Friday, September 28, 2018

When Life Looks Better Waterlogued

 One of my very favorite APPS 
on my phone is the Waterlogue photo app.
It takes my photos and changes them
 into a watercolor print.
 Where the lines are blurred and highlights 
appear that you miss in a regular photo.
 I thought about that in conversations 
with busy momma daughters this week.
 About feeling just overwhelmed on some days
 and the jobs are never-ending.
  Every thing you do has so many details
 and you wonder if you will ever come up
 for air in your life again.
And sometimes the weight of family life
 really does seem like it is resting 
on your shoulders to pull off 
in some sort of Hercules fashion.
It is really in THESE VERY BUSY,
 that it is the greatest blessing
 to step back and count gifts.
To fill out that one gift for each day,
and drop the prayer heart things 
on the prayers by the month page.
For in that very releasing of the noticing breath,
the lines are blurred a bit around the edges, 
and the LIGHT shines through.
And in the years ahead, when you look back
 and try to remember this mommy life stage-
well, you really won't.
But, what gift-
 if the treasure stored up- 
are the reminders of His faithfulness.
Right in the daily 2 year old tantrums,
 smudged faces, and laundry piles.
Yes, maybe as life gets held and 
even if the edges are a bit blurry,
it looks a bit more like living grace everyday.

Thanks to Patricia Maier 
for her beautiful garden
 that was the Waterlogue gift.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Enduring Word Bible- Great is the Lord

Enduring Word Bible - #27

Psalm 145-
Great is the Lord

v.3-Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, 
and his greatness is unsearchable. 
One generation shall commend your works to another, 
and shall declare your mighty acts. 
v.5 On the glorious spender of your majesty
 and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, 
and I will declare your greatness. v.7 They shall
pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
 and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

I continue to think about the information
 in the Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age book 
by Lutheran Hour Ministries
 and the Barna group.
A common denominator for people 
who talk about their faith is that 
they are "practicing Christians."
That means these Christians 
have an active prayer life,
 read God's Word, 
and attend a church worship service.
 Yet, for some in this group, the topic of faith
 comes up less than once a month in conversations.
That tilts them into the reluctant 
conversationalist category.
Those that speak regularly 
or seek opportunities to share about faith topics
 are considered eager conversationalists.
Spiritual practices make a significant difference.
They give us something to talk about
 and the desire to tell, commend 
and declare the works 
and acts of God to the next generation.
The three basic components 
that have been a part of 
Visual Faith practices have been
prayer, reading God's Word and worship.
Transformation stories about what has changed
 in our lives leads to spiritual conversations.
We can't help but talk about it with others.
And just like that---
a reluctant conversationalist
becomes an eager one.

Distress ink on acrylic stamp block
Alpha letters
Tag from scrapbook bundle
Prisamacolor Premier Pen

Monday, September 24, 2018

Doors into Prayer -Part Two- Camp Arcadia, Michigan

Camp Arcadia brings together 
long-time friends and new friends to be made.
 Sometimes it is cousins, and sisters, 
and sometimes it is sisters in faith.
 Doors into Prayer- 
our Heavenly Father meets us in all sorts of ways.
We learn to pay attention, become child-like, 
cry for help, practice Sabbath, 
and watch and give thanks.
Sometimes those prayers 
end up right in our Bibles.
The Camp Arcadia Women's Retreat
 had a section of break out sessions.
Visual Faith Coach Valerie Matyas
 led a break out session on Scripture Doodles
 using Portal of Prayer devotion 
and the Concordia Publishing House calendar.
A great way to process and remember words 
and highlights from a Bible reading or devotion.
What does it LOOK LIKE when our prayer life 
becomes a visual story?

