visual prayer

Visual Faith at a Theological Symposium

The 30th Annual Theological Symposium at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis took place September 17-18 under the theme Devoted: (Re)Forming the Devotional Life.

This relevant theme allowed participants and speakers to “explore the topic of devotion in all its complexity, (re)forming our devotional lives into lives of devotion. Attendees will walk away refreshed and equipped to encounter the challenges of our contemporary culture with the depths of God’s Word and the breadth of His work.”

The Symposium was created for the benefit of Continuing Education for Ordained Ministers, Deaconesses, Professional Church Workers, and laity.

[Photo credit: Valerie Matyas]

[Photo credit: Valerie Matyas]

Valerie Matyas, Educational Development Consultant for Visual Faith Ministries, shares about her experience teaching visual faith at the symposium here:

[Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

[Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

I had the opportunity and honor of leading a break out session. Visual Faith lends itself beautifully to the devotional life. As a Visual Faith Coach, I am able to engage, equip, and encourage people of all ages and professions in taking a creative, visual approach to the devotional life.

[Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

[Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

We discussed the struggles and obstacles of engaging in prayer and scripture in our devotional life. It is important to learn how to pause and focus. Visual Faith allows us to slow down and pay attention. It is both a practice and a product. It gives us a visual reminder for our remembrance and to equip us in reaching out to others. 

[Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

[Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

We used the tool of Visual Prayer with the application of “Secret Code Prayer” to force ourselves to slow our pace and deepen our connection in conversation with our Heavenly Father. It is the difference between speeding down a highway and walking down a highway. We see more, notice more, are aware of more, because the pace forces us to be readily observant.

Dr. Beth Hoeltke, director of the Graduate School at Concordia Seminary, is caught enjoying a moment of light-heartedness. [Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

Dr. Beth Hoeltke, director of the Graduate School at Concordia Seminary, is caught enjoying a moment of light-heartedness. [Photo credit: Concordia Seminary]

I enjoy using humor in my presentations to lighten the mood on what is a common struggle for so many followers of Christ: How to remain engaged in prayer and scripture when our lives are full of distraction, disenchantment, and disillusionment?

  Our lives are sometimes messy, our prayer and devotional lives often disorganized and disarrayed. Having spiritual tools for our spiritual toolbox can help to make sense of the mess. It allows us a wider lens into how God is working in our lives and the lives of His people.

[Photo credit: Valerie Matyas]

[Photo credit: Valerie Matyas]

The room is always completely silent when participants are visually praying or reflecting creatively to scripture. Sometimes we need to carve time out of our day for such a practice. The creative, visual, tangible approach creates a hook that draws us back again and again. Allowing participants an opportunity to apply the techniques and experience the practice offers a better understanding for the potential impact on the personal devotional life. I tell people, “We all have the same 24 hours in a day. We cannot create time, lose time, or gain time. How we prioritize our time is up to us. It often takes discipline. Enjoying our time spent in prayer and in the Word helps us to want to prioritize that time.” We leverage the visual, linguistic, and kinesthetic practice of drawing, doodling, and creating to keep us accountable and engaged.

[Photo credit: Valerie Matyas]

[Photo credit: Valerie Matyas]

My Visual Faith presentations are often for lay women. Sometimes I have the opportunity to present Professional Development for the spiritual formation of Lutheran and Catholic School Teachers and Administrators. Every once in awhile I get to go into classrooms of Lutheran day schools and speak directly to students. It was a rare and special occasion to be able to speak to Ordained Ministers of the Word and church workers affiliated with the Seminary. It is the desire of Visual Faith Ministry for these tools to be used to further equip the people of God’s Kingdom. May it be to His Glory.

[Photo credit: Kyle Fittje]

[Photo credit: Kyle Fittje]

I wanted to thank Rev. Dr. David Schmitt, the Gregg H. Benidt Chair in Homiletics and Literature, for inviting me to speak. His involvement in this year’s Symposium and his passion for seeing the devotional life for more than just reading and meditating silently in isolation, opened the door for great conversations and insight regarding the multifaceted opportunities for devotional life.

[Image credit: Marsha Baker]

[Image credit: Marsha Baker]

I was abundantly blessed to have the founder of BlessInks and fellow Visual Faith Coach Marsha Baker attend my sectional. She beautifully and creatively captured my presentation using her unique style of sketch notes. Sketch notes are another example of Visual Faith, a practice that I enjoy using during Sunday Sermons.

