Draw Me Ever So Close

Years ago I penned a song titled Draw me Close. It was really a prayer of sorts. The chorus lyrics say:

“Draw me close where I can hear your heartbeat oh Lord. Draw me close where i can feel your Holy Breath on me. Draw me close where I can know that I am your own. Draw me ever so close.”

I suppose when I wrote it my mind envisioned me always sitting on (my Father) God’s lap, always happy, safe, feeling loved and protected.

Many of you know that the last five years have been very hard on me. Let’s face it the last couple of years have been hard on everyone. But about 4 and a Half years ago I lost my sister Sherry. My world seemed to crumble. I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t think to even pray more than to say “Oh God.” I was either numb or enveloped in crushing grief and gut wrenching sobs. There didn’t seem to be much of anything else in between. I preferred the numbness if I’m being totally honest.

As far as my Faith goes, It never faltered. I never questioned God I was at peace with it. But I was in deep pain from the loss. I went from being someone who boldly came into my Father’s presence praying out loud, to being a little girl, silent in her pain.

I don’t remember much about the first couple of years really, except feeling bad that I wasn’t doing my daily prayer time anymore. (meaning I wasn’t setting aside a specific time and place each day to pray and go through my list of prayer requests and needs.) Instead I sat in silence.

I still talked to God everyday, all the time, though it could not be heard by others, through the whispers of my soul. I just couldn’t bear the thoughts and pain of verbalizing it all. I don’t even think I could concentrate enough to put things in a coherent voice. You know the feeling. You have one of those days when you are hurting so bad inside. Maybe you are at work or at school and you hope you don’t see your best friend. You know if you even make eye contact with them you will just burst into tears and do the ugly cry in front of God and everybody. Well it was like that, except it was with God only. I couldn’t bear to make eye contact with Him.

The enemy always comes to shout at me in times when I’m wounded. I bet he does for you too. I would hear him say “You should be praying every day! God is going to be mad at you because you don’t talk to him anymore. You are probably not even going to go to heaven if you don’t start doing all the things God expects you to do!” I was tempted to believe all of the lies and did believe a few for a time. Strangely enough though, even when the enemy was yelling at me, I knew it was ok to sit in my silence, God knew what my soul couldn’t verbalize and He understood me and still loved me.”

Covid came crashing in to our world. Concerned that they might bring the illness with them and it in turn would bring death with it to my husband and I, my children and grandkids stayed away. For the first month or so my husband didn’t even hug me much because he worked with the public and was afraid he would bring it home and I guess afraid it would kill me. So even though we were in our isolation together I felt so alone. My soul whispered a little quieter and the hurt got bigger.

It was during this time that our youngest Son came over to visit me (OUTSIDE, from a distance) and told me he had cancer. The word Lymphoma was SO BIG and SO SCARY. I couldn’t even hold him or kiss him the way a mother’s heart needs to in a time like that and I will never get that moment back to do it right. For days after that day every once in a while I would make Eye contact with (my Father) God and the dam would burst and I would cry the ugly cry uncontrollably and unburden my soul. Afterword only to pull myself into a ball again so my soul could cry out in a whisper once more.

On and on it goes, one thing after another troubles came. New pains, New Illnesses, new trials, losses of people I loved, depression, heavy weights taking residence in my soul,… Some to heavy to bear, Some just heavy because I was carrying so much already. Again eye contact would be made. Again I would do the ugly cry and plead out loud for mercy. Again I would pull myself up into a ball and again my soul cried out in whispers. The Enemy yelled louder at me but again I knew it was ok, God knew what my soul couldn’t verbalize and He understood me and still loved me.

Today I was actually praying out loud. I was singing and talking to Jesus out loud as naturally as breathing. I really don’t know when I started doing this again. I’m sure it happened just a few words at a time, probably weeks apart. But today I noticed what I was doing. When I did, I saw as clear as day a Daddy holding his crying child who had fallen and hurt herself one too many times. The child pulled up tight and pressing into her daddy’s chest. Though the memories of the pain were fresh in her mind, her dirty bloodied knees were now numb by the grace of God. But every once in a while she would open her eyes and see the blood and relive the fall and the pain. Because she anticipated renewed and maybe even greater pain she refused to let him touch her wounds to clean them and bandage them, pushing his big hands away. Then she would cry louder, sure that she would surely bleed to death before this terrible ordeal was over. Again she would ball up tight protecting her knees. while her daddy drew her in closer to his heart to reassure her that he would heal her pain. Placing a kiss on her forehead and whispering in a small voice for only her to hear, telling her “It’s ok, Daddy is here. I know it hurts but it will get better. I love you child!” And immediately I was reminded of the title to the song I wrote years ago.

The picture the Lord showed me told me loud and clear that though the enemy had shouted bold faced lies about God never wanting me near Him again after the way I have neglected Him, My Father God was holding me on his lap, Drawing me Ever So Close, all that time, And now clearly I could Hear God’s heart beat and feel His Holy breath on me as He was telling me, “It’s ok, I hear your soul’s whispers just fine and I understand. I love you child.”

