Watercolor Memories

Sep 1, 2021 | 6 comments

-written by LEAD’s Interim Director of Communications, Vonda Drees

Our hearts at LEAD ache with the suffering of our neighbors and our world. We trust in the healing work already underway and listen for the work being asked of us. Even as the serious storms press in, we pray there is time for you to slow down, to give yourself to the practices that remind you of God’s faithful presence and action in your life. 


Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic tells a story about a book idea she had, then lost because she didn’t act on it.

For me, ideas often come in the form of “What if” questions, gentle, yet packed with potential. Similar to Elizabeth’s story, when my ideas get no action, they have no traction. I’m guessing Elizabeth and I are not the only ones.

Last month my husband and I were preparing for a two-week RV journey from Texas to Maine, and back. I asked myself, “What if I painted an image from every place we stayed?” We had planned to stay at 12 different state parks, a national park and a national seashore.

What I know about myself is that I do well with a creative discipline. I like structure and routine. On days I don’t feel like painting, I count on the practice’s rhythm to keep me in step. Perhaps you’ve experienced this too.

Another thing I know is that when I engage creatively with my surroundings, I see differently and I remember more deeply.

As I look back through my journal, those slowed-down moments have become part of me. I remember how sweet it was to see our RV tucked among the trees of our first campsite. I remember the peacefulness of Shenandoah and the surprise of turning the corner and finding a wild pony in my path on Assateague Island.

Can the fullness of my life be measured by the moments I dip my paintbrush into the wellsprings of presence? Now that’s a question I am content to sit with, as the gifts of my watercolor memories open me to their magic.

How do you measure the fullness of your life? Feel free to leave a comment below or email me here. I’d love to hear your stories.


  1. Diane Harpster

    Love seeing you here, Vonda, and your watercolor artwork! You comments resonate with me too. In the action of creating art, I can slow down and notice what is within and around me. That creative discipline helps me become present to myself and to God.

    • vonda@leadconnects.org

      I am so grateful to witness your creative journey, Diane! Visiting your FB page brings me such a sense of delight and calm.

  2. Mary McLeod

    I do resonate with your creative discipline of structure and routine Vonda. With our year long help with childcare, I lost my creative discipline. The last couple of days I have begun to make daily lists of what I want to accomplish. I used to do this and it feels good to return to this practice. I have carved out a good amount of studio time and this feels so good.

    • vonda@leadconnects.org

      Hi, Mary! I have such deep respect for your creativity and your commitment to family. It is grace that picks us up and gets us back to the easel with paintbrush in hand, isn’t it? I recall someone telling me that Rich used to say the best time to start a painting was before you finished your last one. 🙂 Anyway, I am so glad you’re back at it and look forward to seeing what comes!

    • Rose Vuori Applegate

      Since I’ve been quarantined on the farm. Farm has filled my life. Finally I’ve returned to water color and spinning wool. Now to weave. My camera on my phone has been my visual life! With it along I look and find my day. Rose

      • vonda@leadconnects.org

        Hi, Rose! I can see the fullness of life coming through the words and images you share from your farm. From your morning walks to the chores you describe, there is a rich contentedness. I hope to catch some images of your weaving and watercolor, too!


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