Michele was the featured artist in August for the Bible Journaling Jumpstart website. We share some of the post here with permission.
Educator and visual faith practitioner Elizabeth Valente describes for us the blessing of setting apart some vacation time for focused time in the Word …… we are grateful for her authentic and inspirational sharing!
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Like most educators, by the time May rolled around this year, I was ready for the end of another academic year. I was tired. I was weary. I still loved my middle schoolers, but we all were due for a break. I needed time to rest, renew, reflect, and reconnect.
Several years ago I discovered Bible journaling. I was intrigued - so I armed myself with a journaling Bible, some colored pencils, and an ever growing Pinterest board - and got to work. The perfectionist in me gave herself over to the experience, and I found myself interacting with scripture in a way I had never done before. I loved the fact that I was in The Word in a new and exciting way. I loved it so much that I brought it into my classroom, and weekly my students and I would take our morning religion time to read, reflect, write, and color in our Bibles. We all were using our Bibles in a new and unique way. It was beautiful to see. But....as this year progressed, my personal time journaling became less and less, pushed out by all the other things I “needed” to get done.
The week after school got out, I sat in my quiet classroom looking at the empty seats and decided it was time to return to The Word. I immediately thought of Nehemiah. I desperately needed to rebuild my walls. I needed to renew my commitment to God, and rediscover what His Word had to tell me. Deciding that the double whammy of Word and prayer was necessary, I downloaded some prayer sheets from the Visual Faith website and got to work.
Here’s what I learned:
Nehemiah is one of my new favorite people - Jerusalem was broken and destroyed. It was a shadow of what it had been, and when Nehemiah heard this, what did he do? He mourned. He grieved for what was done to God’s city, but then....then he got up and got to work. Never doubting God, he got the king to grant him permission to go rebuild the walls, and he even convinced the king to get his buddies to donate materials to do so.
When the time came, Nehemiah worked right along side the people, many times with a sword in one hand to fight the enemies that sought to stop them. He endured ridicule and conspiracies, all the while remaining faithful and strong in his convictions and God’s plan. He was generous with the people and made sure they were given what they needed for their bodies and their spirits. Oh - and he had no problem telling them when they’d messed up and to knock it off. In short, Nehemiah was pretty awesome.
I don’t need a study guide - One of my problems with maintaining a regular devotional life has been that I didn’t quite know what to “do” with the Bible. That sounds ridiculous, coming from a synodically trained teacher, but there it is. I felt I needed a devotional or study guide to dig deeper into scripture. After all, I’d heard all these stories before, what more could I learn on my own?
What I discovered was that I simply needed time to reflect, and the act of lettering and coloring gave me that time. I set myself the goal of reading a chapter each day and finding one sentence that spoke to me - one sentence that resonated. This was surprisingly easy to do. I discovered that this 21st century middle school teacher could relate to a 5th century BC cup bearer to a king. Just like Nehemiah, I need to be focused on the tasks God set before me, never doubting that He is in control and will bless the work I do. I too need strong hands, and a mind to work. I also need to be attentive to God’s Word and understand the work I accomplish is because our God is so very great. Over all of this, I should never forget that God is gracious, merciful, and abounding in love. These are the lessons God taught me as I pushed other distractions out of the way and gave Him my listening ear.
Prayer completed our exchange - Once I was finished in my Bible, I turned to my prayer page. By praying in color I was able to connect what I’d read to where I am. Much like the graphic organizers I use in my classroom, the sheets I used allowed me to focus what I’d read about and seek to apply it to my life. Right along with Nehemiah, I pleaded for God to hear me when I sang for joy and when I whispered His name. I prayed that He would strengthen me for the tasks He has called me to do, and I praised Him for His generosity and His omnipotence. Prayer is what solidified the timelessness and relevance of God’s Word.
I do have the time - As a woman who is a wife, a mother, and a full-time teacher, my time is not always my own. The excuse that I don’t have enough hours in my day, has been a favorite of mine for a while. Being on summer break removed that excuse, but I realized that no matter how busy my schedule is, “not having enough time” is a terribly flimsy defense. The time I’ve spent this summer wasn’t perfect; it wasn’t always uninterrupted time. There were moments when I’d put my headphones in to drown out the sounds of Peppa Pig or the five millionth repeat of “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. There were plenty of instances when my reflections were interrupted by my daughter, who needed a hug or my help with something she was focused on. Sometimes I didn’t journal in my Bible and pray in the same moments. And sometimes, I missed days all together. And that’s okay.
