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.
By Heather Arbuckle-
The past two days we have been homebound due to an ice storm that hit the area on Monday night. While the first day at home was a welcome break from the hectic demands of suburban life in North Texas, the past day has seemed to drag on considerably. Cold, bored, and at times without power, I began looking through old photos.
Not long into my walk down memory lane, I stumbled upon summer vacation pics from Okaloosa Island, Florida. Our family loves everything about the beach and this former Iowa girl never tires of the wonders of the sea. The dolphins. The sunsets. The surf. We love it all. Perhaps our favorite thing to do as a family is play in the sand. For several hours each day, my three children took delight in creating their very own architectural masterpieces in the soft, white sand. And every morning, as we strolled the beach, my kids found the tide had washed their sand castles away.
Some of us never outgrow our desire to build castles in the sand. As we strive to meet life’s demands, we erect our very own creations based on worldly desires and human principles. And it seems like the right thing to do. Still, over time we watch helplessly as it all falls away. For, “unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
Truly, the LORD will not allow anything to stand that takes His place in our hearts. We are told “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:26-27).
We are not to place our hope in wealth, humanity, or infrastructure. All of these things, though reassuring, are temporary. To the contrary, we are told to place our hope in eternal things. Our efforts and investments must be in those things close to the heart of God. Reading God’s prayer and regular prayer give us a strong foundation of faith. It is the state of our union with the LORD that most concerns Him, and God does not take kindly to second place. Once we truly understand the heart of God, we are free to build for Him. Only then will our efforts stand up over time and bring Him glory.
The Bible teaches us that “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). Truly, as God’s children, we have a moral line in the sand. It’s called the Bible and it’s truths endure time and culture.
We are His people. God’s ambassadors to a broken world. And as such, we must be mindful that “there is no Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2). It is time for us to build on His promises and invest in those things our Heavenly Father holds dear. For the LORD is building His church on Christ, the Rock Eternal.
By Heather Arbuckle -
We hear a lot of talk about wealth these days. Who has it? Who wants it? Who squanders it? It doesn’t take more than a few moments of current events before someone is screaming about it. And while the world may not know it, I feel I must proclaim…
Not according to my bank account.
Not because of my social standing.
Not due to the neighborhood in which I dwell.
Not because of my car, my clothes, or anything I now possess.
In all the areas of wealth measured in society, my standing is quite ordinary.
But I will say it again…I am rich.
I am rich in love…
I have been married to my college sweetheart for over 18 years, and I still adore him. While time has changed us both, I still get butterflies when my honey walks through the door each night.
I am rich in laughter…
Three rambunctious and comical children fill the rooms of my home with games, giggling, jokes, and fun. There is never a day that we don’t laugh together. NEVER.
I am rich in friendship…
My circle is small and strong. A handful of sensational, Godly women stand as my hedge when the world around me gets crazy. They accept me for who I am today, and encourage me to grow into who God created me to be. With love and support, these women fill my life with a sense of belonging.
I am rich in family…
Though I reside hundred of miles away from nearly all of my extended family, I have found they are never more than a phone call or text message away. Whether in celebration and triumph or grief and fear, my family is never far from my heart.
And most of all, I am rich in faith…
I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father that I treasure above all others in my life. He is my Hiding Place, my Redeemer, My Savior, my Comforter, my Rock, and my Friend. Over the years, I have learned to walk with Him through all of life’s adventures. He quiets my fears, hears my prayers, speaks into my circumstances, and brings light into my darkness.
We are warned in Ecclesiastes, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). In short, wealth will never be enough to satisfy our need for riches. To the contrary, true riches are not measured in dollar signs, real estate deals, or social justice. Indeed, real treasure is stored in the deepest places of the heart.
I look around my simple life which consists of fiscal responsibility and a very tight budget and my heart swells with gratitude for all that God has lavished on me in this life. Once more, I am reminded of this simple truth that “a faithful person will be richly blessed” (Proverbs 28:20).
I am rich.
