Because our blog is so random, I was searching for random acts of kindness from our blog’s FB friends. I posted this request: “Has anyone experienced a random act of kindness from a writer?” I thought it would be a great way to share positive “writer” stories with you.
No one responded to my request except for my friend, Jeannette Watt. She said, “I have a story about a random act of kindness from an artist. Will that work?”
I love her positive, motivational stories, so I encouraged Jeannette to send me hers even though it didn’t fit my request. But after reading the story, I decided to publish it because it’s a great story.
I met Jeannette at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference several years ago and have been blessed by her encouragement and strong faith. She has a positive, spiritual energy unlike anyone else I know. She’s not only a writer she’s an artist, too.
Her book, Out of Egypt, His Children Come, will be available from OAK TARA Publishing soon.
Here’s Jeannette’s story:
Early in the summer of 1999, I began to write and draw for the first time in almost a decade… after putting away my girlish dreams to raise children. The first tale God laid on my heart was a story called The Hall of Sorrows.
During a brief period of research on art and children’s stories, I learned about a man named Bob Timberlake, a famous artist who just happened to live one town over from my new location. I read about him, and as I did, I heard the Lord say I would meet Bob one day. I took God at His word, and went home excited.
Each time I told people over the next seven years, they would laugh. They were better artists, and artisans, and could not get an appointment with the man, what made me special? I knew in my heart that not only would I meet him, he would help me somehow.
In 2004, I bought a cottage on the same road Bob’s studio is located. In 2006, the Hall of Sorrows came out in print. That same month, as I was driving my mother’s old beat-up Ford pick-up truck home from helping at the church, God told me to turn right off the exit ramp instead of left to go home. I was obedient. I asked Him where He wanted me to go.
He said, “Turn left here.”
I looked up and saw the sign for Timberlake Gallery in Lexington, N.C. I swallowed hard. I had known for seven years, but never felt led to go into that giant place.
To buy this print at Bob Timberlake’s site click HERE.
I parked in the pea gravel drive in my dirty work clothes, no make-up, and my hair a fright. I put on my “big girl boots” and I walked into that fancy gallery anyway, sweat and all.
The older woman at the counter said to me, “Can I help you?”
“Yes, I need an appointment with Bob Timberlake.” It came out of me, just like that.
The younger girl behind the counter looked away and laughed.
The woman at the desk said, “Honey, he doesn’t take appointments. What did you need?”
I told her God spoke to me in 1999 while writing a book that I would meet Bob Timberlake. I explained how the book had just come into print, and as I began to turn left off I-85 to go home, the Lord told me to turn right instead.
Her jaw dropped.
“Honey,” she whispered, “open house is this Saturday at ten a.m. and there are only five hundred tickets to meet him. You get here bright and early so you can come in and talk to him.”
She winked at me. I smiled and I thanked her, and headed out the door.
My head began to spin. I had no portfolio. I had no professional clothes. All I had to drive that Saturday was my mother’s old pick-up. What would I take him? What would I do?
“Give him one of your books.” God spoke to my heart.
Oh wow- but God, the story is not perfect, and the illustrations were not edited correctly… all sorts of thoughts raced about how inadequate my offering was. All sorts of lies.
I gathered up the courage Saturday morning (in my brand new pink summer dress) and I was at the gallery by eight o’clock. I walked straight in the second the doors unlocked, and received a ticket numbered in the late forties. I went back outside with my book in hand and sat down next to a man carving ducks. That was when I realized I probably was not there to pitch my story.
The Hall of Sorrows was a fairy tale, his works and all his artisans seemed to be real folk. Even my dress was hippie chic, I thought. Once again, God put me in a place where I did not fit in.
About the time I wondered my reason for being there, the duck carver looked up and said, “What brings you here?”
I told him the same story I told the woman a few days earlier. He made polite response and went back to his work for a moment; and went inside. Later, as I stood in line behind more than forty other families, a man came to ask me if I was Jeannette Watt. How did he know who I was? Who was that man? Maybe he was security and somebody thought I was stalking or something…
“Yes, sir, I am Jeannette Watt.”
“Mr. Timberlake would like to see you now.”
Forty families or more stared at me, as well as the girl behind the counter. My knees felt unsteady, and my heart raced. Tears welled up in my eyes. I could feel the heat rise in my cheeks. I calmed myself as his friend told me everything would be fine, and I followed him back to a break room. There stood Bob Timberlake right in front of me.
I handed him the book and asked him to forgive me for the tears.
“Honey, I am just a man. I am nobody special.” he said.
“Oh, no, that’s not it. I mean, I love your work, but God told me years ago this day would come, and everybody laughed at me.”
He smiled and asked me to sit down.
For almost an hour, Bob Timberlake and I sat together, having a conversation just as if we were old school chums. I learned that day he taught Prince Charles to paint. That was when I began to ask God how I had such favor to be in the same room, at the request of someone so famous?
Mr. Timberlake asked what brought me to him, as he probably could not sell my style book in his store. I told him I had no idea why I was there, except maybe to pray for him.
“Oh please do,” he laughed, “I am always getting myself into trouble.”
He and I talked for a little while longer, of how I was about to move to Virginia to begin arts ministry, etc. Then he said he had five hundred other people waiting to meet him outside, and he did not want to appear rude.
He took my book, told me if I ever needed anything to let him know, and offered a small bit of advice. He asked me not to become famous until after my children were grown because his children and grandchildren are the reason he lives, and he would not have missed that for the world.
I took the advice Bob Timberlake offered, and I did not pursue publication any further. I even stopped marketing the book already in print. I waited until my children were almost grown to begin my dream whole-heartedly, and because of my commitment to my first ministry (my family) God showed me favor at the first writer’s conference I ever attended. I found a publisher for my second book.
If I could offer a bit of advice to my readers it would be this, listen to the Lord first. Go where He tells you. Do as He says. Not man. One never knows where obedience will lead. In my case, it was in the audience of a man who sells his work all over the world.
Has God ever asked you to do something that led you in a different direction?