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…
When the Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office contacted me over a year ago asking permission to use my watercolor of the Governor’s Mansion on his official stationery, I said, “Certainly!”
(That was a no brainer! I also cried some happy, grateful tears.)
At the time, I asked IF there happened to be a time I’m in Austin (it’s a 7.5 hour drive from my home so I don’t get there too often) and IF Governor Abbott was in town and IF he had a moment in his busy schedule for me to stop by for a photo with him, could we please make that happen?
Katie, his Mansion staff representative, graciously agreed.
Almost a year and half later, all those IFs came together and that meeting finally took place on Valentine’s Day.
When my sweet husband, Shep (he’s a people shepherd), and I arrived for our appointment, we learned Governor Abbott was in a long meeting working on a transportation bill. Instead of seating us in the hallway outside his office, a staff member ushered us to one of the beautiful front parlors.
As we waited, we looked around at the amazing memorabilia in the room- artwork and artifacts telling the story of the great state of Texas.
That’s when Irma (of the hospitality staff) brought us water and warm cookies. We were drinking our water out of the crystal stemware and using little white napkins embossed with the gold governor’s seal.
By that time, we were feeling pretty fancy- kind of like royalty or something.
(Since I’ve never been royalty, I’m only guessing here.)
Marcus, Governor Abbott’s official photographer, came in and visited with us for over an hour as we waited. Since my dad had been a professional photographer, we had a great conversation about “photographer life.” Marcus was delightful!
The Governor had another meeting after ours with a group of people already assembling in another parlor across the foyer, so I figured our meeting would be a breeze in and breeze out photo op.
Boy, was I wrong.
Governor Abbott came in and was beyond gracious with us. I have long been inspired by his courageous story of overcoming a life altering accident plus his stellar leadership gifts.
Guess what? He was more amazing in person than I had imagined. (You can read about him here.)
He talked with us about the history of the mansion and the way the artifacts were safely in storage when a fire damaged much of the mansion while it was under restoration several years ago.
Side Note: The 2008 fire was what prompted me to paint the mansion watercolor he is using on his stationery. If you’re interested, you can read about the Governor’s Mansion fire and restoration here.)
One of my favorite moments of our little photo session was when Governor Abbott called out, “Pancake! Come Here!” and his beautiful dog came bounding into the room to join us in the picture!
I’ve never met a dog named “Pancake” before. 🙂
Chuck Swindoll says we are all just P.O.P. (plain old people) and that’s certainly true of Shep and me. We are not heads of state or financiers or people of great influence, yet, we were undeservedly treated like royalty that afternoon in Austin and I’ll never forget it.
When the time came for Marcus to take an official picture or two, I had this surreal moment of thinking, “I can’t believe the LORD has used my paintbrush to bring me to this place, to this special seat beside the Governor of Texas.”
I was once again reminded that the LORD is so GOOD! (Not to mention super creative.)
Keeping Perspective (here’s the Ephesians part…)
To keep all this in perspective, the same week of this meeting and photo shoot, I was studying about an even more special seat believers in Jesus possess.
I was preparing to teach a Bible study on Ephesians 2 where verses 6-7 say:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
As great as it was to sit beside the Governor of Texas for a few moments, it’s an even GREATER blessing for me to know of another seat I have.
It’s not temporary and fleeting. It’s permanent and powerful and cannot be taken away.
I’m talking about my seat in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. . .
Yep. I’m living here in Texas, yet seated there in heaven. This is true of all believers in Jesus! Isn’t that amazing?!?
What’s more, all it takes to be “seated high” there is faith.
Scripture tells us Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding on our behalf. In Christ, on a spiritual level and in a way I can hardly comprehend or explain, I’m right there with Him!
I thank God for the opportunity to sit in a special seat in a special room by a special person in Austin that day, but even more, I thank the LORD for seating all believers in the heavenly realm in Christ!
To God be the glory!
