Today is my birthday. 44 years ago today I started this journey called life. I remember parties, and gifts, and family and friends over the years. I remember how I always liked having my birthday in December...my gifts got to sit under the Christmas tree, my mother made me birthday cakes with a miniature nativity scene on it (I still have that!) My family always made sure my birthday didn't get lost in the holiday excitement...it was always a special day. I appreciate that.
As I look over my 44 years, I see many things...things I would change if I could, many moments I cherish, accomplishments, mistakes I made, happy, sad, bittersweet. Looking back, though...there is one part of my life that remained constant...even when I put it in a box, or a corner, or out of mind....
God has loved me throughout. Have I lived the best life for Him? No. But He loves me anyway. Have I always obeyed Him? No. But He loves me anyway. Have I kept all His commands and loved others the way He would have me love? No. But He loves me anyway. Have I turned from Him, forgotten Him, ignored Him, pushed Him away? Yes. But He loves me anyway...and He has not turned from me, forgotten me, ignored me, or pushed me away.
He has taught me, lifted me up, held me when I cried, laughed with me, given me strength and patience, provided abundantly for my needs, given me family and friends who are there for me. He has loved me anyway. He gave His Son for me - the light of the world. And as I look from my birthday....to the birthday we will soon celebrate...the birth of my beloved Savior and King, Jesus....I know the best gift I ever received was God's grace. His Son. His love.
I grew up going to church. I grew up learning about Jesus. We prayed at home, had family devotions. I was baptized when I was 15 years old in a beautiful church in Oak Harbor. I remember that moment that I became God's daughter - adopted into His family. I remember the flood of peace as the pastor said those words..."I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen." And even though I was active in youth group, and loved God so much...a few years later, I let the world come between us...like so many kids do when they go away from home. It wasn't until my first son was about 5 years old that I started to question my life and my beliefs and my commitment to God. I had promised Him as each of my boys were baptized that I would teach them about Him, take them to church...I wasn't doing that.
So we started looking for a church home. Started taking our kids to Sunday school. Growing in faith. It was good to get back to God. Good to surround myself with other Christians. Good to get back into His word. I still stumble in my walk with Him. But I look back at my growth since my Baptism birthday, and I am astonished at what I have learned and gone through. I am proud to call Him Father, to be His daughter.
My birthday wish is that I will continue to grow in Him. That I will be better at looking to Him in all things. That I will be able to fully trust Him in all areas of my life. That I will live my life for Him...so that His love will shine out through me to bless others. I continue on in this journey, with open eyes, heart and mind to see His works, hear His word, share His love. I am grateful for grace...