Category Archives: Country Ripples

Reflective, inspirational thoughts.

Wake Up and Be Amazing

I saw the slogan “Wake Up and Be Amazing” on an item.

For some reason my mind grabbed that phrase and wouldn’t let go. At first, my idea of “amazing” was wake up, jump in the shower, fix my hair in a fabulous hairdo and wear a stunning outfit to work or shopping. Only one problem–nobody ever accused me of having a “fabulous hairdo” or wearing a “stunning outfit”. So I thought, Well, “wake up and be amazing” sounds wonderful, but that’s not me.

Then I thought about an email the lead pastor of my church sent out. He talked about an upcoming day the church set aside to give special recognition to the associate pastors. He said that, “Every day they give 100%. Some days their 100% is more than other days, but they still give 100% every day!”

My mind combined the slogan and the email, and I thought maybe “wake up and be amazing” doesn’t mean the externals of how a person looks. Maybe it means to do what I’m supposed to do whether I feel like it or not, whether I feel “qualified” or not. Maybe “wake up and be amazing” means to do it the best I can, to face whatever life hands me that day as graciously and enthusiastically as I possibly can.

©P. Booher

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What I Am Thankful For Today (on a cold day)

Thank You, God, that–

1. The furnace is working properly.

2. I could get up out of bed and do what I needed and wanted to do (I have experienced a time when I couldn’t do that.)

3. The car started and worked fine as I went on errands.

4.We have running water (it didn’t freeze overnight).

5. I had fun throwing peanuts outside for the blue jays, squirrels, and whomever wants them.

6. It was cold, but the roads were fine.

7. I enjoy going to the local store where I buy bird food and peanuts. The people are friendly and helpful, and always willing to take purchases to the car.

8. I’m having fun writing this piece!

9. The gift of writing You gave me keeps growing and expanding as I learn more and write more. I think it will continue to be an ever-expanding gift. That is a humbling, exciting, and challenging idea.

10. I have a warm place to sleep tonight.

11. I have enough, for tonight.

12. Finally, God, I thank You that You are here; You are interested; You care. You are interested and You care even for people who don’t care about You.

©P. Booher

“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:28) NIV

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Challenges to Writing

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For the past five or six years I’ve become aware of the increasing importance writing is having in my life. Writing used to be an activity I did when the yearning was too strong to ignore. Now my writing is demanding an everyday, disciplined approach. Being a person who never followed the same schedule every day (at work and at home), this is a challenge for me–one I’m still working on. I’m confident that problem can be handled with some thought and research, as I read how other writers handle such a problem.

The other challenge is much darker, as it tries to sow seeds of doubt and despair. This slides into my mind in moments when my guard is down, after I watched, heard, or read some negative news item. The challenge is best expressed as, “Why bother to write when the news is so bad? What good will your writing do?”

I used to let such questions keep me from writing. Now, I take my cue from three ideas.

One comes from the example of the Apostle Paul. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote some of the New Testament books of the Bible (Philippians is one that comes to mind) while he was in a Roman dungeon, chained to a guard. He didn’t have the power to change his circumstances, yet he still wrote, convinced of the importance of his message and the necessity of getting it out.

Two is some words given to me several years ago in a prayer meeting. The pastor asked those who had the gift of exhortation to walk among those of us attending, and to speak to whomever needed spoken to. A husband and wife came up to me and said, “The Lord wants us to tell you: “You are too reticent. You have things to say. You need to say them.”

Three is the very fact that there is opposition means that it is important to go on, to not quit, no matter how negative things get.

©P. Booher

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Long-Overdue Recognition

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One interesting consequence of the pandemic is the way it reversed public images about people who work in the service industries–retail, health-care, maintenance, custodial, repair, and customer service fields. For years, people who worked in these fields were often looked down on or otherwise treated poorly, by either employers, customers, or both. Wages tended to be on the lower end of the scale, with few benefits such as sick-pay or health insurance. Because many of those jobs have either a physical component to them (such as moving heavy items, being on your feet all day, etc.) or a social component (coming in contact with the public means running the risk of colds, etc.) no sick-pay or health insurance is a major problem. Bonuses were unknown.

