amy courts: en route

Ghost Hunting
August 5, 2011, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Baby, Faith and Faith Life, Home Life

Cameras are amazing. They capture images our minds might otherwise fail to properly retain. In the hands of a particularly gifted eye, what we see can become even more powerful and moving once the real image has faded and the paper replica is printed and framed. We can see what we once saw and somehow, without returning to that place and time, return to that place and time.

Audio and video recorders are the same. We can capture sounds on these little plastic discs and relive a moment just by pushing play. Granted, the moment isn’t quite as sweet or thick or consuming…but it can nevertheless transport us to a place where, with the help of visual and audio triggers, memory can produce a respectable duplicate if not a perfect replica.

But what of touch? What about those little sensations that are as fleeting as a breath and as impossible to capture?

Like the first time a first-time-mom feels that flutter in her belly and knows that’s her baby’s tiny foot?

What of the emotional current humming beneath those moments, bolstering in them this overwhelming, indescribable, yet inescapable power?

Like the pure, Nirvana-esque  …bliss… of Being the carrier during that moment in time.

What of those moments?

Because I can look at a photo taken that very same day and experience nothing of the moment. I can hear the very same words, in the exact phrasing and intonation, against the backdrop of the same song on the same radio station, and feel nothing but cheated.

…Like it’s sitting there, teasing me, just beyond my grasp, daring me to try and catch it but knowing I never will.

I feel like I’m clawing for a hold on ghosts of damned memories that can’t ever again find form or substance.

I wish there was a machine on which I could simply push “play” to re-feel all those sensations I didn’t mean to take for granted. Or, no…not that I took for granted; just that I never thought I’d so desperately need to remember.



Observing Grief
May 28, 2011, 11:14 am
Filed under: Baby, Culture, Faith and Faith Life, Home Life, Media & Art

“…there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it. There is [no] device which will make pain not to be pain.” (CS Lewis, A Grief Observed)

In the days after returning home from the hospital, I had a number of heated conversations with God. I was angry that I never had the chance or opportunity to bargain with Him, and hurt that He’d seemingly cruelly left me without something that felt so essential to being me.

Oh, the things I would’ve given up in exchange for my uterus. Almost anything. Anything but what could have saved it from the start – Elijah and his daddy.

I mentally flogged myself for all those times in high school and college when I foolishly begged – pleaded – for someone to come and remove my uterus so I wouldn’t suffer those wretched, debilitating cramps ever again.

I was clueless.

I look back at those old blogs and shake my head.

I worried about losing sleep, my changing marriage, not getting showers, doing laundry, keeping a clean house, and losing my career. From the time I learned I was pregnant until May 6, 2011, my worst fear was that it’d take years to get my pre-baby body back…or that I’d never see it again. And I loathed the idea of a c-section; those scars are so ugly.

Today…not so much. I don’t get a lot of sleep, but being awake and getting to stare at and shower with kisses the most beautiful, daily-changing face in the world (without being called a creepy stalker), is sweeter than any dream I can imagine. I don’t want to miss a moment. My marriage? If entering the covenant five years ago didn’t do it, this gift and loss are creating the unbreakable bond. Showers, laundry, and home? I’m clean enough, deodorant and hats are magic, and my newborn doesn’t care about clean parents, clothes, or floors. And my career? Surely more songs will come; they always do. But for now, my son, his father, and my Savior are the only songs I want to sing, and the only ones I want to sing them for.

About those pounds I so feared…It’s three weeks out and I’ve lost 32 of the 37 pounds I gained during pregnancy (roughly 2lbs of that was the uterus I lost…). Already I miss the weight and all it represented. I look in the mirror and wonder if I ever really did have a baby inside me. I can’t imagine a greater insult than, “You look like you were never pregnant!” Especially now that I know it can’t ever happen again.

And that scar? Thank God for that precious scar. It’s my proof. If the weekly pictures and maternity photos are worth a thousand words each, my scar is the definitive word. That’s all I need: the one word.

I get why Jesus cherishes and celebrates His scars. They mean…everything.

Anyway, as grief goes, I don’t know how it works, but I’m sure it’s happening as I speak. And there’s no way around grief but to go through it.

