40 Lessons in 40 Years…….

Last week I turned 40.

4. 0.

I think I’m still kind of in shock, but here we are.

So I decided to make a list of 40 things I’ve learned in this 40 years of life.

And I’m a bit embarrassed that it took me almost a month to compile the list.

But I finally finished.

So if you’d like to glean wisdom from a 40-year-old childless housewife, read on. πŸ˜€

40 lessons I’ve learned in 40 years:

1. You will eventually be content with your decision not to have kids.

2. Naps spark joy and may become your most favorite time of the day

3. There is no need to buy a makeup remover unless you are going on vacation and can’t take a whole jug of olive oil with you or you are allergic to olive oil. Cheapest makeup remover on the market.
(EDIT: Apparently waterproof mascara doesn’t come off with olive oil as well as other commercial brands. So, 3A would be, only wear waterproof mascara for very special occasions.)

4. Make sure you have separate jugs of olive oil–one for cooking, one for skincare.

5. Call your grandparents at least once a month or once a week.

6. Butter is always better.

7. Don’t freak out if your wedding night sex/first time sex isn’t that great. You have your entire marriage/relationship to work on that aspect of your relationship
and honestly, figure out what works for you and your partner and, I know it’s hard, but not comparing yourself to other couples is key to being content.

8.Your SAT score is just a number and doesn’t determine your worth as a person nor
how successful you’ll be in life.

9. Take care of your body, but don’t be afraid of growing older. The first
gray hair I got when I was 30 was devastating, but I’ve since learned to embrace it
and call my gray hairs “unicorn strands.” I’m now looking forward to turning into a majestic unicorn.

10. If you ever accidentally get drunk, NEVER drink and drive of course, but also never get on social media. If you think you might, make sure you have a sober buddy to watch and make sure you don’t make that mistake. (Please drink responsibly and only after turning 21 πŸ˜‰ ).

11. Never date someone you don’t like because you don’t want to hurt their feelings by rejecting them.

12. No is a complete sentence.

13. Those lists of “rules” to follow in fashion after a certain age are bullshit.
Wear what makes you feel beautiful and confident.

14. Only have children (by birth, adoption or fostering) if you want them. You don’t have to have children to live a fulfilling, rich life.

15. Wear sunscreen every time you go outside.

16. Pair the sunscreen with sun glasses.

17. Begin monthly breast exams early (preferably in high school) so you can know what your breasts feel like and you can more easily identify potential issues.

18. Pray for the President daily, no matter who he/she is, or what party they come from.
Praying for our leaders is a biblical tenet and shouldn’t be dismissed.

19. There is freedom in doing things that scare you. (Although I need to point out that, although there might be freedom in it, I still don’t have a desire to skydive, go on a roller coaster or repel off a tall building. πŸ˜› )

20. Its OK to have the courage to decide for yourself through study and research what you believe, what are your morals, and what you will stand up for, independent from your parents.

21. If you are in therapy and are not comfortable or happy with your therapist, switch.
Therapists are not one sized fits all and it’s important to find someone you are comfortable with.

22. Embrace you curves. After a certain age, everyone will have rolls and cellulite. True story: the other day I was wearing a new shirt that I purchased online and it’s slightly smaller than I thought so even though I probably looked like a busted can of biscuits. I still wore it out because I love it so much.

23. Never allow anyone to steal your sparkle.

24. You’ll finally understand what that translucent yellow pill was that your parents took every morning: Fish oil.

25. When asking someone out on a date, literally use the words, “Do you want to go out on a date with me?” This will make your intentions clear and both parties will be on the same page. (Maybe it can be your brave thing you do that day. πŸ˜‰ )

26. Before you post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter ask yourself, “Will this come back to bite me in the bum in 10 years?” If the answer is yes, don’t do it.

27. If you see two memes for colonoscopies in a 24-hour period, God is probably trying
to tell you something.

28. You truly are your own worst critic. (Yes, I’m 28 items in and am getting trite, but this one is actually quite true.)

29. Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Acknowledge them and move forward. Once you know better, be better.

30. Don’t be afraid to question things you don’t understand.

31. When traveling on an airplane, always pack your medicine, pair of underwear and any other important medical supplies in your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage gets lost or there is an overnight delay.

