Beaches, Devotionals, Sea Shells

Smiles to Warm Me

My first morning at the beach, I’m eager to go for a walk. The sun has already crested the horizon, but I see it’s only 59 degrees out on our balcony. 

The beach is empty except for a boy racing by. Where’s he going? To the pier? Or home to escape the cold wind? Although I long to get out and walk along the sand, I decide to wait a while.

An hour later, the needle hasn’t budged, but a stalwart family of five has set up their chairs near the surf. Not too cold for them. I’ll bundle up.

Terry grins as I put on a flimsy hoodie. “Wind’s cold.”

Undeterred, I head out the door, but I don’t make it four steps before I retreat back inside and trade it for a my thickest cardigan.

My body acclimates somewhat on the trip down the boardwalk. It’s not too bad. Once down the stairs, the question arises: flip-flops or bare feet? I step out of my sandals and wiggle my toes in the sand—just a tad chilly.

Even though I know I’ll pay for it later with chaffed feet, I strike out. The closer I get to the water, the colder the sand. I settle for a path between the wet, packed shore and the deeper sand. As I slog west, the wind’s at my back and my sweater’s warm.

Following the tideline, I look for that elusive sand dollar or a tiny starfish, but all that catches my eye is an Imperial Venus about the size of a quarter. I pick it up.

A little farther down the way, a man sits with a book. He’s all bundled up against the wind except for his tanned hands and feet. We exchange “Good Mornings,” and I move on, wondering if the soles of his feet will burn later, too.

Two women feed the gulls from the end of their boardwalk. Half the noisy birds hover near them while others congregate on the sand below. Waiting their turn? I doubt it. More likely waiting for whatever falls on the sand. Gulls have notoriously bad manners.

I pick up a abandoned sand shovel and turn back. The wind on my face is not so bad. I’ve warmed up considerably, and my feet aren’t too cold.

I stop and ask a young couple gathering shells if they are looking for anything in particular. 

“Just picking up shells,” she says.
“Would you like this one,” I ask, handing her my shell. She and her companion break into smiles.

Next, I pick up a little piece of rosy barnacle and angle toward a boy of about ten dipping a net into the surf. I ask, “Would you like this?”

Grinning broadly, he says, “Thank you,” and shows it to an older woman (perhaps his grandmother). She rewards me with a nice smile, too.

That makes Four Smiles.

As I near our building, I see that the little family is still out, so I offer the smallest boy the shovel.

Four More Smiles.

Eight Smiles Today. 

My feet are already tingling as I head inside to slather lotion on them. But what’s a little discomfort when those warm smiles will be with me the rest of the day.

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer…

Proverbs 11:24 OB

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2015. All rights reserved

Beaches, Hummingbirds, Travel

Staying Too Long

The party’s over.

The flock of 20 or so hummingbirds that stopped by our yard to rest and refuel for several weeks has moved on.

Just part of the crowd that visited 
our feeders from first light to dusk

Three or four—probably our original group—stayed put. I wonder if they’re mentally preparing for the trip south.

Hummingbirds often hog the feeders.
I’ve heard that a few hummers stick around all year. 

Could it be the ready food supply? 

Is that good? 

I don’t know.

But I worry.

The birds had a rough time last winter.
They say we’re probably in for another harsh winter. I’ve tried admonishing my feathered friends not to hang around too long. 

But so far, they haven’t listened.

Their lingering reminds me of some of the people we’ve encountered on our travels. 

There was the scruffy young man on the New York sidewalk playing his guitar beside a sign asking for $$ to get home. 

So many people–one can get lost in a crowd in NYC.

Not much ambiance, but 
the seafood and burgers 
are good and reasonably priced!

I like the guy in need of dental work who waits tables at TC’s, a Navarre burger joint. 
I bet he was a looker when he first arrived in Paradise. He seems smart, and I can’t help wondering what he’d be doing if he’d gone home with his crew.
We’re almost there!

Each time, we pass a certain corner in Pensacola, I remember the emaciated woman with the skinny dog. 

Looking for her next fix?

But the one who haunts me most is the bedraggled young woman pushing her belongings in a grocery cart on the sidewalk in Vancouver. I bet she was living in a dorm or sorority house six months before instead on of the street. 

Sidetracked by booze and easy dope? 

Vancouver British Columbia is a beautiful city.

I shudder to think where that girl might be now. I hope she phoned home. 

That’s what I wanted to say to each of them.

Call your mother for bus fare home. 

She’s worried. And waiting by the phone.

Destin, Florida 1973
loved visiting all those places, and I can see the lure to stay. I wasn’t ready to come home the first time I went to Destin. 

But I’m glad I did.

The beach is so nice, sometimes
you just have to dance for joy!

I still love the Gulf Coast’s sugar sand. Even now, I’m tempted linger at Navarre Beach. If we didn’t have a houseful of cats and children and grandchildren nearby, I’d be happy to live there part of the year. 

We go often enough that we’ve met several transplants. Some came to the area with the military, others for a job or on vacation. Eventually, they found ways to stay or come back and settle down. 

But they’re different from the stragglers and panhandlers. They didn’t just hang around, hoping to extend the party. 

They had a plan. 

Steve, an artist and partner in
Saltwater Cottage, was
a man with a plan.

No one can party through life without suffering the consequences. 

There are always consequences.
I don’t mean to judge. Some of those folks are trapped in cruel addictions. Or they may not have anyone back home to send them a bus ticket.

I wish all those people knew the One who’s waiting to come to their rescue.

Maybe I should mention Him the next time I encounter a lonely soul who missed the last bus home.

What about you?

Do you know someone who needs a gentle nudge homeward? 

Let’s tell them about His amazing grace.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have
I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Acts 3:6 

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2015. All rights reserved

Beaches, Footprints, Good News, Navarre Beach, New Year

Where Are We Going?

I always find myself looking at the different shapes and sizes of footprints left by passersby when I walk on the beach.

In areas away from the water, it looks like the morning after a beach party.

Nearer the surf, all evidence of their passing disappears within minutes.

I think about who might be walking together. 
Where were they in their journey when they left these tracks?
 Had they just started out?  
Or were they almost home?

Were they just out for a stroll? Or was this serious exercise?
Did they talk? If so, what about?   

Or did they just walk along in companionable silence?


If they were barefooted, weren’t they cold?

On the way back, I try to tell which footprints are mine.

And with the birth of a new year, personal questions come to mind.

      • Where did I walk in 2014?    
      • What did I do?    
      • Who did I serve?
      • Did God direct my steps 
      • Or was it just my doing?
      • Where does He want to take me in 2015?
      • What should I carry into 2015? 
      • What will I leave behind? 
      • Who will accompany me? 
      • Who will I leave to His plans for them?  
      • Does God have any specific goals for me?

Not my plans.
Not my critics’ suggestions
Not even my encouragersideas—because we’re all limited in our understanding. 
I want to know what His plans are.
Where does the God of the Universe want to take me this year?
What will we do together?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, Eph. 5:15
Of one thing I’m certain, wherever He takes me, 
I want to be the bearer of 
His Good News.
That very thought brings me comfort, courage and the growing conviction that 
if I will Stop, Look and Listen, 
He will lead me.
What about you? 
Where are you going in this new year? 

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, 
Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, 
Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 
Isaiah 52:7

Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2015. All rights reserved