DEFEAT DISCOURAGEMENT

Sometimes the way ahead looks foggy.


If you’re like me you have moments when it feels easier to give up on something than to dig deeper and find the heart to continue a challenging pursuit
It usually involves my writing, but yours might be a totally different thing. 

The Enemy of My Soul


The enemy of my soul speaks through many voices. In the past I’ve heard him in a colleague’s criticism or a teacher’s harsh comments. He speaks through a friend’s careless words or an acquaintance’s question. 

Even though the speaker didn’t intend it so, I hear a negative message. 

  • You mean you’re going to actually try to write a book?
  • Who do you think you are?
  •  What in the world do you have to say that anyone would have any interest in reading? 

When that doesn’t stop me, he whispers in my ear about how much better others are doing: 

  • She has an agent. 
  • He has published two books since you began that silly novel. 
  • Have you seen her blog and the number of followers she has?
  • She won first place.


Sometimes he mocks me.

  • You’ll never finish that book. 
  • You’re too lazy, 
  • too busy, 
  • too distractible, 
  • too insecure. . . .

The Eternal Solution


However, when I’ve spent enough time in the presence of my Maker, I recognize the enemy’s taunts for what they are–my own imagination working overtime.

I remind myself that God put the desire to write within me. He created me to work with and for Him by developing my craft.



All He asks is that I listen and embrace the prompts He drops into my heart. 

He also reminds me it’s counterproductive to compare myself to others. 

And, of utmost importance, I need to leave the outcomes to him.

My Response


So as an act of faith, I thank God for the gifts He has given me, and I pray for inspiration and the courage to continue my efforts. Then I seek to honor Him by writing down the words that echo in my soul. 

I also pray He will help me guard my words lest I become the enemy’s mouthpiece and ask him to fill my mouth with a message of encouragement for others.

“After all that—she was surprised to find that she still knew
 the words to the song in her heart… and she began to sing along.
She happily set free her heart” 
Curly Girl, Leigh Standley

I keep this little plaque by Leigh Standley of Curly Girl Designs near where I write to remind me on foggy days of my Savior’s faithfulness. 

Whatever your calling, my prayer for you is that you will hear God’s voice concerning it, take courage and work at it with all your heart. 



For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus 

for good works, which God prepared beforehand, 
that we should walk in them.
Eph. 2:10 (ESV)

#URLoved #URKnown #HeCallsU #UMatter


Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2016. All rights reserved

Garlands of Grace


I often walk in the cool of the morning when we vacation at the beach. Although the places we go aren’t noted for large shells, I invariably return with a handful of small ones. I love the diversity of designs and find pleasure in even the tiniest specimen.
One morning, I noticed that many of the shells swept in by the tide still held a bit of water that sparkled in the sun. My thoughts turned to God’s promise to make us vessels of His living water, offering refreshment to others.

 However, as I continued on my way, I also saw lots of empty shells. On close examination, I found most had a perfectly round hole that looked as if it had been drilled there. Any water they held when they landed on the beach had quickly drained out. They were lovely, and in some cases, the openings weren’t immediately apparent, but they were still empty.
Just like me sometimes, I thought. Some days I look pretty good, but it’s as if the enemy of my soul finds my weakest spot and pierces it through ever so precisely. Whatever joy or evidence of God’s presence is there, leaks out before I even leave home.
Next, I noticed a scallop shell with a jagged gap marring its otherwise beautiful exterior.
Looks like you’ve had some hard knocks. I know what it’s like to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But you are still lovely.  
I picked it up and cradled it in my palm.
Before I knew it, I was picking up all the holey shells in my path because suddenly I was able to see beauty and purpose in each one. I’d string them on a thread or cord to create a garland or necklace.
Isn’t that what our loving Father does with us? He’s just waiting to pick us up, wash us off and restore our souls. He doesn’t disqualify us because of our flaws and failures, past or present. In fact, I believe when we’re most injured by our own foolishness, He treats us with extra-tender care. All He asks is that we admit we need a Savior. When we seek His forgiveness, He makes us perfect in His sight through Jesus Christ.
I like to think He might add us, one-by-one, to a scarlet cord, creating a beautiful garland to wear over His heart. The strands are never ending.
 
