Best Laid Plans

Here’s the inside of our cute Winnebago. We named her Winnie. Not very original, but it works for us.

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We planned to go camping near Mt. Rainier last Friday. We had reservations at a very nice RV resort and fully stocked our trailer fridge with goodies for breakfast, lunch and dinner for four days under the shadow of the sublime mountain.

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But on Wednesday, I woke up with a sore spot on my head, right in front of my ear. About the size of a bean. But quite sore.

Hmm. well, it’ll go away in a few days. I ignored the sore spot.

Until Thursday. This is what the pain looked like:

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My painful spot had grown from a bean to a small plum and was approaching the early stages of agony. I told myself, “Doggone it, this thing must go away on its own. I’m not going to miss our camping trip.”

I took a couple of ibuprofen and went to bed. The pain had now grow so bad it was like someone had bludgeoned me with a two-by-four.  But I’m a stubborn gal. I toughed it out until 4 am.

“Ow, ow!” I can’t stand it anymore,” I told my husband. “I’m going to the ER.”

I thought, maybe I’ll get right in and the doctor will say it’s nothing: “It’s just a bug bite. Here, take some aspirin.”

Bruce dropped me off in front of the ER entrance and went to park. After the guard at the ER entrance took my temperature and asked me if I had any of “these covid symptoms” and I said, “no . . . no . . . no . . . no, ” etc. to his list, he let me go inside.

Amazingly, they took me right in and the intake nurse did all the usual intake stuff. Another nurse put me in a ‘room,’ and asked me more questions. Finally, the ER doctor came in and I told him how painful my plum-size spot was.

“Hmm,” he said, “yes, it does look significantly bigger than the other side of your head.” Then he pressed firmly on my spot. I’m usually very spartan about pain, but the doc’s poking felt like another wham of the two-by-four.

“Ow, ow, ow!”

At my outburst, the compassionate nurse made a compassionate sound and the creasing of her skin above her mask told me she understood. The doctor said, “You’ve got an inflamed lymph node and you’ll need a CT scan with contrast so we can see what’s going on in there.”

The nurse gave me two oxycodone for the pain.

They gowned me and rolled me on a gurney through a labyrinth of halls until we reached radiology. After that was done, we rolled back to my curtained cubicle to wait for the doctor. And the whole time, I was thinking, “Doggone it, I’m going on this camping trip if it kills me. We’ve been waiting for months to do this and I’m not gonna let a little lymph node boss me around!”

Bruce came inside and sat down to help me wait.

“How’re you doing?” the nurse asked me.

“I’m feeling no pain. in fact, I feel kind of wonderful right now.”

“Yes, that oxycodone is a very effective painkiller.”

Just then the doctor arrived. “Well, it looks like you’ve probably got some sort of infection somewhere in your body and the lymph node is trying to fight it off. So, I’m going to write you a prescription for an antibiotic . . . oh, and some more oxycodone.”

“Ok, ” I said kind of meekly, “but I still wanna go camping this weekend.”

The doctor’s eyes went round and his eyebrows shot upward. “Well, I guess you can go, as long as you’re pretty near a medical facility in case you need it.” He handed me the prescriptions, and I thanked him.

I changed into my street clothes and followed Bruce out. That’s when I realized I could barely walk straight under the influence of the oxycodone. Plus, nausea was threatening to send me running for the nearest restroom.

What was I thinking, insisting on camping while popping pain pills? Bruce helped me down the steps and into the car. “Bruce, I’m so, so sorry for this, ” I said as I struggled to buckle my car seat. “I know you were really excited to go camping.”

He smiled kind of sadly. “That’s ok. You get better and we’ll find another weekend to go camping.”

So our lovely Mt Rainier trip got cancelled. Actually, we postponed it till next summer.

And I spent the weekend sprawled on my bed, ‘watching’ TV. And Link stayed close by as my feline personal nurse.

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I don’t know why the Lord allowed this to happen. Yet, it’s not the end of the world, just a minor disappointment.

However, I learned a bit more about making plans.

