The Blessings of Pain

detail shot of Merging #3

We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscious, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis~The Problem with Pain

Things have been quiet again around here and it hasn’t been by choice this time. If you’ve been following me on my Facebook or Instagram feed you know I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious shoulder pain that has yet to get better. What happened you ask?

Well I woke up one day with a stiff neck that got rapidly worse and moved into my left shoulder. I went to my doctor to figure out what it was and he thought I had bursitis in my shoulder, prescribed the standard medication and told me to take it easy and let it heal. So I tried. Then on one of the coldest days in Alberta my the pain got so bad that I couldn’t stand without balling my eyes out and my left arm started to loose sensation so we immediately went to Emerge the pain was so bad that it was affecting my blood pressure and they thought I was having a heart attack and immediately gave me an ECG to check my heart. Once they determined that was fine they shot me full of muscle relaxants and sent me home.

So I followed up again with my doctor, got Xrays, and Ultrasounds and discovered I do have bursitis in my left shoulder but I also have calcific tendinitis in that same shoulder, osteoarthritis and my C4 & C5 are showing wear and maybe pinching a nerve in my neck causing major inflammation on my upper left side. I can’t sleep, I can’t stand, I can’t work, I can barely do basic house stuff like pour myself a glass of water or load the dishwasher without laying down and doing heat therapy every hour and that’s with all the meds they have me on. So I started physio every other day for the last several weeks but it hasn’t been helping so I got referred to a new physiotherapist and I had my new assessment yesterday and instead of going for traction like prescribed and thought would help I left yesterday with yet another diagnosis to add to my ever growing list, Arterial thoracic outlet syndrome which essentially means the structures around my collar bone are impinging on an artery that is cutting off blood flow to my left arm. I dunno what’s going to happen from here, I need to follow up with my doctor and surgery is probably in my future.

I don’t write this all for sympathy or for explanation of why I haven’t been around much but to tell you that even in this God is teaching me truths and I wanted to share those with you so that all this can glorify God.

First let me clarify something I’m no saint I’m not going to sit here and say this is a cake walk and that I’m not struggling through this because that would be a lie. I’m not going to say that I haven’t been upset, scared, angry or questioned the timing of all this because I have and am but even still God is whispering to me, I know he is there in this and I know he desires an open and honest relationship with me not just my highlight reel but my broken moments and raw emotions too.

So often I find Christians profess that Jesus is God but forget that he was also fully human. He gets it, he has felt the whole gambit of human emotions, he has experienced pain and suffering and he too asked God if he could skip the suffering part but he also said “your will be done” and that’s what I’m trying to do, find peace in knowing that God’s will, will be done in all this. I don’t know what that looks like, but perhaps me just writing this is part of it so you can find some truths you need in a time of your own suffering. So here are a few things I’ve gleaned in this season and my sincere prayer is that these seeds of truth will bear much fruit at harvest.

Don’t be Surprised

1 Peter 4:12-13

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So often we are shocked and surprised when something happens to us, as North American’s in particular I feel we forget that THIS is not heaven. We are still living in a broken world, with broken people and broken mortal bodies so things won’t be perfect until Jesus comes back again. If we remember this, keep this thought in our minds then when things do go wrong, when the Storms of life hit because they will then we won’t be surprised and can be better prepared. These trials aren’t just things that happen to someone else, at some point you will be faced with struggles so prepare now during calm seasons so that you will be able to endure them by standing on the rock that is Jesus.

Jesus is Lord over the Storm

Matthew 8: 23-27

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

We’ve all read this passage at some point in our spiritual walk, but what really hit me in this season of my life was not that Jesus was sleeping but that the disciples had a choice. They could have trusted him in this time of chaos and just curled up next to him and had a rest but instead they woke him fearful. I don’t know about you but I’m tired, and there will always be another storm in our lives to deal with. How different those moments would be for us if we just rested, letting the waves rock us as we lay next to Jesus waiting for the storm to pass. To me this concept fills my soul with much needed peace. I’m working on this truth as I sit stuck on my couch I’ve been listening, praying and studying God’s word more resting in the knowledge that awake or asleep Jesus is Lord over the storms in my life.

In ALL circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Mark 12: 41-44

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

You might wonder why I chose this passage to share. This was one of the particular passages that the Holy Spirit brought to my mind in this particular season. It is so easy to give God glory and praise in our times of “wealth” and prosperity when we feel good, when our life has had blessings poured out on us when everything is going well, but what about the times when it isn’t. The widow gave out of her poverty, she gave in her time of need when she didn’t have anything else to give she gave her all. I think this is key for us to learn. When our hearts feel heavy with despair, when our bodies cry out in pain can we give praise and glory to Jesus in those times of brokenness and physical/spiritual poverty? Can we give our all? He did. With nails in his hands he still cared for those around him, he still called out to God. Can we do the same?