Visual Faith Coach Candice Schwark
 led a breakout session 
on making a paper bag journal
 to use to collect your retreat experience.
 The paper bag method can be used 
as a processing resource
 for all sorts of Visual Faith projects.
                                                                                                                              photo credit- Candice Schwark
Working on the 
Doors to Prayer - Paper Bag Journal
Here is the youngest attendee 
with her lovely paper bag journal.
Saturday evening included great music
 from the talented brother duo-Brothers Mogan.
They had us up and dancing.
Sunday morning worship
 by the lake was a highlight of the weekend.
So was the gathering of this team
 of Visual Faith Coaches.
Left to Right- Candice Schwark, Pat Maier, Connie Denninger, 
Katie Helmreich, and Valerie Matyas
We form online relationships and friendships
 as teammates for Visual Faith ministry.
What a joy to actually meet in person!
This was a best gift of the weekend.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Doors into Prayer-Camp Arcadia, Michigan- Part One

There are some things that are iconic
 about Camp Arcadia Michigan.
Worship on the edge of Lake Michigan
 and this cross is one of them.
So is crystal clear water and blue
 as far as you can see.
 The tree-lined shoreline
 and the bluffs of distant Frankfort are another. 
 Then there is the Walter League history
 of a nearly 100 year old camp.
History and artifacts galore.

A blessing of the weekend 
was reconnecting with fellow CUAA-
Concordia University - Ann Arbor friends and alumni.
Thanks Debbie and Sharon for making
 this weekend reunion so much fun!
Doors into Prayer was the theme
 for the 2018 Camp Arcadia Women's Retreat-ONE.
Show and Tell for the gathering.

Index Cards and
five minutes in prayer.
Time to slow down, pay attention
 and deal with distractions.
And an honest conversation 
about our prayer life 
with our Heavenly Father.
What wonderful music with Brooke!
Thanks to dear friend and 
Visual Faith Co-Founder- Pat Maier
 for the opportunity to bring Visual Faith practices 
to this wonderful group of Christian women.

Part 2-
more details

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Grandparents and Spiritual Conversations

Finished reading 
Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age -
the Barna Report produced
 in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries. 
 There is a lot packed in these pages
 of graphs and explanations.
We can't think of anything more fun
 than talking about Jesus and His awesome work
 with the 6 grandsons entrusted to us right now.
How can we learn to be
 followers of Jesus together?
We fall into the category
 of eager conversationalists-
we actively seek and create opportunities
 to share our faith.
And practicing Christians-
we pray, read our Bible 
and attend worship more than once a month.
But, the studies show that most adults
 don't seem to connect their everyday experiences
 with their faith- or if they do, 
they aren't talking about it.
Not with their families or their friends 
- Christian and not.
But, the graph that keeps coming back to me 
is the one stating that 7% of grandparents
 have spiritual conversations 
with their grandchildren as preferred partners. (p 50).
That's the practicing Christians.
 The Non-practicing Christians are 5%.
Non-Christians are at 2%.
So, the goal of a spiritual conversation
 is not merely to pass on information,
 but to transform lives.
Those interactions can be
 in multiple dimensions.
In person, phone calls, texting and chatting
 and email top the list.
You just can't beat what happens in the moment
 of next to, be with, and hang out time.

Right smack in the middle 
of the wrangling and the talking
 is the singing and the stories.
Across the board, as we have conversations
 with people that share our faith and those who don't- 
it was Laughter that crossed barriers to connect.
Grandparents who want to have meaningful
 faith conversations with their grandchildren
 need to remember that laughter is a door opener.
From the time we get up,
through our day,
our everyday normal lives are  
woven with the sacred. 

Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. The Message

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Enduring Word Bible- Be Strong

Enduring Word Bible-#26

Isaiah 35: 3-6
The Ransomed Shall Return

The majesty of Carmel and Sharon
 will blossom abundantly.
They will see the glory 
and majesty of the Lord.
there is the anxious heart,
 and encouragement to 
"Be strong and Fear Not!...
He will come and save you."
"waters break forth in the wilderness, 
and streams in the desert."

