A Child in the Masterís Hands
My name is Mary Crittenden. I grew up in South San Francisco, California, the oldest of six children. I was a confused child, my fatherís drinking and both parents working had its affect on us. When I was nine years old a girlfriend invited me to go to church with her. It was there that I learned about God and His love for us, how He sent His only begotten son to live and die on a cross for us that we might have eternal life. I asked Him to be my Lord and Savior, my life changed but it was just the start.
God gave me a new heart and a desire to follow Him. I loved going to church and brought my sisters, brothers and my mother. Those were happy days, I remember singing songs with my mother in the car, my favorite was, In the Garden, but those days came to a end when a neighbor who was like a mother to my mom and a grandma to me, went to be with the Lord. My mother stopped going to church and so did my sisters and brothers and with the gossip from the girls in my Sunday school class, I also stopped going to church.
I have always enjoyed drawing and painting; it was something I could do well. I started painting with the enamel paint my father brought home from work when I was a little girl. And although it didnít work too well, I did the best I could with the tools and talent I had to work with. I continued painting through high school where my art teachers encouraged me to try for an art scholarship. I didnít feel I had what it takes to make it in college, not knowing there were colleges that were just for learning art and so I took my motherís advise to marry.
My marriage to an unfaithful husband brought many tears but also led me into a friendship with a Christian sister, Sarah. She opened her home to me where we would pray, sing and encourage each other in the Lord. I thank God for placing her in my life.
In 1968, a baby boy, Christian whom I had carried in my womb for nine months was stillborn. He was taken up to heaven before I was even able to hold and love him. This caused me to seek answers. I knew the answers I wanted were in the Bible and if I would seek with all my heart God would show me. It was in His word that I grew deeper in my relationship with God. I learned to listen to God; His words were alive. He reminded me of how blessed I was. Many people that suffer have no hope for the future, but I have hope. I belong to Him for eternity.
The longing to have a child to hold and love was still there and I would cry my heart out to my Lord at night and in time I prayed, "whatever Your will be I am willing" and to my surprise the next month I became pregnant.
In 1969 I gave birth to my daughter, Rachel I never knew I could shed so many tears of joy as I did at her birth. In 1970 I gave birth to a healthy, happy, baby boy named Claude. He was very special and although he was with us for only eight months I feel very blessed. God showed me that children weíre blessed with belong to God and are placed in our care. I learned to love my children with open hands and Iím looking forward to seeing Christian and Claude again in heaven. In 1972,God blessed me with another son, Isaac.
The situation in our home was very unstable; drugs and drinking had come into my husbandís life. I thank God for family and friends who helped us. I feel God used this time in my life to teach me humbleness, I had to live day to day leaning on the Lord.
It was during this time that I started doing art shows. I noticed that the art being sold and exhibited was lacking. The Lord convinced me that pretty pictures are nice but I needed to use the talent He gave me tell others what the Bible says. It was out of a love for the Lord and a love for others that I began painting inspirational art. Lost and hurting people who needed to hear that God is alive, loves them and His word is applicable for today as it was when it was written. I did not have any great talent but God took what I had a willing heart and put His word in pictures.
I was thirty-eight years old when my marriage ended in a divorce, a mother of two teenagers in search of work, not having work skills other than that of a mother and a freelance artist. I applied for a scholarship at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, California, and received it to study as an illustrator. God provided all our needs and more.
Active in singles at church, I felt God wanted me to remain single to encourage other singles in their walk with the Lord and to continue sharing His word in art. I didnít know that in 1992 the Lord was to bring into a closer relationship, a special man, Steve Crittenden, whom I had known for years as a brother, the son of my best friend, Sarah. There was no deception I knew where he stood in his relationship with God; it was his love and commitment to God that attracted me to him. We went for marriage counseling and were married. He has encouraged me in painting and in getting them made into prints and cards. We call them ministering cards and prints as theyíre to be used to encourage, lift up, heal, open eyes and hearts toward God.
My deepest desire is that hearts will be stirred towards God. I want God to get all the glory; Heís the reason I paint what I paint. My love for the Lord and who He is are my life. My prayer is that I may grow closer to God that when others look at me they wonít see me but Jesus in me.
My story is about a faith in God that grows stronger through trials; itís about the love relationship between God and me. I donít regret the experiences and trials I went through, it is because of them that I am who I am today.
The trials I went through may be different than what the Lord is taking you through, but God is the same.
My paintings can be seen on the Internet along with my biography and
painting thoughts all to the glory of God.