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...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Running in the Light

Light is very important to us in so many ways! I love the way light streams in my new studio's windows. Light is what makes stained glass beautiful. We walk in the Light when we walk with Jesus, the Light of the World.

And, on a more practical level, light makes it safer to get around. My husband is a runner, and he is delighting in the fact that he can now run in the light. He used to have to get up before dawn 80% of the year to get his daily run in before work began at 7 am.

Not anymore! Since "retiring" from the Mayo Clinic and beginning his second career as a pastor of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church, he has been running in the light. His hours are much more flexible now (read that to mean: People call on him for assistance at all hours of the day and night), and he has been running in the daylight. It's one of many small joys of our new situation.

Some other joys, large and small:

1) We feel very welcome here. As soon as people realize that we have moved here, that we live here, they are amazingly helpful and kind. For example, our almost-7-yr-old and I were hiking up to Dulce Rock last weekend, and we were having difficulty getting to the base of the hill. We found ourselves twice in someone's yard or driveway, trying to figure out how to get through the fences without trespassing.

The first time, a neighbor challenged us, and upon hearing that we were the "new preacher's family," walked us to a break in the fences, and instructed us on how to avoid a cantankerous dog in the next block. The second time, an older man ignored us entirely until I introduced ourselves, then he pointed us to where we could catch a pathway toward our goal.

2) We have settled into our home, and we love it! All of the boxes are open and emptied (Well, almost all of them!), and I have deep-cleaned most of the house. It was in pretty good shape, actually, but I feel better after I scrub everything personally. Kat has an amazing closet, with enough shelf-space for ALL of her toys, and Brad has a closet in his office that is big enough to be a "man cave," as he puts it. My glass studio is awesome and I am busy working on some new designs for winter. I need to get selling some pieces because that's how I fund our homeschool materials and field trips.

3) I have found a walking route that I love! No more dogs...on this route the dogs are all tied up or fenced in. Well, except one. And I'm trying to make friends with him. He doesn't seem to be a biter,  but I prefer that he doesn't follow me anyway. And I seem to finally be adjusted to the altitude... no more headaches when I walk or bike or climb.

4) Our wee one has found several friends and routines that fill her days. We are still missing our homeschooling best buddy and his family, but we have found a great public library, a wonderful swimming pool, lots of fun places to bike and hike, and other things to do. We've even hooked up with a theater class and a homeschool co-op, both in a nearby town on the same days! We are feeling very blessed as our daughter settles into a positive routine.

And 5) My new-pastor husband seems to be developing successful routines, too. He has visited people from the congregation, created an hour of prayer for all comers, established office hours, and even made a run to the nearest Sam's Club (90 miles away!) to purchase treats for the roller skating on Friday nights. His sermons have been meaningful, and it's good to see him preparing sermons during the day instead of after his "day job."

All in all, our family is running in the light these days. It is good to be blessed in so many ways.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happiness Is...

There are many definitions of happiness out there. And many sayings about how to "find your happiness." There have been times in my life when a positive thought or saying has been helpful to me, but when a friend posted "What makes you happy?" on Facebook today, I spent some time thinking about it.

I love many parts of my current life: my family, my glass work, living in a small town again, being surrounded by the beauty of the mountains. But that's not really what makes me happy.

I think back to the most traumatic times of my life... I wouldn't describe myself as happy following my then-husband's abuse of our daughter, by any means. But even then, I knew it would eventually be okay... better than okay. Because God promises that this life is not the end. That what happens here is temporary, and He is eternal. I sought God's presence during that dark time, and found Him waiting to welcome me into his loving arms. Even as I made bad decision after bad decision and got married again too soon (and divorced again), I knew the bedrock under my feet: God.

My walk with the Lord has gotten closer and closer since those dark times. I have given up the reins almost entirely (I still fight God's leading at times!), and I have found deep and abiding happiness. Not in the circumstances of my life, but in the sure knowledge of God's love and security, Jesus' sacrifice and grace, and the Holy Spirit's guidance.

