Art 2 Heart's “Story Behind the Story”

I would like to personally thank you for your interest in and support of Art 2 Heart. I have a very special, personal story I would like to share with you to give you more insight into the story behind Art 2 Heart and why it means so much to me.

This ministry was "born" 10 years ago, as I was hearing and understanding the Good News of Jesus Christ for the first time and becoming "born again" spiritually myself . If you have ever heard of "faux painting" or "faux jewelry" you know that it looks like the real thing, but on the inside, it is not genuine. Well, I was a "faux Christian" but never knew it!

I had gone through Confirmation class as a child and attended church.  As an adult, I had a Moms’ prayer group meet in my home, I painted a mural at our church, and our children attended a Christian school.  I did not read the Bible, but instead a number of "spiritual" books.   From the outside, I looked like a Christian.  However, there was one “million dollar question” that nobody ever asked me which was, "If you were to die tonight, do you think you would go to heaven, and why?"  My response would have been, "Well, I hope so, because I am a pretty good person, I go to church, I was baptized as a baby, I try to be a good mom," and so on.  

I "believed" in God and Jesus in terms of believing they existed, but never understood why I needed a Savior, since I was a pretty good person.  Of course, if I had pulled out the Bible and compared my life to God's 10 commandments, it was obvious that I would have had the word “condemned” stamped on my forehead, because I was a huge sinner compared to God's standard (as opposed to the world's).

To be honest, I just never really thought about it.  I went through all the "religious" activities just like any other part of my life, and tried to do my best.  After all, I had always been a high-achieving person, and had always done well in school and work, and subconsciously figured (or hoped) God must grade on a curve!

The best way I have heard this summed up was by Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz.  She said that it's kind of like when you get vaccinated.  You get just enough of the disease to never get the real thing.  I had just enough of "religion" to think that I had that box checked off, and had no idea that I didn't have the "real thing." 

Well, God used some personal struggles (and our three kids, including twins!) to crush my illusion of "having it all together" along with my pride and self-sufficient spirit. I was broken and humbled, and it's amazing how we can be ready to receive the gift of God's GRACE when we are in that place.  He moved our family to California and shortly afterward, we started attending a Bible-believing and teaching church.  The pastor gave out copies of a previous sermon titled, "But I've Always Been a Christian" which started me thinking...wasn't I? 

I also joined a Women's Bible Study on the Book of Acts in the Bible, and it was during that time with all that Biblical teaching, that the Lord opened my eyes to the fact that "because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-6)  I finally understood that Jesus lived the perfect life, which I (and nobody else) could ever do, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and although I was the one who deserved to be condemned for eternity, He took my sin and died on the cross in my place.  All  I had to do was simply “repent,” or “turn away from” my former sinful life and turn wholeheartedly to God, accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior and putting all my faith in what He did on the cross for me.  It was all about "GRACE," not my performance.  Boy, did I need grace!  What a relief!

So there I was with a new-found faith and hope and a burning passion to share God's love and Good News with others.  In addition, God made me to be a person who loves to be creative and loves to encourage others to be creative.  And, during this time, my heart was breaking over the stories I was reading about how women were being abused in Africa and I longed to help them.  God combined all of this and blessed me with the inspiration and the vehicle to make a difference in His name: Art 2 Heart.  

With the support of wonderful friends and family, I started out by making the beaded flatware that is still one of our signature products and donating all the profits to support a village Art 2 Heart (with my husband's support) adopted in Zambia through World Vision. Since 2004, God has connected many more talented, passionate sisters and brothers in Christ who make Art 2 Heart the special, joy-filled, 100%-volunteer ministry that we are today.  

You now know the "story behind the story" of Art 2 Heart.  It's not just about making and selling unique, handcrafted items.  Our dedicated volunteers and ministry partners have the hearts of missionaries in all that they do.  The heart and passion behind Art 2 Heart continues to be sharing God's love and Good News through creativity.  

I am grateful for the faith story God has given me, and my heart's prayer is that the people who read my story will take some time to examine their own heart and beliefs (and encourage others to do the same), to make sure they aren't a faux Christian like I was, having been "vaccinated" by a bit of "religion."  

Faux painting is pretty cool, but I can honestly tell you, when it comes to your relationship with our Heavenly Father through His precious son, Jesus, there is nothing that can even compare to the real thing!

God bless you and thank you again for your support of Art 2 Heart!

Joyfully and creatively serving Him,

Lori Westling

Founder, Art 2 Heart

 

The early days of Art 2 Heart:  my daughter, Julia, offering her creative gifts to help!