Then came COVID-19. Suddenly people working in those areas discovered that the media and the public regarded them as heroes. They were doing the same jobs they had always done, but in the eyes of the public the value of those jobs and the people who did them shot upward.

Having worked in the retail field for years, mainly as cashier or sales clerk, I am surprised and pleased at this image change. I am surprised; I never expected it to come about. I am pleased, because it’s long overdue!

Consider that “service industries” are just that–people serving other people, whether the employees are ringing up sales behind a cash register, repairing a car engine, cleaning a bathroom, taking an order over the phone, or bathing a patient. Have you ever noticed people aren’t always nice to be around, even when a person is trying to help them? Sometimes people can be impatient, rude, unkind, or even belligerent.

That’s the reason I believe the people doing the everyday, routine, sometimes dirty work of serving other people deserve special recognition, and why I’m glad they are finally getting it, at least in small part. It’s not easy to be a servant.

©P. Booher

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Do One More Thing

There are days I struggle with lack of motivation. Lately, however, a phrase keeps popping up in my head: “Do one more thing”. I think this is my mind’s combination of a quote from newscaster/explorer Lowell Thomas, “Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can”, and an article from literary agent Steve Laube’s blog. The article is titled, “The Devil is in the Procrastination”. You can find the article here: https://stevelaube.com/the-devil-is-in-the-procrastination/.

Regardless of the source, that four-word phrase, “Do one more thing” helps me accomplish a little more and decrease the stress in my life.

Its practical uses are endless: from filling the tea kettle before I go to bed so the next morning goes easier; to finding one more picture for a blog post; to organizing one more manila envelope of papers, to taking time to check the car’s windshield wiper fluid level (not good to run out while I’m out and about on a wet or snowy day!)

If I told myself “I need to do this, this, this, and this after I do that” it would be self-defeating. But mentally and emotionally I can handle, “Do one more thing”.

©P. Booher

Resources: I consider Steve Laube’s blog excellent for beginning and established writers. He and his team have much info. to share on writing and publishing. (www.stevelaube.com).

Newscaster/author/explorer Lowell Thomas packed a lot of adventure into one life. If you’d like to find out more, you can go to: https://britannica.com/biography/Lowell-Thomas.

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This New Year Deserves Hope

I thought about all the days ahead in the year, fresh and new. For years, people regarded the new year with hope. They looked for improvement in their lives, countries, and the world. After the upheaval of 2020, people may regard 2021 with more apprehension.

But 2021 deserves hope. Even if it isn’t the glittering, shiny-bright hope of past years in which we (I) thought circumstances would instantly be better with the changing of the date, there is hope. There is hope that this year, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, if 2020 was 1, maybe 2021 will be a 3, or a 4, or maybe higher. Perhaps not a 10, but it doesn’t have to be a 1, either.

How can I say that? Consider what we saw last year: people picking up groceries or needed medicine for family, friends, neighbors who couldn’t go out; people organizing food drives or drives for personal goods for those hard-hit by the pandemic, financially or otherwise; musicians who ordinarily would perform in person playing online to raise people’s spirits; artists painting murals in towns; people literally going out of their way to help others. People connected with their families more, perhaps learning new technology to do so; parents, teachers and school districts navigated regulations and technology to enable students to learn; people merged necessity and creativity to do what needed to be done. People went outside in larger numbers, finding the benefits and joys of doing so; they took up new hobbies; they discovered resilience they didn’t know they had. People tried hard to make the circumstances better.

Out of the turbulence of 2020 came clarity—not only with family and what really matters, but also with hidden problems that came to light in large and small areas. When problems are in the light, they can be dealt with. On a small, personal scale, I see character flaws that need worked on. I can’t be content with sweeping them under the rug anymore. Those flaws affect all areas of my life. If I can’t take care of them entirely, I can put up a fight, and make progress. I know I have unhealthy thinking patterns; I am trusting that with God’s help, those will be changed. I have hope.

