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.

A Message for Friends

How long has it been since we’ve told our friends how much they mean to us? Since we’ve told them how much they enrich our lives?

Why not tell them today? Below is a message from my heart to the hearts of those who have touched my life with friendship in a variety of ways.

If you feel the same way about your friends, why not forward this post to them and tell them this is how you feel about them too? I’m sure it will mean the world to them.

May the following bless you all!

Friend,

Spending time with you
Refreshes and refuels me,
Joining you in laughter
Helps heal whatever’s hurting.
When facing challenges together
I’m inspired to hidden strength,
My life is better because of you
For you, my friend, make a difference.

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement . . .” Philemon 1:7 NIV

*How can you be a friend who makes a difference?

*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.)

*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 ainavidal, Creative Commons License

Budding: New Growth in Spring and in Life

Have you noticed them yet this season? Budding trees. They whisper promises of things to come, slip us reminders of spring’s unfailing relief from winter’s frigid toll. One day they nudge us and say, “Look at us. New growth! There’s hope after all . . .”, while on another they call out, “Look at us! We’re budding! What will you become?!”

I love how the seasons speak to us on deeper levels and give us encouragement to grow or rest, to persevere or hope. Spring has the privilege of bringing hope to weary souls and inspiring us to branch out or reach for new heights. It works wonders in our world and in our hearts, and each year its work in our lives might be a little different.

The image of growth in spring has influenced how we see so many things. We’ve all heard people say, “He’s a budding artist” or “She’s a budding musician”, and they’re usually referring to children or teens. But I can’t help but notice, in the natural world, that even old trees bud year after year. New growth and the promise of things to come grace them as well.

And to be honest, probably none of us reading this post today are children or teens. We’re all older trees, if you will, though some of us are indeed older than others. The good news is that old trees bud! We’re not only capable of growth, it’s expected.

So what’s budding in our lives as we head into spring this year? What evidence of growth can be seen on our branches? Are we mastering a new skill or using some new technology? Are we displaying strength or peace in the face of adversity? As believers, are we looking more like our Savior each year?

If you don’t feel like you’re growing right now, it’s not too late to start. Get out there and start budding! Rejoice in the promise of things to come!

“In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27:6 NIV

*Is there something budding in your life right now? If not, what would you like to see bud?

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from March 2011 blesses you today!

*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.

*Flickr photo by James BoweCreative Commons License

Christmas Poem 2018: The Marvelous Mix of Christmas

Yes, Virginia, I did write another Christmas poem.

Some of you may be wondering how long I can keep this tradition up—and sometimes I do too. I started writing original Christmas poems for my Christmas cards way back in 1982 and have not missed a year since. It hasn’t always been easy (in fact, writing poetry is pretty challenging), but God has always been faithful each year to give me a message to share with my friends and family. And I am ever so grateful.

I’ll be taking a blogging break as we all focus on the holidays the next few weeks. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and have a chance to get refocused and recharged for the new year. I will see you back here then.

May you experience “The Marvelous Mix of Christmas” this year in every way, my friends, and may this year’s poem bless you in a special way!

    The Marvelous Mix of Christmas

Christmas is a marvelous mix
A medley of tradition and faith,
A beautiful blend of heaven and earth
A merry and holy holiday.

A marvelous mix of magic
Of music in the air,
Of snowflakes, angels, and twinkling lights
Of sweet surprises shared.

A marvelous mix of memories
From childhood through present day,
Starring friends and family dear
Ever in our hearts they’ll stay.

A marvelous mix of ministry
Of reaching out to others,
Giving and serving with good will to all,
All become sisters and brothers.

Christmas—a marvelous mix of miracles
Begun by a Babe and his star,
Still ripples down through the ages
Bringing Light and Life from afar.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5 NIV

*How are you experiencing the marvelous mix of Christmas this season?

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

A Blogging Change Plus Words to Inspire

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Hey everyone, the time has come to change things up a bit here on my blog. I’ve been blogging twice weekly since September 2007, and in June 2013 I started posting twice weekly to my Mother of the Bride Blog as well. Since that’s a lot of blog posts to keep up with and since I’ve reached a point where I need to devote more time to other projects (and people—like my grandchildren! :) ), I’ve decided a change is needed.

So from now on, I’ll post weekly—generally on Tuesdays—on both of my blogs. I won’t officially have Midweek Morsel posts anymore, but some of my weekly posts may resemble the Midweek Morsel posts of the past. I like the variety that shorter posts offer in the midst of some longer ones. And sometimes a short post is exactly what you—or I—need at a given time.

One thing that I hope doesn’t change is that you’ll always find refreshment, nourishment, and inspiration here. When you leave here, I want you to feel encouraged in some way. If we keep our eyes on the Lord together, that’s sure to happen, right?

So be encouraged today my friends with this Inspiration acrostic. May God use it to bless you indeed!

In God we find our strength and hope.

Nothing is too difficult for my God to handle.

Silence can soothe and energize so step back and soak it in.

Prayer and peace go hand in hand so give your worries to God.

Indeed my God loves me and stands ready to help me.

Refresh your spirit in the boundless beauty of God’s creation.

Alter your attitude to turn your day around.

Thankful hearts provide the perfect soil for joy to grow.

Invest in people and make a difference today, tomorrow, and forever.

One small act of kindness can be the first ripple of a day—or a life—redeemed.

Never underestimate the power of a smile.

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf.” Psalm 66:5

*Where do you find inspiration?

*My photo