35 Lessons at 35

I have a little secret:

I’m turning 35 tomorrow. 

Me. Hi there.
Me. Hi there. 

In mind and spirit, I still feel like a 21 year old. In body, I feel like an 81 year old. I know this is really cliche, but I look back and think “Time has flown by.”

I know time will continue to fly too. This time of year always makes me super reflective of how I am spending my life and what I am and who I want to be.

I’ve learned so many lessons and have so many yet to learn. But for those of you ahead or behind me, I thought it would be interesting to share some of these lessons. I could have added more. Actually, I crossed out and edited a few billion times to get the main ideas here. Let me know what you think and what you would add to the list!

  1. 1. Life is good, even when you think it isn’t.
  2. 2. Practice the art of gratitude.
  3. 3. Leaving God out of any equation can turn into a hot mess.
  4. 4. Enjoy the learning process.
  5. 5. Being kind is something you will never regret.
  6. 6. Don’t always be available – disconnect!
  7. 7. Value face to face relationships and cultivate quality friendships.
  8. 8. Sometimes you just need more sleep.
  9. 9. Use good manners.
  10. 10. No one is as consistent as you think they should be. Including you.
  11. 11. Sing. A lot.
  12. 12. Don’t cheap out on your church.
  13. 13. Live your life, not someone else’s.
  14. 14. Study the Bible – don’t just read it.
  15. 15. Dress nice. You will feel better and be more productive.
  16. 16. Don’t do everything for your kids. Instead, teach them how.
  17. 17. Learn to laugh at yourself.
  18. 18. Listen more than you talk.
  19. 19. Ask God to show you ways to bless others. Do it anonymously, if possible.
  20. 20. Tithe, tip well, and be kind to waitstaff.
  21. 21. Find board games you enjoy. They are out there.
  22. 22. Have hobbies.
  23. 23. When people do nice things, praise them.
  24. 24. Keep explanations short.
  25. 25. Go on dates with your husband.
  26. 26. Own up when you have done wrong, Say “sorry” without excuses attached.
  27. 27. Have reasonable expectations for your kids.
  28. 28. Only do those things God wants you to. It’s okay to say no.
  29. 29. If possible, always go to the funeral.
  30. 30. Work hard.
  31. 31. You usually get what you pay for.
  32. 32. Your convictions are not for everyone.
  33. 33. There is usually a backstory you know nothing about. Give grace.
  34. 34. Emotions simply indicate feelings. Don’t let them control your decisions.
  35. 35. Keep excuses for yourself to a minimum.

It has been a long time since I last posted, yet a lot has happened. So now I will fill you in on things you want to know, or maybe didn’t want to know.

First of all, I had an ultrasound at the beginning of March. Baby #4 is in good health- 10 fingers, 10 toes, 4 chambers, everything there. Oh, and Baby #4 is a boy. Stephen is relieved, and Natalie is ecstatic. So while still outnumbered, Stephen will have a little bit of back up when our little one arrives in the middle of July.

We were able to travel to Pennsylvania for Stephen’s brother’s ordination. The break was wonderful, and we really enjoyed seeing everyone. Natalie had a wonderful surprise in seeing her friend, Hailey. We didn’t see her much the entire trip, for she was too busy playing. Meredith and Brielle played together quite a bit as well. The family was able to sing together for the ordination service, and the guys sang and played together as well, which was a treat for everyone.


In PA, the ladies even got a few hours to go shopping with no kids. It was lovely, even though I didn’t buy anything.


Sophia turns a year on Thursday. We will be having a “safari” at the zoo for her on Saturday, granted the weather stays nice. She’s still tiny for her age – only 18 pounds! The doctor says she needs more calories in her diet… how often do you hear a doctor telling you to eat more ice cream and cheesecake? That’s Sophie. There was a dedication service on Sunday for Sophie and our neighbor’s son, Dominic. She did very well having Pastor hold her while he prayed. We do praise the Lord for her, and have acknowledged that she is the Lord’s child, to do whatever He wants with her life.


