Bible Journaling–Yay! or Whoa!

Welcome  I want to discuss a trend today, and hopefully get some feedback from my audience, as well.  I want to talk about the somewhat-recent trend of Bible Journaling.  I’m interested in others’ opinions as I share what I’ve learned about this unique approach to Bible Study through art, hand-lettering, and crafting.  Thanks for stopping by.

Bible Journaling
I struggled with the decision if starting a Bible journal was right for me.

 

Food For Thought  I first became aware of the concept of Bible Journaling back in 2016.  Here was my first reaction to this activity:  No!  You cannot mark up your Bible with markers and paints and stickers.  It is Holy Scripture, it’s God’s word, it’s disrespectful.  You get the idea, I found it offensive.  I wondered if God would consider it wrong, like we were defacing His property with graffiti.  Yet being the creative person that I am, I was intrigued by some of the beautiful artwork I was seeing in some people’s Bibles.  So I compromised.  I found some Bible verse coloring books and I started a Bible study notebook where I could copy verses and illustrate or embellish as I chose.  I have enjoyed both of these activities and I have a few examples of these on my DIY page. Then I began to think about my own Bible and how it looks on the inside.  It’s full of highlights, underlines, and jotted notes.  Is this approach to using my Bible any different, respect-wise, than what the “Bible journalists” are doing.  If I’m going to get “high and mighty” about marks being made in a Holy Bible, then I am just as guilty.  So, I decided to do a little research and find out more about Bible journaling from other Christian women.  I found these five blogs and websites to be most useful in answering my questions about the why’s and how’s of Bible journaling.  Several of them are part of a series offering links to further information.  These are enjoyable blogs to read and give lots of information about this topic.

His Purpose in Me

The Southern Couture

The Holy Mess

Arabah Joy

Written Reality

I have always loved doing artwork and am particularly fond of artists’ supplies, like colored pens, pencils, markers, and paints.  I love being creative, yes, the actual act of creating.  It’s a peaceful experience for me.  And when I’m at peace, my mind is more clear and focused on what I’m taking in.  So right here we have a couple of reasons why Bible journaling might not be a bad thing for me to try.  I like to visualize certain verses and passages.  Drawing or lettering are ways to help my brain remember or process certain scriptures.  Starting a Bible journal is beginning to make sense for me.

I have some concerns, the “cons” for beginning this type of journal, however.  I worry that I might be disrespecting God’s Word in some way.  I worry that the artwork and drawings will become a distraction from the scriptures.  I worry that I may lose sight of unillustrated verses, since my attention would not be drawn to them.  I worry that I may misinterpret a scripture through some of my illustrations.  But if I’m going to be honest, any one of these things can happen during my Bible study, whether I’m using highlighter, crayons, or just taking notes on a piece of paper.  The Word is the Word, the rest is just materials.  One of my biggest concerns for this activity came from examples I saw that had the words of scripture so marked out or heavily colored that they were unreadable.  I cannot accept this.  I still need to be able to read all of the verses and keep my Bible whole.  The Holy Mess blog addressed this in the post, Make it Meaningful.  A couple other key points address this issue.  This type of journaling is almost always done in a special type of Bible designed specifically for adding artwork or notes, with wide margins or columns.  Also, if I don’t want to cover up scripture in my Bible, I won’t mark on the text.  It’s that simple!  My Bible journaling experience is for me, my study, and my time with God.  I only need to concern myself with my Bible journal and no one else’s journal.

In my quest for information, I found a lot of “pros” convincing me that this is not necessarily a bad way to approach time in scripture.  I made this list of reasons why I, or anyone, may want to consider trying Bible journaling:

12 Reasons to try Bible journaling
Have you been curious about the trend of Bible journaling? There are some good reasons to try it out!

 

So, after doing a little research and prayer, I decided I wanted to try out this creative and artistic study method.  Here are some of the tips I found from other journal keepers.  When starting out, start small.  You can always buy more supplies and try more elaborate techniques later, as you get more comfortable.  If trying new materials, try them out on some scrap paper first.  Also remember to test some materials on the thin pages at the back of your Bible to see if they bleed through.  You do not need fancy journaling materials.  The basics are simply a Bible and a good pen.  Faber-Castell has great pens for journaling.  Always check that your inks or markers don’t bleed through.  It doesn’t have to “just” be drawings.  You can write hymn or song lyrics, make notes, try hand-lettering, or write a story where the verse has applied to your life.  Start with the verses that seem to impact your life the most, as these will be the easiest to work with while starting out.  The most important tip to remember is DO NOT LOSE THE FOCUS OF YOUR STUDY.  The journaling aspect is supposed to help with focus and contemplation, but if the drawing aspect begins to distract from the intended purpose of your time with God, maybe you need a break, but only you will know the true state of your heart while working in your Bible journal.  In today’s DIY, I will share how I got started this weekend in Bible journaling.