By Heather Arbuckle -
It is a story that began when I was just six years old. Angry about a perceived injustice handed down by my mother, I packed my bags and decided life would be better at Grandma’s house. Walking briskly down our long dirt lane, I quickly reached the point where the rubber hit the road. The driveway, stretching a quarter mile behind me, was at its end. A two lane highway now lay before me and I didn’t have the faintest idea which way to step next. Looking one way, then the other, the anger in my heart faded to regret, then on to desperation all in the span of a few minutes. As I sat on my suitcase, sobbing big salty tears, I cried out for my mom. Moments later, she parked beside me in her car and waited. Never letting me out of her sight, my mom had watched me from her kitchen window and was ready to bring me home. Without a word, she opened the heavy door and I stepped into the car. My trek to Grandma’s house was over and we were on our way back home.
That was the first of many journeys my mother and I have taken together. She has comforted me in my heartbreaks. Counseled me through tough decisions. Encouraged me in my trials. And held me accountable in my rebellion. Many times, my mother and I have been on opposite sides of the fence. Yet, she has never let me wander too far from her side. When I stumble, she is there to help me stand. And when I cannot find my way, my mother is there to guide me as no other can, this side of Heaven.
Years have passed and I have stepped out of childhood. Now, I too, am a mother. With children as strong-willed as their mama, we encounter many challenges in our journey together. In this season of my life, I see my mother differently. Through trial and error, I have learned the road of motherhood is sometimes difficult and lonely. I now appreciate her wisdom and strength more than ever. Filled with gratitude, I remember well what she taught me. First, Mom is just a phone call away. Second, some things just require time and a little faith. Finally, and most important, I never walk alone.
Furthermore, In the pilgrimage of life, I have found a faithful guide in Christ. A child of God, I am assured, “When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble” (Proverbs 4:12). The eyes of my Heavenly Father see my every move. Because of the LORD’s work in my life, I am free to step boldly in faith.
Sometimes, however, I miss those days when I could depend on the daily instruction of my mom. Today was one of those days. A bit discouraged, I meandered for a bit through the aisles of a local store. Taking a little time away from the numerous responsibilities awaiting me at home, I wondered what my mom might say.
Then, I saw a sign that spoke directly to my heart, and made me think of her. It simply said, “Faith. Start where you are. Take the next step.” Filled with uncertainty, my steps appear hidden. Bowing my head in prayer, I give a sigh of relief. I understand. There is no need to fret, for “my steps are determined by the LORD” (Proverbs 20:24 NIV). But I have my mom on speed dial…just in case.
By Heather Arbuckle -
Adorned in high heals, feather boas, and party dresses, my daughters feel beautiful and grown-up as they strut confidently around the living room. They are not inhibited by their dress size and they are not embarrassed about their hair style or color. Embracing their unique beauty, my daughters embrace their individuality. May it always be so.
Watching them takes me back to another time. How I long to see myself with the eyes of a child. “When did I forget who I am?” I wonder silently as I watch them in awe. Somewhere along life’s journey, I started to see myself with eyes of criticism and self-loathing. Relentlessly, the world bombards me with images, conceived by my enemy, and designed to erode my self-worth, my eyes deceive me. Commercials for weight loss plans, exercise programs, and cosmetic procedures all point mercilessly at my many flaws and shatter my confidence. Some days, it is enough to send a girl straight to the candy aisle!
UNLESS…I choose to see myself with new eyes. God’s eyes. Now is the time for me to lift the veil of lies designed to hide God’s perspective on my identity. And my daughters will learn by my example. There is no time to waste. I must begin to see myself with new eyes. So, that is what I have been doing this week. During the quiet hours of the day, before the kids rush through the door and the afternoon crazies begin, I have been lifting the veil in search of my true identity. And this is what I have discovered.
precious (Isaiah 43:4),
beautiful (Song Solomon 1:15),
chosen (John 15:16),
redeemed (Psalm 71:23),
forgiven (Ephesians 1:7),
equipped (2 Timothy 3:17),
protected (2 Thessalonians 3:3),
secure (Romans 8:38-39),
and loved. (Jeremiah 31:3)
I am His beloved, “worth far more than rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10) My Heavenly Father considers me so valuable that He sent his only Son to die for me before I ever took a breath. “You’re worth it,” God whispers to my soul. And my heart sours. Do you know what you are worth? It might be time to look again.