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2. Giving Up My Art

Story Book Lodge Christian Camp is in the middle of the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. This is where Tim and I met. He spent summers there as a camp counselor and I came to help out in the kitchen.

On a starry night I worked late in the dining hall painting a poster.  Tim came around to turn out the lights and insisted that we must follow the camp rules. I laughed and kept working. He came back about 15 minutes later and proved he was serious by turning out the lights. I suggested that he should escort me to my cabin since it was now very dark. It took about 5 minutes to walk to my cabin and that was the end of our first date.
In 1979 I graduated from College in Billings Montana with an art degree and moved to Minneapolis. Finding a job was tough since there was a recession going on and work was scarce. After several promising interviews that didn't pan out I took a temp job as a Nurse Assistant. I worked in several different rest homes or nursing homes as they were called back then. 

My employer was an odd religious group that started an enterprise to support their cause called Selfless Service to Others and I think they were Buddhists. They didn't say exactly. At the time I had no interest in religion and wanted to keep that subject out of my life. But one day as I stepped outside into a winter wonderland I saw the most beautiful bright red cardinal alight on a snow covered branch within arm's reach. My footsteps crunched on the icy snow. The cardinal flitted away and bounced from one branch to another disrupting the snow. The white powdery stuff floated slowly to the ground.

Earlier that day I read an article in the newspaper about evolution. There was evidence now that man did not evolve from apes. It caught my attention because I was questioning my beliefs and wondering if there really was a God.

Within a day or two my brother called and asked me to stay with Grandma while he and his wife took some time to travel. They lived with Grandma Bjorlie in Pekin, ND.  John was a Christian and had been saved since I was 17. I remember him telling me one thing. "Anna, if you ever want to know that your sins are forgiven you can pray to God and He will hear your prayers. His Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for your sins." I knew then that he was serious about this Jesus stuff and he had the answers. But I kept on my merry way living a wild and crazy life for 8 more years.

I agreed to go to North Dakota for 2 or 3 weeks. Grandma was born in 1891 and lived a simple quiet life. My job was to keep her company and take care of her daily needs. There was no TV reception and one old radio that worked but there wasn't much to listen to. My brother hung framed Bible verses in every room. After the first week I had read every Gospel text on every wall at least 24 times. After the second I had them memorized. I pondered them but could not understand what "fleeing the wrath to come" and "wages of sin" and "neglect so great salvation" meant.

That is when I decided that if there is a God I really should find out what He has to say. So I found a Bible and began reading. It wasn't long before I was bogged down in Leviticus and decided to try the New Testament. After Matthew, Mark and Luke I entered the book of John. This is where I met the Savior and finally understood exactly who He is and what He did.

And He did it for me. He died on the cross for me. This was amazing and I literally saw my life flash before my eyes. It was a strange experience remembering everything I almost ever did. That is when I gave it all over to Jesus and he cleansed my heart and it was all gone. It was a burden of sin lifted. All of those past grievances and problems and difficulties. Whatever it's called it all boils down to sin.

But art was a significant part of my life. I was an artist. It was part of my identity. Could I give it up for Christianity? Should I? At the time I needed to give it up because it was the most important part of myself. I didn't know at the time that God gave me this gift of art and I could use it for His glory. I thought that I would say goodbye to ever calling myself an artist again.  I really did have a cathartic moment of cleansing and rebirth. My life was saved, regenerated. I was new again and now I was Anna Bjorlie, the person, not the artist.

That was the first day of Spring in 1980. About 2 months later I was at Story Book Lodge flipping flapjacks at five o'clock in the morning and painting posters at ten o'clock at night and getting to know my future husband.

Check out the website below to find out more about the history and mission of SBL.  http://www.storybooklodge.org/history.html

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