Category Archives: Life Lessons

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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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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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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Friday Photos–An Object Lesson in Persistence

Creek at bridge (where we feed the fish)

Author’s Photo

bare-trees-creek-flowing-over-rocks

Author’s Photo

Creek and railroad bridge

Author’s Photo

A problem I have is my lack of persistence. It’s all too easy for me to give up.

One day as I gazed at a little country creek , I realized God provided an object lesson for me. The creek contends with rocks, fallen trees, the remnant of an old railroad bridge, and other obstacles on its way to its destination, a larger creek. Nothing holds the little creek back. It keeps on going–over, under, around or through the obstacle. It never gives up, never gives in, and eventually reaches the merger with the bigger creek.

What a lesson for me, given anew every time I look at the creek. How well am I learning? Slowly, but I am improving.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  James 1:3,4, King James Version

©P. Booher

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Benefits of Physical Therapy

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This year my doctor prescribed physical therapy to treat my achy, cranky joints and muscles. Since March I’ve had several visits to the physical therapist’s. In the process I’m learning: a different mindset, to cooperate with and respect my body better, and the ways regulated motion (stretches, using weights) can help me live better and more pain-free.

I’m learning:

  • “No pain, no gain” is not the motto of the physical therapists. The therapists don’t want you to push through pain; your muscles will tire and there is a greater chance of more injury; stop just before the point of pain. You want the point of stretch, but not to the point where it hurts.
  •  When doing exercises and stretches if you have to stop and rest, do so. For example, if you are supposed to do two sets of 10 reps (repetitions), but you have to stop after just 5, that’s OK. Rest, take a break, do them in sets of 5. You can break it down to four sets of 5, instead of two sets of 10.
  • Your attitude towards pain and physical therapy is just as  important as the physical therapy itself. You need to be as confident as possible.
  • Be patient with your body and the process of healing. It takes time, and this varies with each person.
  • You can work for a long time and it seems as though nothing is getting better. Don’t buy into that sneaky voice of discouragement. Get tough and keep on going, anyway. One day when you think nothing has changed, the therapist will say, “Your flexibility is improving”.
  • Strength comes last in an injured part, but it will come.
  • The physical therapy place is a “no judgment zone”; no one is pointing the finger at you and how few reps you managed, how long it took you to do them, or how you had to ask for help on a particular machine, again. Everybody’s in the same boat–focusing on getting stronger. No one in physical therapy can claim to be a super-athlete.
  • Clients encourage one another, and when one client rehabs enough to be released from therapy, this gives a boost to others still working to reach that point.
  • Physical therapy is a hopeful place. Doctors tell you what’s wrong; physical therapists tell you where you are strong, where your flexibility improved, where your range of motion is normal– in other words, what’s right. Yes, they do say things like, “Well, those muscles are a bit on the weak side. But there’s exercises we can do to strengthen them.” The therapists emphasize the positive. Most of the time I walk out of PT feeling more hopeful about my situation. Rather than being in despair about my body, I believe something can be done.
  • One part of the body affects another. If one muscle is weak and can’t do its job, another muscle has to work harder. Eventually the hard-working muscle may develop weakness, and then other muscles and probably joints get involved. Then you wonder why you hurt.
  • Physical therapists are detail-oriented–something I didn’t realize until this time around. They take measurements in their evaluations and plan each person’s therapy course with those measurements, along with the comments the client makes, in mind. Each stretch, each exercise, is selected to address the particular problem the client has. Therapists have to know how the body parts interact,  and what happens when a part is not acting as it should.
  • Physical therapy is a participatory time. Unlike going to the doctor and listening to him or her explain your condition, showing up for physical therapy requires action on your part. To get the most benefit, take time to do recommended stretches at home. (I’ve been known to get some stretches in while waiting for supper.)
  • To me, physical therapy is counter-culture. The world demands, and often gets, speed. Physical therapy allows time for the healing process, however long that takes. Some things can’t be rushed.
  • Physical therapy isn’t a cure and it’s not guaranteed to work for everyone, but for many painful problems it’s worth considering.

 

BTW: That lady on the stability ball is not me. If I was that flexible, I wouldn’t need physical therapy! 🙂

I need to give credit where credit is due: Most of the information used in this article comes from observing and listening to the physical therapists at the office I go to. Along with their specialized knowledge and ability they offer much patience and compassion.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–How to be an Imperfectionist

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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 that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise goes much deeper into perfectionism than I thought it would. Mr. Guise refers to studies by researchers about what perfectionism is vs. what it is not. The trait is hard for even scientists to pin down, which is probably why some believe not all perfectionism is bad, while others believe it’s all bad–that what’s called “healthy” perfectionism isn’t perfectionism, but rather striving to do the best a person can.

