This painting, called Faith through the Trial, is an alcohol ink painting with gold and white painter pens added for embellishments. I made it between December 25th and 26th, finishing on December 26th. I decided to call it “Faith through the Trial” because on the 26th, the day I spent the most time making it, my family was going through a bit of a trial.
You see, we ended up traveling up to Ohio from Norfolk, Virginia, during a winter storm on the 23rd of December, 2022, and by the 26th, our car had stopped working! I’m going to recount the entire story.
We (me, my daughter, Nina, and grandaughter, Lilah) traveled to visit my stepdad (Glenn) and brother (Shawn) for Christmas. Some places in the north and midwestern parts of the country (USA) were even experiencing blizzard conditions. In Buffalo, New York, people were getting stranded in the blizzard, and there were a total of at least 27 deaths reported. We were traveling to an area about 5 hours south of there, or approximately 339 miles south. The blizzard was expected to come on the 23rd, the day we were traveling, so I prayed the blizzard would NOT come on the day we traveled. I took authority over it, and the bad weather for our travel route came a day earlier. So there were no blizzard conditions when we traveled up to Ohio, but we still experienced snow flurries and icy roads. The blizzard seemed to only occur more north of us. I was so thankful and relieved about that, but not all the roads were paved or salted, so conditions were still hazardous, just not as much as it was originally predicted to be. We decided to still go and just be careful because we realized that next year we will not get the time off to make the trip. My stepdad is now 82, and his life 2 years from now is not guaranteed, although overall, his health is good.
When we arrived safely at 3am on the 24th, it was 0 degrees Fahrenheit out, with a windchill of between -20 and -30 degrees! It was even -5 degrees farenheit through the mountains of West Virginia. During a rest stop in West Virginia, my daughter’s face burned just walking to the restroom even with a hat and scarf. She was concerned she got frost bitten just in that 5 minute walk. It continued burning for maybe 15 minutes even after returning to the warm car, but luckily, she was alright.
The trip typically takes between 8 to 9 hours. It was very clear that this weather was deadly, and it was extremely important that nothing went wrong. We continued to pray over ourselves and our car throughout the whole trip and vacation. The next day, on the 24th, we went 2 hours further north to pick up my brother, Shawn, before returning to my stepdads, an additional 4-5 hour trip (both ways). Shawn, my brother, tried to talk us out of it, saying that the roads were pretty bad up there, and that everyone was staying off the road, but he had no other way to come, so again we made the treacherous trek with an abundance of caution as we are both now 53. We’re twins. My dad was 40 when he died. My mom was 63 when she passed, and my sister was 20 when she passed. My Mom’s dad died at 40. We dont take life for granted in our family, and we just wanted to make the most of our time. We saw our Mom one last time for Christmas before she passed on May 15th, the same day my divorce finalized. So far, so good with our trip.
There were no issues except my brother slipped on the ice on the way to the car. Luckily, his body is not brittle, and he didn’t suffer any injuries. He’s in good shape, and he’s resilient. The main roads were salted. It was only the country back roads and residential roads that weren’t salted. We entertained ourselves by playing question games and what if scenarios as we traveled back to my stepdads and made each other laugh with some impersonations.
The weather continued to be cold, although it had warmed up slightly to about 5 degrees. My stepdad, Glenn, lives in a cabin with a wood burning stove and baseboard heating, but I found it necessary to dress in double and triple layers indoors. I wore leggings with big, fuzzy, comfortable gray pants over top, a tank top, a t-shirt, and a big fuzzy beige sweater over top of that, with thick peach socks and hiking boots. I wasn’t going to win any fashion awards! Ha. I didn’t care if I looked cute or not. I abandoned my cute Christmas outfit because it was just too cold!!! I tried to sit as close to the wood stove as possible. During the evening and night of the 25th, I started my alcohol ink painting while my family and I played Vertellis, a question game designed to help people connect and get to know each other better. We kept derailing with lots of conversation, so we couldn’t even get through the first round, but that was the whole point of the game. We continued laughing into the night.
It wasn’t until Monday, the 26th, when we tried to take my brother back home to his house that we discovered that the car wouldn’t work. It had become frozen, but at that moment, we weren’t entirely clear what the problem was. This was very upsetting for my 27 year old daughter, Nina (who owned the car), who feared the worst; that maybe somehow her engine had become damaged and stopped working. Although it did seem logical that somehow the cold had something to do with our car trouble, and indeed we discovered the antifreeze was frozen, no amount of effort seemed to help to get the car unfrozen. This led to my daughter getting increasingly anxious and upset over her car, fearing it was ruined and would never drive again. That happened to my car this past April after being stolen, but found, and her car was the only car we had as a family! We found a portable electric heater and ran a cord out there to where the car was. We sat the heater on top of the hood, with a piece of cardboard on top of it, and blankets over top of that and overtop of the rest of the engine and car parts. Even when the antifreeze thawed out, the car still wouldn’t start, so my daughter, Nina, started fearing the worst even more. Meanwhile, I was consulting God. I first opened my Bible to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 8. I read about God’s testing.
