When I was about 5 years old, my daddy snapped this photo as I played Bible study at the kitchen table. (Apparently, right after a hair washing!)
It took my breath away when I stumbled across the picture a few years into my ministry because it was a visible reminder that my love of the LORD and His word started way back when I was a little girl.
Even though I was clueless about God’s plans for me at the time, as an adult I could look back and see how He placed a love for the Bible inside of me– not just for my own personal growth– to prepare me to be a “Bible encourager” to others.
Another love the LORD wove into me as a little kid involved art.
As a third-grader, my parents let me take summer watercolor lessons from Jean Richardson, a friend from our church who was a fabulous artist. I still remember riding in Jean’s Volkswagen Beetle to Eastwood Park to paint “Plein air” (i.e. outside). I painted a watercolor of the Mari-Mar Florist building.
Jean showed me how to make the building look like it had bricks on the side and helped me learn a little about perspective drawing. That fall, my painting won first place in the children’s division of the West Alabama Fair.
Today, I sign all my paintings “Debbie Hannah Skinner” in honor of my parents. That’s because they were so gracious to recognize my artistic bent and make sacrifices to invest in art lessons to encourage my growth as an artist. I don’t know where I would be today if that early investment had never taken place.
One other love I had as a child was pretending to teach. My “classroom” was in the bathroom. With a vivid little girl’s imagination, I’d use a bar of soap as chalk, a tile wall as my chalkboard, and a great big ol’ bathroom mirror to watch myself teach. I could spend hours in there “teaching” my imaginary class. (Typically, when I should have been doing chores.)
Daddy used to knock on the bathroom door and yell, “Girl, who are you talkin’ to in there?” Little did he know it was my “class” and I was practicing for my future work as a teacher!
My journey into public speaking has been long and winding, taking 30 years for my love of the Bible, art, and teaching to come together into the shape of a ministry. It was all woven together in the LORD’s flawless timing.
Fourteen years of that time were spent hardly painting at all while practicing my teaching skills in a public school classroom, primarily as a home economics teacher. Many hours were spent huddled around a Bible in small group study. Yet I am convinced that every single moment was in preparation for the work I’m doing today, using art to teach the Bible.
One of my greatest life surprises came about six years into ministry. That’s when the LORD helped me see He had given me the ability to paint on stage while I was teaching from Scripture. Boy, was I shocked to learn that!
Bible + Art + Teaching
It absolutely amazes me to see how God took my little girl’s dreams and interests in Bible, art, and teaching and creatively wove these things into His greater purpose: to point women to Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:24 says Jesus is “the wisdom of God.” My work with Wisdom In Watercolor is all about communicating Him- the very wisdom of God- to people around the world.
As I travel, speak, and paint around the world, it’s an absolute joy for me to meet and encourage creative Christian women in the process. Some have been using their creative gifts for years. Others are using theirs again for the first time in a long time or wanting whispered encouragement to do so. Could one of them be you?
He can use your gifts for His glory. I hope my simple story encourages you to pick up a paintbrush and give it a try. -Debbie