"You Are My Refuge"
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust." Psalm 91:1-2 (KJV)
I started working on this drawing just before our youngest daughter, Samara, was having some health issues involving severe migraines.
During choir practice one day, we were practicing a song with the same title as this drawing. That's when the Lord laid on my heart to draw a picture of Samara embraced in the arms of Jesus. As I worked on it, not only did I pray for my daughter, but for others who were going through difficult times. No matter what trial we may be going through, it is a comfort knowing that Jesus Christ is our refuge and our strength. If we allow Christ to hold us close to Him, we may even hear His heart beating. We might not be able to see God's hand in our circumstances, but we can definitely TRUST His heart!
My purpose in this piece was to encourage others who may be going through a difficult time, that they would just lean unto the One who loves them the MOST. Just let God hold you close.
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble them- selves; and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
When terrorists hit our country on September 11, 2001, I was very emotional as I watched the news and then the memorial services for all the ones that perished, as I am sure so many were. As I sat there watching, the camera focused on our then President, George W. Bush. He had tears streaming down his face. They were real and not put on for the cameras. That made an impact on me. I started to pray for him as I knew that he would have difficult decisions to make because of all that had happened. When we went to war, he was criticized but I continued to pray for him. I had read that he would get up really early and have his quiet time with the Lord. Though, I continued praying for him, I asked the Lord what could I do to encourage him. I wanted him to know that there were many praying and to continue to go to the Lord for guidance. The Lord laid on my heart to do a portrait of him. My first reaction to that was ..."You're kidding, right Lord?" I really hadn't done that many portraits...but it was so clear. I reminded Him that this would be going to the President of the United States. The Lord doesn't need reminding of anything...but if He lays something on my heart to do, I DO need to be obedient to His leading.
I started praying and seeking advice from the best Artist ever...my Heavenly Father. I was having my devotions one day and it "happened" to be on 2 Chronicles 7:14. As I read it, it was as if the Lord just opened my eyes to what He wanted. I was going to paint a picture but instead He laid on my heart to do a graphite drawing. I started to search for photos of President Bush praying, but I was specific...I needed to see that tear streaming down his cheek. I started to do composites of him and of his hands. I wanted to have it be a combination of different things in his life that drew him to be humble before the Lord. He had mentioned about his prayer life and quiet time with the Lord, so I wanted his hands on an open Bible. The passage the Lord laid on my heart to choose was 2 Chronicles 7:14. That was going to be the focal point of the picture. Yes, his profile with head bowed in prayer (with a tear going down his cheek) was in the center, but I wanted the hands folded on the opened Bible to that particular passage, to be the focal point. The twin towers are in the upper right hand corner as reminder to all of us of the terror we may face but yet the flag in the other corner reminds us that this country was founded under Biblical principles. I did send this to him in December of 2005.
A few months later, someone wanted me to market this picture, but I kept telling them that I didn't do it for that, but to encourage a brother in the Lord. They said that maybe it would encourage others to pray for him and our country, so I started to draw it again. When I do a piece of art for someone, I will pray for them as I work on the piece. It took me 22 hours each time I worked on these drawings, so I had the privilege to pray for our President for 44 hours. The second time I drew the picture, I added tears streaming off his hands onto the open Bible and also added tear stains on the pages of the Bible. The second picture now hangs in my classroom as a reminder to pray for our country and our leaders. It is a constant prayer of mine also, that I will always have a humble heart before my LORD.
When my mom was seventeen years of age, she married my dad right out of high school. She had me two years later at the age of nineteen. I wasn't yet a year old, when my dad decided to move from New England to the West with my mom being newly pregnant with my brother. I am sure it was not easy for her to leave everything she knew, to go cross country with her husband of not quite three years, her 6-7 month old baby daughter and being newly pregnant, but she did.
My dad would have to work out of town many times and I am sure she felt lonely during those times. She didn't have the internet, or even unlimited long distance phone service to call family back East. I often think about this and realized how much strength my mom truly had. I never heard her complain about anything but just did what she had to do. She didn't know the LORD yet but I am so glad that He knew her. He sent a sweet lady to her, inviting her to a ladies' Bible Study and that is where my mom met her Savior.
My mom shared her new faith with my dad, who had claimed to be an atheist. He wanted nothing to do with her new faith, so she and others prayed for him to see his need of the One who loved him so much to die for him. After a short while, my dad did come to Christ.
As a young child, I thought I was going to Heaven because of my parents, but it wasn't until my mom, brother and I were back East visiting family, and while my mom was sharing the Gospel with her sisters and parents, that I realized I, too, was a sinner heading for Hell and that I couldn't get to Heaven on my parents' merits. The next month, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to be my Savior.
My mom thought that she never did much for the LORD, but she did in her own quiet way. She was so instrumental to me getting saved and many others, but unfortunately, I don't think she realized that. What does all of this have to do with the painting? I wanted to share a little of my mom's story before sharing the story of this painting.
Mom went home to be with the Lord unexpectedly on December 30, 2005. About three weeks before that she had told me that she wanted me to sing "When We See Christ" at her funeral some day. I told her that we didn't need to talk about that at the time but I did tell her that I would see. To sing at your mother's funeral, I thought, would be the most difficult thing to do. After she went home to be with the Lord and we were planning her memorial service, I told my father that she had wanted me to sing that song. I didn't know how I was going to do it but I did know that I wanted the Lord to be glorified through it. I also knew that nothing was impossible if the Lord was behind it. With His strength, I was able to sing that song along with another song that I sang with my voice teacher, ( "His Way is Perfect"). I look back now, knowing that it was only possible because of the One I wanted glorified!!!
One year later, I started an art course, as my mother wanted me to grow in my art. For my final project, I had to do a mixed media, which I had never done before. A lot of prayer went into this piece. I wanted it to be something that I would be able to witness to my teacher and give God the glory. He laid on my heart a memorial to my mother. This mixed media is dedicated to my mother and to our Savior; because of Him dying for our sins and rising from the dead, I will see my mother again, for she also had received Christ as her Savior as have I.
I love the ocean and see so much symbolism in the many things that God has created in life. I started off with the song, "When We See Christ", on the mound of sand. It keeps me focused to the fact that He is always with me no matter what I go through. As you go down from the mound near the bottom, I placed two sand dollars; then three starfish in front of the sand dollars. The sand dollars reminds me of my relationship with my Savior (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit). The two sand dollars represent that my mother and I have been redeemed by Christ dying for our sins. As you go down on the beach, you will notice the broken shells which represent the trials we go through. When you come to the sand dollar broken in half, it represents the time when we as believers, represented by the small doves, pass from this earth to our Heavenly home where Christ awaits to be the first to greet us. I know then, that I will be able to say that it was worth it all when I see Him, which takes you back to the song, "When We See Christ". I, also, look forward to that time when I will be reunited with my mom and we worship our Savior together.
"Now the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the Holy Ghost." Romans 15:13 (KJV)
Karen's Artistic Thoughts
I decided as I was working on this website, that a blog would be a way to explain what goes through my mind as I work on each piece the Lord has laid on my heart.