These two images have been dogging me from the inside for awhile now. QUITE AWHILE! I knew they wouldn't stop knocking on my heart, until I set aside the time and finally made them. "Under Attack" and "Ocean of Love" are not traditional Easter imagery of the cross, tomb, Jesus' triumphant entry or symbols of the season, however, I knew the 4th annual, "What's So Good About Good Friday?" Art Show on March 29, 2013, was the venue I would create them for. I just knew. Because I had to make them. Even though I didn't want to. They are so personal. So hard to talk about, and even harder to display. But I have to. They are my testimony to what God has done, and is in the midst of doing, in my life.
On May 25, 2011, my husband was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 40. We told our sons, then 7 and 11, of their father's diagnosis, along with a brief outline of the medical journey ahead. Words like "chemo", "radiation" and "surgery" rolled easily off our tongues. We were so naive. We had no idea what lay ahead. It was then that our oldest son said, when we thought it'd be "just" one year from diagnosis to the end of treatment, "And after that it'll be like it never happened." I replied by saying, "But it did happen, and now it'll be part of all of our testimonies." A testimony is meant to be shared. It's for times like now, when art from my heart is on display, along with this handful of words that attempt to summarize the valleys that have been so deep, and the mountain ranges God has moved during the nearly two years of living with cancer.
The blessings are tremendous. We can count them one by one.
We can see the big rocks of remembrance too.
We have praised Him in the storm and continue to look to Him.
When people ask how we've done it I say, "It's all God and a multitude of prayers."
I've acknowledged again and again that prayer is what we need the most.
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter. We truly feel the peace that passes all understanding from the prayers buoying us up.
The prayers of so many, more than we could ever know, protected us, when things could have gone one way, yet thankfully went another.
Protection. Strength. Comfort. And so much more. Prayer is everything.
We are beyond humbled and thankful for all the prayers that have seen us through thus far, and we still ask for prayers.
Our family, friends, church, school and art community have made a world of difference as we've navigated through each stage of cancer treatment. I am so thankful we're not walking without them alongside, behind and ahead, often propping us up. I've said more than once, since the beginning of my husband's cancer journey, "Our burden is lighter because it is shared by so many." At the March 14, 2013 Art Circle meeting, Carol shared a verse of scripture with the group, but read it specifically for me, Deuteronomy 31:8 (KJV), "And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." Paraphrased, "The Lord goes before you, He never leaves you, so do not be afraid." Oh, how I needed that reminder.
It has been a battle. A war fought on many fronts, including the spiritual plain that we cannot see with our human eyes. Sometimes it felt like living inside a pressure cooker. That's when I'd say aloud, "We are in the Refiner's Fire. No one wants to be here. We have to keep on going." God knows. He's seen us through it all. He's been watching, as our lives unfold, and He wasn't surprised. God's jaw didn't drop, His eyebrows haven't raised higher than His forehead and His eyes didn't bug out, not even once, through the events and turning points when the heat was turned way up, through the most recent eleven months. We are different, forever changed, and He's not finished with us yet. It's all Him.
Written on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.
© 2013 Janean Baird, Turquoise Tangles
"Art Circle in Action"
Second Presbyterian Church, located in Bloomington, Illinois, hosts the "What's So Good About Good Friday?" Art Show
Art Circle of Bloomington-Normal