A Still Heart: Guest Post by Author Julie K. Gillies

Our minds can easily slip into overdrive when we evaluate all the what-ifs, attempting to figure out every detail and obsessively calculating our next step. It’s a temptation we face when we feel deeply concerned about a direction our life is going, or when we aren’t happy with a situation we’re facing. Some of us are wired this way; we’re natural over thinkers. Some of us indulge when we’re feeling unusually apprehensive. Either way, this excessive mental activity takes a toll, feeding our worries and stirring up anxieties until our peace evaporates completely.

In the midst of this, God invites us to make a decision that goes against our instincts. When everything in us is whirling and calculating, He encourages us to be still, to step away from every worry and all our mental activity and know Him. Be with Him. Rest in Him. It’s a bold step, but not as risky as it may seem, because “the Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 145:8).

Our hearts can truly rest in Him knowing He is at work so our minds don’t constantly have to be. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.” When we still our hearts and minds, meditating on who He is and all His awe-inspiring qualities, our inner beings experience the relief of a quiet, peaceful heart.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Lord, I’m sensing that I need to stop all my mental activity: worry, anxiety, fear, all the what-if’s, and just be still. God, everything in me wants to work it out or else stress out, but instead I am going to still my heart and my thoughts. I am going to allow myself to be in Your presence and rest in You, knowing You are gracious and compassionate. Knowing that You will work out Your plans for my life. Help me to center my heart and my thoughts and my very life on You. Help me to live vitally connected to You and still on the inside, so that I can always hear You and walk in the power of Your amazing peace. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.

Excerpted from Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.

 

 

Julie K. Gillies is the author of Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, From Hot Mess to Blessed, and the devotional Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. She is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of three adults and Grammy of five. She loves baking from scratch, any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family, especially on days when her house is clean. For FREE resources and to connect with Julie, visit: www.JulieGillies.com

*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.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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

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.)