Sunday, December 22, 2013

Open House

After church today, we had a Christmas open house at the parsonage for the congregation and various other friends we have met here in Dulce. We probably had 40ish people here enjoying sweets and fellowship.

After an hour and a half or so, most people had departed, although we had a friend of our daughter's watching a movie and playing. Then my husband's phone rang; it was another young couple, not from our church, who had been invited to stop by our open house.

I happily made up a small plate of treats and sweets, served some lemonade, and we all sat down and chatted for a while. We made up a plate of goodies for them to take home before they left. It is a tradition here to leave a gathering with a plate of food for later. (I like this tradition!) This is our second open house since we've arrived, and it was a lot of fun!

And as I reflect on our time here in New Mexico (all 4 months of it so far!), I relish the fact that our home is a part of the ministry of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church. We have extended a welcome to church members, to neighbors-passing-through, and to people we have met in the area... and that welcome is God's welcome. It is never burdensome to me. It is a joy to invite people to dinner, to Bible study, to open houses, to step in as they rent the church gym for an event. It is never a burden to offer a sandwich, a ride home, or a quiet prayer.

Sometimes people say things like, "Oh, what a blessing you are to these people!" or "You're giving so much!" But I don't feel that way at all. I love that God is working through us, but I am the recipient of the blessings, not the giver of them. And only God can work that way: That all parties feel blessed by the interaction. Nobody feels "used up" or "burned out."

Amazing blessings in God's house, God's family, God's place and time.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Down Time

Anchored 12x12
I have been in a busy season of my life for... well... a long time. If I look at just the past four months, I've been going non-stop. Moving. Settling in. Homeschooling. Setting up my glass studio. Fulfilling Christmas orders. Hosting open houses and friendly dinners. Laundry and cleaning and cooking... all those daily tasks. Did I mention homeschooling?

Going full-blast isn't a problem for me, most of the time. What challenges me is down time. Today is one of those days. The house is clean. The laundry is minimal. All of the possible preparations for our open house on December 22 are complete. I have all the Christmas orders fulfilled, so there's no glass to do.

Six Crows
I am (shh...don't tell anyone!) caught up! 

And I am at a loss for what to do.

I've been busy keeping up for so long, I've forgotten what to do when I'm caught up!

I am Martha-without-a-list-of-jobs-to-do. What do you think Martha did when she was all caught up? I'm guessing she looked for more tasks to put on her list. That's my first response too.

But I really want to be Mary. I want to sit at the foot of Jesus and soak in His wisdom, His grace, His love. I want to celebrate that I have a little time to study my Bible, read devotions, and pray.
Son Rise

But my first instinct is to clean and polish the wood floor. So very Martha. And while the floor is drying, I'm blogging, not reading, studying, and praying. I'm talking with my husband about our upcoming schedules. I'm finding little tasks to fill the time.

If I truly want to be Mary, I should...


Thursday, December 12, 2013


 This place is beautiful, beyond any doubt. It is a lovely land of mesas, mountains, rock formations, and sky. It is a gorgeous place to live and serve God.

When we moved here, we knew we would have to adjust to the altitude. In Minnesota, we were at just about 1000 ft above sea level. Here we are at about 6800 ft above sea level. For a while, we all had headaches and fatigue. We still get symptoms occasionally, but for the most part, we have adjusted to the altitude.
The thing I didn't expect was the difference in humidity. Oh sure, I'd heard, "It's a dry heat" and similar statements. I knew that it was drier when we visited in April, but I had no idea how much drier it was.

I am parched. When I wake up in the morning. When I exercise. When I forget to drink my three 12 ounce glasses of water in the morning, or my four glasses in the afternoon. Sometimes, I find myself realizing how thirsty I am just before bedtime. I drink and drink and drink. And then I sleep the night through. Dehydrated? Definitely.

We recently visited a doctor for the first time since we moved. In the course of conversation, I mentioned that I feel like I'm drinking constantly. He advised us that in this beautiful place, even though it has rivers and lakes, the air is extremely dry. We should be drinking about twice as much as I've been drinking!

I've been parched spiritually before, too. In those places where (maybe) things looked "beautiful," but were dry, dry, dry...

And how do I cope with such times? By drinking the living water (John 4:13-14). And when I still feel parched? Where should I turn? Back to the living water again. And again.

And again.

Jesus says that the water He gives "will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." He will sustain us and strengthen us to cope with today's trials. Each day, He will give us what we need to follow Him.

