In my blog post called “Season of Advent” I told you that I had a lot on my heart about Advent, but my story would have to wait because it was a long day and I was going to bed. Tonight I will try to put into words what I’m feeling. Those of you who have been following me for a while already know the story of this oil painting, but I’ll summarize it (and yet it will still take a long time to tell even the short version).
I painted this before I became a full time oil painter. You can probably tell that my setup was primitive. My art board kept sliding and falling because it was on a flimsy table-top easel. I didn’t have good lighting, and I filmed this with my old camcorder that didn’t have HD. But my heart was into this painting, more so than many of my others that would follow.
Dad died when he was 37, Mom died 25 years later. Both died from slow, torturing terminal illnesses. I was in my bedroom that shared my parents’ bedroom wall when Dad was dying from cancer in his room. I knew it was the end, and I tried not to listen, alone in my room while the relatives were with Hospice on the other side of the wall. Many years later, I was my mom’s caregiver. So, I experienced the deaths of both of my parents and both died traumatically. As in, these were not sudden deaths or dying-in-sleep deaths, but slow deaths that ended only after wishing it was over, and then feeling crushing guilt for feeling such a horrible thing. I could speak volumes about this, and maybe one day I will, as I think it could help others going through watching a loved one die. But that day is not today. I’ll move on:
When Mom was dying, she talked about Dad and her memories went back to when they were young and dating. When she died, it was like Dad died all over again, like they’d both gone together. No one (but me) would ever tell his stories again, as no one in my circle had ever met him. He was gone before I met my husband. The loss of my parents made my soul ache in a way I never knew was possible.
A few physical, tangible things remain, that prove their existence in this world. One of those is the Nativity set that they made together. Mom poured the ceramic molds to create the figures. Dad hand painted them. I was inspired to paint the main figures of the set as an oil painting representation (the art at the top of this blog post).
My story will now abruptly switch gears. This (the images and video of my Nativity painting) is the art that BLM/Antifa conspired to delete from my website. At the time, I had very few visitors to my website, so it was very obvious what had happened. But, just in case it wasn’t clear, they made sure to upload a snarky devil cartoon in place of the blog post and art that they deleted. This was part of a larger terror campaign against me and many others in January 2017 (and this sort of thing- and worse- continues to happen to this day). I had done nothing wrong. I was just on a list of names of people who had supported an independent social media platform (one that I later quit, and never had any real association with other than enjoying posting my art there and making friendly connections). Anyway, rather than get too far into this, I want to focus only on how it affected me to be targeted, afraid that they’d go after my kids, and how violating it was that they deleted my art.
It was a spiritual attack. My parents were both cremated. I have no grave to visit. I have no flowers to lay down. My painting was a memorial tribute to them. My website at the time had few eyes ever on it, so it was such a shock when my site was invaded and my files were rummaged through. I’d told the story about my parents in that blog. Who could be so heartless as to delete it? No empathy? No human warmth?
I had done nothing to these people. I didn’t even know who they were. I was no threat to them. I was a broken, grieving person who was experiencing the loss of my husband’s and my own jobs, the uprooting of our family, having to sell what we built and believed to be our “forever” home, watching our kids take pictures of their favorite climbing tree and every room of their childhood house (the house in the above pictures)… while we were headed for years of rental homes and instability as we worked to rebuild our lives.
We are still not fully arrived into our new lives, but we are nearly there. My husband went back to college and there was an internship period as well, so it’s been a long road. But he is now on the last leg of it. I too am “nearly there” in my new vocation. As we move into this season, there’s a lot to reflect upon and a lot to look forward to. When sold our home, we also sold most of our possessions to finance the rebuilding of our lives. None of the things from the above photos are ours anymore, except for the Nativity set and each other. So, this particular set by my parents is very dear to me, as well as nativity scenes in general for their spiritual meaning.
Advent is a time of year when many Christians go through a time of serious reflection and joyful expectation. Like I mentioned, I went through a prolonged period of deep reflection and hope that lasted several years, and it was during that time when the “activists”, sponsored by my own government, put me on a target list. I was frightened that they’d find my kids on campus, as they knew their faces and where I lived. I didn’t know how far they’d take the terror campaign against the people on their list.
Yet, even then, what struck me the most was the deletion of my Nativity painting. Something inside me changed that day. I learned who I am, and I am a fighter. I believe strongly in honoring life, both on this side of it and beyond. I will never give in, give up, or back down. I will not be silenced. I will not be defined by others, by a collective, a mob, a cult, or a government. I am an individual. I am sovereign. My motives are my own, based on my life experiences that are unique to me. I will not be judged or condemned by those who have no spiritual authority over me. I will not lay down my paintbrushes. I will never stop reflecting on what was, nor will I ever stop expecting joy in the future.
The season of Advent brings out the Nativity scenes, and I will never be able to experience this in the same way again. It is highly personal, and the spiritual connection is much stronger than it ever was. And because of this, I am currently working on a new Nativity oil painting. I hope you will connect with it, and feel the beauty of peace, reflection, and anticipation of joy- in this life, and beyond. No amount of hate can stop this love. It is a gift for all who wish to receive it. God bless you and your family.
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