A Place for Prophetic Artists to Network and Encourage One Another
Originally posted on my facebook page here: Where You Go I Go.
Phew! I finally have time to type out this blog. I arrived back to Asheville right before midnight on Monday night, and then had to work 41 hours in the next 4 days, so processing my trip unfortunately had to wait. But what an awesome experience it was, and I definitely wanted to blog about it! So, I guess I should start off with a little context of who our group is and how we all got together...
Last October, Matt Tommey of The Worship Studio and his team of awesome people put on an amazing conference called The Gathering of Artisans, which was held at a retreat center in Black Mountain, NC. I knew that I had been called to the Asheville area to start an art business/ministry, and I knew I had been called to use my artistic skill, talent, and desire to minister to people through the Holy Spirit. I just didn't know what on earth to do next, or how many people had the same calling.... well not until the conference! I wanted to cry and shout the entire conference because there were about 150 people who felt the same way I did! Anyhow, before I go on too long about that event, I'll just say that a few of us ladies from that retreat were chosen and willing to go to New Orleans for this retreat.
Chrisie Council ( http://www.christinecouncil.com/missionsart.html ) arranged the "Creative Love Missions in New Orleans" trip with Keith and Cindi Stone of BlueStone Ministries in New Orleans, and invited a few of us to go. As soon as I saw it was possible for me to be able to go, I gave my "yes." Thanks to facebook we all were able to connect and pray for each other and encourage each other in the days leading up to the trip. So, I think we had developed a bond with each other prior to the trip that way. I had also met with one gal for coffee a couple of weeks before, which was fun.
The Trip! There were 5 of us traveling to New Orleans, 4 of us went in one car, and Rachel from Alabama went separately since she was closer. The trip down was so much fun, to my relief.. I have to admit I was a little concerned about that part of the trip, but wow we got to share our hearts and laugh and get to know each other better. Thursday night we arrived at Keith and Cindi's house around dinner time, so we went to an awesome local restaurant and ate yummy seafood and chatted with Keith and Cindi and they told us a little about what we'd be doing and what to expect. My excitement grew! Here I was.... about to live out what I've been "training" for and doing locally... now I got to do it on a mission trip! Fun!
On Friday, we recovered from the long drive, and then went to Hobby Lobby to pick up a few art supplies that we needed. I love Hobby Lobby, and it was fun to go with a group of lady artists... it was a quick trip, but we had a good time. Friday evening we went to a Rehab center called Jesus Miracle Power in New Orleans. Keith is a blues musician, and he led worship with a couple of contemporary worship songs, and then went into blues mode.. and the whole place fell apart (in a good way) haha! He played the blues while our team painted, and the people at the meeting were encouraged to come up and sing what was in their heart. WHOA.. I hope I can get hold of a video to share from that night, because there really isn't any way to do it justice in words! Keith pointed out after the night that it was the combination of the music, art, and singing that created the atmosphere in the meeting. The Holy Spirit's presence was clearly felt and seen that night. And the artworks we created were so different, but powerful in their own way. I left that place teary- eyed, filled with joy, giggly, my faith built up, and my heart full from serving and loving and experiencing the presence of the Lord, and getting to meet some amazing people. You know, I've worshipped the Lord in corporate meetings hundreds and hundreds of times, but it never gets old. I think I've said before that in worship is where I feel the most alive and the most myself. It's so true.
Saturday morning, we packed up our art supplies and headed down to The French Quarter - Jackson Square to do painting ministry. Wow, what an amazing opportunity to paint right next to the local artists! I chose to take a canvas and do an abstract piece inspired by what I felt and saw there, and I prayed that I would be able to minister to people on the streets. I prayed that the Lord would even use the bright colors to brighten up the city and bring joy to anyone who took a peek at what I was doing. Most people just glanced and kept walking, but a few people did linger. I talked more extensively to about three or four people. One guy came up and we talked for a long time. I found out that he had just been "kidnapped" by his older brother and brought back to New Orleans because he had been living on the streets and doing drugs in another state. He said he was about to start a new job, and that he was doing better in New Orleans. I saw so much light and joy in this man, and could tell he was creative. So, I asked if I could pray for him, so I did, and he received it well. I asked if he was creative, and he said he did draw a little at one time, and I encouraged him to draw again, and he smiled and said he thought that he would, that he wanted to. That made my heart happy! THEN, he in turn encouraged me, and he stared at my crazy colorful painting and gave me some ideas about what he thought would be cool, so I immediately started adding some of what he just said into my painting. I left the painting for Keith and Cindi, but whenever I look at images of the painting I will always see that man in the picture.
