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)

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Almost nothing gets me madder than when someone says I'm not telling the truth.
I'll bet you're the same way.

Years ago I borrowed fifty dollars from a friend and told her I would pay her back when I got my next paycheck. As soon as I received my paycheck, I put fifty dollars in an envelope and gave it to my friend, reminding her that I was paying her back for the fifty dollars I had borrowed. She said "thanks." and I thought that was the end of that.
But a couple of weeks later, my friend reminded me about paying her back. I said, "Don't you remember? I paid you back." I then proceeded to remind her how I had given her an envelope with the fifty dollars. Unfortunately, I was young and naive, and lacked the experience to think about getting a receipt from her.
But luckily, I had a witness who had been right there when I gave her the envelope. She corroborated my story.
My friend didn't really believe us. And she continued to remind me about the unpaid debt for years afterward. It broke my heart that she would think I'd cheat her. Hadn't she seen that I had always been a good and loyal friend who had never deceived her?

It's such an insult to be told that your word is a fraud. That someone considers you a liar.

Sometimes one's word isn't trustworthy. The news is full of headlines about companies that have misrepresented themselves.
Many of the executives who've been involved in such frauds have gone to prison.

I told my kids when they were little. "I can forgive and forget the childish and naughty things you do when you sincerely apologize and try to do better. But it you lie to me, it will take a long time for me to trust you again."

If your word cannot be believed, then what do you have?

That's why Jesus repeated many times that He spoke the truth.
And He backed up His claim by being completely trustworthy.
Many people tried to catch Jesus at inconsistencies or lies.
But no one ever could.

But here's the BIG question: if God can lie, then who or what can you believe?
If God lies, then nothing He claims in the Bible is trustworthy.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your world view) you have to ignore the words of God.
You're completely on your own.
And only you can determine truth.
And the truth that you determine would only be applicable to you, not others.

How frightening!

But one of the greatest qualities of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is that His word can be trusted.
Everything in the Christian faith hinges on this: God's truth.
Jesus said, speaking to God, the Father, in prayer said, "Sanctify them by the truth; Thy Word is truth." (John 17:17)

The four Gospels quote Jesus over and over as He speaks about truth:
"I tell you the truth..." Matthew 5, Matthew 6, Matthew 8, Matthew, etc.
"I tell you the truth... " Mark 3, Mark 5, Mark 8, Mark 9, etc.
"I tell you the truth..." Luke 4, Luke 9, Luke 12, etc.
"I tell you the truth..." John 1, John 3, John 4, John 6, John 7, etc.

The greatest work that we humans can do on this side of heaven is to believe Jesus Christ.
Jesus said: "The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent." (John 6:29 NIV Bible)

As we look forward this Sunday to celebrating the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, we may have full assurance that He lives.
That everything He has said in His Word is true.
And that He will come again:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and His name is the Word of God." (Rev. 19: 11-13 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday's (March 27) Word

Today's word is:

keel-haul, verb
Pronounced: keel-hall

Definition: 1. (historically) to drag a person under the keel of a ship and up on the other side as a punishment. 2. to scold or rebuke severely

All right, Mateys, what say you try this word on for size!

Last week's word was jaunty.
Used in a sentence:
"The puppy's floppy ears, too-big paws and jaunty carriage made me instantly fall in love with him when I saw him at the pound."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday's (Mar. 26th) Thought

"When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent."
Meng-Tzu, Philosopher

Monday, March 25, 2013

Godless: Godness

Wasn't it Blaise Pascal who said that there is within us a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill?

I thought about that the other day when I went shopping in an area of town close to Denver known for its lack of tolerance for conservative thinking and particularly for people who worship God.
Although the kind of people who populate this area pride themselves on being open thinkers, tolerant of all others' philosphies, and compassionate, caring humans who are concerned for the environment...
I have observed that these so-called free-thinkers are among the most intolerant.
The ones who put bumperstickers on their cars touting concern for the environment are usually the ones that I see throwing trash and cigarette butts out the window.
The same ones who wear the "coexist" bumperstickers and peace signs on their cars are usually the ones who show the least courtesy toward other drivers.

