Category Archives: Country Ripples

Reflective, inspirational thoughts.

A Surprising Benefit to My “Favorites” Notebook

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Years ago I bought an 11×8½ spiral notebook with a photograph on the cover of a creek running through woods.  I decided that notebook would be my “Favorites” notebook. On the inside I wrote, “Favorites—things I liked when I saw them”. 

My “Favorites” notebook starts off with the poem “Refuge” by Lew Sarett, and is followed with passages by Faith Baldwin from her book Living by Faith, and Robert Traver from Anatomy of a Fisherman. The notebook includes other poems; bits and pieces which stuck out as I read different books and articles; newspaper clippings about nature, history, movie reviews; song lyrics, and people stories—people following their creative muses, and people acting in commendable ways towards people and animals. 

I have a few scrapbooks, too, but those I meant to keep in order, and that order got lost in the shuffle of the years (and never taking the time to sit down and arrange photos properly). Most of the scrapbook pages are faded, and not appealing to work at. Somehow it’s easier and more pleasing to me to keep my favorites notebook going. Plus spiral notebooks are meant to be written in, so I can add my thoughts to something I read. The scrapbook pages are not good for writing on.

I found a surprising benefit to keeping a favorites notebook: when I’m in a bad mood, my nerves are on edge, or my spirits are low, taking the time to look through or work on the notebook improves my disposition, calms my nerves, and raises my spirits.

©P. Booher

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What I’m Enjoying Now

A list of good stuff, of blessings and things which give me pleasure (in no particular order)

  1. a good cup of tea, either hot or iced
  2. the feeling of satisfaction when I mow grass, do yard work or housework, and see how much neater the area looks
  3. reading a good book, either for fun, inspiration, or education
  4. some spiritual victories
  5. growing in the ability to make a writing piece better
  6. seeing the flowers bloom (it was the peony bush, now it’s wild daylilies) By extension, moments enjoying God’s Creation, simply enjoying it, and being lost in those moments.
  7. finding a way to solve a problem, especially one that’s bugged me for awhile
  8. time spent with friends—ones I’ve known, and ones I’m getting to know
  9. being able to pass on some encouragement
  10. a Bible translation I enjoy reading
  11. the car passed inspection
  12. faith to realize that good things happen in each day
  13. knowing God is for me
  14. looking forward to more personal growth, so I can give more to others

©P. Booher

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“Not Today”

Please bear with me today as I work through a nerve-wracking experience. This post is one way to work through it.

In the culture I live in, “not today” has a casual meaning. It’s said if a person knows that some task should be done, and he or she knows it won’t get done. So,  in referring about the situation, the person says “Not today”.

This afternoon I realized a more serious meaning to that phrase. 

I almost had a car accident. Had it happened it would have been bad for me and it would have been my fault. I pulled out in front of a large vehicle as I came from a gas station. When I looked, I didn’t see anyone coming. When I looked again, an SUV was just a few feet away from me. Miraculously, both sets of brakes held, I hurried up and went in my lane, and we (both drivers) could resume going where we were going.

I believe God said, “It’s not her time. Not Today.”

“My times are in your hands…” Psalm 31:15 (NIV)

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Lord, let me not take my life for granted. Help me be ready when it is my time.

Singer Kirk Franklin’s book The Blueprint contained this quote, which dovetails with this meditation:

“There was the car wreck, and the bullet, and the doctor’s diagnosis, and the pink slip at work—these were all things that God spared me from in the past week. Things I wasn’t even aware of. And church is my time to go and be in His presence and thank Him. Even when there are sick, stupid people there who are just as broken as me, church service is my time to be reminded of how good He’s been to me all through the week. Yes, there may have been some bad things that happened, but there were a lot of things that didn’t happen, a lot more bad things that could have happened. So for that I’m going to show my appreciation.”                 Author Unknown

 

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1 (NIV)

P. Booher

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A Movie About Boundaries

One night last week, before falling asleep I saw a “movie scene” flash in my mind’s eye. I’m pretty sure it was my mind’s combination of a post I read, a book I’ve been reading (Cancel the Culture), my thoughts about boundaries, and a sermon I heard.

The scene: A person was walking on a narrow path. The path was bordered by fences on both sides. Beyond the fences people were involved in many activities. A skateboarder appeared in the scene, weaving in and out among the crowd. While I could see some people, others were just shadowy figures in the blackness further away from the fences. I could hear them, laughing and carrying on, but I couldn’t see them. The people I could see were partying—drinking, shooting up drugs, doing activities illegal, immoral, and unethical—anything you could imagine. The people beyond the fences hollered out to the walker. Some people invited the person to join the partying; other people mocked the person for not joining them, calling the walker “old-fashioned” and hurling insults. But the walker kept on the path, not paying any attention to the commotion of the world.

