Twelve years ago, I went to an all girls’ camp, Camp Mystic, every summer in Texas. And embarrassingly enough, even at 14 years old, I was often consumed with homesickness and dreaded going away to camp for an entire month each summer. But that particular year, it was different. I had a counselor who never made me feel dumb, or ashamed for missing home. She filled me with a constant and ever-present security, she believed in my gifts, and called me higher. For years, every birthday, she never failed to text me or post on my Facebook wall, “Way to be born, Jennie!”.
Avery Young was super-human at best; her athletic skills made jaws drop, she brought enthusiasm and joy everywhere she went, and she just made others want to believe in their own potential.
Last year, when I found out my super-human counselor and invincible role model, was battling Cancer, I ached with pain for her, and my heart surged with emotion. There is only so much you can do for sick people, especially from afar, except pray for them. But, while battling cancer, Avery found my lion paintings on social media…she constantly “commented” on them, and entered a “give-away”…
Although she may not have been drawn from the hat, I sent her a lion anyways, and she responded in an email:
I won?! I can’t believe I won! I’m obsessed with your lion paintings. This just made my day! And I stayed home from work sick today so I needed positive vibe…thanks so much!
-Avery Young Rademacher June 16, 2015
A little back-story, these lions have meant a lot to me since the day I started painting them. I have had a dream for them to be spread in homes across the nation as powerful reminders that each of us are fully known, and fully loved exactly as we are. There is so much powerful Truth in the image of a lion, and I truly believe Avery understood their significance.
Needless to say, 1,000 miles away, while I was painting this lion, Avery was at MD Anderson about to find out the Cancer had returned, and this time wrapped itself around her brain stem.
On Friday night, November 6th, Avery’s sickness brought her home to the heavenly gates. She believed in the goodness of her God and His will, regardless of what happened in her life. Through her story, Avery made me realize there are thousands of suffering people, all around us, struggling to believe the same thing. I kept asking myself– I’m just an artist, but how can I use my paintings to honor her life? So I had an idea and I hope you will participate…