All three of my sisters will celebrate their birthday this month. Being the first-born in our family, naturally I am older and hopefully in some small ways wiser.

Lately I have found myself looking back at our childhood years, and sometimes am amazed at what I see.

Every one of us girls lived at home until we married (except for the four years I was a resident student at Geneva College). For whatever reason, none of us struck out on our own. It was much safer, more comfortable and convenient, and in all honesty, much cheaper, to stay with Mom and Dad as long as we could.

But that is pretty much where the similarities end. It always amazes me that four girls who grew up in the same family, with the same parents giving the same teaching and setting the same example for each of us, could be so different. While we still share many of the same values of life, each one of us has a very different lifestyle. Each of those lifestyles comes from the choices we were free to make in our younger years.

But looking back, I sometimes see irony in that “rules” that we shunned as kids are now a welcome part of life.

I was talking to someone the other day about how much we hated having to take a nap on Sunday afternoon. As soon as lunch was over and the dishes were washed and put away, it was nap time. For at least one hour, there was to be no talking, no reading, no listening to music. Since it would be a few years until cell phones and video games became the norm, at least we didn’t have to make that sacrifice, keeping them turned off during nap time.

I don’t know how much we really napped during that hour, if we ever did. But somehow the lesson stuck. Now, as soon as the dishes are washed and stacked to dry on Sunday afternoon, it is nap time. But these days I look forward to that time for a little extra rest, and feel deprived if I don’t get my Sunday afternoon nap!

When we were growing up we had everything we needed, if not everything we might have wanted. As I look back, I sometimes find myself wondering how we ever survived without our cell phones, our microwaves, our home computers and all those other “necessities” we can’t seem to live without nowadays.

Remembering the stories Mom and Dad would tell about their childhoods, they didn’t have many of the conveniences we had as kids. They didn’t have television; instead they entertained themselves by playing outside with their brothers and sisters, cousins and the neighbor kids. They didn’t have a car they could hop into every time they wanted something across town. No, they walked to the store, to school, to wherever it was they wanted to go. Convenience foods were those picked fresh from the garden or off the apple tree in the back yard.

How much life has changed from the time Mom was a little girl until now, when her great-grandchildren are just starting to experience life. While some of the changes have made life easier and have opened many doors to new opportunities, some of the changes have taken away the freedoms Mom and Dad enjoyed as youngsters, freedoms they tried to pass on to us.

I guess a month filled with birthdays of loved ones, whether family or friends, always leads to looking back at what used to be and wondering what lies ahead.

But it is also a reminder that each one of those birthdays represents someone who has touched our life and is a blessing sent from the Lord. So to all the friends on my birthday calendar, and especially to my sisters and niece, may the Lord Jesus Christ bless you in a very special way on your special day. Happy birthday, I love you!

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Thought for the week — You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ Les Brown

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