Bind Up the Broken-Hearted

Picture 132
Bind Up the Brokenhearted  (34 by 26 inches, oil on canvas on panel)

For me, the inspiration for my paintings is often combinations of my own experiences and the reading I do, such as the following:

Robert L. Millet said, “The cosmic Christ who creates and redeems worlds without number is the same gentle and good Shepherd who goes in search of one wandering lamb. He who holds all things in his power is the same who stills the storms of the human heart by a healing touch” (<em>Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth</em>, p. 34).

Indeed, Elder Howard W. Hunter observed “whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives. If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives. If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 93).

According to Millet, “God has never promised us a life of ease or an existence free from strain and anxiety. We have not been promised that we would be spared bitter potions in this life. We have been assured that we are not alone and that if we trust in and rely on his mighty arm, we will be empowered and comforted in our trials; we will eventually be delivered out of bondage. “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (<a href=”http://gospelink.com/library/document/goto-scrip?ref=mosiah/24/14″>Mosiah 24:14</a>). Truly, “The Lord . . . gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (<a href=”http://gospelink.com/library/document/goto-scrip?ref=ps/147/2″>Psalm 147:2-3</a>) (<em>Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth</em> p. 35).

Scriptural reference: Psalm 147:3

Master, the Tempest is Raging

Picture 182
Master, the Tempest is Raging  (42 by 30 inches, oil on canvas on panel)

I have a testimony that our Savior and Redeemer can calm the storms of life.
Mary Ann Baker was the well-known author of the hymn, “Master the Tempest is Raging.”
The second verse of this hymn describes in vivid detail our Savior calming an actual storm. With this same power, He calms the tempests that are a part of our mortal experience. Mary Ann Baker experienced many trials and extreme adversity due to the loss of her parents and brother to tuberculosis. She wrote how this challenged the very core of her faith, until “the Master’s own voice stilled the tempest in my unsanctified heart, and brought it to the calm of deeper faith and a more perfect trust” (Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns, pp. 147-48).
Years earlier, my brother dreamed about this scriptural account and encouraged me to paint this painting. These experiences were the catalyst for the inspiration for this painting.

Scriptural reference: Mark 4:35-41

Divine Call

Picture 134
Divine Call  (43 by 31 inches, oil on canvas on panel)

This painting was inspired by a commission. The collectors invited me to paint the scriptural account of Alma 56:47. I know it was divinely inspired. The setting is inside a home. The son and mother engage in earnest prayer. The time of night is late, they had been on their knees for preparation for the upcoming battle. Prayer is efficacious in inviting that spirit to be with our children as they fight their earthly battles. The fire has burned down to embers symbolizing that their preparation had been lengthy. There is a bow on the ground symbolizing the battle to come.

I wanted to represent the love I have for my own sons. The desire to protect them is so strong. I wanted every mother to relate on a visceral level to the mother and son in this painting.

Sister Sheri Dew stated:

“ The stripling warriors‘ faith began at home. “They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” (Alma 56:47). Not only did those righteous, faithful, dedicated mothers teach their sons the gospel, but the stripling warriors listened, which almost certainly prepared them to follow the prophet Helaman into battle when the time came for them to do so. The lesson for us is clear: Choose carefully whom you listen to, and then listen. Choose carefully whom you will follow, and then follow. Listen to righteous parents and leaders, and certainly to prophets, seers, and revelators whose counsel is motivated only by their desire to teach truth and by their belief in our divine potential.” (“No Doubt About It”, Sheri Dew)

Happiness and lasting joy come only from living the gospel. Helaman said after leading his two thousand into battle, “I was filled with exceeding joy because of the goodness of God in preserving us” (Alma 57:36).

Sacrifice Brings Forth Blessings

Picture 281
Sacrifice Brings Forth Blessings  (The Widow of Zarephath)

The Lord often teaches using extreme circumstances to illustrate a principle. The story of the widow of Zarephath is an example of life-threatening poverty used to teach the doctrine that mercy cannot rob sacrifice any more than it can rob justice. In fact, the truer measure of sacrifice isn’t so much what one gives to sacrifice as what one sacrifices to give (see Mark 12:43). Faith isn’t tested so much when the cupboard is full as when it is bare. In these defining moments, the crisis doesn’t create one’s character—it reveals it. The crisis is the test (“Tithing-a Commandment Even for the Destitute” Lynn G. Robbins, April 2005).

Much of the inspiration for my paintings comes through experiences I had when drinking the biter cups of life. This is especially true of this painting. It is during these defining moments of adversity – famines, if you will – that I have come to understand “sacrifice brings forth blessings.” It is my desire to visually convey that true faith always manifests itself in faithfulness. The message of the Widow of Zarephath has tremendous relevancy today; it is through our choices we ultimately come to know God.

Scriptural reference: 1 Kings 17: 9-15

Martha’s Witness of Christ

Picture 026 Martha’s Witness of Christ

One of the most significant episodes in our Savior’s mortal ministry was the literal raising of Lazarus from the dead after he had lain in the tomb for four days. The setting for this dramatic manifestation of Christ’s power and love is carefully laid out in John 11. The Apostle’s skillful use of detail, his sense for drama, dialogue, suspense, crescendo, and climax match the doctrinal importance of this event. It is an astounding public miracle that illuminates the core truths about Christ and His Atonement. This was the concept for my next painting: Martha’s Witness of Christ

You know the story: Christ receives desperate word from Martha and Mary to come to Bethany, for their brother is deathly ill. Jesus deliberately delays His journey for two days, and then announces that Lazarus is dead and that He and His disciples must go to him. The disciples remind Him of the hostility of the Jewish leaders toward Him, even unto His death. Thomas simply says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (v. 16).

