Grandma’s Words

January 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Heather Arbuckle –

“You’ve always been strong-willed.” Grandma’s words stung as my wounded heart wilted for a moment. Searching for understanding, I shared my dismay at her characterization of me, her oldest grandchild, and asked her to explain. “It’s not a bad thing,” she clarified. “Ever since you were a little girl, you knew what you believed. And once your mind is set, it will not be swayed. You are strong. I have never worried that you would lose your way.”

It was one of the last conversations I had with my Grandmother this side of Heaven. Months later, she lost her battle with cancer and God took her home to be in His presence.  For years, when I reflected on our exchange, my heart hurt just a little. At the time, I wasn’t sure she knew me at all.  After all, I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t know which way to go. Life for me, a young woman in her twenties, was filled with uncertainties. In fact, most of the time the world made me want to retreat into hiding. Still, as I have grown, I have come to realize my Grandma saw me with faith filled eyes. She saw the me that was yet to be. And she had faith that God would lead me on my way.

Now, many years later, my heart smiles when I recall our last exchange. Though she is not here to teach my children, my Grandmother is part of the legacy I am growing in them. Today, as I raise up Godly children in a world hostile to absolute truth, I understand what my Grandma saw in me. For regardless of what political arguments may grip our nation, I am determined to raise my children God’s way. After all, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).

For me, the right path was easy to find, for I had my Grandmother to walk it with me. She read me God’s word. Took me to Sunday School. She even paid for me to attend the church camp where I received Christ as my Lord and Savior.  But even more than that, she prayed for me and believed that God would finished what He had started in me even after she was gone.

Truly, my Grandma knew the right path when she saw it. She passed it on to me, and now I am teaching my own children to follow it as well. It’s the path of Christ and it leads to eternal life in God’s holy presence. To be sure, she would recognize the same spunky spirit in my own children that she saw in me. Those apples seem to have fallen right next to the tree! When I gaze upon them and teach them His ways, I recognize the strength looking back at me. It is the same look that lit the eyes of a little girl my Grandma understood quite well. For she knew me better than I knew myself, and she believed that God was faithful to His promises.

On my behalf, she claimed the promise that when we “train up a child in the way he should go, when he is older he shall not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV). It’s a truth that endures for sons. For daughters. For granddaughters. And now, when I reflect on the words of my Grandmother, a knowing smile comes over my heart.

Starry Night

December 20, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Heather Arbuckle –

I have always loved a starry night.

When I was a little girl, growing up in Iowa, I had a view of the heavens that I sadly took for granted. On clear nights, I often looked up at the stars blinking back at me and tried to find the brightest one so I could make a wish.

As time marched on, I grew into a teenager, and I continued to look to the night sky. But, my thoughts turned away from childish wishes. Instead, I looked up and dreamed of tomorrow as I wondered quietly where my life was going. When an occassional falling star streamed across the sky, my heart jumped in excitement as I pondered the surprises yet to come.

Now, as a woman of faith, I still gaze at the stars with the same wonder as that girl from years past. The stars, with their simplistic beauty, have been a constant reminder to me that I belong to a great and wondrous God. For, in His great might, the LORD made the stars. (Genesis 1:16) And when I take them in, and consider the vast number of stars visible and not so visible, I am certain that He is mindful of me.  For, God has seen it all and loved me through it all.

At times, I have been prone to doubt, as life pounded me in loss. Still, the stars in their constancy served as a beautiful reminder that He hears me. Knows me. Loves me. Delivers me. He sees me the same way I see those beautiful stars in a clear Iowa sky. For Him, I shine in the darkness of this world as I courageously live out my faith this side of Heaven.

Last week, I visited my parents’ home in Iowa. So many things are the same, including the sky that beckons me when I am there. One dark, starry night, I laid on a blanket with my son, Jack, and took in the beauty of a clear summer night in Iowa. Without the illumination of city lights, we were able to vividly experience God’s splendor in the heavens.

Together, we found the brightest star, made a wish, and searched for constellations as we talked about Jack’s dreams for the future. Truly, it was a night I shall hold close to my heart for all the years to come. How I hope that Jack carries the stars with him as he steps slowly into manhood.

Maybe, one day, my son will look for the brightest star on a clear summer night and think of me. More than that, I hope that when Jack sets his attention on the beauty of the stars, he will remember the constant love of his Heavenly Father, who never ceases to be mindful of his needs. I pray those stars draw my son ever closer to our God…who placed the stars in their places just because He is and He can. May he always feel God’s presence in the serene beauty of a starry night.

Catch Up

October 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Heather Arbuckle  –

One of my favorite movies is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you grew up in the 80’s like me, you probably recall the wisdom of our young hero Ferris as he addressed his audience, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!”

Indeed, life seems to be spinning faster these days. A sense of urgency has gripped our world as never before.  In its wake we sometimes feel the necessity to be innovative in our communication methods. It’s tough to catch up with friends in our overscheduled days.

Twitter. Facebook. Texting. No doubt, our modes of communication are changing radically. I confess, up until recently, I was a self-proclaimed Facebook junkie. It was exciting to reconnect with long lost “friends”, convenient to keep up with current acquaintances, and fun to entertain my “peeps” online. However, life isn’t just about entertainment and convenience. Our relationships with fellow believers must be deeper than a Facebook  status update or a “tweet” on Twitter.

Communication is a priority in God’s Kingdom. God has used angels, prophets, the Bible,and His one and only Son to communicate His desires for His children. Likewise, it must be a priority for God’s people to “communicate the hope that is in us” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) Effective communication begins with time alone with God. It is imperative as God’s children that we learn to sit at His feet and quietly listen each day. As we read His word and meditate on His truth, our minds are renewed and our hearts transformed to be more like Christ. It is only then that we are truly ready to engage a lost and confused world. For it is in communion with our Heavenly Father that we train our heart to encourage and endure.

