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Telling the Story of His faithfulness

The Story ...beginnings


Most of my life has been framed by interaction with God's Word in Bible Study. In fact, that is the title often used when people gather together to learn more about this sacred text.

About ten years ago, I began to learn a bit about reading God's Word with a different focus.  This does not make the first one wrong, it simply has a different focus and process. The informational process works with facts, history, cross-references, and all the things brought together in our efforts to master the text. The formational process might focus on reading and rereading the text within the context of :

  • What phrase stands out to me in this reading?

  • How can a lesson here be applied to my life right now?

  • What is the Holy Spirit helping me to see in this reading?​

About 19 years ago, I began to take my own Bible for worship, rather than using the one provided in the pew. It was the place for sermon notes, prayer thoughts, and tracking what was happening "in my real life." I need the cognitive "head knowledge" approach in the study of God's Word. I also need the contemplative, meditative approach for God's Word to change my heart. As I have learned more about Bible marginalia, the mantra remains- it is the heart process that is the primary focus. As the margins fill this becomes a "visual faith” reminder of His grace.

— Connie Denninger

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In the fall of 2014, I stumbled across Illustrated Faith on Instagram. A whole world opened up as I realized there were “others” who also processed in their own Bibles this way. It finally made sense and it even had a proper name - Bible Marginalia. I began to explore the resources and moved with boldness with my first Journaling Bible. This story and resource was something I had to share with everyone, but I still needed an “official endorsement”.

Connie Denninger's Bible


"Rev. John Saleska, whom God adopted as his own beloved child at his Baptism, now rests with Jesus. John and his faithful wife of 63 years Sallie, had 4 children, 13 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren! He taught the Scriptures to countless people—the calling he loved the most. He will be remembered for his unbelievable ability to memorize and recite passages of Scripture."

Adapted from info from the Saleska family. Photo credit to - Jeffrey Phelps.

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The Bible of Rev. John Saleska - photo credit - the Saleska Family

His Bible tells the STORY of a lifetime of BEING PRESENT in God's Word.

This King James Version Bible of Dr. Saleska was a gift from his father in 1949 when he graduated from St. Paul's Jr. College in Concordia, Missouri.

This is the photo that I saw in a church publication right when I first heard about Bible Journaling. A man with his well-loved Bible, full of notes in the margins and highlighted passages everywhere. His well-loved and well-used Bible shows a long history of Bible Journaling! This is the photo that "gave me permission" to explore more things about Bible Journaling and for that, I am forever grateful. The journey continued as others were gathered and blessed with the many practices of connecting with visual faith tools. In the fall of 2017 - Visual Faith® Ministry was Co-Founded with Patricia Maier.

About Us

Visual Faith® Ministry is the endeavor of Connie Denninger and Pat Maier to create an online collaborative center that brings together free visual faith tools and resources with practitioners discipled as coaches for others.  The Visual Faith® Ministry Facebook community gathers people in community and encourages the sharing of materials and resources in the FILES section in the Facebook group. They enjoy leading retreats, workshops, and participating in many places of encouragement for Visual Faith® Ministry practitioners. The expanding creative endeavors continue to ignite their passion to lift up, connect, and equip laypeople and professional church workers to serve using visual faith processes.

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Pat Maier

Artist. Teacher. Visual Faith Coach. Friend. Uses God’s Word as inspiration for creative writing and drawing to cultivate understanding, hope, and joy in faith living. Loves nature, gardening, rocks, Montana, Michigan, and Family! Encourager to husband David - President of the Michigan District, LCMS, 4 children, 3 kids-in-love, and six grandchildren.

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Connie Denninger

Family Life Educator. Spiritual Formation researcher.  Blogs at Vintage Grace. Gardener. Visual Faith Coach learning to be a Digital Missioner. Loves the sacred space of home. Seeks to live life as prayer. Encourager to husband John, serving as the Southeastern District, LCMS President, and three daughters with super spouses. She delights being Gigi to eight grandsons, and two granddaughters.

