1)  Life doesn’t turn out as planned.

(Does anybody else have Sandra Bullock from While You Were Sleeping saying that in their head?)  But just because life doesn’t turn out like we plan, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Often, it’s a good thing.  After all, I didn’t plan on spending most of my adult life in Mexico!

2)  We can never be good enough.

As frustrating as that may sound, it’s really pretty liberating.  The Bible and our (honest) consciences make that abundantly clear.  We don’t try to be “good” because we’re trying to earn our way into heaven.  That’s impossible.  We do our best out of gratitude for the lavish love God has for us.

If we’re trying to earn our way into heaven, we’ve missed the point.  (And are probably huge hypocrites.  I’m not judging–I’m being honest because I’ve been there.)

Real faith is serving God and our neighbors out of love.  That’s all.

3)  Coffee is good–with a LOT of sugar!

4)  I’ve learned Spanish!

(OK, and English, too, if you’re counting ALL my 40 years of life.)

5)  People appreciate it when I speak up.

A lot of people say they regret the things they’ve said more than the things they didn’t say.  That isn’t my case.  This blog is my way of speaking up.  Both this and my choir are turning into Therapy for the Shy Girl.

When I started this blog, I was also taking a writing class through the Institute for Children’s Literature.  I began the class, thinking I had nothing to say.  By then end of it (while also working on my blog) I realized that I have a TON to say!

So thanks for listening to my thoughts, those who are still here!

6)  Exercise realy does give you more energy.

I ought to do it more often.

7)  My interests might not be everyone else’s interests–and that’s a good thing!

As a teenager, deciding what I was going to do with the rest of my life was a huge conundrum–as it is for everyone.  I liked kids, so I decided to go to study elementary education.  I liked the really little kids best, but I thought that everyone else did, too.  And if everyone else liked them, too, I’d never get a job working with the really little kids, right?


Lots of people don’t like little kids.  Lots of people don’t like writing.  Lots of people don’t like playing the guitar and if you want to play your guitar to become a rock star–go for it!  While the competition may be fierce, follow your passion and you’ll find your way.

8)  Life if better outside.IMG_6278

When I was in elementary school, I was in Girl Scouts.  In second grade, our troop spent a night at Camp McMillen.  I still remember my parents driving the car through the woods to get to camp.  I had my head against the window, staring up at the trees, beginning to recognize them as my own cathedral.  Even though I had never been to that camp before, I felt like I was coming home.

If life seems stale, get outside!

9)  Harry Potter was worth all the hype.

I didn’t read it BECAUSE of the hype.  That, and I was in college when it came out.  But then I had to read it for a Children’s Literature class.  I generally hate required reading, but I’ve been going back to Hogwarts regularly for the last 18 years.

*spoiler alert*  (But please–if you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, you probably won’t.)

In fact, in a paper I had to write for that Children’s Literature class, I thought I was going way off the deep end, claiming that the end of the Sorcerer’s Stone was allegorical to the passion of Christ.  After all, I attended a Christian university, and professors ate up that sort of thing, right?

I was right!

The first book in a series like that forshadows the entire series, so when the end of the seventh book rolled around, it became clear as day that the climax to the whole Harry Potter story was an allegory of the passion of Christ.

So for all those Christians who are against Harry Potter because of its witchcraft . . . throw that one at them!

10)  One of the best things in life is a neighbor who is liberal with her gin and tonic.

Or coffee.

11)  Life keeps changing.

Had you told me 10 years ago that I’d still be living in this town today, that would have sent me over the edge into a pit of worry and fear.

It took me a few years of living in the same city, same house that realized I had a decided fear of monotony.

But, I never had a chance to really face that fear because things keep happening.  Friends move to town.  We have a baby.  Friends move away from town.  We have another baby.  Kids go to school.  Kids change schools.  Opportunities happen.  We research a potential move and then breathe a sigh of relief when it doesn’t happen.  Dogs wander into our yard and stay forever.

Life just doesn’t get boring.  That’s been such an important lesson!

12)  Everything is more fun with red lipstick.IMG_6384 - copia

13)  Pride and Prejudice merits all the hype it gets.

Both the book AND the movies.  Both movies.

14)  American football is interesting.

It helps a lot to understand what’s going on.  And have a favorite team.  Or favorite player.  It’s not necessary to base favorites on anything.

But I was born in Wisconsin, so I have no choice but to support the Packers.  And Aaron Rogers and those beautiful blue eyes.

15)  Changing countries changes the rules about what’s liberal and what’s conservative.

Well, yes and no.  But when you move to a country that has more than 2 major political parties, it does throw all my previous political assumptions out the window.