32. Be humble enough to apologize to children of any age when you’ve wronged them in some way.Β 

33. Lists will save your life.

34. Take occasional breaks from social media. It can be quite refreshing. (Ok, at this point my list has somehow turned into some sort of intervention. πŸ˜› )

35. Reward yourself for tiny tasks with a TV show, YouTube video or snack.
Did the dishes? Watch an episode or two of FRIENDS. With a bowl of ice cream. (Or whatever you think is a good treat.)

36. Don’t rely on one source for all your news. Consume at least two or three sources to get the full story.

37. Be open-minded enough to realize you aren’t always going to be right.

38. When you apologize, be sincere.

39. Before you go on vacation, do some cleaning around the house. My mom used to do this when I was a kid and I never understood why because it’s not like we’d be home toΒ  enjoy the cleanliness. But as an adult, the few times I’ve done this, I finally understand. It feels SO good to come home from vacation to a clean house or at least a clean living room.

40. When you discoverΒ  a toxic person in your circle, do not be afraid to distance yourself from that person. Your mental and emotional health will thank you.



“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine…”

Today I want to tell you about this kid right here (the boy at the microphone participating in a spelling bee.):


This picture was taken in 1982.

This is Chad.

My husband.

Today is his birthday.

And he’s one of the kindest, sweetest, caring men I’ve ever known.

And I prayed for him, years before we met. Even before I knew his name.

That God would strengthen him and help him grow to love Jesus.Β 

That Jesus would comfort him when he was sad or lonely.Β 

I prayed that’d he’d not see me as a burden.Β 

We met in 2008. And right away I knew he loved Jesus.Β 

I also knew he’d not see me as burden as he intently watched my driver put my wheelchair in the back of the car on our first date.Β 

That was 10 and a half years ago.Β 

And I can say that every day since, this journey that I am on with Chad has been the most thrilling, scary, silly, funny, and rewarding experience of my life.Β 

I can’t wait for the next 50.Β 

Happy birthday, m’love.

I love you more. β™₯

Why 39 is the New 80……….

In October we celebrate my birth month!! And in my 39th year we are starting out strong and our body is ROCKIN’…….and literally crumbling like a wedding cake immediately frosted after coming out of the oven.

Seriously. No joke.

I’m currently nursing a skin ulcer on my hip. If you aren’t familiar with what an ulcer is, let me break it down for you. It currently looks like there is a bullet hole on my hip.

Yes, you heard that right.

And the doctor can’t figure out where it came from ( yes mom, I did get it cultured and am waiting with anticipation for the results πŸ˜‰ UPDATE: Results came yesterday and I tested positive for not one but TWO different types of bacteria. Ah, I love being an over-achiever πŸ˜› ).

It started as a red mark on my hip and after a few weeks of daily Epsom salt baths and manuka honey patches, it finally came to a head and a mess of crap fell out.

And left a hollow hole in my hip.

Pretty unsettling to look down and see a hole in your hip, but there you go. Thankfully I have a great team of doctors advising me on treatment and it’s slowly gotten better. I even consulted a nutritionist and have since been chugging one BOOST nutritional drink per day.

You know BOOST, the stuff your great-aunt Bippy drinks to supplement her diet. Yep. Not only does it supplement nutrition, but apparently it’s been shown to heal skin ulcer’s quickly.

(Sidenote: I recommend the strawberry. It’s delicious.)

I’ve also been regularly soaking in Epsom salt to relieve pain.

I’m literally seconds away from going into the home. Apparently.

It’s probably about time I brushed up on my shuffleboard skills.

birthday blog meme

Cheers! πŸ˜›Β 


It was birthday week in our house as Riley turned 2 and Phoebe turned 13. To celebrate Riley’s birthday, I sent out the following picture to family and friends:

Riley Birthday Collar

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Uh, he looks pissed.” And I’m not gonna lie, he wasn’t completely on board, but it wasn’t tight on his neck, it was on for only 45 seconds, and he survived and forgave me very soon after this photo was taken. πŸ˜‰ #DontComeForMyBum

Now for Phoebe, I wanted to do something a little grander. As she turned 13 and that’s a milestone birthday,Β  we decided to celebrate with a very simple and intimate Bat Mitzvah.

I know what you are thinking, “But, you aren’t even Jewish! That’s cultural appropriation!!” And to that I say, first, slow your roll, bruh. Secondly, technically Jesus was Jewish and we like Him so.….

