How an Unexpected Mentor Transformed My Life and Shattered My Limiting Beliefs


I have the privilege and honor of mentoring artists and entrepreneurs.

When I was a young artist, I so badly wanted a mentor; I approached many artists who were more successful than me and asked them if I could pay them to mentor me. Not one of them wanted the job. A few were honest in telling me they didn't want to teach someone else what they knew and create competition for themselves. So I went about my career with my artist husband, John, making a ton of mistakes, getting cheated and mistreated, taking the long road and doing far too many stupid things. Finally, when I was thirty years old, I met Beverly and asked her to mentor me.

Meet Beverly: My Unexpected Mentor

Beverly is not an artist — she is a preacher! She travels the world, says the things out loud most people only think, and is about the most hilarious person I know. When she gets a microphone in her hand you never know what will happen: the whole place could be in tears, sobbing through one of her heartfelt stories, or laughing in hysterics, rolling in their chairs while gripping their sides.

Beverly told me the key to public speaking is to “get them laughing and get them crying, then you have their heart.” I asked Beverly to mentor me because I knew I wanted to grow and I needed wisdom. I had a lot of fears and limiting beliefs. I knew if I could overcome these and have true wisdom, I would be unstoppable.

At the time, I was a bit of a church girl. I spent my weeks buried in the obligations of women's groups, Bunco, and “giving back” to Sunday school. John and I painted all the time and sold our work to dealers to make a living, but we lived with very little purpose. Deep down I knew there was greatness inside of me, but my humble-little-church-girl self felt ashamed to even admit it to myself or live it out.

I shrunk myself back into a very small world with a voice that ruled over me saying, “Who do you think you are? How dare you think you can be great?! You are so arrogant. What will everyone think?” I was a mess! I lived in the vast wilderness of living for others, terrified of what other people would think of me, and afraid of being showy, too much, or not enough. I was miserable.

Beverly set me free. She would often shower me with words of my potential, of my greatness, and tell me that God saw my future and was calling me to it. With every word I could feel myself opening up and blossoming.

I traveled with Beverly to many countries, but my first trip was Mexico City. I was still horribly shy and insecure. I watched Beverly go all around the city speaking with one group after the next. She made them laugh and she made them cry; I saw how she made an impact.

No one was ever the same after they met Beverly. She would speak to them in the most powerful way, revealing ancient mysteries of their destiny that was planned before time. I saw people lift and expand with the possibility that they had a purpose in God. She inspired me to want to empower people in this way too.

Shedding My Fears and Limiting Beliefs

I was never the same after that trip. I shed a thick layer of false humility and pride and left it in Mexico. After I returned, I noticed I had the confidence to go into stores alone. I could speak to strangers and walk a bit taller. I had the confidence to begin to dream again and imagine my life in the fullness of my own destiny.

I continued to travel with Beverly to the Philippines, Ukraine, France, Hungary, and Greece. There were so many adventures, laughter, tears, arguments, victories, and joy. She gave me opportunities to teach, share, and speak publicly. I taught art in universities and small groups. My fear of other people's opinions faded and I became a fully functioning confident person. Beverly gave me much more than I ever gave back, but the best gift of all came through her love of the poem Song of Solomon.

The Poem that Changed My Life: Song of Solomon

Artist Elli Milan standing in front of her artwork series "song of solomon" inspired by the poem

Anyone who knows Beverly will say, “She tells a great story. She will make you cry, she will make you laugh. And she loves Song of Solomon.” When she talks about this poem, she is transported. She lights up the room. Before long she is in tears at the thought of how much God loves us. At first I thought the whole thing was weird. I was concerned about my new mentor and why she loved this erotic poem so much. As the church girl, I couldn't figure out why this “preacher” constantly talked about a poem that was all about SEX!

