A Gift from The Father.

Chalk on driveway… a rendition of an original painting by Brian Jekel.
Graced Acres now offers handmade, one of a kind tote bags & clothing!

Each item is lovingly & thoughtfully crafted using reclaimed wool, denim and chicken feed bags. Please see our Etsy shop for more details and ordering:

The following are a few examples of the products offered:

At the Holiday Extravaganza 2022.
This lovely young woman found her skirt.
This sweet young lady just loves her new skirt.
Another sweet young lady who loves her new skirt.
Setting up at the local Farmer’s Market.

If you wish to see more artwork, please visit my Album page.

Well, here goes…

For a Believer, there’s no testimony more important than the testimony of one’s journey to Faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve often been asked to present what’s called an Artist’s Testimonial”. Now unable to separate my Faith from the rest of me; please allow me to share the following as:

A Christian Artist’s Testimony; or more appropriately titled:

“Epic Failures as a Christian Artist.”

Light that shines upon darkness within a Christian’s testimony is not self deprecation, shaming or an invitation to condemn. It’s a testimony to God’s Saving Grace and Redemption; with the God-given intent to draw others to Jesus Christ. Jesus came not for the righteous, but to save sinners unto repentance. Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick, do. (Matthew 9:12).

This may seem a bit paradoxical, because there are none who are in perfect health, nor righteous. No matter how well, or well behaved one may seem…EVERYONE has sinned (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8, Ecclesiastes 7:20).

Jesus is speaking about the heart and intent of man. God knows that NO MAN will HUMBLE THEMSELVES enough to realize the Truth.

True humility is a gift from God.

God still performs miracles. Anything good in my life has only been because of Him. He’s also allowed some incredible opportunities for me to display His Grace through the Gift of art.

I’ve worked as an artist (in one capacity or another), for nearly 30 years. I have some schooling, but mostly self taught. My appreciation for mural art began in childhood. As a youth, I enjoyed learning about Mexican muralists and watching Bob Ross on PBS. In the early 2000’s I was given a chance to paint scenic backgrounds for theatre. Without any formal training and experience, I was surprised to discover innate talent. Little did I know at that time, it was a gift from God; our Creator, the ultimate Artist.

Since being Born Again, I’ve committed some big spiritual errors and sins, (yes, Christians sin (1 John 1:8)), but I’ve also made some epic artistic and career mistakes. By this, I don’t mean taking on more that I can chew (which I’ve actually done a few times). But by this, I mean taking on jobs and behaving in ways that didn’t reflect my identity as a Christian; and in fact, reflected very poorly on my Faith in Christ. Some decisions adversely affected my witness.

In other words, I misused the Gifts that God had given me.

When someone is Born Again, the false belief is that everything changes overnight, all problems disappear, and every character flaw vanishes completely. This certainly didn’t happen for me!

Another potentially harmful, false belief is that if one commits sin, they aren’t truly Born Again. When someone accepts God’s calling, the enemy seeks vengeance and attacks full force; targeting all areas of one’s life, but especially our weak areas.

This is why proper discipleship and study of the Scriptures is so important. If your footing isn’t solidly grounded in God’s Word, you’re at greater risk of stumbling or going astray.

Another tough, but wonderful thing happens when one is Born Again. God starts HIS process of sanctification within a person. God’s Word is said to cleanse the soul. This process includes revealing the ugliness that’s within each of us; so that we can honestly approach Him in repentance. There can be no true repentance, nor true sanctification if we’re in denial or have no accountability for our innate wickedness. Even the prodigal son had to “come to himself” before he could return to his father in repentance.

While believers are called to be in the world to shine their lights and witness to the world, we’re also called to not be “OF” this world. This means we’re not to yoke or “attach” ourselves to things of this world; nor should we represent the false narratives of this world. Instead, we’re to represent Christ, (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Truly representing Christ will affect change within all areas of one’s life: Family, friendships, music, movies, hobbies, clothing, jobs…the list goes on. Sadly, this isn’t addressed correctly in many modern churches. Instead, Believers are taught that the Church should change for the times and the culture. Let’s face it, most of us, (myself included), are prone to accept this false teaching because it makes us happy and satisfies our flesh.

So, what does God’s Word say about this?

