The Charm Bracelet I’d Love to Give My Daughter Someday

I absolutely love this story and want to incorporate something like it into my daughter’s life.

I ran across this here, but wanted to keep a good copy for myself.

The Charm Bracelet

Taken from the April 2008 Brio and Beyond Magazine:

By: Sarah Kistler

Sweet 16 had finally come! I never thought I’d make it. But I did. And it was amazing. My parents threw the birthday party of the century, and I had more people than I could count. The whole day had been awesome. But as I watched the sun begin to set, I knew the best part was soon to come.

It was late in the evening. Confetti had been swept up, helium balloons had started to sag and gift wrap had been folded neatly and tucked away for my mom’s later use. As I sad at my window studying the dusky sky, Dad peeked into the room with a smile.

“Ready to go, Sweetie?” he asked.

Was that a trick question? I wondered as I scrambled to my feet. I’d been waiting for this night for five long years, and it was finally here! I was now officially allowed to date!

The plan was for my parents and me to go to my favorite restaurant on the night of my 16th birthday and officiate the agreement, go over standards and discuss rules and such. And now we were finally on our way.

I sat across from my parents in a quiet corner booth. Having just placed our orders, I figured it was time to get on with it. “So. I can go out with any guy I want to, right?” I squealed, hardly able to contain my excitement.

Mom and Dad chucked. Dad answered, “Well, we agreed to that, didn’t we?”

“Sweet!” I exclaimed, doing a little victory dance in my seat. My parents had held me off for years, but now that the time had come, they would let me date any guy I wanted! Of course they knew I had a good relationship with God and wasn’t too short on common sense, either.

“Now wait just a second,” Mom interrupted with a smile. “You have to agree to a little something yourself.”

I was expecting a lecture of some sort, so I was already prepared. “So what do I have to do now?” I asked, leaning forward on my elbows.

“Just open this,” Dad answered, producing a small white box. He gave a mysterious smile.

I hesitated a moment before removing the curly pink ribbon. I slowly opened the lid and saw a beautiful silver bracelet. But not just any bracelet. It was a charm bracelet. And they weren’t just any charms. They were gemstones, small but gorgeous. A dozen dainty charms dangled gently.

“Wow.” I didn’t know what else to say. I wasn’t expecting this at all.

“Now you have to understand this isn’t just any bracelet,” Mom informed me.

“I know,” I said. “It’s so beautiful!” I studied it closer. There were six small charms alternating with tinier ones. The smaller ones were deep blue. Sapphires, I guessed. And the other six were each different. One appeared to be just a rock, one was pink, a white one, a red one, green… and was that a diamond?

“This charm bracelet is symbolic,” Dad explained, leaning in closer to study it with me. “It represents you and your purity. This is what will guide you through your dating relationships. Your mother and I can only tell you what’s right. We can’t make you believe it yourself. Hopefully, this will.”

I looked up solemnly. “I’m listening.”

“This represents the first time you hold a guy’s hand,” Mom said, pointing to the gray one. “It’s just a piece of polished granite. Seemingly cheap, yes, but it’s still a part of your bracelet. This is pink quartz.” She gently rubbed the next one between her fingers. “It represents your first kiss.”

“This green one is an emerald,” Dad continued. “This is your first boyfriend. The pearl is the first time you say ‘I love you’ to a man other than me.”

I giggled. This was so amazing.

“The ruby stands for your first engagement. And the diamond represents the first time you say ‘I do,'” Mom finished.

After letting it all sink in, I cleared my emotion-clogged throat. “What do the six tiny sapphires stand for?” I asked.

“Those are to remind you how beautiful and valuable you are to us and to God,” Dad replied. “Now here’s the hitch in all this, the only and only rule you’ll ever have to follow when it comes to dating.”

Only one rule. Sounded good. But little did I know…

“Whenever you give one of these actions of love- a kiss, an ‘I love you’, a hand to hold- you also have to give the recipient the gem to match.”

I must’ve misunderstood. “I have to give him the gem?”

“You have to give it to him,” Mom restated.

I was silent for a moment. I thought they must be joking. But they weren’t even thinking of cracking a smile.

“But Daddy!” I suddenly shrieked. “These are insanely expensive! I can’t just give them away!”

He gave a soft, loving chuckle, “Did you hear what you just said?”

I thought about it.

“Baby, your purity, your heart, they’re far more valuable than a few little rocks. If you can’t find it in your heart to give away your little charms, I don’t think you should be giving away the things they represent.”

