West Des Moines Iowa
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”
James 1:17 NLT
We never know how God is going to use us and the unique gifts he’s given to each of us when we say “Yes” to Jesus. And that is the exciting part! Every time an opportunity arises we have a choice to say “Yes” to follow where the Holy Spirit will lead or sometimes fear can keep us from following Jesus down the dirt path. But that’s where all the transformation and growth happens. Following Jesus so close that you get dirty for the dust getting kicked up from his sandals. It’s not glamorous following Jesus but it makes life worth living. It’s choosing to go into the chaos to shine our light. To go where God is calling us to go.
I’ve been choosing to follow Jesus wherever he may lead the last several years. Facing my fears and those uncomfortable situations that I have avoided all my life because I was extremely selfish, addicted, insecure and lost for years. I’m still finding my way but I avoided getting involved in the community for so many years because I felt worthless and that I had nothing to offer. But knowing everyday is a new day that I am forgiven for my past mistakes by the grace of God continually gives me Hope. After getting sober almost five years ago 🙏🏼 Thank you Jesus, I found deep meaningful purpose creating art with God.
Saying “Yes” to painting live during worship night 1.28.23 lead me to meet Cheryl Stillman, someone I’ll forever be connected to. I’m in awe of how God calls, equips and then leads us into the unknown weaving sinful people together for a greater purpose. It doesn’t always make sense at the time but then you can start to see the connections. Each connection lights up something in our hearts, something that resonates deep within our soul. We realize this life is way too complex to be an accident. That’s because it’s not!! God created everything and is using it all for his good. Every bit of even the darkest things we’ve went through can be used for his good.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 NLT
January 28, 2023 worship night was another powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit alongside our community. The amount of love and time put into these special nights of worship by staff, Hope productions, Hope Worship team and volunteers is so very much appreciated!!
My heart starts to pound every time the music starts up. This was the 2nd time I’ve painted live prophetic free-styling with the Holy Spirit during worship. Normally I have a some type of plan and even practice a couple times on a smaller scale but this piece had a very limited plan leaving what happens during worship to be inspired by the Holy Spirit in the moment. I’m learning to surrender it all at the foot of the cross releasing more and more control each time listening for our creators voice. I experience amazing freedom and an indescribable joy worshiping and co-creating with our holy Creator.
Before worship starts we always huddle to say a prayer. I wish we could’ve had this one recorded because it was extremely powerful!! It was me, Pat Jacobs (my mom) and Jen Berger surrounded by the power of the words flowing from Jen and my mom’s mouth. Truly on fire and anointed by the Holy Spirit!!
When I’m worshiping and creating with God my mind and feet are light. I don’t think too much about what’s next I just let it flow. The worship music and the people there offering their hearts in song have a huge influence on what’s happening on the canvas. I believe the Holy Spirit is weaving us together in those moments as well as working on something unique in each persons heart.
When the last song ended some people were moved to take a closer look at the art. I love talking with people who are drawn in and learning what about the work spoke to them. Connecting and relating is the heart of the art ministry.
There was a gentleman who approached me feeling very connected to the art and asked if I sell my work. I told him I do but immediately I felt this really intense feeling to wait and to not sell it that night. So I told him I would give him a card and we could connect in the next couple days.
I’ve never sold one on the spot but kind of had an idea of how much I would sell it for if it did happen. But the feeling to wait was so intense I couldn’t ignore it. So I went home and prayed about it all feeling pretty excited they felt moved by the artwork.
The next morning I was at church in the atrium talking to Pastor Ben about worship night when Pastor Jeremy walked up to us. He told us there was a couple that were at the worship night last night and they had lost a child recently. He told me that she was really moved by the painting and was interested in buying it so he had shared my email with her. I was in tears knowing she had lost a child and that God moved her through the art during worship night.
I knew immediately that I would not be selling it to the first guy. I felt bad letting him know but he was very understanding that I was planning to gift it to the woman. After talking to Pastor Jeremy, I went to the art room to take close up photos of the magazine clippings on the canvas. I want to make sure I was ok with everything that ended up on artwork.
