Category Archives: Life Issues

Friday “Walks”–The Power of Words, Part II

Photo Credit: P. Booher

Words have such power! As creative as words can be (see The Power of Words, Part I, here,) they can be equally destructive. I think we often underestimate that destructive power. We repeat the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That saying is so untrue; it goes against the reality of the power of words.

Consider that words are important players in relationships. Think of it: a husband puts his wife’s family down; a wife belittles her husband’s ability to provide for the family; a father tells his son he will never amount to anything. The words used and the tone in which they are said, are like an invisible nuclear blast detonated in a person’s spirit. The fallout can last a long time.

What are my words like? Are they untrue, rude, thoughtless, insulting put-downs? Are they filled with the venom of gossip? Do they carry the hot coals of destruction?

Some Scriptures: Matthew 5:22, Ephesians 4:25, 29, 31, Ephesians 5:4, Philippians 2:14, Colossians 3:19, 21, and James 3:5,6

©P. Booher

 

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Friday “Walks”–The Reason for Hope

Photo Credit: P. Booher

May is National Mental Health Month here in the US, and a big part of mental health is hope. If a person has hope, he or she can keep going, despite what life throws at them. Recently I heard of a person who lost the battle for life because the person lost hope.

I need to remember that even when I don’t feel hopeful, the fact is Hope still lives. Despite my feelings or tragic events around the world, there is Hope. How can I write that? Consider Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. Christmas is a day observed as the day Jesus Christ, the Savior, stepped into human flesh. Good Friday is observed as the day Christ gave His life to act as the Savior for us. Easter is celebrated as the day of Christ’s resurrection, and the day of the empty tomb. Because there was a resurrection and there is an empty tomb, there is still Hope. There are possibilities to overcome problems–possibilities I am not yet aware of, because Hope lives.

You see, ultimately Hope doesn’t depend on my feelings; Hope is found in Jesus, because He lives and cares.

If you have lost hope in your life, I urge you to see someone who can give you an objective perspective, because if you have lost hope you are seeing only one side, the darker side filled with problems. Do NOT stay alone behind the walls of problems. Better yet, I urge you to see a pastor, counselor, or friend who can encourage you and point you to Jesus Christ. He is definitely NOT an impersonal, far away, unreachable Being who does not care whether you live or die; you have tremendous value to Him. He is as close as your cry for help and mercy. Crying out to God opens up possibilities you don’t know are there.

Some Scriptures: Hebrews 4:14-16, Romans 15:13, John 3:16, Titus 3:4,5, Psalm 34:4, Psalm 33:20-22, Psalm 61:1,2, Psalm 103:13, Psalm 139:7-16, Psalm 142, Deuteronomy 30:15

I also want to list some other resources:

1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (in the U.S.): 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting: Talk 741741. Website: suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Note: the 3-digit dialing code 988 which routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be available to everyone in the U.S. July 16, 2022. Currently it is available in some areas. Starting July 16, 2022 it will be available to everyone in the U.S.

2. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website: afsp.org

3. In Australia: www.beyondblue.org.au

4. In the United Kingdom: www.nhs.uk

5. In South Africa: www.sadag.org

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Needed: Showing, Not Just Telling

Years ago, a person I know worked at a small business in a small town. The owner and employee had attended the same Sunday school and church decades before. The owner professed Christianity and was active in a Christian businessmen’s association. He had also gone on short-term mission trips.

One night, it was the employee’s turn to close the store. Besides turning out the lights and locking up, her duties in closing the store meant taking the deposit over to the bank across the street, and putting the deposit in the night deposit box.

The next morning, the employee was shocked when the owner called, demanding to know where his money was. The employee said she had put the money in the chute. The owner said the bank couldn’t find the money. The employee was hurt that the owner would think she had stolen his money, particularly since the owner had known her for years. It turned out that there was a new teller at the bank, and she had not reached far enough down the chute to get the bag. The owner never apologized to the employee.