From now until September 15th, there’s an absolutely fabulous art exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth, TX featuring paintings from the Late Years of Claude Monet.
If you’re a big fan of impressionism (like I am), it’s worth a trip to Ft. Worth to see it!
It was fascinating to see how Monet’s painting style changed over time. It could have been due to his eyesight worsening or grief over the loss of his wife and son or the impact of the war on the world around him.
The exhibit was a beautiful reminder that life circumstances impact our art.
“And we know that all things work together for good
to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Hope you can make it to the exhibit!
I was absolutely floored to receive a request from the Texas Governor’s Office recently. The administrator of the Governor’s Mansion told me Governor Abbott wanted to use my watercolor of the Governor’s Mansion on their official stationery.
[Pick me up off the floor.]
Funny thing is I had painted this about 10 years ago and sent it to the Governor’s office as a gift when there was a fire at the Mansion. As the “first home of Texas”, it grieved me to know it has been so badly damaged. The Governor’s Mansion Restoration Fund used prints of my painting as a thank you gift for donors so I looked at this as a minuscule way I could help get our “first home” up and running again.
I had not thought about this painting for ages, when “BAM!” here came this email in my inbox from the Governor’s office. Then, “BAM!” I received a few copies of the notecards in this envelope my mailbox a few weeks later.
I give all glory to GOD for this opportunity. He is the one who has woven a love for art in me. He is the one who has surrounded me with family and friends and art patrons and followers/subscribers over the years to sustain and encourage me on my art journey.
This unexpected opportunity was like a hug from heaven. It’s as though the LORD whispered words, “I have not forgotten you, Debbie. Whenever the time is just right, I’ll can use the work of your hands to my glory…”
I’m so grateful that’s the kind of great, good God I serve and that today He is is able to call up for service something created 10 years ago.
Helping people capture life memories of home is one of the great joys in my life. 🙂
For me, home was where I first learned about the world. It was a safe cocoon where I was nurtured with generous love and good food by great people. Home set the stage for who I am today.
These are just a few my my latest projects. Please let me know if I could help you capture your life memory of home in watercolor. . . after all, there’s no place like home!
The Pondering Palette: How did your home shape you? Thank God for the blessing of your home.
If you’re a fan of finding bargains on the “clearance” aisle (like I am) there’s something you’ll discover on sale this time of the year that can boost your spiritual life. . . a blank 2018 calendar.
Since we’re a month into this year, lonely little leftover calendars that haven’t been purchased by now are often relegated to the bargain bin.
You can snag one and use it as a TGB Calendar.
What’s a TGB Calendar? You ask.
T is for THANKFUL
G is for GRATEFUL
B is for BLESSED
Use your blank calendar to write one sentence a day on one of these topics: “I’m THANKFUL for…” or “I’m GRATEFUL for. . .” or “I’m BLESSED because…”
One little sentence is all it takes.
I’m a serial start/stop journaler with a stack of half finished journals to show for it over the years. The idea of pausing to write a page or two can feel overwhelming, but I’m finding that, for me, one sentence is doable.
I’ve been writing my sentence a day this past month and it’s been amazing how this has helped me reset my mind on the beautiful blessings in my life. It’s been a real heart-lifter!
Have I missed a few days? Yes. When I do, I don’t beat myself up over it. I just get caught up as best I can and then press on.
I’ve always loved the Apostle Paul’s words about “pressing on” in Philippians 3:13-14
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I want to press into my future with the remembrance of all the reasons I have to be THANKFUL and GRATEFUL to God fresh on my mind. I want to remember my BLESSINGS instead of wallowing in self pity.
Is that your heart’s cry as well? If so, you might want to take a stroll down the clearance aisle, get a bargain calendar, and try keeping a little TGB calendar this year, too. I hope you’ll find a blessing in this little bargain. 🙂
PS If you start a TGB Calendar, I’d love to hear how this works out for you!
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. . .