Tag Archives: dena.netherton.me

Slugs and Motivation

I don’t know about you, but what frequently motivates me is…

Dis-satisfaction.

It could come from looking in the mirror

or reading my latest medical lab reports

or catching myself doing one of my pet sins.

Lots of Christians say it’s not good to be dis-satisfied. It leads to focusing on negative things. For the most part I agree.

But not when it comes to things that can or should be changed. My dis-satisfaction does not take my joy away. It’s merely an impetus.IMG_0682

I took a long walk the other day. It’s my time to talk to the Lord, to reflect, to enjoy God’s creation, and to let my mind get creative.

I crossed this critter:

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and wondered what made this slug decide to brave the wide, wide, gravelly expanse that separates one lovely, wet, arboreal area, from the other lovely, wet arboreal area across the path. The path is only about six feet wide. But to the slug, who neither comprehends human measures of distance, nor circumscribes his movements according to my perception of boundaries, his journey across the rocky wasteland is “what you do.”

To me, the woods on either side of the trail look identical.

There’s a stream on one side.

But there’s a pond on the other.

On each side, there are plenty of plants and other delectable things for a slug.

So why expend so much energy crossing over?

Because the slug wants something more.

And I do, too.

This is what motivates me:

Professionally, I’m not satisfied that I’ve published three books this year. What good is that if no one knows my books are out there? So I’m currently seeking friends who will review my book, and researching on-line promotional sites that will help me get the word out about Haven’s Flight, and the sweet love story, coming out in June: High Country Dilemma.

Physically, I’m not satisfied with the numbers mocking me on my glucometer each morning. They’re a mite too high. Which motivates me to get on my hiking boots and head for the trails. And eschew donuts and pasta and grains and soy and potatoes and ice cream, and anything else that tastes good.

Spiritually, I’m not satisfied about the sin that hangs on, making me want to self-flagellate. Oh, how I long for the day when I will be freed from my flesh. It’s almost painful to read Paul’s words in Romans: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

In the meantime, I recognize that “it is God who works within both to will and to work for his good purposes.” (Philippians) And I keep slogging (slugging?) toward the goal of conquering the “sin that entangles.”

Like the slug, my progress is slow, on all three aspects.

The slug is driven by his God-given instincts, whatever they are.

And I am driven by my God-given need to push on, not content to stay in an imperfect place.

 

 

Wilderness and Writers

 

Last weekend Bruce and I decided to revisit some of our favorite scenic spots on Washington’s Highway 20. The clouds and rain have still not gone to bed for the night of winter, but given the amount of rain the Pacific Northwest has gotten this year, I hoped to see waterfalls.

I was not disappointed.

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Close to the town of Marblemount, we passed more:

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After Newhalem, I photographed about six more, but you get the idea.

What is it about waterfalls that make our hearts beat faster, in awe? Is it merely  the water? Or is it the distance that it falls? The “shhhhh” sound as it tumbles and whash-boards over the layers of rocks? Or the white spread and spray, resembling a bride’s veil and train?

We continued on Highway 20 until we met the road closure, turned around and parked at the top of Diablo Lake. When the sky is blue, the lake resembles Canada’s Lake Louise, with its turquoise water, hedged by giant, snow-capped peaks.

But today, the clouds, fog, and wind stirred up gun-metal gray waters.

There were only two cars in the vast parking lot: ours and a woman accompanied by her little boy, who complained about the cold while the mother insisted he “at least take a look” at the lake.

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There’s a kind of visual that inspires the writer in me. It’s the one where the sky is as gray as the mountains, un-mirrored in the lake they overshadow. The clouds twist and swirl, and hover over the mountain peaks as if God had settled there, waiting to speak with His prophet.

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They say that stories are largely inspired by social interaction, where conversations and situations create a personal challenge in the protagonist, giving rise to an interesting story concept. Perhaps that’s why so many writers love to hang out in coffee houses, watching and listening.

