We all have a story, don’t we? Where we’ve been. What we’ve done. The adventures we lived and the people we’ve met along our journey. It is our stories that connect us to one another… and connect us to God… to His story… a story of creation, grace, redemption, and restoration.
And I believe that God is continually in the process of writing our stories… working all things together for good… our past, our present, and our future as we walk with Him through this messy, sometimes painful… sometimes joyful, place we call life.
I’ve always believed that we are all connected in some way and if we had the chance to visit for a bit… and share we would find we have some things in common… maybe it’s places we’ve been, similar experiences we’ve had, or people we’ve known. As you allow me to share bits of my story with you, it will be interesting to see what things you discover that we share in common. Hopefully, you will discover that I really am just an ordinary sorta woman… a whole lot like you… but an ordinary woman who belongs to an extraordinary sorta God and wherever there is good… He gets all the glory!
IN THE BEGINNING
I was born in Hannibal, Missouri, (yes – the home of Mark Twain and the “show me” state!) but grew up just a few miles away in Quincy, Illinois. I loved to draw as a little girl and more then once, was caught doodling when I should have been doing something “more important!” I always wanted to be an artist when I grew up and even had the opportunity to study graphic art at Southern Illinois University fully paid… which is a whole other story… but just weeks before I was to leave for school, I fell in love and, with little hesitation, changed my plans from being an artist, to being a wife and mom.
Michael and I were married in 1970 and a year and a half later I gave birth to our only child, Michelle. In 1972 we moved from Illinois to the White Salmon, WA area and I got my first taste of country living. I loved it!! It was during the next ten years that I developed my passion for gardening, canning, sewing, and crafting – the creative avenues which helped me express my own personality and my love for my home, family, and friends.
SALVATION & ADVENTURE
It was also during this time, in 1980, when I first met and came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior, Lord and Very Best Friend. Little did I realize then that knowing Jesus would be such an adventure! And little did I know that country living was actually preparing this city girl… physically, mentally, and spiritually… for the next big move . . . north to Alaska! Oh my… do I have some stories to share from that era of my life! Our four years in Sutton, AK filled our hearts with a treasury of great memories and testimonies of God’s amazing faithfulness. From Alaska we moved back to Underwood, WA to be close to my mom-in-love but one year later my husband’s work took us to the city… to Vancouver, WA USA.
For six long years I set my heart against living in the city and kept waiting for Michael to come home and say we were moving again. But the day came where God spoke clearly to my heart and told me that he had planted me in this city for a purpose and I would never see His plan fulfilled until I surrendered to His will. Waving that white surrender flag in my heart to God that day was a life-changing moment that would alter the rest of my days. I can still remember crying out to the Lord and saying, “Lord, just take my life and do with it what you want… even if it hurts! I just want to be the woman you designed me to be!” And I meant it with everything in me!
FIRST PAINTING & HOME PARTIES
Up until then, I had never painted a picture, never written anything that even resembled a story and, being a mouse-in-the corner kinda woman, I had definitely never spoken in front of a group of any size!
Shortly after that… at 40 years old… I painted my first picture. Seriously, prior to that every time I played with color it all turned to mud! Six months later I had painted six pen and ink and watercolor paintings that included a scripture and were filled with spiritual symbolism through different elements in the paintings… and it was with much fear and trembling that I started my own home party business selling my matted and framed prints! But it was so much more than a business as I had the opportunity to share the Word of God in a comfortable and encouraging way with a roomful of women in a home setting.
BOOKS, BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS
Four years later, God used those paintings to introduce me to Jack and Marsha Countryman and at that time, Jack was the J. in J. Countryman Publishing… a division of Thomas Nelson. Six weeks after our initial God appointed meeting, Jack flew me to Nashville, TN where I signed a contract for my first three books! Totally a God story!
Since then, I have written and illustrated sixteen books, but honestly, being a writer was never part of my plan for my life. And even though I wanted to be an artist when I was a little girl, I would have never imagined creating art and illustrating books that would bring such glory to God and blessing to others!
AND THE STORY CONTINUES…
Over the years, art-based gift books gone out of style… my paintings have moved from pen and ink watercolors in country colors to a more fun, whimsical style in acrylics and mixed media.
In 2014 God prompted me to use my pen and ink style to create my first adult coloring book which I self-published before the they became the craze… so like God! And my introduction to Bible journaling in January 2015 has opened yet another new avenue for me to create and craft images and words with a longing to bless and encourage other women in their walk with God.
YOUR STORY… MY STORY… THEY ARE ALL GOD’S STORY
We all have a God story… a tale of our travels through this world… a story that’s designed to bring God glory and be an encouragement to other sojourners along the way. I can only hope that something in my story has blessed and encouraged your heart today. And I hope that the story you’ve heard is not so much about me . . . as it is about God… and His amazing grace and faithfulness to seek and save the lost.