Life is uncertain. Yes, I know that. Plans can fail. Yep, I know that, too. God has not given us the gift of seeing what’s around the corner. Uh huh. But He has given us the promise of His abiding presence and never-failing love.

I felt Him near that weekend as I slowly recovered. I read the Word and prayed for others, and slept for hours at a time, like a two-year-old.

That was God’s plan.

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Summer Netherton Doings

Around the Netherton household, it has been wonderful to have Bruce home during this time of shut-ins and cautious outings.

Here he is in the new cap that our daughter in law, Danielle knit for him. Isn’t he—and the hat— cute?

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We’ve adorned the front deck with tons of potted fragrant flowers. Then, in the evenings we barbecue something and enjoy dining alfresco. In the morning, it’s a lovely place to watch the birds, read my Bible, pray, and enjoy being surrounded by God’s glorious creation.

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Our neighbors are doing big things in their backyard, which abuts our backyard. They tore down our shared fence and while we’re waiting for it to be rebuilt it’s been interesting to see all the landscaping things they’ve added. Although I was sad to see my arborvitae trees go, my neighbors have assured me they’ll replace them once the fence is in.

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Bruce and I did our annual Cascade loop trip. It’s a full-day trip where we begin our eastward journey on highway 20, passing beautiful waterfalls, climb higher and view scenes like this:

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Then, on the east side of the cascades, we meet the giant fruit industry: apples, peaches, apricots, plums! We stop at a roadside stand for peaches, then on to Wenatchee where we have a nice lunch. We usually get home by nine or ten at night, tired and sore. But it’s a good kind of tired.

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We’re going camping again next week in our new trailer. Somewhere near Mt. Rainier. Next month we’ll head to Yellowstone National Park. We try to go there about every other year. What a magical place. I can’t wait to meet up with my son and daughter in law and three grandchildren there.

In August, I begin my duties as the new president of Northwest Christian Writers Association. Please pray for me, that I’ll be a good vessel for what God will pour through me for the blessing of our writers. I’m so excited to join with the other board members to continue to build this wonderful group. You’re welcome to join us if you’re visiting this area.

I’ve shopped out two novels and am working on a new one. We’ll see how that all turns out, hopefully soon.

Y’all have a wonderful summer.

Have We Forgotten About the Fruits?

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( My homemade mask. Pretty, but really hard to breathe through!)

 

“Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” (Proverbs 29:11)

This past week has been an eye-opener for me concerning the state of our society.

This has nothing to do with the ubiquitous protests, the lootings, arson, physical assaults, threats, take-over of cities, etc.

It has to do with the responses on social media by Christians.

I am a baby boomer, born in the fifties to nominal Christian parents, youngest of five siblings, sporadic attender of church as a child, a product of secular education.

But, in spite of my parents’ secular way of life, they clung to a Judeo-Christian mindset. This meant: do not lie or steal, admit when you’ve done something wrong (then expect punishment and later, reconciliation), treat others with courtesy, don’t swear, be kind to others, give to charity, and, especially, be humble. That last one was practically bludgeoned into us from an early age.

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We were trained to speak respectfully. If one needed to disagree with another, do it with respect and stick to the issue. Never attack the person, only the issue.

We also said to each other when we disagreed: “It’s a free country. I can say what I choose to say as long… as Mom and Dad say it’s not mean.”

But, it is no longer a Judeo-Christian America. I have learned that by participating on social media. In fact, the very ones whom I would expect to demonstrate the grace and gentleness of this ancient ethic are doing just the opposite.

I expect and am not surprised by viciousness from secular posts. But now, this kind of meanness is coming from Christians.

Last week I responded to a Facebook post by asking a two-word question. It was a speculation about the motivation of certain people engaged in dangerous health practices.

Another person, in response to my question, posted very unkind words directed at me. She had completely misinterpreted my words and launched an attack on my character. Apparently, I’m a murderer!

I wrote back and explained my intent and also kindly suggested that in the future it would be helpful if she could ask me before assuming my malevolent intentions. She did later apologize.

