Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I Would Say To That Girl...Part 5

Me on my 16th birthday
My son, Jack, turns 16 this Saturday. It is quite a milestone in his life and I have been thinking about it all week. Yesterday, it hit me that in just 2 more birthdays, Jack will be a legal adult.  Still, as I watch him day to day, I am reminded that he is already more man than boy. And while I do miss the curly haired little guy with the biggest blue eyes I have ever seen, I am so proud of the young gentleman who dwells with me now. With his gifts and talents, placed in him by God, Jack has the potential to do great things. And with his heart for Christ, I know he will be a world changer.  At 16, new horizons are in his midst. More freedom. More responsibility. Every day, Jack becomes more of a man. As I look back and remember what it means to be 16, I remember the young lady in the picture above. This is what I would say to that girl...
Growing up is not about your age, it is about your character.  Some people never grow up.  Don't aspire to be like them. 
 You are growing up fast. Slow down, and enjoy what is left of your childhood.  The world will wait for you.
Driving is a big responsibility. Understand that your mother worries about the other goobers on the road that forget that fact. Cut her some slack when she is hesitant to give you the keys.
Make time for your friends.
Treasure your family. 
Fight with your Mom less and hug her more.
In the words of  your favorite singer, John Cougar Mellencamp..."Hold onto 16 as long as you can".

You have a curfew. You will understand one day. For now, accept it and know that you are loved. 
You will survive braces, and your smile will be even brighter when you are finished with them.
That twinkle in your eye is your trademark. It will be the thing that captures the heart of a boy you have yet to meet, but who will one day give you a ring and make you his wife.
Study hard. You are both smart and beautiful. Those grades will take you places.
 It's okay to be who God made you to be...the right people love you just as you are. 
The others are insignificant.
God is with you, even in the little things. Don't doubt his love for you.
 Nothing happens to you that hasn't first passed through God's hands.
 Rely on Him rather than yourself.
It has to be said...perms are a terrible idea.
Guard your heart and learn to trust the right people. And remember it takes some time and observation to figure out who they are in your life.  Some people are not who they seem. 

Life is both beauty and pain.  Both are essential to build character.  Appreciate the beauty and rest in it.  Learn from the pain and leave it behind.

  Don't take life too seriously.
Remember that cake is always a good idea.
Some advice...don't fret so much about your future.  It will all unravel in time, and it's going to be beautiful.  You cannot even comprehend all that God has in store for you. Good stuff awaits.
 Seize it all!

Monday, January 20, 2014

What I Would Say To That Girl...Part 4

(Me and Melanie on our first play date with our firstborn munchkins...June 1998)
We met at a softball game, the summer before my junior year in college. She was a chatty, bubbly girl, full of life. I was a bit more reserved. OK. I was a lot more reserved.  In fact, I found her open and colorful personality to be puzzling. Even a bit annoying.  After all, what was she so stinkin' happy about anyway? I had not always felt that way, but life had caused me to go into hiding. And I was sceptical that anyone could really be THAT nice. There had to be a catch!

 At first, we didn't like each other very much. Still, we were thrown together in countless social situations. A few months after that first meeting, we would find ourselves on the same dorm floor at Iowa State.  At first, we were reluctantly held together through a mutual friend.  Before long, however, we were giggling together. And then we were friends. Best friends. Those two girls who seemed so different, were more alike than they knew.  We even shared a birthday!

That girl who had perplexed me at first, actually helped me rediscover the girl I had been hiding from the world. We went on road trips together, ordered late night pizza together, and hung out together in our dorm as we studied for finals.  I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. She was a soloist in mine. And we were neighbors in married student housing.  She taught me how to arrange flowers and I persuaded her to dye her hair. (Bad decision, by the way). But that was just the beginning.

 In each other, we found a soul mate, with whom we could safely share life's joys and sorrows. Years have passed since those two young gals met at the softball field on that warm summer evening in Iowa. The two women in the picture above are now in their 40's. The two babies are now teenagers. A lot has changed since the day these two young Moms met for a play date and introduced their babies to one another. This is what I would say to the girl staring back at me in the photo...

Being friends as single college gals was fun. Being friends as new wives and neighbors in married student housing was even better. Being friends as new moms changed everything. Your friendship with this woman will grow richer than you ever knew possible as you grow in Motherhood.
 Relax. That baby boy you are holding really will sleep through the night. In fact, one day, you will anxiously await for him to wake up because you miss him when he sleeps in so late. That will take about 15 years. But the day will come.
This is the first of many wonderful "play dates" for these two little ones. As they grow, they will become close personal friends despite the fact that they are being raised hundreds of miles apart.

Many women will come and go in your life. Melanie will be a constant that keeps you grounded. And you will always be able to pick up the phone and feel like she is just down the hall.  She will always help you find your laugh,  and she will always know what to say when you just want to cry.

Motherhood is the toughest job you will ever love. Sometimes you will feel lonely. Surround yourself with women who understand that truth.

 Remember to take care of yourself. You are not a better Mom just because you make yourself the last priority.  Take naps. Take a shower. And take some time for yourself.

