Friday, October 7, 2011

Testimonial Art

 Today's post is going to take on a little different vibe than normal. You see, it's been fun growing this blog but I'm beginning to feel like something's lacking. I realized during one of my runs recently, that I'm having difficulty letting my readers in and allowing you to know me as a person and what drives me to do the things I do. There's no better way to do this than to tell you a story about the artwork that hangs in my house. I've mentioned before that my gallery wall is composed of my dad's art combined with several other things. Well, friends, there's one piece in particular that is a gift from above.

My dad became really ill 5 years ago this month. He contracted HSV Encephalitis. This is a nasty virus that typically manifests as cold sores or shingles. Instead of traveling down his bloodstream in typical fashion, the virus in his body traveled upward and attacked his brain. We went from thinking he had the flu, to rushing him to the ER because he was hallucinating and didn't know who we were. Several days passed and it was unclear if he was going to pull out of this or not. Many, many prayers were prayed and we had to trust that God was in control of this situation. Friends, he was only 58 years old. Way too young to depart from our lives!

Let me back up a bit. I was sitting in Ladies Bible Class on the Wednesday before my father became ill. I was listening to the lesson when suddenly an idea popped into my head. "Dad needs to draw a cross!" This "idea" was almost audible and it lit an excitement that bubbled through my body. In retrospect, I know that this "idea" was not of me, yet was actually the Holy Spirit speaking directly to my heart. I had always known my father had a God-given talent of drawing, but sadly he did not use this talent often. I craved his artwork, so when this idea popped into my head, I thought, "This will be perfect! A piece of art that can be passed down throughout generations of our family." Little did I know, this was only a tiny piece of what lay ahead.

I couldn't wait to get home and give him a call. I wanted to ask if he'd be willing to draw this cross, but I couldn't quite work out the details. I couldn't decide if I should pick a cross from my collection for him to draw or if I should encourage him to design his own. For some reason, the pieces were not falling into place. Things got even more fuzzy when I actually made the phone call and didn't get to speak with him because he was feeling bad.

The next several days were very touch and go. It took a plethora of tests to figure out what was wrong with him. He had been striped of so many capabilities and he was in severe pain. He couldn't even speak our names. The doctor told us, "If he makes it through the next few days, he will have very limited speech, as well as, fine motor skills."" WHAT???," I'm thinking. "Why would God tell me he needed to draw a cross if it's never going to happen?" It saddened me to realize that this piece of legacy would not come to fruition. Oh ye of little faith...

I left the hospital that day to go to lunch with my mom and brother. Mind you, I had walked this same way dozens of times already, but something caught my attention this time. As I walked out the door, I looked back over my shoulder only to be greeted with a wall full of crosses hanging in the gift shop. It's as if God was saying, "Don't question me! Here is the cross you've been searching for." I suddenly was gifted with hope.

My dad was in the hospital for 28 days. These were the longest 28 days of my life. In the beginning, I  witnessed my dad begging to die. Literally, he would rock back and forth and say, "Take me, Jesus. Take me, Jesus." Honestly, if it was his time to go, he would have been gone. He was completely ready. Finally, the anti-viral medicine began to stop further damage. He had huge language deficits. The neurologist would hold up a pen and ask him what it was called. My dad could not answer. Then he would point to me and ask him my name. Again, he could not answer. The good news was that his fine motor skills were 100% functioning. I even brought him coloring books and asked him to color. Once I saw his abilities, I knew God was going to use this to provide amazing art one day down the road! Patience was the key here. We had numerous conversations and about 98% of them didn't make any sense. Several weeks in, he began to know my name again. This was a very sweet gift.

On day 26, I decided to take him down to the gift shop. I stood him in front of the wall of crosses and told him, "God told me you are supposed to draw one of these crosses someday. Do you see any you'd like to draw?" I had no idea if he actually understood what I was saying to him, but he lifted his hand and pointed to one. I went back the next day and he pointed to the same one again! I purchased it later that day and brought it home for when the time was right.

The actual cross my dad pointed to in the gift shop.
                   
