Lift Up Your Eyes: Guest Post by Gail Goolsby

Gazing out of the window on my first airplane trip to Afghanistan in 2004, I’d thought the scenery depressing. The decades of war, the desperate need for heating fuel, the years of drought, and the desert climate all contributed to the missing trees and grass. It is all so drab, so lifeless. Where is the green in all this khaki? Yuck.

The dusty, colorless environment fit my overall mood those first few months after my arrival in 2005 to serve as the principal of the soon-to-open International School of Kabul (ISK). I missed my young adult, semi-launched children back in the States and all my friends and my comfortable Missouri home, complete with gardens, paved streets and sidewalks.

When the rain came, the billowing dust turned to sticky mud. The mess was worse than the dust, but the rains brought relief through cleaner air. I could actually see vibrant color on trees and plants when the showers removed the dusty camouflage. But only briefly, as the high desert sun dried the ground quickly and the dust always returned.

Ah, but out of the dust rose…the mountains.

Like Denver, Kabul has several mountain ranges encircling it. They aren’t tree-covered like the Appalachians or Ozarks, or mighty granite peaks like the Rockies, but they are majestic in their own way. Walking down the dusty ISK street, I would lift my eyes to see the sunny blue skies outlining the mountains on every side and feel momentarily pleased with my surroundings. Sunrise and sunset photos over the hills were popular postings by staff on social media and undeniably breathtaking. Many fit foreigners loved to hike the stark inclines of Kabul’s mountains.

Ugliness at Every Corner

The Kabul chaos bothered me far more than bombs and guns, which were real threats, but not my daily challenge. Living in an overcrowded, unorganized city was draining to a lifelong suburban dweller like me.

Contrast too few resources (water, heat, power, internet, roadways, housing and work for returning refugees) with too many taxis, bicycles, pedestrians, beggars, flocks of goats and sheep (with their droppings), and horse-drawn carts all vying for the same travel space. Traffic was crazy with few yellow lines or stoplights. Drivers went where they liked, even in the opposite lane, confronting the coming stream of vehicles until somebody gave way.

Add to that the disregard/disrespect for women which hit me personally and professionally as I dealt more with men than women (who had limited English) in maddening, sometimes scary moments. Groups of Afghan men appeared throughout the city and seemed to stare holes in foreign women in eerie, disconcerting ways.

One October morning that first year in Kabul, I heard my husband call to me as I got ready for work. “Gail, come see this.”

I stepped outside, noticed the white powder on our marble patio courtyard, and then looked up.

Wow. My mouth fell open.

God Shows Up

When I saw that first autumn snowfall on the many peaks surrounding Kabul, I was enraptured. The transformation from a dusty, bland city was powerful. The sparkling white frosting on the brown mountain tops made a picturesque contrast. As a December birthday girl, I have always loved snow and yearly hoped it would appear as a special gift on my day. Now, it served to lift my spirits even higher, to remind me again, that God was present and able to enter any bleakness in wonderfully personal ways.

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) says: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

When I purposely opened my eyes and looked carefully all around me, I could find delight, wonder, love, purpose and beauty in a seemingly desolate, vacant place.

What is hindering you from recognizing beauty and hope in your life right now?

*This article contains excerpts from my award-winning book Unveiled Truth: Lessons I Learned Leading the International School of Kabul. You can purchase a signed copy at: gailgoolsby.com/buy-book/ or online: books2read.com/gailgoolsby

 

 

Gail Goolsby holds master’s degrees in Professional Counseling and Educational Leadership. She has over 25 years educational experience as teacher, school counselor, and principal, including the K-12 American school in Afghanistan. Her award-winning book Unveiled Truth: Lessons I Learned Leading the International School of Kabul details the experience with challenging applications for all readers. As a counselor and ICF certified life coach, Gail believes there is support and encouragement in God’s Word to help us all learn to live well.

Gail and her pastor husband have been married 41 years and have three grown children, two sons-in-law, and four spunky granddaughters. They live where the wind blows over the prairie in south central Kansas and there really is no place like home.

Find her on her website: gailgoolsby.com  and social media: facebook.com/  Twitter

*Photo by Khalid Ahmadzai, used with permission.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

Guest Blogger Jane M. Tucker: Better Days to Come

I went to bed feeling fine and woke up with a pain in my leg so acute I could barely walk. How did I injure myself while sleeping?

“It’s probably bursitis,” my doctor said.

Bursitis? Isn’t that an old people’s word?

On days like this, when my body lets me down, my thoughts sometimes turn gloomy. Will this pain last forever? I wonder. Is it a foretaste of misery to come? Getting old is not for the weak!

My earthly body is my home in this world. It’s the means by which I process all my experiences. Without it I would not be human, and if I weren’t human I would not know the Lord Jesus. I’m grateful for my body, but I know it’s not going to last forever.

In First Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul addresses the Corinthians’ doubts about the resurrection. It’s true, he tells them. Jesus’ body was resurrected, and ours will be too. Our resurrected bodies will be different from our natural ones, just as a seed planted in the ground is different from a stalk of wheat. “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Cor 15:42-44 NIV)

The promise of an imperishable body makes my current imperfect one bearable. Someday eyeglasses and allergies and random bouts of pain will end for me. Maintaining my health becomes a means to serve the Lord, not the focus of my life.

The promise of a body raised in glory and power makes me look differently at my appearance. I do what I can to be neat and attractive. But I don’t see any reason to put time and money into looking younger than I am. Someday I’ll look much better than I do right now. I can wait for that.

The promise of my natural body being raised a spiritual body reminds me of my purpose on earth. I’m not here to glorify self, but to work hard for the glory of the Lord.