As Lewis said…”there’s nothing you can do with suffering but to suffer it;” nothing that can make the pain anything but what it is. All we can do is hope to find suffering’s partner, comfort, somewhere along the way.

Even if Comfort is simply to be “sharing in the sufferings of Christ.”

Life and Death in 24 Hours: The Labor & Delivery Story
May 26, 2011, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Baby, Faith and Faith Life, Home Life

I’ve debated back and forth about whether or not to write this blog and share my labor story. It’s a long one, and it’s not pretty. But because a few other womens’ blogs detailing similar stories have so helped and encouraged me – and because, in a way, sharing is therapeutic – I’ve decided to go with it.

So how do you begin to recount the events of one day that will remain both the best and worst day of your life?

At the beginning, I suppose.

At 7:30am on May 6, 2011, Paul and I arrived at Vanderbilt University Hospital’s Labor & Delivery ward for my scheduled induction. Originally, I was scheduled for induction Wednesday the 4th, but because an ultrasound and non-stress-test showed Elijiah was in good health, we were able to delay two extra days. Studies show that the majority of first-time mothers who deliver after their due date do so by the 8th day past-due, and Firday would be day nine. Neither of us was comfortable delaying any longer, since Elijah’s ultrasounds also showed he was a BIG baby boy…and growing bigger. And the bigger he grew in utero, the greater my risks were of needing emergency intervention. Since our goal was to have a natural labor and delivery with no intervention if possible, we wanted to give him a few extra days to make an entrance. But Elijah wasn’t coming on his own, despite a few weeks of false contractions; despite my having had strong Braxton Hicks contractions since week 27; despite our having done everything possible to naturally induce labor.

Me and E at 41 weeks

So the first thing we did upon settling into our labor suite was explain to my nurse that we’d still like to keep things as natural as possible. Granted, we were probably going to choose to induce with a Pitocin drip to get contractions rolling. But our hope was that once they became regular, we’d be able to stop the drip and un-tether me, leaving me free to labor naturally.

Alas. Things didn’t go according to plan.

Around 8:15am, my midwife checked me to find out how progressed I was in labor. The examination threw me into a horrendous contraction during which they lost Elijah’s heart rate on the monitor for more than five minutes. Within 30 seconds of making the call, 15 emergency team members were in my labor suite ready to wheel me off for an emergency cesarean section. Thankfully, they recovered his heartbeat quickly thereafter and we were able to avoid the c-section.

But I knew right then, deep in my gut, our course for the day was set. It was completely out of my control.

Still, we began the Pitocin drip and between 8:30am and 2:30pm, my contractions grew stronger but remained bearable, and by 2:30pm I’d dilated another two centimeters to four. My doula was on-call, ready to come whenever I transitioned to active labor, but we didn’t want her to waste her entire day in the labor suite with us while nothing happened. And you never know with Pitocin how long it might take for labor to really kick in.

By 3:30pm, my water broke and we were off. Contractions became a bit stronger and longer, and both Paul and I were getting more excited. Elijah was on his way! So I called my doula to let her know, and we just waited. Even by 4:15pm, the contractions were strong and getting more painful, but I was still able to talk around them if not through them.

By 4:45pm, when my doula arrived, I was in a state of near-constant contractions. I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but somewhere in that fifteen minute period, the contractions became a tornado.

During normal Active labor, contractions will last anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds, and will come every few minutes, allowing for a 60 to 90 second rest between contractions, until the Transition phase, when they last 60 to 90 seconds and come every 2 minutes or so.

Mine, however, were already on top of one another, lasting 1:30 to 1:45, with only fifteen-second breaks before the next…and I was only 5cm dilated; I still had 5cm to go before I could even consider pushing. Looking at the monitor – and my face – my doula kept saying, “This isn’t right; she shouldn’t be having contractions so strong or frequent til transition. This isn’t right.”

She called in the nurse at that point, who cut the Pitocin in half, and then in half again, but the contractions still wouldn’t stop, slow, or weaken. I was in such pain I couldn’t move or change positions at all. I was frozen. And when I wasn’t frozen, I was convulsing wildly.

