Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” ~ Psalm 139:14

It's almost my birthday. I love my birthday. My parents have always made a big deal about birthdays and they remind us that this was the special day that God chose for us to be born and it's a big deal and it needs to be celebrated. We always got to have whatever meal we wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We always had streamers and balloons that were put up the night before...we had to go to bed early "for no reason." My parents always spent as much as they could and we received multiple presents for our birthdays. Always a mix of fun and practical gifts - clothes, toys, books, etc.

I was born on my Auntie Terrianne's birthday (my Mom's best friend) and we have almost always celebrated our birthday together. My niece Katelyn was almost born on my birthday and even the year I was the same age as Auntie Terrianne when I was born, but she arrived two days prior - guess she wanted her own day! :) The first year I went on a mission trip - out of only 20 people on our team there were four of us all born on August 28! Different years, but still pretty amazing.

One of the things you may not know about me is that I don't really like attention. I prefer to stand in the shadows and I love to listen. This always causes a bit of a struggle with my birthday because I always want to celebrate with a party and all my friends and family...but I get shy and nervous about the attention. I even felt this way about my wedding but there's not much you can do about being center stage when you're the bride!

“You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There’s never been anyone exactly like you before, and there never will be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are.”
~ Mister Rogers

This is one of my very favorite Mister Rogers quotes. I think it's something we all struggle with. I'm very thankful to have parents to have always told me how special I am, not only because of who I am, but more importantly because of who I am in Christ. But I know there are so many people who didn't have loving parents who instilled that sense of specialness in them...and even though it's simple, this quote speaks to the heart of so many people.

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” ~ Proverbs 29:25

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I do think that part of my fear of attention is fear of what other people think and that's something I know many of us struggle with daily. There is part of me that feels confident about who I am and thinks that I don't need to worry about what others think. But then, there's another part of me that worries about how I look, or wonders if my opinions or thoughts would be upsetting to someone and so I keep them to myself, and so on and so on. Applying the truth that only God's opinion matters is an ongoing journey and I really don't expect to ever be perfect at it.

“Be careful not to turn others’ lives into the mold for your own. Allow God to be as creative with you as He is with each of us.” ~ Francis Chan

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” ~ Galatians 6:4

“Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.” ~ Oswald Chambers

It can be all too easy to look at someone else's life, at their walk with Christ, at their gifting and think that we should be like them. But God made us all unique and He has unique plans for each of us. The way He made me - my personality, my emotions, my talents and gifts, my interests, the way my mind works - all it blends together to make me uniquely gifted for certain things. And He does this with every single one of us. ALL of us. And although He might sometimes do things similarly, it doesn't mean that He has to do the same thing every time. We have a wonderfully creative God. He made so many variations of colors, plants, flowers, animals, rocks, seasons, smells, foods, and the God who loves that much variety, loves to use as much (or more) variety in His favorite creation - people - Us!

“Each person in the world is a unique human being, and each has unique human potential. One of the most important tasks of growing is the discovery of this uniqueness: the discovery of ‘who I am’ in each of us – of ‘who I am’ in relation to all those whom I meet.” ~ Mister Rogers

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the LORD God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” ~ Psalm 73:28

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD.” ~ Psalm 19:14

Part of the process of learning who we are is learning about the One who made us. As we read through God's Word, we discover Who created us and what He has created us to be. We learn the things that are important to Him - to love Him and to love others. We learn about the world He has created, the people He has chosen and the sacrifice He has made for our sake. The more we learn about God, the more we know how to please Him with our lives. We learn Who He is and Whose we are...and as we learn to listen to His leading, we can discover who we are meant to be.

“Part of what it means to be created in the image of God is that each person has his or her own story, giftedness, and calling. I cannot find mine by looking at yours. Your story may inspire me or warn me, but I should never use it to determine my own.” ~ Nancy Ortberg

“Only let each person lead the life that the LORD has assigned to [her], and to which God has called [her].” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:17

We do learn from each other. Most of the Bible is full of stories of other people's lives and experiences and we can learn a lot. Sometimes we learn what not to do, sometimes we learn what we should do. But each person has their own unique story and God has a plan for each of us. As we draw closer to Him through study and prayer and discussion, we can begin to determine the plans He has for us. And all along the way, the only thing we need to do is focus on Him. Love God and listen to Him and do what He asks. Be who you are - who He made you to be.

“God made you as you are in order to use you as He planned.”
~ J.C. Macauley

“O LORD, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways…For You created me in my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
~ Psalm 139: 1-3, 13-14a

One of my very favorite Amy Grant songs is called "All I Ever Have To Be." It is such a beautiful and simple song and every time I listen to it, it makes me cry. All the lyrics are meaningful, but the last verse is my favorite.

"All I Ever Have To Be"
When the weight of all my dreams
Is resting heavy on my head
And the thoughtful words of help and hope
Have all been nicely said
But I'm still hurting, wondering if I'll ever be the one
I think I am - I think I am

Then you gently re-remind me
That You've made me from the first
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst
And I realize the good in me is only there because of who You are
Who You are...

And all I ever have to be is what You've made me
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan
As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find
And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be is what You've made me
~ Amy Grant song by Gary Chapman

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for my birthday. Thank You for creating me and making me who I am. Thank You for the wonderful parents, family and friends that You have placed in my life and the many ways that they have loved me, taught me - especially about You, and been a support and encouragement in my life. Thank You for having a unique plan for my life - for each person's life. I pray that those who seek You and Your plan will come to know You and follow Your plan for their lives. Thank You for not expecting more of us that what we are and for loving us in spite of the many ways we mess up and fall down. Thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son - for His willingness to die for our sins and for the miracle of His resurrection so that we may have true freedom and grace. Thank You for loving us. I love you. Amen.

PS - Last week, I talked about hurting my back and being in pain. Praise the Lord my back is almost 100% healed. Every day I've felt better and I am so thankful for the blessing of healing and I wanted you to know.

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