Category Archives: General

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!

Intently Focused

This is Link, my cat. Sometimes called Linky-pooh.

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Link is an indoor cat because outdoor cats around here don’t live very long.

Nevertheless, he is a cat, and cats are intently focused on killing. They are serial killers without the possibility of a conscience. Link is not a man, with moral sense and a spirit that can commune with God. He’s an animal. So it’s okay when he looks at me with the eye of a tiger. It’s a good thing he weighs ten pounds and I weigh 125 pounds because it prevents him from murdering me. Not that he wants to, it’s just that he’s cat, you understand, and he can’t help himself.

I understand that the nature of cats is stamped on them by their Creator: they have their niche as the hunter and culler of small animals. They are wired in every way to respond to a moving stimulus. We’ve all observed  this. They crouch low, tail whipping from side to side, eyes staring at their prey, a rapid “kid, kik, kik” barely audible, vibrating from their throats.

Link sometimes forgets that Rufus, the big, gluttonous grey squirrel is separated from him by a glass wall. Link throws himself against the window with a thunk, lands on his feet and shakes his head as if coming out of a trance.

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Killing, and raising the next generation of killers is Link’s purpose. He’s a strikingly beautiful killer, don’t you think?

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God has given animals their own kind of glory. I think most of them are way more beautiful than humans.

But we humans have a greater glory, the potential to become sons of God through Jesus, the Christ. And when we do, He immediately sends His Spirit to instruct  us about our Kingdom purpose.

Some, like Link, understand God’s mandate immediately. Others, like me, take a while to learn my purpose in His kingdom and to become intently focused.

I’m getting there, I think. Watching the single-mindedness of animals in their munching, grazing, and cud-chewing, of seeking a mate, being watchful of danger, and hunting blood and bone is a daily reminder that I ought, also,  to be about my own business. That of walking like Enoch walked. With God.

Intently.

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Heb. 12:1,2) 

 

Exciting Times at the Netherton Home

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Being home-bound is not the way it should be for free Americans. But there are two good things about it for Dena Netherton:

  1. Her honey is home. Normally, he’d be traveling all over the country doing audits for suppliers of Lockheed Marten.
  2. She has written a lot!

I’ve written two novels this year, one an action/adventure/suspense, and the second one, a straight romance.

Romance is primarily about this: Will the boy and the girl finally get together?

But I’ve found that you can take the girl (me) out of suspense (in order to write a romance story)  but you can’t take the suspense out of the girl. I guess I’ve got suspense in my very DNA because even my sweet romances are filled with self-doubts, threats of danger, and physical adventure.

My stories always begin with a question like this: What would happen if I lost my ability to do what I’ve alway done well, and, in my struggle to recapture that ability, what would I have to endure and/or encounter? My suspense series, Hunting Haven, is all about this. If you like action adventure and suspense but with an inspiring message, you’ll like this series.

Or, it could be: What would I be willing to do to  achieve my dearest wish? What stands in my way?  My sweet Christian romance, High Country Dilemma, is about this. If you love romance in a small mountain town, you’ll like this one.

My next novel, a suspense (not yet published) involves Zara, a godly young woman with the rare gift of healing. Her story is reminiscent of Jonah and his whale. God wants her to heal people, but she runs from her gift. It’s more than inconvenient to be able to heal. Can you imagine the hoards of people knocking down your doors for a chance of being healed? No sir, this isn’t for Zara. She wants a normal life.

Hopefully, I’ll find an agent who likes this weird story.

And here’s a refreshing photo for you. This waterfall is off of highway 20 in North Cascades, WA.

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And finally….he’s back! Rufus, the grey squirrel.

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Rufus wants to raid my bird feeder, but the feeder is squirrel proof.

Rufus doesn’t believe that for one minute. He tries again and again.

First, the feeder is hung off our wall about eighteen inches out, too far for him to reach. And even if he could reach it, his weight presses the sides of the feeder downward, effectively shutting off the openings where the sunflower seeds are stored.

He’s looking at me and looks none too pleased. As if to express his p…ssed off mood, he leaves little brown ‘gifts’ for me all over the banister.

Seriously, I’d like to feed him, but he’s a complete glutton. He’ll eat till his stomach bulges and he can hardly move. and he’ll happily leave no seeds for the birds.

That’s about the extent of the exciting times in the Netherton household during April.

I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Y’all stay safe and healthy!