When we're parched, we need to turn to Jesus and drink of His life-giving water. Again and again and again.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Apache Dress

These Apache girls are in their full regalia.
"She needs an Apache dress," my friend said as she leaned over toward me. We were watching my daughter and her granddaughter (best friends!) dance at the Christmas powwow. And she was talking about my daughter. My mixed-race daughter with her wiry African-American hair.

Men's powwow regalia
My almost-7-year-old daughter loves to dance. She was delighted to be dancing with the Apache people, even though she was ignorant of many of the niceties of the dances. I had even gotten up and danced one dance. "Don't bounce so hard," was the advice I received during that attempt!

I was really happy that my daughter was invited to dance; I hadn't been sure if a non-Apache could join in. I certainly didn't anticipate the level of acceptance in that simple statement, "She needs an Apache dress."

Did I mention that I love this place? These people?

I do.

Traditional Apache Dress
"She needs an Apache dress," I was told again by the woman in our congregation sitting in the back row at the powwow. I had made my way back to say hello to her and her son, also a member of the congregation.

"Really?" I said. "That would be okay?"

"Yes!" she said. "The ladies of Sew-n-Sew would make her one. She needs one so she can dance."

Wow! What an affirmation that we are becoming part of the community here. We are so blessed.

My daughter and I had to leave the powwow before it was over, but when we returned from an overnight trip (missing church), my husband (who was unaware of the coversations above) said to me, "By the way, C (congregant) said that K (daughter) needs an Apache dress. She said she saw K dancing at the powwow, but she needed an Apache dress. C said for us not to worry about it, though."

Not to worry about it? I was figuring at the least, I would need to go buy fabric for the Sew-n-Sew ladies. But my husband said not to do anything, that C told him it would be taken care of.

God has blessed us so very much in this place. These people. They bless us every day, bringing us desserts at the back door of the parsonage. Introducing us to their families and friends. Inviting us to be with their families for Thanksgiving. Asking our daughter to dance.

Blessed indeed.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Son Rise

My husband wrote today about our first 100 days in Dulce. That thought had crossed my mind, too; that 100 days might be a time to reflect on the beginning of our ministry here in New Mexico. Our first hundred days here in Dulce have been delightful, amazing, fun, challenging, energizing, and interesting. I'm sure I forgot a couple of adjectives in there, too!

One thing I am relishing here is my glass studio. It is small, but it is on the main floor in the house! Its location means that I can work on glass while our nearly-7-year-old is playing inside the house. And my studio has windows! Which, in addition to great light, means I can work on glass while our daughter plays outside, too.

I have designed a few pieces since we moved. I find myself drawn to new shapes and colors now, like the design above: Son Rise.  It is my Christmas piece for this year. I have made and sold several of them, and I have enough time to make a few more before Christmas. (If you want to order Son Rise, email me at

Son Rise was designed as a mesa; mesas surround us here in Dulce, New Mexico! I love the way the sun rises over the mesas... and when I began messing around with a manger design, I immediately saw the sun rising over the mesa in my head. And that idea became Son Rise.

At first, I thought I'd use golds and yellows as the sunbeams, but the various bright colors keep pushing their way into the different versions of Son Rise... and I love the way they've turned out: Bright New-Mexico-y colors! They look great with the ridge in the background (top picture), don't they?

I want Son Rise to represent my life right now: I want Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, to rise up in my life. I want the brilliant colors of Jesus to fill my world, and I would love to be graced to reflect His glory in my life.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


This is Sycamore, my latest artistic piece of glass work. It was conceived, designed, and built here in New Mexico, on the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Sycamore was definitely an inspired design; it came to me whole, in vivid color. I sketched it... and never changed the design. I finished it, even though I had Christmas orders; Sycamore just demanded to be complete.

Six Crows
While I was building Sycamore, a Native pastor from Dulce stopped by to see my husband. In the course of conversation, she realized I was a stained glass artist and excitedly asked to see my work. She saw Sycamore and asked me if I could make one with crows in the branches. I said, "Sure" before I even really thought about it. She asked me to make it in certain colors as a Christmas gift for her husband. Six Crows is the result.

Our lives have taken on a similar twist: Everything's just a little bit more: We had a multi-church Thanksgiving service on Sunday night. We planned our songs, begged another pastor's wife to play piano for us (It wasn't too hard!), and went to the service.