While the owner talked about Christ in his activities outside the business, he didn’t show Christ in his business, at least, not on that occasion. What an impact it would have had on that employee if the business owner had refrained from  jumping to conclusions, or, if he had at least apologized to the employee. As it was, the employee was unjustly accused, and she couldn’t take the owner’s Christian witness seriously. The owner didn’t realize the place his Christianity was most on display was not on the mission trips, but right there in his store, among employees, customers, sales representatives, and delivery people. They were the people most affected by the way his Christianity was lived out.

Perhaps you think I am being a little harsh on the business owner. Consider this: the work environment is where most people spend a good portion of their day. Work is also the source of a lot of stress. People working for a business owner who brings Jesus to work won’t even experience some of that stress, because Jesus is the Source of peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control… (see the New Testament book of Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22). The business owner acts with those qualities, because Jesus is working inside of him or her.

For more information on faith at work, check out the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics site: tifwe.org

©P. Booher

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Friday “Walks”–Believing A Lie

Photo Credit: P. Booher

Years ago I was facing a health problem. My pastor visited me at the hospital. He prayed for me, and after he left, I sensed God’s Presence in the room. In my mind, the Lord asked, “Do you want Me to heal you?” There was no doubt in my mind that He could. However, in the next instant the thought came that, “Oh, I can take care of this myself. I’m helping God because then He will have more power for other needs.” So I told the Lord, “No, I can do it myself”.

I still have the problem, and I regret not letting God take care of it there and then. If I had told Him “Yes”, I believe it would have resulted in a much bigger blessing than just a physical healing. 

I’m not sure how I got the thought that if God helped me, He would have less power at His disposal. That was a lie. Consider this: God is BIG. He created the heavens and the earth. I thought that by healing me, His power would be diminished??? REALLY???

God has no limits, except those He puts on Himself. 

Moral of the story? When God offers you a blessing, take it!

Some Scriptures for you (and me) to consider: Genesis 1, Job 38, 39, 40, Ps.8:3, Isaiah 40:12-29.

©P. Booher

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The Blessing and Power of Self-Control

One day I read a devotion on self-control, and thought about how much of a blessing and a power that is. The  devotion focused on three people—David, Nabal, and Nabal’s wife, Abigail. Their story is found in the Old Testament book of I Samuel 25:1-35—a passage in the Bible which has as much drama and action as any movie.

David and the men with him were on the run from King Saul and his army. At a time when possessing many animals meant wealth, Nabal was a wealthy man, having thousands of sheep and goats. David did the shepherds a favor by protecting them and the animals from thieves. But when David and his men requested food from Nabal, his refusal was full of contempt. Incensed at his reply, David led his men out to kill Nabal and his household.

Hearing of the impending danger, Abigail, rather than wringing her hands and wondering what to do, got busy. She loaded food for David and his men onto donkeys and sent them ahead. Then she rode out to meet David. When Abigail met David, she respected him by getting off her donkey and bowing down before him (which both women and men did in that culture to show respect to someone).  She told him she had not known of the conversation between his messengers and Nabal. She reminded him that her husband was known throughout the countryside for being unreasonable and surly. Abigail honored David by telling him she knew he would be king of Israel in God’s timing. (She knew that Samuel the prophet had already anointed David as king some time before.)

The gift of provisions, but more than that, the self-control Abigail demonstrated enabled David to regain his self-control. It prevented him from killing many innocent people. The power of self-control blessed many people that day. It leads me to the question: If I show self-control today, how many people will be blessed? What situations will be made better than they might have been? I do have power to exercise control over my impulses.

©P. Booher

Author’s Note: I need to give credit where credit is due: the inspiration for this post came from a devotion written by Pastor Seth McClymonds.

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God, Chronic Pain, and Me

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) (This verse restates the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy 31:6)

Several years ago a physical therapist, following an examination, told me I could have spinal stenosis. About three years ago my left knee complained loudly, and after a couple doctor’s visits I was diagnosed with poly-arthritis in multiple sites. Depression jumped on the bandwagon, as I wrote about here.

