visual faith

A Prayer and Devotional Path Through Lent

PicsstichCloseup.jpg

Lent is a season of solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar of some church denominations. It traditionally begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days until Easter Sunday. (The 40 days commemorate Jesus’ time of fasting and temptation in the desert; Sundays are not included in this count.) Lent is a time set aside for people of faith to focus on prayer and to consider the life and death of Jesus, specifically the events beginning on Palm Sunday and climaxing with Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday.

During the 40 days of Lent, Christians often commit to fasting from luxuries like dessert, social media, or other pleasant past times, while in recent years there has also been focus on “taking up” rather than “giving up” something for Lent. This might include a daily act of blessing others or taking up a spiritual discipline, such as Lenten devotions or following a prayer calendar each day.

Lenten devotional book and calendar done by Bev Wicher.

Lenten devotional book and calendar done by Bev Wicher.

However you might decide to rearrange your time during Lent, time given up or taken up is meant to create an awareness of our own personal failings and need for a Savior, and turn our hearts toward the God whom we so often turn away from. As we spend time in the Word and in prayer, we find time to slow down and contemplate all that Jesus did for us - His life, His suffering, His death. A “Lenten Path” or devotional calendar provides the space and visual accountability for this practice. Spaces can be used to record a one-word “take-away”, a short summary, or a visual image after reflecting on a reading or devotion. The spaces also provide a place for the option of gathering personal prayers or prayers for others - so that they might be seen and remembered.

Some examples of visual calendars for Lent.

Some examples of visual calendars for Lent.

A regular calendar template works well, or you might print one created especially for Lent. Taking time to add color creates a little more time for reflection; and if too much color is distracting, choosing 4 colors to use for your calendar is a good solution. As you can see by the calendar at lower left above, color is also an option - this one was created with a black pen and gray marker. It’s really about what works for you and brings the most blessing to your time with the Lord.

“Lenten Path” by Rachel Hinz

“Lenten Path” by Rachel Hinz

There are several “Lenten Path” calendars on the Visual Faith Ministry website, which are available for free download and printing for personal or ministry purposes. You can find them here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/seasonal (Scroll down to find the “Lenten Path” resources.)

New this year is artist Rachel Hinz’s beautiful calendar which connects the symbolism of mankind’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden - and our need for a Savior - with Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane as He wrestled with His Father’s will and the suffering to come. The thirty-six “leaf spaces” plus space within the tree, stone, or crown of thorns provide room for a 40 day recording of devotions or prayers.

“Lenten Path” by Pat Maier

“Lenten Path” by Pat Maier

Also new is this image of 40 “heart spaces” for reflective response - a reminder that everything Jesus did and endured was out of love for the world.

If you don’t have a Lent devotional, Creative Communications for the Parish and Concordia Publishing House both offer some excellent, and inexpensive devotional booklets for Lent - their resources include selections for families and children. Find them here: (search “Lent Devotions”)

http://www.creativecommunications.com/ and https://www.cph.org/

Portals of Prayer is also an excellent resource - available here: https://www.cph.org/portals/ or through an app on your iPhone (search “Portals of Prayer”).

Early Lenten calendars by Connie Denninger - templates by Sybil MacBeth of  prayingincolor.com .

Early Lenten calendars by Connie Denninger - templates by Sybil MacBeth of prayingincolor.com.

An added blessing is being able to look back and “see” the time you met God in His Word or spoke with Him in prayer. A yearly practice of priority …..

Connie uses the simple “four color” method during her devotional & prayer time.

Connie uses the simple “four color” method during her devotional & prayer time.

…. so we might understand God’s love more deeply and open our hearts a little bit wider that our Easter joy may be all the more overflowing with the realization of His great grace!

Lots of choices - also a wonderful resource available for those who work with children and youth.

Lots of choices - also a wonderful resource available for those who work with children and youth.

God bless you with a true spirit of repentance, a heart of gratitude, and a deeper faith

as you mark your spiritual path through Lent.

+++

Visual Faith on the Extravagant Love Cruise!

SunsetEdit.JPG

On February 9, 2019, a group of women set sail on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas for a 5-day “Extravagant Love Cruise”, sponsored by Educational Opportunities Travel.

We were blessed with this gathering of Visual Faith coaches that assembled for the cruise.  Front- L to R- Teresa Davis, Connie Denninger, Liz Murphy, and Webmaster- Diane Marra.  Back- L to R- Peggy Thibodeau, Eden Keefe, Sara Wilson, Lisa Brass, Pat Maier and Valerie Matyas.

We were blessed with this gathering of Visual Faith coaches that assembled for the cruise.

Front- L to R- Teresa Davis, Connie Denninger, Liz Murphy, and Webmaster- Diane Marra.

Back- L to R- Peggy Thibodeau, Eden Keefe, Sara Wilson, Lisa Brass, Pat Maier and Valerie Matyas.

The cruise had about the same Teaching Time as a Women’s Weekend Retreat. The rest of the time was spent personally experiencing either the Royal Caribbean ship or time off the boat. This cruise landed in Labadee, Haiti and Falmouth, Jamaica.

