Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Connecting with comfort via greeting card verses April 17, 2018

Each of these boxed card collections from Warner Press includes a greeting card verse that I wrote. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, I’ve walked into a Minnesota church basement or fellowship hall and noticed boxed greeting cards from Warner Press for sale. I write greeting card verses for that Indiana based Christian company and have done so for many years.

Typically, a half dozen or fewer of my submitted verses are selected for publication annually. It’s not a lot, but still an opportunity to challenge myself. Writing greeting card verses is difficult because you need to come up with something creative and new, something that hasn’t been published a million times already in a card. And you need to deliver those words in a succinct message.

 

My verses are published in these four recently-released cards, included in the Warner Press boxed card collections. Two are in the “Get Well, Comfort in God’s Care” collection, one in the “All Occasion, Peaceful Pastures” and the fourth in “Confirmed in Christ.” Because the verses are copyrighted, I can’t show you what I wrote.

 

I’ve found that I am most gifted at penning verses which encourage people, whether they are facing health issues, the loss of a loved one and/or other challenges.

I expect that ability to offer hope is rooted in my own experiences. When you’ve dealt with health issues—for me debilitating osteoarthritis followed by total hip replacement at a fairly young (50) age, three months of battling whooping cough, healing from a broken shoulder and more—you can empathize. And empathy translates into words of comfort and hope.

Likewise, I’ve lost enough loved ones and friends to pull sympathetic thoughts from the grief of my heart to offer comfort and hope.

 

One of the things I most appreciate about Warner Press is the company’s recognition of the writer and designer with their names listed on the back of each greeting card.

 

Comfort and hope. Those are powerful words. I hold the ability to offer healing to others through the ministry of greeting cards. More than ever today, we are a nation, a people, in need of healing. We each have the power within us to show empathy and care to others whether through our actions, written words, spoken words, prayer and, yes, even silence. Sometimes it’s better to remain quiet and to just listen, love and support.

In this day and age of instant communication, printed greeting cards still hold value. They connect us on a level that a screen can’t. When you give a card, you take the time to pause, to pick up a pen, to sign your name and perhaps add a personal note. For the person on the receiving end, that’s a gift—tangible evidence that you care. And that can make all the difference to someone in need of comfort and hope.

 

TELL ME: Do you see value in printed greeting cards? Do you still give and receive them?

Disclaimer: I am paid for the greeting card verses I write for Warner Press.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

God’s beauty blooms in Richard’s art September 18, 2011

I HAVE NOT MET Richard Vilendrer, only spoken with him briefly on the phone.

Yet, I feel a connection to this 72-year-old Faribault man, this artist who creates art for the pure joy of doing so. I understand that. It is the same reason I write and take photos for this blog.

You can see that joy in Richard’s art, which I discovered Saturday morning at the Faribault Farmer’s Market. I had passed only a few vendors’ booths—laden with the typical fresh produce, flowers and baked goods you would expect to find in this venue—when I noticed the pen-and-ink and colored pencil drawings vended by Carol Vilendrer, Richard’s wife of 35 years.

I stopped and just stood there. And it flashed through my mind that this Christian-themed art would be a good fit for Christian greeting cards. And when I looked further, I saw that Richard had already made cards. But I write greeting card verses for an Indiana-based publisher and I asked Carol then and there if I could direct my editor to Richard’s work. So I am. I don’t know if this will go anywhere; I have to try, though.

There’s a certain passion in Richard’s art and you can sense that when you speak with the man. He doesn’t do this for the money—although he’s sold some pieces—but for the pure enjoyment of creating art.

Since grade school this former Faribault Regional Center employee, who worked with handicapped children until the center closed, has put pencil to paper. As a youth, when he should have been listening in English class, he was instead inspired by textbook images—of Indians and of soldiers in helmets and of airplanes—to duplicate those drawings.

Scripture and Christian songs inspire Richard.

Today words from a song heard on Twin Cities-based Christian radio station KTIS, or words from Scripture or a found feather on a nature walk inspire him to first draw in pencil, then go over the pencil with ink and finally fill in with colored pencil.

He prefers to draw small, detailed subjects like his hand or a feather or a maple leaf. Yet, he’s also drawn John Deere tractors and buildings and classic cars.

Richard uses a technique called cross hatching—to perfect shading—by using a ball point pen to draw lines close together in one direction and then crosses in an opposite direction. He learned that in high school. Mostly, though, he’s self-taught, without formal training. He calls his artistic skills a “God-given talent.”

This man of faith has used that gift from God to create artwork for fundraisers at his church, Divine Mercy in Faribault.

A year ago, he suffered a stroke. But even in that he sees the blessing—the stroke affected his entire right side, not his left. Richard, the artist, is left-handed.

Nature and faith inspire his detailed art.

A pen-and-ink drawing of a building at the former Faribault Regional Center where Richard worked.

St. Lawrence Church in Faribault where Richard and Carol Vilendrer were married 35 years ago this coming October 1.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in purchasing Richard’s art or learning more about him, submit your contact information (which I will not publish) in a comment and I will pass that along to Richard.

PLEASE NOTE THAT the photos in this post are not 100 percent accurate to the true colors of Richard’s work. His drawings were wrapped in plastic, which filtered the colors and which created some glare. I edited each image somewhat to overcome those challenges.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling