This is the moment that changes everything! Jesus was crucified, died and was placed in a guarded tomb. Three days later He rose from the dead! This is the most incredible moment in all of human history!
We were in the midst of Holy Week and it looked much different than anyone was expecting this year. Church buildings were empty but the church was in thousands of homes across the world. Which I think is awe-inspiring! God’s word echoed off the walls in which we dwell in. Soaking into the spaces where we live. The Covid-19 has caused disruption, pain and great loss in this world. It has shaken the foundations we base our very livelihoods on. We were forced to re-evaluate what is essential and what is really important in this life. The enemy would love it if this caused us all to isolate, disconnect and live in fear. But this has actually caused a ripple effect around the world connecting us even more so. God is bigger than any virus. He sent His son who died for our sins and defeated death.
For the longest time in my life I didn’t believe that any of the stories from the Bible ever really happened. I grew up in a Christian home where my parents taught us the stories from the Bible. They made sure my three brothers and I went to church, Sunday school, confirmation, summer camps and youth gatherings. For some reason most of my life I doubted the truth in these stories. I thought it was a crazy idea that one man was sent from God, and He was God, to die for our sins, tough concept for me to grasp. It didn’t make any sense to me. I drifted extremely far away from the church as I got older and grew deeper in my alcoholism. I tried to fill the hole in my soul and nothing would satisfy.
Until 2017 when I had a spiritual awakening while I was in rehab. Before I checked myself into Prelude Behavioral Services I applied at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, IA. I was upfront about my alcoholism and my plan to go to rehab. The head of facilities at all 9 Hope locations, gave me an opportunity that I am forever grateful for. I was hired on the facilities crew straight out of rehab. This is where my life really started changing.
My first few days working at Hope was Easter weekend. It was incredible to witness thousands of people in and out of the church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This experience absolutely guided me into this spiritual discovery and journey I have been on ever since. Hearing the sermon started a fire inside me causing a deep desire to find out more. Seeing the live artist that year completely inspired me. I thought to myself how cool would that be to have the courage to do that someday. Made me get nervous and nauseous just thinking about it back then. Not something I was raising my hand to do.
When I found out they had a ministry for the creative arts I was very intrigued. After passing by the creative arts windows many times while working I eventually got to meet the Art director at the time. She asked me if I prayed before I painted. It was like a light went on inside my heart and has only gotten brighter with time. She helped me realize a gift that God gave me to share for His will. This realization strengthened my faith and gave me purpose. Looking back on this I can clearly see how God was working through Several people to get to my heart. I also got to know a couple other creative art leaders these two women shared their light with me. They believed in me at times I wasn’t sure and have been there through all the good and bad times the last few years. More importantly they’ve helped me understand how to let God work through me. I am so blessed to have these sisters in Christ in my life.
I was invited to paint live at Hope for my first time Christmas 2018. That experience was extremely exhilarating and transforming. Deep paralyzing fears of being on stage were conquered leaving me inspired to paint live every chance I get. I thank God everyday for the gifts I have and that I have a chance to share them.
I was looking forward to painting live for Easter 2019 but the timing didn’t work out. My husband and I were blessed to be moving into our bungalow on a small acreage in the country that weekend. So this year, 2020, I was hoping to get that chance to paint at the Lutheran Church of Hope Des Moines campus as well as the West Des Moines campus. God put a couple visions on my heart and I was super excited to paint for 4 services. Then the covid-19 pandemic started shutting businesses, schools and churches down around the world. No services were held in any churches for Easter.
Pivot…that’s what we’ve all had to do! As soon as it was a no go I got an email from the creative arts director asking if all the artists would still paint and record it so they could share it on their website. I was so down to put together a video to share.
I stretched a couple canvases and taped the edges. I sketched the silhouette of Jesus and stenciled the word Salvation.
I primed and painted the canvas a yellow base color for the road to the cross, the golden sunrise morning sky and to represent purification. Fire is primarily yellow and signifies how we are being refined by trials becoming more like Him. Yellow is believed to symbolize faith, Glory of God, anointing and Joy.
I was moved to paint the Easter piece out in our front yard as the sun was coming up. Just like in the Bible verse Mathew 28:1-6 the sermon was based around.
I’m not a morning person at all but when I get excited about something it moves me. I absolutely believe that excitement comes from the Holy Spirit. I watched the weather for days trying to do it on a somewhat warmer morning and that looked like the sun would be shinning. April 7th was my last chance before Easter Sunday to get it done.
I got up at around 5:50 am to get everything set up outside. The sun was to rise at 6:47 am and it was around 48 degrees. The plan was to wake my husband up sooner than I did so he could build a fire next to my easel just like the Good Friday painting. But I was scrambling to get coffee made and get everything outside because the sky was starting to get light. As I’m flying out the door I dropped my huge container full of paints and brushes down my front steps..lol. It actually starts to get light way before 6:47…I don’t see the sunrise often. The sun started coming up before we could get the fire going so I just went for it and started painting.
Painting outside as the sun came over the hills was chilling not because it was cold but because I felt the victory down through my bones and deep in my soul. I tried to imagine the feeling Mary must of had when she walked up to the tomb that morning and found it empty. I’ve only painted outside a couple times in my life. This was absolutely unforgettable to paint Easter morning, the day the good Lord raised from the dead as the sun was rising during a global crisis. I believe more than ever that God has got us covered no matter the problems we face here on Earth! We just have to let go and trust!
The wind was twirling around me, the canvas and through the bare fingertips of the trees. The Holy Spirits presence was all around. Everything on the verge of blooming was moving and dancing.
I edited the video with an awesome app called Enlight Video Leap. Easy editing program that you can over lay videos and pictures. So after editing everything I needed some music. I asked a friend who knows her music if she knew some resurrection music. I opened a flood gate as she sent me a ton of good choices. Immediately when I heard “Graves into Gardens” by Elevation Worship feat. Brandon Lake I got the chills! Because I searched the world and nothing would fill me.
My life has changed so much since rehab in 2017. I thank God everyday that I have another chance to live my life honoring Him. It’s not an easy road but when I fall I get up and try again. I am beyond thankful I had the opportunity to work at the Lutheran Church of Hope. It absolutely changed my life path and gave me direction that I had been longing for most of my life. I have so much to learn and my life is no where near perfect. I did relapsed a few times in my recovery but today by the grace of God I am 1 year and 8 months alcohol and cigarette free. Jesus is the reason my life continues to transform and I plan to share the good news every chance I get.
I also invite you to check out the Good Friday 2020 Live Art blog…touch the link to read “Completion”