Natalie and Meredith have gotten stir-crazy with all the cold weather. We’ve had a few nice days, and they certainly take advantage of playing outside. I am just thankful that we are not in a 2 bedroom apartment still… can you imagine?


The Lord has sustained us once again this winter, and continues to bring in work for our business despite the recession in progress. He truly is Our Great Provider, and we praise Him for that.

Happy Birthday Stephen

Stephen fulfilling a life long dream – 2007

Today is Stephen’s Birthday. According to his parents, he can be 29 as long as he wants now. I agree wholly! 🙂 I alluded in my last entry as to how thankful I am to have him for a husband. I will now repeat that. He is very active in the church, helps the business stay in business, and manages to still spend time with his girls… all four of them.

This Easter, he directed the program. He carefully picked out songs and scripture and shared his own heart on what Resurrection Sunday meant. It was filled with sentiments and lessons from a man who truly loves God and is thankful for his salvation through Christ. After the program, one of the teenagers in the church approached me and said, “You are so blessed to have such an awesome husband.” I am thankful for a husband who is worth looking up to, because he exemplifies Christ.

We have a lot of fun together too. He is quick with a joke, or a funny thing to say. He doesn’t take himself seriously and is not easily offended. He’s patient with me, a typical redhead. What’s more, he truly wants to be a good parent to his three little girls. And he is. I am so grateful that God put us together to serve Him, and I look forward to what He will continue to do with Stephen.

Happy Birthday Stephen! I love you and am thrilled to be part of your life. 🙂

Happy Birthday Natalie Marie!


My little helper turns four today. Time certainly has flown. Natalie is my introduction into parenthood. Stephen and I wanted more children after having her, so that tells you how wonderful she is. She is a typical pre-schooler… eyes wide-opened, inquiring about everything she sees (and even things she doesn’t see). She has a good memory and is very intelligent. Natalie is a great big sister. She is eager to help with Sophie and loves to play with Meredith. She likes to cook with mommy and is anxious to start gardening this summer with her Grandma Johnson. Natalie also loves to sing, and she is constantly giving us suggestions for what to sing in choir. (She will be going into Kid’s Choir this summer, which she is very excited about.)

We are taking Natalie and two of her friends to the Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac for her birthday this year. The weather is supposed to be rainy, so it will be perfect for them. There are several museums like this throughout our state. Everything is hands-on and interactive, so the children learn and have a lot of fun doing it. (I call it “sneaky learning”)

Since I shared what Sophie’s name means, I think I should share what Natalie’s name means too… except it isn’t especially fit for the season. Natalie means “Birthday of the Lord” or “Christmas Child”. We didn’t know this when we named her, but none the less we have used it as a way to talk to her about Jesus. We have been praying that the Lord would make the plan of salvation clear to her at the right time, and she is getting to understand many things about it. This is exciting, but also a challenge to Stephen and I to not only be sharing the Gospel with her, but to be living it out in our own lives.

Happy Birthday Natalie! I love you and can’t wait to see what adventures and lessons are in store for you this year! Mommy and Daddy are so glad that God gave us a such a wonderful and special girl.

Happy Birthday, Meredith Joan!


Today Meredith is official one year old! She is such a sweet girl and makes everyone smile with her cute, chubby face and dimpled smile. People actually want to work in our church nursery because of her! (I am not just saying that because I am her mother… it is true!) She is on the verge of walking and says words like, “Momma” “Daddy” “Nattie” “Hi” and “Bye”. I usually ask her how she is doing when she gets up from her nap, and I could have sworn today that I heard her say “good.”

Her birthday party was Saturday, and a large snow storm came through. That is funny, because the day before Meredith was born there was a snow storm as well. Despite the promise of inclement weather, my sister and her family came down for the party, as well as other family and friends. I had to call several to make sure they made it home safe because the roads had not been plowed yet.

Stephen and I desire Meredith, and all our children, to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. We pray that the Lord would see fit to use her wherever He wants, and that she would be willing to do what He asks of her. I also pray that she will have a beautiful, Christlike spirit, just like my Grandma (whose name she bears).

All that to say, Happy Birthday, Meredith! I love you and pray that you will have many more happy days to come!

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