Change Your Outlook: Focus on Pros Instead of Cons

Have you noticed how almost every situation or circumstance in life contains both pros and cons? Sometimes when we’re battling with the cons, it can be difficult to see the pros, but it’s always possible if we try. If nothing else, we can see how the negative situation can help us grow in some way—patience, perseverance, forgiveness, trust in God, etc.

I had to put this principle to work several years ago concerning our neighborhood. If I wasn’t careful, I let a couple of cons—and I don’t mean crooks, I mean negative things—really get on my nerves and suck the joy out living where we do. And it was nothing horrific—just a lack of consideration.

So to keep the negative thinking at bay, I tried to remember the positive things—the pros. When I stepped outside at the right time in the morning, I could hear church bells calling children to school. And nothing says “fall” like being able to hear the high school marching band practicing a few blocks away. We also had some nice neighbors (and still do) and were in a convenient location for the most part. As I looked at the pros, I was reminded how good we actually have it in our neighborhood.

Are you faced with a situation where it might be helpful to balance the cons out with the pros? A situation where some time spent looking at the positive might change your outlook? I’ll fess up to another. I have an ongoing struggle with my attitude concerning our community and all the things it doesn’t have to offer. Maybe I need to make a trusty list and look at the pros, huh?

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

*When has focusing on the positive helped change your outlook and attitude?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. 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.

*Flickr photo by Wiertz SebastienCreative Commons License

“Love” Acrostic: 2020 Theme Word Refresher

Over half the year is gone so it’s past time to give more thought to my 2020 theme word loveFor me, the creative exercise of writing acrostics is an excellent way to go deeper in my consideration of my theme words each year. Doing so helps me think of different aspects of the word.

As I remind myself of and reflect on love, I pray you are blessed and inspired to grow in love as well. And not only that, but if you chose a theme word of your own this year, maybe reading this post today will inspire you to do something similar with your word. Whatever the case, friends, may you be blessed as you read!

Leap to answer God’s call, listen for his voice, learn what pleases him, and let your mouth ever praise and worship him.

Open your arms and heart to one and all, offer forgiveness freely, observe the needs of others, and outdo yourself in kindness and giving.

View yourself and others through the lens of grace, voice your affection to God and loved ones often, vow to say no to selfishness daily, and visit those who need the comfort of your presence.

Enjoy time with the Lord each day, enter lives of others as God opens doors, eliminate gossip and critical words from your conversation, and encourage others at every opportunity.

Join me, won’t you, in living a life of love? Others will be blessed and so will we!

“. . . walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2 NIV

*What is God saying to you about love today?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. 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 johnsdigitaldreams.com, Creative Commons License

Guest Blogger Elece Hollis: Mother of the Bride Blues

When my daughter Rachel announced she was planning her wedding for August, I knew immediately that I was in big trouble, where in the world would I find a mother-of-the-bride maternity dress? One glance at the garments displayed in the woman-with-child department of the nearest clothing store was all I needed to convince me of the futility of my search. They just don’t make ‘em, you know?

Still, I had to find something suitable. I was forty-three and would turn forty-four before the baby arrived in November. I’d be six months along by the wedding day—no way could I hide the embarrassing, yet wonderful, fact that the beautiful dark-haired bride was expecting a new baby sister.

Pregnancies are supposed to happen to younger women. By my age I was supposed to know better. No maternity wear is designed for “mature” women. I had to try—so off I went shopping.

I started at a formal and tux shop. The saleslady showed me a short black dress with a fitted bodice tied with a leopard print sash—no—just not me. She showed me a pale yellow t-strap satin with sequins ornamenting the waist and neckline. I tried it on. The full skirt swirled around my legs. Looking back at me from the mirror was a startled moose with jaundice.

How about a fire engine red, knee length gown with huge white zigzags running this way and that? Nah—I’d look like a distraught candy cane on steroids. I also passed up a pea green dress with a fitted camouflage-print jacket, rhinestones, and matching clutch purse.