While we were thrilled to be leaving the hospital, this was a terrifying time. We were taking home my dad who was now, my dad functioning with a brain injury. We were thrown to the wolves! There was no direction given by the professionals. We were forced to pray our way through this new way of life. My dad was facing extreme frustration and tried several times to leave without telling us. In his limited use of words, he expressed feeling like too much of a burden on my mom and I and thought we'd be better off without him. It was in this time of deep despair that I shared with him, once again, what the Holy Spirit had placed on my heart. The next day he indicated that he was willing to give it a try.

As he began to draw, he shared with me that initially he was scared he wouldn't be able to draw like normal. He stated, "I didn't think I could do it anymore, but I think I'm better now than I used to be!" Chills ran through my body as the realization set in that God is the only one who could make this happen.

My dad was forced to go on disability because there was no way he could function in his previous job. He was stripped of his "normalcy" and now his art was to become his primary focus. Can I tell you just how amazing this was? The doctors stated there wasn't a better therapy for his brain recovery than drawing. It forces his brain to stay active and think in higher functioning patterns. My dad shares that when he's drawing he often forgets his limitations and frustrations and states this is the time when he feels closest to God.

Here are several of his other pieces.

My husband at the age of 2.

This is one of the few pieces of art he drew for me before his illness. He gave it to me as a wedding present.

House warming present. This tree is at the entrance of our neighborhood. (Post illness)

Family portrait (post illness)


His most recent gift to my daughter in honor of her Baptism! (post illness)
He tried his hand at painting, as seen in 2 of the above pieces, but quickly realized he should stick to pencil drawings since he's colorblind!! Picking colors is a tad bit difficult when you don't know what they really look like. He painted a picture of my niece, one time, and her hair was green. My mom had to tell him he might want to work on that a bit before he gave it to my brother! Oh yeah, and did I mention he has macular degeneration in one of his eyes? That's right, he has a small spot that makes him see wavy lines and will supposedly turn into a blindspot over time. Now, can you believe he produces this level of art?! It's God I tell ya, it's God!

So to wrap up this really long post, it's my prayer that our testimony and his artwork has been a blessing upon your life today. If this has touched you in any way, please retell his story. I don't think it was intended to be forgotten!

Linking to:
The Tip Junkie                                   Savvy Southern Style        At The Picket Fence
Heavenly Homemakers                      Somewhat Simple             The DIY Showoff
Today's Creative Blog                        Fireflies and jellybeans
The Project Queen                              Christina's Adventures
Type A Decorating                             House of Hepworths
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia      The Shabby Nest

31 comments:

A Thrifted Market said...

Thank you for being so transparent and sharing your dad's story.Really, it our Lords story, he receives the praise and you are his vessel! Gods work through your fathers hands is stunning. We serve a big God don't we?! Have a blessed day my friend!

Kassie said...

Wow, what an awesome story and testimony! God is so good. Thanks for sharing the story and beautiful art.

Jenn @ The Former Miss said...

What a wonderful story!! I'm sorry your Dad (and your family!) had to go through his illness and all of those long, scary days but it's truly a Blessing that he recovered in the way he did. His artwork is beautiful! Thank you for sharing :)

KatieB said...

I love that story, Dana! Your dad's pencil drawings are absolutely amazing!

CM said...

Wow, Dana, that is an amazing story. I knew at the time your father was ill, but didn't realize how serious it was or what all was going on. His artwork is truly spectacular and has such a beautiful story behind it. Just think if you hadn't listed to that voice that day in ladies class!

PS, my grandfather had macular degeneration and received shots that he had GREAT success with - they are supposed to stop the progression of the degeneration, and in some cases, restore some sight. You may already know about them, but let me know if not and I'll get the name of the procedure from my mom.

Thanks for sharing!

sarah. said...

Definitely a story worth sharing. His artwork is beautiful. I recognize that tree too, with just enough of that waterfall behind it. I love that he is able to express himself through art.

Rosemary@villabarnes said...

If you read my profile, you will remember my favorite verse. "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer" Romans 12:12 I think it applies here. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story.

pam {simple details} said...

Dana, thanks for sharing your touching testimony. What an incredible blessing that he's able to draw, his artwork is beautiful.

Simply Good: Cooking with Rebecca said...

Amazing story and artwork!

Elise Engh said...

