The story behind "I Sure Like Walking With You"
This painting has a very special place in my heart. What most people aren’t aware, is prior to this painting it had been nearly ten years before lifting a single paint brush. In its own way it was a subtle form of the blues that later would be overcome with the birth of our children. Prior to having children, my faith wasn’t very strong. Funny how having kids can make a person re-evaluate one’s faith walk.
Becoming a parent didn’t come easily. My body’s biological process had been off track since puberty. So began the infertility roller coaster. Our doctor recommended fertility pills to help us get pregnant. Ah, the crazy ride of constantly monitoring the hormones along with pregnancy tests continuously coming back negative each cycle. But by the grace of God, and after a miscarriage, we had our first child… a sweet baby girl. What an unbelievable blessing. Two years later, we tried for a sibling.
This time the fertility pills didn’t work, so we went a step further with even stronger shots. The shots’ possibility of leading to a multiple birth scared me. The last thing I wanted to face was several eggs getting fertilized and the doctor suggesting to selectively abort some. In fact, it upset me to the point of admitting to God that if I had to choose between too many eggs fertilizing or none at all, I’d choose none. That very day my hormones shut down. While praying in the hospital chapel that day I had prayed for many things. Without going into the details, I had a dozen requests for our Lord… ALL of them were granted! God is so faithful and loving to teach such a lesson about the power of prayer.
Long story short, it was discovered my fertility problems were caused by a pituitary tumor. The drugs given to reduce the tumor size created headaches so intense we feared an aneurysm. I could literally feel warmth and pressure build on one side of my head. It was followed by the warmth moving from the pressure side to the other side as the headache started to subside. Within three months after going off the medicine and completely giving up on getting pregnant, we got pregnant completely on our own without any medical assistance. This by the way was one of the dozen prayer requests God granted!
After approximately four years of our new family adventure, I finally was ready to paint again but no subject matter seemed to inspire me enough to paint. It was quite frustrating really. If you feel like painting, just paint anything, right? For some reason that wasn’t working for me. One day I received a catalog in the mail full of inspirational Christian products. When I looked through the framed art prints, it brought me to tears and I told God, “Now that is what I want to paint: something that touches people’s hearts and not just looks pretty on the wall.” While tearfully in prayer I closed my eyes and rested my head in my hands. My closed eyes and conversation with God unexpectedly revealed an interesting vision of a silhouette. It was a little boy walking with Jesus. What an interesting idea! But soon doubts filled my mind, thinking maybe this wasn’t a new idea. Maybe I had seen this before.
I went immediately to the local bible book store to look through all their catalogs of art prints. I didn’t find any paintings of anyone walking with Jesus. It seemed like such an obvious theme and it was quite surprising to find nothing. So the process of developing this image began. And isn’t it just like God to leave the image in my mind a silhouette? He would guide my hand, but not give me all the details. Being the Master Creator, He knows better than any of us that anything worth creating isn’t just about the final product; it is about the process. He wasn’t going to show me a complete image and rob me of this process.
Planning the painting continued with my own reference photos, using my family as models. My son Jaden, whose name means “God has heard” (for God heard our infertility prayers) was about two years old at the time. He loved to wear suspender pants with a strap that notoriously fell off his shoulder, just like it does in the painting. The only thing I changed from the photos was my son’s hair color. He is blonde, the painting is brunette.
The photo shoot of reference photos was quite humorous when thinking of my husband as well. You see, the neighborhood knew I was a lettering artist but did not know yet that I was painter nor why we were taking these photos. Our children were the youngest in the cul-de-sac and the neighboring children were teenagers. You should have seen the look on their faces when they drove by and saw my husband walking barefoot in a biblical robe down the street with our son. It didn’t take long for my husband to feel more than a little embarrassed and ask, “Are we done yet?!”
I had no idea where this painting adventure would lead me. As far as I knew it was just one painting, with no clue as to how many more Christian pieces would follow, nor the impact they would have in people’s lives. After all… they are just paintings right? Not. God reminds me often of a conversation I had in church youth group, as a teenager. The leaders challenged us all to pick a talent we had that the church could use. My turn came around with me offering a sarcastic answer, “I don’t know… am I going to paint a pretty picture someone will see on the way to the church bathroom?!” You have no idea how often God reminds me of that comment, including each time I hear a testimony from someone who has seen my art. One of those testimonies even includes seeing my art on the way to the church bathroom! I can almost hear God giggle. Can’t you?