A few years ago, with only one teenager left at home, I realized that now was the “someday” I had been talking about when I said, “Someday I will do such and such” or “Someday I will have time for xyz again”. The art supplies that had been sitting in boxes in the closet, the books that weren’t about homeschooling or parenting, the closets that hadn’t been decluttered and organized in forever, the ideas for projects that filled random notebooks scattered around the house – now called out to me! Some things I ignored (the closets), but the books and art supplies came out from hiding and I was excited to once again follow interests that had been sidelined for a season.
Around that time I saw that a homeschool blogger I followed was posting pictures of beautiful drawings and lettering she was doing in her bible. This intrigued me, and a search on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram opened up a wonderful new world called “bible journaling” for me to explore! The idea of combining artistic expression with bible reading, responding creatively to scripture, drew me in immediately. Mark gave me a journaling bible for Christmas that year, so I got out my colored pencils, lettering pens, markers, washi tape, and watercolors and dove in.
Being a first born makes me a bit of a perfectionist, and starting to draw in my new, pristine bible was a little daunting. I saw another bible journaler post pictures of something called a “permission page”, which is just a page in the front of your bible where you give yourself permission to make mistakes and try new things! Genius! This was exactly what helped me get over that hump of “what if I make a mess of it!”.
My very first bible journaling page was a simple pencil drawing and lettering in the margin of Isaiah 7.
I moved on to using colored pencils and Sharpie pens, and as I got braver, experimented with watercolors, Inktense pencils, acrylic paint, and gelatos. I tried prepping pages with clear gesso, and soon discovered that it was a step that was rarely necessary. I moved out of the margins and sometimes filled the whole page, and then expanded to two-page spreads. At first I made sure that the text remained legible, but eventually, even that became unnecessary. The bible is not meant to be my study bible – I have other bibles for that. Also, the bible app on my phone is available as long as my phone is charged. This bible is a gift to my heavenly Father, an artistic expression of my faith as I respond to God’s word. It and others like it (I am currently working in 3 different bibles) will also someday be a gift to my children and grandchildren. A legacy of my faith.
I do not bible journal every day or every week. I might do a couple of pages over 2 or 3 days, and then not journal again for a month or two. It depends on what inspires me.
I bring a notebook to church (or in my living room if we are watching livestream) and take notes during the sermon, and often something from my notes will inspire a page. Sometimes a lyric from a worship song or a particular scripture verse that is meaningful to me will inspire a page. Sometimes I will want to journal an event such as a natural disaster, a birth in the family, an election, or a worldwide pandemic.
I have found a number of YouTube channels of bible journalers who share tutorials of techniques and tips that have expanded my artistic repertoire, and it has been exciting to try new things and new materials. Following hashtags on Instagram, such as #biblejournaling , #idrawinmybible and #illustratingmyfaith have introduced me to the work of scores of bible journal artists, and searching for bible journaling on Pinterest and Facebook have also revealed communities of creative Christians engaging with scripture in all kinds of meaningful and interesting ways.