I concluded that this car trouble was just a test. I felt pretty confident that the car problems were from the cold and that eventually, the car would thaw out, and all would be well. My daughter wasn’t so sure, and even so, the temps weren’t expected to get above freezing until Thursday, and we wanted to travel back home on Weds. I determined that this must be a test to increase my daughter’s faith in God to provide for us, even if it meant a slight delay.
Next (still referring to the 26th), before moving on to the alcohol ink painting posted here, I decided to study and illustrate Jude in my illustrative Bible. I think that actually took about 3 hours. My 9-year-old granddaughter, Lilah, helped color the eagle. I worked on it while periodically checking the car and trying to start it.
I wanted to study Jude because I was advised that it was a good reference on how to do spiritual warfare correctly. This wasn’t because of what happened with the car. I wanted to study it beforehand since I often intercede for my family, city, and nation. But now, what better time! The main points were that you need to be aware of your own level of spiritual authority and influence and only operate within that realm, not beyond it, and also you need to make sure your own hands and heart are clean and pure before trying to do spiritual warfare. You can’t defeat demons if you are in agreement with them or if you are practicing outside the realm God gave you jurisdiction for. We work our way up according to our level of obedience, maturity, and faithfulness. God will give us assignments and jurisdiction based on that. If I understand this correctly, we automatically have authority over our family, but beyond that, we have to earn it. If I’m trying to crush principalities over the nation, but God didn’t ask me to do that, I could experience serious backlash and negative consequences with demons retaliating against me and causing chaos, confusion, and harm.
Anyway, I needed to make sure I understood this and was doing my warfare correctly, so I was studying Jude and taking notes. By dinner time, I had moved on to my alcohol ink painting. Meanwhile, my daughter was asking me how I could stay so calm and was getting upset that I wasn’t acting more “concerned.” I must say, in the past, situations like this would have thrown me into a mini panic attack. I’ve had many such situations. We wanted to leave home on the 27th, and we weren’t quite sure if we would be able to. My stepdad had suggested we should take it to a shop, and he was going to cover the expense of the towing, but no shops were open on Monday, the 26th, because it was still considered a holiday! I knew the towing alone would probably cost $100 something. My mind flashed to the time one winter in my late 20s as a single mother, when my car broke down in the mountains of West Virginia, because my radiator cap fell off and caused my car to lose fluids. My daughter was just a baby then, and it was cold, but we had brought blankets. My stepdad drove about 3 hours to come get me, and I paid $200-500 of my Christmas and traveling money just to have them tow it and put on a new radiator cap and refill it with fluids. I knew it probably shouldn’t cost that much, but I wasn’t knowledgeable or assertive enough then to fight back, so they took advantage of me in a desperate situation. There might have been two separate breaking down incidents that I’m lumping together, but the point is, I got through it with some inconvenience and some suffering. I wasn’t living for God then like I am now. I didn’t think any suffering would be involved this time, but I couldn’t be absolutely certain. I just knew that God was still good and that whatever He allowed was for a good reason, so I was still filled with peace. I could only imagine how much it would cost now. I knew we didn’t have the money, and even if my stepdad did because he got a little extra for selling timber this year, we aren’t a rich family by any means, so I didn’t want any of us to have to pay any money. I assumed it would be another $100 just to get an assessment, so it was kind of good that the shop was closed that day, so we didn’t waste $200 plus dollars! My stepdad was leaning in that direction, and my daughter was convinced that there was some kind of other major problem aside from it being frozen. It gave us more time to conclude that the problem was indeed the cold weather. The antifreeze was also running low.
Nina and I are both scheduled to return to work on Friday, the 30th. If the car had been broken beyond being frozen, then this would be cause for concern! Meanwhile, my brother was telling me a horror story of when his car broke down during a Spring business trip to Mytrle Beach, and he had to spend 3 weeks at a camp site in Myrtle beach before he could even get the car back to Ohio, followed by 3 months of waiting on his car to be fixed in a car shop in Marietta, Ohio, after his car was towed there!!! Marietta is about 30 minutes from my stepdads house and the closest city. So Shawn was stranded and delayed for nearly 4 months!!!! We can only laugh about it now some 20-30 years later, but it was a nightmare for him then! 🤣😬
I must say after that story the fear tried to creep in, but I just didn’t sense that kind of delay in my spirit, so I kept the faith that there was no major issues with the car which was a 2018, and that if there was going to be a delay, it was for a good reason, maybe even to prevent us from getting into an accident, and that the delay would be no longer then one day. We had one buffer day which was today, for me to rest, followed by one more day off to spend with friends, before returning to work on Friday, so if need be we had two buffer days all together.
I think it is precisely because I’ve had so many situations like this that I have finally “graduated” to not panicking, and to knowing that God will take care of me with or without a delay. It’s like how many times can you go around the same type of mountain before finally being allowed to move on to new territory? Let’s just say I had to relearn lessons a bunch of times because there was a lot of fear in me that God had to root out, but now it was my daughter’s turn. God was allowing this situation to grow my daughters faith. Isn’t that what I have been praying for?
