Ring Out, Ring On!

“The Lord’s message rang out from you . . .” 1 Thessalonians 1:8 NIV

If you’ve read my writings for any length of time, you know that I want my words—whether here or in other venues—to be a source of refreshment, encouragement, and nourishment for all who read them. I hope you’ve been blessed and have heard the Lord speak to your heart when you’ve read my blog posts or other things I’ve written over the years.

But you know what? That works both ways. Many of you have blessed me at different times by telling me that my words have touched you in some way or that God has given you—through my writing—just the word you needed to hear on that particular day. I can’t tell you what an encouragement that is to me. Those are the kinds of things that keep a writer writing.

In fact, your words—whether through blog comments, notes, messages on Facebook, emails, words spoken face to face, or your own writings if you’re a writer—have many times been just the words I needed to hear.

Sometimes it’s been a message of encouragement from the Lord to help me stay committed to the calling he’s given me, but many other times he’s spoken through you to give me strength, wisdom, or direction for any number of personal issues I’ve faced.

What it boils down to is this: You don’t have to be a writer or a teacher or a preacher for the Lord’s message to ring out from you. You can simply be you. All you need is a willingness to speak words of kindness, truth, inspiration, thanks, wisdom, comfort, or encouragement. So ring on, my friends, ring on!

“But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” Job 16:5 NIV

*How have someone’s words been a message from God ringing out to you recently?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes 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.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*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 alykat, Creative Commons License

God Living in Us Makes Us Lovely

“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!” Psalm 84:1 NIV

One morning when a full, out-of-town day stretched before me, I wanted a taste of God’s Word to begin my day. I decided to open my Bible to a random Psalm and read wherever my eyes landed. And I am so glad I did.

I opened to Psalm 84 and as I read the first verse, the taste I desired exploded into a feast. They were familiar words, but in that instant, I saw them in a new light, with a deeper understanding. My drive-through, random reading suddenly felt like a full course meal.

This psalm, this verse, was written in Old Testament times, of course, and the words “dwelling place” referred to the temple of God. But in the New Testament, where does Paul tell us God’s dwelling place—his temple—is now? In us! In the hearts of believers. “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16 NCV)

So if you’re a believer like me, what does this truth mean for us in the context of the above Psalm 84:1 verse? Because God’s Spirit lives in us, friends, we are lovely. And not just an off-hand use of the word lovely, but lovely emphasized—how lovely. In other words, you and I are very lovely. Extremely lovely. Amazing, huh?!

I’ve got to be honest. I don’t usually think of myself as lovely—in the physical or the spiritual sense. Too often I concentrate on the imperfections in both realms. I dwell on the warts of my shortcomings.

But I need to see myself as God sees me. Redeemed and dearly loved as one of his children. As very lovely because he lives in me. Anyone else need that reminder today?

“And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NET

*How has God’s loveliness been shining through you lately?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Amazon 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.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*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 Shandi-leeCreative Commons License

Let Your Life Provide a Well-Paved Path for Others

Pain. Grief. Weakness. Limitations. None of us welcome these unwanted visitors—especially when they take up long-term residence in our lives. Each one causes distress in its own way. And let’s be honest. We all do our best to avoid distress whenever possible.

We don’t like to hurt. We don’t like to fail or find ourselves unable to do certain things. But as we live in these places of pain, we grow and learn lessons. We develop a deep empathy for others experiencing similar sorrows. Each of our painful places has the potential to become a well-paved path to another hurting soul.

In the New Testament, we see that the apostle Paul experienced pain, hardship, and limitations time and again. And while we may feel the chains of weakness and limitations in our lives, Paul dealt with literal chains during the times he was imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.

He didn’t give in to discouragement during those imprisonments though. While shackled and suffering, Paul saw the good that came from his chains. In his letter to the Philippians (1:14 NIV), he said, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

Surely our chains of pain, grief, weakness, or limitations serve to encourage others as well. Other struggling folks might very well be inspired to persevere through their own trials as they see how God strengthens us in ours.

Whether reaching out to hurting souls going through similar situations as our own or being a beacon of hope and encouragement through the witness of our lives, let’s allow our painful places to result in good. Let’s let our lives be well-paved paths.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

*When did someone provide a well-paved path for you? Our family is currently undergoing a trial that will certainly allow us to encourage and comfort others in the future. Our daughter Kelli is having surgery for breast cancer today. We’d be so grateful for your prayers. 

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 2nd. 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.

*My photo

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.)

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.