It hadn’t been in the Happy Safe feeling times that I had imagined when I penned the song but in the balled up, soul whispering times that my prayer of drawing close to God was answered.

Life can be hard. I cry for a different family member with cancer now. But it’s also so VERY BEAUTIFUL. I have an amazing new grandson that I haven’t met yet but I’m so blessed that he is healthy and happy. Time is healing my grief. My son’s cancer is in remission. Covid, well wasn’t the monster my children had imagined for me. Though it came to visit several times and stayed far to long. It is gone from our home for the time being. Life goes on. New trials are on their way I’m sure. Old ones still linger, not anxious to leave. My God is GOOD and FAITHFUL and He keeps His promises. But most importantly He has faithfully DRAWN ME EVER SO CLOSE, and it is well with my soul.

Matthew 11: 28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Last Goodbye

This is my second painting in the Ecclesiastes 3 series, to everything there is a season. I have been a portrait artist for years and love the human expression. Driven by a desire to push myself past faces, I started thinking about doing a series of paintings on hands. Then I thought maybe hands and feet, and I came to the conclusion that I just wanted to be able to paint expressive emotion without the aid of facial expression. So I had all these possible ides running around in my head, day and night. especially at night. I tend to do all my best thinking just before I go off to sleep. After the process of painting “A Time to Mourn” the series was set in my mind. But this painting was of the full body and was a dancer. So then I’m asking myself questions like, if this one is of a dance, does the whole series need to be represented in dance? Do I use the whole body in all the paintings: Or can I still go with just hands, or hands and feet? So many conflicting ideas overwhelmed my thoughts. Then the answer came to me.

In December of last year when my sister was passing away,  I sat in the room with her holding her hand, as she was taking, what I knew were some of, her last breaths, I looked down at my hands holding and caressing hers. The artist in me wanted to capture this moment forever with a photo of our hands touching for the last time this side of heaven.The rational side of me, how ever, talked me out of it saying that it would be crass and insensitive of me. For several months afterword I mourned that decision, as my sister and I were so very close and her hands and my hands worked along side each other so many times. She was like an extension of me and I of her.

One day as I sat visiting a friend who had just recently lost a dear life long friend, she was expressing her feelings as she and another friend sat saying their last goodbyes to their failing friend. She looked at me and said, I have something I want you to see. She then opened photos on her phone and showed me this beautiful photo of the three friends holding hands. She expressed to me how she had apprehensions about taking the photo, and had almost talked herself out of it, but her other friend encouraged her to go ahead and take it. As I looked down on this photo, I was taken back to that precious unforgettable moment with my beloved sister. I instantly asked permission to paint this photo, and was graciously granted permission, with my friend saying, “Maybe it was meant to be shown to you!” And I think she was right.43672923_560139704412003_7099662553256558592_n

So I started with a sketch up. I changed the angle of the hand on the left as I felt it was leading the eye off the page coming in directly from the left. instead I angled it from the bottom left corner to lead the eye in to exactly where I wanted it to land. I also enlarged the drawing to fit the size of canvas I wanted to use. I did a little shading with my pencil to give myself indications of shape and values needed. I then started by blocking in the sheets and hand furthest underneath it all, working myself to the top hand.

working in acrylics has always given me a challenge full of frustration. It dries so quickly and just doesn’t give me the time I need the for subtle blending needed to paint skin the way I would like. I admit I am a blend-o-maniac! There I said it! Another frustration that was getting the better of me was that acrylics tend to dry darker then the wet paint. sometimes 2 or 3 shades darker. Usually I would be able to press on through and get it done anyway, but this year has been rough when it comes to how much patience and to be honest how much energy and even desire to paint. So any frustration at all will shut me down in minutes. So again progress on this painting stopped for about a month.


I know it’s normal, as I am grieving, to be frustrated and lose focus easily, but it is also very stressful. I have the creative ideas constantly flooding my mind and I need to be able to express them or I kinds get a little crazy. It’s like therapy to me to paint through my pain and emotions. Anyway, I started entertaining the thought of trying to paint with oils again. I had stopped because the fumes would trigger my migraines, and nobody can be creative with a migraine, right? So i did a bunch of research and purchased oil paints with just pigment and oil, and got an odorless solvent which I use very sparingly. I was so blessed to find that they did not trigger migraines and the blend like butter. I am In love!

Once I started painting with the oils I felt like a bird set free from her cage. These paints are wonderful. I am in blend heaven. And I can paint for days with the same pile of paints before they dry up on me. This is going to take me a while to get used to as the canvas stays wet for days too. But this is both good and bad. Good because I can continue to blend and get those subtle blends I want, but bad because I can still blend and get those blends I don’t want! LOL!

