Contact Me

If you enjoy my blog and would like to contact me, you may reach me at this email:

Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Least of These

I snapped a photo of this little fellow at our bird feeder last week. It's been mighty cold lately and the birds are going through the sunflower seeds with the same gusto as the Netherton family devours a Thanksgiving meal.
It gives me a warm feeling to know that I'm helping these adorable balls of fluff stay alive during the cold Rocky Mountain winter.
But that warm feeling is nothing compared to the joy I feel whenever I write a check to World Vision. We've been sponsoring children through this wonderful organization since the early 1980s.
World Vision also sends out a Christmas catalog. You can buy chickens, ducks, or a goat or an ox to help a struggling third world family start a business which will bring them income. Or you could buy a share in the construction of a well that brings fresh, clean water to a village. This year I helped pay for medications to stock a medical clinic. I also helped pay for a girl who's been rescued from forced prostitution to receive care and education. The catalog also describes many other opportunities to support children, women, or families.
If you'd like to check it out, now would be a great time to do it. Here's the web address:

"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You?
When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it for Me.'" (Matthew 26:37-40)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Faith-filled Thanks

"I waited patiently for the Lord:
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God." (Psalm 40: 1-3)

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms
in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in His kindness to us in
Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:6,7)

Thank God for His activity in our lives!
This is the thought that I will bring to the Thanksgiving table today.

As I read these scriptures, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament, I am struck by all the things God does. (I've highlighted them.)
  • He responds to our cry for help.
  • He is actively working to raise us up out of our miserable human experience and give us a heavenly hope.
  • He is actively working to make us like Jesus Christ with the goal of showing us off as His workmanship.
So even if times are tough right now, if we will look with the eyes of faith we will see that God is doing tremendous things all the time. Keep looking up, friend.

"Praise God through Whom all blessings flow."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pure Devotion?

A few years ago I wrote a piece for Chicken Soup about Dudley, our dog. (If you want to check it out, it's in Chicken Soup's book, "What I Learned from the Dog." (I believe it came out in 2009).
Dudley, the dog, was way too smart for his own good. . . and our good, too. My title in the Chicken Soup book was "The Houdini Dog" because Dudley seemed to be able to escape any enclosure, dog-proof or not.
Dudley also learned mucho tricks. But that dog had an independent spirit. He didn't wait for you to say which trick he should perform. He simply performed each trick, one right after another. All the time he'd be watching to see which trick would elicit the reward response.
It would go something like this. Me: "Dudley, sit!"
Dudley: sit, stand, bow, speak, roll over, raise paw, twirl in a circle, watch my hand for a possible treat, repeat whole litany of tricks, etc.
Me: "No, Dudley. Sit, Dudley."
Dudley: excitedly repeat whole repertoire of tricks and watch for expected treat.

Dudley apparently thought he could manipulate us to get his food treat simply by doing it all. He didn't understand that the treat we wanted to give him was dependent on his obedience, not the trick itself.

Sometimes I think our relationship to the Lord is kind of like Dudley's relationship to the Netherton family:
"Just do something, anything, whatever for God and He'll surely bless me."
Never mind listening to God and finding out first what He wills for me to do. Just do stuff."

I loved Dudley, and his comical efforts to get a doggy treat so amused me that he'd usually get a treat anyway.
But I hope my relationship to God is first and foremost about pleasing Him, not working for a silly "treat."
I hope my eyes look up to the Lord out of reverence and devotion, not what I can manipulate God into giving me.

". . . acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts." (1 Chron. 29:9)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Lousey Hundreth of a Point

I went to Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Actually, I wanted very much to go to a certain university in the Northwest, but my older brother, Jay, who always gives the best advice, said that I should go to Oberlin instead. So I sent in a taped audition and was promptly accepted.
Undisciplined and way too enamored of the whole college experience, I didn't work too hard academically. Oh, I practiced my music and grew quickly as a young musical artist. But, looking back, I could just kick myself for not taking advantage of the wonderful cultural and educational opportunities afforded by that extraordinary college.

I graduated with an undistinguished 2.99 grade point average.

Later when I started to apply to graduate schools, that same northwestern university that I really wanted to attend informed me that no matter how good my musical audition was, they wouldn't consider any graduate student with a gradepoint average less than a 3.0.