Despite all of that, God still richly blessed the time I did spend with Him. Before long, I found myself craving those moments, missing them when they didn’t happen. This is what, I believe, God truly wants from us in our quiet (and not so quiet) moments with Him. He wants us to hunger for what He has to share with us. He wants us to look forward to time with Him. He wants to shower us with His abundant love. As David so aptly described in Psalm 42, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” He wants to refresh us in ways we can’t even comprehend. For the first time, in a long time, I felt this thirst. It was marvelous.
For me, Bible journaling and praying in color has become a touchstone, a way to feed my need to be creative, while reflecting on God’s Word and His many, many blessings.
As summer quickly winds down, I am so thankful for the time I’ve gotten to be sill and remember that He is God. I will take the lessons I’ve learned from Nehemiah as I prepare for another school year and pray that God will continue to strengthen my hands for the good work He’s set before me.
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Elizabeth Valente is the 7/8th grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School in Jackson. She teaches and uses visual faith practices in her classroom - and even includes a journaling Bible on her school supply list each year! This summer, along with journaling in her Bible, she used the 12 Prayer Spaces resource created by Ruth Schian for visual prayer.
To use this resource for your own visual prayer time, find it on the Visual Faith Ministry website here:
Visual Faith Coach Carolyn Bira shares some snapshots of visual faith with her grandchildren, as well as an invitation to some new Bible study resources:
I had rather a stunning experience last Sunday during worship. The pastor was beginning his sermon in what was rather an unusual place. He was talking about shoes. I was with my grandsons, sitting in the back because, well, we’re Lutheran and that’s where Lutherans sit, right? The pastor was telling the congregation about an old spiritual that has the title of “All God’s Children Wear Shoes”. Apparently, in both America and ancient Rome, slaves were not given shoes. Only free people wore shoes. A slave, if fortunate enough to gain his freedom, would immediately find himself a pair of shoes. God’s people are free, so He provides them with shoes (metaphorically speaking, I guess).
As I was pondering this idea, which was new to me, Elijah, my 7-year-old grandson leans over and whispers, “But then there would be Moses, who had to take off his shoes to be in God’s presence.” Suddenly I had a new concept to swirl around in my brain. Eli, on the other hand, took out his bulletin and pencil and began to draw. I was reminded of Pat Maier who compiles these amazing “sermon notes” that are highly visual, perceptive, and worthy of envy.
Eli proceeds to draw a picture of God from the knees down, and he’s wearing shoes. In his picture, Eli’s shoe is off. But then, as if he knew where the sermon was headed, he adds a drawing, now on the back of an envelope, of a cross with shoes falling from heaven and bouncing off of the arms of the cross onto the people below.
Jesus’ death on the cross removes from us our position as slaves to sin. I won’t lie – I cried a little. Of course Eli knows the reason Moses had to remove his shoes wasn’t about slavery but about the glory of God. But he began to make connections, and those connections moved him to illustrate his ideas. We didn’t invent Visual Faith – we discovered what kids already knew.
Aaron (age 10) is our family artist. He’s been creating things since he was old enough to hold a crayon. Whenever I run across an interesting art medium, my first impulse is to put it into Aaron’s hands because I know he’ll enjoy making something and, most of time, that something is Bible based. He presented me with this rainbow drawing made with Scribble Sticks a few months ago.
Finally, I come to Anabel, who is 6. Last year, I put a copy of The Enduring Word Bible into her hands and told her something shocking - “It’s okay to draw in your Bible.” After she got over that, she took up her glitter pens and went to work! According to my daughter, she spends 20-30 minutes a day after school, coloring in her Bible. It’s a time of quiet after the chaos of school.