Likewise, we are challenged to make time to meet with our sisters in Christ face to face. After all, communication is more than words and emoticons. Expressions and tones can be lost in the translation of a text message, leaving us confused about the motives and actions of our loved ones. Without the clarity of open communication, we are likely to be deceived into making assumptions that damage a relationship unnecessarily. In short, we must allow ourselves to be available to those whom God has placed in our circle of influence. God has placed a number of folks in our midst today. Some are there so that they might be influenced. And some are placed there to be an influence. Either way, influence is greatly marginalized when we limit our interactions to social networking.

Today,  make some time to talk…really talk. Accountability and honesty must remain in a free transaction between active participants if we are to truly continue to grow in Christ. We must commit to make ourselves vulnerable with trusted sisters in Christ, who can speak truth with love into our lives when the time is deemed necessary. Otherwise, we are likely to be deceived by our enemy who “prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).

Let us never become so busy that we forget to check on a friend. May we never become so distracted that we fail to nurture loving friendships. As our methods of communication evolve, we are challenged in this fast-paced world to speak wisely, not in haste but in love. Don’t miss the chance to catch up.

Hidden

August 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Heather Arbuckle –

An over-scheduled weekend was behind us and bedtime was fast approaching. With Marty at a business dinner, I was outnumbered 3 to 1, and in the middle of my best delivery of zone defense. Hoping to clean the kitchen and still maintain our regular bedtime routine, I sent the kids into the den to watch a little TV.

Moments later, my middle daughter, Lily, emerged with a perplexed look on her sweet face. Immediately, I stopped what I was doing as tears began to fill her big brown eyes. As I listened to her heart, I realized bedtime was going to have to be briefly postponed. A teachable moment was upon me, and the world would not wait.

Rather than the “innocent” programming I anticipated on a children’s network we watch regularly, my children had come upon a show about the world’s differing religious views. “How can they not know Jesus, Mommy? How do they not see?” Lily asked in pained bewilderment. As her words penetrated my heart, I was gently reminded that “your eye is the lamp of your body.” (Luke 11:34) Lily’s faith-filled eyes see her beautiful Savior so easily. How I wish it were so for us all. Sadly, that is not the case.

By now my two other gifts from Heaven had joined us, and all eyes were on me. I took my children into my arms, grateful that God had chosen me to be the one to lead them to the Cross. Each of them accepted Christ as their Savior at an early age. None of my precious children can recall a time when Jesus wasn’t a trusted friend on whom they could call. His love has never been hidden from their lives.

Hoping to speak some perspective into my troubled child’s heart, I spoke gently and prayed for wisdom. “Lily, sweetheart. This is a family who believes and truth is all around you. Scripture teaches us that Jesus is the only way to eternal life, and that the gift of grace is ours to receive freely.” I continued, “Never forget that even when Jesus walked among us, there were few who could truly see their Savior in their midst. Sometimes life gets too dark for some to see.”

For some, the truth is hidden. It was true then. It is still true today. The Bible teaches us “When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” (Luke 11:35-36) Jesus Christ, alone, is the light that leads the way to salvation. Still, many do not see.

Today, our world is growing ever darker as all of creation groans in the fallout of sin. This world is broken. By poverty. Injustice. Greed. Pride. It is a world gripped by the consequences of sin. As Christ followers, we must have eyes to see the world as it is. But, then we must have courage to share the love of Christ with those whom the truth remains hidden. For “blessed are your eyes because they see.” (Matthew 13:16)

Heavenly Father,
We praise You for the gift of eyes that see truth. Because of Christ alone, we are free to approach you boldly, as your adopted sons and daughters. Let us have compassion and patience with those who are blind to the Son. Give us courage to share the truth about who Christ is, so that others may see.
-Amen

Reflection: Is there someone in your midst from whom the truth is hidden?

These are the Days

July 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Heather Arbuckle –

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 NIV).

I am not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time. It’s probably because I am not exactly what you would call “a morning person.” Somehow, with the time change, morning seems earlier. Waking up to a dark house and stumbling over to the coffee pot makes me long for a bit more time underneath my covers. At least enough time for the sun to catch up with my day.

Finally, the coffee is done brewing and I sit down to take a few moments before my kids wake up to begin their morning rituals. The sky is still dark, but the birds are singing. The house is still. And it is like God is whispering, “These are the days. Rejoice. Don’t miss it!”

So I think it over and I understand. These ARE the days…

When my daughters bring me “flowers” that resemble weeds, but are presented with great joy and love.

When my son is still shorter than me and will allow me to hug him in front of his friends.

When my husband kisses me on the cheek gently before he leaves for his job, even earlier than the birds are willing to awaken.

These are the days…

Today, I get to go out and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Speak words of affirmation and encouragement. Show my family how lucky they make me feel. Thank God for His many blessings.

Now, my kids are stirring and my quiet house is filled with the sounds of them  getting dressed and packing their lunches for school. I rejoice for our day together has begun. And I remember to embrace this moment.

For these are the days…

Of my daughter singing to Jesus while she ties her shoes.

Of my son assisting his sister with a glass of milk, while I get a glimpse of the man he will one day become.

Of kisses good-bye and big, bright smiles as my girls ride off to school on their scooters.

Of stolen moments with my teenage man-child, as he shares his thoughts and it is just him and me.

Of phone calls from my busy husband, who calls just to hear my voice.

These are the days. So wake up slowly if you must. Grab some coffee and take a moment to listen to the birds. But then rejoice, for you will never get today back again. And even when you are walking in darkness, there are reasons to embrace the beautiful gift of today.

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