I could feel my insides melting, ready to gush out of my tear ducts. One the one hands, it made me feel valuable and precious. But on the other, it made me furious. It made no sense. But it would.

A few weeks after that night, I was hanging out with my friends at the beach. Chad wouldn’t swim because I wouldn’t swim. I was more interested in reading than getting caked with sand, and he was more interested in sitting with me than swimming with his buddies. He was sweet. He was cute. And he tried to hold my hand.

I was thrilled for a nanosecond when a certain piece of ugly granite flashed through my mind and made me move out of his reach. I was severely annoyed- annoyed at my parents, annoyed at my bracelet-turned-handcuffs, but most of all, annoyed at myself. I was letting a little rock dominate my romantic life.

I furiously glared at it during the whole embarrassing walk to the bathhouse. But then God hit me upside the head with shocking epiphany. I couldn’t give up my little chunk of granite. It was part of my bracelet, which in a sense made it a part of me. I wouldn’t be whole without it. It wasn’t a priceless gem, yet it was still valuable. It made sense after that.

Kevin came along eventually. We had fun. we hung out a lot. I thought I might love him. I thought I might tell him so. I thought of my pearl. It turned out that I didn’t love him as much as I thought I did.

So my parents had been right. They couldn’t make me believe the thins they wanted me to believe. So they let God and my bracelet do the work instead. Among the four of them, I figured out how valuable I was. How valuable my purity was. How not valuable guys were who just wanted my time and emotions. If they weren’t in it for the whole bracelet, why should they get one part of it?

Nate. He thought my bracelet was awesome. So he never tried to hold my hand. He never tried to kiss me. But he asked me to marry him.

I never knew that so many years of torture could amount to so much happiness. I’d thought it was silly. I’d thought it was overrated. But now, I’ve never been more glad of anything in my life. As I gave my husband the charm bracelet in its entirety, I wondered why I had found it so hard to hang on to those little rocks when it was amazing to give them all to the man I truly loved.

But it didn’t end there. Now our daughter wears it.

Old Me: Unreliable | New Me: A Strong Fortress

This is the first of a few blog posts I want to do about “Old Me New Me.” I’m currently reading an excellent book about the intersection and balance of emotional health and spirituality, and have this nice neat list of things I have often described myself as, either in my head or as what I thought others thought of me. These really aren’t in any particular order other than the order they came to me, and I’ll be grouping some together, like I am today. What I hope to do is walk through some of these traits that I’ve come to identify myself by, evaluate whether they are actually true, and then, if they are not, proclaim the truth in writing. Some of these may well describe the way I act, but that does not mean they necessarily define who I AM. 

The first item on my list is “not trustworthy.” There are some related words as well such as Unreliable, Uncommitted, Inconsistent, and “Give up to easy.”

I have often felt that I’m a failure. Now, if you’re human, you’ve probably had that thought as well. You may even identify with it better than I, so I’m not claiming this as something I know all about. I’ve never lost a job, a wife, a car, a home, a business, or even a poker game. I’ve come close on one or two of those things, but never completely. So in reality, I honestly don’t know all that much about the typical “fall flat on your face” failure. But you don’t have to go bankrupt to know what it means to feel like a failure.

I’ve often felt like I’ve let those important to me down. I’ve felt that I start strong, but finish weak (if at all). I feel like I give up on things before I should and become a disappointment. All of that said, I feel… untrustworthy. Like I don’t deserve for you to put your trust in me. Like I have to prove myself to you. To God. And that I can’t. When I get on a roll, I feel it. But when I’m there, on my own, working through the thickness of life with no one to “report to,” I give in to these feelings.

So what’s the truth? There are plenty of things I could do in life that would certainly make me quite untrustworthy. Not keeping my word. Over committing. Cheating on my wife. Charging my clients unfair prices or witholding important information intentionally. I’ve done some of those things, we all have, but I’ve also got plenty of evidence in my life that I AM worthy of trust.