And thirdly, there’s been a debate in my family about how much Jewish ancestry we have. Not really a debate as everyone agrees there has to be some, but we don’t know exactly how much. Which is why I’ve been walking around in life the last few years telling people I’m about 1/18th ish Jewish.

And so we threw a simple, intimate Bat Mitzvah for our oldest cat. She was overcome with joy.

Phoebe Bat Mitzvah Crown

Seriously, that is her joy face.Β 

And to make sure everyone felt included, I even made a tiny yarmulke for Riley. He was appropriately pleased.Β 

Riley Yarmulke


Birthday Reflections…..

I began this blog on October 3rd, but life took over and I wasn’t able to finish and upload this till today…….

Yesterday I turned 38.

A feat that humbles me and makes me reflective. I think up until a few years ago my birthdays passed without much contemplation and I took them for granted.

Not this year.

Yesterday I turned 38.

This actually hit me about a week ago. And it almost made me breathless. It’s just a surreal experience, outliving someone older than you.

But that’s just what I’ve done as of this morning.

My mentor and friend Heidi died from cancer in 2012. She died on her 38th birthday.

Yesterday I turned 38.

I’ve always been aware of death since I was a little kid. The moment I found out people die, I remember being completely devastated.

In fact, when I turned 10 years old I distinctly recall thinking, “Well, people usually die when they are two digits old. It’s just a matter of time.” (And I’m just realizing how darkly philosophical of a kid I was. Yikes!)

But I digress.

My friend and mentor Heidi was an amazing soul. A missionary kid, she was born in California but moved to Jerusalem at age 3. Then her family moved to Thailand when she was 15 and she graduated high school there. She married her college sweetheart a few years later, and they went on to teach English in Japan for a few years before settling down in Goshen, Indiana and expanding their family to include 3 boys and a girl.

Their daughter Willa was born with trisomy 18 and died 8 minutes after she was born.

If I could think of two words to describe Heidi, it would be fearless and determined. When she was 4 months pregnant with Willa, the last time I’d see Heidi, we met for coffee one afternoon when I was home for Christmas. It must have been a warmer day because she arrived on her bike, even though piles of snow were still visible at the end of sidewalks and edge of the streets.Β  When I asked her how she was feeling she told me she was feeling good. Even knowing Willa’s diagnosis and that she’d likely not survive, Heidi was happy. She told me that she was OK because she knew as long as Willa stayed inside her womb, she’d have what she needed to live.

And I can credit Heidi for where I am today. When I was 24 I finally decided I needed to move out on my own. My goal was to move out by the time I turned 25. And Heidi met with me privately many times to work out a plan to make that happen.

And it did!

I celebrated my 25th birthday in my new apartment in Louisville. And Heidi didn’t let the day pass without acknowledging my accomplishment. She made a giant birthday card for me, had people from my home church sign it, and sent it to me in the mail. And it hung in my room until I moved to my new apartment one year later.

Heidi helped me grow up and spread my wings.

Yesterday I turned 38.

And this year I plan to live with more intent. To try things that are new and scary. To get to know people who are different from me. To spread my wings further.Β 

Just as Heidi taught me.Β 


(Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers “Learning to Fly” appears courtesy of YouTube and Bonnaroo)Β 

The One Where Lulabelle “Practices” Restraint…..

Chad and I just went to the store to get stuff for my Gourmet Smore’s birthday party that will be held on Saturday.

I kind of wish we had waited to buy stuff till the day of because now I have to NOT eat any of it for 3 days.

I don’t think I thought this through! πŸ˜›


Here we have a few packages of Hershey’s snack size mini’s, graham crackers, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (most likely the first to go if I have a craving πŸ˜› ), strawberry marshmallows (We wanted Peeps, but we were told they were out of season. Something tells me this is a lie πŸ˜› ), Pumpkin Spice Oreos (Doy!) and Star Bursts.

Check back on Monday for some photos and recap of the event. πŸ™‚


The Art of Acting Your Age…….

This weekend began a month long celebration of the day of my birth. And I have to be honest, I’m not so sure I was ready to turn…..37.

I turned 37 this weekend despite my apprehension.

For some reason odd numbers annoy me. Like if I can’t divide you evenly by 4, I don’t want anything to do with you. But Chad did mention that 37 is a prime number, so I guess that’s good.