In short, I find that those who demonstrate god-lessness, show me another kind of spirit altogether.
I call it the quality of "GODNESS."
If Blaise Pascal's statement is true about the vacuum inside our spirits, then one without God must surely fill that vaccum with some other god.
The most convenient god for those who reject God, is the god of themselves.
After all, one's own god is invariably pleasing to one's ego, looking out for one's interest, defending one's sense of righteousness, searching for one's own truth, pleading one's own desires, judging those who can't or won't conform to one's god's ways.
What a perfect god....You!
Why worship and have to be accountable to an objective God, a God outside of yourself, when you can be your own god ...
who suits your own world view, your own morality,
who never expects you to adhere to a set of beliefs that don't perfectly suit you?
I'd call that "Godness:" the quality of being god.

The late Dr. James Kennedy who pastored a large church in Florida once said, "There are really only two religions in the world: the "I" or the "Cross."

"The Cross": Faith in Christ calls us, as believers, to identify fully with Christ's death and resurrection. He is the transcendant God. We declare ourselves sinners, totally incapable of becoming worthy of moral perfection and therefore, heaven. We place our trust in this wonderful God, who did what no one can do: pay for our sin. In placing our faith in Christ, we submit to Him, love Him, worship Him. Nothing qualifies us for heaven; it's only what He has done on our behalf.

"I": All other faiths place the burden of achieving moral perfection on our own efforts.
We either try and try, but never find peace about our efforts. Our failure leads to guilt and fear.

Or we attempt to justify ourselves, and thereby achieve our own kind of moral perfection, based on our own moral template. Godness.

Who will sit on the throne of my heart today?
or godness?

"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." (Judges 21: 25 NIV Bible)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

This Name Taken

Titles and names are a hot commodity.
I learned this about five years when I discovered that the great title I'd chosen for my suspense novel had already been taken...several times: Safe Haven.
In order to stand out, I sure didn't want to use my now-taken title.
It really irked me that somebody took my title, especially when Safe Haven was the perfect title for a female character named Haven who was hiding from a bad guy and found the safe haven in a small mountain cabin. Perfect, don't you think. A double entendre.
With great sadness, I bid farewell to my beloved title and changed it to...
 Valley of Elah.
You see, the main character fights off her antagonist in much the same way that little David did when he faced Goliath.
But that title proved unreliable too.
Sorry, already taken. More than once.
So I changed it again to a title I hope nobody will grab before my future publisher can put my story out in the public arena.

I hear domain names can be a problem, too.
Fortunately, I didn't have a problem when I set up my domain. There's only one Dena Netherton out there.

I recently read a friend's published book. It's a wonderful mystery.
But there are already two other novels by the same title.
Gosh, it's a marketing challenge when your title is hard to distinguish from another book.

I used to hate my name: Dena
Why couldn't I have had a more romantic, lyrical name like Miranda, or Rosalie or Desiree?
No, just Dena. Short, like me, and not particularly memorable, like me, too.

However, there is One who knows my name as unique from all others.
Not that I'm any greater or more important than an other.
Just that He can easily distinguish me from all other humans who have or will ever live.
My Jesus.
Scripture says that my name is engraved on His hand.
The same hand that bore the agony of spikes being driven through them, also bears my name.
Chiseled there by my repentance and invitation, for all eternity.

I can understand this, in a small way.
Because I love my three children enough to die for them. 
I love them each with equal intensity.
Yet I love them differently.
Because they are different and distinct.
I could never get one confused with the other.

Something to consider when we feel overlooked, indistinct, un-memorable.

God, Himself has chosen my name and title. It will not be taken by another.

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have not compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are ever before me."
(Is. 49:15,16 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday's (March 20) Word

Wednesday's word is:
Jaunty (adjective)
Pronounced: jon-tee
Definition: cheerful and self-confident

How about writing a sentence with this word in it!

Last week's word was Idyll, a short description in verse or prose of a picturesque scene or incident.

