Bible journaling

What Nehemiah Taught Me on My Summer Vacation

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

Visual prayer reflections from the first six chapters of Nehemiah, recorded on one of the “prayer spaces” - a free download from the Visual Faith Ministry website.

Visual prayer reflections from the first six chapters of Nehemiah, recorded on one of the “prayer spaces” - a free download from the Visual Faith Ministry website.

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.

Another example of “prayer spaces” used for visual prayer and praying scripture right into our daily lives!

Another example of “prayer spaces” used for visual prayer and praying scripture right into our daily lives!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

https://www.visualfaithmin.org/print-color-pray/prayer-spaces-by-ruth-schian



No Excuses - Just Try It!

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ezekiel 36:27

Ezekiel 36:27

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.

Psalm 27

Psalm 27

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.

God bless!

Carolyn

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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.



Journaling His Story

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?

Storytime is my favorite part of parenting. We love to share stories of dragons, magic, and pirates! To also share God’s Story and our part in it is truly amazing. 1 Timothy 6:18-19

Storytime is my favorite part of parenting. We love to share stories of dragons, magic, and pirates! To also share God’s Story and our part in it is truly amazing. 1 Timothy 6:18-19

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?

Canning apricots with a toddler and 2nd grader has its highs and lows. Abundant and delicious fruit, nimble little fingers, and grace that covered short tempers. God truly did bless us! Psalms 128:2

Canning apricots with a toddler and 2nd grader has its highs and lows. Abundant and delicious fruit, nimble little fingers, and grace that covered short tempers. God truly did bless us! Psalms 128:2

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.

It’s so easy to feel inadequate as a wife and mom… But God gives strength, hope, and purpose to this simple life, and He has chosen me to raise these little people! 1 Thess 1:1-5 and 4:9-11

It’s so easy to feel inadequate as a wife and mom… But God gives strength, hope, and purpose to this simple life, and He has chosen me to raise these little people! 1 Thess 1:1-5 and 4:9-11

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!

Mother’s Day, to God be the glory in ALL things, even doing the dishes while listening to stories about Pokemon and Lego. Romans 16:25-27 and How Clear Is Thy Vocation Lord LSB #853

Mother’s Day, to God be the glory in ALL things, even doing the dishes while listening to stories about Pokemon and Lego. Romans 16:25-27 and How Clear Is Thy Vocation Lord LSB #853

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!

Last summer we tossed stones in to the mighty Missouri River, in awe of God’s vast power! This is a God we can depend on in even the most turbulent times. Job 40:9 & 23

Last summer we tossed stones in to the mighty Missouri River, in awe of God’s vast power! This is a God we can depend on in even the most turbulent times. Job 40:9 & 23

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.

Family Reunion camping with TWENTY grandkids! Proverbs 20:7

Family Reunion camping with TWENTY grandkids! Proverbs 20:7

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.

What a blessing it is to share joy and love with distant Grandparents via video chat! Philemon vs 7

What a blessing it is to share joy and love with distant Grandparents via video chat! Philemon vs 7

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! 

Even in darkness, parenting challenges, and packed schedules, we remain secure! He is with us and we find rest. Job 11:18-19

Even in darkness, parenting challenges, and packed schedules, we remain secure! He is with us and we find rest. Job 11:18-19

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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.

What to Journal - Related Scripture Passages

My notes from the first half of the sermon……

My notes from the first half of the sermon……

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.

…..and my notes from the second half of the sermon!

…..and my notes from the second half of the sermon!

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

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A Visual Faith Coach Story- Gentle Persistence

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.

 

 

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Multi- generation event

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Peg Peters-(center ) and daughter Jodi and her daughter-Maggie.

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What to Journal: A Devotion That Connects

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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.

 

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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

Visual Faith Collage Style

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.

 

 

 

 

Here is an altered Dollar Tree Word Search Book that became a Lenten Word Book using the church worship folder and basic art supplies.

Here is an altered Dollar Tree Word Search Book that became a Lenten Word Book using the church worship folder and basic art supplies.

Belinda seeks spaces in her Concordia Study Bible to add full page entries. The space between the Old and New Testament became a visual reminder of what the weeks to come would bring at the start of Lent. She used watercolor, printed paper, clip art, washi tape, embellishments and stamps.

Belinda seeks spaces in her Concordia Study Bible to add full page entries. The space between the Old and New Testament became a visual reminder of what the weeks to come would bring at the start of Lent. She used watercolor, printed paper, clip art, washi tape, embellishments and stamps.

Check out Belinda's online Bible Study called- "Bloom, Praying the Stitches" which will combine the concept of Praying in Color, Scrapbooking and Collage Faith Art. There will be a fabric book cover that will be constructed during the discussion time and reflection. No sewing machine needed. You can follow the Bible study and watch the weekly video on the Do You F.R.O.G blog--  blog-www.beebeeost.blogspot.com  and on the Visual Faith Ministry Facebook page.

Check out Belinda's online Bible Study called- "Bloom, Praying the Stitches" which will combine the concept of Praying in Color, Scrapbooking and Collage Faith Art. There will be a fabric book cover that will be constructed during the discussion time and reflection. No sewing machine needed. You can follow the Bible study and watch the weekly video on the Do You F.R.O.G blog-- blog-www.beebeeost.blogspot.com and on the Visual Faith Ministry Facebook page.

Bible Journaling with Kids

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.

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Amanda Schenkenberger-- thank you for this post about Visual Faith Coach- Chelsea Wojcik

Amanda Schenkenberger-- thank you for this post about Visual Faith Coach- Chelsea Wojcik