All of these examples lead up to my point for this article. I don’t know where the kids got these creative impulses, because it wasn’t from their grandma! Creative drawing and right-brained thinking are not my best feature. Cerebral pursuits are my forte. While I was thinking about slaves and shoes, Eli was drawing about it. While I think all the new drawing tools are cool, I hand them over to Aaron, who might actually enjoy making them work. And The Enduring Word Bible – I thumbed through it and decided it would be a nice gift for Anabel, introducing her to the whole idea of Bible journaling. Personally, Visual Faith practices are indeed intriguing, as long as no one else sees the inside of my Journaling Bible.
What I’ve found, over the last few years of trying this devotional style is that it can be quite relaxing and certainly taps into a part of my brain where God waits with insight and inspiration. While my devotional creations are not particularly original, they are satisfying. Favorite passages and stories are seen with new eyes and fresh perspective, and that engages even my “left brain” impulses.
I leave you with two examples from my own Bible that were created with help. The heart corresponds to the passage from Ezekiel 36:27. This idea is one that gained traction from Googling the passage I wanted to illustrate.
The lighthouse, inspired by Psalm 27, comes from a ‘stamping with watercolor’ project I saw in a YouTube video. Again, not an idea original to me, but I knew genius when I saw it.
So for those of us who might be artistically challenged – it’s okay. Do it anyway. There are many things to learn about God and His ways when you tap into “the other side” of your brain. With that said, I encourage you to try out the Bible Studies I’ve written for Visual Faith Ministry. These are designed to engage your left brain a little as you prepare to dive into whatever creative path God leads you to take. No matter what you try, He is faithful to meet you there because He just wants to spend time with His child – and that’s you.
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Carolyn is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in Flushing, MI where she is the Director of Christian Education at her church. Carolyn is a life-long fanatical follower of Jesus Christ as well as a Bible study leader and teacher - she says "writing bible studies is what I do." A self-proclaimed "non-artist", she says that’s why the practice of visual faith is fun for her - because she’s not good at it!
You can download and print the Bible studies that Carolyn wrote here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/new-products-2?category=Devotionals There is a series of four devotions to encourage reflection on the four “pillar verses” of Visual Faith Ministry: Remember - Deut. 6:6-7, Trust - Prov. 3:5-6, Disciple - Prov. 22:6, and Tell - Ps. 78:4-6. There is also a devotion on Deut. 17:14-20. All are offered free for personal, family, or ministry use.
Visual Faith Coach Katie Helmreich is our featured artist this month, and we are delighted to have her share her heart and thoughts about the intersection of her life and God’s Word - and how Bible journaling has brought the two together…… Welcome to the blog, Katie!
Stories are incredible. A good narrative knits together snippets of characters’ lives to reveal purpose, understanding, relationships, and love. Shared stories are the highlight of conversations with family and friends! They define us. Little anecdotes reveal who we are and how we’re connected. But what is the main plot in our lives of challenge, triumph, and growth?
When we become a child of God, HIS story becomes our story. He tells us about Himself, about ourselves, and all His children in Scripture. What better place to record these day to day anecdotes that are part of HIS story then in the margins of Scripture?
Although I am a lifelong artist, I’m fairly new to Visual Faith. In a short amount of time, it has inspired a change in the way I frame, tell, and remember my story. I record our normal life across the pages of my Bible. The daily challenges, triumphs, and growth--His story IS our story. There’s always a place where His Word speaks meaning into an ordinary day.
Our family recently experienced a particularly intense season. Mostly just the highs and lows of life with three kids, a long list of house projects, and a newly instated volunteer fireman. Depression and anxiety made it harder than usual for me to hold on to perspective, harder to remember my place in God’s story. My weary soul has found refuge lingering in Scripture and responding with art. On these pages God has reminded me of His faithfulness, His abundance, His love, His grace, and His purpose for me and my family time and time again!
When I sit down to record a story, occasionally a hymn or Bible verse comes immediately to mind. More often, I spend time digging through a concordance for words that speak to the event or a characteristic of God that was evident in the day. The challenge of thumbing through Scripture searching for just the right spot is always a blessing!