"The student's idyll of a girl sitting under a tree in rural Iowa charmed the teacher."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday's (March 19) Thought

Tuesday's thought:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is not effort with error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. " Theodore Roosevelt

Are you standing on the brink, trying to summon courage to dare?
I always remind myself when deciding whether or not to venture out of my safe world to try something new or scary: If I fail, will it matter to me ten thousand years from now? If not, then go for it!

Monday, March 18, 2013


This isn't my usual kind of post but...
Who are the lucky people, I want to know, who get to impose their words and grammar rules on the rest of us who speak English?
Why do we have so many words in our language...
yet so few good, efficient descriptive verbs?
The ancient Greeks had at least three words for love: agape, phileo, eros.
But we only have the word "love."

How about the word "smile?"
We have grin, smirk, and simper.
But that's about it.
You have to add all sorts of modifying words to get your point across to the reader.
But with a few combined words, the whole matter is solved. Editors would love it. They're always clamoring for tight, concise, passages.

There are so many different ways to laugh, but not too many good words that describe laughter. I think it be great if the poor writer could avoid adding those nasty descriptive adverbs that clarify how a character laughed?
So why can't I simply invent my own words?
I'd call it "abrevo-speech."

If one of my characters laughed derisively,
instead of," He laughed derisively."
I could write, "He deridulaughed.

What if I frowned irritably, with mouth screwed up, eyes narrowed, and eyebrows drawn down? So many words.
This is better:
I irritafrowned.

What if someone looked at you with a question in their eyes, a tilt to his head and his eyebrows raised?
This is more concise:
He interrogazed me.

And if a teenager sighed, rolled her eyes, and slumped her shoulders, she might be:

Just think how many words you could cut from your work in progress!
If you wrote a 90,000 word manuscript, you could possibly boil it down to 50,000 words. A one-night's read.

Suppose one evening you settle down with a book about a little girl whose mischievous ways get her into trouble with her parents:

April pushed a chair up to cupboard above the microwave. Quietly, and with great stealth, she opened the cupboard and reached her little fingers into the plastic wrapper which contained the remaining ten Oreo cookies. But the stomp of adult feet on the linoleum floor made her mouth gape and her eyes jerk wide with fear.
"Just what do you think you're doing, Young Lady?" Her mother stood with arms folded across her chest, with the look of all parents considering swift discipline.
April jumped off the chair and looked up at her mother guiltily. "I, I was trying to make dessert for you, Mommy." Boy, she'd have to think and speak fast to avoid punishment. "These cookies weren't for me. I knew you were tired after a long day, and I wanted to help you feel better." (Word-count: 140)

Now, let's tell the same scenario with my abrevo-speech:

April pushed the chair up to the cupboard above the microwave. Carefomoving, she opened the cupboard and reached her little fingers into the plastic wrapper which contained the remaining ten Oreo Cookies. But the stomp of adult feet on the linoleum floors made her scaretwitch.
"What do you think you're doing, Young Lady?" Her mother interrogazed.
April jumped off the chair and guiltigazed. "I was trying to make dessert for you, Mommy," she hastidicted. (word-count: 75)

I'd love to add hastidicted to the dictionary. How many of us have hastily spoken too many words when caught in a gaffe or an indiscretion?

This is also tongue-in-cheek, but considering how many prayers the Lord listens to each day, He might appreciate my abbreviated speech, too!

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."(Proverbs 25: 11)


Thursday, March 14, 2013

I, Appliance

I remember the year I starting calling myself "Appliance."
It was the year that all of my children were now either in elementary or middle school
I didn't refer to myself with this title to my husband or children; that would have given them ideas.
But in poor-me times, I'd grumbled to myself, "Everybody thinks I'm just an appliance."

It did seem like that for about ten years.
The "appliance" term fit my daily schedule:

"Mom, did you iron my patch onto my AWANA uniform?"
"Mom, I need to bring 3 dozen cookies to the youth picnic tomorrow."
"Mom, he's bothering me!"
"Mom, when's dinner? I'm starving."
"Mom, can you help me write this book report? It's due tomorrow."

