40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years

40 Things I've Learned...(Please note: Wrinkle Reducer and Tooth Whitener feature utilized)

I’m not really sure how it all happened, this turning 40 thing. Last I checked, I was around 22 or so.


But according to the math, I should be turning 40 years old today. And yet, I still feel like I am supposed to be forever stuck at 22. In fact, there are moments in which I think “Am I really old enough to have children? Be married?” and I guess, on paper, I am.

It’s been quite a journey, as I’m sure yours has been as well.

And if the pattern continues, I will likely look back when I turn 50 and say “She knew nothing” because that’s what I’m saying to my 30 year old self of ten years ago.

Yet there has been a bit of wisdom attained in the past 40 years. Not a lot. But some.

So here’s what I’ve gathered so far, free association-style and in no particular order:

1. It’s not a good idea to jump off the bridge that connects Sanibel and Captiva Island when you’re 18 and have had two beers. #idiot

2. People are disabled by the flesh –including me. They will disappoint me at times and I will disappoint myself. Grace.

3. Dogs have souls. This is not opinion. It’s fact.

4. Ice cream is always worth it.

5. There is not a more precious sound than melodious laughter sprinkled with saltwater and sunburned cheeks.

6. This journey . . . it’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be. But still. It’s hard. If I expect it to always be easy, I step into a self-entitled, downward spiral that’s all about me.

7. Sleep is serious business. The enemy preys on exhaustion. When I prioritize rest, everything else is just a little bit better.

8. Play-dough and glitter are outside toys.

9. Expect insane-in-the-membrane behavior in the home from 3:30 until at least 6 p.m. It’s called “the witching hour” but it’s really more than an hour. And it’s not a myth.

10. It’s really hard to build-up trust again once it’s broken. It’s not impossible but it’s hard. Grace.

11. I can’t always see how He’s working but He’s working–in ways I can’t wrap my little pea-sized, human brain around. Every disappointment I’ve experienced thus far has been followed with an “Oh, now I get it,” months later.

12. Boys chafe at the beach. Cut-out the liner of a swimsuit and stick ’em in compression shorts. Voila.

13. My children hear way more than I think they do and they understand way more than I expect them to. I have to watch-it these days.

14. Music can transport the soul to the past. Good and bad.

15. Regardless of what’s going on, the sun will still rise and set. That’s a constant. Just like He is the same as He was yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

16. Girlfriends are essential to your mental health and they help your marriage.

17. That being said, the sting from broken friendships can last a long time. Grace.

18. It really does all come down to loving our neighbor as ourselves. When I do this, I feel better. There must be something to it.

19. I will forget at least ten things during the day. It’s crowded in there.

20. A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.

21. Expectations kill gratitude.

22. The self-fulfilling prophecy is real. If you think the worst of someone, that’s probably what you’ll get. When we think the best of people and give them the benefit of the doubt, we’re walking in alignment with what God calls us to do.

23. When you wash a pull-up or a diaper in the washing machine, it looks like a Rice Krispie treat has exploded and it’s a nightmare to clean-up. Check carefully.

24. Kids get whiny when they’re tired. Stick ’em in water and put ’em to bed.

25. Popsicles have magical healing powers.

26. Jesus is present everywhere – even the places we’ve told Him to leave. He’s in private school, and homeschool, and public school. Whatever choice you make is yours to make and you will make the best one for your child. But don’t judge others who have made a different choice from yours.

27. Planning is a good thing. Over-planning and over-thinking is a control-issue. General outlines are good; rigid, inflexible plans are not so good. Life throws curveballs.

28. My children really are growing up too fast. Cliche, but true. I already miss them and we still have ten years before anyone leaves the nest. #crazymother

29. You will not burn in the fiery pit of hell if you listen to the Grateful Dead now and then. Or the Rolling Stones. Or Aerosmith or Ozzy Osbourne or whoever. You will also not burn in hell if you utter a curse word on occasion and drink too much wine at times. Jesus doesn’t condemn. Legalism is the worst form of the misrepresentation of Jesus. But…

30. There is something to be said for grace and truth. We need a healthy combination of both – too much grace produces an anything goes type of living. Too much truth produces nasty legalism. Balance well. Live by Jesus’ example.

31. Don’t. Judge. Period.

32. Hurting people hurt people. Be nice to them anyway.

33. On most days, my husband feels like home to me. On some days, usually for about a week each month, I want to kick him out of our home just because he breathes. #sorryhoney #hormones #tryingtogetbetter

34. Grace must exist in a marriage. Must. You will fail each other. You will mess-up at least once a week if not more. You will let each other down, you’ll say things you don’t mean, you’ll at times be astounded by the anger that can rise-up in you at another person. If you go in search of someone else, the same will occur with whoever you find. It’s called marriage and it’s beautiful. And it’s hard. It’s a dance and some days the dance is perfect and others, we just clod along. But the music still plays and we keep choosing to love – even when we’re clodding.

35. That being said, whoever said marriage is 50/50 was on crack. It’s cyclical (and not like the cycle I refer to in number 33). Some seasons you’ll do more, some seasons he will.

36. Keeping score will ruin relationships.

37. There will be people committed to misunderstanding you. They won’t like you just because you’re fill-in-the-blank. Let them. Move on. Don’t try to win them over just because you want everyone to like you. Instead, enjoy the people who do like you. But…pray for the ones who don’t like you. #biggestchallengeever

38. Being over-scheduled stresses kids out. It’s not worth it.

39. Never, ever say no to the ice cream truck when it comes through your neighborhood. It’s more about creating the memories than the ice cream. There will be a day when you won’t have anyone in your house who will even care about the ice cream truck. Ride the excitement wave while you can. And see number 4.

