I started blogging in 2008 and I was strictly a paper-crafting blogger. I used my blog to advertise my cards and then I would be asked to be on digital stamp design teams where I could get "free stuff" to make more cards. I also worked as a "Stampin-Up!" demonstrator. Eventually, I tired of all the extra work of being on design teams, and I had enough stamp stuff to open my own craft store, so I quit all my design teams and quit being a demonstrator. I did keep making cards for years for a card ministry at my church. When I left that church, my ministry stopped. Now I only make cards for family and friends for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.
I started seeing women coloring in their Bibles a few years ago. My first reaction was "Are you out of your mind? You're ruining your Bible! Now, you can barely read it!". But eventually I became intrigued. I wasn't making many cards anymore, yet I still had an entire room filled with every crafty thing any woman could ever need. It seemed it was going to waste. I needed a new hobby. So I decided to delve into this strange new world of Bible Journaling by buying a Bible that was actually designed for it. I chose the "Inspire Bible" in the NLT version. It's available on Amazon, but I bought mine at Hobby Lobby. They let me use a coupon on it, so I only paid $20.00!
I should back up a bit and explain that because of the terrible church environment I was in for many years before finding the wonderful church I am attending now, my devotional life was sadly lacking. I found it difficult to get into God's Word every day. I went to Bible college, I know every book, every chapter of the Bible inside and out. If someone started quoting scripture to me, I could finish the sentence for them. I was bored in my spiritual life. Just reading God's Word wasn't enough for me anymore. I didn't have the excitement I used to have when hearing the Word of God. I felt very spiritually dry and I wasn't get much out of reading the Bible any more.
After I bought my new "Inspire" Bible, it was so beautiful I was afraid to touch it. I wasn't sure what to do or where to begin. So I bought another book "The Complete Guide To Bible Journaling" (also available on Amazon). In this book, I read the story of Shanna Noel, the pioneer of Bible Journaling. It goes as follows:
"On one otherwise ordinary Sunday in 2014, Shanna opened her journaling Bible and, instead of writing a response to her pastor-husband's sermon, sat down with it at her art desk and went to work with her art tools. After she finished, Shanna was afraid that what she's done was wrong. "I was worried I would be judged," she recalls....she worried what people would think of her if she went public. Would they condemn her for defacing the Word of God? "I loved this new art form, but I was really afraid to share," Shanna says. What God was telling her was clear, however. So she took a leap of faith and published photos of her work on her blog, which quickly went viral. At first Shanna was scared of the sudden publicity. But then she realized that she was being inundated not with judgment, but with enthusiasm and support. "I opened my e-mail and found it flooded with notes from women just like me who were visual learners and were excited about this idea on how to connect their faith and creativity" Shanna says."
Reading Shanna's story in the book was eye-opening for I certainly could relate, but there was one sentence in particular which really hit home with me. It was when Shanna said "'Once I started Bible journaling, everything changed for me. I was hungry for the Word like I had not experienced before' she says, "I believe it was because I was interacting with the Word in the way God had created me, as a creative person'".
After reading Shanna's bio I could certainly relate. I am definitely an artistic person and a visual learner. So after finishing the guide book to Bible Journaling, I very tentatively plunged in. I decided to just start at the very beginning, and work my way through the Bible page by page till the end. I thought it would be exciting to see my growth as an artist by doing it this way. But I think I will also see how I've grown spiritually as well.
The "Inspire" bible has many pre-printed designs that you can color in. But it also has lots of blank pages with wide margins so you create your own designs. I started at the very beginning of this Bible, before the chapters even begin, to practice my coloring skills. Here is the opening cover. I used a mix of coloring tools from pencils, markers, gel pens, to water colors.
The Bible's next page has a spot where you can write the date and a message. It'll be interesting when I'm all done to see how long it took me and how much I've grown since writing this letter to myself.
Some of the coloring pages are very simple, and some are very difficult. This was one of the difficult ones. It took me days to complete it. I colored it with gel pens.
I've never been a fan of water coloring as I just can't seem to master the skill. Most of this page is water colored. The sentiment is colored in with glitter pens. And if you're wondering how do you use water colors with the thin pages of a bible, you have to prep the page with Gesso first: another thing I learned from the "Complete Guide To Bible Journaling" book.
Of course, I made a lot of mistakes in my pretty new Bible. I was devastated. I think that has been the hardest thing for me with this new hobby. If you mess up a card, scrapbook page, sewing project, whatever, you can tear it apart and start over. But not with Bible Journaling, your mistake is there forever. I had to learn, that mistakes are OK, and not to fret over them. The entire point of Bible Journaling is to grow closer to God through making art, not making the art perfect.
If you follow me on Instagram, whenever I finish a bible page I post it to my Instastories. I am totally shocked at how many views (over 400!) I get every single time I post a Bible journal page. People are really interested in this new hobby! I think it's more popular now than card making.
When I finished reading the book of Genesis and I started Exodus, I learned from my coloring mistakes and did a much nicer job. See! I'm better already! That didn't take long. ha-ha!
I should mention that when I am coloring in the pre-colored images I'm not just using my bible as a coloring book. I read a few chapters first, and study it carefully. Then, as I am coloring, I mediate on what I read and try to memorize the verse I am coloring.
Once I got comfortable coloring the pre-colored images in my bible, I started to create my own designs. I read the page, and whatever strikes me or really speaks to me in that chapter, I make an image out it. Here I was reading how God provided quail and manna for the Israelites in the desert. I was struck by the comment that God gave every person "just enough". Not too much, not too little, but just enough. How often in life do we always want more, when really, we already have everything we need.
I used a bird stamp from Inkadinkado for the main image, then I hand wrote what I was thinking and colored everything in. I messed up the background, but I still love this page. See, I'm learning to love and live with my mistakes!
I've been Bible Journaling for several months now and I can say that I feel just like Shanna. I LOVE to read God's Word now. I look forward every single day to spending time in God's word. In fact, I get upset if it's a busy day (like today) and I never make it downstairs to my craft room. I feel I have really grown spiritually because I am not just reading God's word but I'm digging deep, exploring, and mediating on it. My husband, who in the beginning thought this was a silly fad, has also noticed such a difference in me. He now agrees that everyone learns differently, and God teaches everyone differently.
I have many more Bible Journaling pages to share with you, so you can watch my progress both as an artist and spiritually. If I don't have a card or another craft to share on Tuesday, I will share my Bible Journaling pages.
So what about you? What do you think of this new hobby? Would you ever try it? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Have A Great Day! Amy
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