But I think viewing God’s dazzling creation, His mountains, lakes, and waterfalls, is another kind of stimulant. A trip into the wilderness sends a message to the mind: Here’s your backdrop, here’s your setting. Now go and search your memory to find the right characters to populate this stage.

Tell me, what scenes prod your creativity?

 

Newness

The Northwest is positively gorgeous in the spring.

Right now, the daffodils and tulips of various colors glorify the fields in Burlington, Washington.

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Dramatic clouds hover over mountains to the east, which still sport a cap of white.

The air is cool, and the sun even peaks through the clouds from time to time.

The day before Easter, Bruce and I drove down to Burlington to view the magnificent fields. Believe me, my photos do not do it justice.

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The next day, we celebrated Easter at a friend’s house. They had just gotten two baby ducks, which were an absolute hit with the kids.

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And on Monday, I prepared a new manuscript for my publisher, the sequel to Haven’s Flight, which launched on Amazon two weeks ago. That, too is a wonderful beginning…at least for me.

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I love beginnings. I love to watched crocus’s and daffodils and tulips poke through the dirt: the promise of beauty after coldness, and an end to the monotony of gray, gray, gray.

I love the peep, peep, peep of baby chicks and ducks…

Baby horses, baby cows, beautiful children: God’s provision for the future.

In a week or so, we’ll open our doors and windows and let the house expel its staleness, to be replaced by wind-purified, rain-washed air.

I wonder what the morning was like when Jesus began his life anew. When the stone rolled away by an invisible hand and the Lord stepped out. Did heavenly air rush out of the tomb, or did earthly air flow in?

I love the way His resurrected life, and the new life of crocuses and tulips and ducklings coincide.

It’s a reminder each spring that death is vanquished, and that God is the giver of life.

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Facing A Mountain

img_0952I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.

No offence to those who do. It just doesn’t work for me.

But each January I ask the Lord to show me what my focus should be for the year.

One year, the answer was simply, “Get on your knees and pray hard.”

Another year, my focus on one of the shortest verses in Genesis: “And Enoch walked with God.” What would that look like, lived out in my own life?

This year, as I rejoiced in the book contracts for both my suspense novels and my romance novel, I faced a mountain of edits, blurbs, bios, and promotional activities.

Coming out of neck surgery just weeks earlier, I felt so feeble. How could I possibly get done all that my publishers require of me in such a short time, as well as fulfill my ministry commitments at church?

God is faithful. as I poured out my heart to Him about the size of my burden, He reminded me of Jesus’s words from His sermon on the Mount: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34 NIV Bible)

So my new focus for this coming year is:

“One day at a time.”

I know, it’s a cliche. Even so, it’s a great paraphrase of Jesus’s words. If I let myself focus on the whole mountain, my feet don’t want to start trekking.

One day, Dena. Just one day’s amount of steps. You can do this.

 

 

 

When All You Can Do Is Pray

It was a Christmas like no other Christmas we’ve had in at least 35 years.

Normally our house would be thrumming with preparations for the holidays: baking, decorating, Christmas cards, rehearsing music, getting the guest rooms ready.

But this year I had scheduled a surgery to fuse three of my cervical vertebrae.

Nov. 29th.

Okay, I thought, it only a little over three weeks until Christmas, but I’m sure I’ll be up and running, purring like a fine-tuned motor.

I had a stack of books, projects, and music sitting by my couch, waiting for my attention.

My plan was to, as they say, “hit the ground running,” when January arrived.

I’m strong and energetic. A personality that loves to say “yes.” A mind that loves to think and plan and analyze.

Unfortunately—or fortunately, if you have a mind that considers the sovereignty of God—I got none of these things done.

None.

My brain was both blessed and hijacked by the power of prescribed narcotics, designed to soothe even the most intense after-surgery pain.

 

 

Thank the Lord for modern pain meds. Thank the Lord!

But I’m looking forward to the day I don’t need them anymore.

I’ll bet y’all have been there, too.

