Cracked Up

Jessica totally cracked me up. That kind of ear-to-ear grin, make your heart happy, laugh out loud kind of cracked up. She didn’t mean to. But she did. Because I love how this lady of the Lighthouse dreams big, prays big.

Last week we introduced the ladies at the Lighthouse to ex votos – a Mexican art form. Typically somewhat primitive and painted on tin, an ex voto was a devotional picture offered to the Virgin Mary, or to the saints, to thank them for answering the person’s prayer, having saved them, or having spared a family member or close relative from illness, an accident, war, violence, or shipwreck. Ex votos, which mean of my vow in Latin, are even offered for rescued animals and good harvests. Ordinarily the ex voto includes a picture and a brief description of the answered prayer.  

Using pencils to drawn their ex voto on heavy aluminum foil backed with paper, the ladies were given a choice of recording an answered prayer or offering a prayer they hope will be answered. Trisha, a new mom busy with her two month old daughter, didn’t get started on her ex voto until almost the end of the morning workshop. The simple lines of a holy family embossed into the reflective aluminum illustrate her thanks for a healthy child, a deep concern for many of the pregnant women who come to the Lighthouse, a fifteen-month, faith-based, residential treatment program for women recovery from substance abuse. Another young mother, Vivian, surrounded the written text of her ex voto with painted hearts. It told of her heartfelt gratitude of learning to be a better mother to her three year old who’s entering pre-school, and her excitement about some testing he’s undergoing to evaluate his learning readiness. She has a new appreciation for the resources available to her other children that she was unwilling or unaware of in the midst of her addiction.

Many of the women penciled and painted ex votos images symbolic of their children and homes. For future reunions in future homes. One was a particular prayer of thanksgiving for an elderly friend who’d nearly blown her house up recently.  A neighbor stopped by with soup to discover the house smelling of gas from an unignited stove burner left unattended. Olivia’s ex voto was a detailed landscape and her thanks for being rescued from the evils of drugs that ensnared her in a nearby community.  Nicole’s ex voto expresses her hope of becoming deeply rooted and fruitful like the tree in Psalm 1 while Lovann’s prayer is to have the I Corinthian 13 character qualities locked into her heart. Ashley, who’s returned to the Lighthouse program after about six months, is grateful for another opportunity to pursue sobriety. Lots to look forward to. Lots to be thankful for.

But Jessica. She just cracked me up. When asked to unpack the images in her ex voto she said that the heart with the lightening bolt represented her love of the San Diego Chargers. The purple clouds represent her dream/prayer that in seventeen years her son will be the quarterback of the Chargers. Wow. I love moms who learn to dream big when life has seemed impossible only a short time before. So I ventured, “How old is your son?”


I know it’s kind of a lot of pressure, but I’m prayin’ it’s gonna happen.” That kind of willingness to ask for more than you can possibly imagine cracks me up! How about you?

If you were to create an ex voto of an answered prayer, what would it look like? What story would accompany it? If you were to create an ex voto of a prayer you hope will be answered, what would it look like? How about a dream/prayer that would crack you up?

I’ve loved all your recent comments. Hope to enjoy some of your ex voto stories as well.

1 comment to Cracked Up

  • Deanna Bowling

    It would be a picture of a straight pin bouncing off of a green carpet. I’ve been serving on a committee at church for 3 1/2 years. I have to admit that a lot of my time was watching to see if the jigsaw puzzle parts the committee had created in planning the various parts of worship, would really fit together in the end. This took away from my worship experience, a lot.

    I resigned from the committee about 3 weeks ago, it’s time for someone else to see what they can do with those areas i was resoponsible for, and this last Sunday was my first time when i could actually walk in and just worship. The sermon was thick and rich with content, and GOD used the time to pour a healing balm over me, drenching me in the message. There was a moment when i came to back to reality, and it was so quiet in the room that I could literally have heard a straight pen bouncing off of the green carpet. The whole congregation was drenched in the GOD’s word, and I hadn’t missed out on the opportunity.

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