As is somewhat typical here, the service began about 20 minutes after it was scheduled to begin. And also typical, it was lovely! Not highly polished, but oh so Real. Real joy, Real passion for Christ, Real friendship and Real fellowship. And following the service... a DESSERT potluck! Yum!

Last night, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a Native family. When I asked what we could bring, I was told "Kulwi." I asked for a repeat and got the same answer. I apologized and asked if the man inviting us could say it one more time. Very deliberately, the man said, "Cool Whip." So we brought Cool Whip!

Brad, my husband, was invited to say a prayer before we ate. Everybody bowed their heads while Brad prayed. Then the eldest man present was asked to pray also. We bowed our heads again, and he prayed in Apache. Our almost-7-yr-old, sitting next to me, glanced up in surprise, then bowed her head. We listened to words we could not understand, all heads bowed in fellowship. I decided trying to guess what he was saying wasn't gracious, so I started praying silently for each person present.

During dinner, we ended up sitting with this man and his wife. He told us story after story of his childhood on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. He was hilarious!

So, in all things, art and life, we are being "seasoned" by this place and these people. We are so very blessed to be among them; God's plan for us was better than we could have imagined.

And we are thankful.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Putting the Pieces Together

There's a stage of every stained glass panel that looks like this. The cutting is all done. The pieces are laid out so that I can find them. The zinc is cut and placed on the lead board.

Now it's time to put the puzzle back together. The pieces all have their place, and it's my job to rebuild the picture.

Sometimes, at this stage, I am overwhelmed. Especially on glass panels that have this many pieces. Especially when the pieces are this long and skinny!

A few days ago, when Sycamore was at this stage, I stopped to pray. I asked God to bless my hands, so that I could make something beautiful that glorifies Him.  And I realized that God is the ultimate at putting the pieces back together!

We mess up our lives repeatedly. We break relationships. We choose destructive paths. The sins of self-reliance and arrogance lead us astray.

And repeatedly, God reaches out to us and picks up the broken pieces of our lives... and puts them back together again. With Love. With Grace.

And God rebuilds our lives into things of beauty which glorify Him above all. I can never be worthy of His Grace... but I pray that He will use me to do His work here and now.

Sycamore will be complete within a week. I will post a final picture and pricing information. It might make a perfect Christmas present for someone you love!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thanksgiving Habits

It's Thanksgiving month, and I am seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about what people are thankful for. I'm even writing my own post each day, and I think it's great that gratitude is finding a public forum. Being intentionally grateful changes our thought processes, mood, and attitude. It's amazing what the difference can be, just by being conscious of the positive circumstances that we are already in.

This is something I've gotten really good at, for some reason. It's probably because during the darkest days of my life, following my then-husband's arrest for abusing our then preteen daughter, I began to consciously look for good things to think about. Obviously, the big things in my life were not good, so I started noticing the smaller things that I could be positive about. The habit follows me to this day.

Yesterday, I decided to make note of the things that I whisper "Thank You" to God about throughout the day. Probably the silliest one is that I thank God each time I take a load of laundry out... because we now have a lint filter that doesn't cut me if I'm careless.

More meaningful, I thank God each time I step outdoors, for the ability to walk, generally pain-free. I thank God when I am reluctant to get going on my morning walk; it usually changes my attitude about the walk. Instead of bemoaning the need to hike up the hill to the stadium, I find myself thinking of all the wondrous ways in which my body works.

Even more meaningful, I actually thank God for my daughter and my husband each time I fold a piece of their clothing. I try to think of something different to remember with each piece of laundry. This turns laundry from a drudgery to a delight!

As I cook, I try to thank God for each amazing food: the color, the smell, the taste, the nutritional value. I must admit that I frequently fail in this one. I get distracted by the need to "finish" and serve the meal. Surprisingly, cleaning up after the meal is a time when it's easier for me to focus on the good things. I find joy in running water, in having a dishwasher, in the color of the dishes.

In some ways, it seems silly, indeed. But I find myself much more positive, much more pleasant, much more productive when I remember to say thank you to God for the abundant blessings that surround me.

P.S. I am continuing to build these Cross of Light pieces. They are for sale for $40.00, plus shipping and tax. If you would like to order one for yourself or a gift, please contact me via email at

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Stormy Weather

We recently traveled to Denver, CO, so my husband could attend a conference. Our daughter and I tagged along (another homeschooling blessing!) and took some field trips to museums and the zoo. It was a great trip!

