Because Janna Reid is a part of our church family, we thought you would enjoy reading this post by Erna Schram which tells some of Janna's story. This post has been reproduced with permission from Erna's personal blog, Eyes of a Child. To be redirected there, please click here.
I noticed a new painting displayed in my friend’s kitchen. As I admired it, I was a little shocked to learn that her daughter Janna had painted it. Why? Because Janna is legally blind, and has less than 10% of her vision intact. So now my curiosity was piqued, and I asked Janna if I could hear her story. She was happy to share her journey with me.
Growing up, Janna took part in the usual kinds of art that kids experience: finger painting, drawing and so on. She laughed as she described the stick men people and the muddy and discoloured finger paintings. She didn’t think art was in her future as there was such a large disconnect between what she envisioned compared with her results.
Janna’s vision steadily declined over the years, to the point where she had to give up driving altogether. Some of the pursuits she enjoyed were no longer possible. Yet she managed her household and cared for her boys successfully.
One day while walking through town Janna’s attention was drawn to a painting of tulips in the Tammy’s Brush 2 Canvas shop window. Janna had an idea: perhaps the artist could add a fourth tulip to the three that were open, only the fourth tulip would be tightly closed. Janna’s vision was to gift the painting to her friend who had recently lost a baby. So Janna approached Tammy with her request. Tammy replied that she doesn’t sell her original paintings (she sells her demos and does commission work), but suggested that Janna paint it instead. Janna laughed, showed Tammy her white cane, and indicated that she was visually impaired. In the end, Tammy created a new painting like Janna had envisioned, and Janna gifted it to her friend.
Something had awakened in Janna through this encounter. She had a vision for a painting that she couldn’t shake, of a tree in the night surrounded by sparkling fireflies. Once again she approached Tammy, wondering if Tammy would paint it for her.Tammy responded, “you need to paint this”. “Yeah right,” Janna responded. And in this case, Tammy countered with “I will teach you.”
And so it began. I asked Janna what steps she took, as I am completely unfamiliar with oil and acrylic painting. To start, Janna chose three canvas pieces, to create a triptych with the largest in the middle and the smaller ones on either side. Following Tammy’s step by step instructions, she placed a gesso layer onto the canvas with a foam brush. This created a flat surface on which to paint. After each coat dried, it was sanded and another layer of gesso was applied. This was repeated four or five times. Next Janna applied a base colour with acrylic paint to all three canvases, let it dry and repeated the process three times. She chose graduated colours from light to dark blue. This was where Tammy’s assistance was necessary, as Janna could not distinguish the variations in colours. Following Janna’s description, Tammy drew the outline of a tree onto paper, enlarged it and assisted Janna with tracing it onto the canvas using graphite paper. Next, Tammy instructed Janna to load paint onto a 1” angular foliage brush and paint the tree with a “pitter patter” motion, using several different colours. To add the lightning bugs, Janna used a dry round brush to create circles of light. Once they were dry, some white was applied to add a glow.
Several months passed and Janna had completed her paintings. She couldn’t believe what she had accomplished and felt awestruck, amazed and proud of herself. Even better was her mom’s reaction. She knew Janna was working on a project at the art shop, but had no idea of the scope. When she came by to help load the canvases into her truck to transport them to Janna’s, she stopped abruptly, her eyes filled with tears and she exclaimed, “You did this?! With less than 10% vision?!”
Once the three paintings were completed, Janna thought she was done. Yet, over time her confidence had grown, and she had received so much joy and encouragement in the process. She had built friendships at the art shop, and was grateful to God for guiding her and leading her to get out, to be around others, and to connect with a teacher who could encourage her and help her develop the skills she didn’t know she had.
More ideas followed and so Janna continued to paint and learn new techniques through Tammy’s classroom instructions. She completed several more pieces which she ended up giving away as gifts. Her greatest joy is in developing the vision for a painting, learning the techniques in order to see the vision come to life, and then gifting that finished painting to a loved one.
I asked Janna what her greatest challenges were. Because she has some partial colour blindness along with her impaired vision, her biggest struggles hinge upon seeing certain colour differences (choosing “deep red” for example, when it turned out to be “hot pink”) as well as subtle colour values (such as a yellow background with white clouds). That makes her tree with lightning bugs even more impressive, as the painting concentrates on deep, dark colours with very little contrast.
Work in Progress
Finally, I asked Janna if she could offer any insights into her journey. Her instant response was: “Go find a teacher that will prove you wrong. A teacher who will come alongside and guide you step by step. You can do anything you put your mind to, with guidance from a willing teacher.” Tammy, at Tammy’s Brush 2 Canvas has been that teacher for Janna, and for many other students who think that painting is beyond their ability, and are surprised and delighted when their efforts, with guidance, result in artwork they can be proud of.
