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Reflections

Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think – Hear me Out!

Ok, kids, gather round! I know many of you are my age, but you’re never too old for some maternal love and I have some for you right now. Your value is unique and vibrant and higher than you think. Pull up a chair and hear me out!

I’ve seen and heard so many depressing and bleak things and I’m sure you have too. But your value is sky high! I’ve been thinking about you. I have a story for you – a loose retelling of a tale I heard many years ago. It applies to you right now. It goes like this…


There was a poor man in a humble village raising two daughters. They were coming of age and he knew suitors would soon come asking for their hands in marriage. As was the custom in those parts, he would be offered goats for their betrothal.

Man loading harvest onto a bike: Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think - Hear me Out!
Photo by EFDAL YILDIZ on Unsplash

A beautiful woman might exact three goats. This man considered his older daughter vibrant enough to merit two. His youngest, though, was homely and shy and he was realistic. He was hoping someone would offer one goat and marry her.

Just as the father expected, his first daughter caught the eye of a local man, who paid two goats and she was married. He waited to see if anyone would see value in his other girl. He waited, and he waited.

One day, a man from a neighboring village came to call. The father invited him to dinner and watched in awe as the visitor gazed admiringly at his remaining daughter. At the end of the meal, the guest put forth his offer. Would six goats be an acceptable exchange?

Goats on the hillside: Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think - Hear me Out!
Photo by Jaka Škrlep on Unsplash

The father put out his hand to shake on it before the man could correct his error. But there was no mistake. Six goats were given, and the daughter went to live with her groom in his village.

Sometime later, the father noticed a gathering in the square. He approached and caught sight of his son in law for the first time, since the wedding. But he did not see his daughter by his side. Instead, he saw a stately and beautiful woman, who carried herself with poise and grace.

He went to confront the man. How dare he marry and then cast his daughter aside when someone more beautiful came along? He was ready to take his girl back into his care, but he most certainly was not going to return the goats!

Couple with goats: Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think - Hear me Out!
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

When he got close, he realized something amazing! That vibrant and unique woman was his daughter. The transformation which had taken place in her was nothing short of astounding. He couldn’t help but notice it out loud and ask her what had caused such a change.

Her reply was simple. “I’m a six-goat girl, Papa. What would you expect of a six-goat girl?”


Hear this, my precious friend, your worth is not what you think it is.

Your value is established by what someone is willing to pay for you.

Jesus gave everything! He paid it all. He laid down His position, His authority, His comfort, His relationships, His blood, His life, all of it. For you.

So raise your countenance, lift your gaze. Walk with assurance and grace. You are the bride of Christ. He paid the highest price, everything of value. He said then, and still says today, “You’re worth it!”

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38, 39

How does this affect the way you see yourself? Should you think about and carry yourself differently than you do? Do you believe that your value is unique and vibrant and higher than you thought? Thank you for hearing me out. You are loved.

Categories
Promotions Reflections

It’s My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?

Aloha! A special day is occasion for a special story, right? Well, it’s my birthday! May I serve you a piece of one of my favorite memories? This is a memoir I wrote a few years back, on the day after it happened, simply entitled:

Sea Glass

I asked Jesus on a date.  I was going to be near our ‘special spot’ and I planned a day and time to meet Him there.  Is that strange? 

It isn’t to me.  After all, I have specific places that hold unique significance to my husband and I and some with my friends as well.  And in my special spot with Jesus, which happens to be a stretch of beach on Oahu, worship flows without coercion, conversation is easy, and my heart seems naturally primed for the Master’s touch. 

However, as my date with Jesus approached, the weather report turned nasty.  I have no qualms about walking with Jesus in the rain, but the expectation for our day was thunderstorms.  I told Jesus it was ok if He needed to change our plans – that I would meet Him anywhere – and I waited to see what could be worked out.  The rest of my family also needed to adjust their outdoor agenda for the day and it was all a bit unsettled.   