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Valerie Matyas is a Visual Faith 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. She is a graduate student at Concordia University - Ann Arbor, MI. pursuing a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. 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.

Sharing the Psalms in Latin America

Compartiendo Los Salmos

From Christel:  Growing up I often wrote down scripture and would paste it on a magazine ad, or better yet, find a magazine ad with a blank space and write there. I would send them off to friends or post them around my room. As I got older, for whatever reason, I lost this art. Years later I met Lizz Warren, who started lettering scripture and creating designs to put up on your wall, to print on cards, and to share on social media. My artistic side was rekindled!

 Lizz and I serve in Latin America, in particular, the Caribbean.  As a missionary and deaconess my service is often found among groups of women, children or the elderly. After learning about Visual Faith from my mother-in-law, Karen, and sister-in-law, Katie - and understanding that it’s not just all Bible Journaling - ideas have begun flowing!

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 I saw some Visual Faith Ministry prayer cards by Pat Maier and thought how great it was that not only can you create some art and pray but also share that with someone who may be in need of love and care.

I chatted with Lizz one day, probably on a very long voice message of rambling thoughts, and eventually the Compartiendo Los Salmos (sharing the Psalms) was created. We chose eight Psalms – Psalms of lament, ascent, and praise. These Psalms have been prayers that have been shared time and time again. Some were songs we would sing on visits and in services, some have been with us in very dark times, and some at very joyful times. This is the gift of the Book of Psalms — prayers written by people like you and me, going through this life like you and me, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Spanish Prayer Cards created by Lizz Warren. You can find them on the Visual Faith Ministry website here:  https://www.visualfaithmin.org/spanishresources

Spanish Prayer Cards created by Lizz Warren. You can find them on the Visual Faith Ministry website here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/spanishresources

Our goal was to have four cards that identify the Psalm visually. After a Bible study, a visit, or a devotion on this particular Psalm, the participants would be able to color, paint, and put color to the cards. They could pray while doing this or simply embrace the time together in the Word with their fellow believers. One or two cards could be given to friends or neighbors in need of prayer, one could be given as an invitation to church or a church activity, and one card to hold onto, to remember the promises that God has for each of us.

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From Lizz:  I have always enjoyed the process of creating art, even though I have never considered myself an artist or showed exceptional talent in art class growing up.  When I became a preschool teacher, my love of creating art was awakened.  I quickly understood that creating art was more about loving the process than a perfect piece of art in the end.

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 I am a homeschool mom and a missionary wife in the Dominican Republic; my husband serves as the Business Manager in the Latin America and Caribbean region for the LCMS.  Shortly after moving here in 2015, I began a new hobby of lettering. This quickly became my therapy and passion. I began making gifts for others and art for my own walls. As I kept lettering, my audience expanded, I opened an Etsy shop, and my projects began to increase. 

A year ago Christel asked me to help her with a devotion that could be shared while creating art.  She asked me to illustrate prayer cards that could be painted or colored.  These cards would serve as reminders of God’s Word as well as gifts to pass along to a neighbor.  I was excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with her and together we created Compartiendo Los Salmos.

As a missionary wife and mother, my opportunities to be out in the community are limited.  On top of that, culture adaptation has not been a smooth journey for my family. So I was humbled and grateful that Christel asked me to be a part of this project, and God could use my hobby of lettering for His work in the mission field.  What a joy to see the beautiful art women and men in different Latin America countries have created with these cards!

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Compartiendo Los Salmos: Around the Region

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In Dominican Republic, we had the opportunity to gather around God’s Word and paint cards with our local missionary women, seminary wives, and Spanish teachers.  We have also shared the devotion and prayer cards with our fellow missionary women across Latin America, and many of them have taken the devotion into their congregations and small groups.

Deaconess Caitlin (left) and her son Abraham sharing in visual faith with the women of Pueblo Nuevo.

Deaconess Caitlin (left) and her son Abraham sharing in visual faith with the women of Pueblo Nuevo.

Missionary and Deaconess Caitlin wanted to reach out to the women in Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic. We promoted the event as an evening of devotion and “manualidades” (crafts). We had an awesome turn out which led to community building among women who are members and their neighbors.