Other times, the process is reversed, I encounter a passage that inspires me and then recall memories of the past weeks searching for a story that illustrates the passage. I often snap a photo to reference or look up a similar photo online as I sketch the scene on scrap paper. Then I gesso my page, trace my sketch, and add watercolor! I use pen or colored pencil to complete the illustration, and write a bit about our story, usually as a prayer.
I’ve fallen in love with watercolor for its quick and beautifully loose color. It encourages me to let go of perfection and embrace the impression of the story instead. The point is to record God’s faithfulness and love, so I don’t let myself get hung up on drawing hands or faces correctly. It’s been transformative to process both good and challenging times this way. Taking time to tell His story in my life often leads me to a better understanding of my circumstances. It helps me to hold on to the reality of His goodness and love when life threatens to overwhelm me.
One day, perhaps, reading about our story and God’s faithfulness will bless my kids, but in the midst of this chaos of a young family, it is a real and present blessing to me to page through and remember. My Visual Faith time is prayer, art, family and story, but it’s also been a powerful tool in a time of Spiritual battle, and I thank God for this time with Him!
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Katie lives in Bay City, Michigan and has been in love with Jesus, art, and a good story for a long as she can remember. It was only recently that she began to put all three together! She finds great peace and joy in using art to record His Story in her everyday life with her husband and three kids. Writing and painting her story changes a disaster into an adventure, and deepens laughter into a meaningful treasure. Recording how He is at work in all things gives these memories an even greater purpose! She cherishes nap time when she can dive into scripture and respond with her paints. Katie is a firm believer in the truth that everyone is creative. She’s passionate about teaching and encouraging others to create art that tells His Story in their lives! Follow her on Instagram @dutchcreekstudio.
Visual Faith Coach Laura Bauer explains her heart for sharing visual faith with teens:
As a teenager, I have very vivid memories of waking up in the morning and stumbling into the kitchen to find my father sitting at the table with his Bible open. At the time I did not think anything special of it, but looking back now I view this memory as a precious gift. My parents diligently took us to church every Sunday morning as many families do, but finding my dad sitting regularly immersed in the word of Christ throughout the week reaffirmed the knowledge that Christ and the Bible were not simply a program that parents dumped their children at once a week, but rather the place to find Truth in a world that felt tumultuous. My dad didn’t just give Christ lip service, Christ is his foundation and therefore spending time daily in the word was natural for Him.
Sitting at the table with my Bible and colored pencils is becoming a more common thing in my home and more often than not, when I am working on a journal entry or a page in my Bible, one of my four children will approach me and ask if they can Bible journal alongside me. My teens many times do not ask to join in, they simply grab some supplies and sit down.
Activities that are multi-generational and enjoyable regardless of your gender are very hard to find, but visual faith seems to be just that. We often joke that as adults we need an invitation to color, the same can sometimes be said of teenagers. So many teens have such amazing artistic talent and simply need an invitation to use it.
The great thing about visual faith is that it busies the hands which frees up the mind for meditation on a verse or even deep conversation with another individual. A teen may not spend time meditating on a verse alone or working on a journal entry by themselves. Many teens will be quick to jump at the opportunity to sit with an admired adult free of phones and social media and chat while illustrating a verse. As an adult and parent it is so easy to convince ourselves that our teenagers really do not want anything to do with us. In some cases this may be true, but for the most part I truly believe that most teenagers long to know that the adults in their life have time for them and a desire to spend that time with them.
At Redeemer in Interlochen, we have attempted to add visual faith periodically to our youth group lessons sometimes on their own and sometimes combined with adults. It does not take much encouraging to convince teenagers to grab some art supplies and illustrate a verse whether at home or at church!
During a lesson on learning how to study the Bible, we created accordian books and filled the inside with ideas and directions about where to begin. On one side the youth included questions to ask themselves when looking at a section of scripture: Are there other verses that apply to my understanding of this passage? Who was the author and the audience? What is the theme? Are there any key words or verbs? What people and places are talked about? When does this take place? What, if any, challenges are faced? How does this apply to me?
On the other side, the kids came up with topics that they would be interested in studying, such as: anger, conflict, money, dating, love, animals, and friendship. The idea behind the accordian books is that it would be something they could use as a guideline when they want to spend time in God’s Word, but have no idea where to begin.
