One of the best things about kindergarten is the artwork.

I love our daughter's teacher this year. Every Monday she gives the students a blank sheet of paper to write what they did over the weekend and draw a picture. I treasure these and have kept each one.

Last week, my daughter brought home one of these sheets with the header, "I am special because ..." The kids each wrote why they are special and then drew a picture. I imagine her friend Lola just might have written something about her beauty queen trophies. Many probably wrote words about playing baseball, being a good singer, dancer or whatever else might pop into a 5-year-old's mind.

My daughter's paper says, "I am special because ... I AM MYSelf" (Caps hers). There is a picture of a sweet little girl with pink hair, pink lips, a pink triangle for a dress, and of course, pink pumps. I am very thankful that she knows she is special just being herself!

I wonder what happens along the way that causes us to lose the carefree security of childhood. How many of us as adults would answer that we are valued "just because I'm me"? As parents, we treasure our children for the simple fact that they were born and placed into our lives through love. There is nothing they can do to make us care for them any more or any less — we just love them because they're them!

But in the "real world" of adults, things are different. We are a performance-based society. You're either in or you're out. You may be here today and gone tomorrow if your company stock prices drop, your team loses one too many games, or Simon Cowell just doesn't like the way your hair looks today.

We tend to value who we are based on what we do — and by how successful we are or we are not. Most of the time when we meet new people, one of the first things we ask each other is, "What do you do?" It is natural to ask these questions. Conversing about our careers can offer opportunities to find common ground.

It is important, however, to distinguish what we do — and how successfully we do it — from who we are. We are God's children with whom He desires to have an intimate relationship. He loves us just because we are His. Actually, He is crazy about us! He would have to be to give up His beloved Jesus to literally go through hell just so we can be together with Him in glory.

Taking this a step further, I wonder what we tend to value about God. Do we love Him because of what He does for us or do we love Him just because of who He is? The difference is subtle, but also huge.

God does so much for us. Salvation through Jesus is an unfathomable gift. And the list goes on of the blessings God pours over us. It is easy to love God the way we might have loved Santa Claus as a kid — to see Him as a larger-than-life, but rather distant figure that we can almost reach out and touch, but never really grasp. After all, there is something inside each of us that tells us we must do something to pay for all these lavish gifts. And deep down, we know we have nothing to offer that can even come close.

Can it really be true that all He asks of us is our hearts?

We begin to simply rest in who He is.
Does He really just want us to love Him because He's Him?

As we grow into deeper relationship with our Father and let Him steal our hearts, we begin to simply rest in who He is. And that is where we find our true identity. We abide in Him as He abides in us. And we come to realize that "I am special because ... I'm with Him!"

Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31 NLT).