Call old friends who remember who you were before you became a Mommy. The "reality check" will do you good.

On a side note...each time you have a baby, you will foolishly decide to cut your hair. And each time you will regret it. A word of advice...postpone major hair decisions until after the baby starts sleeping through the night. It will save you from a lot of tears and insecurities. No girl should be allowed to make major hair decisions post-partum. But a true friend will tell you it looks chic, even if you are just not feelin' it. Melanie is that kind of friend.

You will be surprised by the people who come and go in your life. But you will be even more surprised by the ones who stay and love you at your best and your worst. Those friendships really are more precious than gold. This is one of them.

Who would have thought that a softball game could change one's life? Not me...but I am sure glad it did.


Friday, January 3, 2014

What I Would Say To That Girl...Part 3

(Waiting for Jack's arrival...December 1997)
Marty and I dreamed of Jack for years. We married young and took time to be a couple for a while after saying "I Do".  Still, we daydreamed about the day we would become Mom and Dad.  Six years after "I" became "We", Jack was on his way. Right after we discovered we were going to be parents, Marty bought a lottery ticket. He was certain we would win the Jackpot since we were the luckiest people in the world. It turns out, he was right. We didn't win money, but we got something better.

 At our first sonogram, we were told that Jack had a cyst on his brain and that we could lose him at any time. I will never forget the fear that gripped my heart when I spent that afternoon with a genetic counselor and listened to statistics shared to prepare us for the worst case scenario. I will never forget the way I walked through the days that followed, terrified that I might never meet the little boy with whom I had already fallen in love. I will never forget a woman named Grace, who worked at my school, and asked if she and her church friends could pray for my little family. And I will never forget the words..."The cyst is gone. He will be fine."

 It was in those dark hours that Marty and I learned the power of prayer. It is a gift far greater than anything money can buy, and it has sustained us all these years of parenthood. This picture was taken right after we had learned the danger was passed and that Jack was completely healthy.  The cyst on his brain, that appeared so threatening in his sonogram 6 weeks prior, was completely gone.

 Jack Riley Arbuckle was born on March 8th, 1998. Life has only been sweeter since his arrival almost 16 years ago. Today, our son is a healthy, strong, courageous, and gifted young man. He has taught the girl in the picture many things. This is what I would say to her if we sat down for a cup of coffee...
Pregnancy is beautiful. Motherhood is even better.
Rest up. You will need it.

Being a mother will test your courage. You  have more than you know.
Pace yourself. The journey ahead is a long one and you have much to learn.

 By the way, reading "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" cannot teach you what you need to know about being a Mother. For that, you need another book. It's called The Bible. Read it everyday.
Don't forget your worth is not wrapped up in your dress size. You will not always be a size 4, but you will always be beautiful.
Always make time for that boy standing next to you holding your tummy. He will still be with you when the boy in your belly has flown away.
Many things are out of your control. That will never change. So, take a deep breath. Pray. And learn to roll with it.
Fear is only as powerful as you allow it to be.
Pray about everything...and I mean EVERYTHING.
Miracles happen. Believe it!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What I Would Say To That Girl...Part 2

(Marty and me on July 31, 1992...the night before our wedding)

Over twenty-one years ago,  the girl in the picture took a walk down the aisle and said "I DO" to her very own Prince Charming.  At the time, this naive young woman was just 22 years old. A lot of life has happened since that happy day. Today, she has a few gray hairs on her head and her face has a few wrinkles. Time has passed and love has taught her a few things about life. This is what I would say to the girl in the photo...

You found him!  Never forget the way he makes your heart smile.

There will be many years where the two of you will struggle financially as you build your careers. For a little while, you will be "macaroni and cheese poor". Don't sweat it. Despite your bank account, and evidence to the contrary, you are rich.

You appreciate the way he makes you laugh. His sense of humor will carry both of you through some very difficult and painful circumstances. Lighten up and keep laughing.

He challenges you. That's a good thing. It makes you a better woman. Embrace it. Remember that it's OK that you don't agree on everything.

Your words have the power to build him up or tear him down. Proceed with caution when you speak.

 Two words...honor him. It matters. Enough said.

Years later, your heart will still race when he walks through the door. Tell him that you miss him when he is away.

You don't have to wonder why he picked you. He knows all the reasons and would do it again.

You will always love snuggling together on the couch and watching movies.

He is going to be a great Daddy!

After two decades of marriage, he will still call you Sweetness and you will still love it when he does.

He sees the best in you, even when you cannot. But, he isn't afraid to tell you when you are wrong.

He is a great cook!

One day, you will be temporarily consumed with motherhood.  Never forget to put your marriage first.

You will always love taking walks together and it will always amaze you that your hand fits perfectly in his.

He loves adventure as much as you do.  Together, you will dream of all the places you will go.

Humility and forgiveness are powerful and beautiful things. Be generous with both.

 Before long, the two of you will move hundreds of miles away from family, and you will build a life together in a faraway land called Texas. Remember that "home" is wherever he is. Period.