Today’s Scripture 

Isaiah 55:11
Intentional study in the Word gives wisdom to us, and glory to God.

 

Today’s DIY  Well, it’s going to be all about my new Bible journaling adventure.  I’ve spent a long time reading about and looking for examples of Bible journals.  I don’t usually dive into something without doing some research first.  The more I read and observed, the more I wanted to give it a try.  So this weekend I went to my favorite local hobby and craft store and purchased these items.

Bible journaling supplies
Bible journaling supplies

 

I only bought three things this weekend.  I bought the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible.  It is from Crossway Publishers.  I am traditionally a fan of the NIV, but I have not been able to find any versions in a journaling Bible.  But I really liked the embossed leaf print of this leather cover and I liked the design of the columns on the inside.  Then I decided that it might not be a bad idea to have another translation of the Bible.  I have a King James version and my very-well-used NIV Bible, but cross-referencing with the English Standard Version might not be a bad idea, as it is explained as having a “literal word-for-word translation.”  I figure it can only broaden my studies.  I also bought the Faber-Castell Bible Journaling Kit, which was found in the art supplies department of my favorite arts and crafts store.  I thought this would be a good starting point for sampling materials and keep my spending within budget.  Let’s face it, I can spend A LOT when it comes to arts and crafts supplies if I let my imagination be in charge of the shopping!  I also bought a new variety pack of highlighters, because highlighting verses is what I’m most familiar and comfortable with, and I needed them anyway.

Bible journaling contents
Faber-Castell Bible Journaling Kit contents, plus the Bible and highlighters

 

Aside from the Bible and highlighters, every thing here was included in the Bible Journaling kit.  There’s a guide book, but it’s misleading.  It is in three languages, so only about one-third of the book actually has any ideas or instructions for using the materials.  The booklet was the biggest disappointment in the $20 kit.  It also came with 2 journaling pens, one in black and one in gold.  I have used the black one and it is a GREAT pen, and this is from someone who really likes pens.  There are also 4 gelatos, which is a very popular medium right now.  I have no experience with these tools, but I’m excited to try something new!  There is also a sheet of stickers and a large quantity of paper die cuts that can be added to the journal in various ways.  There are quite a few stencils as well, which I find to be useful for lettering and for size placement, but I could see someone who’s timid about their own drawings finding these to be helpful tools.  To get started I didn’t want, or need, to buy a lot of items.  I have SO MANY colored pencils, pens, and watercolors from my other artistic adventures.  Now I have another outlet for their use.  I also have stickers that can serve this purpose.  I read a tip in my research that suggested keeping all of your Bible journaling supplies together in one place for easy access.  I had a basket that was just the right size to keep my Bible-specific supplies corralled.

Bible journal inside
This is what the interior layout looks like in my new ESV Journaling Bible.

 

So, I was a little nervous about how I’d feel drawing and coloring in my Bible for the first time, so I decided to break myself in slowly.  I did my first “page” yesterday by working in the front cover.  This would give me a chance to work on a non-scripture page while testing inks and textures.

Holy Spirit ink drawing
Holy Spirit drawing, before color added

 

I did not use pencil first, which is a personal preference for me.  For many of my projects, if I use pencil first, I get bogged down with the idea it needs to be perfect.  I did free-hand letter drawing first, using the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen in black, then adding the hearts, flowers, and doodles.  This pen is the only item I used out of my new kit, as I had all of the other supplies I wanted to use already available.

Holy Spirit drawing with color
Holy Spirit drawing with color

 

I went back and filled in my lettering with color using Sharpie no-bleed colored fine-point pens.  I used Prisma Color colored pencils to fill in the drawings.  It was a good start.  But, I have not actually done a journal page for a verse in the Bible yet.  I feel more comfortable doing baby steps.  I did enjoy doing this front cover page and I think it’s something I will become more excited about as I get into the experience.  I like that there can be another aspect of study and worship through our talents and hobbies.  I will do a check-in post in a few weeks and share what I’ve discovered.  If you’re interested in trying this trend, I hope this helps, and be sure to check out the recommended posts I mentioned above.

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