Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tending the Flame Confirmation and Ministry Resources

Here are the tools and resources presented at Tending the Flame workshop Confirmation Faith Books and Other Ministry Resources. The worksheets use writing, drawing and creative interaction in the education and personal faith life of the Confirmands. The congregation of St. John's uses various Visual Faith resources throughout the ministry in order to promote deeper discipleship in prayer, worship, bible study and personal devotion time.



All files are free to download, print and distribute. Please do not alter or package for sale in any way.
Click on the titles below to download.

Being a Blessing

God Action Reflection

Discussion Reflection for Faith at Home

Weekly Prayers Basic
Weekly Prayers side 1
Weekly Prayers side 2

Service Reflection side 1
Service Reflection side 2

Sermon Notes side 1
Sermon Notes side 2 questions

Key for Bible Journaling
Bible Margin Samples

Older Worksheets
Sermon Reflection
Worship Reflection

Sample Sheets
Coloring Page
Illustrated Sermon Note




For more resources click on the Faith Book and Sermon Notes tab above. You can also find information on how to teach Visual Faith under the Visual Faith Resources tab. For a blog post about sharing and using Visual Faith click HERE




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Life Manifesto

Over the last several months I have been reading about simplifying life and setting goals. Being constantly in a state of busyness and feeling overwhelmed, has lead me and my family on a search for rest. I've discovered that having a clear vision of your passions, talents and priorities is important.


Thom and Art Rainer challenge their readers to write out their typical day and then list their priorities in the book Simple Life. They also encourage them to explore what are those barriers that keep the reader from their priorities and simplifying. At the end of a chapter the reader must write out an action plan, a mission statement, that helps them to move towards their simpler life. After all, "Time was meant to be a blessing, not a burden." - Rainer, Simple Life.

In Breaking Busy by Ali Worthington, she shares with the reader the fruits of being overwhelmed, how to edit out the distractions in life, and how knowing our worth in God can help us to slow down and find our purpose.


Wanting to have a more focused motivation for my days I wrote out a mission statement and answered the tough questions in both books. It did help to clarify how I wanted to better structure my time, but it still felt off. My intense task oriented type A personality took it as a challenge which lead to my mission statement feeling more of a burden than a blessing. It was not simple and it didn't even crack busy. This was not the fault of the books, though. They are both very well written. This was totally the result of my brain being accustomed to constant chaos.

In addition to reading these two highly recommended books, I had been enjoying my new favorite magazine, The Magnolia Journal. You know, from that ever so loved and popular show, Fixer Upper. I noticed that on the last page of each issue there is printed something they call the Magnolia Manifesto. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a manifesto is "a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer."


OK, now that clicked with me. It made more sense. It wasn't just another 'to do' list. A manifesto gives the reasoning behind why you are doing what you are doing. I needed to keep focused on the who I was, whose I was, why I do and how I do, what I do.

Here is what I came up with based on the priorities and values I affirmed while reading the books mentioned above.

God is my first conversation of the day. He created me, gave me life, and
gave me passions. He comforts me and guides me. He longs to spend
time with me. I want to be more aware of His presence in my life.

I will pray for my spouse and children everyday. I will ask God to guide and
protect them. I pray that they may sense God’s presence in their lives.
May they remember that He is always with them.
I will also pray for the ministry, mission, and town God has placed me in.

My health and well being is very important. Processing my emotions,
eating healthy, and moving my body are how I will care for what
God has given me. When I take care of myself, I can care for
others. I am able to share God’s love.

My relationships are very dear to me. I find joy in nurturing them. 
My spouse is the most important human in my life. It is good for us 
to pray together and go out together.  I cherish our children 
and am privileged to be able to help mold them into amazing 
human beings. Our time together as a family is valuable and is filled with 
adventures, lessons, grace, and love.
My friends are wonderful people. We give each other support
and mercy. It is good to listen and work together.

My community and neighbors are a gift. I want to know them
and bless them, and have a positive impact on them. 

I will use my gifts and talents to the best of my ability. I will show
respect and kindness to others. I will strive to make good decisions.

I know that I am valued and safe. That Jesus has defeated
sin, death and the devil. And God has already WON!

This is my vision. This is who I am. And how I want to live out my days. Maybe a manifesto is right for you to help find focus and simplicity in your life.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pentecost Sermon Notes

Here are some notes to download and use for Pentecost this Sunday



Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sharing Visual Faith

Once I discovered Visual Faith, which includes Bible Journaling and Praying in Color, I was very excited to share it with others. Visual Faith made such a difference in my personal devotion life. I was able to concentrate better and looked forward to practicing it daily. It did take me a bit of time and searching Pinterest, observing others, and trying different techniques before I found my own style. But even during that time, I couldn't stop telling others people about Visual Faith.

