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All is Well

By Jessie Christensen

2106601_orig-1024x404Last week I needed a few things from Deseret Book, and after making my purchases I wandered over to see if any books I wanted to purchase had made it to the clearance rack yet. Instead, I caught my breath as I spotted a framed piece of art sitting there on sale. Even at fifty-percent off it was really beyond my budget. These days my money needs to go to babysitting, food, grad school tuition, new underwear, a mortgage. I don’t have space in my spreadsheet for framed artwork. But something spoke to my soul and told me I needed that on the wall in my house.

Annie Henrie is our featured artist in our most recent, and last, edition of Segullah in print. Suddenly I feel like I see her art everywhere, and every time I do my soul breathes a sigh of peace. Ethereal angels and women mingle together; daughters of our Heavenly Father standing strong and beautiful. In the piece I bought, a group of women push away from Nauvoo, surrounded by angels and the words “All is Well”. I know how these women feel; they thought they had found a peaceful place, the end of their journey. They built homes and lives and prepared to make roots in a new safe haven. Instead, they now find that their journey has just begun and that they have been cast out, with everything they dreamed left behind. I’m sure many of them didn’t understand how God could let their temple burn and their dreams be destroyed.

Two years ago my husband was on a business trip. It was our daughter’s first birthday and he hadn’t called that night, so I called him. He sounded strange, distant. There was a party in the background. He couldn’t talk, he was busy, he had to go. I hung up the phone, disconcerted, and looked around at my three kids eating cupcakes and laughing in our cozy kitchen. A few days later I picked him up from the airport and he was still distant. He wouldn’t look me in the eyes. He confessed that he had not wanted to come home. Being gone made him realize that he didn’t want his life any more. He didn’t want to be married and he was deeply unhappy. I felt like my home had just been burned and I was cast out in the wilderness with my children and my belongings in my handcart. As I wept alone in my bed and prayed for God to soften my husband’s heart and to fix this problem, I only heard the words “all is well” in my head. The temple would burn, my life would crumble–but there would be angels along the way to guide and protect me.

Two years later I am astonished at the blessings in my life. I have a good job, I have been able to stay in my home, and my children’s father is still heavily involved in their lives. Sometimes I hesitate to talk about my divorce because my experience has been so different from that of many other people. And yet, I am still alone. Every morning I wake up in the dark, shower and get dressed, wake up my three small children, get them dressed and fed, find an assortment of backpacks and lunches and shoes, drop two kids off at school and a third at the babysitter. Then I spend the day at work, come home in time to make dinner, clean the house, check on homework and music practice, put everyone in bed, and go to sleep, only to get up and do it all over again. It’s nowhere near as bad as pulling a handcart or walking across the plains alone, but some days I just want to lie down by the side of my trail and take a good long nap. There are many times lately when my life feels like I’m stuck in the barren plains of eastern Wyoming, toiling away with no end in sight. Now, however, every time I pass through my living room I look up and am reminded that, like these pioneer women, I am not journeying alone. I have friends by my side and angels around me to keep me going. The scenery may not be great, the way is rough, and my pace is agonizingly slow, but I am traveling in the right direction. All is truly well.

What do you think about Annie Henrie’s art (click the image at the top of the post to see a bigger version and peruse her website)? What art do you have in your home? Have you ever had a piece of art touch your heart in a special way?

About Jessie Christensen

Jessie served a mission in Spain and graduated from BYU with bachelor's degrees in Spanish Translation and English, as well as a master's in Spanish Literature. She currently works full-time at a university library and nurtures her three children, one cat, and a fluctuating number of fish. She relaxes by reading, baking, canning fruit, and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

18 thoughts on “All is Well”

  1. I love this, Jessie. Thank you. I usually rely on an often fragile hope (which sometimes, blessedly, feels like a surety) that "everything will be ok." I am going to try very hard to grasp your sense of present-tense "all is well."

  2. Inspiration in our lives can be what reminds us that it is worth all the effort. Thank you for sharing your story and your love of Annie Henrie. After looking at the gallery, Precious Above All might be what was missing in our living room.

  3. Dang it, Jessie, you made me cry. I love that painting too. I think this is a reason why we hear so much about the pioneers sometimes–we really can draw strength from the stories of how they were sustained during impossible trials. Thank you.

  4. I wrote a book about motherhood that had been in my mind and heart for several years; I just felt so strongly how all mothers needed to better understand that their little, daily acts of motherhood are sacred offerings and THEY MATTER. When I got word that my book was going to be published, I had to fill out forms and answer questions to help the design team get ideas about what should go on the book cover. It was Education Week at BYU at the time, so I went to the Bookstore and perused all the art to get some ideas. I saw Annie Henrie's painting of the Widow's Mite and just fell in love with it. I loved that she was young. I loved that she was holding a baby. I loved that she looked both weary and faithful. I loved that her tiny offering seemed to be magically blossoming into a treasure. I went back and filled out my forms and specifically requested that painting as cover art for my book. I know authors (especially first-timers) don't usually get much say in their cover design, but when I got my proofs several months later and saw her painting as the cover, my eyes welled up with tears. I love it. I hope Annie sees this message so she knows how honored I am that her beautiful art gets to be a companion to some words I wrote. (The book is Covenant Motherhood and should be in LDS bookstores in the next couple weeks.)

  5. Annie, I hope you read this! I am so proud of you.
    I grew up with Annie, and she is honestly one of the sweetest, smartest women I know. Her art reflects that.

  6. This is beautiful. You are beautiful. My temple has not burned down, but I do often feel eastern Wyoming in my soul.

    Right now, I love the quote that's floating around the internet: "Until God opens the next door,I will praise Him in the hallway."

  7. I love reading Segullah because it constantly inspires me to seek out and create things of beauty. God gives beauty for ashes and, like the the faith and determination that rose from the flames of the burning Nauvoo temple, shows us there can be beauty IN ashes. Thank you, Jessie.

  8. Thanks for all your great comments and support.

    Dalene–I feel like I have the opposite problem right now in my life. I have no idea what the future will bring and I just can't even think about it, really. Right now I'm at a point of living day to day and week to week, and for now things are OK.

    Stephanie–that's another painting that I love too. I think in our popular culture the
    widow's mite is often thought of as reflecting the offering of an older woman, but I love this painting. I have known several young widows and single mothers and it is another painting that speaks to my soul.

    Jessi–I love that quote so much, thanks for sharing. Thanks for popping in here too 🙂

  9. I am really glad that the print was on sale when you walked by it. I am really glad for you having it at your house. I sense that it is in the best possible place it could ever be. I am happy for this!

  10. You made me cry too. I've felt so weighed down lately by so much pain (most of it not even my own- darn tender-heart), so thanks for this reminder that there is good to be found if we look around a little.

  11. Jessie, thanks for this poignant post. I so admire the way you just keep doing what needs doing with so much faith. I suspect we all feel that drudgery of our day-to-day, often-painful lives, and I can see why Annie's painting would inspire and sustain you. Thank God for art! Keep on trekking. . .

  12. Beautiful painting, beautiful writing. The images will stay with me. I know that feeling of just getting through each day, and needing angels to make that possible. Thanks, Jessie.


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