Jenedy Paige

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Among Thistle and Thorn

Since the passing of my son, two and a half years ago, art has continued to be a source of comfort and healing. So many tears have been shed as I’ve worked through grief, taking it from my soul and releasing it on the canvas. This kind of art therapy has led to a small collection of paintings that I’ve recently completed.

I did a painting a couple years ago entitiled, “Leaving Eden”. This painting is the follow up to that one. After Adam and Eve left the garden, God told them that the ground would be “cursed” and begin to bring forth “Thorns also and thistles” (Genesis 3: 18) and that all this would be for their “sakes”. Well if our summer in Ensenada was our Eden, then the following September was definitely our hard crash into the land of thistles and thorns. I learned what sorrow really was. I learned the vast chasm of emotion that comes with parenthood. I learned that only when you have truly loved, can you truly know sorrow.

So many times I found myself looking up to heaven, as I imagine Adam and Eve did, wondering, “What do I do now? I don’t understand why you had to send me through this particular path. I don’t know why you would want me to hurt so much. But I trust you, and I’m here. So help me know where to go.”

I do believe that all the trials we go through are for our “sakes”. I do believe that we are here on earth to gain wisdom and experience, and some things you can only learn by going through them. I still don’t know all the reasons why God felt it necessary to take my little boy home, but I know someday it will all be made clear, and in the meantime I just have to keep looking to heaven and walking by faith. And really, this constant reaching for God really has made me stronger, my soul deeper, and has brought a new kind of maturity. My soul feels older now, like God asked my spirit to grow up a little, and I think in the growing I came to know and understand Him a little more in the process.

So I thank God for bringing me out of Eden, if it meant one step closer to Him.
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Awaiting the Harvest

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal:” John 4:35-36

I know these boys not only have a few months, but a few years before their missionary service, however I feel the preparation for that service is hastening. Never has the world been so hard and never has God needed stronger laborers for His harvest. I love the look of conviction in the eyes of these brothers, and though they are standing together they each look a different direction. A foreshadowing of the day when a common cause will send them to labor in different parts of the world.

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38
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Delivered

The topic of deliverance is used heavily in the Old Testament, with some 261 references throughout the book. The great telling, the story that was shared over and over again, was how God delivered his people out of the hands of the Egyptians, but that is only the beginning. It seems God’s people constantly found themselves in bondage, and once again God would set them free: from the Philistines, the Amorites, and Syrians, to name a few. So imagine when the Israelites were once again in bondage, this time to the Romans, when God promised deliverance they were probably thinking they would be freed politically. Even the great prophet Isaiah said, “And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them” (Isaiah 19:20). Once again mentioning the story of Moses and then referencing the Savior as the great deliverer. But God wasn’t about to send the lion they were all anticipating, instead He would send a lamb.

E.T. Sullivan wrote, “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home out of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.” (The Treasure Chest,p. 53.)

And so The Deliverer would be born a helpless baby to some obscure mother, under circumstances of great faith. What must it have been like to confess to her betrothed, Joseph, that she was pregnant? We don’t know how that conversation went, but we do know that Joseph decided to “put her away privily” (Matthew 1:19) which tells us that he didn’t believe her at first. How was he supposed to believe her when this had never happened before? Can you imagine the faith of this young woman, the tears she must have shed? Can you imagine the faith of Joseph, when the angel appeared to him, and told him, “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:20)? The birth of the Savior was surrounded by faith, not only in those who had looked forward to a Deliverer, a Messiah, for centuries, but also in those that were called to raise the Lamb who would be raised up for us all.



So this chosen vessel went forth, she carried him in her womb, and she carried the weight of His position on her shoulders. She created a place of safety, a home for He who would spend his ministry homeless. She encircled in her arms the one who would later encircle us all. She fed the child who would later feed thousands. She taught to walk He who would teach all mankind to walk in His ways. She nurtured Him, gave her life for Him as all mothers do, and she was there at the foot of the cross as He gave His life for her.

God would set His people free, not from the Romans, but from sickness, sin, pain, poverty, heart ache, sorrow, suffering, and death. And unlike the rescue from the Egyptians, or the Philistines, this deliverance would be for all mankind and for all people. This deliverance would require great faith from all people and in all times.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: … He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

How grateful I am for that tiny babe who was carefully placed in the very capable hands of a mother. Mr. Sullivan said the greatest forces in the world are babies, and I would like to add to that, mothers. She delivered Him and He would deliver us all.
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Heart in Hand

This image spoke to me – something about the heart in hand. We all have one, what will you do with yours? Will you hold it close and keep it safe, or will you open it up to others? There’s a risk involved in that, you may be hurt. To love is to jump into the unknown. It’s a lot like faith. You put your confidence in someone or something, but the outcome is unforeseen. So why take the risk? Because Christ did. He offered up His whole soul in Gethsemane in the hope that we would all accept His offering of the atonement. He had no guarantee that we would even use it. But He went forward in faith – He trusted us. As we accept His offering, it changes our hearts and fear melts away in the transformation. We then become fearless and are able to follow His example in offering our heart unguarded to others.
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Holding Back

“Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:37) Christ tells his followers that they must lose their life to save it, and then asks this poignant question. Are we holding on to something that is keeping us from Him? If we wish to really come unto Christ then we must sacrifice out of our lives those things that are keeping us from progressing towards Him. They might be big things, they might be small, but one by one sacrifices are made until, we can, as Paul counseled, “present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) and everything we have and everything we are has been placed on the altar.
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Let Go

During the Law of Moses, there were a couple different sacrifices that required two animals: one that would be slain and one that would be let go. “But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean.” -Leviticus 14:53 “But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” – Leviticus 16:10 I think this presents a beautiful symbolism, that once an atonement has been made, then we should also let go. Whether that atonement was used to cleanse from sin, to cleanse from illness, to allow forgiveness, once it is has been paid, then we should let go of the sadness, sorrow, or grief associated with it. Six months or so after the death of my son, I felt the weight of grief like never before. I cried daily. It seemed like I would have to grieve forever. There seemed to be a lie whispered to me that if I let it go, then I never loved. The lie said that the grief was all I had left of my son, and to let it go, was to let him go. So I carried it around with me, much like this black balloon. However, one day I was in Sunday School and we read from the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 9:20, in this verse the voice of the Savior is heard in the aftermath of the destruction following His death. He says, “Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit…” I felt He was also speaking to me in the aftermath of the destruction following the death of my son. He said I had to sacrifice my broken heart. I had to let it go. So I went to God in prayer, I was really honest with Him. I spoke with Him like I would speak to my dad. I put all my grief on the table, and over time, that weight was lifted. Like the sins that were laid upon the scapegoat in the Old Testament, I laid my grief upon the Savior, and through His atonement, He took it away. And what was so beautiful was that I then learned a truth that it wasn’t the grief that held me to my son, it was my love for him that did, and once I let go, that love was intensified, not diminished. Now you may not be struggling with grief, but we all carry around black balloons of some kind: anxiety, depression, ill feelings, a grudge, and it can be hard to let go. But I want to add my witness that the atonement has already been made, the price has already been paid, the Savior took upon Himself all of our sorrow, sadness, sin, and pain, so we don’t have to. So take advantage of that atonement, and then as in the Old Testament, let it go.
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