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, April 30, 2012

Being Humble

Recently I received a rather stinging critique of something I had written. If you're a writer or artist of some kind, you know how hard it is to read less than favorable comments about your work.
My first reaction is defense:
You mean and nasty critique person! You just don't understand. I used this word because. . .
Can't you understand that I started the article this way because. . .
Did you really read and comprehend my work? I think you missed the point.

And so on.

But in the back of my head is this verse from the Old Testament:
"Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." (Numbers 12:3 NIV Bible)

And so I go back and read the critique again.
This time I tell myself, "If Moses, one of Israel's greatest leaders, and the one whom God talked to face to face, was humble, then I can certainly be humble too."

This time I read the critique with new eyes, eyes that sincerely want to learn and improve.
Hmm. The constructive criticism makes sense.
I can see what the critique person was talking about.
Yes, I shall make the suggested changes.
It'll really punch up the story.
What great suggestions!

Thank you, nice critique person. I've learned some valuable lessons today.
I'm even going to say "Thank you" next time I see you.

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Go to the Beach

I grew up in Northern California, near San Francisco, but far enough east that the famous cool and fog didn't reach us.
On hot summer days we sometimes drove down to Santa Cruz to spend the day at the beach.
We didn't bring anything fancy, just our suits, some tanning lotion (we didn't know about sunscreen and skin cancer back then) and a big beach towel.
Some other beach-goer always had a radio, so the music was covered, too.
We'd bake in the sun, listening to the Beach Boys, until it was time to cool off in the ocean.
Pelicans dove, surfers rode the waves, kids screeched and laughed as the surf pounded them.
There's something primal about the beach, where water meets sand.
The end of land. The beginning of the wide, mysterious and shark-filled Pacific.
The roar of the waves and the ocean-scented breeze lulled the mind into a "place."
Even now, when I return to the Pacific, be it sunny San Diego or the cool and misty Northwest, I see people roam the beaches in search of that "place."
It's not an intellectual place, or even an emotional place.
The immensity of the ocean, the power of the surf, and the feeling of how small I am in comparison
all remind me of God.
I don't know how an atheist experiences the ocean and the beach.
But I cannot help but connect with the biblical God when I go to the place where the water and the land meet.
It is the place where God approaches and questions me:

"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?"
"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb?"
"Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?"
"Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?" Job 38: 4,8,16,28 NIV Bible)

If you get the chance, journey to the ocean. Then wait for God to ask you what you think of Him.


"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?"  (Psalm 8: 3,4)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quest for Significance

I had a great telephone conversation with my daughter the other day. She's expecting her second child any day now.
While we talked I could plainly hear my three-year granddaughter playing nearby. Kaya's  an extremely talkative, creative and dramatic little darling who loves to collect stuffed unicorns and play princess.
I had a short conversation with her, too.
"Hi, Kaya. this is Nana. Are you playing with your unicorns?"
"I'm a princess," she proudly declared.

For Kaya, being a princess is the highest position any girl can aspire to.
Princesses are beautiful.
They wear beautiful dresses,
And glittering tiaras,
And dainty, jewel-encrusted shoes.
They wave wands,
And give commands.
And everybody, everybody finds the princess captivating.

Look at me, Mommy. Aren't I beautiful?
Take a picture, Mommy.
I'm Daddy's special girl.

Kaya knows she is significant because her mommy and daddy give her lots of attention and affection and affirmation.

Kaya expresses in her three-year old way what we all secretly wish for:
To be somebody.
To be significant.

I wonder if we really comprehend how significant we are --each one of us-- to God.
Oh, I can acknowledge the truth of scripture: "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . . "
But do I really know it in a deep, experiential way?
Like most humans, I've learned patterns of behavior that reflect my insecurity. My sense that I don't matter. It's deeply ingrained.
Little hurts, some big ones, some scary experiences, some very sad times.
These have diminished my sense of significance.

I so want to be captivating to God.
He made me for His pleasure.
Do I really believe that?
I want my Father God to ooh and ah and applaud as I twirl before Him in my princess dress and my dainty shoes.
"You're beautiful, my special girl. I'll always love you."

If I were to try to reason out and believe my own sense of worth to God, I would always come up short. Because I cannot comprehend His love, or that it never ends, or that it is never withdrawn.
I am significant, not because of what I do, or say.
But because He has assigned me value.
And demonstrated it on the cross.

He is my significance.

"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139: 15,16 NIV Bible)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Like General Robert E. Lee, I Surrender!

I've got this great little book called, The Book of Ages, by J.F. Bierlein. It's a compilation of names of famous people and what they achieved at various ages.
For instance:
Actor Humphrey Bogart became an infant celebrity at the age of one. His mother's painting of him was adopted by a baby food manufacturer, so his face was plastered on all the baby food jars.

At age 25, Elizabeth ll became queen of England after the death of her father, King George VI.

At 58, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General, Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Civil War in 1865.