Pat Maier helped us to see Visual Faith processes as an Act of Worship—Read, Reflect, Respond, so that you can Remember and Reach Out. She also brought helpful tools for lettering and working with color in our margins and Bibles.

Pat Maier helped us to see Visual Faith processes as an Act of Worship—Read, Reflect, Respond, so that you can Remember and Reach Out. She also brought helpful tools for lettering and working with color in our margins and Bibles.

WendySue Fluegge and her daughter, Miranda, wove together worship and praise with their gift of music.

WendySue Fluegge and her daughter, Miranda, wove together worship and praise with their gift of music.

Bible Study Leader-Deb Burma led participants through a wealth of riches in God’s Word with the story of God’s Extravagant Love for each of us.

Bible Study Leader-Deb Burma led participants through a wealth of riches in God’s Word with the story of God’s Extravagant Love for each of us.

Connie Denninger led us into an introduction of Visual Faith through Doors into Prayer. The Co-Founders of Visual Faith Ministry had a wonderful experience of connecting to so many who are already faithful practitioners and those who were new to the practices.

Connie Denninger led us into an introduction of Visual Faith through Doors into Prayer. The Co-Founders of Visual Faith Ministry had a wonderful experience of connecting to so many who are already faithful practitioners and those who were new to the practices.

We gathered in the evenings in the Windjammer food court for times of sharing and encouragement.

We gathered in the evenings in the Windjammer food court for times of sharing and encouragement.

it was fun to meet each other In Real Life and share our Visual Faith journey.

it was fun to meet each other In Real Life and share our Visual Faith journey.

We valued our time together and seeing all the ways we are unique in this part of the Visual Faith Journey.

We valued our time together and seeing all the ways we are unique in this part of the Visual Faith Journey.

We were blessed by this inter-generational experience aboard the Royal Caribbean- Independence of the Seas.

We were blessed by this inter-generational experience aboard the Royal Caribbean- Independence of the Seas.

We even had 17 brave men along for this cruise. Hardy souls and we spotted them here and there.

We even had 17 brave men along for this cruise. Hardy souls and we spotted them here and there.

We were thankful for the beautiful flowers spotted mid-Winter…

We were thankful for the beautiful flowers spotted mid-Winter…

The delightful presentation of food for every meal……

The delightful presentation of food for every meal……

The blessings of conversations around the dinner table…….

The blessings of conversations around the dinner table…….

A magnificent wait staff, beautiful sunny days in port, calm seas, and accommodations galore.

A magnificent wait staff, beautiful sunny days in port, calm seas, and accommodations galore.

This group of women from all over the country forged a new friendship of ministry blessings.

This group of women from all over the country forged a new friendship of ministry blessings.

A heartfelt thank you to Diane Biel (blue shirt- center) for all of her coordination and hard work and making this Education Opportunities event move from a dream to a reality.

A heartfelt thank you to Diane Biel (blue shirt- center) for all of her coordination and hard work and making this Education Opportunities event move from a dream to a reality.

God’s Extravagant Love? Yes, we have been richly blessed. Maybe you will join us on a future cruise?

God’s Extravagant Love? Yes, we have been richly blessed. Maybe you will join us on a future cruise?

Visual Faith .... and a Real "Great Pumpkin" Project

Emily Ransdell’s pumpkin for her school’s Biblical pumpkin carving contest.

Emily Ransdell’s pumpkin for her school’s Biblical pumpkin carving contest.

Emily Ransdell lives in Dover, Delaware where she is in 8th grade at St. John’s Lutheran School. She is the daughter of Pastor CJ and Melinda Ransdell, who teach and support visual faith practices in their home and with their church family. Emily practices visual prayer and Bible journaling, and when we saw a picture of her beautiful pumpkin, she agreed to tell us a little bit more of the story. Here is our interview with Emily:

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO CARVE SUCH A CREATIVE PUMPKIN?

Emily: My school had a biblical pumpkin carving contest. The winner goes to another contest at Dover Place, a senior living center near my school.

WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION?

Emily: I found a cute angel gourd while searching ideas on Pinterest. Then I saw a picture of a stable carved into a pumpkin.

Emily’s inspiration from Pinterest - an angel gourd from  christiangamesandcrafts.com .

Emily’s inspiration from Pinterest - an angel gourd from christiangamesandcrafts.com.

On my own, I came up with the ideas to put our nativity figures inside, carve a star, and paint a galaxy. Then I added the bible verse from John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

HOW IS THIS A VISUAL FAITH PROJECT?

Emily: I was expressing my faith through something you can see while crafting, carving, and painting. It represents the birth of Jesus, which I reflected on while I created it.

Thank you, Emily, for sharing your project with us! We love it!

The pumpkin contest at St. John’s Lutheran School in Dover, Delaware - Emily’s pumpkin won!

The pumpkin contest at St. John’s Lutheran School in Dover, Delaware - Emily’s pumpkin won!

🎃 UPDATE: Emily’s pumpkin won 3rd place in the big contest at Dover Place! Congratulations, Emily - thanks for letting your (visual faith pumpkin) light shine for Jesus!!!