So the day began with an unexpected bout of intense pain. It's hard enough to do what you need to as a wife and mom when an episode like this hits, but be in the public eye? Maybe is sounds cliche' but all I could do was pray. Pray and ask for strength, for the moments to pass, and for strength beyond what I could physically muster. I took it slow and somehow I knew it would be ok. There was a calming sense in my soul that Day 5 would go on. When I stopped to drop my boys off at Bible School an old friend and I exchanged our joys, struggles and needs for prayer this week. After a much needed hug and a couple of conversations on my way out of the church door, I took the journey across town for the morning of work. Turning off the music as I approached Gateway, God and I chatted about the day. I really sensed how tired I was, and even asked if I could just work today and not talk to others. Though not the best attitude, that's how I felt and yet at the same time I knew what I was going to the mall to do. So, with hand in His and trust in His unlimited resource of energy I entered Gateway. . . .
And work began at 9:30 am. I went today tired but ready to be used by God to bless others, maybe bring hope, and create new relationships. I wasn't ready for the way God would turn that around and use others to love on me today. The first person was a young gal who was playing Pokemon Go. She walked by, smiled, and waved. I returned the gesture and she acted surprised and came over to chat. She told me she'd done the same, smile and wave, to 20 people prior to coming my way and no one reciprocated. We chatted for a bit and then she was on her way. Then some of my mall walking friends came over to chat. I knew some well and others I've only seen in passing, but now know their names. Because of the rain this morning, more people were at Gateway on their morning walk. One was a gentleman I am always excited to see. He touched my heart by donating to Hope Venture but more than that he said some very encouraging words. Another man I met this past winter, also stopped, listened to me share about the project and Hope Venture and gave me a double thumbs up with encouraging words as he continued his walk. The next time around he hollered out "How does it feel to be an artist in residence?" I guess that is what I am becoming in some way -- an artist in residence as Gateway Mall. Gave me something interesting to think about as I worked.
In the middle of thinking through the idea of artist in residency, my mind wondered to an arts organization leader I had a great conversation with back in June. I sensed God move me to stop what I was doing and email him right then. But as I began, another mall walking friend came over to chat. When the couple left I sent my email, and went back to work.
One of the sweet ladies I know came and gave me a much needed hug. Then another lady so dear to my heart, gave me a great hug, told me she was praying for me, and then went and got me a latte'. What a boost - and I'm not talking about the caffeine. As I waited for her to come back with the coffee, I talked to a marvelous man who has come every day to chat since we set up Saturday. He brought me one of his signature kolache. God kept loving me through these people. People I see daily in the winter when it is indoor walking season. I have known that Gateway had an amazing little community of people there daily but today I really realized I am one of them. They surrounded me today with encouragement, affirmation, gifts, love and I felt God's hand through each and every moment. I'm glad I didn't miss a single one of them.
The morning ended with an artist friend visiting and helping me fill in some gaps in the work that was done last weekend by the public. It was a surprise, I was so thankful for her visit, and to spend time getting to know her better as we worked. There definitely was progress made today though it may not look like it in the photos. More of the tree is outlined and I'm looking forward to getting that complete to start filling it in. I'm also super excited about the public coming and working on Saturday and Sunday. I end the day tired, yet thankful for so many things and in awe of how God used others to lift me up and encourage me to keep pressing on in this project.
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.