Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church has been in Dulce for 100 years. One hundred years on the Rez. One hundred years of serving the Jicarilla people, sometimes serving well... sometimes not so much.

We hear stories about the history of our church regularly. This was the only church on the reservation for 50 of its 100 years. Almost everyone in the Jicarilla Nation has connections to the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church. We've heard about how the church maintained a sanatorium during a TB outbreak. We've also heard about how the church started the first school on the Rez.

And about how the male students were forced, sometimes physically, to have their braids shorn...

About how the youngsters were punished for speaking Jicarilla... which has led to a crisis for the tribe: almost no one under 50 can speak the language. The public schools are trying to revive the language, but it's difficult to maintain when there are so few native speakers.

And roller-skating! Almost everyone recalls roller-skating at the gym.

And about how the students were required to attend church every Sunday, marched down the hill from the residences to the church building. Some remember this rather fondly, others are still injured by the coercion.

Some members of our church recall the faith of their parents and grandparents. These are very personal reflections: memories of a father's advice, being taught to sing hymns with feeling, a sense of the sure, strong faith of parents, coming to church with a beloved grandmother...

  A year ago today, we joined the journey of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church in Dulce, NM. We pulled up to the parsonage in our 26 ft. Penske Truck and our Subaru (pulling a kayak trailer) and started making memories here.

So far, our memories are mostly pleasant, fun, and friendly. This is the place God has called us to. This is the work He has given us to do in His kingdom. His yoke is easy, and His burden light. (Matthew 11:30)
Looking back over the year, there has been much good: baptisms, mission groups, vacation Bible school, Sunday school, Bible study, Sunday worship, a couple of yard sales, Roller skating on Friday nights, a fund-raising dinner, and more.

There have been some tough times too: early deaths, suicides, struggles with alcohol and drugs in the community, orphaned children, disease, and hardship.

I think our one year has been much like the past 99: a mix of good and bad, anchored in the faith that God has gifted. Our 1% of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church's history has enriched us immensely. Brad is flourishing as a pastor, and Robin has continued to work with the children of the church. Our seven-year-old frequently has guests to play after services on Sundays, in addition to playing soccer and roller-skating every Friday night at the church gym. She also has an Apache dress, sewn by one of our members, and she loves to dance the intertribal dances at pow wows.

And what of the future?

We plan to be here for nine to fourteen more years. We seek to bring hope to God's people here in the Jicarilla Nation. To serve the people here, in God's name.

God has recently called the people of our church to open the doors for a multi-church AWANA ministry to the children and youth of Dulce. The future of the Jicarilla rests on these young people finding hope in their lives. And the very best hope available is the hope we have in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us, for His church in Dulce, and for the Jicarilla Apache people. Please pray for this ministry!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Here we are again. One year and one month after Zimmerman got away with murder, literally. More than two years since 17 year old Trayvon Martin was murdered for being Black. An armed man was "afraid" of him, so he stalked him and shot him. And got away with it.

And here we are again. 18 year old Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teen, was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9th. He was shot "more than once," and some reports state his body was riddled with bullets and left in the street.

And I sometimes shake with fear that my Black son will be shot because someone was afraid of him. That's a fear I share with millions of mothers of Black sons across this nation.

And I don't blame the protesters following Michael Brown's death. I pray they will end the violence, but I share their anger at this recurring truth: Our kids are being killed, and the murderers are getting away with it.

And, somehow, for me, this pain over our dying children is connected to the humanitarian crisis in the southern part of our nation, where tens of thousands of  "illegal immigrant" children are pouring over the border. If this were taking place anywhere else in the world, these would be "refugee children." Wouldn't they? We would look at these pictures and pity the children, point a wagging finger at the country which wouldn't admit them and care for them, and call it what it is: a humanitarian crisis.
So, why do repeatedly find ourselves watching our society excuse the racism, the hatred, the classism, the demonization, the marginalization, the pretense of "all is well" that leads to murder, deportation of juveniles in need, and a lack of punishment for those who perpetrate such ills????

 Look at the anger on the faces of these protesters... 
Look at the violence of these law officials...
Why such fear??? Because that is what these pictures show: Fear on the part of those protesting "illegal immigrants." Fear on the part of the law officials and their civilian bosses. 

Fear of those immigrant children??

Fear of those unarmed Black teens??


And as I have written before, and will probably write again, the antidote to fear of groups of people is to know them. We fear what we do not know. Take a moment to think of your own connections. If you spend most of your time with people who look like you, who live like you, who think like you... well, to be blunt, you are probably part of the problem.

It is not comfortable, easy, or fun to get to know people from different races, economic classes, cultures, or places, but it is essential. You will not agree with them about everything; but if you agree with every person you talk to, listen to on TV or the internet, or read, you aren't truly thinking anyway.

If George Zimmerman had known Black teenage boys, he likely wouldn't have assumed Trayvon Martin was hostile. If the police in Ferguson, MO were in relationship with Black teens, they likely wouldn't have shot Michael Brown to death. If those protesting the immigrant children in the picture above had talked with those kids about their lives in their former homes, they would likely be more supportive of their need to start a new life.

And, since this blog is supposed to be about glass and faith...

Did Jesus hang out with people of his own race, class, culture, or place?? Did He turn away those who were different from him? Did He assume the worst about strangers? Did He tell us to hoard the gifts of this world?

We know the answers.
It's time to step out and try to know one another, so we aren't afraid of them. So there ARE no "them."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Seeking Approval

Sometimes I get a commission to create a piece for someone. It's quite a different experience than creating an artistic piece for myself. The piece on the right, for example, was made by a son for his mother. Each part represents something dear to them. It's not something I would've designed for myself, but it was perfect for them.

In the process of designing something specific for someone else, I have to get their approval. I do this before I build the piece, of course. Otherwise, I'd have wasted a lot of materials and time.

The design to the left is a new piece I'm working on. It is for the centennial celebration of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church, which takes place in October. It will hang in a window in the church building. I hope people like it, but I don't have to have anyone "approve" it because it's a gift. I have certainly taken input into the design, but the final decisions have been mine.

I found myself seeking a different kind of approval this past week; I had a sharp disagreement with some people I care very much about. As in most conflicts, there was blame on both sides, current and past blame.

I grew up a "people pleaser" for many reasons; I remember my brother telling me to take a stand before I was ten years old. He said, "You can't make other people happy. Just do what you think is right." I tried, but oh, I struggled to trust my own judgment. I still do sometimes.

So when I got in this conflict recently, I started seeking approval for my decisions. I talked with a close friend and a family member, trying to make sure I was "right" in how I handled it. Then it struck me: It really didn't matter what they thought. It didn't even matter what the people I was in conflict with thought. Or what I thought. What mattered is what God thought.

I reconsidered my actions and my speech. There were parts which did not honor God, and there were parts which did honor God. And that's the only judgment that matters at all. I would love to totally give up being a "people pleaser" to become a "God pleaser." I'm not there yet. But this realization is setting me on the right path.