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 agoginglass@yahoo.com

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.