What is Visual Faith? It is the practice of writing, doodling, or coloring as you pray or read scripture. This can be done in a journal, sketchbook, Journaling Bible or coloring book.

If you are new to bible journaling, I would suggest checking out www.illustratedfaith.com

If you've never heard of praying in color, check out www.prayingincolor.com

In order to teach others about Visual Faith, I created some hand outs. There is an explanation sheet for both Bible Journaling and Praying in Color. I also developed some worksheets for the teaching process. The best way to start is to jump in and get some hands on experience. I have now taught 6 different classes and events using these materials and they have worked well.

The explanation sheets are quick overviews that include the process, materials and resources.

 


The worksheets have space available to walk through process of the Visual Faith technique.

 


You can find them free to download under the Visual Faith Resources Tab above. There are quick explanations for using them. I have extra Visual Faith resources including Sermon Notes under the Faith Book and Sermon Notes Tab above.

A lot of people respond very well to this faith practice. It is an engaging process that can be done by all ages and genders. It offers interaction for better retention and an opportunity to respond to what God is teaching you. It is all about the process you experience as you are learning and praying. It is not about a finished work of art. You do not need to be an artist or creative to practice Visual Faith.

Visual Faith has woken up my devotional and prayer life. It has drawn me closer to God! I pray that it does for you and I encourage you to share your Visual Faith experience with others.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Praying the Psalms

At St. John's we are just starting a sermon series on the Psalms. We won't be able to cover all of them but are using the scheduled readings from series A. Even if you are not working through the same readings or series, the free print out can still enrich your devotion time by giving you easy to use steps and space to pray, reflect, or dwell on the Psalms. The book of Psalms is considered the Prayer Book of the Bible. It is a great place to go if you feel stuck getting started with prayer. It is full of praises, adoration, requests, and even frustrations. The print out has a Psalm listed for each week during the Easter season. Take time to dwell throughout the week in that Psalm. Use the blank boxes on the second print out,the inside, to write what you have experienced (or learned) with that Psalm. There is also a praying in color grid from Sybil Macbeth's site prayingincolor.com for you to write, color, or doodle prayers for yourself or others. Many blessings as you explore, pray, and dwell in the Psalms. All pages are formatted to print on legal size paper, 8.5x14.




What the prayer grid on the back cover looks like. Find it in the cover download.



Friday, March 24, 2017

Daily Affirmations Booklet

The Daily Affirmations coloring and reflecting booklet is a result of my husband asking me to come up with a place where people could ponder the promises of God. I had made the cover sheet awhile back to add to my faith book.



Each quote is referenced with a bible verse. It is either a direct quote or a paraphrase. I encourage you to look up each reference, read it through a couple of times, write your thoughts in the lined box and then color the picture as you think about how God cares for you through that verse. Each picture is simple in composition so that you can focus more on God's words than the picture itself. To avoid getting hung up on your coloring technique, I suggest picking out only 3 different colored pencils to use on each page. Then, you'll spend less time thinking about what color you want to use and spend more time reflecting on God's promise to you.


Each document has two different coloring pages on one legal size sheet of paper. To make a booklet you can print another page on the back or keep it blank and fold all the sheets together. The cover has all the promises listed together and an affirmation to color for the back of the booklet. Feel free to color in this page, too. There are an odd number of pages, so I printed the last one front and back and then cut it in half for the center of the booklet. Or, you can just have extra blank space for thoughts or doodles.


Each page is free to download and print. I pray that the practice of coloring and reflecting helps to draw you closer to God and become more aware of His presence in your life. Hold fast to His promises and rest securely in His affirming love for you. Click on each page below for the file.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lent thus far...



Today is day 4 of the 40 days of Lent, which do not count Sundays, up until Easter. This year I happened upon a reflective scripture, prayer and a fasting of sorts written by Ann Voskamp. I knew I was already going to do my Lenten Prayer Path for my prayer time and look at the study inside, but I was interested in doing more. Something that would challenge me, grow me, stretch me to go deeper. I was very excited when I saw Ann's post on her Facebook page show up just a couple days before Ash Wednesday. Here is the link: A Lent to Repent and Refresh 

There are these wonderful free downloads to print that look like a bookmark or can be folded into an ornament for each day. There is a verse to look up and walk through a lectio divinia reflection type process. There is also a prayer in the middle with what you will be fasting from for that day, like perfectionism, judgmentalism and even social media. And then there is a beautiful classic piece of artwork that depicts the life of Christ. They are made in color but I choose to print them in black and white for a more somber feel.