When I got home from church I had an email waiting for me from the woman from worship night, below is her first initial message:
My name is Cheryl Stillman and I am a member of Hope.
Our son, Brady, ended his time on earth on 3.22.22. In many ways, Brady actually looked like Jesus, especially the paintings/artwork that are in the chapel. I’ll attach a picture.
We were at the worship service last night and while we were sitting far away from where you were painting, I was completely drawn in to what you were doing because of all the orange. That was Brady’s favorite color.
Part way through the service, I looked over and actually saw ‘Brady’ in your painting. He was at the top center. I nudged my husband, pointed and he looked and said, ‘Brady’. He saw him, too.
Ultimately, you ended up covering what we thought was him and admittedly, I don’t even know what the actual finished product was because we were so far away and my eyesight is awful.
I’m wondering what you will do with it now. Is it available to purchase?
I was literally in shock! When pastor Jeremy said she lost a child I imagined a baby so when I read that he was 25 yrs old and had taken his own life I was absolutely crushed. This just hit me hard because my son is close in age and for much of my life I have felt suicidal with several attempts. For God to connect Cheryl and I in such a profound way is not an accident.
This is one of those pivotal moments in my journey that completely reaffirms why I’m following Jesus. Telling parts of our walk especially the darkest parts can be a survival guide for others who are still going through it. I just cried and couldn’t respond right away. My heart was so heavy for Cheryl, their family and for everyone who knew and loved Brady.
To witness the fresh pain of a mother who is walking with something so unimaginable helped me see what my loved ones might have gone through if I would’ve ever followed through. I realized I am witnessing something completely holy and supernatural that happened through the artwork during worship night.
When it finally sank in that she saw her sons face in the painting I was completely humbled to realize the power of opening ourselves up to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. God can use anyone and anything to carry out his will. Each encounter helps us heal and strengthens our faith. Especially when you see a seed you scattered bloom. Cheryl asked for a sign on that worship night and God absolutely showed up!
Soon as I read her email I started looking through the photos I took of the painting. There is so many deep and meaningful things that ended up on the canvas.
Clipping about Suicide
Then I read the triangle clipping that blew my mind and made me take a break from creating for a month or writing til now. I needed to pause and really look at this to digest what just happened. This was an article on the back side of what initially inspired me. Again completely shocked to see the words talking about suicide on this painting!
When preparing the week before I went through 8-10 magazines so there was a large variety of topics and imagery. When I pull the magazine clippings from these old Parabola magazines, I’m flipping through very quickly and ripping out things I’m drawn to.
Then I go through them, cut into shapes and narrow down several to take to worship. I always end up bringing way more material then what will end up on the canvas but having lots of stuff to choose from allows the work to be more inspired by the Holy Spirit.
As soon as I saw those words on the canvas my gut dropped! I text Jen, the creative arts director, to ask her if she could cover the words up with tape. She wouldn’t be in til Tuesday so bless my Mom’s heart she drove up there to temporarily cover up the words.
I was really unsure what to think about the connections to suicide. I asked pastor Jeremy if he would meet to talk about all of this. I was afraid that it might trigger them. It was certainly bringing things up to the surface from my past. Pastor Jermey has walked alongside Cheryl and her family since Brady’s passing and he knows Cheryl pretty well. He claimed that she might be more upset if we paint over it and don’t show her. So I reached out to Cheryl and set up a time to meet for the first time and see the painting.
Cheryl was blown away by the discovery as well and it was an emotional meeting. I’m so thankful we didn’t cover it up because this is tangible proof of the power of God connecting and reaching those who are seeking. It’s also an incredible testimony showing when we fully surrender ourselves and allow God to work through us how he can use anything to reach people to strengthen their faith and heal their hearts.
I kept the magazine clippings that I used to paint live in a folder so I immediately went into that to see if I could find more pieces to this article. I found a few, taped them together and then held them up to the picture on my iPad of what’s on the canvas to complete half of the article. Unfortunately the top half is glued on to the canvas face down. But this was very revealing and inspiring to hear why the woman said she would do it all over again.
