The #livingfaith series will profile some of the members of Celebration Lutheran Church, to show the many ways faith shapes our daily lives, vocations, and avocations.
“God is Alive, God is Active, God is Aware, and God is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS present in our lives.” – Dennis Betts
Dennis Betts took up wood-working and rock painting during the pandemic , “admittedly to have something to do” during the long days of social distancing and shutdowns. The tools of his trade: a scroll saw, drill press, a box of phosphorescent “pixie dust” (to create glow-in-the-dark resins and coatings), and an enviable array of colorful nail polishes. He collects scraps of wood, downed limbs, and small stones on his daily walks with his wife Joann, and fashions these into decorative wooden pendants, crosses for hanging on the wall or for wearing, tea light holders with an embedded cross, cross rocks, faith message rocks, and – for kids – lady bug and bee rocks (which he gives out along with a cross).
If you’ve met Dennis at some point in the last few years, chances are you came away with a gift of one of his wonderful creations! “I give them out to people in my everyday journeys, with no expectations of what they do with them. I say to them, ‘Wear it, keep it or give it away to someone,’ and go on my way.” Dennis also enjoys placing cross rocks and cross necklaces at random locations for passersby to find. “I do so to remind them that Jesus is with us, loves us and is STILL here for us in many ways.” When he checks later to see if the gifts have been picked up, “they’re always gone!”
Dennis estimates that he has given away hundreds of these items. On the occasions he’s invited to sell them, he gives the money to Lutheran World Relief, or to area nonprofits. And recently, he’s begun putting a Celebration Lutheran Church sticker on the bottom of his tea lights, hoping to direct recipients to our website. He assumes some people accept his cross gifts without intending to wear them or display them; he just hopes they pass it along. “…People have to wear it for their own reasons. A simple reason would be to show ‘I love Jesus, I believe in Jesus,’ which in a way is another explanation for my wearing one.”
But for Dennis, wearing a cross is another kind of testimony, as well. “In the past before I started to make crosses, the words ‘Show me the Cross’ came to me and I started wearing a simple cross all the time. I was showing the cross! I did so with the thought that the cross I wore was a statement I was making, which I identified with Ephesians 6:16 (NIV): ‘In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.’ My shield is the cross of Jesus Christ!”