Growing up in my house, birthdays were huge celebrations. At 5:30 am, my entire family (all 6 siblings and of course my parents, too) would get up, light candles and come into my room singing happy birthday. Then the celebrations would begin. My mom would prepare us our favorite breakfast. “Honey Filberts,” “sticky buns” or croissants– whatever we wanted she would make (knowing that we wouldn’t eat it because of the excitement). Then we would open gifts and do everything else that comes with a birthday. But it didn’t end there.

2nd birthday

When we got to school celebrations continued with more gifts to unwrap, more songs to sing, cake and games. One particular game, my favorite, was called “hounds and hares.” We would make two teams. The team with the name hares would be the hiding team and the hounds would be chasing them. The way to follow the “scent” would be sawdust. The hares, as they were on the run, every so often would leave a hand full of sawdust on the road. This could be played with a variety of objects… food coloring on snow or chalk on the blacktop, but we mostly used sawdust. This game usually took hours to play. When the Hares were found and if either party was not too tired we would reverse roles. When we were exhausted from running around the property in pursuit of our classmates, we would come in and listen to a story while sipping lemonade or hot chocolate, depending on the weather. The whole day was dedicated to us and our happiness. It sure worked!

So as my birthday began to approach this year I suddenly found myself in a new state surrounded by new friends. I moved to Lydia’s House on November 11, 2019 (an important date)!

As you might have gathered from the photo above, I grew up in a Christian community called the Bruderhof. In November 2018 I had come home to the Bruderhof after living in the Philippines, working in an orphanage. I had been thinking during that year that I felt called to a different way of living. I didn’t yet know what, but I promised my parents that I would stay a year on “the hof” and then see what would happen during that time. So the exact day I moved to Lydia’s House, marked the year, or the end of my discernment about staying or going. I had decided to go. By November 2019,  I knew I’d be celebrating my 24th birthday in an entirely new way, away from everything I’d ever known, and on path towards a life I couldn’t have imagined back in the days of sticky buns or playground games.

The day of my birthday dawned at Lydia’s House. I woke up to my phone ringing… it was my parents calling me from NY. I answered the phone and they began singing “happy birthday. I remembered all those birthday mornings with my parents and siblings all crowded together in one room singing that very song. That evening, at Lydia’s House, I sat around the table surrounded by new friends I had so recently made. Dinner progressed, and those friends started sharing affirmations with me. I felt so accepted and loved. Then we moved on to dancing, and then to the birthday cake. Not to forget the Sleepy Bee brunch outing later that week, where I received more affirmations and gifts (including a hand made badge). There was so much love and care!

hand made birthday badge.

Now I think about this next year of my life and what it will bring and how many changes await me. A year ago I would never have dreamed I would be living in Ohio. I am excited for 24 and the many adventures I will be taking as I embark on a completely new life. I am excited for all the new friends I will make.

(and happy birthday to my good friend, Boogie, a former guest at Lydia’s House! We celebrated our birthdays on the same day. He turned 5!).