Tammy (left, in her shop with one of her paintings) and Janna
My whole life I’ve lived in a home where my faith was never tested. My parents made me go to church every Sunday whether I wanted to or not. So when I went away to school in September 2015 it was a rude awakening. I had the freedom to make my own choices and do whatever I wanted, and I chose wrong. I said I was too busy with homework and stuff to go to church, when really I was too busy playing video games, drinking, smoking, and hanging out with my friends.
As the semester went on the work began to feel impossible and I started to feel depressed and empty, almost like there was this darkness surrounding me. When I came home for Christmas break the Holy Spirit, through my mom, convinced me I needed to quit making excuses and find a church. So I went back to school, and found a church. I began to feel like a part of a community and God once again filled the emptiness inside me and I was full of joy and peace. The days became brighter, the work felt easier, and I was happy. This experience taught me that a life without God is no life at all, and that I want to use every day to glorify God and do the work he has planned for me.
That’s why I was baptized. My faith is my own and I want people to know that I am following Jesus.
This past Sunday, in the first of our Celebrate 2015-6 segments, Pastor Lee shared highlights of this past ministry year. He also shared his dream for going forward. Below is a recap of what he shared with us.
When I take a breath for a minute and think of where we could go in SBC Youth, it excites and scares me at the same time. We have an opportunity to make an impact on the youth here in Summerland but that potentially means shifting how we do things. It means change. Not a change in Biblical purpose; that will always remain the same. We are to “make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” That is the constant.
But maybe our focus or philosophy of youth ministry here at SBC needs to be tweaked a little. We have the privilege to stand on the shoulders of giants here at SBC and reach new places we couldn’t have gone before. Randy, Mikel, Craig and other youth leaders, both staff and volunteer, have built this Youth Ministry to where we are now. We have impacted close to one hundred Middle School youth since January. Thirty-five different high School youth have come on Wednesday nights to check things out or plug in.
But we are not satisfied…
How many more could we reach?
How many more could we disciple?
What else could be done?
The Golden State Warriors professional basketball team has three all stars on their roster. That alone makes them a contender during the season and in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors have two all stars and they made it to the east conference finals, but no farther. What makes Golden State Warriors a great team isn’t their all stars, it is their supporting players. The slogan for the last two years playoffs has been “strength in numbers”. This refers to their large fan base and the sea of yellow at home games. But it also refers to the “win by committee” approach that the team has every game. They have all bought into the idea that teams win games, not individuals, and this year they set a record for most wins in a season and are up 2-0 in the NBA finals.
We at SBC youth are looking to “win by committee” when it comes our youth program. We will not succeed if we rely solely on the strengths of staff. We need to harness the power of numbers from our church body and work together for the larger goal of discipleship of our youth! My invitation to you as we look forward to the future is to step out of the stands and join us on the court so we can win for the glory of God!
Since now is the season of block parties, we thought it was worth reposting this blog entry of Pastor Del's from last year. We've included a few videos at the end showing highlights of block parties that have occured over the years.
If you would like to reach out and get to know your neighbours better, consider holding your own block party. We can help you out... with invitations to hand out and possibilities for live music. Just call the church office and we can help you get the ball rolling.
If You Plan It, They Will Come
Often, we as busy Summerland residents never get around to developing a meaningful relationship with those who live all around us… our neighbours. As Christians, we tend to migrate to those of like mind as we are then able to discuss mutual passions and avoid difficult questions and debate. Most of our friends would be classified in the ‘Christian’ category which isn’t bad, but if these are exclusively our ‘go to’ friends, then our horizons really do need to expand.
On the night of Sunday, May 31st, we held a Block Party on our street which honestly didn’t take a whole lot of work or time commitment. We did up a simple invitation noting the time, place, what to bring (dessert & lawn chair) and what to expect (music, coffee & ice tea, desserts, a clown for the kids, and a chance to connect with neighbors) and hand delivered them to about 20 homes on our street. I gave out the invites about one month prior to the event and then about a week prior, I just stuck a reminder in each door. The result was a group of about 40 neighbors that came with dessert and chair in hand and spent about 2 hours meeting and talking with each other.
The Back Porch Gospel band played steady for the 2 hours, which provided a background option to having to just talk. Larabelle the clown painted the kids faces and made balloon animals. She was busy the entire 2 hours with the kids.
Several of the neighbors helped to clean up and virtually everyone stopped to thank me for organizing the event and stated their hope that this could be repeated annually. In the week since… there truly is a new atmosphere on the street with people smiling, waving and calling us by name.
Jesus went out of his way to spend time with those who were not in his inner circle. He visited their homes, engaged in conversation and generally showed his love for them through his willingness to make simple connections.
People tend to want to contribute to any gathering, or else they feel guilty participating. By having people bring a dessert to share, they can feel like they contributed in some small way and find it more acceptable to attend. (One single guy came with a small box of Tim Bits… and stayed the full 2 hours!)
Why not consider taking a step toward meaningful relationships with your neighbors by holding your own Block Party. If you would like some assistance… we’d love to help. Just call Pastor Del at the church.