I felt like I’ve know Cheryl for a long time and after getting to know Brady through our phone calls and text I can see why God connected us. Brady had a huge heart and a personality that would take over a room without him trying. He cared for so many others and would go way out of his way to be there for people he loved. Brady’s passion was helping and serving others. He loved being surrounded by his friends and family and wasn’t happy until everyone else was. He never met a stranger and gave the best hugs ever. He also had a big love for music and skateboarding! Cheryl told me there was a memorial set up in his name by SkateDSM.
This scholarship was created to remember and honor Brady by providing skateboarding clinics and equipment for younger generations. The more I learned about Brady the more connections I found we have on so many different levels.
I was 27 when I started skateboarding. It was the year my oldest brother Eric died in a plane crash in 2006. The same year Davenport, Iowa opened their concrete park on the Mississippi River where I was living at the time. I loved skating! It helped me work through so much of the pain and grief. I skated for 6 years til I ended up tearing my MCL and PCL in my knee on the Fourth of July 2012 after drinking way too much alcohol.
Alcohol caused so many of my injuries and what caused me to feel so suicidal for years. So it’s been 11 years since I’ve really skated and almost 5 years since I’ve had a drink by the grace of God! So I just bought a deck and I’m pumped to ride sober. When your riding the concrete waves you have to be completely present in the moment just like snowboarding. I think that’s why there’s such a deep connection.
I feel connected to Brady and I sense his spirit as I’ve walked through life the last 8 months. Seeing the color orange, #14, #22 or Reese peanut butter cups now make me think of Brady. I can’t help but wish I could’ve been there for him and the millions of others who feel no hope. But I can honor Brady’s life by sharing this story of how the Holy Spirit moved me to say yes to painting that night and how his resilient mother discovered a sign that strengthened her faith so she can find deep healing. I know the reason God connected us is to be open about our struggles and be even more bold sharing the hope that we have found in Jesus Christ.
God is connecting us for a reason that we may not know, understand or see yet. But it’s obvious that we need to talk about suicide prevention and reach out to help people who feel like that is an option. There is hope and his name is Jesus! My life completely transformed when I started putting God at the center of everything. If you are feeling suicidal please reach out to me Contact or my church Lutheran Church of Hope or dial 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
This painting has taken us for quite a journey. I had no idea that when I started preparing this canvas that my mom found at Goodwill that I would be connected to so many people. People still on earth and people in heaven. The title of this painting is a on one of clippings. “Light of Heaven and Earth”. My church recorded the story and shared a video during one of the sermons earlier this year check it out.
In July, I was standing in line to sign in at church for VBS songleader training when a girl from our church family turned around and said “I saw the video”. She said the painting reminded her of her grandma. Who had recently passed. Because I had printed a sample I had an extra print at home. So I brought it in the next practice and gave it to her. I asked her how her grandma died and she said by suicide. I am blown away by all the connections and by all the inspiration God has caused through this art.
I am forever grateful for the opportunities to say yes and let the Lord lead the way. God can you use you too no matter what you are going through. Jesus meets us right where we are.
Read more about the other connections from the clippings on the painting on the next page.
Other clippings connected to suicide
I looked up the other names that are on the other clippings. I did a little more research to find out who they were. I found that two of them are connected to suicide in a major way. I love digging deeper and doing research to find connections that helps me see an even bigger picture.
Fyodor Dostoevsky was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist and journalist. Numerous literary critics regard him as one of the greatest novelists in all of world literature, as many of his works are considered highly influential masterpieces. He walked earth from 11 November 1821 – 9 February 1881. Dostoevsky’s literary works explore the human condition in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His mother died when he was 15. He was arrested in 1849 for belonging to a literary group, the Petrashevsky Circle, that discussed banned books critical of Tsarist Russia. Dostoevsky was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted at the last moment.
The concept of suicide is frequently discussed in both Fyodor Dostoevsky’s journalism and novels.