When Christ arrives in Bethany, Martha greets Him with weeping and a gentle rebuke: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (v. 21). Martha’s complaint is followed by her fervent testimony: “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee” (v. 22). Jesus affirms His own role and identity: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (v. 25).

I have painted two paintings about Martha. Martha’s testimony is one of the most striking recorded testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ. Her testimony echo’s that of my own.

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die, Believest thou this?

“She saith unto him, Yea Lord: I believe that thou are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world (John 11:25-27).

The scriptural account continues at the “tomb of tears” where Lazarus had been buried. His sisters, the disciples, and other Jews were among the mourners. Some believe; some are critical. The intense grieving of the sisters, the wailing of the mourners, Christ’s own tears, the anticipation of His own death, the disciples’ fear of the Jewish leaders, the hostility of certain ones in the crowd, and the melancholy of the grave site–all of these constitute for us a crescendo of profound human emotion. Jesus commands that the stone covering the tomb’s entrance be removed. Martha objects, saying, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (v. 39). Christ says, “If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God” (v. 40).

The stone is removed. Jesus offers a prayer of gratitude that reveals He had asked permission from His Father to stage this miraculous representation of the Atonement for the purpose of comforting wounded and grieving hearts, of testifying of His love and power, and of convincing the people present to believe the Father had sent Him (see v. 42).

The climactic moment comes when Christ cries out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth” (v. 43). Can you imagine that combination of hope, terror, and surprise the people feel when Lazarus obeys the command and rises, “bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin” (v. 44)? The sight and smell of this dead man must have been more than some could bear. But then came Christ’s second command to certain others standing by: “Loose him, and let him go” (v. 44).

Think of it. Christ was commanding Lazarus to be freed. I invisioned  Mary and Martha as the ones privileged to render the service of removing the grave clothes and unbinding the wrappings from around his eyes, mouth, hands, and feet–the wrappings of the grave. For he lived again! Think of the joy!

For me the Lazarus story provides one of the most powerful metaphors of the Atonement of Christ for all humankind. We are all like Lazarus, beloved of the Lord, but wrapped about in the grave clothes of this world.

The Atonement is the central reality of our existence. It is the comprehensive instrument of hope, justice, and mercy in the world. In a significant way the Atonement will account for, reconcile, and redeem every injustice perpetrated in the history of this planet–all suffering, cruelty, guilt, violence against innocent and defenseless people, all accidents and ironies. It is the principle mechanism through which the work and glory of God can be accomplished, namely, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life” of mankind (Moses 1:39). It is only by the grace of God that we are able to succeed.

Tabitha Arise

Tabitha Arise
Tabitha Arise

Much of the inspiration for my paintings has come from the challenges I witnessed our children endure. This painting, entitled Tabitha Arise, is one such painting. Our precious daughter Heather typifies Tabitha. She has had multiple reconstructive surgeries to her back due to having cancer as a child. Many have witnessed her great desire to serve the Lord, and offer truly Christ-like service despite her lifelong challenges. Heather has received many miracles in her life. After a particularly difficult and life threatening event, I received the inspiration for this painting.

Heather’s medical challenges were the catalyst for my desire to communicate my testimony about miracles, redemption, and the overwhelming love the Savior has for each of us. King Benjamin tells us “Salvation was, and is, to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent (Mosiah 3:18). Paul asserts that Christ “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2nd Timothy 1:10).

      President Thomas S. Monson asked: “Are these sacred and moving accounts recorded only for our uplift and enlightenment? Can we not apply such mighty lessons to our daily lives?” (Oct. 1989). With that in mind, let’s examine the scriptural account of Tabitha.

Tabitha was a disciple who dwelt at Joppa, on the coast of Israel. It is recorded in Acts that “there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, this woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did” (Acts 9:36) Tabitha demonstrated her faith by her works. “And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.” Hearing that Peter was a short distance away, they sent for him. “When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Tabitha made, while she was with them: Acts 9:37-39 She was mourned by those who knew of her charity. One of her good works was that of sewing clothes for the poor, this was a sea faring community, and many were left fatherless because of tragedies at sea.

“When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping and shewing the coats and garments which Tabitha made, while she was with them” She was mourned by those who knew of her charity.

     Then Peter put them forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha arise. And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she sat up” Acts 9:40 (A side note; the model for Peter’s arm and hand was my husband, Dave).

Miracles are produced by the great faith of those who receive their benefits. How many times did Jesus say, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” Miracles are also granted through the prayers and faith of others. Faith precedes miracles, and faithfulness also precedes them. Peter “gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive: Acts 9: 41 Peter through the power of the Priesthood gave Tabitha back to those faithful people who loved her, to those she had faithfully served. This was not only a presentation testifying to the power of God, his infinite love, grace, and tender mercies to all those who love the Lord.