Bind us together, Lord, with cords of Your love.
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2014. All rights reserved

The Elusive Sand Dollar

This post originally appeared on Arkansas Women Bloggers website. 


The purple and white fragments were originally an tiny sand dollar
that crumbled into pieces in the palm of my hand.

Today is Terry’s and my 40thwedding anniversary. We’re spending it at our favorite place, Navarre Beach, Florida. As I look back over all the years our family has come to the panhandle, it’s the small pleasures like early morning walks and watching the children play in the surf that come to mind.



I usually return from my treks with several small shells in hand. I’m told the big ones end up on sandbars farther out from shore. However, one summer, people were finding an abundance of shells, large and small. Inspired by a showy collection a man had excavated from an embankment nearby, I sought out the spot to hunt for my own buried treasure. My digging turned up lots of interesting and less common specimens, but none as nice as his. I was hopeful though, and each day, I continued my search.
Tidal Pool Treasures on Navarre Beach

One morning, I stopped by a tidal pool lying directly behind our condo where I spied a small white sand dollar, glinting in the sun. The tiny orb was no larger than a quarter and flawless. A Keeper. But where to stash it? I had no pocket, and it would take ten minutes to carry it back to the condo. Ten minutes I didn’t want to burn because I had bigger things on my mind. So I dropped that perfect little sand dollar into my plastic Winn Dixie bag and continued down the beach, intent on scoring one of those big conchs. While I found some interesting medium-sized shells and added them to my sack, once again, the Big One eluded me.
To give you an idea of its size
Hot and tired, I trudged back home where I rinsed the shells, one by one. When I reached the bottom of the bag, there was no sand dollar in sight. Perhaps it was caught in a fold of the sack. When I turned the bag inside out to look, a shower of tiny granules littered the counter. My perfect little sand dollar had been crushed by all the mediocre shells I had piled on top of it. It was gone. I was crushed—and dogged by if-only thoughts. If only I’d worn shorts with pockets. If only I’d carried it back to the condo. Ten minutes didn’t seem so long, retrospectively. Every morning, I returned to the tidal pool, hoping for another prize, but to my disappointment, none appeared.
That incident happened at least four years ago, and I must admit, I’ve been searching for that elusive sand dollar ever since. Along the way, I’ve spent lots of time reflecting on my experience. Although I was surprised at the depth of my grief, I knew it reflected how foolish I felt for not appreciating and protecting that perfect little gift—which brings me to the point of this confession.

Sometimes a seemingly small but special moment or opportunity surprises us in the midst of important-feeling pursuits. When that happens, we need to recognize it and cherish the moment or pursue the opportunity because it is precious and perhaps, singular.

This year, I’ve resolved to give up my search for a replacement to that prize. Instead I’m attempting to be grateful for every little offering I encounter on the beach. My prayer has become that I’ll recognize each small blessing and when necessary, change my plans so I can truly savor the moment. I’ve learned the hard way that once it’s gone, there are no guarantees it will ever come again.




I wanted to show you how lovely that little sand dollar was, so today I purchased several at a shell store for 29 cents apiece. Twenty-nine cents—I could have bought a bowlful, but I didn’t. For how could they compare to the priceless experience of discovering that one perfect little sand dollar? But I’m not sad anymore because I learned a valuable lesson from my folly. And it’s past time for me to move on so I won’t miss the next blessing that’s sure to come along. Plus, I’m an optimist, and you never know when another little creature might wash up with the tide.  
Today, I wish you many Perfect-Sand-Dollar Moments. They are precious. Handle them with care.
Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin…
Zech. 4:10 (LB)


Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2014. All rights reserved