Serve Acrostic: Midyear Theme Word Refresher

Nearly half the year is gone so it’s time to give more thought to my 2021 theme word—serve. The creative exercise of writing acrostics is an excellent way for me to go deeper in my consideration of my theme word each year. This practice helps me think of different aspects of the word.

As I remind myself of and reflect on serve, I pray you are blessed and inspired to serve as well. Also, if you chose a theme word of your own this year, maybe this post will encourage you to do something similar with your word. Whatever your situation, friends, may you be blessed as you read!

See the needs of others, share your time and resources, and set aside selfish desires to be available.

Evaluate what you have to give, enter the lives of others with kindness, and engage those who don’t feel seen or heard.

Refresh others with scripture and encouraging words, remember what ministered to you and do likewise, and resist Satan’s attempts to discourage you from serving.

View everyone as loved by God, vacation where you can also serve, and vow to listen for the Spirit’s nudging.

Expand your vision of ways to reach out, enable others to meet needs as well, and extend love to the poor, the lonely, and the forgotten.

Let’s be alert to ways to serve. God will be pleased, others will be blessed, and so will we!

“. . . serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13 NIV

*How might God be calling you to serve right now?

*Special Note – As usual, God knows what he’s doing when he guides me to a word for the year. By late January, our daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer so I’ve spent much time helping her and her family. My husband has also had some health challenges. Serve has come to life in ways I never anticipated. Yes, God knows what he’s doing! (p.s. Kelli completed her chemo treatments earlier this month. She still has some tests and procedures in front of her, but she is doing well!)

*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.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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

*Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

Use Vision Boards to Bring Weddings to Life

Mother of the Bride, when it comes to preparing for a wedding, it’s too easy for you and your daughter to overthink the details. Even if you have the invitations, ceremony details, menu, and attire nailed down, it’s still tough to feel 100% confident in every decision when you can’t visualize everything all together.

Why not suggest the following vision board ideas and plan to her? As she creates it, she can share it with you so you can know exactly what she has in mind. But first, share this post with her!

For the Bride:

To sort through your thoughts and focus on the most important elements of planning a wedding, vision boards are lifesavers. Designing a wedding vision board helps you slow down and lay out every idea—and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re a fan of cork boards or streamlined digital formats, vision boards are effective because you’re dedicating time to bring the mental images you’ve been envisioning to fruition.

So, what’s the best way to start a vision board? Let’s narrow down the process to the three stages below.

Stage 1: Figure out your goals and inspiration

If all of your ideas are saved on Pinterest or folders on your Desktop, a digital vision board is probably the way to go. There’s a lot less manual work involved in these, and most future brides and grooms will appreciate how easy it is to move things around.

However, if most of your ideas are cutouts from magazines or printed out, a traditional format like a corkboard or foam poster board might be best.

If you feel really stuck, sometimes it helps to draw inspiration from your favorite leaders, authors, poets, etc. The free printable quote cards below can be fun and meaningful reminders you can add to a vision board (or just use to inspire yourself when you’re feeling stuck.) You can download these quotables right here.

Stage 2: Prep your physical and mental space

To make your vision board creation process as enjoyable as possible, clear the space around it. No one wants to be envisioning one of the most beautiful, meaningful days of their lives when they’re in a cluttered space. The preparation has to be mental, too. With new restrictions and mandates due to the pandemic, it’s easy to let stress get the best of you (even though micro weddings can be just as magical as a huge extravaganza.) Relax and clear your mind before diving into a vision board project so you can view prospective plans with a positive mindset.

Stage 3: Organize materials and start creating

Whether you need to gather all of your saved image files, Pinterest boards, or magazine clippings, it’s helpful to gather and organize all of your vision board assets in one place. Then, the fun can begin and you can start creating.

One of the best ways to keep yourself on track with your wedding planning goals when using Pinterest is by having a checklist. This checklist below is perfect—and you can download it for free right here.

If there are certain parts of your wedding you’re still struggling to nail down (like a family tradition you don’t know how to incorporate), play around with different ways to include it on your board. When you have all of the components of your ideal wedding laid out before you, either physically or digitally, you have the power to make the decisions that are best for you.