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Missionary couple, Rev. Sergio and Yoxa Maita, led an evening Bible Study in their community of Ozama, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After studying Psalm 4, we shared water-coloring techniques for the prayer cards, including masking and wet on wet application. Most of the attendees were women who work full time, are raising families, and are new to the church. Watercolor is not a common past time for adults, but after some initial hesitation the ladies began to embrace their creative side.

One woman even said, “I am so relaxed right now.” They ended up painting all four scenes (cards). Often times in our Latin American churches, we care for women who hold many (and often heavy) vocations. They are daughters caring for their parents, mothers caring for their children, the bread winners of their households, and more. These women, just like many of us, forget to take time out for themselves. We all need to allow ourselves to be creative and have a space to relax. At this Bible Study, we tried to provide that space in the Word, in art, and in fellowship.

As missionaries we have learned the importance of always being prepared. In Puerto Rico we had the opportunity to share Christ’s love through the Psalm cards with our Sunday School children! We had a theological education class at church which was structured for adults. One of our members brought her three children, and I remembered I had prayer cards and some water color tissue paper in the back closet. We ended up spending over two hours painting prayer cards that we passed out at the Divine service the next day.

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In Ponce, Puerto Rico, art is everything. Expression in art form is all around. Working off of this cultural understanding, we worked with a short-term team from Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN and did a series of three Psalm card studies at a housing project near our congregation. We had a short devotion, sang the Psalm, and then colored a prayer card. We were pleased to see so many from different backgrounds come to learn and create art together.

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The Word never returns empty (Is. 55:11), and as missionaries we often have to remind ourselves of that. We don’t always see the fruits of our labors. However, we do know with complete confidence that when the Word was shared, not only was it heard, but it was seen, it was read, it was painted, it was colored, it was prayed. That’s one of the reasons we love the ministry of Visual Faith. For those of us who appreciate and take in the visual and the tactile aspect of learning, Visual Faith allows us to “inwardly digest” the Word to a whole different level.

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Jesus comes to us in our Baptism, in His Body and Blood, and through His Word — this is the gift we have as Christians. Visual Faith ministry helps us share this gift with our community; we give a piece of artwork with His Word and that endures forever (Is. 40:8). This is our hope and prayer for these cards.  We hope they give opportunities to take in the Word, to pray it, and to share it.

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Christel and Lizz

Christel and Lizz

Christel Neuendorf serves as deaconess and missionary for the LCMS in Ponce, PR alongside her husband, James. She cares for the women, children, and elderly in her congregation and community, often times using visual faith resources. Christel often does not leave home without her coffee in her Saved by Grace, Fueled by Coffee tumbler by Lizz Warren. ( https://www.etsy.com/listing/555035058/christian-coffee-travel-mug-saved-by?ref=shop_home_active_1)

Elizabeth Warren is an LCMS missionary wife serving alongside her husband, Blake, in the Dominican Republic.  She has four beautiful daughters.  She is raising three here on earth and has one waiting for her in heaven.

She is a lettering artist with an etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/myalabasterflask?ref=shop_sugg ) and excited to contribute art to the Visual Faith resources. She is grateful for the grace and love of a forgiving Savior. She records her thoughts, feelings, and lessons learned about mission life, grief, and motherhood on her blog: myalabasterflask.com.

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Thank you, Christel & Lizz for sharing this amazing story and for the privilege of seeing how visual faith works in a foreign mission setting. You inspire us to be aware of and reach out in our own mission fields, which are often in our own communities, down the block, or right next door! Spanish resources, including the Sharing the Psalms devotions and prayer cards by Christel and Lizz, are available for ministry use at no cost on the Visual Faith Ministry website here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/spanishresources .



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



Teens and Visual Faith


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.

Laura with two of her children - spending creative, meaningful time in the Word together.

Laura with two of her children - spending creative, meaningful time in the Word together.

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.


Creative response to Proverbs 27:17 by Micah Bauer, 14.

Creative response to Proverbs 27:17 by Micah Bauer, 14.

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.

Visual faith responses by teens

Visual faith responses by teens

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.


An “accordian book” visual faith project

An “accordian book” visual faith project

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?


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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.

Faces tell the story of an enjoyable visual faith experience!

Faces tell the story of an enjoyable visual faith experience!

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!

A few pages from Laura’s personal Bible.