I have really enjoyed reflecting in the margins of my journaling bible and in my faith book. Here are some photos of what I have done. I realized on the 3rd day that I could tape the bookmarks into my bible with washi tape. There will be multiple entries on only a few of the same pages. The bookmarks are just the right size for me to write notes on the back of them and then overlap them as they are added. I also noticed that I have developed a cross as a part of each entry. I would like to continue this throughout Lent.







Sunday, February 26, 2017

Re-LENT

This season of Lent is a season of simplifying in our household. We are paring down with The Minimalists challenge #minsgame and hoping to find some rest through clarity. There is so much noise around us that sometimes it's hard to even tell what messages are being thrown at us. Let alone, hear our Lord speaking to our souls. Then, we tend to get confused and scared and forget that Jesus has promised us that we are not alone and that he is there. Lent is a six week season of reflection that includes prayer, fasting and alms giving (money for the poor). It is a preparation for observing Holy Week which includes Jesus' last days, death and then resurrection on Easter.



For a Visual Faith devotion, I created a prayer page reminiscent of a prayer labyrinth. The opportunity to step into God's presence every day and remember his promises. You may color in or doodle each circle as you move through the 40 days of Lent. I counted the 40 days starting Thursday after Ash Wednesday, resting on Sunday and then ending with Easter in the middle. Find page 1 HERE




The second page of the devotion includes a verse to reflect on and truly digest throughout the six week journey. It is from Matthew chapter 11 of The Message. Here I hope you find relief and renewal as Jesus invites you to recover your life with him. There are questions to help guide you through your time in God's presence, they are meant to lead to a realigning of our thoughts with God's desire for us to live confidently knowing we are safe in him. Find page 2 HERE


I pray that as you re-lent and let go of the crazy clutter of this world, you are able to feel secure in God's promises and live free. And remember that God relented our separation from him by sending Jesus as our salvation. May you experience the unforced rhythms grace this Lenten season.

If you like keeping with a theme of simplicity, I also created a coloring page with the words 'keep it simple'. Find it HERE




Friday, February 24, 2017

My Visual Faith Story

Exactly 2 years ago today, I learned about this cool way to interact with your bible and prayers. Immediately my family and I went to a discount warehouse store, bought inexpensive bibles, journals and colored pencils. We were hooked! I can't say that all my Visual Faith practices happened overnight but something awesome happened that day. An amazing journey began that would heal me, grow me, stretch me, lead me and most of all become more aware of God's presence in my life. Thank you Connie for introducing me to Bible Journaling and Praying In Color that day. You may of had no idea what God was doing but it was big. These faith practices have been used by God to transform my life. And point my family in a direction of grace and freedom. As Christians we can walk through this life with blinders on or with spiritual amnesia, how much sweeter is life when we are aware of God's presence, hold steadfast to His promises, feel safe and secure in Him and then share that with the rest of the world!?



Here is a link to my Visual Faith Story published just yesterday on www.journalingthebible.com
Sally is an amazing child of God and has a great number of resources for Bible Journaling and interacting with your faith on her site. For more of my journey visit my guest appearances to the left of here. I also have a list of other fantastic sites to learn more about Visual Faith it is to the right of here under Reference. Vintage Grace is Connie's blog. Her story, her faith, the projects are all inspiring. My first one was the Prayers for My Children. Click on her Visual Faith tab and scroll down to find it. It blows my mind to think I didn't have a committed prayer time for my kids before. What an awesome difference God has made in our lives through Visual Faith.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

It's a Matter of the Heart

The scripture readings continue in Matthew 5, The Sermon on the Mount, at St. John's this Sunday. Pr. Cj's sermon will be titled, "It's a Matter of the Heart." The sermon note sheet is covered in hearts, which could be used for several different topics and is appropriate as we celebrate St. Valentine this coming Tuesday. You can download the Sermon Note sheet click here Heart Matter Sermon Notes.