Pink chiffon with loads of ruffled lace and a huge satin bow that hung down over the belly? Ugh! No way! Talk about a fashion victim.

Plans for the wedding proceeded nicely. Invitations were mailed. Cakes were ordered from a local bakery for the reception. Rachel was so excited—so happy.

We had a rice bag party and tied red velveteen ribbons on two hundred rice bags. We ordered flowers for the church, boutonnières for ushers, candle lighters, and groomsmen, and corsages for the pianist and servers. And one for Mama—Big Mama, who still had no dress to pin it to.

I checked out my closet to see what might do if worse came to worse. Way in the back was a deep rose-colored maternity dress with a white collar I had bought to wear during my last pregnancy—a mother-of-the-graduate maternity dress. (Yeah, you read that right.) It was only three years old. Maybe it could be resurrected. But, when I laid it out, I saw the large round oily stain on the backside.

One tired mom, six-months along, at the graduation celebration, I had plopped my caboose down in the nearest chair and felt the splat as I landed on a plate of cake with yummy white frosting with dark blue lettering.

“Oh, no, Mama,” squealed my ten-year-old son, “You sat on my cake!”

“I realize that,” I answered, (rather calmly considering), “and I am not getting up until all these people leave!”  The stain had never come out. Why had I saved the dress anyway? Good grief!

On a trip to the mall to find some of that white frou-frou sheer net material to swag the tables in the reception hall, I noticed across from the fabric store, a small maternity shop—named Motherhood. Motherhood—that was me—double dosing it! I went across to look around inside. You never know, and things were getting desperate.

There I found it at last—a robin egg blue ankle length maternity dress, with short sleeves and a scooped lace-trimmed bodice. It was not one of the wedding theme colors, but wouldn’t clash. It wasn’t fancy, but it fit. It would do. I bought it.

I felt conspicuous being escorted down the aisle that August to my seat of honor at the front of the sanctuary. I’m certain some of the guests were duly horrified, but what did I care? Don’t all moms feel awkward and strange at their daughter’s weddings, like they’d stepped out of a time machine into another world? Don’t they all feel self-conscious and fat and a little old? Well, this day certainly wasn’t about me anyway.

As I watched my girl come in on her Daddy’s arm, and listened as she and her groom exchanged their marriage vows, I think I felt little Sis’s firm kick of approval. I smoothed my mother-of-the-bride blue skirt and patted my blessing.

*You might also like to read Parting Thoughts of the Mother of the Bride.

Elece Hollis is a grandma to twenty-five children. She and Ron live in Oklahoma where they tend an orchard of pecans and a small herd of Angus. Elece is an artist and a photographer and loves flowers, baking, and painting. Read her blog about country living at elecehollis.com.

 

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

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. 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.)

*Flickr photo by alicia.piper, Creative Commons License

Us: The Little Word That Changes Everything

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1 NIV

“Us.” One tiny word—two little letters—with giant impact.

Who is to throw off everything that hinders? Us. Who is to run with perseverance? Us. Who is the race marked out for? Us. Not me. Not you. Us. We don’t have to run the race alone.

Just think of how that one little word changes everything. We can have support. We can have camaraderie. We can have the encouragement of others as we run our races, whether they’re races wrapped up in relationships, jobs, illnesses, goals, losses, or living lives of faith with victory.

In fact, we’re not meant to live the Christian life independent of other believers. Another passage in Hebrews (10:24-25) tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Do you see it again? Us. Yes, we need to run together.

Let’s consider each of the races in our lives right now. Do we have running partners or groups running alongside for each one? Do we have those who are spurring us on, encouraging us, and giving us strength to persevere—or are we out there all on our own?

Let’s not forget the little word that changes everything. Let’s not forget “us.”

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

*Who are your running partners in this season of life? Thank God for them—and then thank them too.

*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.

*Flickr photo by DrongowskiCreative Commons License

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.