Debbie’s water media paintings, presentations, and products inspire women to savor, study, and share God’s word with people they love. Learn more about her story and painting-based speaking presentations here…
Six years ago today, I walked through something both terrifying and comforting that once again proved the power of God’s word in my life. This little excerpt from my brand new contemplative coloring book, Fear Fighting Scriptures tells the story. . .
The Tuscaloosa Tornado
“I’ll never forget the sudden fear that signaled me to turn to Scripture on the afternoon of April 27, 2011.
Shadows danced on the grass beneath the tree branches outside the window of my home office. It was a beautiful, balmy spring afternoon in west Texas. I paused my typing mid-sentence when the phone rang. When I answered, it was my Mama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Breathlessly, she said, “I’m at your sister’s house. We’re watching TV and can see a tornado headed this way. We’re going to shelter in the pantry. Pray for us!” Click.
Over the next hours, I sat glued to my computer screen, watching news coverage of the devastating tornadoes that ripped their way across my beloved hometown and state.
A weather camera perched on top of a building in downtown Tuscaloosa recorded the monstrous storm plowing it’s way across the end of town where my family was hunkered down in the pantry. My heart raced as I prayed for them.
What the LORD did for me in that time of intense stress was flood my heart and mind with truth from His Word.
Six months earlier, I’d spoken at a women’t ministry dinner where my text was Psalm 121. It begins like this:
I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
I hadn’t thought of that verse for months, but when the anxiety hit, it was immediately brought to the forefront of my mind and spilled out of my mouth. I repeated it over and over, aloud, for hours, calling out for help to the One who created heaven and earth- the One in charge of the weather!
Reciting that Scripture calmed my spirit and gave me strength in the midst of a physical and emotional storm.”
Scripture Can Calm Our Fears
When we ingest the words of the Bible, letting it “dwell in us richly” (Colossians 3:16), those words can rise up in us like a ferocious animal ready to pounce on our fears and anxieties!
The nursing home my dad was in was hit by the tornado that day. He survived, but was never the same after that and died about six weeks later, counted as a victim of the Tuscaloosa tornado. He was a wonderful daddy who had spent his career as a newspaper photographer in Tuscaloosa county.
In previous days, he would have been out shooting pictures to report the story. On 04.27.11, he became a part of the story.
As dark as those days and weeks were for me, God continued to use His word to minister peace and comfort deep down in my soul. Those experiences were a part of the prompting I had in the intervening years to create contemplative coloring books to encourage people to meditate on Scripture.
A message from a reader of my first contemplative coloring book, Soul Soothing Scriptures, said:
“I struggle with anxiety. Your coloring book has helped calm my anxious mind with Scripture as I color. Thank you!”
Her words- plus my own experiences in watching Scripture calm my fears- prompted me to create a second book: Fear Fighting Scriptures. When I started working on this coloring book project last year, I had no idea it would be published on April 27th, a date that holds so much meaning for me.
My hope is that people who use this around the world will experience a little oasis of hope and help as they meditate on Scripture while coloring in these books.
If you’d like to get a copy for yourself or as a gift for a friend (or just want to share the news) here’s the scoop:
When we’re feeling fearful Scripture is a beautiful, powerful offensive weapon against our fears and anxieties. For me, April 27th will always be a reminder of this fact. Blessings. . .
I’ve been absolutely floored by the positive responses I’ve received from women who’ve taken part in Worship In Watercolor, my Visual Prayer Journaling Workshop. Here’s a short video where you can see a snippet of what participants have had to say…
This Saturday, 01.21.17, I’ll be leading another Worship In Watercolor workshop in Amarillo to help women engage their hands in art in order to focus the heart on God.
Here’s a link with all the registration information if you’re interested:
Is you’d like to schedule a workshop for your women’s group this year, simply contact Karen@christianspeakersservices.com and we’ll see what we can do to make this happen.
In the little circle of influence I’ve been given among my family, friends, church, and wider community, I am determined- now more than ever- to seek to be the kindness I think is missing in the world.
How? I can do these things. . .
- Speak gently. Proverbs 15:1- “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- Stop the spread of hurtful information by not passing on (through my spoken words or clicks or tweets or posts) news stories that stir division instead of sowing peace. Matthew 5:9- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
- Be kind and compassionate and forgive others as I pause to ponder how much God has forgiven me of through Jesus. Ephesians 4:32- “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
In my paintings, dark is used as contrast to bring out light. In the world, the darkness that’s so rampant around us these days serves to make the light of Christ living in us glimmer and glow with a bright, heavenly radiance.