As with any visual faith practice, the best way to encourage others to join is by doing it yourself in a visible fashion. When you exude excitement about an activity, that excitement becomes contagious and others naturally want to be part of it!
Give teens permission and encouragement to color and illustrate verses and you will find that the verses that they take the time to work with will work their way into a permanent spot in the teenagers mind and heart which will later be useful when the world threatens to distract him or her from Christ. The youth in your life whether they are your children, grandchildren or friends are watching you and learning how to be adults.
Most teenagers will never come right out and say it, but they long for deep solid relationships with adults as well as other teens. Visual faith can be a marvelous bridge between our youth, adults and even older members of the congregation.
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Laura is mother to four energetic children, wife of an adventurous LCMS pastor, and a baptized child of God. With background as a DCE (Director of Christian Education) and in Elementary education, she was introduced to Bible journaling in 2016 and has been amazed at the depth and richness it has added to her devotional time and prayer life. Creative - but not necessarily artistic - Laura enjoys working with groups of all sizes to share practical ways that even the “artistically challenged” can benefit from and experience the hope and peace that comes by spending time in God's word. She is also excited to share ways that families and youth can use visual faith to grow closer to each other and more importantly to Christ.
Visual Faith Ministry is excited to share some new resources available on our website to bless you, your family, and your ministry during this Advent Season of reflection and preparation.
The Advent season varies in length, starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and always ends on Christmas Eve. The word “Advent” comes from a Latin phrase meaning “coming”. It’s important (as we struggle with hectic schedules, distractions, and expectations) that we remember the many years God’s people were longing for the coming of the promised Savior, give thanks that Jesus did come for our salvation, and anticipate the sure hope of His second coming. How do we do this with the distractions of holiday schedules, expectations, and to-do lists? How can we help ourselves to hear His “still small voice”? (1 Kings 19:12)
This year Advent begins on Sunday, Dec. 2 - it will help to have resources ready and on hand to bless your time with the Lord. Here’s what you will find on our website under Seasonal Resources.
The Jesse Tree resource is a free download which comes in two parts and was created by Visual Faith Coaches Valerie Matyas and Katie Helmreich. Part 1 includes a listing of the complete readings and ornaments to cut out and color, and Part 2 is a Devotional Booklet that includes the readings plus a short devotion that can be read in addition to the reading and coloring of the ornaments.
Use the Jesse Tree resources by setting aside a few moments each day to dwell in His Word. Meditate on His truth and promises for you as you color or decorate each ornament. Place the ornaments where you and your family will see them often and recall God’s goodness together. This project lends itself to personal study, family or classroom devotions, or as a multi-generational church gathering project. You can download this project here:
An Advent Devotional Calendar is a visual faith focus tool that creates space in your busy day to record a prayer thought or image from your daily devotion. The printed page encourages daily faithful consistancy yet requires only a few extra minutes of time. After reading a short devotion or Bible reading, take a moment to ask yourself what word(s) or image might remind you of God’s Word for you this day. Add this to a space on the calendar - color is optional and can be added during later reflection if time is short. The end result with be a “selfie” of your time with God and help you remember the specific blessings of time in His Word.
Another fun option - which works well for families with older children or small groups - is to choose an Advent devotional series and challenge everyone to reflect and add a hashtag for each day. Pat Maier created a group text for her family and sent a picture of the devotion each day. As hashtags were texted throughout the day, they inspired further reflection or anticipation of the devotional truth in order to understand the hashtags! [Personal note: “Not all my children used the calendar, so the hashtag idea can stand alone. Whatever works!”]
These Advent Calendars are new to our website this year. You can download them, as well as others, under Seasonal Resources here:
The Advent Calendar templates can also be used as a prayer focus tool by adding a different person or circumstance to pray for each day.
A final resource to bless your heart preparation this Advent is The Visual Church Year - available under the Worship Resources Tab on our website. It is a collaboration of many volunteer artists - and includes a sermon note insert and children’s bulletin. The images and text reflect the assigned gospel readings of the lectionary of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod each week. (If you belong to another church, many of the images will likely illustrate the Advent readings of your Christian church as well.)