On the way home, we drove through several mountain ranges and passes. As we approached one range, we noticed some clouds gathering over the mountains...

As we got closer, we could still see the sun... barely. It looked terrible ahead! We knew that with the elevation climb toward the pass, it would likely be a "wintery mix" rather than rain. We hoped that going over the pass could be done safely, and wouldn't take us three hours!

It was definitely a "wintery mix" at first, then turned to purely snow. The road was slippery, and the winds were fierce. The only other vehicle we saw on the pass was a snowplow! Thankfully, it was still daylight through the pass. I'm not sure we could've made it in the dark.

At times, it was a whiteout. The sole reason we continued was that we knew as we went down in altitude, the weather would improve. And it did. By five miles past the pass, we were back to sunshine and clear skies.

As Christians, our life is kind of like our trip through the pass. We can know that stormy weather is ahead; Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, "...all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Many times in the Bible, we are assured that we are not free of the tribulations of this life; there will be storms.

Sometimes, we can see these storms on the horizon. Sometimes, they ambush us and take us by surprise. But there will be troubles in this life. A "wintery mix" of pain and anguish will be ours in this life. At times, the whiteout of distress will envelope us, obscuring our view of anything but our immediate situation.

And still...

We can know, yes, truly know, that if we keep traveling the road God has placed in front of us, we will return to clear skies and sunshine. In Romans 8:38-39, we are assured: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

So, when we are traveling in great weather, like my family is right now, we can expect that things will be more difficult sometime down the road. And when we see the storm on the horizon, we can trust that God will sustain us through it. And when we are in the midst of a whiteout, unable to see beyond our grief, we can depend on the love of Jesus to make all things right in the end. We will return to sunshine and clear skies.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prayer Hands

These hands of mine have cut a lot of glass, folded a lot of laundry, and washed a lot of dishes. Sometimes, I'm struck by how old my hands look. And I know they're not getting any younger.

My favorite stories have my hands in them:

At the end of our very first date, my now-husband asked if we could pray before we parted. I said, "Sure" and reached out to grab his hand. That's just what we do in my family; when we pray, we hold hands. When Brad tells this story, he says his heart melted right then and there.

At our church here on the Jicarilla Apache Nation, people come forward for healing prayer every Sunday. After their anointing, my husband the preacher asks for anyone to come forward and lay hands on those being prayed over. I love the idea of the Holy Spirit working through my hands to touch somone.

Not too long ago, a woman from our congregation came to visit. She, like many here, has much grief in her life. In the past, I might've given her a quick hug as she left, but I was moved by the Holy Spirit to ask her if I could pray with her. She got teary-eyed and grabbed my hand. I put my arms around her and prayed for God to comfort her.

And today, while outside washing The Pastormobile and our personal car, two young women came through the yard. We greeted them, and I watched as they continued walking. Soon, one of the women looked up and saw me. I said something inane, like "beautiful day" and expected them to walk on. Instead, the woman said, "Will you pray with us? My friend was badly hurt in an accident and this is her first time out of the house in months." We gathered, my husband the pastor, our almost-7-year-old, the injured woman, her friend, and me. I reached out to take the hand of the injured woman... and in a short time, there were hands linked all around our little circle. We prayed together for God's healing hand, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

And I looked down at the brown American Indian hand in my left and my husband's pale Anglo hand in my right, and the power of God connecting us all. What grace! What a gift to us.

The hand of God is here in this place, using our hands and our hearts to do His work.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Pastormobile

My husband's church call came with a car; yes, really! It's a Subaru Forester, which can get out to the remote family burial grounds on the reservation when necessary. It can take the pastor to hospitals (40-130 miles one way), even in the snow. That's all we really thought about when we found out that Brad would have "The Pastormobile," as we've dubbed it.

But in the past couple of weeks, The Pastormobile has provided a unique way for my husband to minister to the community beyond our church congregation. It might not make sense in some settings, but in this place, graciously giving someone a ride home or to a distant location (the town, though small, is very spread out) is ministering. And since my husband has done this a couple of times, he has been asked a few more times.

When a stranger comes to our door in the evening, like this evening, through the grace of God I am able to give them a friendly greeting, not feeling like they are intruding at all. Truly. It's an amazing gift from God, because I wouldn't have felt this way in many situations in the past. Tonight, the woman started to explain that she was trying to bring home her friend from the bar because she'd had too much to drink, but her friend wasn't able to walk home. She asked, "Could the father give us a ride to her house?"

