Debby received a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a certificate from the Institute of Theology, Imagination and the Arts at University of St Andrews, Scotland. She is the mother of three, grandmother of nine, and lives with her husband in Southwest Florida.
A little history...
1949 Born in small town in Northern Michigan, ice on nursery walls. Naps outdoors every day in pram.
1952 Moves to Ann Arbor. Sneaks out of house naked and pushes doll buggy through neighborhood.
1954-61 Attends Angell school but soon learns difference an extra “l” can make. Shows babysitters—with running commentary—content of every drawer and closet in house. Spends free time building forts in woods and creating fantasy world with dolls. Develops knack for jumping from rugs to bed to avoid alligators.
1961-64 Piano lessons, trampoline, horseback riding, junior theater, competitive swimming, water ballet, ballroom dancing, summer camps in Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont mean not much time at home.
1964-67 Tricked into thinking Massachusetts boarding school equals extended summer camp. Loves math, chemistry, physics; nearly flunks English. Learns guitar from girls in dorm; learns other things from boys across river.
1967-71 University. No rules. Colorado Outward Bound. Year in England: motorcycle, drug dealers, despair. Winds up at L’Abri study center on top of mountain in Switzerland. Finally sees the light. Shares new faith with old friend John.
1970-71 Studies Greek to retrain tripped-out brain. Starts sorting out behavior. Attends Urbana, hears John R. W. Stott, decides to study Bible.
1971-74 Back to Massachusetts for seminary. Marries John who decides not to be a monk after all. Transfers to his school in Illinois. Joins up with People’s Christian Coalition and helps launch Sojourners Magazine. Begins writing songs.
1974-84 Moves to Upper Peninsula of Michigan with other Coalition members to start first-century-type Christian community.
Common purse, bookstore, organic gardening, Bible study, creative worship, food coop, peace marches, guitar, guitar, guitar. Raises three children.
1984-88 Back to Ann Arbor. Runs home-based mail-order book service. More child raising, more guitar playing. Neighbors from hell teach true meaning of love your enemies and turn the other cheek.
1988-1990 Escapes to Northern California. Busy husband, busy household.
1990-1992 Escapes to New York. Busy husband, busy household.
1992-2003 Reluctantly returns to Michigan for long, dark, inner-journey. House overflows with teenagers. Church hopping, creative writing, singing out loud. Studies Bible through Precept Ministries, attends PRMI Dunamis courses, learns fervent prayer. First grandchild born in home. House empties.
2003-2012 Moves to artist-community/beach resort town, takes deep sigh of relief. Creative energy abounds. Five more grandchildren. Paints, studies, writes children’s book, produces DVD, finishes third novel, cuts down trees in woods, plants trees in woods, soaks in hot tub….
2012-2013 Moves to St Andrews, Scotland to study at the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s Divinity School at the University of St Andrews. (They like long names in the UK.) Realizes she is not only 40 years older than classmates, but has already decided her philosophy of life and wants to make the gospel simpler, not more complex. Instead of writing a dissertation, she studies and paints the Life of Abraham and has time to explore more of Scotland.
2013 Builds a labyrinth in the woods behind her house.
Builds 3-D diorama of sections of Mark’s Gospel with intergenerational Sunday School group at Church of the Servant, Grand Rapids, MI. Finishes book on visual Bible Study called And the Word Became Color.
2015 Begins painting whole chapters of the GOSPEL OF JOHN and discovers the benefits of meditating on God’s Word as she reads and rereads and paints.
2015-2017 Tidies up the three NOVELS that have been hovering in her files for years and publishes them through Amazon. HIDING is set in 2005 in a waning Christian community in northern Michigan and begins when a 16-year-old girl learns that her Dad isn’t her biological father. TRESPASSING takes place in 1947 when three diverse people are stranded in an old farmhouse for three days by a freak spring storm. There is almost a murder. SHE BELONGS TO ME is the thinly veiled story of Debby’s own journey to faith.
2016 Begins painting Visual Spiritual Memoir depicting scenes from her life, pre and post conversion, showing God’s protection, provision, direction, and instruction.
2017 Makes high quality giclee prints on stretched canvas, including smaller versions of huge paintings.
2018 Moves from Michigan to Southwest Florida where she sees dolphins and osprey and manatees from the screened lanai off her studio. Relinquishes domestic duties for painting and writing; trades winter winds for year-round bicycling.
2019 Completes Rescue: A Visual Memoir and begins painting a triptych of Isaiah. Teaches a dance form of Tai Chi to others aging gracefully. Teaches class on Essential Oils to the curious but not necessarily the committed. Gives book talk on Trespassing. Retirement community living provides many opportunities to share and teach.
2020 Covid-19 interrupts plans to teach Gospel of John from paintings so instead creates short music videos incorporating the text with the images. Teaches from painting of Isaiah to the camera in the television studio. Illustrates Jesus’ birth stories with watercolor, handwrites the text, and publishes a book: Jesus: The Christmas Story in Watercolor.
2021 Teaches writing class, “Diving for Pearls,” to encourage writers to go deep to find their nuggets of wisdom. Enters Isaiah painting in local Art Center competition and is stunned to win Best in Show. Accumulates embarrassingly large collection of jigsaw puzzles. Gives book talk on Hiding.
2022 Using The New Yorker covers featuring people of color, creates “dress” for Art Center show.
Fashions needle-felted fish into a mobile for another show.
Hosts family reunion to celebrate 50 years of marriage.
Attends even older reunion for founders of Sojourners Magazine.
June: experiences a 5-part vision and lays it out on canvas.
THEN on September 28 Hurricane Ian makes landfall near by. Images of the Gulf of Mexico look eerily like part 2 of the vision. Safely evacuates to Pensacola, FL and Fairfield, CT to stay with children for three weeks until water and power are restored. Decides to draw closer to God by spending the first part of every morning singing on the lanai.
2023 In response to the devastation and recovery from Ian, creates a 4′ hanging papier-mache whale, contemplating the experience of Jonah with Ian.
Creates quick studies of view from lanai:
Paints “Circle of Strength” depicting the core of the earth, the interdependence of trees, and the permanent story of redemption displayed in the constellations.
Wallpapers bathroom with Saul Steinberg New Yorker covers and glues cellophane to lanai window a la Matisse. (Whale hangs in background.) Enjoys the freedom of old age!