Linda brings her long-time love for graphic design to Visual Faith® Ministry. Her 20 years of experience in layout and design combine with her heart to share visual faith with many others and the opportunity to serve God in this way. She serves with a meticulous eye and the skills to offer the very best resources in our ever-expanding library, as well as publish our monthly newsletter. Linda is a blessed child of God, wife, and mother to 5. Her other passions include singing praises to God and spending time with her family.


Linda Ekong
Resource &
Communications Manager


Diane Marra
Webmaster, Brand &
Social Media Manager

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Carolyn Bira

Carolyn Bira is a Lifelong Christ Follower
Wife to Cliff for 42 years
Mother to 2 daughters
Grandmother to 5 grandchildren
Retired Director of Christian Education which she served as for 40 years.
Author, writer, reader, computer game player. Author of VFM's first Bible Study Book "The God of Change:  Moses's Journey of Transformation." 

Member Creative Team - Prayer


Valerie Matyas

Valerie is a Visual Faith® Ministry Classroom Coach joining a love for all things visual faith with the heart passion of an educator to forge new pathways into schools and congregational life. Valerie is passionate about Parochial Education as well as supporting and encouraging professional church workers and laity in their personal devotional and prayer lives. She seeks to encourage God's people, of all ages, to literally draw closer to Him through creative reflection and loves to develop tools to open these faith-sharing doors for her family and others. Valerie has an MS Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University and is currently teaching 7/8th grade at Immanuel Lutheran School in Frankentrost, MI.

Diane devotes her creative and imaginative skills and talents to the collaborative learning community of Visual Faith® Ministry by designing, creating, and maintaining the Visual Faith® website. All of her graphic creativity is about bringing glory to God in the graphic designs for Visual Faith® Ministry. Diane is the videographer, faithart creator, and Social Media manager for VFM.  She is a mixed-media faithartist, teacher, project manager, and lifelong art student. She is active in her local community as a bible study leader, and mentor.


Dionne Lovstad-Jones

Serving Visual Faith as the development vision team member, in her professional vocation Dionne Lovstad-Jones serves as the gift planning counselor for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Foundation in Northern Illinois. She earned her bachelor's degree in parks and recreation and tourism from the University of Missouri and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Having spent extensive time in both hospitality and fundraising fields, Dionne understands thoroughly the joy that comes from giving and the giving of ourselves through radical hospitality. She resides in small-town Indiana with her husband Howard where they can often be seen hanging out in the backyard gazebo with friends and neighbors.

Creative Design Team

Denise has always loved color and has found many ways to express this love over her lifetime. ln her earlier years, she loved needlework, quilting, and scrapbooking. Then after homeschooling her 6 children for close to 20 years, Denise found her love for art journaling. Presently, she enjoys bible journaling, teaching art classes, trying new art techniques, and digging into God’s word daily. Denise has been married over 30 years, accepted Christ into her life during her teens, and has been involved in many churches (women's and children's ministry). After living at over 30 different addresses now lives in FL, and most importantly loves being Grammie to her 3 grandchildren.

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Denise Miller


Jenny Long

Lifelong habits of journaling and scrapbooking have chronicled Jenny's story of numerous cross-country relocations, the adoptions of her three daughters, and - most importantly - her daily walk with Jesus. As a retired elementary teacher, Jenny now enjoys facilitating VFM workshops, adult Bible studies, women's retreats, and family ministry events. Currently, she resides in Nebraska, where she and her husband are slowly adjusting to an "empty nest" lifestyle.

Eden started incorporating visual faith elements into her daily faith walk in 2015. It enhances her time spent in the Word and prayer and has opened up new opportunities to facilitate retreats and events. In the past couple of years, she has experimented with more faith art projects and cherishes the ability to share her journey with family, friends, and on social media. Eden is very involved in LWML - Lutheran Women in Mission, and currently serves on the Official Publication Staff.  She lives in Kansas with her husband, close to kids and grandsons, and she loves tea!

