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

When Interruptions Derail Your Day

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I admit it—I don’t deal real well with interruptions to my plans. It tends to drive me crazy when I’m not accomplishing the things I wanted to. Anyone else identify?

I do try to battle my poor reaction to interruptions, though. I start my day by saying, “Lord, this day is yours and so am I. My times are in your hands.” But somewhere along the way, I find myself grabbing that time back. I hate it when I do that. I say one thing and do another.

Recently I read an entry in Sarah Young’s newest devotional book Jesus Always, and it gave me great—albeit convicting—insight into my struggle with interruptions. It also pointed out a better approach to dealing with them. And I found it very interesting that this approach emphasizes trust—the very word I chose as my theme word for 2017.

I’d like to share portions of that entry here today in case any of you fight a similar battle with yourself. I pray it blesses and helps you—and I pray I’ll remember to apply it to my life. Here it is:

“When things are not going your way, refuse to get flustered . . . Your desire to feel in control is often the culprit behind your frustration. You plan your day and expect others to behave in ways that expedite your plans. When that doesn’t happen, you face a choice: to resent the situation or to trust in Me. Remember that I am in control and My ways are higher than yours . . . Instead of getting agitated about setbacks to your schedule, use them as reminders: I am your Savior-God, and you are My beloved follower. Relax in My sovereign control, trusting in My unfailing Love.” Sarah Young, January 16 entry in Jesus Always (italics are phrases from scripture, Isaiah 55:9 and Psalm 13:5)

“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands;” Psalm 31:14-15a

*Do you struggle with dealing with life’s interruptions too?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out tomorrow. Sign-up is free and to the right. Your name won’t be included in the giveaway draw until the next issue comes out, but it’s not too late to receive this issue. Sign up today!

*Flickr photo by MOEVIEW is Aaron Molina, Creative Commons License

Handling Interruptions: Still Under Construction

277669075_4a3232acd5_zHandle interruptions gracefully? Me? I admit it—when it comes to dealing with interruptions in a positive way, I’m very much a work under construction. And messy construction at that.

When I’m in the midst of a task or working my way through my to-do list, interruptions can trigger a variety of reactions in me, and unfortunately none of them are very pretty. I’m not proud of it, but eye-rolling, huffing and puffing, finger-drumming, or even an irritable outburst may be involved. Of course, the inward reaction is even stronger as I allow the pressure-cooking-work of frustration to do a number on me.

I’m sure my type A personality and goal-oriented work style have something to do with my difficulty in managing the interruptions that come my way daily, but I can’t use that as an excuse to continue handling them in a negative way. I need to do my best to retrain myself to react to interruptions differently.

Last summer, Jeff Goins’ post Please, Interrupt Me challenged me anew to be more interruptible.  Instead of resisting interruptions and allowing them to frustrate me to no end, I need to welcome them and see them as opportunities.

If I change my thinking, an interruption can become an opportunity to serve someone I love—or maybe even a stranger. It might be a chance to offer some words of encouragement or to experience an unexpected blessing from God. Or maybe it will be a treasured memory in the making or simply a chance to grow my character. God may want to polish a jagged edge and allow more patience to shine through my life.

Seeing interruptions as opportunities is a mind-set I have to remind myself of frequently—and I’m still too far away from handling them gracefully. But at least I have a desire to improve. At least I’m under construction. And I’m ever so thankful for the tenacity and patience of the Master Builder who is working on me.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity . . .” Ephesians 5:15-16a

 *Is any aspect of your life currently under construction?

 Flickr photo by takomabibelot

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Don’t miss out on the “For You and Your Friend” Valentine’s Day Giveaway! See post for details.

Midweek Morsel: Missed Opportunities, Silver Linings

Sometimes we let opportunities pass right by us. A few weeks ago, I wrote about seizing opportunities God sends our way, and I’m a firm believer in trying to do just that. However, for whatever reason, sometimes we miss out on them. And if you’re like me, you kick yourself over and over again for your goof up.

Instead of dwelling on what we missed, let’s find and focus on a silver lining to the botched opportunity. For example, I’ve failed to have my camera battery charged at times when I could have captured some awesome photos of unusual bird sightings in my back yard. When this happens, I try to remind myself that there can be a silver lining. Instead of focusing on taking photos, I’m now free to simply enjoy the sight and revel in the beauty of the moment.

Let’s not wallow in regret–even when the consequences of our failures are more serious than missed photos. Let’s choose to look for the positive. Spotting the silver linings can keep us looking up and moving forward.

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 3:8

*What silver lining have you noticed after a missed opportunity? You might also like to read other perspectives on missed opportunities and foul-ups.

*Flickr photo by ninja gecko