Category Archives: Country Ripples

Reflective, inspirational thoughts.

Simple Pleasures

lemon iced tea with lemon fruits

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One thing I enjoyed doing (before COVID-19, that is) is eating out at restaurants. I didn’t do it often; if I ate out ten times a year, that was a lot. When I was growing up, eating out (at a restaurant where you sat down and were waited on) was considered a luxury, a rare treat. I still have that mindset and these days, that’s a bonus. I never got used to eating out regularly, so not being able to isn’t a big deal.

One reason I liked eating out is ordering a glass of ice tea with a slice of lemon. Somehow that seemed like a bit of “luxurious living”.

Some weeks ago the local grocery store offered lemons on sale, fifty cents each. I bought two, and sliced them to decorate my ice tea with their bright color and add tangy flavor to my beverage. Simple pleasure!

Another pleasure is spending time talking to a friend over the phone. Every now and then a friend I used to work with calls me, and we sit and talk for a half-hour or more, catching up with each other.

Occasionally that same friend and I have a “girls’ day” out. Our energy levels are about the same, so we can agree on how long to be out, and when it’s time to call it a day and go home. As an online friend commented, those times are “priceless”!

P. Booher

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Love is—

People have many different ideas about love. I used to think of it as a progression: you like someone, then you love someone. Other people think of “love at first sight”. Still others think love is weak, powerless, to be despised, a wimpy sort of emotion.

Check out this definition of love:

Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.

It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do.

Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.

Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.

Love never fails!

(I Corinthians 13:4-8, Contemporary English Version of the Bible)

Something I need to think about along with the definition of love:

“…God is love”.  (I John 4:8, NIV)      NIV–New International Version

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)

“We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, NIV)

 

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

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What Money Can’t Do

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COVID-19 brought a lot of change to the world. As I read different headlines from around the world, I thought about the attention given to money and nations’ economies. I thought about the things money can’t do, because contrary to what the world in general thinks, money has its limits.

  1. Money can’t automatically protect a person from getting sick. Many celebrities said they were diagnosed with COVID-19. Yes, money certainly helps pay the bills after a person gets sick, but money conveys no physical immunity to a person.
  2. Money can’t buy security (related to #1). Money can pay security guards, but they can’t do anything to give a person inward security—that possession that lasts despite circumstances.
  3. Money can’t buy patience. Patience is one virtue we all need in these days of waiting in longer lines, waiting on the phone or on a chat line for a technician, waiting to see family or friends, waiting for test results, waiting to get better or for a loved one to get better. Who can buy patience at a store? No one, not even the richest man on earth.
  4. Money can’t buy kindness and caring. I have a friend who lives about 30 minutes away. She was willing to do shopping for my mother and I and leave the items on the porch. We didn’t need her to do that, but I was touched that she was willing to do so. Someone who prefers to remain anonymous sent me a $50 gift card. Money can’t buy kindness; it has to come from the heart.
  5. Money can’t buy simple joys. By simple joys, I mean seeing a sunrise or sunset that takes your breath away, or looking up at the summer night-time sky and marveling at all the stars you can see. Nature’s delights didn’t come by money, so no matter how low your bank account is, or how much in debt you are, you can still enjoy them.
  6. Money can’t buy overall health. It can buy doctors’ time, and supplies, and health insurance. For instance, I’ve been told I have arthritis in different places. I left the  retail job I had because it was difficult to contend with health issues and work too. I was making more money per hour than I’d ever made. Even if I made twice that amount, if my knee, my wrist, or my back started to hurt, trust me—I’d feel it—no matter how much money I made.
  7. Money can’t buy dependability. Dependability is in a person’s character. Money can’t buy the inner qualities of a person. The person either has it or not.

The next time I start thinking money is everything, I’ll read my list and remember money is a tool. It can do a lot, and provide for a lot, but there’s a lot it can’t do.

©P. Booher

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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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Lesson I’m Learning: Circumstances Can’t Be Used to See God

For some reason, I used to think of God through the circumstances of my life. For example, in school I was teased a lot. Being a bit too sensitive for my own good, I took the teasing and non-invites to school dances and events as rejection. It was easy for me to think that if my peers were rejecting me, God was rejecting me too—for what, I couldn’t figure out.

Years later, I realize that circumstances and what people do or don’t do are poor ways of looking at God. If you try it, bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred, and prejudice will lodge in you and eat away at you. Throw in some depression and a lot of fear as well, and you’ll see why viewing God through the circumstances around you is an unwise, unhealthy choice.

Now, God’s grace enables me to think of Him through the lens of His Word—the only sure way to see and think of Him. Circumstances make shaky ground for anyone to pin a thought or belief on; God and His Word are stable, and solid. Circumstances can change quickly; God doesn’t change. As the Bible says, “…the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17b, KJV)

Tonight, by God’s grace, I know God doesn’t reject me. That false belief is washed away by verses such as: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16, NIV) Another verse: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)

If you feel as though you need more stability in your life, consider looking into God’s Word. Ask Him for help. He’ll be glad you asked!

Further resources: God’s attributes: I Corinthians 13:4-8; God’s love as shown by Christ’s death: Romans 5:6-11

©P. Booher

 

 

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Keeping a Blessings Journal

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“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”(Philippians 4:8, KJV)

Many times in the Old and New Testaments God urges (and sometimes commands, as in Joshua 4:5-7) us to remember His blessings and what He has done. King David had many low moments, but came out of them by remembering God’s mercies and blessings to him and Israel. Remembering how God acted in the past gave David renewed faith and courage for the challenges ahead.

