Over the last few weeks, several people have asked about the artwork for the cover of my new book, The Storm-Tossed Family. I wanted to tell the story of how this piece came to be. The image itself contains two major parts: the house and the storm raging around it. The artist who crafted this piece, Wayne Brezinka, took our concept artwork, the themes from this book, and my own personal interests to create a unique and incredible piece of art. This 3D work was then photographed for the cover of the book. I am forever grateful for his creativity and vision.
The central image on the cover is of a home tossed about on the waves. As I was writing this book, I continued to think about a particular song that I had learned and sang while growing up in a Baptist church in Mississippi: “The Nail-Scarred Hand.” The hymn is a juxtaposition of the pain and beauty that comes in life. The family is no different. There is both the potential for beauty and grace in a family, but also terrible hurt and pain because of the unique relationships that we all have with family members. Wayne was able to incorporate this image into the creation of the house. Rather than make the house look like an average home, it is overlaid with the words to that hymn. The simultaneous beauty and pain found in every home form one of the unifying themes of the book.
The other major piece of the cover are the waves buffeting the house. There is no mistake in saying that the place which should be the safest, often feels the most unstable. Divorce. Abuse. Abandonment. Loneliness. Tension. There is no such thing as an “easy” family. Families are filled with sinful people.
Few people understood the reality of the struggle with pain and sin better than the philosopher Johnny Cash. Whether he was singing about the way he needed to “keep a close watch on this heart of mine” or the reality of broken relationships in “Hurt,” Cash was aware of the broken world in which we live. Sin affects every relationship, especially the family. It is the family that suffers after Adam and Eve taste the fruit. The husband and wife are separated. One of their children will kill his brother and then lie about it. What should be a haven from the storms outside is just as marred by sin. Just as Brezinka took the hymn lyrics and incorporated them, he was able to include some of the Cash’s inspiration as well. The waves were created with pieces of clothing, owned and worn by Cash. It is fitting that this man who could capture like few others the brokenness of the world would be represented in this artwork.
Music has a way of speaking for us. Cash sang of brokenness. “The Nail-Scarred Hand” promised that there was someone who was there in the midst of the storm. Wayne Brezinka has found a way to take these two creative streams and represent with images what was before only musical. The cover of my book captures the way that the home is tossed about by any number of things. At the same time, there is a savior who stands in the midst of the storm. This savior who speaks the same words offered so long ago in a boat tossed about by a Galileean storm: “Peace. Be Still.” (Mk. 4:39). The home is tossed about, but it is not sinking. The family is assailed, but it is not destroyed. God remains present speaking grace and peace into the turmoil of the storm around us.
The Storm-Tossed Family is available now in bookstores everywhere.