Posted in A Non-Artist's Guide to Bible Journaling

A Non-Artist’s Guide to Bible Journaling: In the Beginning

It’s been nearly two months since I started Bible journaling, and the experience has greatly changed my outlook on morning quiet time. More than once, I’ve gotten up earlier than needed simply to have more time to decorate the pages of my Bible. I’ll be the first to admit that Bible journaling is not for every Christian, but for me, it has been a tool that’s brought me closer to God, excited to study His Word in a brand new way. While I don’t claim to be an expert on all things Bible journaling, I’d like to use this series as a way to pass on what I’ve learned in my crafting ventures and to share what’s been on my heart lately. As a short (and unnecessary) disclaimer, I am absolutely not being paid by anyone to say nice things about their product. Anything I recommend is something I do use on a daily basis. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I have to admit. I did a lot more research on what kind of journalling Bible to get after I had already ordered an Inspire Bible. The thing that immediately drew me towards it was the fact that there were illustrations already printed on the pages, just waiting for me to color in.

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And this is a non-artist’s guide to Bible journaling, right? 😉 Having pre-designs sounded like a good backup plan–just in case I couldn’t fill an entire Bible’s worth of blank, one column pages.

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But oddly enough, I immediately found myself gravitating towards those blank, intimidating pages. My very first self-entry is the featured image, the one at the top. A two page wide design that popped into my mind the day I got my Bible. Hours earlier, I had given a devotional at my CO/OP, a recount of the past three years and the worst months of my life. The Lord had put Psalms 121 on my heart a mere months before the storm had begun, even prompting me to compose a little picture. My first Bible journaling experience you could say.

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A part of me knew that I would recreate the scene in my new Bible, but I didn’t endeavor to make it my first. Psalms 121 was special to me, and I didn’t want to mess up the entry. I wanted it to be beautiful, designed by a mind that was familiar with the page layout, and drawn by hands that knew just how carefully to press the pencil. I wanted it to be perfect.

And I quickly realized that I would never be able to create a single entry if perfectionism was my goal.

Because mistakes are inevitable. No matter how skilled you are at anything, your work will never be perfect. There will always be something out of place, something wrong, blemishes. A perfect Bible journaling entry is unattainable. My entries are meant to be imperfect. They’re done by a flawed vessel, one only made whole in Christ Jesus. They’re apart of my worship, an expression of adoration and thankfulness for all He’s done for me. My goal shouldn’t be to make an Instagram (or blog) worthy entry, something to show off my growing art skills. My goal should be to spend quality time with the Lord, immersed in His Word. Encouraged by a Youtube video, I devoted a still unfinished page in the front of my Bible to declare just that.

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It was becoming painfully obvious what passage I needed to do first. Not only did I have a design in my head, but I also needed to eradicate the fear of imperfections in my heart. So I Googled the lyrics to one of my favorite songs,“Shoulders” by For King & Country. The words match Psalms 121 wittingly, and in my darkest hours, it was my cry to the Lord, a reminder of His promises. I knew that I wanted to reserve a column for the lyrics, but my handwriting is nowhere near the flowing, neat marks I envisioned. Yet another roadblock.

That’s when I discovered tracing.

Bible pages are thin. The fact had been a nuisance during my quest to highlight my entire Bible. My Sharpie gel highlighters would bleed through, always ghosting. It got to a point where I had to implement a system of what colors could be used on which side of the page. What had once been an annoyance was now a gift from God. I could print off song lyrics, scripture, and even etchings to trace straight into my Bible. I may not be able to draw on my own very well, but I could be a pro at tracing. I found a beautiful font, Silent Reaction, watched a tutorial on how to drawl hills, and got to work.

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It took me two days to complete, but I couldn’t have been happier with the results. After I had finished tracing in the words, a wave of doubt washed over me. Without the color, the page looked incomplete, wrong. I hated it, nearly erased it all. But a voice whispered to me that it was okay, to give it a chance, to color it in. I must admit. It was a bit of a nervous moment for me, coming to accept that I’d possibly “ruined” my favorite passage, my biggest fear in this new endeavor. But even if it was ruined in my eyes, to God, it would be a work of art. The time I spent sitting in my dinning room, singing praise and worship music, silently praying in my heart was not wasted. It was spent with Him, and if I didn’t regret how I spent those hours, what did it matter how the entry turned out? So I scattered my brand new pack of Crayola Twistables across the table and started coloring. In the end, the color made all the difference, changing a despised design into something I loved. I know it’s not the best; it will never be on display in a museum. But that was never its purpose.

So in conclusion, my advice to you, dear reader, is to not let fear hold you back. Pray. Ask the Lord to guide you, remove all needless fear from your heart. His perfect plan will win every time. Even if you overcome your fear, and it still doesn’t workout, have confidence in knowing that the Lord has something better in store–and that you didn’t give into anxiety.

And to anyone who wishes to start Bible journaling but isn’t sure where to start–or if they could even afford to. You don’t need a lot of supplies. Just a pencil and a Bible will do. If you want to buy a new pack of colored pencils, I highly recommend Crayola Twistables. The colors are gorgeous, they’re relatively cheap, and I’ve used them on a daily basis with no signs of needed replacement soon. Frankly, you don’t even need a journaling Bible to start either. Even on the highlighted pages of my ESV Study Bible, Bible journaling shines through.

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But if you do want to purchase a special journaling Bible, I strongly recommend that a lot of research and prayer go into it. There are so many to choose from–even just among the realm of Inspire Bibles and similarly pre-illstruated ones. Even if you’re the exact opposite of me and have been blessed with the gift of art, I would suggest looking into creative journaling Bibles. There is a certain beauty to them that anyone can appreciate.

If you already Bible journal, I’d love to have a discussion in the comments, and if you want to start but still have questions, I’d love to try to answer those as well. 😊

Verse of the Day

Matthew 2:13-15

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”