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Eden Keefe

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Jamee Thieme

Jamee was introduced to visual faith practices through Connie Denninger in 2016 at a spiritual retreat focused on Counting gifts and gratitude journaling. The visual faith practices that speak to her heart include gratitude journaling, daily devotional journaling and church season journaling for Advent & Lent. As a Visual Faith coach, she enjoys introducing others to visual prayer practices especially through prayer cards and prayer journaling. In addition she  likes to encourage others by sharing VFM resources in a variety of small group settings. Jamee is a retired elementary educator living in North Carolina and enjoys international travel, having traveled to 5 continents and almost 30 countries!

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Social Media Team

Emily is an avid writer and blogger, who is passionate about sharing stories and experiences that provide opportunities for interaction, growth, and deepening faith in Jesus. She considers herself to be a digital missioner, as she shares her visual faith practices via her blog and social media channels. Emily serves as New Programming Coordinator for KINDLE Servant Leaders. Emily resides in Baltimore, MD, with her husband, Jack. 


Emily Phoenix

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Bev Wicher

Bev is a pastor’s wife and mother of three grown boys, and two grandsons, living in the

Buffalo NY area. Since being introduced to Visual Faith® she has embraced it as a way to better connect to God’s word and enhance her prayer life. Bev is always wanting to share visual faith practices with anyone who will listen. What is especially meaningful for Bev is that each visual faith activity she does creates a memory for the future. The visual faith practices that she finds most meaningful are gratitude/visual prayer journals, prayer cards, Lent, Advent, and monthly calendar journals.

Susan has been a Lutheran all of her life. Her grandpa was a Lutheran Pastor.  She has always thought the Bible was something to be worshiped and holy. It was so hard for her to write in her Bible but she has always been a note-taker and would write all over her bulletin. The words in the Bible that God gave the prophets and apostles tell us everything we need to know about how to live our lives. We just need to find them by reading, listening, and studying. Visual Faith® Ministry has given her many tools to help her understand and share God’s word. Practicing Visual Faith® made her slow down and read with purpose. VFM has opened her to many new ways to share and she realized it is okay to write, color, and draw in her Bible. God wants each of us to learn all we can and follow Him and use all the tools we have so we can remember and share His word.


Susan Harman


Valarie Messerschmidt

Valarie has been married to Steve for 37 years and they have 3 adult children. She has been a member of Concordia for approximately 30 years. For the past 17 years, Valarie has been a special education assistant.  Visual Faith® resources have been a healing practice for her. She regularly shares her faithart on FB. 

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The Visual Faith® Ministry Care & Keeping Team has blessed our ministry by joining us as prayer partners. Some have watched the growth and development of Visual Faith practices for over 20 years. All are committed to cover the events, coaches, and travels of the leaders as they seek to bring these practices to others. They also seek the Lord’s face for the future of Visual Faith® Ministry and to help us to go - “where the Holy Spirit is already working.”

Picture: Bev Wicher, Diane Marra, Pamm Haley, Karen Field, Jenny Long, Carolyn Bira, Dionne Lovstad-Jones, Denise Miller.


Additional people who pray for VFM: Anne Westphal, Susan Theiss, Lois Giordano, Rev. Todd Jones, Susan Jones, Rev. Art Umbach.

Prayer needs may be sent to:

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  • the Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ.

  • The Bible is the complete revelation of His will for salvation and the only unfailing rule of faith and practice for the Christian life.

  • in one God, Creator of all things, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that these three are co-eternal and of equal dignity and power.

  • in the deity of Jesus Christ; His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit; His virgin birth; His sinless life; His substitutionary death on a cross; His bodily resurrection; His ascension to the right hand of the Father; and His personal, imminent return.

  • that man was created by and for God; that by man's disobeying God, every person incurred spiritual death, which is separation from God, and physical death as a consequence; and that all people are sinners by nature and practice. God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.

  • the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and that all who believe in Him are declared righteous because of His sacrificial death and are, therefore, in the right relationship with God. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.

  • in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God's Word and Sacraments, indwelling all believers and thus enabling and empowering the life and ministry of the believer.

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