I pray that I may never be tested by such an awful situation again, but I know that pain will come in this life. I will lose those I love; relationships will be stretched and sometimes broken; and I will make mistakes that have a high cost... But I will never walk alone, and I will never remain unforgiven. That makes me happy.

Happiness is??

The bedrock of my happiness is my faith in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Epic Fail!

Ever had an epic fail?

Sure you have! Something really public... something really big... I think all of us have had them. I've certainly had a few in glass work.

For example, this piece will never see the light of day! There are numerous 1-3mm gaps in it. The glass is beautiful, but it just didn't fit together right.

I've had other kinds of failures in glass work, too. Like the day I dropped a piece of glass and tried to catch it in my fingers. Ouch! You'd think I'd know better by now!

Well, today I've had an epic failure. We had so much good help in unloading our moving truck upon our arrival here in New Mexico! I wanted to thank the folks that helped, so I invited one group of them over for lunch today. All these men work together, and one of them is a friend's son, so we sent the invitation through the friend. It was set for lunchtime today.

I prepared pulled pork for sandwiches, coleslaw, green beans, and brownies (baked at high altitude... still working on that!). We bought some lemonade and sweet tea, and we set up an extra table. I had everything ready by noon, when we expected they would have lunch break.

And we waited.

And waited.

And waited.



By 12:30, I was worrying they weren't coming. I fed my daughter and myself, still hopeful that the trucks would pull in any minute.

By 12:45, my husband ate, finally believing they might not come. At 1:15, I released the cats from their basement jail and started cleaning up the food.

Epic Fail.

I don't know exactly what went wrong. There are many possibilities. And a decade ago, I would've been searching through those possibilities, trying to figure it out. Two decades ago, I would've been sure that they didn't come because they didn't like me/us. Three decades ago, I would have been a muddle of tears, blaming myself for the entire fiasco.


Today I am sure that, no matter what went wrong, I had my heart in the right place. We invited these men, hoping to honor their hard work with a meal. I wanted to be welcoming and thankful.

And I was.

Even without anyone to welcome or thank, my heart was welcoming and thankful. Even though there was  a lot of time and money invested in this lunch, none of it was "wasted." I approached the meal with the right attitude, and I approached the disappointment of no guests with an attitude of gratitude to God that we have enough to share. That if the men walk in the door tomorrow, expecting lunch, I would laugh with them and get out the leftovers from today.

I've had some epic failures that left me feeling worthless and wasted. I'm sure you have, too. I am blessed by now being in a place in my life where my value isn't determined by how successful I am, or by how the plans I make turn out. I pray that you are reaching a point in your life where you can see your value, even when there's an epic failure. Because you are God's precious child; the only you in existence...ever. Trust God, even in your epic fails.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I have been a musician for far longer than I have been an artist. It took me years to feel like I could claim the word "artist" as referring to me! I have played the flute for almost my whole life, picking it up at the age of eight.

The music teacher let me borrow the school's flute for two semesters, one semester longer than it was technically allowed. She knew my family couldn't afford to buy me a flute at that time. I am grateful for her gift, even still.

When I did have to return the school's flute, I thought my flute-playing days were over...But a dear family friend put a used student model flute in my hands and said, "Play." Even at nine, I knew this was a grace I didn't earn, so I played for him, and for me.

When I was a teenager and had a job (so I could save for college...), I began to tuck away "flute money" so I could buy a better quality flute. I had my eye on a silver-plated, open-holed, DeFord Flute at the local music store. I saved up the amount that had been on the flute when I scoped it out, took my surprised mother to the music store, and found out that the flute had increased in price by $50.00. I wouldn't let my mom pay the extra money, instead working out a deal with the store owner to pay the last bit over two paychecks.

I loved that flute! It made me sound like a real musician. I played all through high school and college; I even played for my brother's wedding!

