Monthly Archives: January 2022

A Hearty Go-Together

Here’s a delicious pairing for cool (or down-right, cold) days. Both recipes require minimal preparation.

Hearty Beanburger Stew

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped green pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon shortening

2 cans ( 1 pound each) vegetarian baked beans in tomato sauce

1 can (1 pound) diced tomatoes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions: Saute beef, onion and green pepper in shortening in Dutch oven until vegetables are tender. Drain excess fat. Stir in beans and remaining ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 4-6 servings (about 6 cups).

Note: This is one of our go-to dishes when we have ground beef on hand.

Now, for the accompaniment:

Cornbread

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup corn meal

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 cup skim milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 egg whites OR 1 egg, beaten

 Directions: Heat oven to 400°F, or 204°C. Grease 8″ or 9″ pan. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 9 servings.

Note: This makes a good accompaniment not only to the Beanburger Stew, but also to the Meatloaf, here.

Enjoy!

P. Booher

2 Comments

Filed under Recipes

Good Reports

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8b, (NLT)

Like many people, I tend to look back on the old year in January. As I remember situations, I think about the good things God did for me. Things like—

  1. He helped my mother through various health issues, as I wrote about here. He used that time to mold me, as I wrote here. Through that time, He gave me a better perspective on love, not as strictly an emotion, but as commitment and action.
  2. I wanted to live in a bigger comfort zone. God responded through a friend’s request to cat-sit for her. Even in that small effort, I learned some things. This post, here, is reflections on what stuck out to me.
  3. I wanted to try something new. As a member of Inspire Christian Writers, I had an opportunity to volunteer to serve as an assistant editor for the 2021 Inspire Anthology. I had never done any editing before. As an editor on four pieces, I gained valuable experience. To do the editing I used Track Changes on Microsoft Word. Although I use Microsoft Word regularly, that was the first time I used Track Changes. I looked at the pieces with an editor’s eye, certainly a different approach for me. I learned an editor’s way of interacting with a writer.
  4. In December I received a Christmas letter from an acquaintance. For whatever reason, envy reared its ugly head. I was so angry! I had no cause to be, but I was. I intended to write the person back in a way as to cut off any future relationship. But, thank God, a phrase from Steve Laube’s writing/publishing blog jumped to the forefront of my mind: “Never burn your bridges”. Another phrase followed, this one from a magazine: “Grace beats malice…” The need to write something in reply was almost overwhelming, but I didn’t know what to write. God provided the answer, as I believe the Holy Spirit told me to write the person a letter describing how God worked in my life through the year. I wrote it, mailed it, and had a wonderful sense of peace and relief about it. Had I allowed my envy and anger to go from me to the person, I would not be enjoying that peace today.
  5. For years I’ve known I should read and study the Bible more, but couldn’t keep up with whatever Bible reading plan I followed. I felt guilty and gave up. Through the years I read bits and pieces here and there, but never had any organization. God provided an answer through a journal and the Bible I started using (New Living Translation). The journal provided a page a day for Bible reading and reflection, and the NLT has headings above passages, breaking up chapters. I decided to read and reflect on just one passage or possibly two for each day’s reading. This is working out well for me. If I miss a day I no longer feel condemnation. I simply pick up where I left off. A bonus is that I want to read the Bible now; it’s not a “should” thing.

I am glad I can look back and see these things God brought into my life.

©P. Booher

If you’d like more information on the anthology I mentioned, Inspire Christian Writers 2021 Anthology, Inspire Community—Inspiring Writings About the Power of Community, is available on Amazon. Seventeen writers share different ways community exists.

Leave a comment

Filed under Country Ripples, Faith Matters

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

I was in the mood for a “cozy” mystery, ie., one without gore and sex, so one day I picked up Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder by Amy Lillard. I want to say I liked it, but—it took me longer to read this than I thought it would. I got annoyed with it, so I put the book down for awhile. Yet I wanted to find out “whodunit” so I finally finished it.

Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder takes place in a sleepy little Southern town. The main character, Arlo Stanley, owns a bookstore. She is gearing up for a book signing with Wally Harrison, a former resident, now bestselling author. When Wally is found dead outside her store, Arlo’s life becomes much more complicated. Her best friend is jailed as the main suspect by the police chief, a former boyfriend of Arlo’s, and another former boyfriend returns to town. Plus, the elderly ladies in Arlo’s book club are determined to help find the true murderer, since they are sure it’s not Chloe, Arlo’s best friend.

The book had a lot going for it, in keeping the reader guessing as to the murderer’s identity, in the  characters, and in setting. Ms. Lillard does a good job putting enough twists in the story to keep the reader wondering whether the murderer really was Arlo’s best friend, or someone else. The minor characters of various business owners filled out the story and gave the small-town setting believability. I could almost smell the food cooking in The Diner! Small towns have their own pace and atmosphere, and the author captured that well.

Things I didn’t like? The main character repeated some actions over and over, to the point where it got annoying. Some details inserted into the story didn’t seem to have a purpose; they could have been cut out without hurting anything. A few of the characters did things which didn’t make sense to me. Some of the sentences were choppy; as a reader, I don’t appreciate that. There seemed to be a lot of backstory.   The way it appeared was confusing, and I couldn’t figure out why some of it was in the story. In all fairness, though, Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder is the first in a new series: the Main Street Book Club Mystery series, and the characters featured in the backstory may be appearing in later titles.

Would I read the book again? I don’t know. Thankfully, the state of the world doesn’t depend on whether I will or not! 🙂

©P. Booher

 

2 Comments

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books

A Surprising Reason for Surprising Behavior

In this post here, I mentioned my mother’s uncharacteristic behaviors last spring and summer.

At first I thought it might be due to side effects from her two COVID vaccines. Her doctor did too after an MRI of her brain and a carotid artery scan didn’t reveal any abnormalities. Then I thought it might be the beginnings of dementia. That provoked enough anxiety in me, as her only child, to make me wonder if I was going crazy.

As the summer wore on, new problems appeared. Her leg strength weakened, and she needed my help in going to and from the bathroom. Since my mother refused to see her PCP, but agreed to physical therapy, he sent her to physical therapy to build up leg strength. But the physical therapist noted that she seemed to be lacking energy and be run down.

In late August my mother was admitted to the hospital for bleeding. Following an endoscopy and colonoscopy she was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. With that diagnosis, the doctors prescribed medication to cut down on stomach acid, and an iron supplement to raise her hemoglobin to proper levels.

Since a leaking ulcer reduces blood flow to the brain, cognitive and other processes are affected, and since blood flow is reduced to other parts of the body, physical strength becomes limited.

I am glad and relieved to be able to write that my mother is doing better than she has in a long time. I post this to give a heads-up to anyone who thinks an older relative or friend is developing dementia. Before jumping to conclusions, have a medical doctor check the person out. There are other, treatable reasons for strange behaviors.

©P. Booher

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Few Scriptures and Inspirational Quotes for the New Year

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8 (NIV)

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)  I used to have a really hard time with this verse, until it sunk in that we are not to give thanks for circumstances, but in circumstances. There are many extremely difficult circumstances we cannot give thanks for, and God does not expect us to. But even in them, we can give thanks. Sometimes it’s still hard to wrap my mind around this verse, but as I practice doing it, I find that thanking God helps me in the circumstance. It changes the face of it, and brings it “down to size”, so to speak.

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”        Ephesians 4:29b (NLT)

“Never, never, never, never give up.”     Winston Churchill

Here is one I put on the wall next to my computer:

Keep Calm,

Trust God,

Keep Writing.

Don’t Give Up,

Don’t Give In.

P. Booher

2 Comments

Filed under Country Ripples, Faith Matters