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:16-17

If we rightly divide God’s Word, we’ll see that nowhere in scripture does God promise anyone happiness and good times while in THIS world. Jesus’ beatitudes are a clear example of this, (Matthew 5 and Luke 6:22-23)

Simply put, God doesn’t promise “your best life” now. Instead, He promises something much better.

Let’s face it; we prefer to live peaceful, comfortable lives where we don’t risk rejection, mockery or hated for our “controversial” beliefs. Society & culture teaches us that offending others is the worst sin one can commit.

However, when we study to show ourselves approved, we learn that Jesus Christ’s life and teachings (borne of true Love) offended those who heard them:

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” Mark 6:3
“And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Matthew 11:6
“And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” Mark 14:27

Although at first, I was zealous for God and His Word, however, as in the parable of the sower, the cares of my little microcosm caused me to become complacent with God’s Word. Instead of seeking Godly advice, I sought advice from anywhere I could get it. I was desperate for help and failed to walk in His Holy Spirit and TRUST HIM.

Newly married to the man of my (then) dreams, I suffered a great deal of demonic attack from all angles; (satan hates covenant marriages). When tribulation arose, I was ill prepared, immature in the Faith, unlearned in doctrine and selfishly focusing on me, myself, and i… rather than God.

Without strong, godly discipleship and a solid footing in the Word of God, even the most zealous of Believers can stumble, fall, and even give up. This is why surrounding yourself with those mature in God’s Word, and personally studying the Word of God is so very important. When I was overcome with rejection, betrayal and bitterness, I made terrible choices, said regrettable things, and made epic mistakes.

Working for the TV and film industry was one epic & regrettable mistake.

Instead of pressing into the Word and seeking those things which are above, I sought to save my failing marriage by impressing my husband and his family.

In other words, I cared more about the love of man than God.

Many professing Christians see no problem with Harry Potter and similar occult-based paraphernalia. When I was offered an acting job, playing a TV witch, my husband encouraged to take the job. It was an easy supplement to my mural art business. He said that it was only TV “make believe” and that my salvation was secure, no matter what. I listened to this advice and regretted it.

How foolish and regretful.

Foolish choices not only beget foolish choices, they also open doorways for the enemy to creep in and do damage. Although I have nobody to blame but myself for those choices, I regret not seeking God first.

When the marriage ended, i landed in a deep, dark valley; a wilderness that lasted for years. Sometimes, like with Paul, God simply doesn’t remove that thorn. Instead, He makes it that His Grace alone, is sufficient; so that His Power and His Glory may be evidenced.

There were times when I thought about giving up. I thought that God had given up on me.

But He didn’t.

Instead He chastened me. Sanctified me. Cleansed me. Healed me. He sent me urgent admonition to STUDY and HEED His Word. Through this, I realized how much He truly loved me. He just wanted me to trust Him, no matter what the circumstances.

He’s been there in the wilderness, walking with me; through the sorrow, shame & pain.

He showed me through an emotionally devastating and ungodly divorce, that covenants & promises are NOT broken by Him…but by man.

This is how i learned that church attendance, tithing, answering altar calls, or just reciting a sinner’s prayer does not mean one is saved. Salvation requires true Faith in Jesus. Jesus said that one must be born again to enter into His kingdom. This always includes a change of heart & mind; which causes a turning away from sin, (repentance); and a continued indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:7)

Just saying the name of Jesus or even believing He exists, is not a magical invocation. As James stated, even demons believe in Him and tremble. (James 2:19). Salvation is indeed a free gift, however like any gift, one can forfeit or even reject it. Gifts are just that…they’re offerings. Gifts aren’t forced; a gift must be accepted! And in order to accept the gift of salvation, we must not only Believe the Testament of Jesus Christ, but be Born Again into a covenant with God Almighty.

I also learned this Truth: Not everything that happens is God’s perfect Will. God is sovereign and controls everything. Within this sovereign control, God allows for the free will of men to operate; otherwise we would all be robots with no accountability for our actions.

James 1:13-14 clearly states:

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”

God created Hell, but for satan and demons; not those created in His Image:

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9

One of the most common questions asked by non-believers is this:

“If God is so good, why do good people suffer?”

