All posts by Dena Netherton

I'm a wife, mom, grand-mom, singer, pianist, guitarist, teacher, speaker and writer of stories and articles that point the way to Christ. I'm a lover of nature, good food, well-written books, great music, artfully directed theater, and late-night discussions about philosophy.

Just News

Here’s the news at the Netherton country cottage:

We continue to plant trees and shrubs to make our house a home.

Those are cinquefoil and barberry. This weekend we’ll plant more.

A pair of barn swallows have set up residence in the eaves of our garage. The nest is an amazing engineering feat. I didn’t take a picture because they’re super protective and aggressive right now.

Sitka, the puppy got spayed and she also had her strange dew claws removed from her back ankles. She also got chipped and had all of her shots. See her bandages? They shaved her belly, too. (I don’t usually leave my shoes out for her to find and chew. But I caught her cuddling with them and didn’t have the heart to take them away.)

Link, the cat likes Sitka and revels in their “knock-down-drag-out fights.” Link sounds like he’s being murdered when Sitka pounces on him, but he comes right back for more. He jumps up on the dining table and flops down close to Sitka’s roving nose. The tease!

Sitka found Bruce’s glasses—inside the night stand drawer!— and chewed up the lenses. So there’s another 500 dollars down the drain.

I bought a new microphone so I can record some of my scripture songs. Hopefully, in another couple of weeks I’ll be able to send out Mp3s for anybody who requests them.

I have two contracts: one from my Haven series publisher, Write Integrity Press for a suspense novella. That will come out the summer of 2022.

Also, I’m so excited to tell you I’ve found a home for my novel about the reluctant healer (The Girl Everyone Wants). I’ve signed a contract with Elk Lake Publishing for my story. I don’t have a date for its release yet.

I’m on my third read-through-the-Bible this year and have reached 1st Corinthians. Boy, if he reamed the Corinthians out for their quarrels and immaturity, I wonder what Paul would write to our modern-day American churches?

Y’all, have a great week!

Love, Dena

A New Baby!

Remember when your kids were toddlers. How curious, how destructive, how maddening, but how cute they were?

Well, we’ve gone back in time. This time, with the canine variety.

This little four-month cutie-pie is our puppy, Sitka. She’s half Husky and half Heeler.

Sitka loves her crate and likes to nap in this position.

She is endlessly curious, endlessly mischievous. Smart but stubborn.

Look at the next photo. See the look in her eyes? She’s asking me, “Am I allowed to chew on this?” (Yes)

“Please don’t take this chew toy away. Please don’t scold me.”

The potty training is coming along … mostly. When Bruce takes her out to do her business, I sometimes watch from the window to assure myself I won’t have to clean up after her when she comes inside again.

Sometimes I ask Bruce, “Did she potty?”

“Yes, she did.”

“But, was is just the pee-pee?

“No,” Bruce answers. “She also did the poo-poo!”

“Yay!”

And then we both laugh because it sounds exactly like the way we talked when our kids were potty training.

I regularly buy her toys and chew objects to keep her occupied.

But some things are forbidden.

She’s not allowed into the master bath because there are so many items she won’t leave alone.

She especially loves the master bath trash.

And beyond the master bath is the walk-in closet where all sorts of delectable and smelly items of clothing rest in the hamper. Sitka thinks, “Aw, smelly socks are the best. Underwear? Almost as good.”

“But the absolute most funnest, bestest, tastiest ever,” she thinks, “are books. Yes, books. Those bits of paper are like dessert. They almost melt in my mouth. And ripping them into little pieces, chewing them into pulpy pieces to decorate the carpet is so satisfying. It’s almost worth destroying my lady’s books even though when she discovers me and the book she screams like a cat. Yeow! I don’t like that loud sound. And she gives me a swat and a ‘No, no, no, no! Bad dog!’”

 

Sitka chases and terrorizes Link, the cat.

She steals the kitchen towels, any socks left on the floor, wires, the tv remote, tags on towels and blankets, anything not tied down, etc.

And she’s a digger. There are bunnies and ground squirrels in abundance on our eight acres. And, by golly, she’s gonna dig one up!

