TO VETERANS FAR & NEAR



Today, the simple words THANK YOU feel totally inadequate; however please accept our deepest gratitude for your service to your country, to us. 

We love  you.
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. 
Ps. 82:3


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

Rememering Friends

Today I’m thinking about two good friends, Jerry Simmons and Bruce Smith, who stepped into eternity during the month of January.  


I met Jerry in the late 90s through his wife Sandy, a co-worker, who became my lunch buddy at Baptist Medical Center.  Bruce and his wife, Becca, and I were classmates, so I’ve known them a long time. Becca’s part of my birthday lunch group.

These two couples didn’t  know each other, but they had much more in common than just my friendship. Both Jerry and Bruce dealt with major health issues over a period of years and were blessed with wives who truly lived out their vows to love and care for one another “in sickness and in health.” 

Since Jerry’s and Bruce’s deaths, I’ve thought a lot about how we’re all on our own individual journey of faith as we move from this world into the next. What happens during that last step into eternity is a mystery to those left behind.  

Becca mentioned she prayed to see the angels that would come to accompany Bruce to heaven. Even though she didn’t, she still believed someone was there to help him on his way. 

Jerry’s son, Alan, spoke of a conversation he and his dad had about Jerry’s faith during his last night on earth. That conversation brought comfort to the entire family. 

These families’ experiences made me think about how on some mornings I awaken to see the entire river valley below me covered in fog. Even though I can’t see the river, I know it is flowing faithfully beneath the white shroud.


Often that fog will totally envelop the interstate bridge spanning the river down the way. There was a time when I crossed that bridge every morning on my way to work. On such days, driving into that billowy cloud was almost an act of faith. But I was familiar with the road and knew the bridge was well constructed, so I just adjusted my speed to the conditions and stayed in my lane until I came out on the other side. 

Somehow, I think Jerry and Bruce’s transition from this world to the next may have had a similar feeling. By the time it arrived, they knew they had business on the other side and, bolstered by their faith, they were ready to get on with it. 

I can’t image the thoughts that may keep their new widows awake at night. Their worlds must feel totally out of control. 
But then I think about the ways of our God, who is more faithful than that river, more dependable than that bridge spanning its banks. Even when the world around us is obscured by conditions beyond our control, He is present. When we can’t see the way ahead, He is always on course.
And His Word is a dependable road map. If we will slow down and look to Jesus, Who is our Bridge to the Father, He will bring us safely to the other side of whatever comes our way.

I believe He will guide Sandy and Becca through this new season of their lives. He knows the things He has planned for them until they see Jerry and Bruce again. In the meantime, I also believe God would say to my dear friends, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 
Psalm 52:3 

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

THE POWER OF THREE

Timmy, Max & Lucy are poster children for competing and comparing at dinnertime.

Anytime I read or hear something three times, I stop and take note, which is one of the reasons my experience at the 2013 Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference was so meaningful.
Arkansas Women Bloggers


Although the offerings and speakers varied, each person, in her own unique way, presented some of the same principles I’ve been hearing at gatherings of writers over the past year. Each AWB speaker confirmed the advice of a previous mentor. Which takes me back my Rule of Three: Pay attention to the truth of a repeated message.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard again and again over past twelve months.

Don’t Compare!    Don’t Compete!     Don’t Compromise!

Wait a minute! If we’re going for the gold or a big scholarship, we’d be foolish not to compare our performance with others seeking the same thing. How can you break a record if you don’t know how you line up with your competition?

It’s a given that no one wants to lose that tennis game or play on a noncompetitive team. But that will happen if we don’t compete. Right?

And anyone who has been in a close relationship knows that compromise is important when family, colleagues or friends disagree. It’s a sign of maturity not to always demand your way. Maybe their way is better.

If Competition, Comparison and Compromise are such important components of our culture and obviously a part of human DNA, why don’t they belong in the world of writing?

Perhaps it’s partly because the creative arts are subjective. They can’t be evaluated by a stopwatch, scoreboard or test key. Even though there are guidelines in writing, we’ve all read things that appeal to us that aren’t the norm. Throw out a topic and take note of how differently individuals approach it.

I’m blessed to be in a critique group that meets once a  month to discuss one another’s writing. For the most part, our group focuses on the positive, but we also challenge each other to do our best work. Otherwise, why meet? It has stretched me at times, but my writing is better for  it. And we’ve formed friendships because our work is done in a spirit of encouragement, not comparison and competition.

Recognizing our natural tendencies to compete and compare is the first step in creating a healthy support group. If we don’t, the Three Cs will separate and reduce us both individually and collectively. As with much of life, these challenges are intertwined, so the answers to them overlap.

Here are just a few of the things I heard at AWB and other gatherings this year that resounded with me. Most can be applied to other facets of our lives, too. 

DON’T COMPARE

It’s Okay to Be Who You Are!

To find my voice, I must Be Relentlessly Authentic.

To be Truly Authentic, I must write from my Own Experiences.

The answer to “Who am I to blog?” is:
I am a Person with Stories.

We’re all on Individual Journeys, but they all involve the same Universal Truths.

Don’t look at numbers, just write what’s on your heart.

Your message Won’t Appeal to everyone, but Your Audience Will Find You.

Authenticity is a Powerful Force.

DON’T COMPETE


I lost track of the number times we were reminded to look for ways to encourage and promote one another at AWBU. In this dog-eat-dog world, it doesn’t come naturally. But when you realize the other person is pulling for you, it’s easier to do the same.

Don’t be a Blog Snob, Promote Others.

         Invite people to Guest Post.

Find blogs that Nourish Your Soul. Read. Comment. Interact.

 DON’T COMPROMISE

It’s so important that I’m going to say it again:

It’s Okay for Us to Be Who We Are!

That involves accepting ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Just find the middle ground. Don’t blast your readers with a daily dose of angst, complaints or too much information.

Be Fearless.

Stop doing what the other guy is doing.

Ask yourself: What is my passion?

What do I know to be true

                                                                                       Curly Girl (Leigh Standley) is my inspiration


Remember that accepting and owning your own individual strengths, weaknesses and experiences makes you unique.

Don’t discount the power of your voice.

There was enough wisdom dispensed at AWBU to fill several posts. The bottom line for me is that I felt empowered by the support and encouragement of the women I met and the speakers I heard that weekend. I’m encouraging my blogging friends to join Arkansas Women Bloggers www.arkansaswomenbloggers.com and to attend the 2014 AWBU with me! 
 
We need each other. We’re more powerful when we band together.


I have to express special appreciation to my friend, Talya Boerner, for prodding me to start a blog, helping me set it up, holding my hand all along the way and for telling me, “You need to join Arkansas Women Bloggers. You need to go to this conference.” 
Talya is the perfect role model for this wonderful organization!

If you haven’t read her blog http://gracegritsgarden.com, I hope you will today.

T, You’re the best! I love you!

And thanks to all my friends who take time to read, like, share and comment on my blog. You are Wonderful!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Cor. 5:11