This is only one example of many recent attacks I’ve received in response to simply and gently expressing my opinion. Free speech is now dead. The First Amendment no longer applies. Friends, I know that we are deeply divided about the covid-19 pandemic, politics, our president, our future, our interpretation of scripture.

But when did our opinions jettison kindness and respect? And when did you or I decide that a person of another opinion does not have the right to express that? Isn’t it the height of selfishness to stop someone else from speaking?

As a Christian, I’m shocked and ashamed of the behavior of some Christians on social media. I fear that the coarsening of our culture through media: movies, TV, popular music, the behavior of celebrities, has infected us. The word of God says: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world; but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Rom. 12:2)

Attacking another for their expressed opinion is nothing short of tyranny. and fascism. It says, in effect, you will be punished for holding that opinion.

Gone are the days of civil debate. Many people apparently have discarded this kind of structured argument where debaters have the opportunity to present their opinion, buttressed by facts, and then there is a time of rebuttal.

I grieve over the incivility that now grips every aspect of our society.

I grieve that we have lost the concept of reconciliation, of mutual respect, of forgiveness.

I grieve that Christians have lost their love one for another.

The word of God speaks of the “fruits” of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22)

The word of God also says, “love covers a multitude of sins…” (1st Pet. 4:8)

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The word of God instructs Christians to love each other “like brothers and sisters… be tenderhearted and keep a humble attitude.” (1 Pet. 3:8)

What is happening?

Who will ever find Jesus appealing if His disciples behave in such disregard of His word and carry on just like the world does with harsh, unloving, unkind, course attacks on each other? What ever happened to “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”?

I can handle disagreement in person and on social media. But let’s do it with gentleness and respect.

And finally, here is a scary verse from 1st John: “If someone says, I love God, but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar.” (1st John 4:20)

I can’t do much to change this behavior except to pray for Christians to recognize their guilt (if they indulge in it) and to remind us all by posting God’s word about speaking truth in love.

I intend to do just that. Starting now.

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

What About Your Dreams

Some of the ideas for my novels have come from my dreams. For instance, the bad guy—Dade—from my The Hunted trilogy came from a dream. I think Dade represents many of my fears from when I was a young single woman, working in San Francisco.

My husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day about dreams. Specifically, what they say about you, and additionally, how dreams evolve in our lifetimes.

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For example, Bruce has dreams of being a super-hero with the ability to fly. I’ve had flying dreams, too, but I’m mainly jumping up very high and then flapping my arms to try to stay aloft. Not much of a super-hero flight!

In these super-hero dreams, Bruce likes to rescue people and battle space aliens. I say, “Wow, Bruce, you sure have a healthy ego.”

But I like that he’s so self-confident and that he sees himself as a rescuer. Maybe that’s why, when I’m having computer troubles and call out, “Bruce, help!” he always springs to my defense. He loves to be my protector and provider!

My recurring types of dreams are:

The ones where I’m trying to travel from point A to point B, but I’m undercover because there are bad people trying to capture me. Sometimes I’m on foot. Other times, I’m doing the Winnebago-or-something-else thing.

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The other type finds me in a very nice BIG house. Not the Stanley Hotel Stephen King used for his book, The Shining,  but something equally impressive. We’ve just moved in. There are multiple wings in the house and one in particular I’m excited to use for visiting guests. (The guest part is always very prominent in the dream.) But as I inspect the three new rooms, I feel a sinister presence. I seem to understand that the daytime restrains the evil, but at night, the demonic entities within will control these rooms. Therefore, I won’t be able to safely house my guests in these rooms. There is a problem in my house and I have not solved it. Not a nightmare, but certainly an uncomfortable dream.

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I’ve had this dream for many years. But in the past ten years the dream has evolved. The three rooms (always three) have been transformed. The feeling of evil is gone, and I can safely put guests, even one of my grown children in one of them for the night. In this more modern iteration, I hesitate and question whether I can put someone in one of the guest rooms, but then remember that the evil has been vanquished. I, myself, choose to sleep in one of the bedrooms occasionally and feel completely comfortable and secure at night. It’s a great dream.