On Saturday evening, I started the "Love Trees" painting that I was creating to leave at Keith and Cindi's ministry house. I had to pray about the painting a lot, and let the ideas simmer in my head, but I finally felt the picture birth into my spirit the day we went to Hobby Lobby. I wanted to create a picture that would encourage and comfort children who come into the center to be ministered to. So, I created a mixed-media painting that represented the diversity of children and placed plastic heart beads in the leaves of the trees that looked like hair. My hopes is that the children will see themselves in the picture and that the Lord would use the hearts to playfully speak love over them.
On Sunday morning we stayed at the house and had "blues pajama church" hahaha. Keith played the blues while we worshipped, painted, sang, prayed... then, I worked on my Love Trees painting a little more, and then got ready to go to the Healing Rooms center to do creative ministry to people there. I think this might be my favorite part of the trip. I wanted to do individual prayer paintings for people there.. and the other gals in the group did the same thing. It was so awesome to look around the room and see people getting paintings done! I had done this type of ministry at a conference a few months ago, so I was excited to do it again. I did 5 paintings during our time at the center. I used watercolors and Sharpie and painted the pictures on a strip of watercolor paper. The most amazing testimony I received was after I painted a picture of waves for a man, telling him I had the words, "refreshing" and "peace" for him and encouraged him that when we are in water, we are weightless.. same when we are in Christ, our burdens are not heavy anymore. He had been going through stressful situations, and he said he needed that. Well, after he came out of the prayer room, Cindi told me that when they prayed for him, all they got was the word, "Refreshing" and then he showed them my painting, and started crying. hahaha, Yay Lord! Needless to say, that made me grin and giggle! I also painted a picture for a girl of a boat on the sea under a big colorful sunrise and encouraged her that she is the boat, and although she feels lonely sometimes for stepping out in faith, she is doing the right thing, and that the sunrise represents new beginnings, and is a gift from God that surrounds her as she sets sail. hehe. I feel joy again just typing that out. One guy had trouble trusting people, so I painted a sun radiating out of a cave.. that the Lord meets him where he is, and he can trust in Him... then I got to paint for a 14 year old boy.. I painted hills in green and brown "camo colors" and told him sometimes he'll have to fight for his dreams, not to give up, that he has a lot to offer the world. The last one I did was for a gal who is definitely an encourager and helps people rise up and be who they were meant to be. I titled the painting "She waves a banner of encouragement." When I was painting a rainbowy sunrise image across the top I felt like painting it wavy instead of straight, I silently asked the Lord why I was doing that, and he told me I was painting a banner. That was cool! I had to remain calm after I painted that although I felt like jumping around waving the picture. hahahahaa. then I painted grass because she helps people grow as she encourages them. Then i told her that the Lord sees HER as important, what she does matters. She started crying; I knew the Lord has touched her. So, that night was funnnnnnnnnnnnnn! I love painting for people! hee hee hee!
That night I stayed up til 3am with 2 other gals from our team and I finished my "Love Trees" picture. I felt such a huge sense of peace and relief and love from the Lord because I knew that what I had come to do was finally finished. I got a little sleep, then woke up on Monday, packed up and headed back home after another great car ride with the 3 girls I carpooled with.
the Lord is DEFINITELY using the arts to minister to people. I can't wait to keep going on my journey and I look forward to going on more creative mission trips, as well as ministering locally here in Asheville. I'll end with a shout out of thanks to all those who prayed, gave financially, encouraged me as I prepared for the trip. I am so appreciative of your kindness! I honestly felt the prayers! And THANKS to my artist friends who went on the trip, I had so much fun serving with you and getting to know you all. Thanks to Chrisie for inviting me and encouraging me! And thanks to Keith and Cindi for opening your home to us and for introducing me to your city!