After countless times of listening to her dissect the poem and explain the symbolism, I started to understand it. She showed me how every word mattered and had at least five levels of symbolic meaning. For example, most poems and songs speak about the color of someone's eyes. This poem is different. In this one, he says her eyes are like doves. If your eyes are glowing white like doves, they are clear and opened wide. Only someone who has stared deeply into someone's eyes for along time will notice how the white in the corners are the shape of a dove's wing.

Beverly says, “He says her eyes are like doves because he loves her faithfulness. A dove has no peripheral vision and can only see straight in front of her. She mates for life!” Beverly's favorite part of the poem is: You have ravished my heart with a single glance of your eyes, with a single bead of your necklace. She grips her chest and throws her head back every time she recites it and says, “Did you hear that? With one bead of her necklace. Your neck is your will and if you just move it the slightest amount, a bead of your necklace will move. It's her obedience! She ravishes his heart with one small gesture of obedience!”

This poem unraveled a deep mystery for me and showed me how magically profound the Bible is. God has a language that speaks right to our spirit. Just one image can represent a universal, multidimensional wisdom and a personal message directly from Him all at once. I begin to see honey, and figs, and wine, so differently.

Through Beverly and this poem, my whole spiritual life became alive. I started to see how God spoke to me in the dreams I had at night and everything meant something. There were no coincidences and life was no longer random. As an artist I realized that what I painted, like the Song of Solomon, had prophetic meaning and were symbols that spoke of deeper mysteries. Art could be interpreted like dreams. My world, which was once gray and flat, became vibrant, rich, and round. Everything seemed to be lit.

From Mentee to Mentor: The Ultimate Reward

One day, after about ten years of being mentored by Beverly, I heard her say from the stage, “I've been mentoring Elli for a while, but now she's passed me up and I don't mentor her anymore.” I was shocked. I didn't feel the same. I thought, Is she dumping me? Just like that, I'm orphaned and on my own?

It wasn't until years later I realized what a great mentor she was. Insecure and controlling teachers want their students always just behind them or not quite succeeding. Beverly's greatest desire is to watch the ones she teaches surpass her. This has inspired me as a mentor.

My own daughter, Dimitra, has already passed me up. Many of our students are on their way. One of my greatest achievements will be to see thousands of artists change the world with their art and know I got to be a part of their journey.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!


  • Tetiana Machabeli

    Love it! Thank you Eli for your input into the lives of young artists in Ukraine! My daughter is at the Art College because of your trips and influence. I always remember your sharing about importance of Art, prophesying beautiful and great future, to have hope and to prosper.

    Elli Milan Art replied:
    Tanya! So good to hear from you!! I’m so happy to hear Marie is pursuing art! I’d love to come back one day and teach there again! Miss you!

  • Pamela King

    Of all seasons in my lifetime, I found a depth of God’s love & presence in my life profoundly during the pandemic.
    I saw nature much more vivid & these sweet secret experiences with God that words fall short of.
    Since words fall short & I have been an artist all my life, I began to draw & paint what I experienced with God. I have received countless healings & being so close to God, my spiritual sight increased with more compassion, more love, & more gratefullness than I ever had experienced before.
    I found true peace, healing & relentless love during such a turbulent time.
    I am so very grateful for God’s magnifying glass to stoop down & pick me up.
    Daily, I feel His deep approval growing in my heart. I create & share my jouney as glory to God. Art is truly Living & beathing & ready to burst though melancholy. We only need to believe.
    Your stories of your journey are always inspiring & confirm the spiritual nudges I have daily. So grateful to be connected! 💜🧜‍♀️💜

    Elli Milan Art replied:
    Im grateful to connect with YOU, Pamela. Thank you for sharing your experience of spiritual transformation through the pandemic.

  • Dr. Raymond J Brill

    I have lived by a saying I learned in first grade: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Make the good better and the better best.” With that in mind, I have always challenged my self. I have served in the Army as an eye doctor. Recently, I have just completed a 45 year career helping people look better, see better and maintain their eye health. The impact on about a 100, 000 lives is my greatest joy and culminated in receiving the 2022 Best Practices Award with 9 other practices across the country.

