Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Heart of Marriage

This design is "Become One" and is frequently ordered as a wedding gift. I've made it in many color combinations, and I love the design. I completed this particular version yesterday and mailed it off today.

It is my practice to pray for the couple getting married as I build these panels. Even if I don't know them, I pray for them as I choose and cut glass, as I put the pieces together, and as I solder the lead together to make a whole. I pray for their marriages and their relationship with God.

I have built two "Become One" pieces in the past couple of weeks; it's a popular gift item. And in addition to praying for each of the couples, I have thought a lot about my own marriage as we near our anniversary. My husband and I met on August 5th, 2007, and got married on October 16, 2007.

Yep, really.

Yes... only ten weeks and two days.

I would do it again in a heartbeat! I have never regretted our somewhat unconventional courting-time; we are very happy together. But more than that, we are a good ministry team. And that was God's plan, not ours. I had no intention of becoming a missionary on a Native reservation; I was a teacher. I didn't feel so much that God had called me to be a teacher, but it was my life's work.

When Brad and I married, I knew he was in seminary to become a pastor. I was willing to go with him to wherever God called him. I figured I would teach in the school system. My trust was in God, that He had a plan.

And He did.
                    A good one.
                                         Just not the same one I had!

First, God placed our youngest daughter in our home unexpectedly. We didn't anticipate parenting together, but it has enriched our marriage and our lives. Second, God called me to teach, but not in the public school system. He called me to teach our daughter... at home. Homeschooling our youngest has been one of the most rewarding (and most challenging!) things I've ever done.

And third, God called us to an altogether different ministry than we expected. We are truly missionaries, even though we are in the United States. We love it here, but it truly takes both of us to minister here. And this morning I read something by Henri Nouwen (from In the Name of Jesus):

"Jesus did not send his disciples out alone to preach the word. He sent them two by two."

I've read that line multiple times today. It's so very true for us. Neither of us could do this work alone, either the parenting and homeschooling or the ministry here in the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

God provided for His ministry to our daughter and to this community when He made us husband and wife. He provides in rich fellowship, in gentle leadership, and in sweet relationship... every day, in every way.

Which brings me back to glass work...

The heart of a marriage is its anchor in Jesus Christ... in the cross... in the complete work of grace which gives us a perfect example of love. That's where marriage starts,

and that's where I start soldering when I build this piece... at the very center of the cross... it's the only way to make the piece whole and stable...
...just like a marriage.

I am so very glad that God took this twice-divorced, parenting-weary, only-slightly-committed Christian worker, and grew me into a happily-married, parenting-treasuring, and deeply committed Christian worker.

Amen. And amen.

Friday, September 12, 2014

People vs. Paint

I am painting the church. The mission group that came in June began the project and painted all the high places and the windows. That's awesome! I volunteered to finish the job by painting the stucco over the summer.

Well, summer is basically gone, and I'm still painting...

I'm making progress! I am about 2/3 done. This is a bigger project than I expected because it's pretty high... and it's stucco. I mentioned that already? Oh. Well, if you've ever painted stucco, you'll understand why I'm repeating myself.

A large part of why I'm still painting in mid-September is people. See, Jesus didn't say, "Take good care of my church buildings." He said, "Feed my sheep." and "Love one another." There have been a few times this summer that I've wished He cared about His church buildings because I'd like to finish this job before our Centennial Celebration on the weekend of October 3rd.

But instead, I've stopped painting to allow our seven-year--old and her friends to swim. Being home-schooled, she doesn't have as many chances to play with friends as most kids, so I try to facilitate having friends over when I can.

And instead, I've sat down with an intoxicated man, listened to him meander through conversation about God, and prayed with him.

I've allowed the paint to dry on the brush as I interacted with a suicidal young man. Tears flowed freely when I told him that God had plans for him; he said that no one had ever said that to him before. He wasn't sure he believed it, but he's visited again, saying he felt safe here.

And instead of finishing the paint job, I've helped coach more than 50 youngsters in soccer, a game I've never played. But two more hands on the field have lessened the load for the adults in charge.

When today, instead of painting, I was chatting with my mother (whose birthday it is!), she said, "You must be frustrated by all the interruptions," I said, "Yes, sometimes, but really, people are more important than paint. This is the work God wants from me now."

And I realized it's true. If the church building is two-toned on our Centennial Celebration weekend, some people might care, but God won't. He will be happy that His people have been tended and loved. After all, He didn't say, "Make sure the church buildings look good."