  • I’m still married to a wonderful woman, raising my kids, and seeing fruit of the work we’re investing.
  • I own and operate a successful business with employees, no debt, a profitable P&L, and clients that pay us tens of thousands of dollars every year to help them build their own dreams.
  • I teach a room full of teenagers each week.
  • I’ve got people invested in ideas I have, projects I want to complete.
Each and every one of these is a place where I “feel” worthy of a good deal of trust. Like I’ve proved myself enough that others put their trust in me. And that’s true, but in all honestly, that doesn’t go all that far for me.
The real truth? God, the very creator of this world, trusts me enough to give each and every one of these things to me, including the ability to throw them all away and diminish His name.
Jesus told a parable that’s recorded in Matthew 25 about some laborers entrusted with the Master’s resources. A couple of them doubled His “investment” in their lives. The other hid it, out of fear… fear of disappointing the Master. The first two took upon them the risk of losing it all in order to bring honor to their Master.
This is what I want. I want to risk it all on something worthwhile, on the Kingdom, on things that will outlive me. On LIVES.
This doesn’t mean I’ll throw it all away; far from it. Rather, I want to invest my life in something far bigger than myself and pursue it wholeheartedly. In this stage of my life, that means pursuing my wife, investing in my children, and pouring my heart, mind, and strength into all I do each day, whether it’s establishing a retainer contract with a client or patching drywall. I need priorities, I need focus, because when I have these things and am reminded of them (keep them in front of me), steady progress is both rewarding and almost automatic.
My name, Chet, means “Strong Fortress.” That is what I want to be. That is who I AM. I may be under construction, but that is who I AM. i will be a man of courage, of bravery, and of strategic strength. I will build boundaries into my life to both protect those within my fortress and to enable us to take ground from the enemy. I will engage with comrades, fight the GOOD fight, and claim victory for my King.
I am a son of God, brave and courageous. That’s how I put it a while back. A little later, I changed it to this:
I am a man of God, a trusted ambassador for the King, and an obedient servant of the Most High God. I do his bidding AT his bidding, and will seek out, discern, and accomplish the mission He has given me throughout the course of my life.
That is who I am. That is the new me.
I am not untrustworthy. I am worthy of trust because of my solid foundation and committment to being a strong man of God.
I am not unreliable. I am a trusted ambassador of the King, a man in whom other leaders stake their claim, and a man committed to the success of himself and his family.
I am not halfhearted. I am brave. I am courageous. I take risks that matter.
I will not give up. I may fail at things in life, but I will not give up. What I do each day is part of a Bigger Story where I MATTER.
I am not uncommitted. I am committed to worthy goals, and am willing to say “no” when opportunities arise to take part in unworthy ones.
I am, chose a couple my favorite movie characters, Braveheart. I am Maximus. I am Vince Papale. 
Apologies if you read all of this looking for more organized thought. I share a lot of my own stream here, and this is part of it. More to come.
Here’s another blog post I wrote on this topic awhile back.

 

 

Rebuilding Relationships – ME2U and the book of Nehemiah

Nehemiah Rebuild Wall

If you’ve never read the book Nehemiah, I’d encourage you do to so. Especially if you’re a leader of any sorts. You could pull this book out of the Bible, toss it up on a bookshelf of leadership books, and it would stand the test of time. Put into the context OF the Bible, though, it’s a wonderful story of leadership, delegation, working together toward common goals, and facing opposition. Something leaders everywhere get to deal with.

ME2U currently has an image of a broken down wall on our homepage. In the background of the page, we have a strongly built brick wall. Both of these images were picked on purpose, and I want to take a moment to share why. Consider the following summary of the book of Nehemiah:

Nehemiah was a Hebrew in Persia when the word reached him that the Temple in Jerusalem was being reconstructed. He grew anxious knowing there was no wall to protect the city. Nehemiah invited God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the Persian king, Artaxerxes, who gave not only his blessing, but also supplies to be used in the project. Nehemiah is given permission by the king to return to Jerusalem, where he is made governor. 

In spite of opposition and accusations the wall was built and the enemies silenced. The people, inspired by Nehemiah, give tithes of much money, supplies and manpower to complete the wall in a remarkable 52 days, despite much opposition. This united effort is short-lived, however, because Jerusalem falls back into apostasy when Nehemiah leaves for a while. After 12 years he returned to find the walls strong but the people weak. He set about the task of teaching the people morality and he didn’t mince words. “I argued with those people, put curses on them, hit some of them and pulled out their hair” (13:25). He reestablishes true worship through prayer and by encouraging the people to revival by reading and adhering to the Word of God. (Source)

Nehemiah was not a priest. He was not a prophet, a king, or a writer. He was the guy that tested the wine before the king drank it to make sure he didn’t get poisoned. It was quite an important job, but not one that you’d consider full of leadership potential. But Nehemiah’s heart is burdened, he speaks up, and is granted the opportunity to return to his home and get the wall rebuilt.