And, as a well-oiled appliance, I responded with my own set of pre-programmed questions:
"Did you do your homework?
"What time is your rehearsal?
"Where's the list of supplies you need for your school project?"
"Don't eat that: it's for dinner tonight."
Be quiet up there and go to sleep! Do I need to come upstairs?
"You need to hand this in tomorrow, and you're just starting on it now?!"
"Who ate the last Oreo?"

I, Appliance.

I use to joke to my girlfriends about the "appliance" role I filled at home. They'd laugh and nod their heads in an understanding way.

But then, one day I watched a pair of robins build their nest in the dogwood tree. Back and forth they flew as they brought construction supplies to their chosen spot in the crook of a high-up branch.
Then they took turns incubating the eggs.
Next, the hatchlings cheeped incessantly for their food.
Again, back and forth, and back and forth Mama and Papa flew to hunt for and bring nourishing worms to their brood.
Finally, the maturing chicks stood up on the edge of the nest and flapped their wings in preparation for first flight.

That's what I'd been doing with my own brood. The sleepless nights, the prayers, the getting up with the sun, the long, hectic rushing-about weekdays, the counseling, the disciplining, the sheltering, the protecting, the instructing, discussing, cuddling, nourishing in body and soul...
all in preparation for their first flights.

In retrospect, the "appliance" role makes sense.
My brood was a demanding bunch.
But no more so than helpless chicks nestled in the crook of my dogwood tree.

Now that they've flown away, I miss those child-filled times.
My children—when they were young—taught me a lot about giving without expecting anything in return.
Now that they're older, they love me in ways I could never have imagined.

Have you ever felt like an appliance at your job or in your role as a husband or wife or mother or father?
How has the Lord counseled you?

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Col. 3:23-24 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday's (March 13) Word

Word for Wednesday, March 13th:

Idyll: noun
Pronounced: i'dul......rhymes with piddle.

Definition: 1. a short description in verse or proses of a picturesque scene or incident, especially in rustic life.
Or...2. episode suitable for such treatment, usually a love story.

I'd love to see your sentence, using this word!

Last week's (March 6th) word was "Hackneyed."

"He threw down the book, disgusted with all the hackneyed phrases that littered each chapter."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday's (Mar. 12) Thought

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."
Alexander Graham Bell

My problem is I keep trying to find ways to open that one door that closed in my face.
How about you?

Monday, March 11, 2013

God's Sovereign "No"

Years ago when I was a young mother, and just beginning to understand how God operates in a Believer's life, I learned a valuable lesson.
Bruce and I had been married about seven years and our two boys were toddlers.
Bruce had been working a go-nowhere type of job and we were researching similar companies that offered more opportunities for growth.
We were living in the mid-west, but I yearned to live closer to California where I'd grown up.
So when this position at a Colorado company turned up, we were both very excited.
Bruce would be perfect for the job; he had all the right types of skills and even knew several of the people he'd be working with, if hired.
He had a phone interview, which went beautifully.
Next, an in-person interview was scheduled.

Our excitement grew with each day as we anticipated moving to beautiful Colorado.
Of course we prayed each day for God's will and His guidance and protection.
But we were confident that this job was the Lord's provision and our answer to prayer about moving west.
We drove out to Colorado a couple of days before the big interview and explored the area where we intended to live.
So confident was I that Bruce would be hired that I explained to my little boys about moving, and how wonderful it was going to be when we could hike in the mountains and go camping every weekend.
The day of the interview arrived. Bruce and I and the boys prayed that the Lord would prepare the minds and hearts of the managers he would be speaking to.
Hours later, when he returned to the motel room, Bruce wore a perplexed expression.
"Well, how did it go?" I fairly tugged at his arm in my excitement to hear the whole accounting of his day at the new company.
Bruce shook his head. "I don't know. One of the managers asked me questions, and he didn't seemed very pleased with my answers."
"Oh, maybe you're mis-reading him."
"No." Bruce frowned. "I don't have a good feeling about my interview."