By 5:15pm, I had been in one constant contraction for over 20 minutes…and they lost Elijah’s heart rate again. This time, they called it a “terminal deceleration” – they knew they wouldn’t be able to recover it this time. So at 5:17pm, I was off to OR for an emergency c-section, and by 5:24pm my baby boy was born. Turns out, there was a knot in his umbilical cord. Those heavy contractions were squeezing the life out of him and cutting off his oxygen supply. Thankfully, he was born in perfect health.

Elijah's first look at Daddy (and a camera)

Because I hadn’t gotten an epidural during labor, I was put under general anesthesia for the c-section, so I didn’t wake up until around 7:20pm. I was pretty out of it, but knew two things: I wanted to see and hold my baby, and I wanted to know why there was gushing between my legs. So I asked the nurses.

They checked me again, and by 7:30pm, just as they were about to give Eli to me, I was being hauled off to OR again, this time for massive post-partum hemorrhaging due to uterine atony. See, after a baby is born, the uterus naturally continues contracting in order to deliver the placenta and to allow blood to clot. Atony is when the uterus fails to contract. Hence, hemorrhaging.

By 9:30pm, my surgeons had re-opened my incision, drained the blood, packed me full of clotting materials, and sown me back up. But it didn’t work. I was still bleeding.

By midnight, after close to five hours of surgery and 20 units of blood transfusions, they had to do an emergency hysterectomy to save my life.

I woke up in Vanderbilt’s SICU Saturday morning, May 7, to the news that Elijah was perfectly healthy and incredibly strong…and that he would be the only biological son I’ll ever have.

My first visit with Eli, in ICU, about 17 hrs after he was born (and a couple hours after hearing the news)

My immediate reaction was, “You saved my life, thank God! And hey…we can adopt.”

As days have passed, my heart still echoes those sentiments… But I’m also just beginning to realize the loss.

And it stings, knowing that what made me a woman – my ability to bear children – is gone; knowing that I’ll never get to experience the gift of giving birth; knowing that I’ll never wear maternity clothes again, or feel my baby tumble and swing inside me, or have another baby who immediately, upon first meeting, calms at my touch, my scent, my heartbeat that he’s known for nine months…

But at the same time…Elijah is a miracle. That I’m here to love him, feed him, hold him, cherish him is a miracle.

I am equal parts broken by the reality that grows a little bit bigger every day, and grateful that I was given the magnificent gift of having such a perfectly enjoyable pregnancy, that I was able to carry him to term and even run and play and do yoga with him up until the week I delivered, that he was born so healthy despite 14 weeks of Braxton Hicks contractions (who knows how long that knot was in his cord!?!). And praise God (!!!) that I was cared for and saved by some of the absolute best doctors in the world.

I don’t know how to describe it all yet. I’m sure it’ll take years to process, a lifetime to grieve, and maybe an eternity to understand even in part.

But the best I can offer is this: My pregnancy, from day one, was a miraculous gift. We weren’t trying to get pregnant, or even thinking about it. Elijah was the best birthday surprise I’ve ever had. Carrying him was a joy, every single day. Yes, I was exhausted some days. Yes, toward the end I was convinced I would be the only woman to ever stay pregnant forever (oh, how wrong I was!). But I am so thankful that I learned to cherish every moment, every kick, every tumble, every sleepless night. I thank God for a healthy pregnancy free of sickness and worry. I thank God that even during those last days when I was so anxious to see his face, I was able to treasure the final moments. (And thank God we did that maternity photo shoot!!)

It’s as if this beautiful box encasing the most precious gift was left on my doorstep for me to find. As if I opened it only to be blinded by an exquisite radiance to enjoy for only a short time. It is if that box was promptly and unexpectedly slammed shut, with total finality.

I’m not sure if its temporary nature makes it that much sweeter and more miraculous…or if it compounds the bitterness of the end.

But I know that I have a son whose name is Elijah, which means “The LORD is my God.” I know that he is and was always meant to be my daily, hourly reminder that my God is not a god of anger, cruelty, passivity or indifference, but The God of compassion and comfort, infinite goodness and everlasting kindness.

So I know that while this one dream of family has indeed been stripped from me –from us – for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, God will plant in us new dreams that could not and would not flower had my womb not been taken.

It’s ok.

My Elijah, 2 weeks old and giving us big smiles!


Not That It Would Have Changed a Thing
March 2, 2011, 10:39 am
Filed under: Baby, Faith and Faith Life, Home Life, Music, Uncategorized

Ok. I’m calling in the big guns.