Palm Trees against the Clouds:
The Cloudy Sky

Yesterday was the day.  I woke up early and realized I did not hear rain.  I drank my coffee hurriedly and put my shoes on, hoping to squeeze a quick walk around the neighborhood with Jesus before the storm arrived.  As I walked, the sun came out! 

It was as if Jesus said to me “Hey, we have a date today. Aren’t we meeting at the beach?”  I went home and woke everybody up with the good news that our schedule was back on track.  I dropped the family off at their planned activity and went where I had asked Jesus to meet me.   

The tears started flowing as soon as my toes hit the sand.  I felt so personally romanced by my Lord.  He had held back the storm and told the sun to shine on our special day. 

He showed up and was waiting there for me, not with flowers or chocolates, but with delights, created by Him, for all my senses. He provided the smell of sea air, the gentle grind of sand between my toes, the sound of crashing waves, the taste of salt spray, and my favorite view of all time.  

At one especially difficult point in my life, I had lived near that beach. Back then, Jesus and I met there almost daily.  That was where He taught me how to let go of the things that I esteemed in addition to Him.  It was also where He consistently took the broken fragments of me and masterfully molded them into something new.  

Beautiful Beach: Its My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?
My Date with Jesus

On that sand is where Jesus has taken what I’ve learned about Him in church and ministry and everywhere else and made it personal.  He has altered me copiously on that stretch of beach.  And yesterday was no different. 

We walked and talked; I marveled and adored Him and thanked Him profusely again and again.  And then it got real. 

The focus shifted to the issues of my heart and my confessions poured out. Shortcomings are more difficult to discuss in person, and He was right there.  My tears turned from amazement and joy to sorrow and grief.  

Sea Glass on a woven mat:
Sea Glass Treasure

And yet, Jesus, being the perfect example of confrontation in love, never stopped the perpetual crashing of cool waves over my toes or the consistent exposure of sea glass which I treasure and save.  It was through this interest in sea glass that He would create the most poignant lesson of the day. 

I noticed a rather large piece of blue sparkling in shallow water.  As the sea ebbed and flowed, it covered and uncovered the fragment. I quickly grabbed it at an opportune moment and discovered it to be much more like a broken bottle than a piece of smooth sea glass. 

Blue glass in the ocean: Its My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?
Photo by natsuki on Unsplash

I promptly threw it back in the water and said “It needs more time with You, Lord.” 

Immediately I heard “As do you.  You are still ‘slick’ and your edges are still sharp. You need more time with me.  And just like that piece of glass, you must submit fully to the churning and pounding.  If I allow you to be tossed against the rocks, it is out of necessity for your transformation.” 

As I heard this, I pictured the hot and dry place where I live and thought, “Oh, that lucky piece of glass, it gets to undergo this daunting process in this most beautiful spot, in these refreshing waves.”  And almost simultaneously I realized that I am privileged to experience this refinement in the sea of Jesus’ love – in the refreshment that covers my soul and never runs dry. He will be with me through every tumble I endure.

Shoreline: Its My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?
Beautiful Waves

I will remember that blue chip of glass.  As it is carried and bumped and scraped and broken, I will also be.  And I will be grateful.  Because just as one day someone will marvel at the exceptionality of that colored treasure on the beach, I will also be a more brilliant display of the wonder of my God. 

I will be better able to exhibit the majesty and glory of the One who is molding and making me.  When I am finally called to Heaven, I want to stand before Him as resplendent as a piece of sea glass, beautifully bearing the marks of complete surrender to His artistry. 

I had a date with Jesus.  He made it exceptional.  I will never forget it and never be the same.


It’s my birthday! I’d love for you to celebrate with me by going on your own date with Jesus. Don’t forget to write about it! Thank you for stopping by the Back Porch and allowing me to serve you a piece of one of my favorite memories today. I deeply appreciate each of you!

Categories
Conversations Devotions

SuperPower Sunday: Love

Welcome to Superpower Sunday!

This week’s Super-Character skill is Love:

Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward.

Character Bookshelf Series, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:3

Please Share! In the comments section below, let us know what you learned and tell your success stories from the last week of practicing joyfulness. Also, we’d love to read your ideas of how we might exercise love between now and next Superpower Sunday!

