I celebrated my “backward” Sweet Sixteen birthday Sunday. Born on a winter night back in 1961, firstborn child to very young parents, I was nine days late, tipped the scales at nearly 10 pounds, and was very nearly named — thanks to the effects of anesthesia — after my mother’s dog.
Thankfully, that was straightened out and I was named after my father, Andrew.
But a few days later, our hometown newspaper reported my birth, pairing the sturdy baby girl Andrea Lynn Holtzclaw up with parents Ray and Sandra Gillihan, and giving baby Michael Ray Gillihan, born the same night, to Andrew and Lorna Holtzclaw.
I still have the clipping, and I’m glad. It gives me the life experience of knowing the potential effect that a mix-up in the newspaper can have on a person.
There’s no mistaking me, if anyone ever met my parents, as being anyone other than their “Varmint” grand experiment in child-rearing.
In my life, I have been my father’s daughter for my hard-headedness and drive. I have been my mother’s daughter by appearance, love of writing and reading — and an extra shot of hard-headedness.
I’m those things, and others. I’m a mom, stepmom, bonus grandma, doting aunt and great-aunt. Dog lover.
Since I wrote my first story for pay at age 17, I’ve embraced the label of community journalist.
On each birthday in my adult years, I take a little extra time to think about who I am.
I am not a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent voter, although I have voted for good people with all of those labels by their name in elections.
My pastor gave me a list several years ago that really defines who I am, because each label is promised in God’s Word.
Maybe it’s just one more birthday, but I’m reminded that in Christ, I am a new creation, according to II Corinthians 5:17.
I may be my father’s daughter, but John 1:12 promises me that I am God’s daughter.
And I’ve got the best friend in the world! John 15:15 says Jesus calls me His friend.
What a great give to know that I am justified, I am redeemed by grace, as Romans 3:24 explains.
There’s responsibility with my identity. I Corinthians 6:19 reminds me that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in me.
Ephesians 1:13 explains that because when I heard and believed and accepted the gospel of my salvation, I was sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
I’m a part of the body of Christ. I’m a part of the church, by I Corinthians 12:27’s description.
And I have some responsibility toward others, because I am an ambassador for Christ while I’m on this earth, according to II Corinthians 5:20.
When I’m having a bad day, I’ve got to remember, that God calls me in Song of Soloman 4:7, “altogether beautiful,” with “no flaw” in me.
Proverbs 31:26 says I have wisdom and teach kindness.
Psalm 34:5 says those who look to him (and I do!) are radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.
Psalm 46:5 says God is in me and I will not fall. God will help me.
And my favorite reminder comes in I Corinthians 15:10, when the Apostle Paul wrote “But God’s amazing grace has made me who I am!” The verse goes on to say that while Paul worked harder than many, it was not in his own strength, but God’s, for “His empowering grace is poured out on me.”
Now that’s an identity to claim!