Your Story - Deb Smith
Building community is more than bricks and sticks. It is sharing stories. This is the beginning of what hopefully is an ongoing series exploring your stories.
To begin, I interviewed someone who doesn't like to talk about herself but felt compelled because I insisted. My wife, Deb.
Deb Smith is the most kind spirited warrior you may ever meet.
Having grown up in this congregation, her path to becoming a warrior was subtle and gradual and, she would admit, rather surprising. More than a warrior, she is the daughter of Homer and Verda Geib, the wife of Dean Smith, and the mother of Jordan and Lauren (married to Joe Hurst). She is also a mocha brownie milkshake craving, plant-loving watercolor artist who loves to make spinach yogurt fruit smoothies. And that whole warrior thing? It came from anxiety.
“I always liked the verse in Philippians (4:6) where it says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests before God.’ If you are anxious about anything you are supposed to pray, so I ended up praying about everything.” As he answered her prayers, and as she heard of answers being given to others, her boldness grew and her faith increased. Prayer became part of the very fabric of her life.
Deb’s career path as an artist, as you can imagine, was also bathed in constant prayer. Her ability to draw was something she was aware of from an early age, “but I never saw it as an avenue I could take.” With encouragement from her husband, she began watercolor lessons just after getting married in 1986. Soon after that, she and Dean spent many summer weekends at art shows, selling her original paintings and reproductions, even with two small children in tow. In 2008, after prayer and feeling a distinct leading from the Holy Spirit to honor the Sabbath, Deb made the decision to discontinue Sunday sales. This meant that almost all art shows were no longer an option.
This felt like a time of pruning: a desert experience.
It has only been in the past year or so that Deb feels she is coming out of that time of waiting. She is excited about the painting process again and feels her style transforming as well. She has been enjoying trying new techniques, loosening up her style, and taking more risks, moving from a very detailed style to a free-flowing, more dynamic expression.
Deb is always looking for transformation and revival. Several years ago, she took what seemed to be an inconvenience and turned it into an opportunity. Because of Dean’s role at church, they often get to church fairly early. Faced with 45 minutes before Sunday School is supposed to start, Deb spends that time walking and praying her way around the facility. Why? “Because the church needs prayer” she smiles, “and I’m available.” Claiming Isaiah 43:18,19 as she walks,
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,"
her constant prayer is for revival - a new thing - here at Neffsville Mennonite Church.
The prayer walk covers all aspects of church life. Touching the wheelchairs at the entrance, she prays for healing for those who use them. She will pause and pray over the prayer shawls located in the foyer. In the sanctuary, the Holy Spirit is invited to touch the service, and any evil influences are confronted with the blood of Christ. The offices and meeting room are covered in a whispered prayer. Even the kitchen receives attention. Prayers for safety for those who work there as well as the relationships that are formed while preparing and serving a meal are sent heavenward. All classrooms, from the nursery to the far end of the second floor, are covered in prayer each Sunday morning.
The unnoticed areas of the church receive unique attention. The Resource Room, where all the supplies for Sunday School teachers are kept, is where she prays that Christ would supply our needs. The boiler room and electrical room are not missed. A hand is rested on the electrical panel boxes while asking for God’s power to be released in our congregation. When she shared that she stops at the water fountains and “pray(s) for more hunger and thirst after righteousness” it is said with a smile, as if she realizes that by now it might all sound a little crazy. “I know Satan tries to discourage me and tell me it doesn’t make a difference, but I’m believing otherwise.” That last was stated very calmly. Like a veteran warrior. A prayer warrior.
A life of prayer does not happen in a vacuum. The prayer group that meets every Wednesday evening is incredibly important. Hearing the stories of how God is moving in other people’s lives is very encouraging. Personal devotions are also important, and praying while working at her job at Ten Thousand Villages warehouse is a habit she formed instead of simply mindlessly filling orders.
“I’m not sure why I’m like this,” she chuckles. “Why do I pray so much?” she wonders, then answers her own question. “Because I feel like there’s power in prayer, and the Bible says there is, and I’ve seen things change through prayer.”
Stories. I don’t have room for the stories Deb has shared. You will have to ask her yourself. But now it’s your turn. I am in search of those who aren’t often heard but still have a story to tell. I’m fairly sure you won’t volunteer yourself (I wish you would!), so, what stories have you heard that would build up the body of Christ? Submit a name, a little bit about the story, and some contact information, and we will do our best to share it. Contact Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717.569.0012 x1