I was raised in a household where we went to church every Sunday; my mom was the church secretary and Sunday school teacher. I helped fold church bulletins and did my homework in the quiet sanctuary. I never had a moment in my life where I had to learn to accept Jesus as my savior, it was ingrained in me from birth, I never knew it any other way. This beautiful gift was giving to me by two of the strongest women in my life. My mom, Marilyn and my grandma, Lenora. Lenora was also raised in a Christian household, albeit a stricter one. She didn’t just read her Bible, she studied the Bible. And I mean straight up until she passed away at 93 years old. Her Bible was bound together with duct tape, notes scribbled on the side of every page, passages highlighted and underlined (and sometimes both). Her Bible looked like it had been through a war and in some ways it had.
Lenora had an unwavering faith, however this faith didn’t come easy for her. She suffered many a heartache in her life. When she was 18 years old her 1-year old baby boy, Richard, tragically died in his sleep from a medical malpractice error, he was given a drug he should have never been given. At first, she was angry with God, but then she turned back to her Bible. Her faith began to grow and she witnessed how this book and those words written in red gave her hope and healing. Her faith brought her through the darkness and her Bible was her lifeline.
 Red ink is used in some New Testament Bibles to represent Jesus’s spoken word
I don’t know if a grieving mother has some sort of otherworldly channel to the other side but it certainly seemed like it. Almost as if going through something as tragic as losing a child opened a wound so deep that once it was filled with the Spirit she was offered a connection like no one else could experience unless they themselves had gone through it. It was like a double-edged cosmic consolation prize; with ultimate heartache comes ultimate comfort. She was connected to the Spirit, by faith alone.
Years later her husband was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was only 52 years old. He was in every sense of the word the love of her life. When she would talk about him, her face changed, it softened, like she was in a happy place just at the thought of him. Back to the Bible and back to her faith, her armor. She prayed hard during this time. That kind of fall on your knees scream pray, begging to heal him. I can only imagine her grief kept her from hearing the answer to her prayer, so God found another way. He sent her a dream.
She dreamt Jesus was standing in front of her holding a lamb and he slowly turned and walked away. She woke up, not heart broken, but filled with peace. She believed this message meant that her beloved husband would be healed, not the way she wanted but he would be at peace in the comforting arms of Jesus. He was going home, to the flock. He passed away soon after and once again her faith brought her through the darkness.
Years later when I was almost 10, our family went through another scary time. After months of headaches, ear aches, and an unyielding sinus infection doctors found an egg sized mass in my head, deep inside a sinus cavity next to my brain panel. After several tests and scans they were able to confirm that it was in fact benign, but would require a risky surgery to be removed. And icing on the cake, this cyst was nearly unheard of in someone my age so they had never performed this particular surgery on someone so young.
My grandmother prayed through it all. And that heavenly connection sent her another dream. She dreamed again of Jesus standing in front of her holding a lamb only this time He was walking towards her as if saying, “I’m taking care of her here on earth, don’t be afraid.” She awoke with hope and I remember her telling me her dream with such a matter of factness there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that I wouldn’t be ok. And I was.
Over the years I’ve thought about the two dreams she described to me. For me, this painting has always been something I wanted to create. I imagine its early morning, the sun is breaking through the trees. The Shepard has spent the whole night searching for His one lost sheep. Having found him, he takes it back to the flock. My hope is that this image will bring someone else the peace that it brought my grandmother. And I hope she knows how her faith has inspired me.
We need this Shepard more than ever right now. The farther we separate ourselves from Him the darker this world seems to get. There is such a disregard for human life its gut wrenching. We’ve been given the answers already, the guide book on how to treat your fellow man with scripture by a man also known as the Prince of Peace. I hope that these deep wounds that are being inflicted are filled with the Spirit and we will have a connectivity to each other the world has never known.