Friend, are you struggling with the aches and pains of growing old? If you know the Lord Jesus, you have every reason to hope for better days to come.

“We . . . would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV

Jane M. Tucker is a lifelong writer and reader with a deep love for the art of storytelling. Her Midwestern roots inspire the stories she tells, both in her books and on her blog, Postcards from the Heartland. Jane is the author of the Lottie Braun series, about an Iowa girl with a big gift for music, and the family she loves with all her heart. Lottie’s Gift, Lottie’s Hope, and Lottie’s Freedom are available at Amazon.com and Crossrivermedia.com.

Follow Jane on Social Media:

Website: JaneMTucker.com

Facebook: Jane M. Tucker Author

Twitter: @JaneMTuckerAuth

Instagram: JaneMTucker

Thank you, Jane, for sharing your encouraging thoughts with us this week!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo used with permission from Picmonkey.com Stock Photos

Book for the Engaged Couple: From Me to We

Hope you enjoy today’s guest post by Lucille Williams, author of From Me to We.

Mother of the Bride, have your daughter and future son-in-law gotten premarital guidance? This very delicate time of excitement and anticipation is the perfect time for the future bride and groom to obtain the necessary tools for their happily-ever-after. You, as the mother of the bride, no doubt would love nothing less than to see your daughter in a happy and thriving marriage.

We all know marriage can be challenging at times and preparation is key to a marriage full of passion, fulfillment, and joy. We all take that stroll down the aisle with many hopes and big dreams, but how do we make those dreams a reality?

The book From Me to We is exactly that resource tool tackling necessary topics like communication, finances, conflict resolution, and keeping a good relationship with in-laws. Each chapter closes with critical discussion questions for the couple to review and talk about together as they begin their forever marriage love story.

Here’s what others are saying about From Me to We:

“Are you approaching the altar? If you’re an engaged couple looking for a how-to guide that is both very helpful and very funny, this is the book for you! Although Lu doesn’t shy away from the tough conversations, she handles them in a way that is engaging and personal – and wise. This is a great read for a great start to a great marriage.”

-Shaunti Feldhahn, best-selling author of For Women Only and For Men Only

“This book will unpack the nuts and bolts of matrimony and give you tools to last the life of your marriage.”

-Dr. Kevin Leman, New York Times Bestselling author of Sheet Music and Have a New Husband by Friday

“Lucille Williams writes about marriage with refreshing honesty and candor. You will find her direct approach in addressing the difficulties of marriage to be challenging, and you will find her positive tone to be encouraging. I may have a shelf full of marriage books, but Lucille’s vulnerable transparency, biblical clarity, and practical counsel makes “From Me to We” a book I will recommend not only to engaged couples but to couples who have been married for years.”

-Kyle Idleman, Senior Pastor at Southeast Christian Church, and bestselling author of Not a Fan and The End of Me

Mother of the Bride, give your daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law the gift of preparation as they go from “me” to “we” and  help safeguard their forever love.

Lucille Williams is the author of From Me to We: A Premarital Guide for the Bride- and Groom-to-Be and The Intimacy You Crave: Straight Talk about Sex and Pancakes.  As a speaker, pastor’s wife, mom, and grandma with over 25 years of ministry experience, she has dedicated her life to helping couples thrive in their marriages. Lucille has been featured on Focus on the Family, and speaks at conferences and women’s events, helping to empower women to soar. You can visit her blog at LuSays.com.

*You might also like to read A Prayer for the Newlyweds.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

Blogging Break Until the New Year

Friends, I usually take blogging breaks around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year I’ve decided to take a longer break that encompasses the entire holiday season.

Not only will this help take the pressure off during an already busy time of year, but it will also allow me to give myself grace in the continued time I need to recover from some health problems I’ve had the past couple of months. Don’t worry, nothing too serious, but I’ve had to cut way back on the amount of time and mental energy I can give to writing projects.

I’m sure you’ll understand—after all, we’ve all had life situations that require us to take breaks, haven’t we? So thank you so much for understanding, and I pray that God blesses your entire Thanksgiving and Christmas season with blessings beyond measure. I’ll see you again here in the new year! (In the meantime, please feel free to check out the November and December archives for refreshment and encouragement. Hope they bless you!)

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you . . .” 3 John 1:2 NIV

*How will you take the pressure off in your life during the upcoming holidays?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Nov. 1st. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by bjimmy934Creative Commons License

Mother of the Bride Beauty Prep: Face Yoga Exercises!

Mother of the Bride, are you interested in your face looking its best for your daughter’s wedding? Sure you are! I’m happy to be able to share with you today a great way to do that!

One free, all-natural way to prepare for the big day and get the perfect wedding glow is by starting a daily face yoga routine. Maybe you’ve heard about this new anti-aging wellness routine. Some simply call it facial exercises, and it has been popularized in recent years by a number of celebrity A-listers including Meghan Markle, Jennifer Aniston, and Madonna. Face yoga works by toning and strengthening the facial muscles to keep the skin on top plump and firm. You do this by stretching your face in a series of repetitive exercises that target specific muscles under the skin.

Scientists have recently begun studying the face yoga phenomenon and the results are promising. One recent study showed that 30 minutes of facial exercises per day can lead to a more youthful appearance, and another proved that it can lead to thicker facial muscles.

So MOB, I’ll share a couple of examples below but check out all the exercises from Rory to get started looking younger today!

 

*You might also like to read Most Important Part of the MOB’s Wedding Day Attire and Mother of the Bride: Spruce Up Your Smile!

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Thanks to Rory for these images.