Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Away" In Memory of Steve Ashton


5x7, Oil on Canvas
I did not know Steve. I do not know his sister, Sandra as well as I should. But I have gotten to soften our friendship through Facebook and through our mutual marriages and children. It has been good to see her and to chat with her. I almost feel as if we are better friends on this side of life then we were as children growing up on the mission field.
Her birthday came and on Facebook I noticed that she was getting so many well wishes and blessings for her day. It was neat to see what love was poured out on her as she is the kind of person who sincerely cares for others. No really. Sincerely. She posts like crazy around Facebook to friends new and old and gives genuine love and support. She's that kind of lady. So to see her get back some of the love she always shares was good and right.
That night (for me) I was reading Facebook after a jog and she posted that her brother had had an accident while playing basketball. I started praying as many were doing the moment they read the news. It seemed like just a few short minutes later and she was posting that her dear brother, Steve, was dead. I don't claim to have known him but as soon as I read that post I cried for all of them. Steve was only 32 years old and left behind a wife and three children (one yet to be born as I write this).
My heart was breaking for my friend Sandra (on her birthday of all days) and for his wife. I think if your a wife or mom or both you know what I mean when I say that our husbands are so essential to us. Gifts from God. I was also thinking about the sweet little ones and for Sandra as she had lost her little brother. So many holes left by one dear life.
I wanted to paint her something to speak to her in that place. I didn't know what to paint. I started out with a Scots Pine as it is native to Ireland and since Sandra's family is from Ireland I felt it fit them. I painted one and felt it just wasn't what God wanted to say. I know that probably sounds weird but it felt fake and like I was trying to hard. I wiped it clean that night. Start over. The next day I just let the trees come and the colors and liked the way the light looked at the end of the day. I wanted the distant tree to be losing it's leaves (as it was passing) almost like your favorite tree when you take a walk and you notice the last beautiful leaves falling. I have three little saplings in the foreground to represent his little ones as well as two large trees protecting them and covering them. I know Sandra, her family and their Mom will give them all the love they can.
The Bible says, "weep with those that weep," and perhaps at times like this that's all you can do. It also says to pray and care for those that need it. I pray that many will step into the gap and this sweet family will feel God there with them. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4). I claim that for them. As I look at the light in this painting I pray God is like that right where they are. Warm, inviting and ever present. Not hiding from them but real and full of goodness and love.

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