I just read this thing, “25 Things I wish I knew before having kids” from another mom on babycenter. And none of it looks terribly crazy. It all looks/sounds eerily familiar.

And it’s freaking me out.

According to this list, beginning in late April, I’m not going to sleep at least three years. Actually, scratch that. If I’m anything like my own mom, I’m not going to sleep for 18 years. And if my kids are anything like me, during years 13-16, I’ll sleep less than I do during their first months of life. You know, when they don’t sleep through the night, so neither do I?

My marriage is being turned on its head. My husband, whom I love and cherish and treasure more than anyone else in this universe, and I are going to have to re-learn how to be married, this time with kids. Forget about baby proofing. That’s easy. What about intimacy? What about date nights? What about sitting up til all hours and just laughing? Will I ever be not-tired enough to enjoy any of that again? How am I going to continue being a wife when I become a mother?

I am about to completely lose my former self (if I haven’t lost her already) and become someone new. Namely, a mother. Everything about me is going to shift. It’s gonna have to shift, lest I raise a son who a) hates me, and b) will desperately need years and years of expensive therapy. This is difficult for me, because I’m selfish. And I like it.

Career? What career? I’m not good at multi-tasking, and having-a-baby seems, from everything I can tell thus far, like a pretty time-consuming affair. I don’t have the first clue what to do or think about that.

According to the list, shower time will be my favorite 5 minutes of the day. Because those minutes are all mine.

According to the list, I won’t have a clean house for a year…and I shouldn’t mind. Clearly, these people don’t know me at all, or anything about my obsessive compulsion for things to be presentably clean for company. Which leads me to the next realization…

We will not have company over for years. Because I, apparently, will not be cleaning for that long.

And we chose to cloth diaper. I am tempted to reconsider the dollars we’re saving, the landfills we’re saving, and all that other nonsense, and trade all those savings in for one other salvation of utmost importance: My sanity.

Maybe, with just eight more weeks to go, I should ask for a few more weeks of bed rest?


Baby E w/ 8 Weeks Left to Bake

on impending motherhood
January 8, 2011, 12:41 pm
Filed under: Baby, Home Life, Uncategorized

He responds to my touch. I can lay my hand over my belly, and he’ll start kicking it. Like he’s giving me a high-five. He does the same with Paul.

He dances when his daddy plays guitar…until the song lulls him to sleep.

He wiggles around, as if trying to find the most comfortable position to sit and listen, while I read to him. Right now, we’re at chapter 8 of the book of John, and judging by the words he reacts to, we’re going to have to spend some good time explaining that when he takes communion, he’s not actually eating flesh or drinking blood. No, my beloved son, Jesus did not make us a church of vampires.

Some days, he just plays all day long, and I feel the little kicks and jabs here and there and everywhere, reminding me that he’s becoming.

And it seems that he’s developing either a strong affinity toward or against (I can’t be sure) spicy foods. One bite, and he’s squirming everywhere.

I don’t know him, but I know him. I have no idea what shape his personality will take in the years to come.

I don’t know if he’ll love math and science (What!? Who’s child can this possibly be!?! The son of two musicians is an astrophysicist!?), or if he’ll write books or songs or nothing at all.

I don’t know if he’ll be a desk philosopher or a hands-on build-it man.

Maybe he’ll love the theater like his father, or being the class clown (in a good way) like his big brother Matt, or maybe he’ll be an imaginative over-achiever who exaggerates everything like his mother (please, God, not that!).

I don’t know any of this, and it sometimes terrifies me.

But there’s one thing I know, and this is a truth I’ve never experienced more powerfully or profoundly until now: No matter what he is, who he is, where he goes, or what he does, I long and ache for him to know and be transformed by the love of Jesus.

I want him to know in his bones that he was created to see and know and love his Maker, all because his Maker sees and knows and loves him infinitely.

I’m equal parts excited and terrified of this great task of teaching him these things without forcing him to see what he’s not ready to see. What is this profound calling, to shepherd a child, and how will I ever be equipped to do it well? Where do I even begin!?

At 24 weeks pregnant, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do or give for this little boy who isn’t even here yet. I can only imagine the lengths to which I’ll stride or the heights to which I’ll leap or the depths to which I’ll willingly plunge when he’s in my arms, his little fingers wrapping around mine.