I asked her in, but she stayed outside to care for her friend. Our almost-7-year-old and her overnight guest were quite curious, peeking out the window. My husband fired up The Pastormobile, loaded up the friends and their big dog, and took them home. As they drove off, my daughter's friend asked, "What was wrong with that lady?"

Taking a deep breath, I said, "She drank too much alcohol."

"Oh," came the answer. "When I grow up, I'm not going to drink alcohol." Sigh of relief from me. And our daughter chimed in, "Me, neither."

And so we minister here in Dulce, New Mexico. We give rides home. We refuse to give rides to the bar. And we risk honesty with young children.

And we are so very deeply blessed to be here. We thank God for the opportunity to serve in this way.

Monday, October 14, 2013


 Sometimes things just don't go my way! In glass. In teaching. In relationships. In life. These two pictures show examples in glass: broken glass and too-big gaps. Sometimes I can fix these kinds of problems, but sometimes things just can't be fixed...

At least not by me.

And that's where my anger comes in. I think feeling helpless to fix something that's wrong is the fastest way to anger for me. When I see something that's wrong, hurtful, or just messed up, I want to fix it.

And if my efforts to fix it are foiled, I get angry. Oh, it feels righteous enough; after all, I'm trying to do something sooooo right. And my anger flares in irritability, in frustration, in hot snappiness at my loved ones.

What does the Bible say about my anger? Really, I'd rather avoid this. After all, I never hit anyone in my anger... or break anything...

But James 1:20 says "the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." I need to face this.

The Bible is clear about one thing: my anger is sin. In Matthew 5:21-22a, Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." And in Galatians 5, "fits of anger" are listed as works of the flesh, and in Galatians 5:24 it says, "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (emphasis mine)


It's easier to think of works of the flesh as adultery, murder... you know, things I would never do. I'd rather not look at my anger.

But again the Bible speaks clearly: Colossians 3:1-2, 7-8 tells us, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.... In these you too once walked when you were living with them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth."

And in Ephesians 4:31-32, we are told "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." 

My anger is sin. Plain and simple. Sin.

So how do I get rid of something so entrenched in my personality? Notice that Ephesians didn't stop at telling me to get rid of my anger (and wrath and bitterness...). It informed me what should replace my anger. I need to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. And in Galatians 5, it goes on to say, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..."

So, my charge is to rid myself of replace it with kindness, forgiveness, tenderheartedness, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And I don't have to do this by myself. The Spirit, God's Holy Spirit, is with me always. By seeking God, I have received many of the gifts of the Spirit, and I trust that God isn't done with me yet. "He who began a good work in you (me) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

I'm glad I'm not on my own in this one. I think it's going to take a while...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's Messy...

Glazing a glass piece is messy...very messy! But it's an essential step in the creation of stained glass art.

I'm thinking of this today because today has been... well, messy. Not that we've spilled a bunch of stuff, but...

A couple of days ago, a woman (not from the congregation) stopped by and asked if the church was available for a funeral on Wednesday or Thursday. Brad said yes, the church was available, and requested that they let us know which day it would be. This has happened before; some churches here in town just aren't big enough for a funeral.

We were still wondering which day it would be this afternoon (Tuesday), so Brad called a few of our church members, asking if they knew the family of someone who died recently. Finally, someone must have gotten hold of the family because a family member called my husband.

In that phone call, early this evening, it became clear that not only was the funeral tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 9 AM, but that my husband was supposed to be conducting the service! Remember, Brad has only been a pastor for 6 weeks...This will be his first funeral; and he has all of 14 hours to prepare!

It would've been easy to say "No way!" to this funeral. It would've been easy to shut the door on these people and maintain our family time this evening. It would've been much easier to avoid the whole situation and have Daddy read with our daughter after supper like normal. I certainly would've preferred not to put together an order of service tonight instead of working on my new website for A Glimpse of Grace.



God called us to this task. To this service. Here. With these people. Messy as it is. Mistakes and miscommunications and all...messy. 

And Good. Because God is here in this. In all of this. And I pray that He will comfort the family and friends of the deceased... and that He will work powerfully through my husband, providing His peace along the way.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Being A Part...

We came here to the Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico to serve God. Jesus commanded us to love one another as he loved us (John 15:12). Loving some people here is easy! We have been welcomed by many, and we are making friends within the church and the community. Our almost-seven-year-old has opened the door to some relationships we otherwise wouldn't have had; what a joy!

