Where do I begin? This may be a very lengthy blog post!
I touch on my transformation on this site, but I felt it needed to be told in more detail. God is so patient and persistent. He transformed me and now I feel such an indebtedness to Him along with complete awe in His grace and mercy.
I was raised going to church, baptized as a child, confirmed and everything else that goes along with religious upbringing. I attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church but fell away from church all together after I moved from home. I never attended church, didn't read the Word and probably would have said "I believe in God" but not really understanding much about Him at all. I definitely did not grasp the gospel even after all those years of church attendance. I often think about my salvation at that time and wonder if I was truly saved even though I had professed my faith during confirmation and had made a public declaration without any commitment. I did not trust nor have faith in God. I had no relationship with Christ. I never consulted God in any decision and basically lived without any Godly influence. Most of all, I did not know Jesus nor have a relationship with him. I also suffered from terrible social anxiety and panic attacks beginning in grade school through my early adult life. I used alcohol as a coping mechanism while younger and often mixed alcohol and tranquilizers to feel "normal'. This is part of why I feel so strongly in telling my story. I am not anxiety free, but am healed of my inaccurate perception of myself. I have a new identity in Christ.
After experiencing the untimely death of a good friend, I started searching. How can I keep in contact spiritually with someone? What happens when we die? I had so many questions, but none of them were Godly. They were all quiet desperation questions,,, trying to regain contact with this person in some way. I spent hours researching on the internet, reading and looking into these things. I listened to Abraham-Hicks teachings and psychics. They believed in a higher power, but God was never mentioned. Eventually my searching brought me to God. I met a Christian man who had a strong and convincing testimony on God's deliverance from alcoholism. His convictions were life-changing to me. God had found a way into my heart and He opened my eyes to see things clearly for the first time. It wasn't long before I was so consumed with God and hungry for learning more. I really was transformed in a very short time. I started attending a non-denominational church on a regular basis along with small groups. There was such a desire to know God more deeply and to talk about Him constantly. This was all so new for me. I never had any desire to go to church, learn about God, or do anything the least bit "religious". I learned things I never understood or comprehended. I don't fault my home church. I just hadn't had any heart conversion. I did not love my Savior. I didn't even know Him, though He knew me. God sent many people into my life over the years that were prayer warriors for me. My neighbor often invited me to church and prayed for my "little family" as she called it. She become a mentor to me and was so ecstatic about my turn to Christ. We talked for hours and she answered so many questions for me. I still consider myself a baby Christian as there is so much to understand about God. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I study.
Not long after my transformation, I went to my first job interview EVER without a tranquilizer. I was 52 years old! I had always needed a tranquilizer to get through an interview process due to my anxiety. I went to that interview without and got the job! There was a confidence that I had never had before. There was a feeling of peace and calmness. I was not affected by the judgement of others any longer. It has been a long-time issue for me in every situation. People prone to anxiety often feel at the mercy of what others think of them. Others determine their value. I finally understood the love of Christ for me and it freed me to be confident in that. My Savior loved me so much. He saw my value, just as he sees the value in every human being. We are all special and unique in His sight. That love sustained me and changed me. It opened my eyes to see the world they way He sees it...with love and compassion.
In 2017, I started to journal about my desire to paint prophetically. For some reason, I was very drawn to this notion. I discussed it with my small group friends, who encouraged me to draw during church or during our small group meetings. They were so positive. I know God lit this passion within me because I had not painted since college, nor did I have any desire to. I did have an Art minor, but never really did anything with it. I just always loved Art. As a child, I wanted crafts and art supplies for gifts. I took Art classes in high school, too. After college, I lost interest. I no longer had any desire to paint or draw. I did do some crafty projects like painting furniture, but no fine art. That why when I started to become really interested in prophetic painting, it came as a surprise to me. God was reigniting my creative passion for His Glory! For two years I talked about it, but did nothing. I love looking back at my journals to remind me of God's faithfulness when we are obedient.
Then in 2019, Janesville was hosting a community-wide evangelism outreach hosted by Time to Revive. Two of their local missionaries were good friends of my husband and I. They knew of my desires to paint prophetically. We had many discussions about stepping out in faith and what that looks like in life. They asked me if I'd like to paint live at the event. For some reason painting live was on my heart. God was definitely chuckling at that. For a person who has social anxiety, that would have been a nightmare. I would have done anything in my power to find an excuse to get out of it. I would have worried about having a panic attack and what would I do if that happened in front of everyone?? But to the new me, I reacted differently. I was excited! and a bit scared ( I won't lie) Initially, I did not accept the invitation. I needed to think about it. My small group was so excited for me. They assumed I would say "yes". But I didn't, at least not at first. After a day, I realized that God had delivered this perfect opportunity to me. Something I had been pining for over two years. How could I say no? I had to say yes to God. At the moment, I said yes, all fear left me. I was confident in my decision. The missionaries asked me to paint live, not knowing what my artistic abilities were in the least. They asked me based on my desires. I had to go buy craft paints and brushes as I truly had not painted in 40 years! So, here I am, a person who has been delivered from severe anxieties and panic attacks getting up in front of a crowd of 600 to paint live for the first time since college. Only God within me could take on that challenge. I listened to two worship songs over and over for hours the days before I painted. "Whisper" by Jason Upton and "New Wine" by Hillsong. Those songs spoke to me. I planned on drawing out my design before I painted, but God had me erase it and write the word TRUST on my canvas. I painted twice over the course of the outreach. Both paintings were breathtaking, in my opinion. Mainly due to what I witnessed God do within me. I was so humbled. He gave me the supernatural confidence to paint live. I had zero anxiety while painting. I remember singing along to the worship songs while painting. There was such peace in it.
I have not painted live since. I know I will again someday, because I still have that desire. Right now, I am concentrating on bringing God's hope and encouragement to others through my art. I enjoy hearing when someone is touched by a painting and I have many concepts and titles in my journal. I am so humbled by what God has done in my life. He has changed it around completely. Now, I live to serve Him and bring Him Glory with my paintings. I hope to capture His heart in each one.