Why I Am Who I Am

This post has been on my heart for a long time. A really long time. I'm finally taking the time to sit down and write it after listening to a devotional my pastor shared during choir practice last night.

Why am I who I am? Why do I do the things I do? What keeps me going? It's Jesus. Plain and simple. It's Jesus.

From time to time I share bits and pieces of my faith - my story - on the blog. And I hope that in all my writing - all my words, pictures and actions - you can see Jesus in me. You see, I'm not perfect. I'm far from it and I know it, but it's because of God's great love for me that I am who I am. It's because of the redemptive power of my Heavenly Father that I can live the life I live - a life covered abundantly in grace by Grace.

My life isn't perfect. I've had my share of disappointments, tragedies and wrong decisions, but I don't look at those things as "bad things" that happened to me; I look at them as opportunities for growth. I've experienced first-hand Christ's love for me and it's because of this love that I want to be more like Him.

I'm not good. Sure, I may be considered a good person (and I like to think I am), but I'm a sinner who's been made clean because of His sacrifice. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how good I am, how many hours I've volunteered for Junior League, the Heart Association and even my church, how many kind, unnoticed things I do for others, how selfless I am, how hard I try at things - nothing matters except my heart. And if my heart hasn't accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord, the rest of it is all for naught.

I'm a Christian and I'm thankful that God sent His only Son to die for me. That's for me! The boys and I were talking in the car one day and somehow we started talking about heaven, hell and Jesus. This has been a while, but I remember this conversation and their questions vividly. They have hearts that want to know, minds that question and ears that soak in everything. During this particular conversation, we talked about how when Jesus died and rose again, it wasn't just for the people that were living then. It was for all of us. Those who have gone before us, all of us today and all those in the future - the grandkids with many greats in front of them.

It amazes me the selflessness of God. Really, it does. I can imagine laying my life down for my children, but I can't imagine giving my children up for everyone, people I don't know and people who don't even exist. That's exactly what He did.

For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, so whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

It amazes me.

Being a Christian doesn't mean I'm right all the time, it doesn't mean I know what I'm doing or have all the answers and it certainly doesn't mean I'm good. It just means that I recognize my need for a Savior - my need for someone to take my place and make all the bad good and lead me, guide me and direct me. It means all those things and so much more.

It means that I'm not ever alone. No matter how alone I may feel, I'm not ever alone. Believe me, I have felt totally and completely alone. I have been driving down the road, crying literally and out to God and I have felt His presence. I've felt Him assure me that's He's here and He's got this.

My God gives me direction and leads my steps. It's amazing to me to see how things work when I let go and I let God. And it amazes me still how often I hold on and when I finally let go, I'm reminded that I should've given up on my own way before.

My God restores me, and oh how He's restored me. He's restored me time and time again. He's pulled me out of the deepest pits and has shown me that His ways are greater than mine. That He has a perfect plan. That He knows my needs before I even know them.

He is before all things and in Him, all things hold together.
Colossians 1:17

He comforts me and delivers me all the time. I don't get too open about this on the blog, but as an example, imagine how it would feel if your children didn't get to be with you every single day. Yes, I know I'm just the stepmom (that word we don't use) (and He comforts me in that when it gets pointed out), but its literally like my heart has been yanked out when our boys aren't at home. God made me to be a mama to these two boys and God-willing, another one or two down the road, and not having these sweet children with us every single day is the toughest thing I have to deal with.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us! 
Romans 8:18

He's given me hope, promised me a future and has answered so many prayers (both ways I would like and didn't like at the time, but ultimately, I've realized His answers are far better than what I think I want and need).

And so it was that she, having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained what God had promised.
Hebrews 6:15

He's faithful to me. He's never left me, disappointed me, upset me or turned away from me. How many times have I done these to Him?

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.
Psalm 9:10

He fills me up, He blesses my life and He gives me joy. I don't deserve any of the the blessings I have. At all. But God has blessed me tremendously and for that, I give Him thanks. I don't even have the words to tell you or Him how thankful I am for His blessings - my sweet family that is greater than anything I dreamed, a fulfilling marriage, career and things I love and so many other countless things both large and small.

Christ doesn't want us to come to Him with our perfect lives. He isn't looking for us to be all cleaned up, organized and together to start worshipping Him. He doesn't need for us to be able to recite a million Bible verses or be the leader of groups at church. He just wants our hearts and He wants our whole life.

He wants us to come to Him when we're happy, when we're sad, when we don't understand and when we're overcome with joy. He cares about the little things that make us anxious and the big worries that we have. He listens to our prayers for our children and their lives. He shows us He's here with us through His answered prayers. Our lives produce fruit - love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control - when we're living for Him.

He wants to guide each and every step we make and He wants us to be excited to spend time with Him. As I've grown older (and hopefully wiser), I realize more and more each and every day how important it is for me to be totally and completely plugged in and sold out to Christ. He has my heart and my best interests in mind. Those things that concern me - the hopes for the future, both ours and our childrens, the worries, the insecurities, the joys - concern Him even more. We are His. We are His creation. He knows every single tiny little thing about me - and you - and He cares about them more than we can ever imagine!

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:30-31

If you don't know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, I urge you to give Him a chance, learn about Him and see what He's all about. The Christian life is not something that is boring, unadventurous and full of all these rules and rites. It's a life of abundance, joy and overflowing love. It's a gift that we've been freely given through no work of our own.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23

As Christians, we will sin. Sin won't stop, but the punishment of sin will. Sin will still have consequences, sin will still hurt and sin will still give us problems, but as Christians, we have the assurance that Christ will wipe away our sins and we will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

There's no formula to be had, no exact words to be said, no ritual to follow to get to know Christ. It all starts with admittance. It's about admitting that we're sinners and we can't do it on our own. It's believing that God sent His Son, Jesus, to the earth to live a sinless life as a man, be crucified and rise from the dead for us. And it's about confession - confessing that you can't do it on your own. Confessing that you need help, guidance and forgiveness. 

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 
Romans 10:9-10

God's invitation is open to everyone. It doesn't matter your color, your race, your past mistakes and what you'll do in the future. It's your heart that matters.

For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved! 
Romans 10:13

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17

As Christians, we're not called to be perfect. We're called to be the light of the world. One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from Matthew 5.

You are the salt of the world. If the salt loses it's saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I don't have it all together, I don't have all the answers, but I have a Savior who loves me, died for me and gives me grace abundantly. 

My hope and prayer for you is that you experience this same all-encompassing love, this abundant life and the glorious grace and blessings of Jesus Christ!

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