But Jesus didn't tell us to love only those who are easy to love. He said to us: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)  We're not being persecuted by anyone, but I wouldn't hesitate to pray for anyone.

Enemies? I can't think of any, really. Even those people in my past who have betrayed and wronged me, I don't consider enemies.  I certainly haven't found any here.

What about Matthew 5:39-42? Jesus says to turn the other cheek, to give more than is asked for, to voluntarily go beyond what is being asked, to give to those who beg, and not to refuse one who would borrow from you. And in verses 46-47, Jesus asks, "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?" 

We've had a few opportunities to extend our love to those who aren't easy: The wandering young man who is often intoxicated, but still wants to talk to "the father" regularly. The young girl at skating who asks for money so she can get snacks. The neighbor who tries to keep his dog from chasing after us when we bicycle by. The grieving who have lost too many young relatives to drug and alcohol abuse.

And tonight, a youngster who said, "I wish my dad wasn't dead." I replied, "So do I!" Then the child said, "I don't miss my mom, though. She went to jail because she killed my dad." As I am rubbing this young child's back, I'm thinking, "How do I extend love to this child, God? What can I do in this situation?" This child is obviously being cared for by family members; there is an adult present. But the deep need that drove this youngster to reveal these thoughts to an acquaintance... that's beyond me.

Yep. These needs are beyond me. They are beyond us. Only God is strong enough to meet the needs of our broken lives. Even those of us without acute dysfunction have deep needs that are only met by God Almighty, Emmanuel, Jesus Messiah...

My job in this is to allow God to work through me. To do what little I can: rub a back, listen, buy a snack, hear the pain. I am privileged to do this small work.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Flashes of Blue

 This little bird is very familiar to me; it's an eastern bluebird. I grew up with them in Iowa and continued seeing them in Minnesota. I love their bright blue!

I'm totally unfamiliar with the birds in our new home. (And the plants. And the trees. And the animals.) But I have repeatedly seen a beautiful grey-blue bird, a little bigger than the eastern bluebird. The other day, I finally asked what kind of bird it was. I'm pretty sure the guy I asked knew his plants, birds, etc.

He said it was a bluebird. I figured he meant a western bluebird, so I looked it up. Nope. Then I discovered that there was a mountain bluebird... HAS to be, I thought! No way. I cannot find an identified picture of the bird I'm seeing. One of its characteristics is that when it flies, its tail feathers flash a more pronounced blue. I love seeing those flashes of blue! (I'll let you know when I figure out what kind of bird it is.)

I was watching a couple of these birds this morning on my walk. Their flashes of blue reminded me of several comments made on a couple of photos I posted on Facebook this week. The first is a photo of a stained glass cross, done in blues. The second is the same design, but done in purple tones. Here are the two photos:
I am making these crosses in many colors!

$40.00, plus tax and shipping

The thing is, I've had lots of comments about how beautiful the purple one is, but not so many about the blue. I realized pretty quickly that this discrepancy has to do with the quality of the light coming through the cross, not the actual beauty of the two pieces.

So I took another photo of the blue piece:
If you're interested in a cross, email me at

Much better. Now the blue flashes are coming through! The colors are not perfectly true to life, but neither are the purples.

The cross measures approximately 11x9 inches.
I took one more photo of the two crosses in exactly the same light at the same time:

I think that the beauty of stained glass comes through based on the quality of the light behind it. Just like people: The true beauty of the people around you is based on the quality of the light behind them. If a person is full of God's glory and grace, how could s/he not shine?

I pray that I allow God's light to shine through me, in my words, in my actions, and in my art. I want to flash brilliant colors to bring glory to God!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Right Angles

As a glass artist, I love right angles. Not so much on the interior of the glass piece, but on the framing. See, I have a metal saw that cuts 45 degree angles, which is what you need to create right angles.

For example, on the piece to the left, the cross itself is not cut at right angles, and that's okay with me! Cutting glass at oblique angles is fine... but cutting the zinc at something other than a 45 degree angle is a challenge.

Enter my new design:
$40.00, and will be created in many colors!

I really wanted to change this design to have square corners... but when I prayed about it, I kept getting this shape-- not a square-cornered cross.