Two sections with phrases 
that have spoken to me for a long time.
Here in the same chapter.
Don't think I realized that 
before doing this journaling.
One of my favorite all time devotional books
 is L.B. Cowman's - Streams in the Desert.
After visiting Israel 
and the images of the wilderness
 and the desert in my mind now-- 
these verses are even more meaningful.
And every day is a great day to be reminded- 
Be strong! 
Feat not! 

Precision pen
Colored pencils
Yellow Faber- Castell Gelato

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Camp Arcadia, Michigan

“Fear not,
 I am the first and the last,
 and the living one.
 I died, and behold I am alive forevermore,
 and I have the keys of Death and Hades."
Revelation 1:17-18

Loving this sunset vista 
and pairing this verse of hope.
 In the face of death, our own mortality,
the cross is the reminder of our rescuer.

 A wonderful time this weekend
leading the Women's Retreat 
at Camp Arcadia, Michigan. 
Reflecting on this past weekend 
and all of the conversations, blessings,
and gifts brought forth in encouragement.
God is Good!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Joining Jesus - Show Me How-3

 Mission Focus, Purpose
Challenges, Direction
These are all topics that churches 
wrestle with and make plans 
for and meet about, and then meet some more.
One of the things we know about millennials - 
they don't do meetings.
So they are not only missing 
from our churches but they are missing 
from the conversations 
about why they are missing.
Greg Finke's work with Dwelling1:14 
offer these great questions for conversation starters:
  1. What is the mission of God, according to God?
  2. How does God intend for us to participate in His mission?
  3. In the gospels, what is Jesus’ goal for those He is discipling?
  4. According to Jesus, what is a disciple and what does a disciple do?
  5. In the gospels, what process does Jesus use to train His disciples?
  6. How can we optimize our congregational groups and gatherings to accomplish Jesus’ discipling goals?
 These questions bring time together
 looking at the right things-
how do disciples make disciples?
It is not about budgets, 
attendance, weekly offerings,
and leaky roofs.
Those all need to be dealt with but,
 they are not the MAIN THING.
 What I really appreciate reading
 in Greg's book- Joining Jesus - Show Me How
 or his blog at
is that I can actually imagine Jesus
 sitting around and talking with his disciples
using these very questions.
It is Jesus Discipleship Class 101.
And I am reminded how many times
 Jesus had to go over the lessons with them,
 repeat the main point, 
and review when they failed the test.
Simple enough..
go and make disciples.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Joining Jesus- Show Me How-2

For some time now I have been asking people-
"Who are you discipling?
Who is discipling you?"
Not very often I get an answer.
Turns out that is a simple door-opener
 for thinking through this process 
of discipling everyday missionaries.
Mulling more thoughts from 
Joining Jesus - Show Me How by Greg Finke.
 So, what is the mission of God?
"To redeem and restore all things through Jesus.
And we get to help.
 It's what we were made for and saved for.
Discipling, then, is the means 
for showing the people of God 
how to participate in the mission of God
 as a daily lifestyle."
Well, that is a mighty big plan. 
And I am feeling pretty inadequate.
Best left for someone else to do.
Except for that Great Commission thing-
Go and Make Disciples.
SO, how does this Really happen?
Greg Finke summarizes-
"To become redemptive in the world 
with Jesus we need to become more loving like Jesus. 
He restores us to the abundant love
 of the Father through baptism 
and he trains us to give away that love
 to those who need it so badly."
Ok, easy enough.
Right? Well, except....
100 excuses.
I know how to do church,
but mystified by this discipling thing.
So, surely we get clues for this task
 by watching Jesus, right?
Finke summarizes Jesus' teaching plan-
imitate him.
"It looks like relationship-
intentional time together,
 unhurried conversation about real life and Jesus-
 and the kingdom comes."
That doesn't sound like a theology degree,
or binders full of studies and studies.
Pretty sure, 
this is a jump right into the learning lab,
without credentials,
kind of sending.
But, Jesus equips his ragtag, ill-equipped lot 
with the power of the Holy Spirit.
  This driving force, 
for the sake of all of His missing children,
is a game-changer.
And I'm game.