You will not change him. He will not change you. But you will grow together and bring out the best in each other.

He isn't perfect...just perfect for you. Cut him some slack.

This man will pray with you and pray for you. Cherish him. Always. And never forget he is a gift from God made especially for you.  He is your "happily ever after".

Friday, November 1, 2013

What I Would Say To That Girl...Part 1

(Me and my cousin, Lynn, when I was 10 years old)

I just returned from a solo trip back to Iowa. It's where my life began. It's where my roots are planted. And it's where I reconnect with my extended family. In a's home. While I was there, I looked through old pictures with my cousin, Minniette. We spent an afternoon studying the photographs and laughing at bad hair and ridiculous poses. It was a refreshing and heartwarming afternoon of giggles and beautiful memories. Some of the pictures made their way to Facebook so we could entertain friends and mortify relatives. (Sorry, Lynn).

Since I returned home, I have pondered what I would say to the girl I see in pictures from the past. Maybe it's because I am feeling older. Maybe I understand that I have sometimes taken life too seriously. Maybe I am just feeling nostalgic. Whatever the reason, I have some thoughts for the girl looking back at me in those old photos.

This is what I would say the the girl in the picture above. ..

You are 10 years old. Enjoy being 10. Don't be so restless. Life will unfold in time.

I know you wonder if you are beautiful. Believe it. You are. God doesn't make junk.

You admire your mother and you think she is amazing. You are right. Listen to her. She knows you better than you know yourself. There is absolutely nothing she will not do to protect you...even from yourself. She will believe in you even when you forget who you are and stop believing in yourself.

You won't always feel lost because your Father cannot love you the way you deserve. It will always hurt a little, but you will heal. You will persevere and grow strong. His rejection of you will make you an amazing Mother to your own children.

Your cousins are your first and best friends. They are teaching you important lessons about friendship and cooperation. They will show you that things don't always go your way and that is okay. So, play nice.

Your little brother isn't annoying. He is a little boy. And you will miss him terribly when you grow up and move away.  Don't take him for granted. Tell him that he makes you proud. Most of all, roll your eyes less and say "I love you" more.

You didn't get a sister. So what?! You don't need a sister. Instead, you have a baby cousin who will feel like one when you are older. Yes, right now she is just a little munchkin who follows you around and gets under your feet. But, one day, she will be your closest confidante, next to your husband.

Yes, you want to be Cinderella.  Let me assure you that your prince will come. I promise. And he is worth the wait!

You long for adventure and you dream of seeing exotic places. That will never change. Pace yourself.

You will love...and I mean LOVE...being a Mommy.

One day, that small town that insulates you will be a distance place that you will only visit a few times a year. Take in the wide open spaces and remember to enjoy the simple pleasures of living in such a secure and safe place.

Your roots are strong and rooted in family. They will help you bloom where you are planted. And you will blossom into a strong woman of faith.

You dream. A lot. Dream big. And know...God has big plans for you. You are His. And He loves you with an everlasting love.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

God-Sized Dreams

It's been a while since I have sat down and shared my thoughts. The truth is, I have had sort of a silent period with God the past few months. I am a talker...with lots of words. But, lately, I have been trying to listen more. To quiet down. To learn more about what God has to say in my life.

My life is small.

If someone were to document the events of my ordinary day, nothing too extraordinary happens.

Carpool. Soccer practice. Dance Class. Voice lessons.
Laundry. So. Much. Laundry.
Homework, dinner, kitchen duty, and bath patrol.
Snuggle time, bedtime, and a little time with the Hubs before we collapse into dreamland.
That's a pretty honest description of daily life at the Arbuckle house.
Like I said. It's small, remember?

I am not solving world peace here. Not a single global dilemma is being conquered in the minutes of my days.  I am not a world changer...

Or am I?

It all depends on how you see the change the world needs.

You see, I have a God-sized dream.

 I long to see my children rooted in His grace, mercy, and truth.  I long to see my home a sanctuary from a mad world that grows crazier by the day. I long to love and support my husband in a way that makes God's heart smile. And I long to point others to the One who makes all things possible.

Some in the world sneer at my dreams and call them small. Others see my efforts as insignificant.  If I believed that, I might feel very differently about my life as well. Rather than being thankful for the ordinary opportunities in my small life, I might be tempted to feel forgotten or insignificant. I see things differently...

 I live an ordinary life AND I am a world changer. When I get quiet and ask for God's perspective on my efforts,  I see extraordinary things.  In the midst of my ordinary days, my children are stepping in faith and learning to make their walk with God their own.  Despite the challenges of daily life, in this busy ant hill we call the suburbs, my family is thriving. Regardless of how little time we have to spend together, my marriage is happy, healthy, and intact. And here's a secret...the world notices.

 God-sized dreams aren't so small after all. Perhaps, they are just big enough. Big enough, to change the world.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Morning Glory is now on Amazon

I am thrilled to announce that my first book Morning Glory: Prayers, Petitions, and Purpose In The Psalms is now available on Amazon at the following link...