Love, Mom

Before Meghan left for college last August I worked to think of creative things to send with her. One of the things I decided on was a playlist. Sure, we have some overlapping music tastes, but it was not to be about that. It was for songs that she would be able to listen to and imagine me either telling her or singing alongside her. Since I am a TERRIBLE singer, a playlist was definitely the most kind and efficient option.

I have listened to this playlist “Love, Mom” on Spotify about a million times. The link is here-


I listened to every song over and over before declaring it a fit. Then, I listened to the playlist, first in order, then on shuffle for weeks before I “gave” it to her. We have added songs through the months and even taken one or two out. But now it seems like a chronology. Some songs that will be life advice forever, and some that were epically important as she settled away from home for the first time

  1. The Gambler” Kenny Rogers

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done…

2. “Humble and Kind” Tim McGraw

“Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind…”

3. “I Hope You Dance” LeeAnn Womack

“…I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance,
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth m

4. “Here Comes the Sun” The Beatles

“…Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear

Here comes the sun do, do, do
Here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right…”

5. “My Shot” Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton)

“…I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal
Tryin’ to reach my goal, my power of speech: unimpeachable
Only nineteen, but my mind is older
These New York City streets getting colder, I shoulder
Ev’ry burden, ev’ry disadvantage
I have learned to manage…”

6. “I’ll Stand by You” Pretenders

“...I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you…”

7. “Have it All” Jason Mraz

“…May you be as fascinating as a slap bracelet
May you keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk
May you have unquestionable health and less stress
Having no possessions though immeasurable wealth
May you get a gold star on your next test
May your educated guesses always be correct
And may you win prizes shining like diamonds
May you really own it each moment to the next

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow…”

8. “How They Remember You” Rascal Flatts

“…You’re gonna leave a legacy, no matter what you do
It ain’t a question of if they will
It’s how they remember youDid you stand or did you fall?
Build a bridge or build a wall
Hide your love or give it all
What did you do?
What did you do?Did you make ’em laugh or make ’em cry?
Did you quit or did you try?
Live your dreams or let ’em die
What did you choose?
What did you choose?
When it all comes down
It ain’t if, it’s how they remember you…”

9. “Best Day of My Life” American Authors

“I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh, wo-o-o-o-o-oh
I stretched my hands out to the sky
We danced with monsters through the night
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh, wo-o-o-o-o-ohI’m never gonna look back
Woah, never gonna give it up
No, please don’t wake me now…”

10. “Rise Up” Andra Day

“…All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
And we will rise
We will rise
We’ll rise, oh, oh
We’ll riseI’ll rise up
Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousand times again
And we’ll rise up
High like the waves
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again…”

You get the idea… and a few of my favorites down further in the list…

15. “The Comeback” Danny Gokey

“…There is no mountain you can’t face
There is no giant you can’t take
All of your tears were not a waste
Your one step awayJust when they think they’ve got you game set match
Oh here comes the comeback…”

23. “Fight Song” Rachel Platten

“…This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me…”

29. “Good To Be Alive” Meghan Trainor

“…It feels good, don’t it?
Living your life in this quick moment
And you never ever think it’s gonna go away, but I swear
I know you’ll wake up one day and say
Yeah, I got things to do (you’ll say)
Yeah, I got mountains to move
And it ain’t about how sad it could be
It’s about how good it should be
Come on, sing…”

32. “Let it Be” The Beatles

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…”

35. “Defying Gravity” (Wicked) Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth

“…I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But ’til I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!…”

40. “Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas) Judy Kuhn

“…You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew…

How high does the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you’ll never knowAnd you’ll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
For whether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain
We need to paint with all the colors of the windYou can own the Earth and still
All you’ll own is Earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind”

42. “Do Something” Matthew West

“…I’m so tired of talking about
How we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire and
I wanna be the one who stands up and says
“I’m gonna do something”…”

45. “Magnify” We are Messengers

“…God be greater than the worries in my life
Be stronger than the weakness in my mind
Be louder let your glory come alive
Be magnified…”

51. “Stand By You” Rachel Platten

“…And oh, truth I guess truth is what you believe in
And faith, I think faith is having a reason
And I know, know love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine so yours can open too’Cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we’re breaking down
We can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven
I’ll walk through hell with you
Love, you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you…”

This one was added recently after Meghan brought it to me. It seems she has been paying attention to her father and I all these years….

56. “Like My Father” Jax

“…I need a man who loves me like
My father loves my momAnd if he lives up to my father
Maybe he could teach our daughter
What it takes to love a queen
She should know she’s royaltyI need a man who’s patient and kind
Gets out of the car and holds the door

I wanna slow dance in the living room like
We’re 18 at senior prom and grow
Old with someone who makes me feel youngI need a man who loves me like
My father loves my mom

I need a man who loves me like
My father loves my mom…”

So, with few words of my own, and many from talented musical artists, we remain


Photo Credit Natalie Licini



I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m wornI know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have leftLet me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn….