Although I don’t look 37. Which is a genetic miracle in and of itself because I take after my mom in most ways, so it was almost certain I’d go gray in my early 30’s. Which, if I’d do this now, it really wouldn’t be a big deal because one of the emerging trends of 2016 is, no joke, to dye your hair GRAY! (Apparently there are advantages to growing older in the 2000’s πŸ˜› )

And most days I don’t feel 37. Until the moment I sneeze and pull a muscle. Seriously, this happened last week. It was quite disorienting.

So now my question is, how do I act 37?

I mean I already pay bills, take fish oil and I’ve started doing a stationary bike on a regular-ish basis. That’s hard on these 37-year old knees though. Oops!

So because I don’t look 37 (seriously I was still carded when I went out to dinner last night), is there an exactly correct way to act 37? I mean, could I in theory put on a tutu and a hello kitty necklace and drink a juice box while sitting at my desk? I tested this out last night:


I don’t know about you, but this seems like a completely normal 37-year old activity.

I think this mind set that acting your age is a relative activity runs in my family. My own grandpa taught us all that. And October is the anniversary of his promotion to heaven.

Grandpa was the next to youngest of 12. All of which–with the exception of two or three–lived into their 90’s, never entered a nursing home, and worked till the day they died. My grandpa was no exception.

A farmer by trade, this man was still working on the farm and climbing 100 ft. barn roofs well into his 90’s. As he was also blind in one eye, this of course made his children a bit nervous. “Dad!” my aunt would say, “You can’t do that anymore! What if you fell??” Grandpa would nonchalantly reply, “Oh don’t worry about that. I have a system.”

A system.

He never explained what that actually meant. But that was all of an explanation he felt was needed. My grandpa embodied the concept of not acting your age.

The last week of his life was pretty epic. It started out pretty normal. My grandpa did yard work around his house and then grabbed a chainsaw to prune one of his trees. While standing on the 20 ft. ladder with the chainsaw (it was on), he lost his footing and fell off the ladder. He survived the fall but broke both of his legs. After being airlifted to the hospital at the larger city next door, he went into surgery where they reconstructed BOTH legs with pins.

Oh, I forgot to tell how old he was when this all went down.


Yeah, I told you this was epic. πŸ˜‰

Guys, he SURVIVED surgery and was put back in his room to wait for a space on the rehab floor to open up. When he awoke, he inquired of the nurses when they thought he’d be able to get back on his three-wheeler again.

He wasn’t reverting back to childhood. He legit had a three-wheeler that he rode around the neighborhood.

My grandpa perfected the art of acting his age, by shattering the stereotype that a man in his 90’s should just sit around waiting for death, while maybe reading a book and playing an occasional game of canasta. He embraced life to the fullest and “younger” activities with zeal.Β 

So if you, like me, are feeling a bit apprehensive about turning another year old, take heart. You are not alone. So strap on a tutu, drink a juice box and ride around the neighborhood in a three-wheeler.

Carpe Diem, y’all! β™₯

Letter to My Parents on My Birthday…..

The following blog was started yesterday but as the day unfolded, I was unable to finish it until I came back from birthday dinner #1……

Today I am on holiday. Yes, I’m still at home, but I am celebrating my favorite holiday….it’s my birthday! πŸ˜€ Already today I’ve gotten well wishes from all over the world. Thanks Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg….whom I’ve never met in person. Was that weird? Never mind)

If you think about it, birthdays are strange. Seriously. We celebrate a person that basically slid out of a hole the size of a dime. Which I suppose is pretty amazing. But the real work and literal sweat and tears was accomplished by my parents (I guess I also cried a little when I arrived all naked and covered in goo. TMI? Nope? Let’s move on…)

So, on my 30-something birthday, I’d like to thank my parents.

Thank you for deciding, after raising both of my sisters, to try again and have me. After all, perfection sometimes takes numerous attempts. πŸ˜‰

Thank you for the way in which you raised me to believe I could do and be anything, despite my disability. Thank you for instilling in me confidence, grace and humility (even when I don’t show it, I promise it’s there πŸ˜‰ ).

Thank you for teaching me how powerful prayer and a faith in Jesus can be. How to look to Jesus in times of trial and frustration. And how to praise Him always.

Thank you for having the faith that the Lord knew what He was doing when he called me to college out-of-state. I can’t imagine the apprehension of letting me go. But you did. And I was able to grow in ways that I would not have otherwise.

I love you, mom and dad!

your Lula-belle β™₯