Again, these files are made as legal size pdfs. If you don't have legal size paper, print on regular size and cut off the extra. PS they do NOT print pink.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Heart Prayers



Here is a new prayer sheet for Valentine's for you to doodle and pray for loved ones. Praying in Color is a wonderful way to slow down and focus on your prayers. For more instruction on how to practice Praying in Color go to  www.prayingincolor.com . For examples of other faith book inserts and what they look like completed visit my post for Sept. 29th, Examples of Faith Book Inserts. To find out what a faith book is, click on the link to the left. For more pictures and project postings, follow Melinda Ransdell on Instagram and like Unconventionally Steadfast on Facebook.

Click to download Heart Prayers

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Coming Home

We are home now! What an amazing experience. I have been sharing about it on my Instagram account. Find a link to it on the top right. It was most definitely a transformative pilgrimage. Now that I'm back home, it's time to get back into the swing of things. Although we must return to our ordinary routines, I know that they will now be fueled with something extra special. If you ever get the chance to visit Israel, please do!

Here is a picture of the Sermon Notes for this week. The file can be found under the Faith Book & Sermon Notes tab, file titled Sermon on the Mount. We actual stood there last week! The image I drew is my memory of hiking down the Mount of Beatitudes while the sun was setting with the other hills to our right and the Sea of Galilee in front of us.  It was breathtaking!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Back at Sermon Notes

I apologize that this is after the fact, but I have been back at sermon notes for the last couple for Sundays. But for the next couple weeks St. John's we will be using blank notes without a coloring strip  (which you can find under the sermon note tab). My husband and I will be traveling to Israel. We are beyond excited for our pilgrimage. And cannot wait to experience the impact it will have on our ministry. Here are the sermon notes for last week, Jesus' baptism and this week, Jesus the Lamb of God.


Jesus' Baptism Sermon Notes

Jesus the Lamb of God

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Emphasis on Epiphany

Epiphany has always held wonder and magic for me. I love that in the church we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and the tree does not come down right away, not even on New Years Day! Instead we recognize the delayed arrival of the magi. This helps to emphasize the significance of their part in the nativity narrative. The Messiah, the king of kings and lord of lords, is not just for the people of Israel. He is for all peoples to the ends of the earth!



So, if you are like me and want to linger in the light of the star of Bethlehem and ponder the significance of our savior's birth, then I encourage you to dwell in Epiphany. To sit in awareness of what an epiphany is, the manifestation of the divine. And maybe, just maybe, God will grant you a moment of sudden revelation into the amazing love he has for his creation.

I have created a praying in color sheet called Epiphany Prayers. It is for a short season, 10 days, but enough time to linger. Use the stars to pray for loved ones, yourself or give thanks and praise. You can download it for free by clicking on Epiphany Prayers.




I also found a nice coloring sheet for my faith book at bible-printables.com of the Wise Men. There are a few different designs in the Christmas section.


Another way to reflect is through Bible Journaling. Verses to look at are the Wise Men story in Matthew 2, the Bethlehem Star in Numbers 24:17 and Isaiah 60:1. If you have not heard of bible journaling I have an explanation under Visual Faith Resources tab or visit the Illustrated Faith website.



Some other suggestions for celebrating Epiphany are influenced by Sybil MacBeth's "The Season of the Nativity." To learn more about Praying in Color visit her website prayingincolor.com  You can also find her books there.



Celebrate Epiphany by:

* Read the story of the Wise Men in Matthew 2:1-2
* Just now let your nativity Wise Men figures arrive at the stable creche.
* Look up online why they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh.
* Make and decorate crowns to wear or display.
* Read T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Journey of the Magi."
* Decorate your home with stars, white candles and gold ribbons.
* Leave up your Christmas tree with a star topper on it and star ornaments.
* Read the bible stories about Jesus' baptism and his first miracle in Cana.
* Throw an Epiphany party or a 12th Night Party on the evening of January 5th.
* Bake a Kings Cake.
* Play a game of hide and seek with the baby Jesus figurine from your nativity scene.
* Listen to "We Three Kings" and look for other Wise Men songs to put on a playlist.



I really like "The Wiseman's Song" by Sawyer Brown and "How Many Kings" by Downhere.

There is also the tradition of chalking the doorway of your home with a special Epiphany blessing. Read more about it in an article written by Deacon Greg Kandra, Chalking the Door: Blessing Your Home for Epiphany. Click the article title for link.

It was that bright morning star the kings followed to find the young Jesus and where they recognized his sovereignty over all the earth. A reign of service, love and sacrifice. We are called to also follow his light and be light bearers to the rest of the world.



So, just as the magi returned to their land to tell of the good news, you too go and share the message of Christ's birth, death and resurrection.

Happy Epiphany!