And if I, a simple, sinful human can love him so deeply already…

I simply cannot begin to fathom the love God has for him.

And I am altogether stunned to consider how deep is the Father’s love for me in giving me this unspeakable gift of bringing a person into the world.

Oh, that I won’t do him wrong.

Top Ten of the New Millennium’s First Ten

Having realized January 1, 2011 was not only the beginning of a new year but a new decade as well, I feel obligated to contribute yet another top ten list to the great expansive black hole that is “Top Ten Lists From Random Users of Facebook, The Blogosphere, and Other Social Networking Utilities.”

Now, of course, because 2010 was a rather significant year in my personal history, there will inevitably be some carry-over, and the year will provide two equally significant memories, which do not “tie” for first, but which cannot be discluded here either. The same thing happens in 2001 and in a couple other years. But only because each of the significant happenings of those years are too significant to leave out of this story.

This will surely be an exercise in both memory (which will be entertaining not only because it’s fun, but because pregnant-woman memory is notoriously hole-y) and creativity (as I will try to only choose the best of the best and/or most significant of the significant memories, and find an accompanying photo to boot. Disclaimer: There will be times when no photo is retrievable aside from me digging through my attic and employing the scanner…in which case no photo will be applied. Because I am lazy today).

So once again, here goes.

IN THE YEAR 2000, I was half-way through my freshman year at Oak Hills Christian College, during which time I not only neglected to vote in the first elections for which I was actually eligible to vote (bad news), but I also performed for the first time with a band (good news). I tried my best at (and did an OK job of) rocking out to Jennifer Knapp’s “Into You” from her second studio album, ‘Lay It Down.’ This was the beginning of what would later become “something.”

IN THE YEAR 2001, some rather passionate and – if I may say – crazy men crashed three planes into the Twin Towers and near the Pentagon, and I paid $5/gallon for gasoline. No one wants to remember the gruesomeness of 9/11/01, much less the snowball of events it set in motion…least of all me. But in reality, this was the moment of the year. This was the event they were all referring to when they told me, “For every person, there will be an event so culturally and socially significant that she will be able to look back and remember exactly where she was, what she was doing, and what thoughts crossed her mind when the event struck.” For many in my parents’ generation, that day was – until 9/11, anyway – the day JFK was assassinated. For all of us, 9/11 will forever be that day.

(copyright 2001, Thomas E. Franklin)

Later in 2001, I met Jennifer Knapp for the first time. She does not remember meeting me then. I would not expect her to, but I nevertheless have the picture to prove it. It is significant for reasons to come.

, I made the first record I was ever going to make of some pretty amazingly crappy songs. And thanks to my fellow Oakies (that’s what we students at Oak Hills Christian College called ourselves when we were feeling particularly sentimental and/or stupid), the word got out that this girl Amy Courts made music. (I pray, to this day, that all copies of those early recordings have been either lost or destroyed. God forbid anyone should ever be subjected to that awful noise ever again.) (And once again, no photo can be provided. You’ll just have to trust me: it happened. And it really was that bad.)

I graduated from college. I don’t have a picture to prove it – well, actually, I’m sure I do, but I’m not going to dig it out. I do have a diploma to prove it, which I’m also not going to dig out and scan. But it did happen. And I have made little use of my college education since. After that, I moved to Nashville TN to begin the career I was never meant to have…in professional musical performance. For the previous four years – all throughout my college career – I was dead set against a career having anything to do with music. Never mind that writing songs was easily the most satisfying and natural thing to do. Never mind all those Oakies who said, “you really should think about doing this for a living.” Never mind all that. Because I was NOT going to be “that girl” who moved to Nashville to become a singer and became a waitress instead. But alas…when God closes one door… Or rather, when God slams every. single. other. available door in your face, you go through the lone open door. So when the Denver doors slammed…and the Nebraska doors slammed…and the other doors slammed…there stood one lonely open door, behind which stood this rather amazing girl named Katie Spain who willingly offered a home to a perfect stranger. She is now my best friend. (Sorry, no photos of those early days in Nashville, or of me and Katie, so a picture of me with Katie’s daughters will have to suffice.)

