This week on Share Your Story Sunday is Dana from Make Them Wonder. Dana is not only an incredible crafter (I mean, have you seen her recent Thanksgiving post? I love the "string of blessings"-- genius!), but she openly shares her love for the Lord as well. I read Dana's testimony on her blog a while ago and was absolutely blown away! I am so excited for you all to hear it! Makes my heart smile :)
I'm honored that Bonnie asked me to share my testimony today. I love that she sees the importance of using every avenue available to spread God's love!
My story involves the artwork that hangs in my house. In our living room there is a gallery wall 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!
If you would like to share your story on Share Your Story Sunday, please contact me!
I would love to hear from you :)