“My Worship Notes” are engaging children’s bulletins which encourage children to participate in worship. This is a 4-page booklet style resource which includes the margin image of the corresponding sermon note insert as well as other images to color or fill in. Our hope is that it will encourage conversation within families during time together following a service and even into the week.
You can find The Visual Church Year here - the Graphics Only choice provides graphics for church offices to use as bulletin covers or to print within their own bulletins:
God bless you as you prepare to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, our Savior and King!
-- The Visual Faith Ministry Team
My husband recently preached a sermon based on Acts 16, which includes Paul’s “Macedonian Call”, as well as his encounters with Lydia and the Philippian jailer. Re-reading the text and reviewing my sermon notes created some pretty big take-aways for me: Pay Attention (to God’s voice), there is Blessing in the Good, as well as Blessing in the Bad, and I should Look For God Opportunities. Paul and Silas certainly could have lost hope and even blamed God for being beaten and thrown in prison, but they praised God, trusted Him with “the plan”, and as a result were there to keep the Philippian jailer from killing himself after the earthquake broke their chains. They were able to lead the jailer and his whole household to faith!
So I “framed” the take-aways in the margin with summarized notes beneath each one to help me remember how they related to the scripture. (Adding color to each frame and highlighting the supporting verses with the same color helps me see the application in the account.)
But the story of Paul and this new Philippian church doesn’t end here - it continues in his epistle to the Philippians, which is the letter which Paul wrote to them some years later.
The words shared in the sermon were an “aha” for me to realize that the opening of his letter, filled with gratitude and love for this church, was deeply connected to Paul’s initial experience recorded in Acts. So I added Philippians 1:6 to the margin in Acts - and wrote the Acts reference next to those words in Philippians 1.
It’s important to consider the context when reading Scripture, and adding contextual details in your journaling often helps with personal application. For me, I’ll remember that I need to spend time in God’s Word to really know His voice and be able to recognize His promptings in my life. I’ll learn to look for His blessings in both good and bad times, and wait confidently (with eyes open for opportunities He puts in front of me) for his blessing to be revealed during difficult situations.
And hopefully — I will be able to remember enough to look back with gratitude over my life of ups and downs, and give thanks for God’s patient leading along the way from start to finish …..because whatever God starts, He finishes!
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
- Pat Maier
Peg Peters came to a Workshop near her home in Indiana in the Fall of 2016. She went back very excited to share what she had learned about Visual prayer, Bible Journaling and all sorts of hands on projects for Faith Keeping. She had been watching things online for awhile and learning and trying out new practices. She couldn't wait to bring them to her church community. But, the doors didn't open quickly for that sharing. Sometimes it is about patient waiting.
And then it was time.....On May 14, 2018, Peg Peters was able to bring the Prayers for My Children Project to her church- Driftwood Christian Church in Vallonia, Indiana. It was an intergenerational event. There were many ways they worked on it. And some were finished when they got home. A blessing to be shared. A blessing beyond the event. People of prayer. United by this common thread of love. Here is a bit about the event from Peg:
This event was part of our Mother-Daughter salad supper that we have every year on the Monday after Mother's Day. We call it the Ladies Salad Supper now since not everyone has a daughter.The ladies of our church were invited to attend and bring as many guests as they wanted to.We often have 3 generations. This year we even had 4 generations in one family. We presented each lady with a ziplock bag that contained a glue stick, the 31 prayer verses roughly cut up and the 35 page booklet already hooked together with the 2 rings. The pages were made by a small print company(the owner goes to our church) The ladies got a good start on their books that evening and I encouraged them to take home any embellishments, etc. that they needed to complete their prayer books. (Probably working on their own at the church for about an hour)Jodi, my daughter who is the Women's Ministry leader at Southeast Christian Church in Jeffersonville IN, presented the introductory part of the program. She is also an elementary teacher so she was able to share some insight as to how people learn in different ways. Using the items we were that night was one example of learning.
We announced at church and in the bulletin for ladies that had scrapbooking materials that were not being used to bring them along. I also had a huge pile of stickers, papers, all sorts of embellishments that people were free to use in their books. It was a little like the fish and the loaves of bread. When it was over I gathered up more than I had brought it felt like!
