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.

Embrace Your Elements

We’re in the process of making a transition from the wet, but beautiful northwest  to cold and windy southeast Wyoming.

Each year, in the state of Washington, I geared up (literally) for the onslaught of constant rain and dark during the fall and winter and spring days. It seemed as if as soon as October arrived, so did the gloomy weather.

Now, before the covid lockdowns this wasn’t much of a problem. I’d just load up my backpack with writing supplies and my laptop and head on over to my favorite coffee places. I’d sit by the fire, with my laptop, enjoying its warmth as I occasionally gazed outside to watch the boats glide by in the harbor. 

I found ways to enjoy the rain. And sometimes there’s something kind of romantic and mysterious about the cloudy weather that lends itself to imagining all kinds of potential stories to be stored away for future writing days.

But in Wyoming, dark clouds are rare (yay!) and sunshine is plentiful (big yay), but wind is an almost daily occurrence.

And I don’t mean whimpy wind. I mean WIND. The kind of wind that knocks semis off the interstate, and makes  walking a challenge of strength just to maneuver in a straight line. The kind of wind that screams around building corners and sends clouds of dust powerful and gritty-sharp enough to scalp a hatless man or woman.

I woke up this morning to another windy onslaught and gritted my teeth. Another day of wind? Oh no, God. Please make it stop.

But the wind is not going to stop. This is the way of Wyoming. The high altitude and treeless prairies invite the wind to fill the empty spaces. And the wind obliges, with gusto.

I saw some pronghorn antelope recently. I’m amazed how these creatures survive out in the open range during the cold and wind.

We’re building a nice, big house on acreage where we intend to plant fruit trees and berry bushes and anything else that is able to stay grounded. Everyone around here with land plants wind barriers of bushes and evergreen trees on the north and west of their property to shield their home. Good idea!

So, what’s good about the wind?

  • It cleanses. Not too much air pollution around here!
  • It brings good things like much needed precipitation from the west.
  • It gets my imagination rolling because the wind sounds like music, and music is the brain’s  great motor.
  • It makes me strong. Otherwise I’d blow away!
  • It reminds me of the power of God, and calls me to pray.

The Gospel of Christmas Carols

 

 

My mom was part of an organization that helps young women go to college. One of her duties during the holidays was to find musical talent to perform for their local chapter.

My four brothers and sisters and I were the talent on three different years. None of us danced, and our piano talents weren’t developed enough for us to be effective entertainment.

But we all had good voices, and with my mother’s considerable pianistic talent, we rehearsed and prepared a sweet program, complete with three-part harmony and even solos.

Oh, I wish I had a photo of the five of us standing in front of my grandmother’s grand piano, dressed in our cute Christmas outfits, singing our Christmas carols. Those are
precious memories.

Most precious of all to me as a five-year-old was learning the words to the carols:

“Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled.”

As a five year old I  wondered, how can a newborn baby be a King? I thought kings were old men with beards and crowns, wearing royal robes.

We sang: “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

Wow, this King lay in a manger, not a soft crib in a palace. Why?

I wondered a lot as I learned my carols.

For instance, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing.”

How can a heart let Jesus in? Oh, I wanted to know. And so began a quest to find out more about this Lord Jesus and how He can come so close that He can be inside of me.

The beauty of the music touched my soul. Such beauty would have to fit a great and good King.

And the words of the carols created beautiful images in my mind of this baby King. Angels announced him. (He must be very, very important!)

And shepherds left their sheep so they could hurry to Bethlehem to see Him. (Again, He must be way more important than most people.)

Wise men from the east followed a bright star. And when they found the baby Jesus they worshipped Him. How did they know Jesus was Someone to be worshipped? (I wondered this when I was seven, and preparing for our second Christmas performance.)

I mean, we’re supposed to obey a King. But worship Him? Only God gets worship. (Somebody told me this; I can’t remember who.)

So this baby Jesus was more than a king? He must be God?

No one in my family could answer my question. I didn’t have a Bible, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have known where to look in its pages to find the answer.

Jesus is God?

He must be. All those Christmas carols we were learning affirmed my question. And those wonderful words comforted me and let me know that there is a God who knows me, who came to make things right, who is worthy of worship as truly God.

Years passed, and with each Christmas holiday I sang those carols. And each time I did, the truth of the words drew me toward Jesus. I didn’t know Him, but I knew of Him. I wanted to  embrace Him, but there was no one to tell me how.

Finally, as a teen, a Sunday school teacher explained how to turn from all the bad things in me, and invite Jesus into my life.

Whenever I think of how Jesus used Christmas carols to prepare my heart to receive Him, I tremble with the wonder of His love.

I think this is the essence of Christmas, at least for me. That God looked down from heaven and loved this little un-churched girl in Rio Vista, California, and made a way through music to teach her and draw her to Him.

Oh, thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord Jesus!

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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