For me, the fences are boundaries I need to keep to live and write the best I can. If I engage in relationships or activities I know are outside of God’s will for me, I will suffer, and eventually that will have an affect on the writing I produce. The boundaries also involve what I read, listen to, and watch; I believe the words I read, the music I listen to, and the movies, tv, or videos I watch affect my mind. They go in there, and tend to stick, especially the negative stuff. I need a certain degree of peace of mind to do creative work, even to want to do creative work, so I need to keep those boundaries intact.  The path means I pay attention to my writing, not what anyone else is writing.  I keep focused on the path. I may ask for help; I take online classes in writing, but I don’t need to find out the success some other writer is enjoying. The people on the other side of the fences represent temptations to envy others’ success, or the voices of the world or in my mind, telling me things I know I need to ignore.

Besides the application specifically for me, I see another application, one for Christians and people in general to consider. Again, I see the fences as boundaries for guidance and protection; the people outside the fences represent the world’s temptations. We live in a time when the boundaries are cast aside by the world and even by some Christians, but we suffer when we ignore God’s boundaries. He put them there not to “cramp our style”, but to give us the greatest amount of joy, happiness and peace possible this side of heaven, with the least amount of heartbreak. Isn’t that something worth thinking about?

©P. Booher

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It Takes Faith–A Word About An Empty Tomb

“…the women…found the stone rolled away  from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”  (Luke 24:1-3) (NIV)

Although I didn’t go to church often when I was growing up, I knew Easter Sunday was the day Christ rose from the grave. I didn’t connect that fact to anything else in my life–it was just a “religious fact”.  Christ came; He died; He rose. The tomb is empty. That’s good–but what’s that mean?

Years later, that empty tomb–that knowledge I have by faith–gives me hope. The empty tomb gives me hope because Christ was (and is) too big to be held by it. If He is too big for that, He is certainly big enough to handle any and all of the problems I have now or ever will have. He is not at all bothered by any of my problems. He is not fretting about what to do. He has it under control!

The empty tomb gives me hope because it means Christ is living. If He is living, I can reach Him through prayer. I have access to all His comfort, all His kindness, all His understanding of me. He can give guidance, ease my fears, cancel my worries.

That is what the empty tomb means to me now. It takes faith.

©P. Booher

 

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“The End Justifies the Means”–Really?

No, it doesn’t. I’ve often heard the phrase, “The end justifies the means”, but how you do something (the means) is as important as what you want to achieve (the end).

For example, if I want to lose weight so I’ll be in better health (a good end), but drink only water and eat only grapefruit to do it (an unhealthy means), the end, no matter how good it is, doesn’t justify the means.

Say I write a book with a good message. I want this message (the end) to get out to a large number of people, so I use an unethical way (the means) of getting on the best-seller list. I gain an unfair advantage over other authors, who may have just as good a message to proclaim, and I damage my character in the process. The end, no matter how many people I reach, does not justify the means.

If I decide to go on social media and gain an astronomical amount of followers quickly to gain the attention of book publishers, I can go to websites and “buy” those followers. I may attract publishers’ attention, but the “means” are unethical. The end doesn’t justify the means.

I wonder how many innocent people over the centuries died because someone or some group believed, “The end justifies the means”.

©P. Booher

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A Thought About Growth

Daylilies Emerging
Crocuses

Yesterday I flicked aside some old leaves and matted dry grass in flower beds. Underneath the leaves and matted grass, the daffodils, crocuses, and tulips are pushing up towards the sun.

Seeing the persistence they display in pushing through the cover of leaves and grass made me wonder: Am I making the same effort to “push” through the “old leaves” of despair and unhealthy beliefs, and the “mat” of perfectionism to grow in my personal life and faith? While God can and does help me, I have a part to play, too. Am I doing my part?

©P. Booher

Daffodils–persistence pays off!

All photos: Author’s collection

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A Mental Get-Away

The other night I took a mental get-away, courtesy of mingling the low-tech (a book) with the high-tech (the internet).

The book is Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails by Don Ian Smith. Don Ian Smith was a pastor, rancher, and teacher who lived most of his life in rural Idaho. He owned a ranch near the Salmon River, and also took hunting trips via horseback into the rugged canyons and mountains of the region.

The author’s love of the area is evident throughout Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails, and his faith in God connects the natural and the spiritual in a way which highlights and enriches this slender volume.

After re-reading portions of the book, I decided it would be fun to go on the internet and see the places the author was familiar with–the Salmon River and its tributaries, the Snake River, the Lemhi Range, and the surrounding country. The pictures online showed what his words already told me: the way the mountain sides and canyon walls slope down to the rushing rivers, the steep grade of the trails, the beauty of the meadows, the imposing rocks and mountains.

I got a chance to “travel” to a place much wilder than the area I call home. I came away from my “travels” feeling enriched and at peace.

For info. on the Salmon River and surrounding country: www.rivers.gov/rivers/salmon-id.php.

©P. Booher

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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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