We give thanks for Peg's faithfulness to find the just right event at the just right time.We pray there will be anymore gatherings. So may you be filled with patience- all coaches and encouragers as you seek to bring Visual Faith practices to others. Our Lord has the plan.Just be ready to share with humbleness when He says- NOW! Thank you Peg for your gently persistence and listening heart.
Multi- generation event
Peg Peters-(center ) and daughter Jodi and her daughter-Maggie.
I follow a blog called ilovemyshepherd.com by my friend, Heidi Goehmann. She writes spiritual thoughts about everyday situations - things that are wonderful, hard, and so-very-ordinary. Her honest writing often mirrors the words that run in a stream through my mind like a scrolling digital billboard as I make decisions throughout the day - words that I think to myself, rarely share out loud, and often come and go too quickly for me to reflect and act upon.
So when I read Heidi's blog, there's often a slap-in-my-face recognition of some of my thought words. When this happens, it's a great time to get out my Bible, reflect on what God has to say, and respond in the margin so that I can remember and then reflect God's heart in my thoughts, words, and actions.
Maybe you will also relate to Heidi's words about "curds, milk, and cake" from her guest blog on meal planning at graftedheart.com (another great blog from Christian author Sarah Baughmann). I truly do love to cook, and meals together were a precious priority for our family of six - but my focus was often on the "why am I doing all this work?" rather than "why I'm doing all this work." Heidi made me laugh out loud with her words, "My husband occasional comes home and says, 'Quick! Knead it! Make cakes!'" We often shared our meal table - sometimes at the last moment - with guests, and that is often the case with the spontaneous schedules of our grown children today. Since I value cooking from scratch (which takes more prep & cooking time), meals sandwiched within busy schedules or last minute guest additions would often result in a stressed, grouchy, bad-attitude me.
To journal and connect my reality with Heidi's devotional thoughts,
I re-read Genesis 18:1-21 in my Bible, underlining words and phrases that stood out.
My biggest "a-ha" was the suggestion that feeding people is a spiritual practice, so I began with that at the top of my page along with some examples Heidi shared of when Jesus fed people.
Next is a prayer penned on the page, asking God to bring to mind "curds, milk, and cake" as a reminder of what I am serving.....
And the list of spiritual blessings to "serve" at my table
Making the word LORD larger and in a fun font draws my eyes to the prayer, and doing the same with the word SERVE reminds me that meals are a way I can serve God by serving up these spiritual opportunities - as well as good food! And because color and drawing brings me joy, I added a bit of color and ended with a simple drawing of trees around a campsite to conclude with my final take-away: to help me remember the joy of welcoming others to our family table.
God bless you as you serve up curds, milk, and cakes and so much more to the dear hearts gathered around your family table!
-- Pat Maier
Creative Memories opened the door for Belinda Bost to learn the importance of documenting the story of our lives. The importance of writing about the Who, What, When, Where and Why in our own handwriting prepared her for processing with Visual Faith. It can be as simple as layering an image over the text in your Bible. A computer can enlarge or decrease an image to fit the page. Tracing paper allows the image to be added.
We are very excited about the new Enduring Word Bible coming out the first week of June from Concordia Publishing House. It is an ESV version Bible and there are 350 margins for coloring as well as the title page for each book of the Bible. That leaves many pages for your own additions, notes, journaling and images.
Here is a bit about the illustrators: (first published by Concordia Publishing House on Goodreads)
About the Illustrators
Andrea Kilpatrick is a painter and illustrator living in Houston, Texas. She attended Concordia University Chicago, where she earned degrees in studio art and art education and received her Lutheran Teacher Certificate. She currently teaches elementary and middle school art. In her spare time, she sells custom illustrations and enjoys reading, Bible journaling, and traveling.
Jamie Truwe is a small-business owner, part-time art teacher, and full-time mom to 5 children. She attended Concordia University Wisconsin and has a theology degree with minors in youth ministry and art. In her spare time, she sells custom paintings and hand-lettered Scripture art, and she enjoys coloring in her Bible, reading, and traipsing around the states with her family.