She hasn’t learned to come. Well, I take that back. She comes when I have a treat to offer her. Otherwise, she comes when she feels like it.

She jumps on us. We’re working on that. She doesn’t jump on me too much ‘cause I thrust out my knee. But Bruce is so nice, she keeps it up with him.

Oh, but this sweet puppy is so adorable. When I praise her, she gazes up at me with liquid dark chocolate eyes that seem to say, “I’d do anything for you.”

And so, we hold on. Because the reward of our consistent training and praise and patience will be a loving, loyal, civilized adult dog who will bark to warn us of prowlers, protect us from all dangers, and lie at our feet when we sit by the fire, dreaming contented doggie dreams.

And, unlike raising humans, we don’t have to wait for twenty years to finally see the fruit of our labors.

I’d forgotten how much patience it takes to raise a young one. It’s all coming back.

In the Still of the Night

 

Bruce and I finally moved into our almost new house outside of Cheyenne, WY. It’s got acreage abutting Interstate 25. Some people wouldn’t like that, but because of the acreage, the house is quite a distance from I-25. The sound of traffic is slight.

I love to watch the trucks traveling north and south. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I stand by my window and wait for a truck to pass. I think about the driver. Does he or she feel lonely? Does he think deep thoughts while he drives those long, hypnotic stretches between Cheyenne and Casper?

When I was a little girl, living in the Central Valley town of Rio Vista, California, I used to lie awake for a long time listening to the trucks on the highway. They seemed lonely, and I was lonely, too. Everyone else was asleep and here I was again, staring at the ceiling, listening, thinking, wondering.

Loneliness is part of not being able to sleep. But not being able to sleep makes one become a thinker…I think.

During those early years when I was younger than nine, not being able to sleep, I thought a lot about those foggy, creepy hills behind our elementary school and if monsters lurked there at night,  what happened to my dead cat after it died,  if angels really do watch us and protect us, if my bedroom walls really could dissolve and swallow me into the fourth dimension (like an episode of The Twilight Zone dramatized).

I thought a lot about God, too. We went to church occasionally, and what I learned in Sunday school made me curious about Jesus. During the day I didn’t have time for pondering these questions. But at night I could think and ponder as long as my eyes stayed open.

There is much value in those lonely nocturnal hours. The Psalmist, King David, spoke much of his own lonely hours, of his meditations, his prayers, his songs in the night.

“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on You through the night.” Psalm 63:6

I believe God uses those times to call to us insomniacs. To invite us to ponder about Him, to call up things we’ve already heard about Him. To use our good and bad memories to make us search for meaning in them.

Have you struggled with insomnia? As hard as that is, there might be a blessing from God if you’ll seek Him during those still nights.

In the stillness, there is the time to recount all that God has done in your life, to thank Him.: “How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them.” Psalm 111:2

 

 

Sometimes Authority is Right

 

My husband and I spent the weekend watching our grandchildren at their house while Carissa and Garrett went to the hospital early Friday morning to have their fourth child.

The boys were thrilled. They love to play card games with us, and watch their favorite movies. Oldest grandson in this family, Roen, who’s ten, absolutely loves to talk about volcanos. So each morning, we watched another sci-fi volcano movie. These movies usually go like this: they  introduce the handsome but maverick scientist. He’s smarter than the other scientists. He knows that something rally bad is brewing under the earth. Unfortunately, even though he has a proven track record of predicting eruptions based on good science, no one listens to him. Until …

The rest of the movie depicts the consequences for the town nearest the spewing volcano. The unwise townspeople and the stupid scientists trusted in their emotions of security and complacency. They failed to listen to the voice of authority.

The message from the movie maker seems clear to us lay people: Don’t trust the authorities. They’re a bit dull. They say things we don’t like to hear. They get things wrong.

That’s Hollywood for you. Anti-authority. Sensationalists. Emotional.

Yet, in the real world, we need those dull scientists with all their meters and mathematical calculations. They tend to be correct. We rely on them to predict a bad snow storm, or an approaching hurricane or tornado.

Today, in Wyoming (Colorado, too) we’ve been warned of an approaching big snow. The lady at the clinic told me today we should expect 44 inches of snow. And Estes Park, up in the Rockies, is supposed to get 91 inches!