This has been the summer that… well…

It has definitely been a few extra stressful weeks, and not at all the relaxation we had so desperately hoped for and needed in June.

But, like it or not time marches on, and here we are in the middle of Labor Day weekend.

When we started the summer my daughter had 2 basic requests.

1. Go to the beach.

2. Go to Philadelphia.

Not so hard right?

And then we looked at the calendar about to change to September and realized between appointments, procedures, tests and surgery – we never got either one done.

Stress is very individual in how it affects each of us.  We all have stress.  We all deal with it differently.  But I think that the reality that stress can, and does manifest in real physical illness is often lost on us.  Especially lost is the harsh reality that stress can make our CHILDREN sick – until it smacks you in the face.


It became clear this week that the stress is weighing heavily on Meghan.  She is one tough chick, but there is only so much the mind and body of a really cute, smart, well behaved 10-year-old should have to endure.  It is now the top priority of her father and I to actively work on lowering her stress level.

We started today.

Months ago we purchased tickets to see the Contemporary Christian band, “Tenth Avenue North” in concert in Ocean Grove New Jersey on August 31st.  We decided to make a day out of it – or a half day at least!

We let Meghan sleep as late as her body needed.  (Falling asleep has become terribly hard again.)  Then she got to watch some TV.  I ran a few errands, and around 3 with a cooler full of cold cuts for “dinner” we set out to surprise her with a trip to the beach.

We never told Meghan our plan, although it was obvious she was secretly hoping for the beach.  We just know too many factors can get in the way on a moment’s notice.  So, it wasn’t until we were looking for parking that we even told her.

By then it was 4:15.  The perfect time to take a kid who is not really sure she likes the beach, to the beach.

Crowds were waning, and as we set up our blanket she had some time to adjust to the seagulls, and the sand between her toes.

Forever my texture phobic kid, truth be told the sand in the toes was the reason I stopped really bringing her to the beach years ago.  But today there was a mission to put her toes in the water and collect shells with Mom and Dad.

beach day 3

She walked with Mom.  Then she walked with Dad.  And for a few glorious minutes I laid my head on the towel and remembered my childhood days in Ocean City,NJ.  I listened to the waves, felt the sand between my toes, and felt such PEACE!

Don't hate my polka dots - my husband did them for me! :-)
Don’t hate my polka dots – my husband did them for me! 🙂

We have a small bag with some beautiful shells.

We even played some with her Nerf frisbee.  There was laughing, and smiling, and a good deal of stating and restating that the sand on her toes does NOT feel nice.

With some gentle prodding she came around, but was perfectly happy with 2 cool hours on the beach.  So glad I didn’t get a full day plan in place!

beach day 4

What we did NOT do was have a picnic lunch on the beach as planned.  Instead, we ate in the car.  Sea gulls, being nothing more than glorified pigeons would have undoubtedly created significant reflux for my girl.  So, we had Board Head chicken breast in the car, with potato chips, and had a great conversation – minus the sea gulls.

We walked the streets of Ocean Grove for a bit, and I saw the sign:

troubles and blessings

And somehow I knew we had done things right – today.

We headed over to the Great Auditorium for the concert.  We happily bought our girl her first concert T-shirt, and her “Tenth Avenue North” Bracelet.  In-scripted inside the bracelet are words from the cover song off their newest CD, “The Struggle.”  It reads, “We are free to struggle, but we’re not struggling to be free.”  She is sleeping with it on right now.

beach day 6

The show was amazing.  Meghan was enthralled.  They are quite the performers.

Meghan and I often sing along to their songs on the radio.  Our favorites are “Worn,” and “Healing Begins”

“Healing Begins”

So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you’re good
And you can’t believe it’s not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside

So let ’em fall down
There’s freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We’re here now

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you’re broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark…

The lead singer also spent some time talking to the audience about God’s plans.  He told the story of a car accident his Senior year of High School where everyone thought he would die, and no one thought he would recover fully.

That 32-year-old man with a wife and 2 daughters spoke definitively tonight about believing God will use the adversity to grow greater things.  He told us he touched a guitar for the first time at 18 while he was waiting to heal from his accident.  Clearly, God had a plan.

I was touched by the story, but more moved by Meghan’s reaction.  She HUNG on his every word. She was thinking – deeply.

Then she asked if I had any of the “Cowden’s cards.”  And, God bless this girl she walked right up to the stage and handed them to one of the back up band members… alone.

“I just thought they should have them Mom, in case they want to read…”

This card was created out of her need to "teach" others about Cowden's Syndrome.
This card was created out of her need to “teach” others about Cowden’s Syndrome.

You know the irony with this darned Cowden’s syndrome is that what you NEED is to be away from doctors, because they cause STRESS which prompts other conditions that cause you to NEED doctors.

So, a few days after the hand became free, we are on the hunt for the solution to more developing problems.

Stress.  We do what we can to deal.

We use music.  We enjoy time together.

We try harder to get it right.  We hug each other.  We hold each other.

I still haven’t given up on a road trip to Philly.  (If only I can get my navigation system to work…)