A few pages from Laura’s personal Bible.

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.

Painting by Rachael, age 16, who created this as a confirmation banner for a friend.

Painting by Rachael, age 16, who created this as a confirmation banner for a friend.

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.

Doors into Prayer - A Visual Faith Event

Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana hosted a Visual Faith event on April 27, 2019.  Thrivent Grants were a big help in putting together the event. Bags all ready to gift to those attending.  Tables set ready to welcome those coming for the Saturday event.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana hosted a Visual Faith event on April 27, 2019.

Thrivent Grants were a big help in putting together the event. Bags all ready to gift to those attending.

Tables set ready to welcome those coming for the Saturday event.

A wonderful array of door prizes were lined up ready to gift to those coming to the event.

A wonderful array of door prizes were lined up ready to gift to those coming to the event.

The morning was a teaching time about Visual Prayer and the afternoon was creative time for making a paper bag journal to gather prayer quotes, thoughts and inspiration.

The morning was a teaching time about Visual Prayer and the afternoon was creative time for making a paper bag journal to gather prayer quotes, thoughts and inspiration.

Conversations centered on prayer thoughts, life experiences, catching up and connecting with each other in this creative time.

Conversations centered on prayer thoughts, life experiences, catching up and connecting with each other in this creative time.

Pat Maier shares here about a simple way to engage in a visual prayer practice. During the afternoon time she shared lettering helps and tips in a small group setting.

Pat Maier shares here about a simple way to engage in a visual prayer practice. During the afternoon time she shared lettering helps and tips in a small group setting.

Marsha Baker of Bless Inks joined us from St. Charles, MO to share her love for Visual Faith practices, meet our community, and share her helpful resources about sketch notes, and all sorts of journaling, lettering and doodling.

Marsha Baker of Bless Inks joined us from St. Charles, MO to share her love for Visual Faith practices, meet our community, and share her helpful resources about sketch notes, and all sorts of journaling, lettering and doodling.

There were multi-generations that attended- bringing siblings, daughters and enjoying the time together — sisters in faith.

There were multi-generations that attended- bringing siblings, daughters and enjoying the time together — sisters in faith.

Here are some of the Versicle prayer cards created by Visual Faith Coach Carla Kramer and distributed to those attending.

Here are some of the Versicle prayer cards created by Visual Faith Coach Carla Kramer and distributed to those attending.

It was fun to make new friends and catch up with long-time friends.

It was fun to make new friends and catch up with long-time friends.

How does prayer change us? Many stories to catch up with on this day!

How does prayer change us? Many stories to catch up with on this day!

We give thanks for all those who attended the Doors into Prayer event in Fort Wayne. A special tanks to Visual Faith Coach Teresa Davis and her team for coordinating this event and for all of their time and effort. We give thanks also for all those who came for today——without you- there is no retreat!

We give thanks for all those who attended the Doors into Prayer event in Fort Wayne. A special tanks to Visual Faith Coach Teresa Davis and her team for coordinating this event and for all of their time and effort. We give thanks also for all those who came for today——without you- there is no retreat!

Our youngest attendee loved making her paper bag journal and sharing the story of prayer in her life. Maybe it is time for YOU to think about putting together a Visual faith event in your faith community!

Our youngest attendee loved making her paper bag journal and sharing the story of prayer in her life. Maybe it is time for YOU to think about putting together a Visual faith event in your faith community!

A Prayer and Devotional Path Through Lent

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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.

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Visual Faith on the Extravagant Love Cruise!

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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 Prayer - Preschool Style

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Sara DeYarmond is a preschool teacher Our Savior Lutheran School in Lansing, Michigan. She herself is a graduate of Our Savior and returned to teach at her elementary alma mater. Sara and others from the Our Savior staff attended their church women’s retreat, called “Linger Longer”, where they learned about visual prayer. Excited about including visual faith practices in the classroom, Sara decided to use an Advent coloring calendar to help her little students focus on prayer in the weeks before Christmas.

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Sara printed off Advent coloring calendars from the Visual Faith Ministry website. There are many images to choose from under Seasonal Resources. This simple star image by Bev Wicher is perfect for young students. You can find it here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/seasonal/advent-calendar-23-spaces-by-bev-wicher

Sara explains: “They pray out loud as they color and then we help them write the name of the person they prayed for in the box.”

