debrababy.jpgby Bethany Kerr
[JLS note: When I met Bethany and James a couple weeks ago and got a chance to know them better, I learned Bethany was deeply involved in a very special ministry. I asked her to tell you about it….]
Those who know me here know I draw portraits for a hobby.
But sometimes, it’s more than just a hobby….


It seems this year, more than ever, I’ve been asked to sketch memorial portraits for people who have lost a child, a husband, a wife, or a friend. It is sobering, but at the same time it strengthens my faith, because through the years I have learned from people who have enough faith and character to turn their losses into gains for others.
I started doing memorial portraits in 2001 when a woman named Doris asked me if I could draw a picture of her son who had died. He had hydrancephaly.
I cried while first reading the story she sent me about her dear son, Andrew:

A few days before he passed away, Andrew got the flu.
The doctors said there was nothing they could do, and they would just have to let it run its course. The night before he passed away, Andrew’s grandparents kept Andrew’s sister, so his mommy and daddy could give Andrew their full attention because he was so ill.
That night, Andrew’s mommy was writing something with a pen and Andrew said, “Mommy, write on my hand.” (His grandpa would always draw on his hands and she said she used to always yell at them for that.)
Andrew’s mommy smiled and on one hand she drew a heart and told him “Mommy will always love you” and on the other hand she drew a cross and told him “Jesus will always take care of you.”
He was so proud of [the drawings] because he had never been allowed to do that before.
The next day he passed away due to aspiration unrelated to his hydrancephaly. He still had the heart and cross on his hand…
Upon his mother’s request, the cross and heart were not taken off, and he was buried knowing his mommy would always love him and Jesus would always take care of him!

Andrew.jpgI drew 2 portraits of Andrew. It meant so much to his mother. Even though I know I could never repair the grief she’s gone through in losing a child, I was thankful God gave me something I could do to give her a bit of comfort.
After drawing Andrew’s portrait, I started getting more requests for memorial portraits. At first I wasn’t sure whether I could emotionally handle doing these over and over. It seemed like orders came at once – sometimes none, sometimes 5-6 at a time. I couldn’t turn them down.
Every time I created a memorial portrait, I was given the opportunity to meet someone exceptional, someone who had gone through one of the worst things imaginable and yet maintained a deep faith in God. I am learning so much from listening to everyone’s stories.
I learned from Debra, who lost precious Isabel Hope at birth and yet praises God for His goodness and grace, and Laura, who lost her baby Sofija also at birth, and has used her story to comfort others. There are many more amazing people, too many to count.
I remember nearly every mother, child, friend, and relative by name, and their stories. I have a small number of them listed on my site’s memorial page, Sketches by Bethany.
jennypicturefinished2.jpg
If you know anyone who has lost a loved one, I encourage you to take time and use whatever gifts God has given you to show them you care (especially with it being so soon after Mother’s Day).
So many people are grieving silently and even something as small as a kind word can lift their spirits.

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