16)  One of the most useful uses of our time is to persue our passions.

Not sure what you’re passionate about?  It’s worth taking some time to figure that out!

Want to read more about that?  I’ve got a post for you here.

17)  God wants you to be the best version of yourself.

I’m not there yet.  But I’ll keep trying to follow his lead, and I trust I’ll get there.  Or, as close as it’s possible to get.

18)  Try new things–you might like them.

OK, Mom.  You’re right.

19)  Forgiveness works wonders.

Not just for the person being forgiven, but for the forgiver, too.  Actually, a lot of times it does more good for the person granting the forgiveness.

20)  Getting a dog is the best cure for a fear of dogs.


Don’t believe me?  You didn’t know me as a kid.  Or my daughter, before she was 4 1/2.

Curious about that journey?  Read on here.

21)  God loves you and honestly wants the best for you.

People often get in the way and mess that up.  But God keeps working to make something good out of a bad situation.  Even tragic situations.  That doesn’t mean that everything is all better, but something good can come out of tragedies.

22)  Get over yourself.

Get past insecurities, hangups, etc., and go live your life–enjoy it!

Again, I’ve got a past post about that here!

23)  No one enjoys being around you when you’re crabby.

When I say “you” I mean ME.

But, let’s face it, crabby people are just no fun to be around.  Or be.

So let’s all just stop now.

24)  Everything is better on the water.


25)  Food tastes better when you cook it yourself.

It tastes even better when you husband, kids, or friends cook.

26)  I learned I was wrong about what I thought I knew about Catholicism.

That tends to be the case of most Catholic converts, it seems.

To no surprise, you can read a bit about that journey here.

27)  A day without a rest in a hammock is a day wasted.

28)  Breathe.

Why is yoga so popular?  We often forget to breathe, and yoga forces us to slow down and concentrate on breathing.

We all probably need to spend a little more time on this subject.

Or, as my music teachers would tell me, why does my flute or my voice sound crappy?  Becuase I got so wrapped up whatever else I was doing (playing, singing) and forgot to BREATHE.

It’s pretty fundamental.

29)  Stay away from your “type”.

The Hubs is totally not my “type”.  Even after meeting him, I thought, “nah–he’s not at all my type.”  Even after almost 20 years together, he’s still not my type.

But I’ve learned more from him than I would have from someone who was “my type”.  My life has been fuller because he’s stretched me and challenged me in ways that “my type” never would have made me face.

30)  Second breakfast isn’t just for hobbits.

It’s the best part of any day!

31)  If Christianity isn’t liberating, we aren’t doing it right.

32)  I still like kids, but I don’t enjoy teaching.

Kids in small doses are marvelous.  Thirty at a time . . . it just wasn´t meant to be that way!

Hats off those who do it, and do it well!  You all are my superheroes.

33)  The older we get, the harder it is to lose weight.

Sad, but true.  However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible!  As Glennon Doyle Mellon says, “you can do hard things.”

Some days, that is my mantra.

34)  In order to get to know people, to love people, it’s necessary to be vulnerable.

That’s tough, particularly in our culture that holds independence to an idoltarous ideal.  But we can’t have genuine relationships with other people unless we’re willing to let down our walls, possibly get hurt, and be honest.  It’s true–our attempts at love might not be reciprocated.

But trying and getting hurt is better than living behind a wall.  (Whether that’s a physical or metaphorical wall, that’s up to you . . . either way, tear it down!)

35)  Intentionality and mindfulness is what life is all about.

Pay attention to what’s going on around you, to who is around you.  This one is both so simple and so very difficult.  But unless we’re aware, we’re missing out on life.

36)  Reflecting is healthier than reacting.

37)  Making music is magical when you do it with other people.

38)  Need to clear your head?  Take a walk!

Bored?  Take a walk.  Angry?  Take a walk.  It’s the solution to almost any problem.

Unless you’re tired.  Then take a nap.

39)  You can’t own too many books.


Or pens.

40)  It’s more satisfying to spend money on experiences, instead of things.

While it seems counter-intuitive, experiences (however short) stick with us longer than things (however permanently they might take up space in our house).


3 Replies to “40 Things I’ve Learned Before 40”

  1. I missed your birthday!! I love you and miss you! I’m so glad our lives turned out different then we thought so we could conquer Mexico together! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Rachel

  2. Aww . . . I miss you, too! I’m almost regretting that we didn’t run to Mexico when school was cancelled . . . then the thinking part of my brain kicks in and reminds me that this is EXACTLY why school has been cancelled!