I find it funny that I will be 56 years old next month and I am first now starting to realize why so many things in my life happened exactly the way they did. In the last several weeks God has been connecting all those dots and showing me the beautiful picture that it is developing.
I am the youngest of 6 kids and my family life was absolutely amazing growing up. My parents are now in heaven - but were the most dedicated and loving parents anyone could ever hope for. My siblings are still my very closest friends. I wouldn't have traded my upbringing for anything! However, as I got older, I made choices that were not in line with that wonderful upbringing. These were choices that were not aligned with God's will for my life – and consequentially, bad thing's happened as a direct result. And, like most of us, many things in my history "just happened" because life often throws you some unexpected curveballs.
I am a recovered alcoholic/addict, a survivor of domestic abuse, and a survivor of rape. I've experienced abandonment coupled with extreme losses that have caused unspeakable grief. I've gone through periods of extreme depression, anxiety, and have faced several other mental health issues. I am also a tenacious chronic illness warrior - currently battling multiple diagnoses.
As I faced and battled each of these various issues, I kept crying out and asking God why He was allowing all this to happen. There were times I was so very angry at God for making me go through these things instead of just saving me from them! I just could not understand why such a good God would allow me to keep facing trial after trial if it was causing such immense suffering for not only me - but for those with whom my life intersected.
Fast forward to today! God is suddenly showing me everything so clearly!! Today, I am beyond thankful for each and every one of those hardships, because they have uniquely qualified me for exactly what God is now calling me to!
Because of my past life experiences, I can now be more compassionate and empathetic to those individuals or groups facing some of the very same adversities. Experience and understanding provide an opportunity for connection like nothing else ever could! When a person hears your story and quietly says, "Yeah...me too..." the walls seem to suddenly come crashing down and a true connection is made.
God has helped me overcome so much already and is right there with me through whatever things I may be walking through today. I am in awe of His healing and transformative powers and am excited to share that hope with others. Through my art, my speaking, my creativity workshops, and my writings - I want to share my personal journey as a beacon of hope for those who may feel stuck in a downward spiral. I remember the countless times when I couldn't see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I remember when I felt I was too far gone for God to redeem me and give my life purpose. I didn't fully believe that I could ever heal from the traumatic experiences of my past and leave them behind me. I didn't think emotional healing was even possible. Bottom line? I didn't trust God's promise of using everything for His good. But now, I believe! I trust! Because God has shown me how to connect the dots and how to use ALL OF IT to continue healing, to help others and to bring Him glory!
Most of my work going forward will have underlying messages of HOPE! You will begin to see the recurring themes of dark to light, broken to whole, confusion to clarity, lost to identity. Growth and transformation will be a huge thread throughout most of my paintings going forward. When I am blessed with a particular speaking opportunity, I share pieces of my journey that the audience can personally relate to, followed by sharing the hope and good news of the transformation that has been taking place in my own life. I emphatically follow that with blessed assurance that if the change and transformation they’ve been praying for hasn’t happened yet… that it’s right there waiting for them to accept it! There is so much more for us! When I facilitate a creativity workshop, we incorporate a positive life message into every art activity that we do.
Honestly, only God could use the awful wreckage of my past to bring me such joy and purpose! And only God could take it even further by showing me how to use my experiences and the gifts and passions that have always somewhere within me, to connect with others and share a beautiful testimony of HOPE!!
I am finally able to see a vision for my future that is fully aligned with Gods - and I am ridiculously excited to keep putting one foot in front of the other in obedience to see what the future holds!