The Facts of Lisa's Life
How Lisa Whelchel Finds a
Nichelle Clayton and Doug Barnes
Ask Lisa Whelchel what she's been doing with her career
since "The Facts of Life" wrapped up in 1988, and she'll
tell you her current role is the biggest opportunity of
her life. The setting is sunny California, and there's
a beautiful mom, a handsome dad, three lovely kids and
a family dog. The minivan parked in the driveway says "typical
American family." Their story is sometimes funny, a little
hectic and touched by sadness and joy. Sound like real
life? It is. Lisa has chosen the real-life role of a stay-at-home
I didn't know what to expect as I dialed that phone number.
I must admit the image of Blair Warner - immaculately dressed
and coiffed - came to mind. What could I possibly have
in common with Blair, the wealthy and sometimes snobbish
socialite? As her phone rang, I quickly reminded myself
that Blair was just a character. But who is the real Lisa
When I heard the recorded message on the other end of
the line, I immediately felt at ease. "This is the home
of Steve and Lisa," the voice on the machine said, with
three small voices chiming in, "...and Tucker, and Haven,
and Clancy!" That was my first clue that Lisa (who now
goes by her married name, Cauble) is nothing like Blair.
As I talked to her later, I was amazed by the simple life
she leads. Now married to pastor Steve Cauble, Lisa's more
likely to be spotted in the supermarkets around her home
in Santa Clarita, Calif., than on "Lifestyles of the Rich
and Famous." Lisa homeschools her three kids, Tucker, 8,
Haven, 7, and Clancy, 6. And in this new role, Lisa believes
it's what's on the inside that counts. Lisa says her family
is the most important thing in her life - and her actions
speak as loudly as her words.
The Facts of Change
When asked how her life has changed since "The Facts of
Lie" ended after nine seasons, Lisa laughs. "I can't think
of one thing that's the same, " she says. "Everything is
different. I was single; now I'm married. And over the
last 10 years I've gone from being very rich to living
on a pastor's salary."
Though she did some investing during her career, those
investments dried up within a few years. Lisa chalks it
up to a learning experience. "Learning how to live on Steve's
salary had been good. I always had money because I started
working when I was 12 years old. It's been nice to learn
to really appreciate the things we have."
"Money wasn't a bad thing, I enjoyed lots of opportunities," Lisa
says about her single years. "But now I realize it's much
sweeter having just one cookie a day than a whole bag of
And money's not the only thing that's changes. "I've gone
from having a circle of people serving me - makeup artists,
hair peoples, writers, producers, cameramen and fans - to
being the one serving others - my kids, my husband and
So how has Lisa handled this transition from being the
one take care of to taking care of others? "Having three
babies in three years kept me pretty busy. So I really
didn't have a difficult time. And there's fulfillment in
being involved in the lives of my neighbors and friends."
The Facts of Family
When it comes to her family life, one word could sum up
Lisa's goal: simplicity . In a time when many
parent sign their children up for enough extracurricular
activities to fill a thick day-planner, Lisa has taken
a step back to focus on the things that really matter.
"I've learned to put value on simply providing a stable
life and that means establishing routines. When my children
were little, routine meant their afternoon naps." Now that
they're homeschooling, Lisa's children get lessons in language
arts, history, science, and math four mornings a week,
with afternoons off for reading, computers and play. Steve's
day off, Monday, is set aside for family field trips and
Lisa - who left public school after sixth grade, was tutored
on the set of "The Facts of Life" and earned her high school
diploma by age 16 - is a great teacher. Steve says, "Lisa
was basically homeschooled herself, so she really know
how important structure is; her patience with the kids
Sticking to a routine has other benefits, too. It not
only affords the Caubles plenty of family time, it also
provides an opportunity for Steve's and Lisa's own quiet
moments. "We've gotten into a certain routine at night.
Our kids go to bed at 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 p.m., so my husband
and I have some time to be together," Lisa says. "Overall,
I would describe my family life today as joyous and peaceful."
But what about Lisa's professional life? Does she feel
she's neglecting her talents? Or is she shortchanging her
community by turning her focus inward?
"This may be the least flashy of choices," Lisa says, "but
it's the best choice for this time in our lives."
The Facts of Marriage
While "The Facts of Life" was still in production, Lisa
attended the church where Steve is on staff. They were
both part of a small group that gathered weekly to pray.
Lisa and Steve developed a close friendship that turned
to love about two years later.
Three children came quickly to the young couple, who already
were faced with the normal pressures and changes of a new
marriage. Lisa admits that family life hasn't always been
perfect. In fact, Lisa describes the fourth year of her
marriage as a really tough season. "During that time," Lisa
says, "I suddenly realized, Steve's not everything
I thought he was going to be. And I'm sure he was
thinking, Lisa's not everything I thought she was going
to be. "
Lisa knew she had to make a decision. "I could keep my
focus on how I might change him to be everything I want
him to be. Or I could change and adapt myself for my family
and in the process become the best mom and wife I could
be. That's when we started to make some progress."
The Facts of Opportunity
But a wind of change is in the air. Lisa says, "It appears
that in the next year the doors will fling open to a new
path-a path I didn't even know was there."
As Lisa prepares lunch for the "The Good Medicine Club",
she asks Steve, "Have you told them about the family dream?" The "family
dream," as Steve explains it, is to embark on a new adventure
in the summer of 2000. Steve will take a year off from
work so their family can travel the country via motor home.
The reason for the trip? Lisa has written a book called Beyond
Bible Stories , which she hopes will be released that
summer. Her plan is to promote the book while speaking
at churches and homeschool conventions.
"Along the way," Lisa says, "we'll be able to share the
beauty of our country, visiting places we've read about
in history lessons and just spending time together as a
The Facts of Belonging
Keeping their routines intact on the road may be challenging,
but there's one thing Lisa's not willing to give up.
"I get up early to enjoy the quiet of the morning and
read my Bible. When you have three children, quiet time
is sometimes hard to come by. Some mornings I just have
time to ask, 'Lord, help me through the day.'
"But every morning I need time to refocus. I need to be
refueled. I can't just do it on Sunday, that's not enough," Lisa
says. "The world is chaotic, and it's too confusing. I
need to keep an eternal perspective. The choices I make
for my life cannot be dictated by what the world says it
"I realize that most of my impulses and inclinations are
toward temporary satisfaction. So before I make choices,
I need to stop and ask, 'How will this affect eternity,'
instead of thinking about what would be the most fun right
Lisa feels here quiet time allows her to develop her own
sense of belonging, which she defines this way: "A sense
of belonging is what you have when you take away - layer
by layer - the clutter of the world, the blessings of the
family, even who you think you are and ask, 'What's at
the very center?' If you don't know what that is, you probably
don't have a sense of belonging," Lisa says. "If Jesus
is at the center, then there is no question."
The facts of Lisa's life seem pretty clear: The only similarity
between Blair Warner and Lisa Whelchel Cauble is the blonde
hair, brown eyes and pretty face. Family is what's important
to Lisa, and she's committed to herself to putting them
first. Thought Lisa considers returning to acting someday,
she's content with the season of life she's in today. And
who could argue with that?
It seems Lisa has learned the true facts of life.