My daughter, Nina, saw that I was unusually calm and pressing into God for answers, which in her mind was not realistic or practical, but God proved himself to her. We consulted with family and friends as well, which also proved difficult since there was no phone reception or internet there, although we, at times, could receive brief reception if we walked a little ways on top of a hill outside. My stepdad, Glenn, did have a landline, but long distance was not unlimited, so I made many trips to the hill to send text messages asking for prayers and advice. Many people in my church family were praying for us, and my pastor was researching what to do as well as a family friend.
One thing we tried before concluding that the car was frozen was jumpstarting the battery. Once we knew it was frozen, and after heating it with a space heater to no avail, we tried banging on the starter, and turning on the headlights for a few seconds to warm up the battery and then trying to switch the ignition on, but none of that seemed to be working. At this point, even my skeptical daughter, Nina, bowed her head to pray to God- totally on her own. After I saw this, I taught her to repent first, and then we prayed together.
Trying to find the starter was quite an ordeal since it was underneath the engine, and neither my daughter nor me are mechanically inclined or know much about cars, but my Nina has more of a natural tendency then me. We didn’t know what a starter even looked like. A family friend was trying to talk us through it, saying its next to some black wires to the right of the engine, but there were black wires everywhere and it turned out to be under the engine, not to the right of it. We didn’t want to bang on the wrong part and do damage to the car! We only found it by taking our phone and taking a video of underneath the car. We couldn’t see it with our eyes looking directly at the car, but we saw it was labeled in the video. It was cylinder shaped, so after that, we could feel it with our hands and bang on the right part. That was my Nina’s idea! We could only reach small metal objects there to bang on it.
After 9 hours of heating the car up through the heater off and on, because it did shut off when it overheated, banging on the starter with a wrench, and periodically turning on the headlights, the car finally started just as my stepdad was returning from bringing my brother home to his house since we obviously couldn’t take my brother back with our car. The engine finally turned just as my stepdad was driving down his dead-end street into his house!
We were then on schedule to leave Tuesday afternoon on the 27th just as we had wanted to the entire time, without any delay! In fact, I had more art making time since my stepdad, Glenn, took my brother home instead of me, which is a 5 hour trip counting there and back.
With the car finally working, and as we were about to head home, we ran into another crisis of sorts, although it was kind of a small crisis in comparison. I had overstuffed the trunk with art supplies, suitcases, games, a karaoke machine, and travel bags stuffed with various items. The trunk was so full and stuffed that it wouldn’t open! The car panel was telling us that the trunk was not closed all the way, yet we couldn’t open it to close it. It was stuck! Nina was getting all upset, saying that now that the gages on the car wouldn’t work to tell us our mileage or gas, etc., because it wouldn’t stop saying the trunk was open. I said a prayer and took authority over it and commanded it to open, which again she thought was foolish. The light saying the trunk was open continued to stay on, but we couldn’t get the trunk to open for the life of us, so we decided we needed to drive on anyway. We still could see the gas used and our speed the old fashioned way (aside of the electronic panel), and so I was satisfied with that, and had faith to believe that this was only a minor problem which could be resolved when we got home or might even resolve itself. Sure enough, a little over halfway through our trip, the light saying the hood was open stopped flashing. We decided to check the trunk when we filled up with gas. Sure enough, the trunk opened easily! The driving jarred things around slightly so that whatever was blocking it from opening shifted, and it opened. We took some things out and put it in the back seat.
My daughter had chastised me for not being more careful, implying God won’t help us when the problem is our own fault, but God helped us anyway, and this was another lesson on God’s goodness, grace, and power, but also on our authority being God’s children. I had also taken authority over the weather, too, and commanded any blizzard conditions to cease and desist during driving times, so we only got minor snow flurries. We did have icy roads certain places, but we just slowed it down and drove very carefully. I did command the weather to warm up enough for the frozen parts of the car to thaw. On the 26th, during our car crisis, the temp maybe raised to about 15 degrees! By the 27th, for our trip back, the temp had risen to about 24 degrees Fahrenheit. All together, with our prayers, the temperature raising slightly, with the heater and all our other tricks, it took just about 9 hours before our car was drivable again. I think God allowed things to happen that way so that He could demonstrate His nature to my daughter and granddaughter, especially to my daughter, Nina.
Now, you know why I titled my alcohol ink painting, “Faith through the Trial” because as I was making it we were being tested with our car becoming frozen. The lesson is, that God is good and kind whether you deserve it or not. He’s a good Father, and He will take care of you. He will answer your prayers, send helpers in times of duress, and give solutions to problems. He is faithful, and you can trust Him. If you’re in a predicament and not sure of what to do, pray to God, and He will help you. To others it may seem impractical, but praying and trust in God are the most practical things that you could possibly do!!