Keeping Spirits Up in Difficult Times

Years ago I saw a pattern in my mood: it nose-dived in winter. At first I believed I was at the mercy of my moods, so I suffered through them.

Finally, after some desperate prayers,  I took steps to mitigate the moodiness. Here are some things I did, along with principles I use to guide me now:

  • Every November or December I start feeding the chickadees, cardinals, titmice, doves, finches and other birds that call this spot home. I derive joy out of helping them, and that boosts my spirits. Principle: help someone else, even if only a bird!
  • I write letters or send cards to people. I’ve practiced this kind of  “social distancing” for awhile. My mother used to write monthly letters to relatives, BPC (Before Personal Computers). Now when people tell me receiving cards or letters lifted their spirits, I smile inwardly. They don’t realize the first spirits lifted were mine! Principle: Keep in touch with the people you care about; it takes your mind off yourself.
  • I plant flowers. In years past I planted crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths bulbs for spring blooming. Knowing the bulbs come up every spring gave me something to look forward to. This year, I bought sunflower seeds, zinnia seeds, and shasta daisy seeds. I’m ready for some color this summer! I’m looking forward to planting the seeds, and even more at seeing the flowers in bloom. Principle: Give yourself something to look forward to.
  • This fourth item is something I don’t do: I don’t look at the news much. It’s important to be informed, but being informed in times of crises can easily cross the line into being obsessed with knowing every new detail. One evening I saw an alarming prediction in the headlines.  As I was about to click on the link, the thought occurred to me: Is this news story going to give you peace and in turn, strength to meet your everyday problems? Or is it going to provoke anxiety and disturbing images in your mind? I chose to turn to a different website. In the current COVID-19 crisis, there is so much conflicting information I don’t know what details to believe anyway, which in itself heightens my anxiety. To keep on doing what I need to do I set limits on the amount of news and other media I take in. Principle: Don’t feel you have to know everything going on; give yourself a break.
  • Take time out every day to do something creative, just for fun. Whether it’s writing, painting, gardening, woodworking, or whatever, do it. Get away from the world and the stress, and lose yourself in the activity. Principle: Relax by doing something creative.

©P. Booher

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Falling Apart

GraceSpeak

The coffee is hot!
It’s ready – I’m not –
to face the day that’s ahead.
Many chores to be done
before setting sun,
but my feet keep turning toward bed.

I cannot go out
with a victory shout
when my body is struggling to rise.
My hair is askew –
these wrinkles are new! –
affirming I’m nobody’s prize.

On day like these
I fall to my knees
and call to my Father’s heart.
I need His great love
and His strength from above
to keep me from falling apart.

Lamentations 3:21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of  the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Psalm 27:The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength…

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Friday Photos–Rocks and Trees

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I call the big boulder on top, “The House Boulder”; I’m sure somebody lives there!

Among the Evergreens above the creek

Trees and Ferns

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This scene, with the pine tree growing out of the rock, has always fascinated me.

Boulder Along the Trail

Layers Upon Layers of Rock

Woods

Among the Trees

Maple tree growing in front of rock

Maple tree growing from underneath rock

 

All photos are by author.

©P. Booher

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Where Does Joy Live?

GraceSpeak

The substance of joy does not rest in this world.

Joy lives in the hope born of the resurrection.  It inhabits the incorruptible inheritance prepared for and kept for me. It is sustained by the power of God.

Trial and temptation may come against me, and circumstances may flip me like a burger on a hot grill, but I am secure in the joy unspeakable that is Jesus the Christ.

The temporary cannot thwart the eternal, nor can the uncertainties of this life overcome the sureness of Heaven.

Settled firmly in the character of our trustworthy God and His work on the cross, I am redeemed. Chosen by His grace, purchased with His blood, kept by His honor, I rejoice in His hope.

I Peter 1:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a

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What Hasn’t Changed?

Covid-19 brought many changes to everyday life. Some are here to stay. For anyone reading this who has lost a loved one to Covid-19, please accept my sympathy. I know what it feels like to lose a loved one, but not to Covid-19, so your experience is different.

Although the virus brought changes no one expected, some things are still the same.

What hasn’t changed?

1. God is still here. He hasn’t walked off the stage. He wants to hear our prayers and help us in a variety of ways. He cares about us and desires relationship with us.

2. Covid-19 didn’t stop the sun from rising and setting, or the moon from following its pattern. The stars still come out at their appointed times. The virus didn’t stop the seasons from changing. Spring is here, fitfully at times, in the Northern Hemisphere. We can still enjoy the beautiful flowers and the trees coming out in their glory. Fall is in the Southern Hemisphere.

3. The birds are going about their business of building nests for new families. Robins moved in under the side porch of our house and built a nest across from the kitchen window. It’s fascinating to watch the robins’ diligence in providing food and raising their family. Canada geese set up housekeeping at a farm pond a few miles away. Every spring as I drive past the pond I see goslings with their parents. Woe to the dog, cat, fox, raccoon, or person who makes the mistake of getting between parents and young ones!