For Bruce, he always has, and always will be the super-hero. His dreams reflect that need in him to protect others.

For me, I’ve grown in my confidence that Jesus Christ has vanquished the things I’ve feared all my life, and I can rest in the knowledge that He is WAY more powerful than evil. And my dreams reflect this new confidence.

What about you? How have your dreams changed? What do you think your dreams say about you?

 

By George, I Think He’s Got It!

Last week I shared about Link, the cat, and his murderous instincts and how focused he is. I talked about how important it is to stay intently focused on our goals, just like the hunting cat.

This week I want to share my observations about Rufus the squirrel. I’ve mentioned him before and how hard he tried to figure out a way to extract sunflower seeds from our bird feeder.

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This “squirrel-proof” feeder works like this: the feeder has a metal casing which fits over a clear plastic tube. On the outside of the metal casing are three bird perches. The genius part of the feeder is this: when something beyond the weight of a bird presses down on the bird perches, it lowers the metal casing, effectively shutting off access to the holes where the seeds are.

Now this system works especially well because I’ve placed the feeder about eighteen inches out from the wall. The drop from the feeder to the ground is about twelve feet. Enough to hurt if a squirrel falls from the feeder.

For the two years that I’ve used this feeder Rufus has repeatedly tried to foil the genius feeder system.

There’s another type of squirrel who covets the sunflower seeds, but he’s way too small to reach the feeder. His method is to climb out on the metal support beam and lower himself onto the top of the feeder. Then he reaches down and tried to pop off the lid. Of course, there’s no lid, just a fused top, so he fails.

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But Rufus has his eyes on those three openings where the tasty seeds sit. This is how I imagine him reasoning out his strategy:

Rufus: “There’s got to be a way. I’ll find a way. I’ve just got to. Hmm, what if I reach out with one paw?

Oops, almost fell. 

How about the other paw. Oops. No, that won’t work either.

Hmm.

Uh oh, there’s that pesky lady, watching me. I’d better keep an eyes on her or she’ll get me with her broom, for sure.

I know, I can hold onto the railing with my back feet and strrrrrrrreeeeeeetttttch all the way to the feeder.

Got it. Ah, tasty, crunchy seeds. This is living.”

ME: I can’t believe my eyes. That smart aleck squirrel has figured out a way to get around the genius squirrel-proof system. By George, he thought that he could do it and indeed he did!

Now, besides helping himself to paw-fuls of seeds, he’s leaving little brown ‘gifts’ all over my bannister. And now, look. He’s got his girlfriend watching him. Of course, she’s not as smart, and apparently squirrels don’t teach each other, so she’s out of luck. And he doesn’t share any of his loot.

And furthermore, while he’s glutting on the bird seeds, no bird will come near. The rat!

I’ve been bested by a grey squirrel.

(This is somewhat on subject: Here I am, walking a trapeze rope bridge. It’s harder than it looks. Walking this feels a little like writing and trying to find the right publisher. A bit scary!)

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Back to Rufus.

But there’s something admirable about that obnoxious and inventive squirrel. He doesn’t give up. And he doesn’t let my intimidating presence stop him, either. He keeps one eye out for danger (me) and experiments again and again. He’s the Edison of squirrels. An Einstein squirrel who can think above and beyond his ken. The Elon Musk of grey squirrels, who plans and strategizes.

I’m impressed. I need to be more liken Rufus. The Rufus who boldly eyes the prize and doesn’t quit even though all the other squirrels have. It took him two years to figure out a solution—and for a squirrel that must be 50 percent of your life—but he kept at it.

I’m kind of thinking God has a life lesson for me here. About not quitting, not listening to others when they say it can’t be done. Of trying all options. Of feeling a bit nervous—like walking the trapeze rope bridge—but persevering.

The lesson came at the right time because the last few months I’ve been feeling sluggish and discouraged about my professional life. Maybe it’s the shut-down. Maybe it’s just me. It’s something writers fight a lot especially since most of our time is spent alone. But Rufus doesn’t let discouragement stop him, and neither should I.

I’m grateful to the Lord for sending Rufus!

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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