I met Paul Koopman, the unbelievable singer/songwriter who’s voice and songs so immediately melted me that I felt compelled to fearlessly approach him (which I NEVER do…or did…until then) to praise his undeniable talent. This began a professional relationship that would later turn, uh, well, pretty personal. He was, after all, the man who would later become my husband. That’s pretty significant…and (lucky you) self-explanatory.

(From the early days of our love affair)

, after nearly 18 months of dating – nine of which were long distance (which, might I add, is not for the faint of heart) – that man proposed to me. Also significant and self-explanatory.

, a number of really significant things happened, so I’ll only tell you the top two. First of all, we got married. This is a big deal. So big, it was the biggest thing to ever happen to me up until that point. It was the best day of my life up til then, but – I’m happy to say – has been exceeded by even happier days in the nearly five years since then. Amazing, eh? OH! And guess what else I got when I got married? Not just a husband…a stepson too. Who is, for the record, the greatest 14 year old on the planet (and I dare anyone to challenge that).

(copyright 2006 Lindsey Little)

And the other big thing that happened in 2006 was that I (finally, after nearly two years of working on it) released my debut EP. Again, a significant accomplishment not only because it was the reason for which I moved to Nashville in the first place, but also because these were seven songs I was truly proud to give to the world (for $.99/each or $10/album, thankyouverymuch). As it were, that album is still available for your purchase and enjoyment today. (Like how I did that? What kind of artist would I be if I didn’t slip a sale or two in here…? On that note, if you want to purchase the album or individual songs, simply click on the photo to be redirected to my store. MAN I’m good at this!)

, having decided (with the blessing of my husband) to quit my job and do this musical career full-on, balls-to-the-wall, I went on my first tour. This was a very big, impressive thing for me. I sent out hundreds of emails, made hundreds of phone calls, and (with the equal effort and help of my enduring tour mate and fellow indie artist Katy Kinard), set about playing something like 10 or 12 shows in 14 days…over Easter…in Kansas and Colorado. It was a rather huge step for us both, and more fun than I can say, despite that I somehow caught a cold that nearly killed me by the end (and despite that I returned from those 14 days with nodules on my vocal cords). What an incredible experience!

, I released my second album, a full length record with 10 of my most favorite songs. It was a bit of a bigger deal than the first (if you can imagine) simply because of everything we invested – time, energy, soul, money – to make it exactly what I wanted and needed it to be. It was also the first time I even considered – much less followed through with – recording a song written by someone else. But not only did I record the song; I took the album’s title from its lyrics. So if anyone is wondering why the song “Breathe” is so outstandishly brilliant compared to the other nine songs on the record, now you know: It’s because Paul Koopman (yes, my husband) wrote it. (Again, if you’re curious to hear and/or purchase the record, simply click on the album cover below. Wink, wink.)

, once again, two pretty amazing things happened, neither of which can be left out of this. Actually, three incredible things. I’ll start with the least incredible. First, in April and September of 2009 I ran my first half marathons (13.1 miles). It doesn’t sound that exciting, considering that literally hundreds of thousands of people cover this distance at hundreds of thousands of races every year. But for me – the girl who never even ran until 2004, and who certainly never saw herself covering any distance greater than 3 miles at a time – it was pretty huge. And it was the gateway into one of the most satisfying and rewarding things I do: run distances. Running long distances has saved me from a) going crazy, b) getting morbidly obese (thanks to the way too much food I consume; again: I run to eat), and c) devolving back into a grossly insecure person who controlled her life by anorexia. Running is perhaps the greatest lesson one will learn regarding what the body can do, and even more significantly what the mind can do…with the proper training and care.

In October 2009, I finally traveled to Gulu, Uganda…a place to which my heart had been aching to journey for three years prior. There’s no short way of telling that story, except to say it did exactly what I expected and feared it would do: change me, utterly and irrevocably. (The long story, for those who are interested, can be read here or by clicking on the picture below.)

