Category Archives: Country Ripples

Reflective, inspirational thoughts.

What I’ve Been Enjoying Lately

Up Among the Trees

In this past week of November, I’ve been enjoying:

  1. The view from the back windows–the yellow maples have been in their glory, and the yellow leaves against the black or grey trunks make a stunning display.
  2. Being able to rake leaves! After spending a good part of a beautiful Saturday inside, I went out in the back yard late in the afternoon to rake leaves. I got to spend an hour or so getting much-needed exercise and enjoying the beauty of those same maple trees mentioned above. I was treated to some musical accompaniment by the birds. I heard a faint “cheep-cheep” (perhaps a chipping sparrow?), followed by the slightly louder cries of a cardinal and a nuthatch.
  3. Taking out the garbage! Ok, I know that sounds plain weird. Hear me out: we have lived in this house over 40 years. We’ve accumulated a lot through the years, some of which we don’t or can’t use. We are either gathering items to donate, or throwing things out. I took out garbage and got rid of things that hung around far too long. Taking out the garbage is progress! 🙂

©P. Booher

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Moments of Quiet Satisfaction

I took time out one evening to “scratch an itch” and practice drawing. Two or three weeks before I picked a plant, an ordinary “weed”, from the driveway and put it in a vase of water, intending to try my hand at sketching it “soon”. By the time “soon” came, the leaves were slowly turning brown but the largest ones were green and the tiny flowers on top pinkish-purple, so the plant still served nicely as a model. I dug out my sketch pad and after some false starts, managed to make a decent (to me) representation of the plant.

Wanting to practice more, I burrowed around my tote box of art supplies and found the workbook for beginning artists. Using the sketches in the workbook for ideas, I drew some more. I practiced for maybe a half-hour to an hour. When it was time to put away the supplies, I was surprised at the sense of quiet satisfaction I experienced inside. It seemed to blanket my nerves in relaxation.

One Saturday not long after that, my mother and I had what I call a “packing party”. We gathered items we wanted to donate, and then packed them in boxes I’d collected previously. This was a little project we’d talked about doing for awhile, but never got around to it until that Saturday. As I sat there surveying the boxes packed and ready to go, I noticed that quiet sense of satisfaction flooding my soul once again.

I notice these moments came during times of outward focus–periods of creativity and working to benefit others.

In this year of so much upheaval, have you noticed any times of quiet satisfaction–times of relaxation for your nerves–and if so, when did they come?

P. Booher

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What I Am Enjoying Now

Every now and then I make a list of things I enjoy. In a world where it’s too easy to see the negative, it’s good for my mental health to take note of what I find enjoyable.

What’s that list look like now?

Well, here it is–

  • The beautiful green and yellow leaves of butternut trees and the wild cherry trees. The yellow leaves look almost gold when the sun shines on them, and the gold shimmers in the breeze.
  • The songs and calls of the birds which live around here, especially the chickadees, cardinals, goldfinches, thrushes, and titmice, but even the harsh calls of the blue jays and crows.
  • Activities to look forward to–if the Lord permits, I’ve got more to write, more to do. I remember a period when I couldn’t think of anything which I was looking forward to. Now I can, and that’s a blessing.
  • Victories ahead, mentally and spiritually. I’ve won some battles, with God’s help, and I’ve lost some, when I didn’t ask for help or wasn’t aware I could ask for help. I know there are other battles ahead; I also know there are more victories ahead, large and small.
  • Watching Abby the cat chase her tail. That’s always fun to watch. Sometimes she does catch it, briefly, but it always manages to slip away.

Do you have a list you keep in mind?

P. Booher

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Thankful for the Ability to Communicate

The ability to communicate is one of those gifts I tend to take for granted. To keep in touch with friends and family near or far makes life richer and more interesting. Internet access allows me to receive information and to exchange views with people thousands of miles away.

Yet I forget that all this is not a foregone conclusion. Communication processes, whether by picking up a pen and writing words on paper or tapping buttons on a keyboard, are complicated. Everything along the way must work right and in order, whether it’s my physical processes beginning with my brain that tells my nerves and muscles what to do, or electrical connections all along the line, from my computer to the outside world.
That’s what I take for granted, and I need to remind myself not to.

The ability to communicate with words is part of what separates human beings from animals. The loss of that ability, due to disease or accidents, can quickly demoralize people since they can no longer connect with other people.  A cousin of mine was afflicted with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).  When she could no longer speak, she learned to use a machine which allowed her to communicate. When the muscle and nerve strength in her hands and fingers was gone, she lost that precious ability to communicate. I think that was when she gave up. Not long after, she died.

Today, amidst all the discord in the world, true communication is more important, and threatened, than ever. To me, the word “communication” carries with it a notion of one person reaching out to relate in a respectful way to another person or group of people. If you can’t see eye to eye, you can agree to disagree–no harm done, respecting the right of the other person to have his or her own opinion. When done this way, communication enhances relationships between people, whether in person or online. Communication done in that manner is truly something to be thankful for.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29 (KJV)

©P. Booher

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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

abundance bank banking banknotes

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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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