So I missed out because of a lousey hundredth of a point.

Brother Jay, now a doctoral student in music, told me that the University of Michigan was way better for serious music students anyway, and that's where I should go.
I made another taped audition, sent it off and was promptly accepted.
I really didn't have enough money to go to Michigan, but again brother Jay told me to "just go. If they really want you, they'll find a way to keep you there all three semesters."
When I arrived in Ann Arbor, the scholarship committee awarded me a scholarship and the vocal department offered me a teaching assistantship. I found out later that no one gets both a scholarship and an assistantship. Must be a God-thing.
A few weeks later, I met my future husband. Three semesters later, both with master's degrees, we got married.
Thirty-two years later, very happily married, with three children, three children-in-laws and three grandchildren, I wonder how life would have turned out if I'd actually gotten a 3.0 instead of a 2.99 GPA.

Guess that lousey hundredth of a point wasn't so lousey after all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

So Cute When It's Little

We met this little fellow at a rest stop in the middle of Utah's canyon area on Interstate 15.
He waited patiently as we focused our camera. Didn't dash away, like we feared he'd do any moment.
He must be used to people.
He's so little and cute.

The other day I went to the Denver Zoo with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. The reptile house always awes me. I'm so glad there's a thick sheet of glass that separates me from those pythons and pit vipers.
Monitor lizards can get really big, like six to eight feet long. Did you know that?
They start out cute, just like that lizard in the picture.
But if some predator doesn't gulp them down when they're small, they keep growing.
Then they're not so cute.
Yesterday I stood in line at a supermarket.
An adorable toddler pushed by my legs and gleefully perused the candies and other treats displayed for the purpose of last-minute impulse buying.
I've been tempted by those treats, myself. "Gee, I won't have dinner made for at least another two hours. Maybe I should buy a butterfinger to tide me over. Or two, or three."
Anyway, the little girl would not be deterred by her older siblings who warned her not to pick up any of the candy bars. She grabbed a kit-kat bar and tried to stuff it into her too-small pocket. Finally, Mom intervened and took the candy and put it back.
I felt sorry for the little tyke when her mother took the candy away. She was so little and cute. She didn't even understand that she was stealing.

Like most wrong-doing, when it's small, we kind of think it's not too serious, maybe even a little cute.
The lizard and the little girl don't seem too threatening. But when they grow up, the lizard might bite off your hand, and the little girl might steal cars.
Thank the Lord, the monitor lizard is restrained by zoo-keepers.
And the little girl has a wise mother who is training her, from childhood to respect other people's property.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Water and Light

Like the photo above, we usually think of water in its natural setting as a thing of beauty. On my many road trips I've seen small, meandering streams or mighty rivers, like the Mississippi or the Columbia.
I've stood above Niagara Falls and felt awe at its power.
I've watched ships chug under the Golden Gate Bridge into the beautiful San Francisco bay.
I've hiked national parks in all of the western states and marvelled at the beauty of cascading water falls.
Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National,
Tetons, Glacier,
Olympic, North Cascades,
Without the beauty of the water, I doubt that millions of visitors would flock to these parks each year.

Have you ever stopped to think why water wows us?
Stagnant ponds, stinking bogs, oil-darkened beach water; how does that move you?
Do you want to spend your vacation admiring muddy, stinking water?
Obviously not.

We admire water for its clarity, its purity, its life-giving, cooling, refreshing properties.
When I see a water fall, the first impulse I have is to immerse myself in it. I want my body to be cooled and cleansed. I want to feel the jets of water pummel my head. I want to open my mouth and taste the freshness.
But it is light which reveals water's quality.
In the dark, a waterfall is only sound. It reveals nothing about the quality of the water. I wouldn't want to immerse myself in it. What if the waterfall were actually run-off from a smelting company?
But light penetrates the water. It also reflects. Then, like the whitest diamond, it wows me with its gem-like clarity.
Water is beautiful. . .
but only because light shines through it.
Light is the great revealer.
"...You give them drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." (Psalm 36: 8,9)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Lesson of the Southwest

I love to drive through the desert southwest. I am always impressed with the vastness of the land, the dramatic rock formations sculpted by wind, sand, water and time, and the majestic clouds which seem to spread their glory like a giant canopy, over the whole of the red-tinged creation.
Pronghorn antelope graze on the sage-covered hills. Yellow road signs warn motorists to beware of "eagles on the highway." Dust storms arise suddenly, their murk making it impossible to continue driving.