Pat Maier is a pastor’s wife and former Lutheran educator who lives with her husband in Brighton, Michigan. Pat enjoys writing, drawing, and imagining to inspire others in their walk with Jesus. She is currently involved in planning and presenting at retreats and women’s events in the Michigan District, as well as teaching about visual faith. She finds great joy in nature, gardening, and spending time with family.
Jeff Carnehl has taught art at Walther Lutheran High School for 17 years. His illustration work with CPH has included other books and My Devotions. Prior to teaching, he worked as a graphic designer and art director for two Christian publishers. A graduate of Concordia University Chicago and the American Academy of Art, he is married to a Lutheran elementary teacher and the father of three grown sons. Besides illustrating, Jeff loves spending time with his growing family and gardening.
Watch for updates as we begin to explore this new Visual Faith Bible.
By Amanda Schenkenberger
As a Bible journaling teacher, one would assume I am swimming with Bible journaling ideas. You would think that you could give me a verse and I would come up with all sorts of brilliant DIY entries. While I have a few good standbys in my back pocket, I am often stumped by what to journal, and especially when I am trying to Bible journal with my kids.
Hi: my name is Amanda, and I'm a recovering perfectist. My kids, on the other hand, are messy and have their own ideas about what to journal. Not surprisingly, when you try to put rigid Amanda into a loosey goosey kid mold, it doesn't go over well.
Even though it's a stretch for me, as a homeschool mom who loves to Bible journal, I desperately wanted to involve my kiddos in Bible journaling as part of our school curriculum. I wanted to have deep spiritual conversations about Jesus and how we can apply the Word to our lives but I couldn't figure out how to do it.
That was, until I discovered "Bible Journaling with Kids" by Chelsea Wojcik. You know those answers to prayers you never prayed: this book was totally one of them. In this book, Chelsea gives you the basics of what you need to journal with your kids, PLUS 7 focused topical units with Bible journaling prompts for an entire year (examples: love, joy, hope, etc...).
Once I got my hands on this book, I was so excited because the ideas wouldn't stop coming after that. At my finger tips, I had all the verses I needed and easy questions to ask my 5 year old. It gave me the freedom I needed to let go and be okay with my son doing his own artistic thing.
The biggest factor that changed things for me was Chelsea's suggestion of getting your kid their own journaling Bible. I felt like smacking my head against a wall. OF COURSE! Why did I think of that?!
So, as per Chelsea's suggestion, I immediately went to the thrift store and found a children's Bible for my 5 year old and got ready to Bible journal the first verse in the unit about love. And you know what my 5 year old said, "Mommy, this Bible doesn't look like your journaling Bible."
I sighed as the joy of my clever thriftiness vanished. I tried to show him the space he could use to journal but he was a little hurt by that. After all, I send journaling Bibles to women all over the U.S., why couldn't I give him one?
After thinking about it for like, half a second, I let him pick out one. Of course, it was the same cover as my main journaling Bible. My 5 year old is such a sweetie.
Anyway, we ended up having a wonderful conversation about love and who to love and how we could do it that day and what makes him feel most loved. It was the glorious time in the Word I had been wanting to have with my son that, before, had felt unattainable.
I started thinking about this whole predicament I had been in and how well Chelsea's book, "Bible Journaling with Kids" helped me overcome it and I thought, "If I have struggled with Bible journaling alongside my kiddos and I'm a Bible journaling teacher, how many other moms are struggling with it!?"
And that is why I am sharing this book with you because, mom-to-mom, sometimes we just need a little help in order to be able to enjoy our children. Our to-do lists are long and it is easy to get overwhelmed by #allthethings we must do to keep them alive, let alone invest in them spiritually.
Then there are times when I don't want to come up with yet another crafting idea to keep his mind occupied. Or I simply have no idea how to engage a 5 year old in a spiritual conversation and I just need someone to say "Do this", and Chelsea has detailed that in her book.
I am so thankful that the Lord had our paths cross through the magic of Instagram because Chelsea has been such an encouragement to me through her book. If you find yourself in the "How do I Bible journal with my kids?" boat as well, there's nothing I can recommend more highly than Chelsea's new book, "Bible Journaling with Kids." Get it! You'll be so thankful you did.