Suffering leads to Humility

2 Chronicles 33:12 – In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 [g]gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The curse of pain is also it’s gift. Pain shows us where the place of hurt and need are so we can address and focus on healing those areas. When pain happens in our physical bodies we go to the doctor to address the issue and seek healing, without it we wouldn’t know there was a problem until it was too late. The same is true of our spiritual life. It is in our times of suffering that God works to refine us. Pain strips us of our strength and self reliance and forces us to see the weakness in our own characters and our need of others in our life and our need for Jesus to bring healing and to carry our burdens. If we never suffered our eyes and hearts would never be opened to this truth and we would be poorer for it.

God is Good ALL the time

Romans 8: 28 –  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

There’s a saying among the protestant communities that goes like this:

“God is Good all the time, all the time God is good” I want this to be my statement of faith. I want to declare this in the times of blessing in my life and in the times of suffering. I want my soul to know fully and without doubt that this is TRUE, God’s got this, He is Lord over my storm, he is working good in me even in the times of the pain and suffering. Even when everything is out of my control. That’s the point of faith isn’t it to keep going even when it’s not clear on how God will use this for good. I don’t have to see or know the plan, I just have to keep seeking him with all my heart and trusting that he is in control of the plan and believing in the his promise to give me hope and a future.

Dear present and healing God, I am weak and so often I run from pain. Give me your strength to help me look into the face of my own pain and suffering and see it as a way to share in your humanity. Transform my mind so that I can look at my suffering and respond the way you would respond with grace, humility and long suffering. Teach me to draw closer to you through pain and suffering. Teach me to see my pain as evidence of places that need the most healing not just in my body but in my soul. Remind me that pain is temporal, on this side of eternity it hurts but you offer the promise of eternal healing and wholeness. Give me courage to walk through this season of life, give me your peace. Whisper the truth to me that you will never leave me or forsake me and teach me to rest in that truth. In Jesus powerful and healing name, Amen.

I pray this will be a blessing to you in your time of struggle or will help prepare you for future storms.


Hope in the Darkness

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.”-Psalm 9:18

One of the things I aspire to do with my art as a Christian artist is to help spread the love and hope that I have found in Christ Jesus through my art. Sometimes that looks like me creating art that testify’s to what God has done or is doing in my life and sometimes that means I use my creative gifts to help others feel that same hope.

As I was finishing off the first batch of my new mixed media mini’s today, painting my edges black I was struck by how bold and vibrant they stood out against the dark edging. As I left them to dry I just had this feeling that the Holy Spirit was calling me to use these small paintings for a big purpose to shine light into darkness. The more I thought on it the clearer it seemed to get in my mind and heart. God has a funny way of lining things up when we’re attentive to his voice and I knew just where to use these paintings that would make a difference Hope Mission.


Hope Mission is a not-for-profit Christian social care agency caring for the impoverished and homeless men, women and children in Alberta. Basic and emergency care is provided to over 800 people daily as well as counsel and referral services for men, women, and youth. Each day Hope Mission provides over 1000 meals, and shelter for over 500 people.  Specialized care and treatment is offered for men and women through faith-based addiction treatment programs. Hope Mission also facilitates an after school recreation and hot meal program for children. In all, our desire is to provide compassionate care and offer hope to hurting, hungry and homeless people in Edmonton.

This series is now being called “Hope in the Darkness” because no matter how jagged or textured our past, no matter how dark our life, God can ALWAYS bring Hope out of it but it starts with us using what God has given us to help bring hope to others. Each painting in this series is as unique as the person it will go to help. For every piece sold I will donate 25% of the sales back to Hope Missions to help support them in the wonderful work they are doing in our community!

I hope you’ll help me in my effort to bring Hope through art.



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You can purchase or commission a piece in this series by leaving me a message here to see the available pieces or by messaging me on my Facebook page AmandaMilkeArtist. Each mixed media piece costs $40 is one of a kind and measures 4″ x 4″ x 1.5″ and is done on canvas. Perfect for a small space, shelf or desk or buy several to arrange in sets of 3, 5 or 9 tiled cube patterns.

I’ll also be adding a new page to my website with this series in the next few days.

Wedding of the Lamb


So sometimes paintings just seem to happen. I’m going about my business and then a canvas kind of screams at me and the next thing I know I have a new painting on the go. That’s exactly what happened with this painting. I wanted to do a lamb piece to go with my series of Biblical inspired animals but I hadn’t planned this lol.

I sat down one morning and it just flowed out of me by the time lunch had come the layout was complete and that’s the way this painting kept evolving. Every time I sat down it was a whirlwind of creation and the next step would be complete. It’s crazy how God can use my talents for his purpose. I thought all along that this would be an Easter piece and I thought for the longest time I would call it “the Passover lamb” but the more I painted and embellished and layered and texturized the more it seemed like it was a celebratory piece. Not a pre-cross sacrificial painting but a joyful conquered death let’s party type of painting and so what’s more jubilant than a wedding.

