"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or request or guess in your wildest dreams." Ephesians 3:20
Our wildest dreams. God turning tears and storms into songs and sunshine. Part of my song and sunshine was discovering this new world of making and painting. My mom and I had started painting children's furniture and selling it to boutique stores and markets, and I was selling my paintings on wood boards too. Somehow we managed to do this while other very hard and sad things were going on—like my dad having a brain injury. He had to be taken care of 24/7 so we would bring him in his wheelchair and he would patiently sit there as my mom and I set out and sold our painted furniture. At one show I realized the paintings were selling more than the furniture so I thought, hmmm, maybe I should paint on wood panels and canvas more...
During this time, something exciting was happening too—something with a beautiful song. Mike and I were filling out tons of paperwork for adoption! And on February 14, Valentine's Day, 2003, we drove down snowy streets to an orphanage in the middle of Far East Russia, and it was there that we met our sparkle-eyed Sam. I fell in love with him immediately. I couldn't believe I had the honor to be his mom. This beautiful little brown-eyed boy. Meeting him was and still is to this day one of the highlights of my entire life. I can picture everything in my mind and it was like a Russian Fairy tale. (Much more to be written about our adoption story... this is just a nutshell, so I will share more this upcoming year!)
What I realized was that for the first time I was thankful to have this blood condition, because this disease that made me so sick, this disease gave me Sam... and then it gave me Rosie and then Pippa. Three sunshine blessings! They are pure gifts and were designed and planned by God to be in our family. I became a mom in 2003 and songs and sunshine filled my heart (even in the middle of a Russian winter with snow drifts of 5 feet deep all around and -30° windchill!)
I was still taking medicine, still having rapid heart rates, anxiety, joint pain and needing to take long naps daily just to get through the day. Mike was really the only one who saw what I went through. But on the sunshine side, Mike and I had been given so much joy with Sam and each day was a gift!
Days went along and I continued to paint and make and create and then some more "songs" started happening. My friend, Leigh Anne and I went to the magical beach of 30A for a girl's weekend. We walked into a little art gallery in Grayton beach called "House of Art". As I was looking around in the back part of the art gallery, I heard Leigh Anne talking to the lady at the front who I found out later was the gallery owner. Then Leigh Anne pointed to me and said, "My friend is an artist". I was so embarrassed and I wanted to hide under a table. No, I was not a "real" artist who sold her art in a gallery. I was only a pretend artist who painted in a bedroom/studio. I was trying to downplay my painting life but the owner was very kind and said, "Send me an email with pics of your art. I'd love to see them."
And that was that. I sent her pics. She actually liked my paintings.
She agreed to put my paintings in her gallery. I was on cloud nine! And then she called and said some of my paintings had sold. I was on double cloud nine! Then she called again and said a magazine editor bought a painting. I was on triple rainbow cloud nine! And so that is really how my art started selling at the beach.
The years went by and I continued painting. Going to my studio and painting was still healing to me because my body would ache and I would feel like I had the flu, but then I'd start painting the canvas and get lost in the world of creating and the pain would subside. Also, my paintings were being seen more in the southeast in shows and stores, Neiman Marcus, Saks, West Elm and Pottery Barn Kids. I remember my friend telling me at a show opening that "Your paintings are going on little mission trips". I always like to think of that when paintings are in shows and in stores, they are on a mission.. a mission to give sunshine and God's love.
In 2008 we adopted sweet Rosie and she opened up the world of girl land to me. I was inspired to paint more girl stuff and loved painting for Rosie too! It was a true celebration when Mike and I drove down the windy roads of the Russian countryside all covered with wildflowers and walked into an orphanage that reminded me of the Madeline books. It was there that we met Rosie in her pink dress. She was shy for about 2 seconds, but you could see in her eyes she was longing for so much love. God gave us each other. God was making our family and it was beautiful!
Fast forward again to 2011 and I remember this like it was yesterday. I was still sick and so tired of being sick. I remember watching moms flit around with tons of energy, and I just didn't have that kind of life. I had to plan one event for the day for the most part because I was so tired. I was sick with sinus infections and would catch colds or whatever sickness was flying around. The sweet part is that God made it so I had to be home lots of the time, and I look back and see that as a precious gift.
"God can do anything you know"
In the spring of 2011 I was reading through Psalms and stopped in my tracks on Psalm 103, "And he heals all your diseases." I sat there and prayed, "God heal my disease. I am so tired of feeling sick and not having energy." And right then and there, God was at work. That week something very special happened. My babysitter who had celiac disease was telling me what that was like and how she felt when she ate gluten. She described EXACTLY how I felt. She described joint paint and achiness. I thought, "Could I have a gluten allergy?" So that week, I did an experiment and stopped cold turkey eating all gluten. For the first time, I felt like my skin could breathe. I started feeling better week by week. It was a long road of learning what contained gluten (it seemed like everything!). But I learned and it was worth it. I told my hematologist I wanted to see if I could go off all my meds. And bit by bit over a few months, I went off all my meds!
I felt like a new person. I knew that God healed me and I have had great blood counts since 2012. It was so kind of God to give me more energy, because in the spring of 2012, we sat in a board room in Shanghai, China and met our dear Pippa. She added to the joy of our family and made us laugh and continues to make us laugh. And with 3 kids, I needed all the energy God could give me. And He did! Sunshine was flooding into my life!
I was on my heavy meds from age 31-40 years old—the time to have babies—but here I was at 40 and off all my meds and our family was complete! I had my disease for a certain time period and for a reason—
three "beyond my wildest dreams" reasons: Sam, Rosie and Pippa!
"God can do anything you know. Far more than we could ever imagine or request or guess in our wildest dreams." I would have never dreamed this for my life. It is a "Wildest Dream" and it is God's sunshine! And sunshine still comes to us on cloudy days and tear-stained days. And some days, it's fighting for the sunshine. But it's there. God is always at work. So hang on to the Hope. He's doing things beyond our wildest dreams!
To God be the glory!
Blessings to you!
Love to each of you!