General Robert E. Lee surrendered.
How is that an achievement?
Many would say surrendering is defeat.
After all, Lee had to surrender his personal dream of an independent South.
Certainly, surrendering to the Union brought huge changes for the South --economic, social, political, moral -- and to the nation as a whole.
Great things happened: slavery ended, the Union was preserved, no more lives were lost in the terrible civil conflict.
Hard things happened: families grieved, the South struggled to recover.

Victory feels wonderful. Defeat feels terrible.
But defeat is sometimes the more powerful outcome.

When we say "I surrender" to God, then the work of recovery and rebuilding starts to happen. . . God's way.
Instead of bitterness and thoughts of revenge, God begins a transformation of the heart.
But we have to surrender our own dreams and let God work His dream in us.
Then we will begin to experience life as it should have been all along:
  1. under the Lord's direction
  2. for His glory and His Kingdom
  3. in His power
  4. experiencing His blessing

 "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV)

"I surrender all,
I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all." (VanderVenter/Weeden)

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Critter in My Walls

I believe that animals are attracted to us Nethertons. Or at least the Netherton house.
Maybe they sense that we'd never kill anything slightly bigger than a mouse, with striped fur or a fluffy tail, or feathers. Somehow, they know that if we ever called a pest control company it'd be something like Enviropest.
Enviropest doesn't hurt animals. They put up those trap doors that allow an animal to escape the house, but not get back in the same way.
So this week, I discovered that some small animal --it might be two animals --has taken up residence in the interior walls of my house.
I called Enviropest.
On Friday morning, the morning of my appointment with Enviropest, my walls suddenly got very quiet. I suspect that whatever is running around in my ceiling can speak English, and so has already been tipped off.
Jeremiah --who looks and sounds just like Woody Harrellson --arrived precisely at 9 AM and parked his Enviropest truck in my driveway. We two went in search of the itty, bitty entrance that was allowing a chipmunk (I insisted it was a chipmunk) access to the inside walls of my house.

I was pretty sure it wasn't a mouse. Mice are nocturnal. This critter was active during the day and quiet at night.
Also, mice move a certain way. This critter likes to make quick, long dashes along inside channels and then scratch vigorously and for long, protracted spells. Also, this critter is probably a hybernater, since I'm never bothered during the winter.

It's a mite disconcerting when you're sitting at the dining room table, trying to eat dinner, and some animal is clawing away, unseen, just above your head.

Jeremiah climbed up on the roof and inspected every inch of the roof, the gutters, soffits. Everything.He checked the walls, the foundation, the ground. Then scratched his head and declared my house the best, most solidly built, most impervious house he'd ever inspected. There ain't no way any critter could get into your house unless they're comin' through the garage.

He didn't charge me the usual fee. Just a small fee for coming out and announcing that he couldn't install a trap to catch a phantom critter.

Later that day, I saw one of the chipmunks digging for seeds just outside my office window. I know he saw me watching him. Because he acted way too nonchalant, just like the prison inmate who's putting on the act in front of the guard. And the second I'm not looking, he'll make his move. . . back up onto my roof and into his secret entrance into my house.

Oh, that chipmunk is clever. I'm starting to dislike him.

Well, at least now my little enemy knows I'm alert and vigilant. I got that one thing going for me.

In warfare, be it civil, international or spiritual, make sure your enemy knows you know:
  • who they are,
  • what they are
  • where they live
  • where they are now
  • what are their plans
  • how they intend to carry their plans out
  • when they intend to carry them out 
  • how many are their number
  • what will kill or incapacitate them
  • and that you are capable.

"Praise be to the Lord my Rock
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle." (Psalm 144:1 NIV)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For Annie, God's Compassions Never Fail

"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be." (Great is Thy Faithfulness by Chisholm/Runyan)

Nine of us ladies from Calvary church surrounded our friend, Annie, and sang as she lay in the pre-surgery bay, waiting for the surgery that might restore function and alleviate pain.
We prayed first, then sang. Since we're all choir people, we sounded pretty good.
Even Annie joined along and sang alto.
We prayed that God would surround her with His presence and give her great peace.

But God had already prepared her heart and mind. She said that she felt complete peace.

Whatever the outcome, whether she regains sensation, whether or not her pain is better afterward, Annie knows God will never turn His face from her. The same God who loves her today is the same God who will love her and uphold her into eternity.
Annie will never experience a shadow where once the brightness of God's face shone upon her.
She knows that in spite of her feelings, she can rely on the truth of His Word:

"Ever perfect gift is from God, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17 NIV Bible)

"Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Start At the End

I've seen a lot of movies lately that had unsatisfactory endings. Some books, too. (I wonder how they got published?)
It's really exasperating. I mean, really! I spent two hours, waiting to see if the girl is going to get away from the stalker. Then it turns out that in the last two minutes of the movie, she suddenly gets the gumption and physical strength to overpower the bad guy, grab his gun, kill him, then shoot two FBI agents, steal the money (When did they even mention money?), and wind up on some jet headed for an unnamed Caribbean island. Huh?

By the last two minutes of the movie I'm sternly lecturing the characters, the writer who wrote the screenplay, the director, the producers, the Network. I think seriously about writing a letter in which I threaten to boycott the channel forevermore.
If it's a book, I write a whiny, negative critique on the back blank pages of the book, then throw the book in the trash. I vow that I'll never read another of XXX's novels.