Last Sunday night, we were driving back from Oklahoma to Amarillo when that big ol’ super moon was out. Did you see it? The moon doesn’t have the brilliance of the sun, but it’s a breathtaking reflector of the sun’s light.
I don’t own a fancy dancy camera with a fabulous lens, but here’s the photo I took with my iPhone as we stopped on I-40 at the giant cross in Groom, TX.
The image is a bit grainy, but keep in mind this cross is 19 stories high. . .
If I were to give this photo a name it would be this: Reflect Jesus.
Dear friends, we cannot control the darkness- the meanness, the inflammatory rhetoric, threats, violence, and lies floating around in the world. But, we can make small choices with our words and actions in seemingly insignificant places- from the grocery store check out line to our social media posts to the dinner table- to reflect the pure light of our beloved Jesus in our small yet significant spheres of influence.
Do I have times when fail at this? You bet. Nevertheless, my goal is to be the kindness where I’ve been planted in the world.
Will you join me by seeking to be the kindness where you are today? If enough of us try, it can make a big difference in the world.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving!
Do you know someone who struggles under the weight of stress? This may help…
Sometimes I picture my emotional stress as a voracious animal. He’s fed by my thoughts. When I mull over regrets and guilt from the past or dwell on imagined fears of the unknown out in the future, this evil beast not only survives, but thrives.
Do you know what I’ve discovered starves and shuts down my stress monster? Shifting my thoughts from the past or the future to the right now, the present moment.
Engaging my hands in art- coloring, painting, drawing- helps move my mind to the present. Just think about it: we cannot paint in the past or the future, but only in the present.
While engaging my hands in art, I’ve learned to engage my mind in meditating on Scripture to give that old stress monster a one/two knockout punch that disarms his power over me.
Psalm 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
I’m so grateful for the gift of Scripture to light my way through not only the daily decisions I have to make, but also out of the deep, dark cave of emotional stress!
Here’s a link to a short interview that aired recently on our local ABC and FOX affiliate about my Soul Soothing Scriptures coloring book that’s designed to help people use coloring to meditate on Scripture and ease stress in the process. (Click on the image below if you want to see the short segment.)
If this Soul Soothing Scriptures coloring book could help you or someone you know to engage your hands in art while meditating on Scripture, you can click on the image below to find it on Amazon.com. . .
PS The lovely page below from my Soul Soothing Scriptures coloring book was colored by Lindsey, an amazing young mom in Houston. She wrote on Instagram, “After a sleepless night of scratching and screaming, B (her precious little boy) is finally napping. Worship music playing, and meditating on the One who gives rest! #myhappyplace ”
Didn’t Lindsey do an amazing job? I love it! 🙂
Placing light against dark is a powerful technique used to create art. It can draw a viewer’s attention, create a focal point, and provide visual drama.
This weekend commemorates the darkest days of the year on the Christian calendar. On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified at 9 a.m. At noon, the skies turned black. At 3 p.m., Jesus breathed His last breath and the earth quaked.
Christ’s death on a cross and placement in a tomb was the darkest time in all of human history, but, praise God, the brilliant light of Jesus’ Resurrection was coming!
As much as we may dislike darkness, without it, we can’t have light. Dark sets the stage for the light to show up and shine.
With all the meanness going on lately- around the world and even in our own communities- things can look so, so dark. I hope this Easter weekend serves as a bright and beautiful reminder to you and your family that the darker the world gets, the contrast of Jesus living in and through us shines brightest.
He is the light and He can shine beyond the deepest darkness.
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus is LORD! Have a beautiful Resurrection Day!
What’s the secret of growth for a grape? It’s pretty simple: remain connected to the vine.
I’ve never heard the sound of grunts or groans from the grapes in a vineyard. Have you?
In His last moments with His disciples, Jesus made His way across Jerusalem, moving from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here’s a little piece of what He told them…
John 15:4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
As we focus on intentional abiding in Christ- remaining in Him, thinking of Him, looking to Him- growth will come. Guaranteed.
I hope this painting will serve as a visual reminder to remain in Him. 🙂