And finally, upon returning to the States after those 10 incredible days in Gulu, the third significant thing happened: Jennifer Knapp – my favorite singer/songwriter of all time, who seven years prior simply vanished from the earth (well, OK, from the music scene anyway) – reappeared. She started following me on Twitter; she added me to her top friends on Myspace; and then – miracle of miracles – she came to one of my shows, specifically to see me, and liked it. She liked it so much that three weeks later she invited me to join her on stage at the Belcourt Theater here in Nashville and sing with her on some of my favorite of her songs. It was surreal. It was magical. And it really. Did. Happen. And THEN we became friends. (And I pinched myself about ten times daily, thinking, “What is happening? To what magical universe have I been transported where dreams really do come true!? This MUST be some hidden-camera Disney movie…”)

AND IN THE YEAR 2010, well…you all know the Top Ten (and Top Two) happenings last year! I went on tour with not just one, but TWO of my musical heroes: Jennifer Knapp AND Derek Webb (you can see that post here, or click the photo below)…

…And I made a Baby with Paul Koopman!

what 2011 or the decade ahead holds. But if it’s even half as good – and I trust it will be, given that the God I serve and am continually amazed by makes a habit of outdoing Himself all the time – I will be an evermore satisfied woman. And that’s really all I can hope for.

Cheers to the next ten years!

Top Ten of Twenty(20)Ten(10)
December 30, 2010, 9:32 am
Filed under: Baby, Home Life, Music, Running, Travel, Video

Because it’s the end of the year, and because everyone who’s anyone who has nothing better to do does this…I’ve decided to make a Top Ten of TwentyTen list for your perusal and enjoyment.

So here goes.

10. I ran 25 miles in my longest training run to date, while training for my first ever 50k ultra marathon. It took me 5 hours and 20 minutes, but I did it, and it was amazing.

9. I enjoyed traveling to countless cities – for free! – with Husband, thanks to his job which affords him this amazing perk of frequent flier miles which added up to a free one-year companion pass for me. Which means I can go anywhere with him, anytime, for nothin’. Go Southwest!

8. I’ve had the privilege of spending many days with some of the most incredible kids in the universe on a near-ongoing basis, some of whom are pictured here:

(This is Rebekah, my best friends’ oldest daughter, almost 4yo)

(And here’s Abigal, Rebekah’s sister, who is every drop of two years old.)

(The big kid would be Matt, my 14yo stepson, who occasionally tags along to help me babysit…and read to the young’ns…who LOVE him.)

7. I ran and finished my first ever trail race, covering nearly 12 miles and climbing upwards of 3,000 in elevation, at Chattanooga’s Stump Jump (I was supposed to run that 50k race I mentioned training for in #10, but alas, my #1 thing of 2010 kind of hampered that):

6. I ate some *amazing* food in some amazing cities, including but not limited to:

^^This incredible – and I mean incredible – hot dog at an Anaheim Angels game in California.

^^…as well as this unbelievable lobster in New York City.

^^…and this Green Curry in Alexandria, VA.

^^…and (finally) this unspeakably delicious bbq smorgasbord in Black Mountain, NC.

(It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that I did NOT eat to run, this year, but rather ran to eat!)

5. I enjoyed a rather intoxicating anniversary weekend away in …wait for it… Washington, DC with my Love:

(That’s the Lincoln Memorial from across the Reflection Pool.)

(And that’s Love and me in front of Lincoln…)

4. I somehow, through no fault or success of my own, managed to write one of my personal favorite songs to date, “Stronger Than You Think,” which has become a bit of a quiet anthem for myself and many I’ve had the privilege of getting to know:

3. I traveled to a LOT of states across the whole country on tour, running through and/or simply enjoying the sights of some incredible cities along the way, like these:

Seattle, WA…(the view from my hotel room balcony)…


….Greensboro, NC (the view from a 6 mile lakeside trail run)…

…Times Square in New York City (where I rather enjoyed looking grumpy for a moment, who knows why?)…

…The gorgeous shores of Long Island (NY)…

…and the Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, MA.


2. I spent over two months touring with two of my musical heroes, Jennifer Knapp and Derek Webb, during which time I literally shared the stage (and a van) with them, sang songs with them, ate food with them, made jokes with them, and took pictures with other super famous cats like these guys (they’re called “Hanson”):


the number one thing I did in 2010….

1) I MADE A BABY!! (With the help of Husband, of course!) He’s currently 23 weeks baked in my uterus for an oven, and due on April 27, 2011. He will, no doubt, be number one on next year’s Top Ten list as well!


(Momma at 18 weeks)

(Momma at 22 weeks)