I suspect that many of these screenplay writers and authors of novels haven't really thoroughly engineered the ending. Let's say they're halfway through writing their novel and they're still wondering how the Sam Hill they're going to end it.

Wouldn't it be great if these writers could write more like God?
God's Book has:
  • a promising beginning (beautiful creation)
  • an almost immediate inciting incident (the serpent and Adam and Eve's temptation)
  • painful personal consequences (expulsion from the Garden)
  • the ripple effect on other humans from the original characters' bad choices
  • hints of God's solution (redemption)
  • lots of action (even in the middle)
  • the great revealing of God's plan (Jesus's incarnation)
  • the carrying out of God's plan (Jesus's death and resurrection)
  • then the final battle which leads to the great, victorious ending (which of course for the victors is just the beginning)
God is such a greater author because He knows exactly how His Book is going to end. You can even read the end first and still go back and enjoy reading the beginning or the middle of this Book.

I wish authors would take their cue from the greatest Author. Know the ending, then go back and compose the rest of your story. 

"If you have something of importance to say, for God's sake start at the end." (Sarah Jeannette Duncan)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Would You Face to Save Your Child?

My husband and I were watching a commercial the other day that gave us both the "willies."
It's that one where the young, fit couple are rope-climbing up these straight up and down, narrow rock formations somewhere in the desert southwest. They're already hundreds of feet above the desert valley floor. The young woman finally reaches the top. AND STANDS UP.
I turned to my husband, "Would you do that?"
He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "No!"
Bruce didn't even have to ask me. He knows I hate heights. No matter how many times I've seen that commercial, it still makes my body tingle with anxiety.
I would never dare to climb those rocky structures. Not in a million years. I'd get so dizzy with anxiety-induced vertigo, I'd topple off before I even reached the top.
But What If?
I thought about that commercial this morning. Of course I'd never dare to attempt such a climb.
Then my "what-if" imagination kicked in. What if someone else's life depended on my scaling the cliff? What if some thugs kidnapped my daughter or one of my sons and told me that the only way they'd let my child stay alive would be if I climbed those rocks and reached the top?
Would I do it?
Now I didn't even have to hesitate.
Of course I'd attempt the climb.
With that threat hanging over my child, I don't think I'd even be frightened.
And I'd make it to the top.
I'd do anything to save my child.

If you're a parent, you understand.
Your love for your child is so great that you'd face any danger, even sacrifice your own life to save him or her.

Being a parent helps me know (in a human way) how our Heavenly Father cares for us, His children.
As terrible as the death that Jesus faced on the cross, He willingly sacrificed Himself to save us.

Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord, for giving Your life to save mine. You chose to face God's wrath in order to save me from facing His eternal wrath. What a wonderful Savior!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Deer That Stalked Me

A couple of summers ago I was walking my usual four-mile route around my neighborhood.
Ground squirrels and chipmunks scampered across the gravel roads. Crows and ravens cawed and croaked from the tops of high trees. Mountain flowers and blooming shrubs decorated the natural landscape surrounding the lovely mountain homes.
I scarcely registered the beauty of the mountains, trees and flowers because my brain was working on a scene in one of my books.
Suddenly, a deer crashed onto the road, stopped and stared at me. It flicked its tail and twitched its nose. Then it bounded the rest of the way across the road, into a neighbor's yard, and easily vaulted a six-foot fence.
The deer wasn't a fawn, but it appeared to be very young. I snapped into alertness. Where was the deer's mother?
I looked from side to side and studied the buff-colored rocks.
No other deer. I started walking again.
But when I got to the spot where the deer first appeared, a blur of brown entered my left field of vision.
Mama deer.
She didn't looked scared of me, and something about her body language told me to be very careful.
I backed up a step.
She took a step forward.
I backed another step.
She took another step forward.
I've seen youtube videos of deer attacks on humans. Not pretty. They rear up and pound their victim with razor sharp cloven hooves.
So I backed about five or six more steps.
That must have satisfied Mama because she turned and sauntered off in the direction that her daughter had just gone. Only when she, too, vaulted the fence did I feel safe enough to continue on my walk.

You'd think a walk around one's neighborhood on a sunny morning would be a safe venture.
But I guess things can change fast.
I hadn't come prepared for the change in circumstances. Why hadn't I at least have brought along my hiking poles?

The Christian's life walk bears some similarities.
I should:
Prepare for the journey (Eph. 6:10-18)
Become knowledgeable of the route and its dangers (Isaiah 26:7)
Stay in touch with those who can help me (Col. 4:2)
Remain alert and focused (1 Pet. 5:8  "Be self-controlled and alert."
Train myself for emergencies (1 Pet. 1:13)

Last fall, as I walked that same route, I saw a buck following a doe back and forth across the street as she grazed at various houses. (Courting bucks can become extremely annoyed at anyone or anything they perceive to be in competition for the doe's favor.)
I stopped, watched, then turned around and found another route.

What kinds of physical or spiritual dangers have you avoided by being knowledgeable and aware?