The first time I remember that art was a special part of my life was when I was a preschooler in my home church. Maybe that’s why faith and art for me are intricately linked. I loved my home church in Long Beach where I grew up. My dad, a marvelous craftsman, had made the cross in the sanctuary and he made all the cribs in the infant’s room. In my memory there were quite a few cribs so we must have had a lot of young families. I remember looking in that nursery with the little choo choo train on the wall that said PVACC (for Palo Verde Avenue Christian Church). Because of this particular early memory I am quite sure that I must have been very young and in one of those cribs as I viewed that wall.
It was in this little room that I sat, cross legged on the floor in a circle with other preschoolers and the Sunday school teacher. On this morning she kept tearing pages out of a Bible coloring book for each of us to color. Coloring was my favorite activity! I could hardly wait as she tore page after page and gave them to other chidren. Oh, I volunteered for each page, but she kept passing me by. Each page in the coloring book had the outline of a Bible time animal to color. When she would ask, “who wants to color this one?” hands would shoot up, including mine. But as she handed off one page after another she would say, “Penny, put your hand down.” A little confused and disappointed, I would comply. I was a very compliant child. But when she showed us a cute little donkey, well, I just could’t stand it anymore. When she asked who wanted to color this donkey I had to put my hand up again. I would love to color that donkey! That’s when it happened. She scolded me, but it changed my life. “No Penny, you are good at art. You’re going to color Jesus!”
A little stunned from the tone of her voice, yet amazed that she thought I colored well I sat back and turned those words over and over again in my mind. “You are good at art. You’re going to color Jesus!”
I haven’t stopped “coloring Jesus” ever since. I’m thankful for a teacher who told me something about myself that I did’t know. Encouragement, even if said in a scolding voice, can last a life time.