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Commissioned painting for Pieter and Carol VanWarde

Twenty years is a long time to stay committed, especially to an entire group of people. But for the members of Woodcrest Chapel, the past two decades have been filled with love and excitement because a special family committed to them. Pieter is the senior pastor at Woodcrest, and anyone who’s ever been close with a leader knows that Carol’s role for the church requires at least an equal amount of sacrifice and dedication.

Piet may seem like an unlikely pastor. His rebellious spirit led him to the party scene in his younger years, but it’s a quality that helps him challenge the status quo (and one that his community members love). As a leader, he’s also passionate, creative, an excellent communicator, culturally connected, and an inspiring speaker. Carol balances his intensity perfectly. She’s contemplative, patient, and peaceful – stabilizing and supporting Piet through all of life’s complexity.

This piece is a reflection of the gratitude that overflows from the church community for Piet and Carol’s years of selfless giving. They’ve given much time and energy of course, but perhaps more importantly, the gratitude is for their role in changing people’s lives. Piet’s own spiritual story is one of transformation, and he serves his community and everyone he meets with the radical conviction that faith, service, and people can transform anyone’s life. The patrons of the piece explained to me that no one can live your experiences and completely grasp how it feels to be you. There is deep loneliness in the knowledge that only God can fully understand you, but it is the providence of God that brings us here together to share our journeys.

As I was creating this painting, I reflected on Piet and Carol’s devotion. As well as the sentiments and stories shared by members and leadership of the church. I contemplated the colors of Dutch heritage, and the colors of their home and creations. The use of crushed pearl was important to include because it symbolizes a new beginning, a change, a transformation, and our fragility and beauty through the eyes of God. The words “The Providence of God brought you here together, the Providence of God kept you here” are integrated into the painting, as well as the phrase “You turned Left,” which is a significant part of Piet’s life changing, but simple, act of turning away from a life of emptiness and into a life of God’s work.

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