Charcoal drawing of child
Charcoal drawing of child

It’s been said that if you want to find your purpose, look at the most painful moments in your life.

For me, that’s been the times when I believed I had no value. In relationships where I’ve based my worth on how the other person sees me, I’ve felt rejected and worthless when it ended. Sometimes I set up a standard for myself and if I don’t reach it, I feel like a failure.

In both instances, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m simply not good enough. Without that person or thing, I have no significance or value.

Through these painful experiences, I’ve found the purpose of my art. With each portrait I do, I want to affirm the inherent value in every person – to communicate that they are unique, beautiful, and priceless because of who they are, not what they do or how others perceive them. It’s my belief that we are all made in the image of God, therefore our lives matter. Through Jesus Christ, we have the unconditional love and acceptance we’ve been looking for.

The closest picture we have of God’s love is the relationship between a parent and a child. Moms and dads play a huge role in helping a child develop a sense of self-worth. That’s why my mission is to help parents express the love they feel for their kids through my art.

Unfortunately, a lot of kids don’t know this kind of love. They grow up thinking that their lives don’t matter much. They need people and places to step in and provide them with the love and support they need.

One of those places is Streets Ministries.

Streets is an organization that helps children in the poor areas of Memphis. To a lot of kids it’s a second home, a place for them to hang out after school and be surrounded by positive influences. Most importantly, it’s a chance for them to know the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus Christ.

I’ve had the privilege of volunteering as a mentor at Streets to fourteen-year-old Jasmine Johnson. As I was sketching her in my studio one day, I had an idea that it would be really meaningful to bless a family with a portrait of their child who couldn't normally afford one. That's how the Faces of Streets Project was born.

Instead of one child, I'm drawing ten that the staff has selected. These are kids who’ve been outstanding role models; many have have been coming to Streets for most of their lives. I've loved meeting each of them and hearing their stories, which I'm sharing each month on my blog. When the portraits are finished, they'll be unveiled at the fundraiser this spring and given to the families of the kids.

Typically, these kids aren’t the subjects of portraits. They couldn’t be more different than the ones I’m commissioned to paint, except for one thing: their lives are equally as valuable. Their dreams and aspirations matter just as much. Through these portraits, I want to spotlight and honor them, to bring forth their humanity. To the world, it might seem like they won’t amount to much – kids like these are just faces in a crowd. But when God looks at them, he sees a priceless treasure whom he“fearfully and wonderfully” made in His image.

I hope they are reminded of that when they look at their portrait. I want them to feel loved, special, and most of all, worth it.

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