To My Family and Friends:
If you are driving to see family today,
may you have safe travels.
May you enjoy the food,
the family and the fellowship.
May you be thankful for all
of the blessings
has given you!
I am thankful for my family!
I am thankful for my parents, both of whom are in heaven now. I’m thankful that they raised my sister and me in a Christian home, teaching us the values they lived every day. I love you, Mother and Daddy, and I miss you every hour of every day! I look forward to seeing you again some day!
I have a husband who loves me with all of his heart – even when I’m at my craziest, which these days, seems to be all the time! He is my best friend, my soul mate. You’ve heard the phrase, “a marriage made in heaven,” well, that’s us. In the twelve years we’ve been married, we have gone through so much–some things that might have driven other couples apart–he stood strong and we are closer today than ever before. I love you, forever and always!
I am thankful for my children! And I’m so very proud of them both. Their “growing up years” were not easy, but they persevered in their own ways and today, they are strong, successful adults – not just professionally, but just as important, they are successful personally, as well. I love both of you so much!
I am also thankful for my daughter-in-love and son-in-love, (I don’t like the term in-law)! Both have brought their unique personalities into our family, bringing more laughter and joy! I love you both!
I’m thankful for my grandson! Since the day he was born, he has been God’s blessing to our entire family. And even though he chose a path that no one would want for their grandchildren, he is still and always will be God’s blessing to us. I love you with all my heart and I look forward to the things that God is going to do in your life!
I’m thankful for my sister and her husband! They have supported me throughout the years with their prayers and encouragement. They’ve always been there for me, even when they had challenging situations in their life. I love you both and thank God for you!
And finally, I’m thankful for all of my relatives–aunts, uncles, cousins–each and every one of you. You’ve all played an important role in my life at different times and I will always be grateful! Love to each one of you!
It is Monday of Thanksgiving Week. For the next few days, I want to share about people and/or things for which I’m thankful for a couple of reasons: 1) to remind myself of how blessed I am and 2) to share those blessings with you in the hope that you, too, will be blessed.
First and foremost, I am thankful for a God who loves me unconditionally, extravagantly, recklessly. That no matter what I do, or say, or think, no matter how far I may wander, He stands waiting and willing to welcome me with open arms. And not only does He wait, He pursues. He sends His Word, He pours out His love, He is a “Good, Good Father,” as Chris Tomlin sings.
Here are just a few of the sixty names of God and the meaning of each:
As the ultimate sign of His love, He gave His only begotten Son to die for my sins, and for your sins, so that we may have not only eternal life but also an abundant life here on earth.
So today, I am thankful for God, for all that He has done for me!
I am honored to have Gail Goolsby as my special guest to start off Thanksgiving Week. Gail is a fellow member of WordGirls and she has written an informative post that gives us just a glimpse of what life was like in Afghanistan as she served as the founding principal of the American School in Kabul.
I never wanted to live in Afghanistan. The fact that I worked and resided there for seven years still causes me to shake my head in wonder.
God revealed a call, a plan that sent me to this war-ravaged country as the founding principal of the International School of Kabul (ISK), the American K-12 school, in the summer of 2005. Parts of the adventure were thrilling, others painful, and all were used to grow my faith and admiration of a global, yet personal God.
American Christians in a Muslim Culture
The ISK team consisted mainly of Christians from various church experiences, personal backgrounds, and geographic areas of the U.S. A few staff members came from other English-speaking countries like the UK, Uganda, and Canada.
When Western or Christian holidays rolled around, we had to create our own good times. The surrounding Muslim environment gave no recognition of Easter, Christmas, or Thanksgiving. Significant Islamic dates and festivals dominated our school calendar and atmosphere. Ramadan (30 Day Fast) was especially challenging with cranky, hungry, tired people all around, but the Eid celebrations were happy, social times with colorful outfits parading down streets when families visited neighbors and friends. ISK teachers and administrators received invitations to partake in these parties and gladly accepted the chance to enjoy Afghan hospitality.
Hunting for Turkeys
Afghan weekends included Thursdays and Fridays (Islamic holy day). This schedule conveniently gave us Thanksgiving off without extra planning. But, if we wanted any semblance of Norman Rockwell’s famous family turkey gathering, we had to make it happen ourselves.
ISK operated on a closed compound with most staff living on campus for security reasons. We hired a chef to prepare lunch and supper six days a week for health and convenience of the team. Our loyal cook enjoyed helping us acquire the needed ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner feeding 40+ people. Beginning in early November, he would begin the hunt for turkeys, feil murgh (Dari), which literally translates to elephant chicken.
Some years we were able to find whole, frozen turkeys from international logistics companies and pay only $6.00/lb! One year we asked pilot friends to bring turkeys back on their next flight to Kabul. Another time a family of six from our team each carried a frozen turkey in their backpack from Dubai.
Pumpkins, potatoes, and other vegetables were easy to locate and all staff made a dish to contribute. Some contacted family members back home for a favorite recipe that brought back sweet memories of other Thanksgivings. As a seasoned homemaker, I was often called upon to mentor novice cooks how to prepare and roast a turkey, answering questions about high altitude cooking and Asian propane gas ovens.
Attitude of Gratitude
After the first year’s Thanksgiving fete, we invited our Afghan workers to join us. Over the meal, we shared traditions and explained the history of the national holiday to our non-American guests. Flag football, board games, and more feasting filled the afternoon. That evening we watched White Christmas and dreamed of the few weeks left until we flew home for December break.
For two years at ISK, Attitude of Gratitude was our theme, showing up on vinyl banners around campus to remind students and staff to look for the good even in our restricted, sometimes dangerous surroundings. Leaving behind my comfortable, empowered American life and missing my three semi-launched young adult children challenged me to be thankful daily.
But for seven Thanksgivings, gathered in the basement of a staff dormitory at gaily decorated tables with dedicated, sacrificial, like-minded team members and good food, my heart overflowed with gratitude. I felt part of something significant for the Kingdom and privileged to be part of the story of ISK that would impact lives for years to come.
We bowed. We prayed. We wiped away tears of thanks to our Father for our American Christian heritage, our provision, our safety, and our mission in Afghanistan.
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. Gail places international students with American Christian host families. As a counselor and 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 37 years and have three grown children, two sons-in-law, and three spunky granddaughters. They live where the wind blows over the prairie in south central Kansas and there really is no place like home.
This book is number three in The Wonderous Love Series. By Grace Draw Near can be read as a stand-alone book but I encourage you to read the first two books of the series. In Book One, Love So Amazing, we meet Sawyer and Ava. In Book Two, we are introduced to Chase and Heather. And in Book Three, We meet Eric and Grace. It’s great to have background information on the first two couples, as they all have a role in Book Three.
One of the most enjoyable features in all of JoAnn Durgin’s books is getting to know the characters. Drawn from her heart, and I believe her love for God, JoAnn’s characters leap to life as soon as they are introduced in the book. Eric and Grace, in By Grace Draw Near, are no different. Full of life and happiness and love for the Lord, Eric sets out to pursue the aloof Grace. And Grace, hurt in the past and determined to not make that mistake again, tries to avoid Eric. But God has other plans.
Set in Indianapolis, a city with which JoAnn is very familiar, By Grace Draw Near, reminds each of us of God’s love for us, His faithfulness to us and His perfect timing for His perfect will in our lives.
This is the book you need for that cold Sunday afternoon in the middle of the holiday craziness, with your favorite cup of tea and a roaring fire in the fireplace. Enjoy!