And, as it turned out, Bruce was right. He wasn't offered the job that had seemed like a shoe-in just days earlier.
We returned to Illinois extremely disappointed. Our dream had been dashed by one stubborn manager at the Colorado company.

We tried to comfort ourselves with the knowledge that God knows what He's doing, and when the time was right, He would place Bruce in a better position.

About eight months later, we heard that the company where Bruce had interviewed had fallen on some difficulties and had been forced to lay off nearly half of their employees.
If Bruce had been hired, we probably would have been unemployed by now.

The Lord had answered our prayers, just not in the way we had envisioned.
He had protected us and provided for us.

In another couple of months Bruce got hired by a much stronger, more successful company—in New York—and we scratched our heads over the mysterious but wonderful workings of our Heavenly Father.

But this experience taught me  a powerful lesson about the sovereignty of God.
No matter how sure something looks to me, God is in control.
What He wills, happens— or doesn't happen, in our case.
I can plead, or manipulate, or try to control things.
But there's no getting around my Heavenly Father.
When God refers to himself as Lord, that's exactly what He means.
He is Lord!
My responsibility is to pray, get aligned with Him, and obey Him.
Then trust that He is working all things for my good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV Bible)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Serious Office

I went to an Orthopedic office the other day. My back's been hurting something fierce lately and I'm hoping this group of medical professionals can help me deal with the pain. When I walked into the office, there were already four or five patients waiting to see their doctors.

I headed directly toward the main reception area and greeted the lady with a smile.
"Hi, my name's Dena Netherton and I have a 2 o'clock appointment with Dr. XXX."
The lady, though efficient, did not return my smile. "Did you bring any papers with you?" she asked, not even looking up.
"Sure did," I said. Handing the CDs containing my x-rays and MRI images, and new patient forms to her, I smiled again.
She barely glanced at me. "Have a seat. We'll call you in a few minutes."

I meekly turned and scanned the waiting room, then selected a spot where I could read a magazine.
Halfway through a National Geographic article about butterflies, another lady called my name.
I'll call her Susan (not her real name).
She didn't smile either. Not that she was rude or unfriendly, just unsmiling.
I wondered if the employees had been instructed to not smile. Maybe the staff considered it rude to demonstrate happiness in the midst of broken legs, torn ACLs, or herniated disks, etc?

Susan escorted me down the hall to the examining room where she logged more info into my paperwork, took my blood pressure, and pointed out a selection of magazines for my wait.
Efficient, yet unsmiling, she excused herself, saying that the doctor would be in shortly.
Not surprisingly, when Dr. XXX entered the room a couple of minutes later, he turned out to be an unsmiling professional as well.
Hmm, I thought. You know how certain families exhibit character traits like a sense of humor, or athletic ability...or alcoholism?
Maybe that's what we've got here. Familial frozen lips.
Dr. XXX asked me all the right kinds of questions, did all the appropriate examinations, and let me describe my pain.
Then he pointed to the spot on my MRI where my problem mostly lay and suggested certain types of therapies for me to choose from.
"After you decide what you want to do, you can call the office and make an appointment," he said an equally unsmiling tone. He shook my hand—barely—then exited.
Serious Susan returned with my paperwork and helped me schedule my treatment.
That's when I noticed that she's left-handed.
Aha, a point of connection!
I leaned over the examining table where she'd spread out my paperwork and spoke in a conspiratorial tone, "So, did you have to learn to write like that?"
Susan looked up and tilted her head. "Huh?"
"You know," I pointed to her hand, "without having to twist your hand into a club like most lefties do? I'm left-handed and I write like this..." I pantomimed the usual clumsy left-hand writing style.
"Oh," she chuckled, then looked around herself with a guilty expression, as if she'd just broken protocol. "Like Obama," she whispered.
"Yeah," I grinned at her. "and Bill Clinton was a lefty and he wrote like that, too."
She looked at me with just a hint of pride in her face and said, "When I started writing, I decided that it looks better to keep your wrist straight."
I sighed. "Well, I wish I could do that. I could never get the hang of it."
She'd finished her paperwork by now, so she looked me full in the face and smiled.
Yes, actually smiled. And asked, "Do you do everything with your left hand?"
"Nope, just writing and using a fork or spoon."
Me, too. And in sports I bat and throw with my right hand."
"Me, too."Then I screwed my mouth into a crazy smirk and said, "I guess that makes us left-handed people kind of mixed up."
Susan beamed at me. "Not at all. Left-handed people are just smarter, that's all."
We both laughed.
She wrote her name on the folder with all the information I needed to take home with me about my procedure. "Don't hesitate to call me any time if you have any questions, all right?"
She smiled a big, happy smile again.
I said, "I'm so happy to meet you," and shook her hand.

