
  9. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
  10. Piano Man – Billy Joel
  11. Eternal Flame – The Bangles
  12. One Moment in Time – Whitney Houston (My first cassette tape every was Whitney)
  13. Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
  14. In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel (Because the movie “Say Anything” came out and every girl wanted John Cusack to stand outside her window with a giant boom-box playing this song)
    1988
  15. Angel Eyes – Jeff Healey Band (1989 – I was in the 6th grade and had my first slow dance with a boy at the middle school Valentine’s Day dance. His name was Jeff Brown and I’d had a crush on him since the 4th grade. His mom picked me up and drove us to the dance and he brought me a heart-shaped cake…because cake is way better than flowers! I can’t hear this song and not think of that.)
  16. Faith – George Michael
  17. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  18. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – Righteous Brothers (1990 – The movie “Top Gun” had just come out and I had one of the best weeks of my childhood at my favorite summer camp and we sang this song all. week. long. As a result, the following year I went to my first concert with my BFF from summer camp – The Righteous Brothers at Wolf Trap.)
    1990
  19. Place in This World – Michael W. Smith (December 1990 – I received my first Michael W. Smith cassette tape, “Go West Young Man” and that was all she wrote.)
  20. Beautiful In My Eyes – Joshua Kadison (Must have played this CD 100 million times)
  21. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (1990’s – Even though I know I had heard their music earlier in life, it wasn’t until sometime in high school that I really discovered Simon & Garfunkel and I was completely changed forever)
  22. Hotel California – The Eagles (1994 – I was in the Color Guard all through highschool and for some reason every time we traveled to an away game somebody played this song on the bus.)
  23. Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce
  24. You Got It – Bonnie Raitt
  25. We Shall Be Free – Garth Brooks
  26. Somebody to Love – Queen
  27. I Still Believe – Miss Saigon Soundtrack (1993 – My Aunt Peggy took me to see Miss Saigon at the Kennedy Center and I bawled my eyes out for most of the show. This started my love-affair with Broadway musicals)
  28. This is the Time – Billy Joel (1995 – This was the theme song for our senior prom)
  29. It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday – Boyz 2 Men (1995 – High School graduation)
  30. Friends – Michael W. Smith (1995 – more High School graduation)
  31. Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
  32. Change The World – Eric Clapton (Summer of 1996 – met this boy named David on my first summer home from college. We only got to date for about 6 weeks before I had to head back to North Carolina, but those 6 weeks were the start of something big)
  33. Head Over Feet – Alanis Morissette
  34. Power of Two – Indigo Girls
  35. Least Complicated – Indigo Girls (1996 – I was introduced to the Indigo Girls by my old friend and college roommate, Mary, coincidentally the same girl who introduced me to Michael W. Smith back in 1990. I owe her a lot! The first — and only — time I camped out overnight for concert tickets was when Indigo Girls came to Boone)
    1997
  36. Drift Off to Dream in My Arms – Travis Tritt
  37. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (Our go-to karaoke song when I was in college and went out with my girlfriends)
    1999-2
  38. Haven’t Seen For a While – Pat McGee Band (1997, I think. David and I accidentally discover Pat McGee Band when they open for John Secada (who remembers him?) This became one of “our songs” because long distance relationships are hard)
  39. Wonder – Natalie Merchant
  40. Come Some Rainy Day – Wynona
  41. Strawberry Wine – Deana Carter
  42. Straight To the Heart – Michael W. Smith
  43. Meet in the Middle – Diamond Rio (1998 – My friend Jamie and I got to co-host the country radio show, “Kickin’ Country”, on our college campus radio station Thursday nights. Most of the time it was an alternative rock station, so the only people that tuned in to hear the country show were our friends, but we had so much fun! This was one of the songs we played a lot)
    1998
  44. Pray for Me – Michael W. Smith (1999 – College graduation)
  45. Carolina on My Mind – Jame Taylor (1999 – long time fan of James Taylor, this song took on a whole new meaning after living in North Carolina for four years. Truly some of the best memories of my life)
    1999.jpg
  46. Open Arms – Journey
  47. Dog & Butterfly – Heart
  48. Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
  49. Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
  50. The Other Side of Me – Michael W. Smith
  51. Love of My Life – Michael W. Smith (May 20, 2000 – marry the love of my life)
    2000
  52. I Can Only Imagine – Mercy Me
  53. Seasons of Love – Rent Soundtrack
  54. Your Song – Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (from Moulin Rouge soundtrack)
  55. Danny’s Song – Kenny Loggins (August 2002 – find out I’m pregnant with Hannah)
  56. Life Is Beautiful – Keb Mo
  57. Angel From Montgomery – Susan Tedeschi
  58. In My Daughter’s Eyes – Martina McBride (March 26, 2003 – Hannah is born)
    2003
  59. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
  60. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
  61. Hope for Me Yet – Marc Broussard
  62. One Boy, One Girl – Colin Raye (October 20, 2005 – Daniel and Olivia are born)
    2005
  63. Real Live Woman – Trisha Yearwood
  64. Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
  65. Stars Align – Jamie Prosser (My best friend writes this song and later records it on her first full-length CD)
  66. 100 Years – Five for Fighting
  67. Defying Gravity – Wicked Soundtrack
  68. For Good – Wicked Soundtrack (2010 – See “Wicked” on Broadway for the first time)
  69. Broken Together – Casting Crowns
  70. Blessings – Laura Story
  71. You Won’t Let Go – Michael W. Smith (2014 – Started my blog…and unbeknownst to me, the early seeds of ministry)
  72. Still the One – Orleans (May 2015 – David and I celebrate 15 years of marriage)
  73. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Chris Tomlin
  74. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
  75. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
    family

 

Romans 8:38-39