We were headed to Sri Lanka for a mission. On one of our days off from going to various places, we were able to visit an elephant orphanage in Kandy. At the time I was just grateful for the opportunity, but little did I know just how much that experience would inspire me at a later time. I’ve always enjoyed watching animals, how they interact, live, eat. And I’ve had a particular fondness for elephants, especially in my younger years. I couldn’t get enough photos. It was magical. We watched them walk together down a paved road into a river. The scene was breathtaking. The tropical background of palmed hills, rocky waters, and elephants washing and playing. A snapshot in time I will never forget.

Time often has a way of slipping away and for a season after my return home from Sri Lanka I was very busy. Work, homeschool, ministry all occupied my time. Photographs of elephants were put aside.

Then time slowed down. I stopped working. I was no longer in a paid ministry position. I grieved the place I had worked for many years. I felt a bit like a balloon that had been tied with the same string to the same spot that had suddenly been clipped and I was now floating aimlessly.

My brother-in-law had wanted me to paint him an abstract cow painting. Being as he is a Chick-fil-A operator, I of course admired and was excited about the request. It was finally time to paint again. REALLY paint again. I had not done so in many years. So I painted the cow and he (of course 😉 ) loved it. In fact, so did others. I sold 2 other original cows besides. To get back into the swing of things I painted several more animals, but I knew I would have to be able to tell a story, my story, for it to really come through in my work. So I went back into those photos of the Asian elephants. I looked at them through a different lens. The artist’s eye. And I began to remember. And dream. Suddenly it all came together and I knew that I needed to share this story.

After painting this elephant, I knew that I made it to another level in my art. I cannot say that I have arrived. I will never do so. The plan is to continue to grow in my field. But this gave me real purpose in my work. It reminded me that this is what I was made for. This is what I must do.