Do you wish you had a digital vision board template to get you started? Check out the free template below. You can access it right here.

Vision boards are lifesavers for couples who want to plan out all the details but need some structure for all their ideas. Plus, if you have budget constraints or challenging restrictions due to the pandemic, vision boards allow you to be more creative with your problem-solving strategy. You can seamlessly collaborate and bring your ideal wedding to life when you’re using a vision board as a tool.

Organizing a wedding is an exciting, detail-oriented endeavor and you’ll want to make sure you’re on the same page as your partner and your wedding planner/coordinators. Like any wedding planning tool or tactic, there are dozens of ways to go about using vision boards. I hope these vision board ideas have been inspiring. Happy planning!

*Thanks to Zola and their original post  as well as Siege Media for providing me with content for this helpful post!

*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.)

Theme Word 2021: Serve

Yes, Virginia, I still select an annual theme word. I know I’m a little late posting it this year, but instead of kicking off the year earlier in January with my theme word post, I decided to share a blessing post. I thought that was more appropriate given the fact we as a nation—and a world—have never been so glad to see a new year arrive. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll take a minute to give it a quick read. I think it will indeed bless you!

But yes, for me, starting a new year means it’s time to focus on a new theme word. This is the 10th year I’ve chosen a special word for the year. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions but instead I decide on a theme word to help guide me through the year. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me time and again.

Serve was the word the Lord kept bringing to my attention near the end of last year so serve it is for 2021. I never know what all the Lord has in mind when guiding me to a new word, but I do think he wants me to continue to serve and bless others through the written word. Also I’m filling a new role this year as I serve as the chaplain for my writers group. I wonder what else God has in store? I guess I’ll find out as the year unfolds!

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2021? I can guarantee that having an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—to focus on will help give you direction and help you grow throughout the year. And that is always a good thing, isn’t it?

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24 NIV

*Do you have a theme word or anchor verse for 2021? Please share!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. 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.) p.s. If you sign up after Jan. 29th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

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

*Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

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.

Theme Word 2020: Love

Wow, 2020 is here—and that can mean a lot of things, but one thing each new year means for me is deciding on a new theme word for the year.

I’ve never adopted New Year’s resolutions, but for the past several years, I’ve chosen a theme word to help guide me through the year. Focusing on an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—can give me direction throughout the year and also helps me focus on more fully implementing whatever the new word is.

I usually start asking God to direct me to a theme word for the upcoming year sometime during November or December. This year lots of words came to mind, but one of them seemed to encompass practically all of the others. In fact, if I implemented that word, I would be implementing most of the others as well.

That all-encompassing word I’ve chosen for the year? Love. Scripture actually explains why I felt like the word love is an umbrella for so many others. Galatians 5:13-14 says, “serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NIV)

Also, as in previous years, God was so good to confirm my choice. This time his confirmation came through a book I was reading at the time. In fact, as I remember, he confirmed it within hours. The author actually mentioned that her word for the year was love. Pretty clear confirmation, huh?

As usual, I’m not sure what all the Lord has up his divine sleeve this year in leading me to the word love. But as I try to let love be my guide, I’m sure to live out many other qualities and actions as well. Things like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience, mercy, endurance, faithfulness, helping, believing, as well as following and obeying God. I bet you can think of even more to add to the list.

One thing I’m doing to help me keep my focus on love this year is reading through Bob Goff’s new book Live in Grace, Walk in Love: A 365-Day Journey. The book actually released in October, but I didn’t discover it until December. And when I did, I knew right away it would be the perfect daily devotional for me in 2020. So yes, you bet I ordered a copy pronto.

If you haven’t chosen a word for the year yet, you’re welcome to join me in focusing on love. I think I’m safe in saying that I’ll (we’ll) be challenged by it every day. And yes, I know that I’ll fall short—and probably daily—but the Author of love himself will be standing ready to forgive and offer his helping hand and perfect example once again. Yes, the Lord will keep showing me what love is all about.

“‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’” John 15:12 NIV

*Have you chosen a theme word or anchor verse for the year? I’d love to hear about it!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. 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.

*Flicker photo by Captured Heart, Creative Commons License