His writing approaches this nation-wide self-annihilation frenzy not to be simply a consequence of individual anguish or psychopathology, but rather a philosophical and spiritual crisis rooted in the characters’ disrupted relationships with society and God.In A Writer’s Diary, inspired by suicide cases reported in the newspaper, Dostoevsky wrote extensively about self-destruction. The atheist “daughter of an Emigré” poisoned herself with chloroform, and “the meek one” threw herself out of the window holding an icon (A Writer’s Diary, 652-653). In the conversion story of the “ridiculous man”, his egoistic suicide is intervened by the development of a love for humanity and God. Moreover, “The Sentence”, a rewrite of the confession of a atheist’s cry of “injustice” for being sentenced to a fatal existence without consent.
His last recorded words were to ask for his wife to read from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, at the passage in which Jesus comes to John to be baptized with the remark, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” After that, Dostoevsky added simply, “Permit it. –Wikipedia read more.
Viktor Emil Frankl walked earth from 26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997. He was an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, who founded logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that describes a search for a life’s meaning as the central human motivational force.
Between 1928 and 1930, while still a medical student, he organized youth counselling centers to address the high number of teen suicides occurring around the time of end of the year report cards.
After earning his M.D. in 1930, Frankl gained extensive experience at Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital, where he was responsible for the treatment of suicidal women.
In 1942, just nine months after his marriage, Frankl and his family were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. His father died there of starvation and pneumonia. In 1944, Frankl and the surviving members of his family were transported to Auschwitz, where his mother and brother were murdered in the gas chambers. His wife Tilly died later of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. Frankl spent three years in four concentration camps.
“The thought of suicide was entertained by nearly everyone, if only for a brief time. It was born of the hopelessness of the situation, the constant danger of death looming over us daily and hourly, and the closeness of the deaths suffered by many of the others. From personal convictions which will be mentioned later, I made myself a firm promise, on my first evening in camp, that I would not “run into the wire.” This was a phrase used in camp to describe the most popular method of suicide—touching the electrically charged barbed-wire fence. It was not entirely difficult for me to make this decision. There was little point in committing suicide, since, for the average inmate, life expectation, calculating objectively and counting all likely chances, was very poor. He could not with any assurance expect to be among the small percentage of men who survived all the selections. The prisoner of Auschwitz, in the first phase of shock, did not fear death. Even the gas chambers lost their horrors for him after the first few days—after all, they spared him the act of committing suicide.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Black Elk went from scalping to becoming a Saint. God can transform anyones life!!
Heȟáka Sápa, commonly known as Black Elk walked earth from December 1, 1863 – August 19, 1950), was a wičháša wakȟáŋ (“medicine man, holy man”) and heyoka of the OglalaLakota people. He was a second cousin of the war leader Crazy Horse and fought with him in the Battle of Little Bighorn. He survived the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. He toured and performed in Europe as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.
As a child, Nicholas Black Elk fought at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Black Elk won fame not for deeds of war but because of a vision. During an illness when he was nine years old, he saw something that can be interpreted as the totality of earthly creation conjoined in glorious, sky-spanning unity. Black Elk converted to Catholicism, becoming a catechist, but he also continued to practice Lakota ceremonies.
Black Elk died in 1950 on a night when the Pine Ridge area experienced a meteor shower. Black Elk made a prediction earlier in his life that lights in the sky would accompany his death. –Wikipedia read more.
Now he is being considered for Catholic sainthood. He baptized hundreds of Sioux and other Indians, taught the Bible, held Masses, preached sermons, and lived a humble, righteous, and useful life. –New Yorker read more.
The week before worship night
Jan 18, 2023 I started the process of preparing the canvas for worship night. It was starting to snow and I still needed to prime and spray paint the base coat outside.
I’ve been trying to get into the habit of opening my Bible every time before I start creating. For the last couple of years I’ve been randomly opening it before I create which has been an exciting way to explore the bible.
Jan 21, 2023 I turned to the beginning of Ezekiel who is a 30 year old prophet who saw visions from God. He lived around 600 years before Jesus.