The one thing I’ve been able to do for the past four or five weeks is scan Facebook and read and respond to other Facebook-ers requests for prayer.

I know many of you all have been faithful to pray for me, and I, in turn, have been faithful to pray for you.

Sometimes that’s the only ministry left to us during a period of illness.

And it’s no little thing.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor.1:3-4 NIV Bible)

 

I’m Still Not Done?

I’m talking to my writer friend, Kim, the other day. About getting older, dealing with health issues. How we’re both looking forward to heaven. The completion of this part of our eternities, the end of pain.

Bible promises jump into my mind. Ones about courage, patience and hope:

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24 NKJV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” (Galatians 5:22 NIV)

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction.” (Romans 12:12 NIV)

We need courage, patience, and hope because we’re still not done. We still have things to accomplish on this side of eternity. And when my heavenly Father determines that the time is right, He will call me home. What a great encouragement and hope that is.

I need this kind of encouragement, too, right now, in fact.

Because I’m a writer. (Cue the descending trombone slide)

I’ve finished my manuscript, signed a contract. Shouldn’t that be the end of it?

Oh, no. Just like my life journey, walked in faith, I have a publishing journey to take before the novel leaves my hands for good.

The edits: I’ve just completed round one. I’m sure there will be many more coming around the bend. (“Be of good courage.“)

The waiting: Suspenseful days, waiting for my editor to get back to me. (“The fruit of the Spirit is…patience...”)

More edits: More preparations for the day of release. Will it ever end?! (“Be joyful in hope…”)

What I learn about courage, patience, and hope in the Christian life spills over into my life as a writer. And visa versa.

I’m still not done?

Apparently not. (I wish there was a sound emoji for a whining kid. But my granddaughter’s face below says it all.)

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Here’s a quote for writers that should be just a few notches lower than scripture:

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

And here’s my own (that’s right, it’s not scripture) quotation:

“Be of good cheer, o writer, thy work hath a great reward if thou persevere in faith, and if thou dost not trust in thy own limited insight, but verily, doth wait on the Lord—and the editor— with patience in affliction, filled with hope.” (Dena Netherton, author and Christian)

I hope you have a great day, still not being done!

 

 

Like Little Children

When I was a small child I found the world of adults—particularly my parents— gargantuan, scary, and incomprehensible.

The things they conversed about sounded like gibberish.

They could do things that seemed god-like, such as lighting a pilot light, driving a car, or going to sleep in a dark, dark room without needing a night-lite.

Who else but a god could read a newspaper and understand it, let alone enjoy its contents?

Who else but a god knew how to drive from our house to some strange place we’d never been before?

And who but a god knew the order of our days: when to get up, what to wear, and if the events of the day were going to diverge from the ordinary?

So when my god-like parents determined that it was time to take a nap, I did not question them.

When food was placed before me, it did not occur to me to ask for menu options.

If my parent-gods were pleased with me, my world felt secure.

If one of these gods was displeased, I felt shame.

I learned to socialize.wild-basin-june-2011-072

A few years passed.

I went to school, developed relationships with my peers, and learned to do god-like things like read and write.

By ten, my parents were no longer gods. Sure, they were people to be admired, even feared at times.

But they no longer dwelt on Mt. Olympus.

I let them know by my words and body language—even though, obedient— that I no longer accepted their orders and instructions without question.

I ceased to be a little child.

This is as it should be for the growing child. He or she must begin to learn how to live independently.

But in the supernatural world of the seeker of Christ, or the disciple of Christ, to be child-like is exactly what we need to be. Dependent.

To recognize that the world surrounding us is gargantuan, often scary, and almost always incomprehensible.

And to trust that our Father knows what is best for us.

Unlike the little child living under his parents’ roof, I will never grow so mature and knowledgeable that I won’t need Him.

I need to keep reminding myself that…

He is the Alpha and Omega

and I am just a wee small babe in constant need of protection and guidance.

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“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” (Matt. 18: 1-3 NIV Bible)