March 4, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Book offers advice on how to survive in an unfriendly world

Shirley Vogler Meister“Timing is everything” might seem like a cliché, but it isn’t. I have lived long enough to know that it is more often true than not.

I am smiling as I write this column because near the end of last year I received a book from Pleasant Word, which is a division of the Wine Press Group ( I set the book aside at that time since I was much too busy to read it.

After my illness in January, I began to check the many things that I had planned to read, and immediately was drawn to the book Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.

From a brief biography, I learned that the author, Doug Bolton, experienced extreme stress one day while sitting alone in his car. Bolton wrote that he was “ready to give up” because he was very distressed and even considering suicide.

Bolton claims that God stopped him and, in that moment, he knew he was meant to reach out to other people who also face “the bitter fruit of anxiety, fear, depression, hopelessness and self-doubt.”

He decided to write about his experiences in order to point others toward God.

His book is “a survival manual for living in a troubled world.”

Bolton’s experience with extreme despair resulted in a close relationship with God. His encouragement moves the reader forward, and his writing often made me laugh.

The book gave me a strong and healthy outlook on life despite my concerns.

Several of the pithy, major “signs” from his book were amusing.

Most everyone can relate to thoughts like these:

  • “I’m tired of going round and round.”
  • “Everything that can go wrong probably will.”
  • “Life is tough and then you die!”
  • “Why does God let tragedies happen?”

Additional chapter “signs” for making progress in life include:

  • “Don’t put a question mark where God put a period.”
  • “Exercise daily [and] walk with God.”
  • “A day hemmed in prayer keeps your day from coming unraveled.”
  • “Without Jesus, you don’t have a prayer.”

I smiled while reading the book because it is truly a gold mine of advice on how to survive in what many of us understand is an “unfriendly world.”

There is a reason for Bolton’s expertise. He earned degrees in psychology and education, and completed extensive training in counseling.

Bolton served his country in the military, and taught at the elementary and middle school levels for 22 years.

He and his wife, Charlotte, live in Salem, Ore., and have three children and six grandchildren.

Bolton’s “bumper-sticker wisdom” promotes a stronger and healthier spiritual outlook on life, and certainly pulled me out of my unpleasant winter doldrums.

Thank God for that!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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