Categories
Devotions

One Quick Conversation Calmed my Concerns About What I Deserve

When is the last time you said, “I deserve it!”? Have you said it today? What do you deserve? I tell myself I deserve things like dessert, a new outfit, a day off, or a raise. To say we deserve something is to say we feel we have earned it because of some effort we have put forth. But is that an appropriate thing to think?

I had one quick conversation with my husband which calmed my concerns about what I deserve. We were discussing a project, on which we’ve been working, that is nearly completed. There is a payoff for us at the end and I wanted to say, “We deserve this!”

But a check in my mind said, “You deserve Hell and anything else you receive is God’s grace.” I asked my hubby if it was wrong to feel that we deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We had a great conversation in which he helped me to sort through my thoughts.

Scales:One Quick Conversation Calmed my Concerns About What I Deserve
Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

It is true that, as a sinner, I deserve death and eternity in Hell apart from God. But God sent Jesus to die in my place and because of His sacrifice, the price of my sin has been paid. I look forward to Heaven with Him. This gift is nothing I could ever deserve and therefore, enjoyment of life is nothing I could earn.

I should live in fear of death and what would come afterwards, but I don’t have to because of God’s grace. All glory to Him! (For more on this topic, check out The Gospel in a Nutshell.)

Dancer on the beach: One Quick Conversation Calmed my Concerns About What I Deserve
Photo by Victoria Emerson on Pexels.com

Now, because eternity is settled for me, I can focus on life in the present. And there are several places in the Bible where God promotes rewards for work well done. Here are just a few examples:

“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.”

Proverbs 12:14

“The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.”

Proverbs 12:27

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Proverbs 14:23
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

My husband and I agreed that yes, because of what God has already done for us, we are free to look forward to the fruits of our labor. It is even okay, if we’ve fulfilled the requirements, to feel that we deserve them. But we want to hold them loosely.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

If the reward that I feel I deserve falls short, or does not come together in the way I expect, what is my attitude? It would be natural to feel disappointed, but if I feel an all-out tantrum coming on because I didn’t get my due, that might be an indicator that I’ve been laboring for the reward instead of for the Lord.

People celebrating on the beach: One Quick Conversation Calmed my Concerns About What I Deserve
Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

Jesus suffered a death He didn’t deserve to give us a glorious future we don’t deserve. Are we willing to lay aside what meager rewards we think we deserve in deference to Him? If so, then anything He grants us to keep is fully ours to enjoy. And honestly, God adds to our rewards more often than He takes away from them. As His children, we receive far better than we deserve!

One quick conversation calmed my concerns about what I deserve. The freedom found in Christ is like no other! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99

And I couldn’t earn it

I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Reckless Love by Cory Asbury
Categories
Promotions Reflections

My Youngest Turns Eighteen Today and I’m Proud of the Man He Is

My youngest turns eighteen today and I’m proud of the man he is. I’m not proud in a way that says, “I did a great job raising that boy!”. But I am proud of what he has allowed God to make of him. I admire his character, his integrity, his motivation, and his love for God and people.

I have been proud of each of my 5 children, for different things, on their eighteenth birthdays. They are unique and incredible individuals. God has molded them all into amazing people, right before my eyes, and allowed my husband and I to be part of it. He mercifully compensated for our failures, which I know were many.

Do my adult children make decisions that I don’t agree with?
Yes!
Will they staunchly stand by some of those decisions?
Yes!
Does it change how much I love them?
No!
Is my love for them based on performance or approval?
No!

I look forward to this next season as I step completely out of parenting and plunge into the role of full-time encourager. I feel ready for this, and I am so, so thankful!

It’s wildly surreal; my youngest turns eighteen today! I’m extremely proud of the man he is. I know he will continue to grow into his own. At times, he will choose differently than I would. And that is a beautiful thing.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

Does anybody have advice for me? Have you launched your children, as adults, into the world? Have you been a child who has recently come of age and has some wisdom from that perspective from which I might benefit? I’d appreciate anything you have to share!