4. The virus hasn’t affected human ingenuity, creativity, or resilience. In fact, from what I’ve read, those values gained enhancement. Stories and pictures about birthday party drive-throughs, graduation party drive-throughs, church drive-ins and virtual church meetings prove that. People are finding different ways to do what they need and want to do.

5. Covid-19 hasn’t stopped people’s generosity or willingness to help out or spread laughter and joy around. Against the black backdrop of the virus, the stories of people helping other people shine.

6. People still want to communicate. I understand the post offices are busier now; maybe people are rediscovering the joy of letter-writing.

7. Regular household chores, and in this area with the warmer weather, yard work, still need to be done. Grass needs mowed; weeds need pulled; gardens need planted; and dust bunnies and spiders need to be escorted out of the house. The work is there, whether paid or unpaid, that work is there.

8. People still need encouragement, kindness, empathy, hope, joy, faith, and common courtesies, like “please” and “thank you”.

Yes, many things have changed. But some things have not.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

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Flexibility–A Useful Tool

I wrote a post on flexibility in spending and saving money here.

Recently I thought again of how the attitude of flexibility makes life a little easier.

For three weeks or so, the grocery store I frequent had low supplies of bread. Before the pandemic I used to buy three or four loaves at a time to keep in the freezer. No more! Signs on the bread shelves stated the limit of one bread item to a customer. I put the loaf in the cart, then decided to hunt for bread substitutes. First, I spied frozen waffles. Good—I can eat them in place of toast. Then I saw a container of yellow cornmeal, and I remembered cornbread makes an excellent side dish with baked beans, spaghetti, pork chops, and many other foods.

Having flexibility, particularly in these times, is a wonderful way to avoid stress. You aren’t tied to a certain way to do things, or meet needs, but you have the willingness to look for substitutes. I’ve found the best way to have that attitude is to think in terms of generalities, not to be hung up on (for example) “Well, I’ve always eaten that kind of bread”, or “I always go to the movies Friday nights. What am I going to do?” Generalities say, “I like that bread, but maybe now’s the time to try English muffins; the store has a lot of those.” or “Yes, I like going to the movies, but the reason I do it is to de-stress from work. What other activity can I do that would accomplish the same thing?”

How are you using flexibility to live a little easier these days?

©P. Booher

 

 

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My wishlist for the “new normal”

David Rawlings says this so much more eloquently than I can; it’s worth reading.

Covid-19 – to give its proper name – has closed down the world. In fact, some of the commentary around us suggests that our lives will never be the same again – we may even lose some things we’d taken for granted as everyday. The other phrase that is kicked around the media airwaves is “the new normal”. What our society will look like on the other side of this pandemic is still – in some senses – a blank canvas.

I was thinking about those two things and thought “good.” There are some things that might benefit our society if they’re never seen again. But this strange time we live in is revealing some things I’d like to keep.

Starting with this…

Things to add to the _New Normal_ wishlist(1)

The growing imbalance over the past decade or three was something I grew to despise. Huge sums of money were being paid to people who danced in…

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Hangeth Thou in There

Michele Huey

 

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience. –Galatians 5:22 NIV

Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. … Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. –Hebrews 10:35–36 NLT

“Any time a man takes a stand, there will come a time when he’ll be tested to see how firmly his feet are planted.” –Author unknown

It all began with an email—one of those forwards I usually delete without opening. All my bad luck I can blame on deleting them, because most come with a curse or a guilt trip if I don’t forward it to seven or ten or a hundred friends within seven minutes.

But this one I opened and scanned the contents. Then my eyes stopped. “God, deliver the person reading…

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Messy Love

GraceSpeak

God does not fit into our rules and procedures and committee meetings. We can’t wrap Him up neatly, reach consensus, and place Him in a box.

God is about love, and love is messy.

Love places the receiver before the giver. It reaches to the unlovely and ungrateful and continues in the face of hatred. It goes beyond the expected and sacrifices itself for the good of another.

Love doesn’t make sense.

No wonder Pilate was confused when Jesus refused to defend Himself. Pilate, a politician, looked for a logical response, a debate.

Yet for the first time in Pilate’s life he was face to face with absolute Love – Love that refused to save Himself.

How do you fathom such love?

You don’t. You accept Him. You relish and cherish Him. You give thanks for Him.

And you spend your life living in response to this amazing Love.

It…

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Friday Photos–A Few Favorite Places and Memories

In the woods, along the creek

Along the trail

Wild Phlox, trees along trail

Along the trail

Up Among the Trees

Up Among the Trees!

Formal Rose Garden in Park

Formal Rose Garden

Little Buffalo, just below house

Summer 2004

All photos by author.

P. Booher

 

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