40. Jesus breaks through the strongest of chains. I know this for a fact. Redemption is lovely.

Happy Birthday, dear readers. I know this might sound weird because it’s my birthday and technically, I’m supposed to be celebrated, right? But you all? You bless my socks way off. So on my birthday, I’m honoring YOU. Happy Birthday, friends. Go chase the ice cream truck.




  1. Love the list and Happy Birthday!! I will be turning 40 in 6 months, where has the time gone!! Enjoy your special day!!

  2. Praying for your big day to be blessed and full of fun! Only question, what if the ice cream truck is one of those creepy ones where the guy looks like an escaped convict and you can tell the ice cream is from the grocery store but being sold at 5 times the price? Just sayin’. And why do they only come to my block right at dinner time?? :)
    Love you Natalie! :) xoxo

  3. Happy Birthday! Wishing you a blessed and wonderful day!
    Thank you for sharing the things you have learned these past 40 years! I am in my late 30’s but can relate to so many of the things you mentioned. I especially love the ones where you talk about marriage – you are right I don’t know of a planet where marriage is a 50/50 split but if you can get past that it is worth it if you hang in there! And thanks you to you I will not say no to an ice cream again – I’ll take your advice and have it!
    Hope you have a great day!

  4. Spot on (all 40!), Birthday Lady! May you be as blessed as you bless others. Looking forward to (hopefully) seeing more of you on Thursday mornings. :) Happy Birthday!

  5. As always you amaze me. I wish you so much more than happy birthday. Thank you for blessing my life.

  6. If you don’t mind, I’m going to put a few of these on my bathroom door! (my place of scripture and wisdom) AND Happy Birthday to you sweet lady!!!

  7. OH! I just love this! Happy Birthday to you my friend:) And, keep on writing! You inspire others to enjoy life – the good and the bad:)

  8. A very HAPPY BiRtHdAy to you lovely lady. Wow, you look pretty hot in that picture. Wish my teeth could get that white. Yes, I read what you said about doctoring it. ;) How pretty fantastic it is that your birthday is on one of the best days of the week! Mine was on a Monday, BUT, it was a holiday, so I got the whole day off. Sweet! I hope you have an amazing weekend, and that your birthday celebration has nothing to do with watching the Smurf movie (or anything similar), hanging out at Chuckie Cheeses, or any school sporting event. I hope however you choose to celebrate has everything to do with you being pampered (and nothing to do with you cooking – would be my wish anyway ;)). Hehe.

  9. I read every single one! Yes, I actually focused that long at my age. They are all so true….and "well-said".

  10. Happy birthday! What great wisdom and advice… and by the way – I found out the hard way myself about #23. ;)

  11. Awesome! Happy Birthday Natalie. I am with Kristin Ann Stapleton–you are so inspiring! Keep on writing, sista! ;-)

  12. Love it!!! Can relate to Nr 33!! Just this am! Lol!! Glad I’m not the only one!

  13. I’m a guy that reads your blogs and finds them both inspiring and humorous. I just turned 40 last month and wonder where the time has gone. So much stuff done, but so much stuff left to do including preparing my five year old for life.

    I just wanted to take the time to say Happy Birthday to you and I pray you take time out for you to enjoy it. Keep smiling, keep loving, and know God is using you to bring happiness to others you don’t even know or ever will meet through your writing.

    • What?! A BOY reads my blog???? Well if this didn’t just make my day…Happy Belated Birthday to you, Lee! :)

      Thank you SO much for your kind words and for reading MOF – I think you are one cool dude…:)

  14. Happy, Happy Birthday, beautiful friend! You are loved! <3

  15. #23…. truth.

  16. Natalie,

    So inspirational and well said. Appreciate your authenticity, humor with a touch of sass. A very gifted writer you are. God is working in you strongly for the benefit of others. Keep on keepin on.
    Happy 40 years on this beautiful planet. You make it all the more fun to be here; )

    Man…I felt convicted about the ice cream truck! I’m a total buzzkill when I hear the not so subtle music. I tell the kids to duck and run! #partypoopermom

  17. Happy Birthday sweet friend! I hope you have a great day! Loved your list!

  18. Happy Birthday!!! You had me laughing out loud!!! Enjoy your day!

  19. I love you, Natalie!! Happy birthday! This was so enjoyable to read!
    You so have so much wisdom and thank you for sharing it so perfectly.
    I think I’m going to write these down so I won’t forget.
    Thanks, friend and happy birthday!

  20. Happy birthday Natalie! It's almost impossible for me to believe that you are 40.

  21. I’d like to get some of that wrinkle reducer and teeth whitener in real life. Your picture is lovely, but I know you IRL, and it doesn’t even begin to do you justice. May your next 40 years be richly, unbelievably, astonishingly, lavishly blessed!

    • Thank you, sweet Anni. I think you get wrinkle reducer at the plastic surgeon’s office and the tooth whitener…Well…I know I a guy that’s a really good dentist…HA! :)

      Your words, and your friendship, is a blessing. Thank you for being you.

  22. I know I am late in wishing you a happy birthday, but I hope you have a wonderful and blessed year ahead. You are an inspiration. :)

  23. Thank you, Peggy! :) I can't believe it, either…:) Thank you for sharing! :)

  24. Turn 40 tomorrow…have a MOPs meeting…what a great way to celebrate!!!! Love this Natalie!!

  25. Happy Birthday to you, Katy! So far, my 40's have been FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing this and have a great day tomorrow!

  26. Happy Birthday, Katy! I'm about 6 months behind you :). Enjoy!


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