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.

The Greatest Story

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With Easter just around the corner, Bruce went to our church’s worship band rehearsal yesterday evening. Yes, he’s still an excellent drummer.

For the first time in at least fifty years, I’m not involved in anything musical. Which feels weird. Being a musician has been a large part of my identity since my teen years. I still practice my guitar and my piano on a daily basis, but now that I’m old, I’m moving on to writing as a form of worship.

Writing has taken over my weekdays. It’s not like I’m some prophet, or a preacher, or anything great, for that matter. I just spin tales that place characters in impossible circumstances and tell how their faith helped them navigate through the sticky webs of danger, deceit, fear or hate.

However, talking about a true story with all the elements of a great suspense: danger, deceit, fear and hate, the Resurrection account of Jesus is the greatest story ever told, one I could have never dreamed up even on my most creative days.

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Who would have thought a Hero would die and thus conquer?

How can death bring life?

Why would the enemy be loved instead of hated?

How can the weak be strong, the last be first, the slave be greatest among us?

Why did the Resurrection transform weak, sissy followers of Jesus into lions of faith, ready to die martyr’s deaths?

Who else but God could have conceived such a plan?

Even Satan, diabolically smart as he is, could never have conceived of a story like this Resurrection story. Maybe because he’s a liar and a hater, he just couldn’t see how love and self-sacrifice could conquer sin and death.

What a story!

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

“He never sinned, nor deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted, not threaten revenge when He suffered.

He left His case in the hands of God, who judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we an be dead to sin and live for what is right.

By His wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the guardian of your souls.”

(1st Peter 2:22-25)

Magic in Ordinary Days

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Today, I woke up.

I woke up being mindful. Do you ever have a wake-up like that?

I woke up being aware that God was watching me.

Actually, it was the sound of the coffee grinder that woke me. It’s a wonderful sound. It means that my husband is home. Thanks, Lord.

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Then I heard happy voices: my husband and my daughter. They were both laughing. Thank you, Lord.

I rolled out of bed and was aware of how good it felt to get up and walk to my window to gaze outside. It’s spring and the tree just outside has beautiful blossoms. Little crystal raindrops are hanging from the blossoms, catching the light, creating tiny  prisms. I almost expect them to jingle in the breeze. How wonderful to see this.

My cat, Link, brushed along my legs and chirped to be noticed. Something about petting an animal makes you feel good, don’t you think? If I could purr, I’d purr when Link’s soft fur caresses my ankle.

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In the bathroom, I turned on the faucet and cold, clean water gushed into my glass. I shouldn’t ever take clean water for granted. I took my morning pills and felt grateful that I can take medication that keeps me from being a sleepy, itchy, puffy, thin-haired, mentally slow, physically sluggish, fat blob. Thank you, Lord.

I decided to skip breakfast because I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t hungry because I ate yesterday. What a blessing to live in a day and age where I can afford to eat anything I want whenever I want.

This is not an extraordinary morning. But it’s magical. Oh, not in the circus magic, or the dark kind of magic. I mean, when something’s ordinary but sweet and you notice it and realize that every second, every breath, every conscious thought, every ordinary thing that surround you, every ordinary action is a gift from your Creator: it’s magic.

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It makes you grateful. and grateful makes you joyful. Not because you just got something you’ve been wanting. But joyful because you recognize that you’re ok even if nothing besides what you already have, ever came to you.

Recognizing that God’s got your back. And your sides and your front and your history and your future.

 

Finally, Haven’s Fire is Coming!

IMG_2373My cat, Link, looks the way I feel after all my writing, editing, composing dedications, acknowledgements, and doing all the other promotional stuff writers need to do in the wake of a book’s release.

But it’s finally here. Haven’s Fire, book three of the Hunting Haven series is set to release on April 16th on Amazon. It will be on sale for 99 cents in the Kindle version on that day!

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Kids Don’t Forget

img_2610When I was in the first grade I had a rather severe teacher named Mrs. Flaherty. She was a good teacher, though, and I enjoyed writing in my workbooks and reading stories and doing art.

Mrs. Flaherty had a mass of wavy dark hair, cut short, as was the style in 1960. She wore knee-length dresses, cinched in, and I admired her slender waist and the graceful, adult way that she walked and talked.

