Today's post was written by Brook Hills member Carla Garikes.

My name is Carla Garikes, and I am 54 years old. When I was a little girl, I attended church with my family and thought that made me a Christian. I learned basic truths about Jesus and believed them, but I had no real heart knowledge of Him. As a young person, I made many self-centered and sinful choices. I pursued relationships and activities that did not honor God until I reached a place where I was rejected by almost everyone that mattered to me. I was sure God rejected me too, and I knew I deserved His rejection. I was depressed and living a numbed existence.

Becoming a mother was a turning point for me, though. I was overwhelmed by the

[caption id="attachment_973" align="alignright" width="300"]Carla and her daughters Carla and her daughters[/caption]

depth of unconditional love I felt for my daughters, and I wondered if that love was anything like God's love for his children. I wondered, "Would He have loved me like that, if I had not made so many sinful choices?"

In desperation, I cried out to God for help, and He graciously led me to women whose words and actions reflected love, joy, and peace. These women seemed so different from other people I had known through church. They shared their life stories, and they helped me understand that, despite my sin, Jesus Christ wanted a relationship with me. That truth gave me hope and led me to confess my sins and ask Jesus to forgive me and to change me from the inside out.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come." As a new Christian, this verse was very important to me. I knew Jesus had changed me into a new creation because I had a growing desire to spend time with Him and an understanding of His word. I could see He was changing me from the inside out, but there were times when I still felt guilty about my past. Each time that happened, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the truth of that verse. I am in Christ, and the old has passed away.