So I spent days working on cutting the zinc at the correct angles for these corners. I think I have it right...but I ran out of zinc! And living in a remote area of New Mexico keeps me from "running to the glass store" to get some more. I ordered it last week, but it will be another week before it gets delivered.


So I decided to make at least one of these crosses framed in lead, just to see how it worked. It's not perfect yet, I'll tell you that! But with some practice, I can make it work. And I do love the shape of this cross. (If you love it, too, you can email me about creating one for you at

While I was working on this piece yesterday, my husband came in and asked if I could cut a pane of window glass so one of the church men could fix this broken window. Someone had kicked in the window the night before. I said yes, of course, and left my cross project to cut the pane glass.

Should've been easy...

But I got careless at the end of the score and it curved a bit. Not enough to ruin the pane of glass, thank goodness, but enough that the man installing it had to adjust his glazing to cover it. And I was mad at myself. And I was mad at the person who broke the window. (And I was mad at our daughter, who was being quite oppositional yesterday.) When I snapped this photo, I was thinking about my own brokenness. That anger is such a feature of my own brokenness.

And this world is soooo broken. There is so very much pain, dysfunction, and wrong in this world. From the intoxicated folks that wander occasionally through our yard here in Dulce to the convoluted structure of our family, brokenness surrounds us. My husband wrote about how Jesus' finished work on the cross heals all brokenness. And that's true.

But what I am feeling is this huge need to fix it all. I want it all at right angles, square corners, parallel lines! I want our wee one to love homeschooling all the time. I want my husband's presence in the community (and mine, to a lesser degree) to halt the pain that leads people to alcohol. I want to be able to make mistakes without getting angry with myself. I want to make everything all Right.

And when I realize this, I realize that in these very thoughts, I am trying to be God. I am trying to take on His job instead of growing in Him within my job: parenting, teaching, being a wife and friend, and working in glass.

The brokenness of this life will not end until Jesus comes again. That's a hard truth, and it does not alleviate my responsibility to the world around me. But I have to remember that I am not God, and while I can do God's work here on earth, it is only while I let God work through me that I am contributing to God's kingdom. As John in Revelation 21 reveals, God's kingdom will be without tears, pain, and mourning.

I can't wait!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Family Forest

 Someone asked our six-year-old recently, "How many brothers and sisters do you have?" A simple question, really. Right?

Not so much.

Our daughter looked a little panic-stricken as she glanced at me and said, "How many, Mom?" I must admit I probably looked a little flustered, too, while I tried to figure it out. I do the same thing when someone asks how many grandchildren we have.

See, we don't have a family tree, we have a family forest! My husband and I are both adult children of divorce. I have a step-family; he doesn't. But he has a half-sister, her children, and their children. Then we have his adult kids (2) and my adult kids (2). Of course, each of them has the other half of their family of origin (our ex-es)...well, except for my older daughter, who went to court to terminate the parental rights of her abusive dad.

Oh, and then each of my adult children has a birth family, since they were adopted as toddlers. My son has no contact with his birth family, but my daughter has a good relationship with her birth mom and her family.

And two of our adult children have children. My husband's adult daughter has two children and an ex-husband. My adult son has five children and five ex-girlfriends. And each of those grandchildren have half-siblings living with them.

Our six-year-old is one of my son's bio-children. Her birth mom has two other children with her husband. They are, of course, our daughter's siblings. They, and the other half-siblings of our grandchildren, aren't quite our grandchildren, but we pray for them as such. We love them and delight in seeing them.

So, how many brothers and sisters does our daughter have? It doesn't matter.

What?! Of course it matters.

No, really, it doesn't. Does God command us to love only our "true" family-members? Does the Bible offer a definition of whom we should "count" as loved by us...or by Him?

                 No! Jesus even goes so far as to say that we should love our enemies! (Luke 6:27)  How much more should we love those who are entwined with our family? We refuse to set up a boundary, saying that we love this one, and not that one. That we are related to these children, but not their siblings.

And so, we have a family forest. With many loved children. We cannot be with them all frequently, but we do try to keep in touch with them all frequently. And I hope we're teaching our youngest daughter that she should love everyone, as Jesus did. And I pray that our family, complex as it is, can be an example of what it means to follow Jesus' commandment to love one another. (John 13:34)

By the way, the cuties (big and small) in the pictures are all our six-year-old's siblings, except for the two being held by their mom (who is our wee one's sister); we call them cousins... because it's easier than birth-
                                     step-cousins or adoptive niece and nephew...