Friday Photos–More Shadows and Lines

I am fascinated by the interplay of light and dark, sunshine and shadows in nature. Sometimes, I grab my camera and head out the door to capture some of it. 

This nut tree started out as a tiny sapling growing amongst a wild rose bush. The rose bush is long gone; the nut tree is thriving. I often see rose bushes and nut trees growing together.

All photos: Author’s collection.

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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Worth Pondering

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“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end.”

Daniel Webster, 1823

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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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Friday Photos–More Pictures of Fall

Autumn along the River
My mother’s forsythia bush. Believe it or not, it blooms in October-November, as well as in the spring.

All photos from author’s collection.

P. Booher

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How to be Happy

I came across this post on Mitch Teemley’s site. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Mitch Teemley

happiness-under-his-feet-in-public-domainMy Thanksgiving holiday sketch GrrAttitude is about a married couple having one of those nothing-to-be-thankful-for days. Ever have one of those? (The incident below really happened to my wife and me.)

The setting is a laundromat:

“So,” he observes, “our marriage outlasted our washer and dryer.”

“What are the odds?” she snarks.

“Of our marriage lasting?”

“No! Of our washer and dryer dying within two days of each other!”

“Actually, I think it’s kind of touching, like when old couples die so close together because they can’t bear to live without each other.”

Like them, my wife and I drove to the laundromat every week back when we were first married. We thought it was pretty great just having a partner to–literally–share the load with. But that was then. This is now. Have you ever noticed how your happiness baseline constantly shifts? It’s based on what you’re currently used to…

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What I Have in Common with the Bodie Island Lighthouse

Thought this was worth taking the time to read.

Sue A. Fairchild | Editor, Writing Coach, Speaker

I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t love a lighthouse. I’m not sure what it is about these stately structures that draw us in, but I am no different. When we recently took a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I made a list of lighthouses we had not yet seen there and made it my mission to see at least one.

Although the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is probably the most iconic of this area (and has its own unique history), we had seen it many times before. But this year, on a trip north of our beach house, we decided to detour to the see the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

According to the National Park Service website, the Bodie Island Light Station that stands today is the THIRD lighthouse erected for that part of the banks. The first was erected by a man who had no lighthouse…

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Favorite Recipe for Thanksgiving

My mother and I generally have meatloaf for Thanksgiving. It’s a non-traditional meal in this area, (traditional=turkey) but we enjoy having it. You can make it as large as you want by adapting the ingredient amounts; the recipe we use doesn’t take anything we don’t usually have on hand, and there’s leftovers for the next day, (YUM!) so one meatloaf gives us a couple meals. As the saying goes, “It works for us.” I am getting hungry for meatloaf just thinking about it!

Meatloaf

1 pound ground meat (we use ground beef)

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 2/3 cups evaporated milk

2 cups bread crumbs

Mix meat, egg, salt, onion, milk, and bread crumbs. Turn into a well-greased baking pan, shape into a loaf and bake 30 to 45 minutes in a moderate oven (350° F.) Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

There are many recipes for meatloaf around; we rely on this one. It’s simple, as plain a recipe as you can get, but it always turns out well.

P. Booher

 

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A Prayer for Service Workers During the Holidays

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Lord,

I am thinking of those who served me today as I did my errands. First off, there were the owners of the service station, who took the summer tires off my car and put the winter tires on; the cashier at the convenience store; the deli worker who sliced the Colby cheese for me at the grocery store; the vendors at the same store, who, although they didn’t directly serve me, ordered their items so another customer could get what he or she wanted. There was the young man doing some “weight-lifting” as he filled the potato display with big bags of potatoes; the man filling the milk display so I could get some; the cashier at the front end with her smile and cheerful attitude. Then there was the man at the post office, the cashier at the pharmacy, the cashier at the dollar store, and the man picking up our garbage. 

Lord, here in my country, the stores are already busy with people shopping for Thanksgiving meals and Christmas get-togethers. Having worked in stores at the holiday season, I know what it’s like. You worked with people as well, as You walked this earth. You know what it’s like. People can be polite, cheerful, rude, impatient, angry, or miserable.

Lord, bless those who are service workers this holiday season, particularly those in close contact with customers. Help them believe and know their self-worth doesn’t come from how well they do their jobs but from the fact they are human beings—made in Your image. Help them get their breaks at work when they should. Help them get rest for bodies and souls. Help them get warm baths for tired, achy muscles and sore feet. Bless them and may they not be considered expendable by either customers or employers, but even if they are, help them remember that’s not the real story. The real story is they are precious and treasured by You.

Lord, thank You for Your awesome love for us. Help us treat one another as precious and worthy because we are made in Your image. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

©P. Booher

Scripture references: Genesis 1:26, 27, 31; Genesis 2:18-23; Psalm 139:13-18; Romans 5:6-8

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A Prayer About the Past

Dear Lord,

Tonight I’ve been beating myself up about the past–lost opportunities, changes I should have made, but didn’t because I was stubborn, didn’t see any other feasible alternatives, afraid of what going after feasible alternatives would mean, or afraid of what other people would think or say.

It’s an old story, so old the pages are brown and tattered. I am tired of it.

Tonight I give it to You. I give all of what I could have done, should have done to You. I can’t handle the past. I can’t do anything about it. I will literally go crazy if I think more about it. So I give it to you. Whatever You can do with it, it’s Yours.

I should be afraid to give it to You, because You are the Righteous Judge. You see the motives of my heart. You see what lies behind those lost opportunities. But I lay it in Your blood-stained hands anyway. Strangely, once I do, I feel safe.

©P. Booher

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