Many, who are drawn to Debi, discover they are seekers of the meaning of spirit or seekers who aren’t sure about God and Jesus. She also serves those who have left the church and may have Jesus confused with “church.” In addition, she listens to those who have a long-standing, ever evolving relationship with the Lord, who said yes to Jesus and have grown up in the faith and grown into their own. She welcomes people who don’t believe at all, but still have questions about faith and God. Debi often uses humor in partnership with her depth of faith to encourage and support those who identify their faith in terms not found in a seminary. If you have ever felt judged by the church or “Christians” and are hesitant to have a relationship with organized religion, Debi may be a great fit for you as your Spiritual Director. 

The More of Practicing
Spiritual Direction with the arts.

My journey to becoming a spiritual Director has been blessed with many surprises.  To sum it up. Many of my gifts that I had taken for granted had seemingly been overlooked by teachers, family and even myself.  A self-educated pianist, a natural ear for music and love of art were just side benefits to my gift of leadership and encouragement.  Once I started seeing a gifted Spiritual Director, I knew that the call to ministry I had felt all my life was going to happen in the Spiritual Direction realm.  After receiving my Spiritual Direction Training, I jumped into an extra year of training to become a Group Spiritual Director.  What a great fit.  But God wasn’t done with me yet.  God understands me so well, that He knew I listen and hear and teach with pictures and song and poetry and graphics.  He called me to the More and for one solid year led me in miraculous ways to accept all these gifts as a part of the plan to help others.  The Pentecost moment for me was hearing how the disciples were touched by the Holy Spirit to go out and teach the gospel in languages others can understand.  My language is sensory based.  I hear and see pictures when people talk.  I learn better when visuals and discussion is a part of the lesson.  These days our educational system is recognizing the different learning needs of our students. We can do more by teaching others how we learn ourselves.

The article of which I spoke earlier is long but so worth the read.  The following quotes in this article added to all the other confirmations, that my way of helping others seek God in their lives, was to minister with the gifts which God has equipped me.  It is a dream job when I practice with what I know and what I love.

“Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.”

“Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects.”

I see the second quote being just as valid for all the arts.  Art helps us sort our feelings and questions for God.  Most of the arts are meditative aids to deepening our understanding of what Holy Spirit is saying.  Practicing an art is inspiring.  I love walking seekers through meditations with art and music.  I love bringing joy to a roomful of Joy seekers who need to know that God wants them to be happy.

I hope you can take the time to read Professor Karl Paulnak’s *Welcome address to the freshman parents at Boston Conservatory or if not, bookmark this page and save it for later.  It is inspiring.

If this resonates with you, perhaps you can bring it to your Spiritual Director or find a local class that teaches contemplative art.

Watch here for announcements when my Spirit in the Arts Retreat Center opens after Covid issues are tamed.

Blessings on your journey,

* Welcome address to freshman parents at Boston Conservatory, given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Ithaca College.

“One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school-she said, "you're WASTING your SAT scores." On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.  Read more...

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Joy Retreats

Debi and her crew, "The SonnySide Gang" provide  light-hearted, joyful, Spirit-filled  weekend of song, comedy, laughter, spirt arts and fellowship that puts the word retreat back into your retreat.  This is not a working retreat, but a weekend of love and laughter.  Balanced with morning devotions and evening meditations, you will come to understand the importance of joy and laughter in your life.

Covid-19 has kept us from scheduling a retreat in 2020 and 2021.  You can find more information at www.sonnysidegang.com or email Debi at sonnysidejoygang@gmail.com. 

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Video Blog

Late in 2019, Debi was moved to create both a light-hearted and serious way of bringing people some respite from the on-going political and negative rhetoric of TV shows, news and blogs.  Inspired by many personal heroes, Erma Bombeck, Lucy, Marjorie Holmes, Carol Burnett, Peg Bracken and Mr. Rogers, Debi decided to combine those heroes with some of her personal heroes to create Nettie Fitzenpitley, a comedic minister with a flare for both the hilarious and the contemplative.  You can find Nettie's video blog at www.momentswithnettie and her weekly podcast at SermoNetties.


Spirit in the Arts Retreat Center

Spirit in the Arts Retreat Center, located on Devil's Lake, in Lincoln City, Oregon,  has been simmering on a back burner since its inception over 2 years ago, but is now open to vaccinated small groups.


As an artist and a Group Spiritual Director, Debi leads small groups in contemplative reflection using all sorts of art expressions and facilitates meditations by providing art projects, prayer and music in 2 day weekend retreats or 1/2 day and full day workshops.

Covid-19 has kept us from providing any retreats during 2020 and 2021.until now.  Go to www.spiritinthearts.com to find out more information.