Some years ago we descended from a high plateau into what we thought was a dense area of fog, only to discover that we'd driven into a terrible blizzard. After three hours of white-knuckle driving, we reached the blessed little town of Salina and holed up for the night.

Years later, Kiri and I drove through the same rocky landscape, but this time it had been transformed by rain and fog into a magical, mystical fairy land of shape-shifting cliffs, cloaked in various hues of greys and looking very much like an Ansel Adams photograph.

The land of the southwest reminds me of the bigness of God and my own smallness.
It's comforting in an awe-inspiring sort of way, don't you think?
The high cliffs seems to proclaim, "Hah, you live as if you think you are the sum total of the universe. Let this be a reminder to you that you are, afterall, dwarfed by God!"
Not that I am insignificant.
Just that I am not very powerful.
I need this reminder often.

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills -where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1,2)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's Your Essence?

The other day I was listening to two men talking. One was trying to describe a co-worker at their company.
"He's got red hair, wears glasses."
"Red hair, glasses?"
"You know, he works in building B."
The two men looked at each other helplessly; that was as far as their descriptive powers went.
I chuckled at their description and said, "If you were two women, you'd be describing the guy like this: 'he's about 5'10", 170 pounds, with wavy, auburn hair, high cheekbones, a strong jaw, hazel eyes, and he wears Calvin Klein sweaters and Rockport shoes."
We had a good laugh about the differences between men and women's style of physical description.
Usually when we describe the outward appearance of a person, we talk about height, hair color, job or position.
Wouldn't it be cool if we described people by capturing their inward essence? . . . . .
"I talked to George yesterday."
"You know, funny, animal-lover, compassionate.
"Oh, yeah, George. Empathetic."

Hopefully, you or I wouldn't be identified by such descriptors as crass, rude, insensitive, boorish, crabby, etc.
Wouldn't it be terrible if everyone knew you were the one being described if the single identifying word was "bossy" or "manipulative?"

My husband and I tried to come up with one single word that would best capture each of our children's inner essence. Of course, they're our children so we came up with wonderful, positive descriptors.
Kiri's words was "Intense."
Garrett's was "quicksilver."
Ian--he wasn't happy to learn our descriptor because he said the word wasn't masculine, but too bad -- was "sparkling." (We later changed the word to "ebulliant.")

It's a great discussion question. Next time you're sitting around the dinner table with family or friends, ask each other, "What one one best word that captures my inner essence?"
You'll be amazed at how similarly friends will describe you.

How would you want your inner essence described?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Names That Make You Wonder

After I wrote last week's post about Zzyzx Rd. I thought all weekend about other names I've encountered.

I had a friend in high school named Stormy. She got that name because her parents thought her eyes looked like the sky just before a storm.

One of my friends had a cat named Michelob. Makes you wonder.

Last year Bruce and I took a road trip through Oregon and Washington. Near the Oregon coast we passed a sign directing us to the town of Mist. Now that's an appropriate name.

Some names are just cute, like Tweedle Road. We saw that sign about a half mile beyond the Mist sign.

Or, coming up the canyon to Estes Park there's a sign for Muggin's Gulch. Well, I can sure understand the "gulch" part. But who in the world was Muggin?

There's a starkly beautiful canyon just on the south border between Utah and Arizona called Virgin Canyon. A couple of miles into it you come across the sign that I've posted: Cedar Pocket.
Huh? Do you see a single cedar tree?

You never have to wonder about the names of God. Afterall, these are names He, Himself has spoken to describe Himself.
"Lamb of God" He offered Himself as a death sacrifice.
"Alpha and the Omega" He always has been and always will be and His position in the universe is supreme.
"I AM"
"Emmanuel" God with us.
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace
Son of Man

There are so many other names and each one accurately describes one of His mighty attributes. No one name, spoken in a human language can fully capture God's essence. But, unlike Tweedle Road or Muggin's Gulch, none of God's names makes me chuckle.
Instead, they fill me with awe.

"I am the Lord; that is my name!" Isaiah 42:8