“All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the Lord looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground, and I heard someone’s voice speaking to me.”
Ezekiel 1:28 NLT
About a year ago I started writing the date and whatever’s on my heart on the page God leads me to. I book mark it then I read before and after the verse sometimes reading the whole book. A majority of the time it’s right on point with what I’m experiencing or what’s going on in the world but even if the words seem irrelevant to what I might end up painting I’m eating up every word! God is still speaking through his prophets. The word of God is most certainly alive.
While I prepared for this live worship art I listened to the Gospel on the Ground by Kristi McLellan. She talks about feasting on the word of God. It is biblical to eat the word of God and that it tastes sweeter than honey.
“The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.”
Ezekiel 3:1, 3 NLT
Jan 19, 2023
Let the prep begin in this winter wonderland 🙌🏼 so excited to prepare my heart and canvas to Paint Live for Worship Night!! I invite you to the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa Saturday January 28, 2023 5-6:30pm for a night of extended worship. Come and see! #god #jesuschrist #holyspirit #worship #worshipartist #prepare #heart #canvas #praise #goodness #prophetic #propheticart #propheticartist #letgo #letgod #move #paints #acrylicpainting #liveart #liveartist #thankful #gratitude
Jan 22, 2023
Live Prophetic Art during Worship Night January 28th Lutheran Church of Hope WDM, IA. It’s hard to not keep painting on this piece I’m preparing for worship night. The expressions I already feel from it is really exciting! The process of emptying myself of my thoughts and wants so I can be filled with the Holy Spirit is something I’ve been practicing. Quieting my mind so I can hear God. This morning was so still with a peaceful blanket of fog hugging the snow covered hills and trees. I was moved to take the electric pink canvas I spray painted a couple of days ago back outside to capture this stage in the process. The in between. Where most of the things happen in our heart. It’s what we decide to do and think about in-between everything that makes the difference. They always say it’s not about the destination but about the journey or the dash between your birth – death. The in-between is where all the magic happens if we are paying attention especially inside of us. I feel God calling me to go deeper into the unknown. Having complete faith and trust in God as I release my mental grip on control. I have no plan for this painting even though my ego can come up with several ideas. I’m trying to quite my mind which feels impossible sometimes. But by praying, meditating and reading Gods word I can be ready to receive what God has in store. The snow is a beautiful reminder of God covering our sins. ““Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18 NIV
“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalms 51:7 NIV
So many reasons to give praise and thanks to God!! #god #jesuschrist #holyspirit #worship #worshipart #prophetic #propheticart #create #livepainting #letgo #trust #process #quite #mind #meditate #pray #cover #sin #thankyoujesus #abstract #abstractartist #mixedmediaart #mixedmediaartist #artreels #expressionism #expression #artist #artistsofinstagram #thankful #gratitude
Jan 27, 2023
Parabola magazines from my moms spiritual leader and good friend of 40+ years. She was always trying to help me understand before I turned my life around to God. She would say “Trust the Process”. In almost every issue for many years of these magazines she has red pen markings highlighting things that stood out to her. She past away in 2019 and her husband just recently gave me two big plastic bins full of these and archaeology magazines from the holy land. He thought I might be able to use them in my art. Thank you so much Bob🙏🏼I feel like you and Connie are with me guiding me to the source. #god #jesuschrist #holyspirit #parabola #spiritual #leader #guide #source #mixedmedia #mixedmediaart #mixedmediaartist #prophetic #propheticart #propheticartist #spiritlead
Jan 28, 2023
Worship Night Tonight!!! The Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa 5-6:30pm. Come join us in an extended night of worship! Hope to see you there! #god #jesuschrist #holyspirit #worship #night #propheticart #worshipart #liveart #mixedmediaart #mixedmediaartist
Part of the process…1.28.23 worship night. Putting together the blog about the live prophetic art from that night. God is revealing himself in amazing ways! #god #jesuschrist #holyspirit #process #propheticart #prophetic #propheticartist #worship #nights #reveal #restore #redeem