When I first read the above Scripture, it sounded like marriage vows. The difference is that although a husband or wife may leave the spouse, God says He will never leave. While I’ve never been married, the above verse gives me comfort in my struggles with chronic pain. I am limited in what pain-killers I can use. When my back starts hurting, or my knee or my wrist start complaining, it’s not long before I get grumpy, irritable, anxious, and depressed. When you throw in that some days my pain is all I can think of, and other days I hardly notice it, and I can’t predict when days will be good or not good—well, that would put stress on any marriage. But God stands by me, nevertheless. I may not be as sensitive to His Presence as I should be, but all I have to do is read the above verse to realize He isn’t going anywhere. He is not going to leave me, even if I am so grumpy I could bite my own head off, let alone anyone else’s! 🙂

It may be that part of God’s faithfulness is realizing blessings hidden in chronic pain. “Blessings???” you say. “How can there be blessings in something so painful, so unpredictable?” Consider these:

  1. Chronic pain forces me to look at Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for me as the source of my feelings of self-worth. I sure can’t get it from the amount of work I get done, because there are days when I can’t do much!
  2. I am gaining empathy for other people, who are in pain, depressed, or anxious. I know what it’s like, and it’s hard.
  3. It forces me to be glad for the small amount I can get done—if my right wrist is bothering me (I’m right-handed), instead of a complete letter to a friend, maybe I get three paragraphs written. Instead of an hour or two on the computer, maybe I can get fifteen or twenty minutes in.
  4. This goes along with #1 and #3: it’s an effective way of wearing down perfectionism: I’m hurting too much physically to beat myself up emotionally or mentally.

So, yes, there are blessings even in something so unwanted as chronic pain. I think the greatest blessing of all is simply knowing God’s faithfulness in the middle of it all.

Another Scripture to consider is: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35, 37, 38

©P. Booher

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Contending With the “Gloomies”

This fall I had an early attack of the “gloomies”—a blue mood that makes a person lose incentive for doing anything. Back in October my area got four or five days in a row of cloudy, gloomy weather. I wondered if the sun lost our location coordinates! In addition to that, we put up thick plastic storm windows earlier this year. The gray weather, combined with my inability to see outside, brought on the dreaded “gloomies”.

This year I found a welcome difference in my perspective—the realization that the gloomies can be fought. The gloomies are here, but it’s not the end of the world. My mood will change. It is a battle, and yes, I have to push myself, but I don’t have to lay down and take it. I have weapons; I just have to take them up and use them.

What weapons?

The most powerful weapon is to praise God, especially when I don’t feel like it. Praising God takes my focus off my blue mood and switches it to God. I’ve found that praising God clears my head and calms my heart.

While I’m doing that, I can also:

  1. Go outside. Yep, right out into the gloom. It’s challenging the hold the gloom has on my mood. I pick up twigs, or feed the birds, or just look at the patterns of the bark on the trees. Nature has so much variety and detail to see. Nature reflects its Creator in some aspects, and I can gain insights, if I get myself out there and look.
  2. Write something–a letter, a blog post, a reflection on a book I read, or revise a piece I already wrote.
  3. Listen to music.
  4. Color or draw.
  5. Get rid of clutter. As I clean up the material clutter, the mental/emotional clutter goes too.
  6. A new weapon this year, courtesy of fellow blogger/photographer Gary Fultz, is cooking new recipes.
  7. Add more light inside. I dug through some Christmas decorations and found two sets of candelabras—plastic “candles” that you put four-or-seven-watt bulbs in. After the bulbs warm up, they twinkle. It makes the room more cheerful-looking. Nowadays, the LED candelabras are popular, but this is what we have, and it fills the purpose.
  8. Decorate the plastic storm windows. Within two days of putting up the plastic, I missed being able to look outside. It was a feeling akin to homesickness; I couldn’t believe it bothered me so much. So I taped pictures of flowers I had colored onto some of the inner storm windows. That way, when I open the curtains or drapes, I see something beautiful, not the opaque plastic. Childish? Perhaps, but it lifts my spirits.
  9. Change interior decorations. My mother and I both worked at stores which sold candles, artificial flowers, and ornamental items. Over the years we amassed quite a variety. Soon after the gloomies hit, I decided to change one little corner near the computer. I rummaged around the candles until I found a beautiful mint green candle. I paired it with a miniature artificial plant and put them on the stand in the corner. All this may sound like much ado about nothing, but I’ve read that the brain gets used to the furniture and decoration arrangements, and gets in a “rut”. Changing the way a room looks gives the brain a bit of a jolt, and gives a lift to the spirits.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys

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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”.

