Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday.  46 years ago, I was brought into this world by two amazing people, Jan and Dewey Tyler.  They have been tremendous examples of living out their faith.  I grew up in the Lutheran church (well, not in the church.  I lived on Grover Street, but attended a Lutheran church.)  I attended a Lutheran grade school and high school.  I have never really known a life without having faith and knowing I am a child of God.  This gives tremendous peace during the trying times in my life.  But I have not always had that peace.

While I have faith and am a believer, that does not mean I don't ask God, "Why me?  Why is this happening to me?"  Most recently, thanks to my brothers in Men's Group, I now ask myself, "Where is God in this situation or event?  What is His plan for me and what will I learn from it?  Will I be better for the experience or hardship?"

I can honestly say, looking back over my 46 years of life, God does have a plan for me and he does want me to learn from my mistakes, poor decisions and hardships.  In retrospect, I can see how He has worked in my life, so I can help others by being an example, sharing my hardships and how I was able to overcome them.  I did not do it alone, but with God's help, grace and forgiveness.  When you think about it, that is a pretty amazing concept.

I would say the first 19 years of this life, things were ideal.  I often say I experienced a "Leave it to Beaver" childhood.  (Boy, am I dating myself!)  The next 25 years were full of challenges.  Ranging from divorces, financial and alcohol issues and being a single parent, it is safe to say I had my share of challenges.  Yes, I had some great experiences and happy times, but the challenges weighed heavily on me.  While I was blessed in so many ways, I often found myself in difficult situations.  Making poor decisions was a pattern I fell into.  One that made my life more difficult than I ever thought could happen.  Afterall, I was raised Lutheran and should have been "protected" from such experiences.  Wrong!

I say that because I was my worst enemy.  I would make bad decisions.  Sometimes out of emotion, other times, as a result of not thinking things through and being deliberate.  Often, it was to avoid conflict or out of self interest.  Even when I know I should choose differently, I ignored that "voice".  You know the one I'm talking about.  And when I did't listen to that "voice", I found I only made things worse.  I would do or say something hurtful to another.  I make a poor decision, at work, or in a relationship, or about money or in parenting my children.  And then I find myself backtracking, trying to make things right.  Only to find, I often can't undo what's been done.  Then, I am left to deal with the consequences of my actions.   Sometimes I fall into a pattern and get stuck in this circle of self destruction.  Self loathing and negative emotions would rule the day.

Until three years ago, when the cloud lifted.  I embarked on a spiritual renewal, finding myself entering into a deeper relationship with God.  Our church, God's Grace Community Church, has played a crucial role in helping me develop my faith, deepen relationships, and live out the life God wants me to live.  Sometimes it is a subtle act or conversation, where I know God is speaking through me, using me as an example of His grace and compassion.  It is a great feeling to know "God has your back".  Through Him, anything is possible.

So what I have learned in my first 46 years of life?  Lots.  (I will save that for another devotion)  But I will share this lesson and that is to "let go, and let God.I have learned to trust in Him and His plan for me.  To slow down, listen to that "voice" and make better decisions.  To be an example to others, what being in a relationship with God is about and the peace it can bring.  It has made a world of difference and I know I would not be the person I am today, without going through that journey.

I look forward to the next 46 years, (hopefully more than that, God-willing.)  There is much work to be done and God knows, I am up to the task.  I would like to think I am a little bit wiser.  A little more deliberate or intentional.  I am learning from the past and hopefully not making the same mistakes.  I am living a life, steeped in faith and serving as an Christ-like example to others.  That is not to say I won't make mistakes.  Afterall, I am human.  But I am also created in God's image.  So I have that going for me, which is nice.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the gift of life, this life you have bestowed upon us. Thank you for birthdays, for they remind us of the day we began our journey in this life.  We are here for your purpose.  Give us the wisdom to find that purpose and live out a Christ-like life, serving others and serving you.  Thank you for the gift of grace and forgiveness.  Knowing that we wil make mistakes but can find redemption in learning from them.  Abide in us and give us strength to "let go and let You" work through us.  To show grace, compassion and forgiveness to others, as You have shown us.

In your name we pray,


PS  Thanks for another year in this life.  Let this next year be the best year yet.  :-)

Trace Tyler

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