Mr. Guise writes as one who had a tendency towards perfectionism–and found it stifling for the growth of the mind and spirit. In How to be an Imperfectionist he gives ways to free yourself from that mindset, live with more joy and peace, less anxiety, and gain improved physical health as well.

Although the author writes about various studies, this book doesn’t come off as a “textbook”, which is a big plus for me. Mr. Guise gives examples from his own life, as to what worked for him and what didn’t. His tone is as a friend giving a heads-up to another friend.

Comment: This book is a keeper for me. Before I was a teenager, I decided I would avoid mistakes, and so made one of the biggest of my life in going down an unhealthy perfectionist road that only leads to more and more problems. How to be an Imperfectionist opens up a better, much healthier way of thinking.

©P. Booher

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The Lure of Worry, the Futility of Worry

 

lightning in sky at night

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beautiful environment field flora

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“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Jesus, Matthew 6:27 (NIV)

I have a problem with worry. In two seconds flat I can worry about something that hadn’t crossed my mind before then. Less than two seconds later I have a tidal wave of worry in my mind. “What do I do if that happens, or if that happens?” or “What if I do this and then that happens? Then what do I do?”

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A Gift for Myself

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A few years ago a co-worker and I got on each other’s nerves in a big way, so much so that I wanted to walk out the door and not come back. I carried a grudge against her for some time, even after she left that workplace.

Finally I decided life truly is too short to carry a grudge. I contacted her, we started e-mailing each other, sometimes three or four times a day. We became friends and confidantes, exchanging our joys, sorrows, trials and tribulations. I heard her excitement with her new place of employment, and, later, her frustrations with it; and her decision to leave that place when family obligations and health concerns made it hard to continue working. She heard my frustrations as well with the things of life. Every now and then we got together at a local restaurant to celebrate good things in our lives–things to look forward to, as well as books, cats, and our mutual love of the outdoors.

While she didn’t write much, except as a catharsis, she enthusiastically supported my writing efforts. She commented on blog pieces, and gave me feedback for short stories. Before submitting one particular short story to a publisher, I emailed the story to her, asking for feedback. I asked if there were any troublesome places in the story–phrases or sentences she had to reread to understand. She replied the only problem was that she didn’t want the story to end. Any writer wants to hear that! With that encouragement, I submitted the story to the publisher.

I am so glad I overcame my anger with the help of God and gave myself the gift of a friend. I am enriched by her friendship.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–The Horse and His Boy

divers-underwater-ocean-swim-68767.jpeg

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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 that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis, is Book Three in The Chronicles of Narnia, the fantasy series in which animals talk, Aslan the lion is present even when not physically around, and a human is as likely to meet a dwarf, faun, giant, or centaur as another human.

I don’t take vacations, or travel; I “travel” mentally by reading. Since The Horse and His Boy involves a long journey full of hazards and challenges, surprises, a battle over a cause worth fighting for, and a good ending in which everything is wrapped up, this is a book for me.

Because The Horse and His Boy is a fantasy, readers need to read it with an open mind, as though the creatures and events pictured really are real. With that in the back of my head, I came across some lessons embedded in the plot of the story–lessons about good and evil, the importance of keeping on when the journey gets hard, tedious, and you feel sorry for yourself, finding friends in people you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with, and for me–a spiritual parallel–in the hard places, God is a lot closer than you think He is.

Comment: As I mentioned, The Horse and His Boy is a book I pick up when I want a get-away to another world without leaving the chair. If that is what you are looking for, you may want to give The Horse and His Boy a try.

©P. Booher

 

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There Is Life After High School

man in black and white polo shirt beside writing board

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I don’t have fond memories of my school years. I was picked on from about second grade through eleventh grade. I never knew what would bring the teasing on–perhaps being the only person in second grade to have to wear glasses? (This was long before contact lenses.) Or maybe it was my shyness–often I couldn’t think of anything to say in peer-to-peer conversation, so I was quiet. (When you are in school, any little difference from what is considered “normal” makes a person ripe for picking on.) Maybe the teasing of the moment revolved around my non-existent athletic ability (if a team had to pick me, the kids groaned and I wished for the ground to swallow me). Continue reading

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