I'm glad I made that one emotional connection at my orthopedic appointment. If it hadn't been for Susan and our shared left-handedness, I think I would have gone home that day feeling pretty de-personalized.
These little points of connection matter immensely to us humans.
Our Creator/God/Savior, Jesus understood this.
Jesus was the master connecter.
He told parables. He listened. He answered. He smiled. He wept.
He ate with people. Spent time in their homes. Touched, healed, fed, admonished, encouraged, prophesied.
Can you imagine how it must have been talk with Jesus, recognize His divinity, then have Him smile at you? Incredible!

I'm a pretty serious person, and I'm sure I could smile more often. But after my office visit, I'm going to make a strong effort to smile at everyone I meet. Because you are valuable and loved.

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful..." Proverbs 15:13
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart..." Proverbs 15: 30

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday's Word (March 6)

Wednesday's Word is:

hackneyed, adjective
Pronounced: hak-need
Definition: a phrase or sentence made commonplace or trite through overuse.
 How about using this in a sentence?

Last week's word was "gaffe."

"I made a huge gaffe when I told my friend how much I'd paid for her birthday gift."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday's Thought

Tuesday's (March 6) Thought:

"The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them."
Victoria, queen of England

 Do you agree?
Why, or why not?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Prayer is the Work

A group of us stood in a circle around Mark and Joan (not their real names) and laid our hands on them.
They are missionaries getting ready to go back to Africa in a few weeks.
As Joan sobbed out their story, we shuddered to hear about the horrors they have to face when they return there: broken lives, emotional and physical trauma, witchcraft, Believers who live in defiance of God's commands.
These situations weigh so heavily on Joan and Mark that we drew around them to pray.
We prayed for their physical and spiritual protection, for healing and restoration, and we prayed for the one who had caused great pain, that he would repent and be reconciled.
Then, we sang our praises to Him who has already defeated death and Satan.

I've often caught myself saying "All I can do is pray," as if that is the last resort, and such a puny exercise.

But nowhere in Scripture does it say that we ourselves effect great change.
The Bible always says that it is God who works in us and through us.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Phil. 4:6)
Jesus said "apart from me you can do nothing."

Why do we think prayer is such a small thing?
Because of our pride. We like to think that we can do great things, and God just kind of helps us along.
Not true.

A great Christian teacher— I can't remember his name— once said, "Prayer is not the preparation for a great work. Prayer is the great work."

Ten Supernatural wonders that happen when we pray:

  1. When we pray, we communicate our dependence upon God. 
  2. We align ourselves with the Father‚ look in the same direction.
  3. We submit to His will in faith and He fills us with his Spirit.
  4. We fully identify with Jesus in His redemptive work for us and through us.
  5. We partner with Jesus.
  6. We praise Him.
  7. We trust him.
  8. As we intercede for others, we invest our will and emotions for their sakes.
  9. We get the opportunity for the Spirit to translate our frail human words into heavenly ones.
  10. We grow closer to the Father and fall more in love with Him.
So, our time in prayer and praise to God as we encircled Joan and Mark was not a small, insignificant thing.
It is a mighty act, because God inhabits our prayers and praises.

"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and His ears are attentive to their prayer." (1 Pet. 3:12 NIV Bible)