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.  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. 

Just as Heidi taught me. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S5e7c2_YO8

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

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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! 😛

photo-on-2016-10-11-at-23-21-2

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 😛 ), strawberry marshmallows (We wanted Peeps, but we were told they were out of season. Something tells me this is a lie 😛 ), Pumpkin Spice Oreos (Doy!) and Star Bursts.

Check back on Monday for some photos and recap of the event. 🙂

Cheers!

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 😛 )

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:

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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.

97.

Yeah, I told you this was epic. 😉

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. 

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!

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! 😀 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. 😉

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 😉 ).

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