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys, by Mike Bechtle, is a book I would have liked to have read years ago. That would have saved me considerable frustration, with myself and with others. It explains some things I’ve wondered about for a long time (like why I can’t come up with a quick reply in a conversation). 

As the title suggests, this is not a textbook (read “dry and boring”) type of book. Instead, Dr. Bechtle uses personal illustrations, humor, and stories to make his points about dealing with difficult people, whether they be family members, co-workers, bosses, or others you spend time with regularly. You know—those people who just DRIVE YOU CRAZY!

Some points which jumped out at me are:

  1. You can’t change other people; you can only change yourself. You can influence other people, but it has to be their decision to change.
  2. Change comes slowly, whether to you or the other person. “Crazy people” learned those behaviors over time, so it takes time to change.
  3. Crazy people may drive you crazy, but they are still human, still made in God’s image. The craziness  isn’t all there is about that person. 
  4. The “old-fashioned” virtues of kindness, humility, patience, and gratitude are still needed as you deal with your crazy person.
  5. Set boundaries and be prepared to sound like a broken record to defend your boundaries. You will need to defend them.
  6. A person’s basic temperament—whether introverted or extroverted—doesn’t change, so don’t try.  To try just puts a lot more stress on the relationship, and neither one of you needs that.
  7. What you can’t change, you can often adapt to. 
  8. Be proactive, not reactive. Dr. Bechtle suggests ways to give thought to situations, and then act upon what you’ve considered, instead of having a “knee-jerk” reaction. This one point alone made the book valuable for me, a person who tends to react, but wants to move away from that tendency.
  9. Thoughts lead to emotions, which lead to behaviors. A change in thought patterns means a change in emotions, which means behaviors change.
  10. There is quite a difference between expectations, and expectancy. Expectations about people often lead to bitter disappointment; expectancy means you are operating from a position of hope. You know there are no guarantees that your crazy person will change, but there’s the possibility.
  11. This book is about relationships; it’s really about the importance of faith and hope in relationships with difficult people.

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read about personality and relationships. It’s a book I’ll read again, probably soon; this time, to take notes. 

©P. Booher

 

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A Little Bit of Light

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I’m always amazed by how much light one candle or one nightlight produces. When I go into a dark room and turn on a little four- or-seven-watt lightbulb, the difference is stunning. Even that tiny bit of light pierces the darkness and makes it easier to see. 

I don’t feel as though I have a lot of light, but I need to shine the light I have. That little bit of light from a nightlight can keep me from stumbling in the dark. The little bit of light I shine may be what helps someone to gather the courage to keep going, to not give up, not give in, at least for one more hour or one more day.

 

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:15 (NLT)

©P. Booher

 

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Thoughts on Spiritual Disciplines

In Christianity, tithing, praying, reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture are known as spiritual disciplines. They are means to an end; the end is a closer relationship with the Lord. However, an ever-present danger is that without the end always being kept in view, and without a generous amount of humility, pride comes in. Pride which says, (for example) “I tithed X amount of dollars last year; I’m more spiritual than you.” This is the pride of the Pharisees whom Jesus criticized in blunt language.

As I considered this, I thought, What about these spiritual disciplines:

Forgiveness, as in, “Oh, I forgave so-and-so for what he did to me 40 years ago”. Or, “I had to go to the Lord seventeen times to forgive so-and-so.” Can you imagine somebody taking pride in these things and posting them on Facebook? Nope, I can’t either.

Mourning for sin, either mine or someone else’s

Praying for someone who is absolutely, positively, my enemy–and genuinely wanting God’s best for that person

Praying for someone who is not an enemy but who rubs me the wrong way

Exercising patience when I want to do anything but

Speaking gently when I’d rather scream 

 

There are more, but I’m sure you get the picture. For me, the activities usually considered spiritual disciplines are easier to do than the ones I just listed. The ones listed are hard, really hard to do in life. They are so hard I cannot do them on my own; I need God’s help. Oh, and one more thing—I can’t take pride in them because I do need God’s help.

©P. Booher

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