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As part of this group process, Sara encourages her students to all pray out loud at the same time. Sara adds: “It’s a little crazy...and adorable. They have the option to find a quiet space away from the group if they choose.” Just imagine the sweet harmony of so many tiny voices talking to Jesus!

If you have experience with teaching preschool, or have had the chance to observe an early elementary classroom, you’ll probably agree that attention spans are limited and distraction is a given! Visual prayer corresponds with the skills of little ones who like to color and helps with focus and attention as they learn to pray. The children can “see” their conversations with God, go home to “tell” about them, and keep this new skill to use and develop as they grow in their faith.

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Visual prayer is for all ages. It’s for careful colorers, for those who color ouside the lines, and for those who might write words but choose not to color at all. It works for boys as well as girls, for women and men. Visual prayer has great impact on personal prayer time and, as in this case, lends itself well to the group prayers of even the tiniest of God’s people.

Thanks for sharing, Sara DeYarmond!

- Pat Maier

Welcome in Color- Refugees and Immigrants

It was late on a Wednesday evening and the woman’s voice on the other end of the phone sounded forlorn. She was anxious with questions and despairing when I was unable to provide the answers she was hoping to hear. Over the previous few days, my colleagues and I had become accustomed to these calls. The effects of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy had hit every major news outlet.  We all had witnessed young children being pulled from their mother’s hands and the desperate voices pleading officers to call a phone number that they had previously memorized and practiced.  

“What can I do?” The woman asked, “How can I help? I have a room in my house for a child at the border. They should not be in those cages, lying on the cold floor.” 

I gave her the contact information for a few partner organizations near the border. “We do have an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program,” I told her. “But the children at the border have families and the first priority is to reunify them with loved ones. At this time, we are not receiving any cases from the border,” I told her. 

After a dozen of these calls, it was obvious that our community members were feeling helpless. They needed an outlet, and these children needed to know that they were cared for and loved by so many in our country. Our staff brainstormed and researched and found that it was impossible to physically reach these children or parents waiting in detentions and processing centers. Nothing would be allowed in, no greeting cards, no games, no blankets or comfort of any kind. 

But there is one thing that cannot be censored or stopped: our prayers. 

 

LSS/NCA is participating in the Visual Faith Workshop on August 3 in Springfield, Virginia. Our staff will be hosting a table where participants can learn more about refugee resettlement efforts and foster care for refugee children as we pray and meditate on Bible verses that remind us the value of demonstrating love to our neighbors and welcoming the stranger. 

During the event, prayer cards will be available for children and adults to color and send messages to the families on our Southern border. Although we are unable to physically send the cards to holding centers, we can still spread our prayers and compassion through your help.

Here’s how you can participate: 

Download a free prayer card: Do your kids need a summer craft project? Prayer cards are a great way to teach them about current events through the power of compassion and kindness. Ask them to color a prayer card for a refugee or immigrant welcoming them to our communities.

Encouragement Cards (English)

Encouragement Cards (Spanish)

Prayer Cards

 

Display your prayer cards: Ask your congregation or faith leader permission to hang your cards in a Sunday school classroom, a display board, or meeting place. There may be someone in your own church community that would benefit from your message of welcome. 

 

Share on social media: Tweet, post or pin using #WelcomeInColor. Share your prayer cards or Bible journaling margins, and encourage others to lift up their voices for those in need of friendship. By using #WelcomeInColor, LSS/NCA and Visual Faith boards will be able to share and repost your image. Together, we can ignite compassion and welcome those who seeking refuge.

Autumn Orme, LSS/NCA Communications Director

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Polaroid Praise

A simple way to bring focus to a Bible verse.  Using painter's tape - tape card to table top- placing tape to have a margin on the top, sides and a larger margin on the bottom. Using Watercolor Cards (Michael's or Hobby Lobby) simply add watercolor.

Then with a Sharpie pen add silhouette images to the card. You may use a regular or fine-point Sharpie pen.  Image ideas can be found by Googling Silhouettes.  Remove tape and add Bible verse in the bottom space. Polaroid Praise is ready to display or bless someone else!  

We thank  Visual Faith coach- Michele Bowden for demonstrating this great and simple idea at a recent Creative Haven event.  She will be at the Visual Faith Assembly on August 3, 2018 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield, Virginia to share this idea with others

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