I'm glad to have found your blog today and read your story about your father. He is a great artist and I have no doubt that God does speak to us. He's there to give us what we need the most even when we don't think it is possible. I am of a different faith than you, but I'm so happy to learn of your faith and how it has touched your life.

http://growcreative.blogspot.com

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

What a wonderful story. Your dad has a wonderful gift. His art is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing this story at Wow!

Steph @ Crafting in the Rain said...

What a sweet story. And what talent your Dad has! Definitely a gift from above.

Piper said...

Only GOD can give such a gift!! Thank you for sharing your story. Not only do you have the pictures to hand down to generations, but proof of God's amazing grace!!!

Cindy said...

What a blessing to read your beautiful story about your dad. His talent is amazing and I'm so happy you shared this sweet, sweet post!
Blessings,
Cindy

Lori said...

I came over from Kim's and how she featured you. Thank goodness and what a Wow. Sorry I missed it last week. How wonderful is our God.

June Scott said...

Thanks, Dana, for sharing your inspirational and encouraging story. So many are dealing with unusual and once infrequent illnesses these days. Your experience and your faith are a blessing to others. God bless you and your family!

The Polka Dot Closet said...

I found you at WOW us Wednesday. thank you for the inspiration and the power of the lord!!

Carol

At The Picket Fence said...

Oh, Dana! I can't think of a more inspiring post to share with us last weekend at Inspiration Friday! This is an incredible testimony of God's grace and although it must have been (and continue to be) an extremely difficult journey, the fact that your Dad is able to still be using this incredible gift is a blessing and a ministry in and of itself. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing this with all of us. We truly believe that blogging shouldn't be just about the "fluff" of life but about all of the highs and lows we experience here on earth and how God can use them all to be glorified! :-)
Blessings to you,
Vanessa

bonniegetchell said...

This is such an incredible testimony! Thank you so much for sharing it :) God bless you and your Dad!

-Bonnie @ Revolutionaries
http://bonniegetchell.blogspot.com

elizabeth said...

Thank you so much for posting this incredible testimony. Your dad's art is amazing!

Joi said...

Coming over from Kim's...what a wonderful testimony and what a Mighty God we serve!

Carole @ Blue Chateau Interiors said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I really enjoyed it. God bless you & your family.

Visiting from Savvy Southern Style. Following you now. :)

Love My Country Home said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Our God can do amazing things!

Wendy@Once upon a rose haven said...

Beautiful testimony and a truly gift from our Awesome God! Your dad's drawing are amazing!
Your newest follower, Wendy

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

What a great, inspiring story and beautiful artwork. May he have many, many more years of creating!

Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

Our accuser is overcome by the blood of the Lamb; and by THE WORD OF OUR TESTIMONY! rev.12:11

What a powerful testimony you've shared today.

Thank you.

At The Picket Fence said...

Dana, thank you again for sharing your dad's story with us at Inspiration Friday. We included it as part of Simply Sundays this week. You have inspired us!

Heather

Thoughts for the day said...

This was a beautiful 'memory' of your dads journey and his art work. I had shingles about 4 months ago and they are very painful and I was also on an antiviral medication the shingles virus re activated the mumps virus that I had in my system after a serious episode of that in 2008 so not only was I dealing with the end of shingles I had a fat face with mumps again.
So glad your dad is doing better?

Susan (My Place to Yours) said...

Dana, I'm stopping by from At the Picket Fence where my blog was also featured this week. (Aren't those two gals just great?!) The story about your Dad - and God's faithfulness - is beautiful, and I'm so glad I read it this morning. May God continue to bless you both as you follow Him!

becky said...

I'm a brand new follower and I've been hopping around your blog. I read this post and it meant a lot to me. My mom just had a stroke last week and she is suffering from aphasia...her ability to put the right words together is damaged as are a few other things. It was a brain injury due to a blood vessel in the brain rupturing. She is home today making a pretty good recovery...but she also has a lot of people praying for her...and my father trying to take care of her who is 82. It's a lot of work. But...I think this is true about her writing and crosswords just like your dad's painting. It is a part of the brain that helps therapy wise. Anyway...thank you.

n. cooper said...

What a sweet, beautiful story.It's impressive to have a connection to the father through your father...Makes it all the more special. If he can speak, please record him telling his fondest memories and telling you he loves you. My father passed away unexpectedly. I miss his voice most of all. Blessings to you and your family.

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