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like these:
* Wait, One More Thing!
* How I finally found the answer to the question: Is Benevolence Love?
* Appreciation, Esteem, Preference and How to do Love Un-complicated

Categories
Reflections

5 Things You’d have to Endure from Me if I Were Like my Father

“I will not grow up to be like my father!” I’ve heard teens melodramatically lament about the unjust expectations put upon them by the people who’ve raised them more times that I can count. Their complaints are corroborated by their friends and grow into deep seeded mantras in young adulthood. They vow to do and be much better when they finally have children.

Well, I called upon my 5 kids (and my husband too!) to genuinely judge our journey on this general, generational injunction.

The prompt was simple: “What are the first 2 or 3 words that come to mind when you think of Gramps?” (That’s what we call my dad.) We censored nothing. Here are 5 things you’d have to endure from me if I were like my father.

1. If I were like my father, I’d be: A Wise and Witty Whistler.

Three words that came up immediately were wisdom, wit, and whistle. The word wisdom may have exited every mouth which gave input. And it was in reference to Godly wisdom; not preached at you but gifted with love and a twinge of wit, which makes it go over as easy as a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.

The whistle is a separate story, but just as accurate. There is a bird call which my father uses to beckon loudly when we are out of earshot of his voice. To this day (and I’ve been grown for quite some time), it stops me in my tracks and propels me back in his direction. My kids all respond to it. It is miraculous to me, because I can barely whistle at all.

2. If I were like my father, I’d be: Faithful and Funny.

My father has had the audacity to be faithful to God, my mother, his kids and grandkids, his calling and everything else he has committed to. He serves without desiring recognition and does the right thing for Jesus’ sake.

And he’s funny. I mentioned that the word wisdom came up several times. The idea of humor was a close runner up, but it came in the differing terms of funny, wit, and puns, which brings us to thing number 3.

A bowl of nuts: 5 things you'd have to endure from me if I was like my father
Photo by Mehran B on Pexels.com

3. If I were like my father, I’d be: Nuts and Punny.

Puns, dad jokes, zingers and one-liners. Eye roll with my father’s puns. He tortures us all with amusement, but he did a grape job raisin me. (Ba da bum!)

And if I were like my father, I’d be nuts! I mean, I’d like nuts! When the word “nuts” was mentioned, it was followed up with “pistachios and cashews and almonds”, which are his favorites.

4. If I were like my father, I’d be: Simple, Sensible and Strong.

My father likes to keep things simple. If God said it, he believes it. And he lives by what he believes. He is sensible. There are no contradictions about him.

He is in good health and maintains an active lifestyle, but the kind of strength that was noted here was an emotional and spiritual one. (There is that wisdom again.) He is a pillar against which we all lean.

5. If I were like my father, I’d be: A Leader with a Legacy.

My father is a servant leader. He doesn’t command anyone to line up behind him; yet he has inspired a long trail of people who follow him as he follows Christ. He’s built a legacy of hard work, Godly surrender and humble leadership.

Oh, I will not grow up to be like my father!
(Not without God’s help, that is.)

Some of this has been taught, some of it has been caught, but most of it I continue to pray for. These 5 things, you’d have to endure from me if I were like my father, are things I can only hope to offer you as I am sanctified and renewed day by day. (All except the whistle; I’ve pretty much given up on that one.)

Happy Father’s Day!

To my father and to all the dads out there who serve Jesus, their families, and anyone in arms distance who needs a hand, I thank you. I honor you. And to all of the father figures who have selflessly stepped up to fill gaps, not caused by you, I want to recognize you too. Happy Father’s Day!

I need to acknowledge that some people really do/did suffer at the hands of their fathers and are doing their best to change their family legacy for the better. I sincerely admire your dedication to overcome any evil which has been perpetrated against you.

I want to encourage you that your Heavenly Father offers a different story, which you can become a part of today. He wants to adopt you into His family and redeem your hardship. Please read The Gospel in a Nutshell and/or contact me if you’d like more information.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

John 1:12, 13