Monthly Archives: January 2022

Sunday Extra–Help Me, Lord

A Prayer:

Dear Lord,

No matter what I am feeling

No matter how I am feeling

physically, emotionally, mentally,

give me grace to be able to be—

kind, helpful, to give encouraging words,

to be thankful for all the blessings You’ve given me

and those You will give me.

Help, Lord, for it is so easy for me to not be that way when I

am in pain—physically, emotionally, or mentally.

But, I want to be able to build people up, with Your grace,

and by Your power and love.

In Jesus’s Name.

Amen.

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Re-blog: Be Careful for Nothing!

This is a reblog from Devotional Treasures. It’s good thoughts and worth sharing.

Devotional Treasures

I am pleased to introduce a guest post by brother Bruce Cooper, one the brethren filling in for me while I am busy preparing for a family wedding. Bruce’s writes regularly on his blog Reasoned Cases For Christ. Bruce majors in apologetics and defending the faith, with frequent Bible Studies, all of which I have found instructive and a blessing to me. I would recommend following Bruce’s blog to anyone who is seeking Biblical instruction. Here is Bruce’s post for you today.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Philippians 4:6 (KJV)

“Be careful for nothing”, or as the NIV says “but in every situation”.

Do you remember the scripture verse where Jesus says “Here I am! I stand at the doorand knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,I willcome inand…

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Please Don’t Feed the Mayor

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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”.

Looking for a humorous read, I chose Please Don’t Feed the Mayor by Sue Pethick. With a title like that, I thought the novel would be funny. There was some humor in it, mostly from the animals, but not as much as I was looking for.

With the small town of Fossett, Oregon, in economic decline, business owner Melanie MacDonald decides to take action to reverse the trend. Her plan is to have her border collie, Shep, become mayor. She believes that will increase tourism and boost the town’s sagging fortunes. She enlists the reluctant aid of her ex-husband, Bryce, a lawyer in Portland, in the effort to elect Shep.

Bryce’s career as a defense attorney is taking off. But when a killer Bryce helped put behind bars in his previous position in the district attorney’s office escapes from prison, Bryce goes to Fossett for a few days to lay low. He guides Melanie in the campaign to elect Shep, and at the same time deals with his unresolved feelings for her.

Bryce and Melanie clash not only in handling the campaign, but also in Melanie’s ties to the town. Melanie graduated from college; Bryce believes she needs to leave the town for a place with more opportunities to use her education. Melanie loves the proximity to nature and the way people in Fossett help one another out, but sometimes wonders if it’s best for her to stay there.

Shep wins the election, but when the escaped killer Jesse Colton comes to Fossett in search of Bryce, events take a much more harrowing turn. Towards the end of the story, some unlikely heroes—people and animals—emerge.

Embedded in the narrative are different interesting tidbits about border collies (they are bred to herd, and the wise owner makes allowances for that), and the time and work involved in a political campaign. Some serious issues surface through the characters of the book: PTSD, poverty, and the rippling economic impact on a place when the major industry moves out. The author does a good job of showing these issues without being preachy; they are threaded throughout the novel. The author shows the unique character of a small town—where everyone knows everybody else’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, but when help is needed, the residents help each other out as best they can. 

The characters of Melanie and Bryce become more “real” as the novel continues. You can see them learning to appreciate each other’s viewpoints. For the most part the characters act in believable ways as the plot moves along. Jesse Colton, the killer, is in the background for much of the story, but still injects a continual feeling of menace in the narrative from the time Bryce learns Jesse has escaped.

I have to admit I wasn’t really hooked on the story until Bryce’s life was threatened. Before then, I was “Meh”. After that point in the plot, though, I knew I was in for the finish.

What didn’t I like?

The novel started slowly, and didn’t really pick up until the second or third chapter. 

For me there was some objectionable language: an instance in which the Lord’s name is taken in vain, some instances of “h–l” and “d–n” and one instance of “g———-ed”. It’s not as though I haven’t heard that language before; growing up, I heard it a lot. Just because I heard it, doesn’t mean I want to read it. In writing, there are ways to get the message across without spelling it out.

What did I like?

There are no graphic sexual scenes.

The author’s skill in weaving different information and issues naturally into the story, using dialogue and description.

When there is humor, it’s LOL funny.

Would I read Please Don’t Feed the Mayor again? I don’t know. I have a lot of other books to read.

©P. Booher

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Friday Photos–Definitely Winter

Photo Credit: P. Booher
Photo Credit: P. Booher
Photo Credit: P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Make Your Bed

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”.

Make Your Bed, subtitled Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World, by retired U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven is one of those books which is both educational and inspirational for me. In 2014, Admiral McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin. He spoke on ten principles drilled into him as a Navy Seal—principles which helped him through the physically, mentally and emotionally punishing training, and which guided him through other chapters in his life. The book is an expanded version of that commencement address.

Prior to reading the book I heard of Navy Seals, and the rigorous training they undergo. I didn’t know anything beyond that. Make Your Bed gives an insider’s look at some of the details of the training, the reasons why the training is so difficult (one reason: life is difficult) as well as the challenges nature (weather, ocean currents, and sharks) throws in. 

The first principle the admiral gives sounds too simple: Make your bed. However, the author points out that a good start to the day gives a person a sense of organization. There are times when we badly need that sense of organization. Even if the rest of your day is bad, and you couldn’t do anything to change it, when you come home to a made bed, at least that part is right and orderly.

The other nine principles—don’t go it alone; the only thing that matters is the size of your heart; life is not fair—drive on; failure can make you stronger; dare greatly; stand up to bullies; rise to the occasion; give people hope, and never quit—are written just as simply. But all ten guidelines are powerful when we practice them. They will help to change an individual’s life and possibly, the lives around that person.

In presenting the principles, Admiral McRaven gave credit where credit is due, to those individuals who went the extra mile to help him when he needed it in the Seals, and in his later career. He honors the American servicemen, women and their families who sacrificed so much to serve their country. He gives tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, as demonstrated in soldiers or sailors who suffered horrendous, life-threatening injuries, and yet came back and contributed still more to their country. They refused to give up, or give in.

The author writes with humor, humility, and poignancy. The language he chooses is clean.

Make Your Bed can be read in one sitting. Including the acknowledgements and the original commencement address, the book is just 130 pages.

This is one of those books worth reading and re-reading.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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

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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

 

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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

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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

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