Someday, I’ll be a grown-up, I thought, and I’ll wear pretty dresses and my hair will be styled just like Mrs. Flaherty’s.

I was a quiet child—way too quiet— but studious, smart, obedient. But one day, Mrs. Flaherty told us all not to talk. Since I was a quiet child, and my mouth was always closed anyways, this was not a problem for me. But the girl next to me was not a quiet child, and she continued to chat at me. Finally, I whispered, “You’re not supposed to talk.”

And Mrs. Flaherty caught me—not her—talking.

She said, “All right, I said not to talk.” I knew even at the age of six that she meant to make an example of me. “Go out into the hall and sit there until I say you can come back,” she said in her severe way.

I sat, frozen, unable to protest. Going out into the hall was humiliating. It meant, “You’re a bad kid.” But I wasn’t a bad kid. I was just a frightened, withdrawn, pathologically shy six year old. Surely when Mrs. Flaherty saw how truly upset I was she’d relent and forgive me. But, no. She repeated, “Go out into the hall.”

I couldn’t move. Nothing like this had ever happened to me at school. My mouth went dry.

Mrs. Flaherty came and stood over me, folding her long elegant arms across her chest, her glance telling me forgiveness was not going to happen. When I still couldn’t make my legs move, she said in her grown-up, scary way, “Do you want me to carry you?”

The rest of the class sat as frozen as I was, watching with horrified eyes, probably relieved they weren’t the object of Mrs. Flaherty’s humiliation.

Finally, I stood, trembling with humiliation and the injustice of it all, and crept to the door that led to the inner hallway of the school.

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(I’m the cute little girl on the right with my big sisters, Lee and Lori.)

I didn’t forget that incident. Neither have I forgotten the incident which occurred two months later when I accidentally stepped on Mrs. Flaherty’s foot in my happy haste to exit the school-room door at the end of the day.

She hauled me back into the room and accused me of having stepped on her foot on purpose. At the age of six, most kids haven’t learned to take such revenge. I know this because I’ve worked with kids my whole life, and six year olds don’t think that far. They’re very much in the moment.

Anyway, after a stern lecture, and bringing me to tears, she let me go.

I think it’s sad that a good teacher isn’t remembered for her success, but her failure. Since she was clearly aware that I was a good child and a good student, and very, very shy, she could have extended grace. But no, it was more important to make an example of me.

Mrs. Flaherty did not realize, or care, how such interactions affect a child. For a terribly shy child, this kind of treatment only served to make me withdraw even more. She let her personal need to establish her authority and control sweep away all feelings of compassion or understanding for an unsmiling, withdrawn child.

In the sixth grade, I was blessed to have the exact opposite teacher. Mrs. Steele studied her pupils and worked each day to bring out the best in them. She cared when adults failed to listen to kids. But she never pampered us or praised us simply for existing. She discovered that I was talented in art and praised me for my works, even commissioning me to paint murals for the school. When she saw that I was athletic, she encouraged me to take some bold steps in joining the track team and competing in the intramural contests. I’ve never forgotten her kindness, her smoky deep voice, and her justice.

Kids need justice. Not just endless mercy or undue harshness. When adults are biased or unfair, kids never forget. Some grow up to champion the underdog. Others form a hard crust around their hearts.

Those childhood experiences stayed with me as I worked with special ed kids, or taught music classes, or theater. Find the key to each child’s heart and gently open so you can pour kindness and instruction into them.

Praise Him, all ye little Children

I’m a writer now, and I’ve been thinking about why I write. Why do other people write? I have a theory about this. I believe that writing is a way of redressing some kind of injustice. Think about it: how many good stories are about the underdog and his journey to rise about his status? We’ve all experienced injustice of some sort. And sometimes, the most powerful of those happened when we were young and just beginning to learn that the world is not fair.

 

I’ve got a new novel releasing on May 10. It’s the third installment of my Hunting Haven trilogy, and it, too, is about injustice. I hope you’ll give it a try. It’s called, Haven’s Fire. And yes, there is a real fire in the story. It’ll be available through Amazon as both an ebook and a paperback.