Considering you started out at 14 and you're now 21, do you feel like a veteran or someone who's finally starting to settle into their artistic skin?

Bethany Dillon: It definitely is different now than it was then! I don't know if I feel like a veteran, but yeah, I do feel more comfortable with what I do now—and more challenged at the same time. With the first record, I'd had two years to write it, and didn't really have any big life lessons under my belt yet. But the more life goes on, the more personal and heavy the things are that you feel compelled to share.

What's your message on Stop & Listen?

Dillon: I've always been challenged by the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. I so relate to Martha's personality! She got worked up to the point of asking Jesus, "Don't you care that I'm working and my sister is just sitting there with you?" The way he responded to her is stunning: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion and it will not be taken away from her."

I'm learning that being busy isn't a bad thing, it's just when it becomes the most necessary thing to me. I so easily forget that Jesus is my source, and he creates order and purpose out of chaos. Knowing him well is so much more precious than any to-do list. This story has weaved its way into so many different places of my life, so it's also found its way into my songs. This record is a call for me personally to stop and listen at his feet more often, and to hopefully encourage the listeners to do it too.

How has married life inspired your songwriting?

Dillon: So much! I married an amazing writer, and it's been the biggest blessing. I usually share new songs with someone nearby, but having another artist to share it with before I even know what I think about it has been a huge help. Shane's the best sounding board I've ever had. And beyond his input on songs, being married to a man who whole-heartedly loves Jesus has affected my writing more than I could ever express. Marriage is the best living parable of the gospel we've got, and when you're married to someone who reflects God, it makes the love of Christ more real. It makes mercy and forgiveness and faithfulness tangible.

Has the age difference between you and Shane (33) been an issue?

Dillon: Honestly, it really hasn't. We definitely get picked on, in a loving way, by our friends, but it hasn't been an issue between us. Age looks pretty daunting on paper, but everyone's different, and after a while age really does become just a number. Especially when the Lord knits your heart with someone else's, and you are each other's best friend.

What are the biggest lessons you've learned in the last couple of years?

Dillon: Marriage has taught me the biggest lessons I could ever learn—mainly that I'm selfish, prideful, and not as nice as I thought! I think in the back of my mind, I really was convinced that I wasn't that bad of a person, so the reality of a perfect savior taking on my sin and giving up his life on the cross on my behalf isn't as potent when I'm a "pretty good" person. Oh, but what a wakeup call marriage is! In the sweetest way possible, it reveals to me how much I need Jesus—and isn't it true that she who's forgiven much loves much?

Quick takes:

Where are you from originally?
Bellefontaine, Ohio

Favorite place you've traveled to?
Germany or Africa

Best meal you prepare?
Creamy wild rice and mushroom soup

Pet peeve?
The "ding" sound when you don't buckle your seat belt

Your most annoying habit?
I can be a complainer!

What makes you laugh?
Shane, Seinfeld, and Brian Regan

Last good book you read?
Redeeming Loveby Francine Rivers

Last good movie you saw?
The Soloist

On your iPod right now?
Aretha Franklin

Age you became a Christian?
9

Favorite Bible verse?
Luke 10:41-42

Last lesson God taught you?
His mercy never gets tired

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