Some years ago I began keeping a blessings journal. I bought a 4″x6″ notebook and recorded blessings—like the time I was driving and almost caused an accident (the “almost” is the blessing part), the time I was standing outside a local store, waiting to cross the road, when I felt something brush the back of my leg. I thought it was a bug. Instead, it was the tail fin of a 1960’s-era car! I could have been run over! But I wasn’t hurt at all. I wrote about other events that “almost” happened and would have been disastrous, but they didn’t happen—blessings to me.

I wrote about things that did happen, like getting together with friends. Just last fall two of my friends and I went to a nature reserve and walked on one of the trails. We meandered around, listening to the birds, watching the fish in the pond, and enjoying each other’s company. Then we went to a restaurant to eat. My friends didn’t realize it, but that day was the day before my birthday. I knew I’d be working on my birthday, so I hadn’t planned anything, but just being with my friends was celebration enough.

I keep my little journal in my purse. I look at it when I have a few spare moments—on break at work, or even right before I go to bed. It reminds me of the many times God has blessed me. Taking just a few minutes to reflect on God’s goodness to me helps me combat worry and anxiety. God does not change; He has helped me before, He can help me again.

Resources: Psalm 63 and Psalm 142, among the many psalms David wrote, are especially timely.

©P. Booher

 

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Learning from Crocuses

My last post, here, showed a few crocuses blooming. I saw the crocuses blooming, and the number of flowers surprised me. I counted around thirty—way more than the number of actual plants. But the plants didn’t get there by themselves. My mother and I planted them.

As a developing writer I am tempted to envy those writers who are better, more accomplished and more successful than me.

Seeing the crocuses blooming reminded me that it takes work to get success. Success doesn’t happen overnight or by itself. It requires investing time, effort, and depending on the venture, money and a willingness to take risks.

When envy starts to show its face I ask myself: Have I put in hours to learn craft, new technology, and marketing? Am I doing all I can to grow? These questions foil envy in its tracks.

©P. Booher

 

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What I Want More of in My Life This Year

I know, I know–we are almost through February, and I’m still thinking of New Year’s resolutions! What can I say–it takes me awhile to gather up my thoughts.

Here’s my list:

  1. to be more thoughtful of others
  2. to show more concern for others without being judgmental
  3. humility
  4. maturity, especially in more control over my emotions
  5. writing, in quantity and quality
  6. enjoy the outdoors more
  7. exercise (whether stretching, doing yard work or housework, or walking)
  8. resilience
  9. being intentional
  10. confidence
  11. a thicker skin, to handle criticism better, especially of my writing

If a store could hand these out, I’d be first in line! 🙂 As it is, since God is the only One Who can help, I’ll add “more prayer” to this list and see what God does.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

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A Different View of Accomplishments

pen calendar to do checklist

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My idea of a to-do list used to be like the one pictured above. Sometimes it still is. I still write a list, and some days I accomplish quite a few items. Most of the time the items on the to-do list spill over into the next day, or even the next week—or two.

In the past year or so my idea of accomplishments changed. It broadened to include not only things you see on a list, but also things you can’t see, like victories over discouraging  thoughts and worries. Recently I engaged in a fencing match with the thought, “Your life isn’t worth much.”  You can read about that battle here. Last week or so I boxed with the impression, “You’ve fumbled badly in your work, your finances, and every area of your life.” Then a picture flashed through my mind of falling flat on my face. Not something to give a person confidence, is it?
I prayed, and once again, Faith came to my rescue, saying that I haven’t fumbled badly, and even if I have, God can and is willing to help me. I’m not alone.

These interior victories show me the most meaningful accomplishments aren’t ones you can cross off a piece of paper. They are ones achieved inside you.

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Photo Credit: Micaela Parente, Unsplash

Resources:

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24, KJV)

“Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 60:12, KJV)

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

 

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A Life-long Learner

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Years ago a family member said to me, “You just want to be a professional student!” He didn’t say it in a complimentary way.

While I have an idea why the person said that (getting a formal education costs a lot, and you can never be sure you’ll get a job that makes that education worthwhile) his statement still hurt my feelings. The person was right, though. I enjoy learning facts—can’t help it. When I was eight or nine years old I used to sit and leaf through a book from our big set of encyclopedias, or even get lost in the dictionary. Now I sit in front of a computer and take online courses in writing; I get lost on the internet reading articles on diverse subjects such as Niagara Falls, the story behind the 1997 movie “Titanic”, and service dogs. It’s all good, and it’s all fun for me. It makes the little gray cells in my brain jump up and down for joy.

My family member’s comment aside, writing and other activities in life show me it’s valuable to have the mindset of a “professional student”.  I need to be humble enough to be teachable. I need discipline to keep myself learning. I don’t think it’s possible to improve in writing, or in a lot of other endeavors, without that type of mindset.  I’ve found an unexpected benefit of such a mindset is it adds richness to life. You get to see how the process of learning affects you, you figure out ways to learn things you need to know that you may not be naturally proficient at, and you see how facts are intertwined.  Yes, being a professional student costs, but the rewards are without measure!

©P. Booher

 

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