Back to the painting itself. In the photo my friend is wearing a silver bracelet that she wears all the time as it is very special to her. I really wanted to get that bracelet into the painting. But as I started blocking it in I realized that my eye was being constantly drawn to the bracelet more then to the hands clasping, where I wanted the attention to be. So I made the hard decision for the sake of the composition to remove it.

Once that decision was executed and the arm was finished being painted, I went over my darks with a couple layers of glaze to deepen the wrinkle, in the hands as well as the sheets. added a few age spots, and glazed in some red to the arthritic joins in the main hand. Showing the painting to my friend who took the photo she says “I love the painting but it makes me cry every time I see it.” This is the highest complement ever! and I have to agree, it makes me cry too from my own precious Last goodbye with my sister. But it’s not the ugly cry that it used to be, it is the cry of being blessed by a women I will never fully let go of!


fbsignature“Last Goodbye” From the Ecc.3 series

14″x18″ oils on canvas


Grief is a Strange Animal

It has been Six months since my big sister/ best friend passed away. Six Months of grieving, six months of not being able to breath, six months with very little creativity and art; and Four months since I created my last piece titled A Time to Mourn. Though it may be my best to date. It expresses my grief more then I could ever express it with words.

WM Time to Mourn FB

Grief is such a strange animal. I thought I knew this beast well, because I have met it on many occasions before.

This time somehow, it seams bigger and meaner. It seems to have backed me against a wall separating me from my creative side. It seems that with every attempt to vest this beast I am left feeling as though I have lost my artistic balance and I drop my brushes in defeat, frozen, temporarily paralyzed and unable to move my arms and mind into submission.

But I am not one to give up, I am brave, and bull headed. So I keep charging in and making myself go though the motions. Knowing that deep inside me creativity is alive and well and will eventually surface and be the victor. Each day I am desiring more and more to create again. I want to force myself past this dragon of grief and go to my favorite place to live, in the land of laughter, sunshine and creating things. Because I just want to be happy again.

I have to say though that It is not a scary monster, it’s just big and in my way and becoming very annoying. Like Rex from the movie Toy Story where he says “I’m going for fearsome here, but I just don’t feel it. I think I’m just coming off as annoying.”

I know that this beast called grief is not my enemy, or an enemy to my art. He may even be there, larger than life, to protect me from something that would wound me deeper while my heart heals.  I need to let him stand there and do his job. In the end it will cause me to be a better artist, painting with more feeling and emotion.

For without the darkness, one can not truly enjoy the light. Without the tears and pain, one can not truly appreciate the laughter and Joy. Without the experience of devastation one can not truly appreciate the creative process.

Thank you all for being so understanding and supporting me during this painful time for me. May God richly bless you!

A Time To Mourn

Time to Mourn FB

As many of you know, I lost my sister/ best friend recently. It has left me unable and some times unwilling to express my emotions. Which is strange because this is what I do, I put my feelings onto words, whether in poetry, song or in some cute way to make us all laugh at our circumstances and feel better about them. But Now, I’ve got nothing! No words will come out, they will not even form in my mind, and even when they do they refuse to come out of my mouth in any coherent manner.

Being an artist, I turned to painting for my therapy, or processing of my emotions. My original thought was to just do something simple. I can’t concentrate long enough or even care enough to focus on doing a portrait and make sure that it looks like a specific person. I had painted a few dancers and thought I could continue in that series. After asking for help with reference photos from my friends on face book, I was overwhelmed with the out pouring of responses. Several photo were dramatically lighted and drew my attention and so I pulled one of them and started considering the composition.


Original reference photo from Melodie Lauhan

That night as I was falling asleep I envisioned a dripping background to this piece and that I could do in monotone in sepia colors. So the next morning I started to paint.20180203_132423

Once the background was painted and dry I traced on my drawing of the dance just like in the photo. Then I started blocking in her form.


But the more I painted the more I felt the sadness of the piece, as if I was painting my pain. So instead of trying to fix it and make it brighter or happier, I decided to embrace the pain, crying with every brush stroke applied to the canvas. Soon I realized that this dancers pose was not expressive enough to show the depths of grief that I was feeling. So I decided to move the arms and make her holding her head.




I moved her hands several times before getting them exactly where I wanted them also changing the tilt of her head. I was even blessed to get my Photographer son Isaiah Miller to photograph my beautiful daughter in law in the hand pose I needed, and under the same lighting conditions as the original reference photo to make it easier for me to paint it correctly.The problem I had now was that  I could not repaint the background as I loved the feeling of the drips so I had to hide the painting of the hands on the floor in the hair. Since my daughter in law has such lovely long full hair, this was an easy transition.



Once the detail in the hands and body were complete I felt I needed to clothe her in black to finish the look of one who mourns. Once that was done I felt that I had achieved expressing my inner most emotions. I hope that you can feel what my heart is saying and I hope that it touches you deeply.

Please leave a comment telling me how this piece makes you feel and what it tells you. I would love to hear from you.