It was time.
Time to turn the page, ending the chapter of my career as a financial assistant to begin the next chapter of my life—retirement. Retiring was not easy. Like so many others, I struggled with what to do with my time. For years my hands typed, shuffled papers, receipts, columns, and ledgers to produce good work, and now my hands ached for something to do. My heart ached for purpose. So, I prayed and begged God to give me something I would enjoy. Something He could use for His glory.
The summer after I retired, I attended an art class spotlighting acrylic painting. I never painted before, but my project seemed to turn out so well that everyone in the class thought I had been painting for years. I did some research and discovered that acrylics could be quite messy and required space to dry—neither of which I could deal with. I continued my research and stumbled onto watercolor. It dries quickly and cleans up with water! Now this seemed more my style.
The following fall, my husband Bruce left on a mission trip to Greece and would be gone for several weeks. I thought this might be the perfect time to try my hand with watercolor. I began watching tutorials on YouTube. The only room in my house I found to set up in with enough light was my master bathroom. I hauled in a table and hooked up my computer to begin my new adventure.
Over the next several weeks I learned a lot. I fell in love with the artform of watercolor. Though I made many mistakes and wasted lots of paper, I was excited. I continued to paint, putting water and pigment to the paper, and logging my brush miles. Every day was filled with joy as I practiced in my “studio” bathroom.
Then Christmas rolled around. My husband and family surprised me with a new desk, a new space, paper, paint, and brushes. I felt so encouraged and loved. God had uncovered a gift I didn’t even know I had and was nudging me to keep going. I continued painting, watching tutorials, and spending time with a local artist friend who showered me with more encouragement. From what I saw as failed attempts lying around, I began creating bookmarks. God opened a door to share them at a women’s ministry springtime brunch. Everyone loved them. Again, wonderful encouragement and affirmation.
I began painting cards to encourage others. (Who doesn’t like to receive a card via snail mail?) Out of the excitement of making the cards and the joy of those receiving them, another ministry opportunity arrived within my own church. A team of women decided to come together to write notes of encouragement on my hand-painted cards and distribute them to women caught up in the sex industry. God’s infinite imagination in how He chooses to use the creativity He’s woven into us continues to blow me away. Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (NKJV).
As I continue to paint with the beauty of watercolors, I’m emboldened to share how God heard my cry. I’m overjoyed and so grateful for this new thing He’s doing, prepared for me before time began, to bring Him glory in this season of life.
Carolyn is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a retired financial assistant. She uses her gifting through watercolors to minister encouragement to others.