I cannot give a complete answer, however, i can say that it’s not God’s Will for people to perish. It’s our free will choices, borne from our own iniquity, and our rejection of God, that condemns us. However, our iniquity and sin affects the world around us, even if we don’t see evidence of it. Sometimes people suffer for the sins of others. Adam & Eve is the template for this fact of life. Since the beginning, the fallen state of humans serves as fodder for world wide suffering, even, of innocent children. David & Bathsheba’s first child is one example.

Therefore, my answer is this. Sin is the root cause of all suffering.

God hates sin, but God loves us. The scriptures say that nothing can separate us from the Love of God. But I believe that God loves even the souls perishing in Hell. We must not forget that God is as Just as He is Merciful. He is perfect in EVERY way and who can know the mind of God, but God Himself?

Like sin, God hates the covenant breaking act of divorce. (Malachi 2:16). No matter how much one loves their spouse, one cannot force their spouse to stay, or to love them back. Love is not a feeling, but a choice. Likewise, although God loved the world so much that He died for us, He will not force us to accept His Love, nor force us to love Him back.

While I was floundering in the wilderness, doubtful and angry; God still loved me. He didn’t want to lose me, but I had to be willing to trust and accept His Love! Like the prodigal son, He gave me the freedom to either walk away from Him or return to Him. Through warnings, dreams and His Word, He lovingly showed me what horror awaited me if I chose to rebel against His Word: Separation from Him.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31

His loving and tough chastening not only humbled me & softened my heart, but placed within it, a stronger than ever desire to KNOW Him and His Truth; not what religion, people or denominations say is truth. He gave me the desire for His Word, like a Berean.

Instead of avoiding the hard parts of the Bible, I now dive headfirst into them. Long (and wrong) held beliefs about God’s Word are confronted and challenged. Each day, I learn something new. I don’t know what God’s Will is for me, but I pray that His Will be done.

God is so good and so faithful to forgive. However, He is also just. There’s always consequences to sin, and I’m still reaping the rewards of awful choices I made years ago. However, I’m thankful that God allowed me to repent, suffer repercussion and learn from it now, rather than face condemnation later.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

Salvation is a gift. With it, He gives us His Grace so that we have His power to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It’s not only a one time choice, it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s a daily crucifying of one’s flesh and a daily seeking of that which is above; for the sake of glorifying our Lord and Creator.

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:6

Like any profession or skill, the more one practices, the better one gets. Our walk in Faith is similar. Through the Power and Grace of God’s Holy Spirit, we’re given the ability to practice our Faith by being doers of the Word and not just hearers of the Word. And like anything, some of us have an easier time and some of us…not so much. And that’s okay. We all have unique struggles and convictions. God has a plan for each of our lives. Some of us have more baggage and some of us have more blessings.

“…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

Don’t be surprised when tribulations and attacks from the enemy come on stronger and more frequently, when we’re making progress in our walk with Christ. Be comforted though:

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Here’s more good news: When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, we have something that this world cannot give us; an advocate with God:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” 1 John 2:1

So, when we screw up, we don’t have to live in fear of condemnation. We don’t need to sweep it under the rug, or hide from Him.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

Despite the many times I’ve fallen flat on my face, the Eternal Father in Heaven, with His infinite Grace and Mercy, has picked me up. He loves, but He also chastens me. Why?

Because He’s a good Father.

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Hebrews 12:6-8

Like a good Father, He will guide us to walk after the Spirit and away from those things of the flesh. When (not if) we fall, we don’t stay fallen. Why? Because He wants to help us! All we have to do is want His help.

His burden is light. Sin is so very heavy.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

I believe that one reason our Father in Heaven allows us to fall or make epic mistakes, is so our pride is checked. Thanks be to God Almighty for this! There’s no place for high horses or ego pedestals in His Kingdom. He hates pride.

“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Proverbs 8:13.

He could’ve let me go into reprobation or down the road to lukewarm licentiousness, but He didn’t. I know my Father in heaven loves me.

I hope this serves as encouragement to you! Allow Him pick you up when you fall. Trust Him to show you how to turn your back on sin. If it seems too difficult or impossible, ask Him for help. He is Faithful. Please know this Truth:

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

If He can transform me; (a hopeless, godless, wretched, undeserving, rebellious, heathen, punk) into a God fearing, Bible believing, righteousness-seeking, joyous and loving follower of Jesus Christ; anyone has HOPE. 🙂

In Christ there is ALWAYS HOPE!

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14

To see a portfolio of mural work, go directly to my portfolio page.