Then came the notice from the college, two weeks before graduation: "You will not be eligible to graduate because you have a $500 balance on your bill." No one I knew had $500 lying around for me. I had to graduate; I'd already accepted a teaching job! I took stock of my meager possessions and finally decided I had to sell my flute.

So I did. And I regretted it for over 10 years... until my mom hunted down the friend who had purchased it and bought it back from him! It was my Christmas gift more than 20 years ago now. I have never opened a gift that brought more tears; I remember when I realized that it wasn't just a flute, it was MY flute. I am thankful to my mom and to the friend who returned the flute for the same $500, even though it was worth more.

And I played. I played for my first music teacher. For my mom. For the friend who bought my first flute for me. For the band director friend who had to find another flute to play because he sold it back to my mom. And for me.

I haven't played much in public. I guess I always worried that I wasn't a good enough player. In fact, when my husband and I first married, I wouldn't even practice when he was in the house! But slowly, I've gotten more willing to play around him and my daughter.

And then we moved to New Mexico. To a church that has no musicians. No piano player. No lead singers. And they asked me, with hope, if I played the piano. I can play some simple things with lots of practice, I said. And I learned the Doxology. I figured it was a good place to start since we sang it every week.

And I messed it up. Repeatedly. The congregation was very gracious, encouraging me. And I will continue to work on my piano skills.

But this morning I took my flute. And it was perfect. Not me. The sound. The music. It was God's. I wasn't shy or afraid. I did make a couple of mistakes, even. But it was just right.

What Grace. I am forever thankful to all those who helped me walk this world with a flute. And I am even more thankful to God for this grace. From the congregation and through my music.

What Grace.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Settling In

We've been in the Dulce parsonage for a week and a half now, and most of the boxes have been opened, emptied, and put away. We started in our daughter's bedroom, then the kitchen and bathrooms, then our bedroom, then the living and dining rooms.

A couple of days ago I finally started working on my glass studio. Even the basement was organized before I began to unpack glass and glass tools. This picture (left) shows the entrance to my new studio. It's on the main floor, just off of the living room. I love the location!

If you go in past the bookshelf on the right side of the picture above, you reach the actual glass work area. You can see by the picture on the right that I have a lot more work to do! I am making progress, though. You can also see from this photo that I have a window!!! I'm excited to have quite a bit of natural light in my glass studio now.

There are even built-in shelves on one wall of the studio. I think this space is going to work well! I can't wait to get started creating glass art again. I have missed it for quite a while, going back to my broken elbow and my too-cold space at our temporary home. I will begin posting designs available soon; I'm working on a new Thanksgiving design!

Thank you to each of you who has prayed for our move and our new ministry. I am looking forward to connecting with the community here in Dulce as we get settled, too.

Back to work! God bless each one of you.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Trust in Me

My husband, daughter, and I are at the beginning of a calling. My husband preached at his new church for the first time this morning. The Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church is a mission posting, serving the Jicarilla Apache people of Dulce, New Mexico.

Our family is new at everything here! We are new to the community, so we don't even know what day(s) the garbage gets picked up. We are new to the church, so we don't know how to find the coffee. We are new to the people, so we don't know their names. I guess we'll figure it out in time, but right now it seems somewhat overwhelming!

 A former student of mine, whom I am delighted to call my friend in her adulthood, posted this yesterday on her Facebook page: "The Bible never once says "Figure it out"...But time and time again 'Trust in me'." It really struck me when I read it, given the "figure it out" stage we're in in New Mexico.

God truly doesn't say, "Figure it out!" He always says, "Trust in me." Always. In all things. Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." And in Psalm 37:5 tells us to "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act."

I've always been a "figure it out" kind of gal... I'm learning to let go and trust in Him. With much prayer, I have able to let go and let God work in this move. I am grateful to my former student to have the reminder to also let go and let God work in the learning of our new place... We will "figure it out," but we don't have to lean on our own insufficient understanding; we have the Lord God, our rock and our salvation!