If each person does what he or she can every day to make the world a better place, even a little thing, such as holding the door open for someone struggling with packages, or “paying it forward” in some way, 2021 has hope.

“Treat others as you want them to treat you.” The Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12 (CEV)

©P. Booher

 

 

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Christmas Reflections

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Jesus,

I stand in awe that You chose to leave heaven and voluntarily give up the prerogatives You had. You chose to come to earth as a helpless baby. I believe You were glad to do it, because You love us so much. You would rather do that and give us the chance and the choice to live eternally with You, than see heaven without us. In giving up much, You gave us much. Thank You.

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,…” Galatians 4:4 (KJV)

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

“Christ Jesus…made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men…” Philippians 2:5-7 (KJV)

©P. Booher

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What Am I Focusing On?

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Today a picture flashed in my mind. It was similar to a dream, but I was wide-awake. In the picture I was standing on a hill, one high enough to gain altitude over everything else. I could see two different ways.
Those ways represented different attitudes in my life. Those attitudes produced different results.

In the first view I saw all the places I wanted to go and never went, the “good-paying” job I wanted, and never got, the experiences I used to envision myself having and never having them. When I looked that way I felt bitterness and a corrosive resentment boil up inside.

Then I turned to look at the second view. There I saw all the places I did go to (like Niagara Falls!); all the books and stories I’ve read; all the jobs I had, the relationships and what I learned on the jobs; all the experiences I’ve had, and what I gained from them. As I looked that way I felt rich. I had no reason to feel bitter or resentful.

The lesson from the picture in my mind is plain to me: my feelings depend on what I focus on. I can look one way and see what I didn’t get, or didn’t have, and be angry or in despair; I can look the other way and see what I got, and what I have, and be grateful and hopeful.

What am I focusing on?

What are you focusing on?

©P. Booher

Niagara Falls Photo Credit: Author

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Christmas, 2020–What’s Changed, What Hasn’t Changed

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This Christmas will be different from all other years for many people. If you are accustomed to having a lot of family or friends over, you may be re-thinking that tradition. People who can are opting for virtual get-togethers; people without computers or internet access will find other ways to keep in touch. As has been the case since March or so, flexibility is key. Maybe you can’t have it exactly the way you’d like, but if you keep an open mind, options may appear that you never saw before.

The way we celebrate and the traditions we have are changing before our eyes, that’s for sure.

What hasn’t changed??

Consider this: the reason for Christmas (the Mass of Christ) hasn’t changed at all. Christmas wasn’t thought up by Santa Claus or retailers; Christmas was God’s idea. Christmas is still the birth of the Baby Jesus, God Who came to Earth because He loved people so much. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name, Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23, KJV)

Maybe this is the year when we focus less on the way we celebrate and more on the why we celebrate.

©P. Booher

Author’s Note: If you have lost a loved one this year, especially due to COVID-19, please accept my sympathies.
No words can be enough, but I pray you will allow God to bring you comfort.

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What I Am Enjoying Now

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As fall ends and winter begins, what am I enjoying now?

  1. The smell of fallen leaves as my boots crunch through them
  2. Feeding the birds
  3. Reading notes friends send with Christmas cards
  4. Making plans to prune bushes and trees when it’s not too cold or snowy (we have a crab apple tree whose branches are rubbing against one another)
  5. Anticipating a new, better job, one more in line with my mental and physical capabilities
  6. Reading
  7. Learning more about writing
  8. Looking forward to getting more control over my emotions with God’s help
  9. Anticipation of spiritual victories with God’s help
  10. Remembering how God met needs this year (for one–a car repair that could’ve cost $1,000 cost just $200)
  11. Seeing some personal growth as I look back over the year
  12. Writing blog pieces! 🙂

©P. Booher

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