    I tell this story for a reason. I continue to be a mentor for many of my colleagues with my entrepreneurship and business success, having also earned an MBA along the way.

    Allow .e to digress a bit. My parents were from Vienna, Austria and grew up with a

    natural interests in music and the arts, only to be greatly interrupted by WWII. When emigrating to the US, my father was an artist, mainly commercial art and cartography. He educated me that many people love artists but few want to pay the accordingly. So, he always had 3 jobs to support his family. It was many years later that I learned that no other father left home at 7:00 am and came home at 10:pm. “You have to just work harder if you are an artist with little income,” he would often explain. No welfare for our family. My father made me promise I would never take an art class or become an artist.

    After his death, I did take some non-credit painting classes and copied a George’s de Latour painting called The Cobbler. It looked so good that my teacher encouraged me to keep taking more classes. I painted photorealistic portraits of my kids and one of my father. My painting of him featured a landscape in the background like he would paint back in the day. That was back in 1995, the last time I painted because family life and community commitments were a greater priority…until now. I am committing my self to enter the Mastery program in the near future after we move from Kansas to the Gulf Coast of Florida, probably close to where you are now located. I will do this to fulfill my creative but suppressed dreams of making that small journey from my analytic left brain over to my right brain, and in homage to my father. By the way, he was so right brained, he could never mow the lawn. He would mow a little patch here and a little patch there, pick some weeds and maybe just lay down and enjoy the fragrance of cut grass. He could just not mow linearly in a striped pattern or concentrically like others could. The world was a palette to him.

    In any case, I have enjoyed many of your free webinars and family stories and look to your group] for mentorship to regain my right brain strength and be a productive artist soon.
    Elli Milan Art replied:
    Wow! What a journey! How incredibly rewarding will it be for you to be able to commit yourself to your art! I’m sorry your father lived in the times he lived. Unfortunate. bc today artists have incredible opportunities and there is no reason at all that an artist couldn’t make a good living from their art. Your entrepreneurial background will serve you well as you go through the Mastery Program. Since you art moving out here, Im sure I will meet you in person at some point!

  • Maci Winder

    I feel like our stories are very relatable to each other Elli. I have a mom that make me feel like incapable to take care of myself. When my husband and I first got married she insisted in going to my doctor visit’s because I wouldn’t be able to explain myself to the doctors if my husband wasn’t able to go with me. She had me under her control. I had a lot of negativity put into my mind every day for at least 30 years. It got so bad of thinking negative of myself that I got put into a mental hospital. And it’s taking me 10 plus years of counseling to think otherwise. Now I don’t talk to my mom much anymore and surrounding myself with positive people to think otherwise. I know I’ve been in the program for three years now but I’m getting to a place that I’m starting to not be afraid of just laying a brush stroke down and not be afraid of the end result. My husband is pushing to talk to people this past week especially because of my past. He challenged me to a paper clip challenge and I traded with about 5 people within 2 days. Now I surround myself with uplifting articles, people or whatever I can get my hands on to be positive. I’m bound and determined to finish this program more then ever. I want to show people like me that have learning difficulties that they can do whatever they want to in life.
    Elli Milan Art replied:
    yes! Maci! I remember you from a workshop you came to. You are a fantastic artist. I bet you are even better now. Although you have had a difficult life, you have a loving supportive husband and your dream of being a professional artist and best of all inspiring others is worth every minute of the fight! so paint, paint, paint! I will see you at your graduation!!!

  • Annie

    THANK YOU for sharing about your mentor, Beverly and ESPECIALLY her heart for THE Song of Songs—the ravished heart of God!! THIS is actually MY deepest burden. And my ache that my life be poured OUT for Him and HIM ALONE!❤️‍🔥

    PS: I’ve also been moved and inspired artistically by your family’s calling and work like none other………thank you, sincerely ❌⭕️
    Elli Milan Art replied:
    Thank you! We share the same love and passion for Song of Songs. Once you begin to dive deep into it, there is a whole world of God’s love to discover!

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