But I’m looking out my window, and except for occasional patches of clouds drifting by, the sky doesn’t look threatening. In  fact, it’s about 40 degrees this afternoon. It would be easy to ignore such a storm warning. At times the sky seemed almost as blue as this photo of the Tetons.

What do you think? Should I poo-poo the weather prediction?

Or should I stock up on milk and cereal and cat litter?

I don’t know about you, but when my life depends on it, I’m going to listen to the experts. No trusting my puny senses.

The Word of God is often like a weather expert, warning us of trends, of hot and cold fronts, of potential spiritual or economic tornadoes or floods.

It warns me of things I cannot see. And I’ve learned from experience not to poo-poo its words.

I need to believe what God says and not rely on my emotions or my faulty perceptions. That can get me into trouble.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses: “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Cor. 5:7)

I guess another way of saying this is by quoting this famous verse in Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your might and lean not on your own insight. In all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

You Don’t Need To Survive

Fifteen years ago, in Paradise, CA —yes, that ill-fated town that later suffered a catastrophic fire— I heard a sermon that shocked and challenged me.

It was entitled: “You Don’t Need to Survive.”

The pastor spoke of our need to let everything go in the knowledge that Christ has given all for us, and we have been bought with a price. Christ, having purchased our souls, we should ready ourselves to do the same.

He spoke about missionaries in hostile countries, of lay people and pastors in countries where Christ is the enemy of the government, of businessmen and women working in companies that celebrate the acquisition of wealth even to the extent of disregarding powerless people.

Our pastor said that in the light of all that we have gained through faith in Christ, the loss of our physical lives is virtually nothing in comparison.

“You don’t need to survive” is antithetical to our instinctual drive to survive. Yet, the pastor repeated this phrase over and over within the body of his sermon.

But the survival  instinct, in faith-filled believers, and in extraordinary times, must be subjugated in order to fulfill a higher purpose than mere physical survival.

And when I say that I was shocked at the pastor’s message, it’s not because I had never considered the reality of Christians dying for their faith. It was the phrase: “you don’t need…”

“You don’t need.”

What? Of course I need to survive. I mean, isn’t it the most basic need? It shows itself from the beginning, at a newborn’s first cry, at the sucking of its fist, the startle reflex, the toddler’s first attempt at deceiving its parents to avoid discipline, clinging to Mama at seeing a strange, new face.

Our Creator God put that instinct inside each of us.

But the apostle Paul said: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18 NIV)

And the apostle Peter said: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Pet. 4:12)

According to these great apostles, being willing to suffer for identifying with Christ and His Word—even to the point of death— is the mark of the true believer.

Many Christians are aware of how our nation is becoming increasingly hostile toward people of faith. If this trend continues (and I believe it will) how will we as believers navigate this strange new world? Will we simply melt into the new fabric, or will we hold to our integrity and our orthodoxy?

The price may be great. Already, some teachers, professors, and others have lost their jobs for daring to disagree with the present correct stance.

We will all have to determine what is a hill to choose to die on. Will we keep silent when our HR departments instruct us to agree with bad and harmful beliefs?

Will we teachers teach new but false histories, sciences, philosophies, sociologies? Or will it be a personal hill on which to choose our own professional  death?

Will we leave a church that harps on and on about social issues but ignores preaching the soul-saving gospel? Are we willing to leave old friends and fun fellowship for the sake of clinging to right doctrine?

The other day I read an article about the church in China, how the communist government is very concerned by its rapid growth. What to do? I wanted to write a letter to the Chinese government and tell them how to make the church die: “Leave the church alone, give them tax benefits, approve their message, their work. Then watch them, in their newfound freedom, begin to tear each other apart, argue about doctrine, watch churches split, watch its members grow lukewarm and ineffectual in the face of all this luxurious freedom. Sirs, the way to destroy the church is by leaving them alone!”

I predict that, in the coming years, we western believers will face the same kind of snuffing out, disappearing, persecution that our Chinese brothers and sisters face. Are we willing to “not survive?”

Something to think about.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9: 24 NIV)