So here the lamb is clean and radiant. The flowers are in bloom, he is crowned and gleaming wearing his bridegroom clothes of covered in song and ready for the church his bride. The work has been done and now it’s time to celebrate.


Each sets of words woven into the lambs wool is a hymn title, I emphasized the trinity by crowning in in triplicate “holy”s on his forehead.

Enter a caption

He is clean and pure adorned in gold and sparkling rhinestones that flash and glimmer in the light and he seems to radiate and glow.


The birds who fly and adorn him with music singing are gold and jeweled but pale in comparison to the light surrounding him.


New life grows up from his feet and even the earth is growing with hymns embedded in it. I did a double emphasis on “art” along the bottom of the piece because I do believe God enjoys art and to be praised through it as I’ve spoke on in previous posts.




And finally the lambs position of facing straight out at the viewer was intentional because Biblically we as Christians make up the body of the Church, and the Church is the Bride of Christ so here the Bridegroom, Christ is looking at us the Church on his Wedding day as through him we are made pure and holy and most assuredly ready to celebrate.


I used a large variety of materials to create this painting including genuine peridot stone chips, rhinestone crystals, gold leaf, paper clay, modeling paste, acrylic, oil paint sticks, beads and old choir music / hymns.

I’d love to hear what you think of this painting or any of my other works. You can comment below or email me and I’ll be happy to respond.



Broken Hearted-the Golden lining


Heart 11x14

The problem with the human heart is it’s so damn fragile, like an egg.

This whole human experience of dealing with other broken humans leaves scars on us.

So when we enter into a relationship as two broken individuals, that doesn’t mean we complete each other and that we magically fill in all the blanks. Don’t believe me?

Try taking two separate broken eggs and fit them together without causing further damage or without spilling any yolk. It doesn’t work. Cracks will worsen, more damage will ensue and things will get messy.

That’s humanity.

And let me tell you, I am one broken egg.


You see all along for this painting I had this image of this light shining out of a broken heart just like that children’s song “This little light of mine” based off of Mark 4:21.

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

If you’re like me you’ll have that stuck in your head all day now. You’re welcome haha.

Anyway, I wanted this piece to be a testament of my love, trust and faith in God. A light shining out of my heart illuminating the way for others to be healed, to understand humanity’s brokenness and the need for an all loving, all forgiving Abba, God.

However, God is Good at using us in these moments to shed light on issues that we need to address and in this moment, this painting, He stepped in and said “Amanda, you haven’t let go of this. You’re being tight fisted about these past hurts and you need to open up and share to be healed.”

It’s not that I didn’t think God could help me through it because I knew he had brought me to where I am now and had already blessed me and rebuilt so much of my life. It was more that I didn’t want to deal anymore with those things.

You see I had spent a lot of time and energy trying to fix it myself, but despite my best efforts to crazy glue, duct tape and cement that sucker back together it was still broken, so I gave up, I dug deep and I buried it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it ever again.

But dammit, it comes at a cost and that debt was starting to come due. I had walled off part of me, buried it deep to protect myself from the past and future hurts, and I never once realized how much of me I had shoved down that hole with it. And I was scared. I was scared to let it out, I was scared to be hurt or broken again.

I mean my shell was just barely holding together as is. If I pulled it out from that tomb I buried it in, I might break beyond recognition. But man, God has a way to fix the un-fixable and nudge us toward his image of us. So here I am, heart in hand, broken into a million pieces handing it to God to fix and do you know what HE brings to my mind? Two things.

#1 Kintsugi.  Kintsugi is Japanese and it translates into “Golden repair” and is a centuries old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special gold lacquer as a crack filler. God was reminding me that He was the potter and I was His vessel and that there is VALUE and BEAUTY in those cracks that make me me. Just because I was broken doesn’t mean I was irreparable and to be discarded. It didn’t even mean that God’s love and my faith in Him would make me perfect and flawless. No. it meant that He would use my brokenness, highlight it in Gold, draw attention to it because it’s those Golden cracks in my shell that are the true value, the true testament of what God has done in my life.


#2 He reminded me of the purpose for those shining broken seams in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” You see, that’s the true miracle, the true testament of God’s love. Can you image sitting there patiently repairing something so broken with something so valuable as Gold? It seems inconceivable, but you are loved and valued that much by the one that made you. You are worth the time and effort because once God is done, you will gleam, radiate and shine a true testament to His craftsmanship.


This painting is gritty and cracked and the inside is flawed but shines with Gold because inside that is exactly what God is doing in my life and is the truest testament I can give. If you pass over your brokenness, God will repair you, the vessel he loves and values. I am proof, because I’ve traded in these broken pieces for beautiful healing golden repairs: Abandonment, Rape, Neglect, Abuse, Depression, Suicide, Loss, Divorce, Anger, Fear, Infertility and Loneliness.

It’s easy to want to lock away the past and the pain, but God can use my golden highlights to help shine hope to someone else. You may be broken now, but you are loved and you are valued and this is not the end; you will glow again!

xo- Amanda