In my own way, I consider the relationships between adults and teens to be in a very similar state in the world today. Relationships are broken, whether it’s between a parent and their child or a coach and their athlete. Stories abuse, neglect, and friendships turned horrible are all too common in the news – and for every story IN the news, there are probably a hundred (?) that aren’t. There is tremendous potential in these relationships, but unless it’s channeled into valuable life lessons through effective communication and encouragement, they remain dormant.

ME2U is not the solution to these problems. It’s a tool to help the people that are the solution to these problems. A tool to help “rebuild the wall” of strong relationships between invested adults and the adolescents in their lives. It’s our aim to provide ways for adults outside the parental relationship to have a place to equip and encourage teenagers, but to do so safely and alongside parents in ways that don’t allow dangerous boundaries to creep up and then be crossed. We believe that youth pastors, coaches, mentors, “big brothers,” and even teachers have great opportunities to work with parents to raise up the next generation, and we want to foster that.

Does this endeavor ring home with you? Are you already part of rebuilding this wall in your own way? We’d love to share this journey with you. While we’d love for you to use our system to connect with youth in methods that promote safety, accountability, and persistent positive input, we’d also love to simply know that you’re alongside. Click here to join our mailing list, or simply drop us a note.

Let’s rebuild walls of strength and security into the lives of our families, and start the conversation.

Nehemiah Rebuild Wall

Pigeonholed Fruit

The fruit of the spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23 have been a nice, sweet way for me to see how God’s alive and well in me… until I read them in a manner that draws out the meaning of each word just a bit more. You can’t deal with these attributes as a checklist of simple, 4 letter words. They carry much more meaning. Check it out (or read them in parallel on BibleGateway)

Love: Affection for others

Joy: Exuberance about life

Peace: Serenity

Patience: A willingness to stick with things

Kindness: A sense of compassion in the heart

Goodness: A conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people

Faithfulness: Involved in loyal commitments

Gentleness: Not needing to force our way in life

Self-Control: Able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

It’s all too easy to look at the list of single words and say “do I have these” and just go “check, check, check.” When the meaning is drawn out a bit, and I really look inside and say, “God, are these flowing out of me? Are these the ‘fruit’ of the tree of MY life,” it is a much  more convicting thought.

The Spirit cannot be pigeonholed, and neither can the fruit of His work in our lives. It must permeate everything we do, or nothing. I’m challenged to examine my heart a bit deeper today.

Entrusted by God – a Prayer

 

Today I was led in prayer by Brian Hardin of the Daily Audio Bible. His words became mine. I wanted to get it written down to come back to; they are so true.

From September 4, 2012‘s Daily Audio Bible (thanks Tamarie!):

God, I thank you today for your Word. It’s something we’re grateful for every day. It is something that we feast upon every day. It is the nourishment for our souls each and every day, but I am profoundly grateful for the community of the Daily Audio Bible as well. I am profoundly grateful that this isn’t some solitary endeavor that we embark on each and every day, trying to make it work by ourselves. That is not how you made us. …

That you are personal and that you have individual time to spend with each one of us, but you are vast and you are so vast that you encompass us each. You come to us where we are. The love that you have for us is more profound than we can understand. So we throw our hands up in surrender and worship. We fall to our knees overwhelmed with your patience for us. We bow our heads to the ground in reverence and awe and yet we walk boldly into your presence through the sacrifice of your son Jesus for our sake. This is a love that is beyond any description. No amount of poetry or hymn, no articulation of the tongue, nothing we can do comes close to describing your majesty.

We love you. We offer ourselves to you. That is so little and yet that is what we have and you think that is amazing. That we come to you willingly and that you adopt us into your family and that you give us your name and that you ask us to be your ambassadors and you entrust the kingdom’s coming to us, it’s profound. So Holy Spirit, we ask that you allow the weightiness of that to descend upon us, that you have entrusted into our hands, care and keep of spreading the good news, of bringing the kingdom. We take that charge and we bring it into the world we live in. That begins in our hearts and spreads to the lives of our spouses and children, into the communities that we live in, the places that we work, the churches that we attend, our neighborhoods, our cities. Help us, God, to never lose sight of what is really going on, that it isn’t just about our own personal struggle, that it is the struggle to reclaim and restore this world for your glory and your fame so that we welcome King Jesus. Help us, Holy Spirit, to understand the weightiness and the profound trust that you have placed in our lives. May we rise into it.

In the name of our Savior, the Risen Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We pray this in His name. Amen.