What a day at Gateway Mall. I'll be honest, if it weren't for some very special folks I wouldn't have made it through today. I woke up exhausted from the intensity of this week. Not just on the bulb art, but also in my work with artists at Lincoln Berean Church. SO how was I going to make it through today? It was going to have to be the grace of God and the provision of His energy and stamina. I've been praying all week long for energy and stamina and today it was clear a strength other than my own would have to pull me through.
I dropped the boys off at school this morning and headed to the mall. Since I wasn't scheduled to work first thing, I unloaded, set up, and then did my usual three lap walk around the mall. It was nice to move my body before getting to work. I knew that my husband was planning to stop by with lunch so I started working around 10 am. I'd worked a bit when a good walking friend of mine stopped for her daily picture of me working and I watched God provide the first bit of encouraging energy I needed. I was tired and thinking I needed to stop and go get a cup of coffee and my dear friend offered to by me a latte and include an extra shot! WHAT A BLESSING! God heard the need and before I could even ask, He provided. My dear friends interest in my work and her documentation of the process and sharing it with her friends has encouraged me beyond imagination. A special gift.
So, as I continued to work, I stepped off the ladder to take a sip of the much needed latte, I look up and low and behold I see an old co-worker from my days at GPN (Part of NET - Nebraska's Public Television Station). I hadn't seen this lady in a few years so I ducked under the stanchion tape and trekked over to the seating area to have a chat. We reminisced, caught up, and I was introduced to her friend who'd come to the mall to have lunch her. I used to head down to the basement shipping department at NET to visit my friend often when I interned there in college. She was one of those people who became very special to me and helped me learn the ropes. So today God orchestrated the reunion as another encouraging pit stop on the painting journey.
I got back to work and a bit later Jason showed up with lunch. As we sat just steps from the bulb, a couple we sit near during service each weekend showed up just to see the piece. I was dished guff for not "working" when they arrived and told them to "take a lap" and I'd be back at it soon. So after we chatted they left. It was so encouraging to see them and know they had stopped by just to see the piece in person. After Jason left, the couple returned to see me work for just a bit and then my sis showed up. I braked for a bit to chat and it gave me energy and gusto to get back to painting. I was greeted by several on lookers all day -- many full of questions including "Do you have any jeans at home that don't have paint on them." To which I laughed because the only ones that don't are the ones I only where on Sundays or to special events. I met others who knew of Lighthouse or supported their efforts. Met another mother / daughter pair who were able to take advantage of the afterschool programs Lighthouse had to offer. The daughter was older than high school age but she asked me if I thought she could volunteer at Lighthouse to give back for what she had received and I got the opportunity to encourage her to ask if she could volunteer. I was amazed at the encouraging words from passersby. The questions kept coming and I got to meet the mother of another artist working on at bulb for the Lighthouse Project.
I got special visits today from 3 other artists working on bulbs for the project as well as visits from a cousin and her boys, my mother and father-in law and a special friend who serves with me on the Visual Voice Team at Lincoln Berean. These visits, especially my friend helped carry me from 4 pm to 7 pm. I was the most tired during this leg of the journey and the visits were the gifts of encouragement God sent. My friend stayed with me through the completion of the colors on the bulb and we talked and laughed and she even stayed to help me load the van with my supplies. I really don't think I would've made it without her.
So a day I went to bring awareness about Lighthouse and serve the community and related to people turned out to be a day God used to encourage, bless, sustain, strengthen and love on me. I am humbled by days when I head out with Jesus to do as He calls me to do and instead of finding myself giving to or sharing with others, I wind up the one being blessed and served. God knew just what I needed today. He knows what I need tomorrow and He has provided all of this while do what He created me to do -- create art! I am thankful that he has given me this project to work on.
Oh and one final thought of the day. A little girl asked me how long I'd been working on the bulb. As I counted the hours, I came up with approximately 22 - 24 hours to this point. After realizing the amount of time -- I remembered why I don't keep track of how much time it takes cause it's lots of time! But all worth it.
So colors are done and next it outlining.
Ann has worked as a professional artist since 2006. She currently works on her own studio artwork as well as large, commercial works and with other artists in any way she can.