Guest post about Bible Journaling from Meg Walsted. “My mama draws pictures in her bible!” My son announced to one of our Dominican priests and a woman I met recently who has started attending Mass at our church. I smiled and thought about hushing him but I realized he said it with pride, he was genuinely inspired and proud of the fact that I draw in my Bible. So in that moment, I decided to own what I was – an adult Catholic who draws in her bible.
I have always been fascinated with the Bible. As a child, it was because I was addicted to office supplies and had a false sense of piety often found in children. Many days I could be seen carrying my bible around a friend’s backyard with a white slip and blue cardigan carefully buttoned over my head exactly like the nuns at my local parish church in the Midwest. We would play act at hermits and occasionally be brutally martyred only to be scolded by my friends Irish Catholic mother when she came home from grocery shopping to find us with slips and cardigans on our head rolling around her front yard. And so ended my career as a Bible carrying Mother Superior in a convent of two.
Years later I had an heirloom copy of a Douay Rheims translation that I brought with me to Alaska when I moved as far north as I could without needing a snow machine as my main mode of transportation. I read that bible the whole way here on the plane. I was wearing my slip properly under my skirt and my cardigan firmly buttoned under my chin. And just as soon as the plane landed and my Bible found a place on the bookshelf of my room right next to my false piety and there it sat for many years until one day when I would meet two women who wanted to help me run my local 40 Days for Life fall campaign.
I met Emilyn and Corrie while perched on stools in the children’s section of Barnes and Noble. We talked about how to best run the campaign and how to reach the Protestant and Catholic parishes without ruffling many feathers on either side of “the line,” you know the one that exists between Protestants who know and love the Bible and Catholics who know of and love the Bible but who have so many other riches in the form of tradition and the sacraments that they neglect the very words God gave us.
Corrie became my very dear friend and my inspiration to remedy my scriptural ignorance. I have had conversations with her on many topics. I have watched with awe while she grabbed her well-worn Bible and thumbed rapidly through its pages to find an obscure verse that perfectly fit the current book we were discussing with my parish book group. I even embarrassed myself to the brink of death by asking if her copy of the Bible in Hebrew (yes she reads and writes Hebrew!!) was the Koran. She has always handled my ignorance with love and gentleness. Her replies have always been overflowing with joy and excitement that I am actually diving into the Word. She is truly my inspiration.
Now my scriptural journey has come full circle to that young girl who loved office supplies and playing secretary. This time there is no false piety it has been replaced by an awe of everything I don’t know and an intense thirst to learn anything and everything about scripture. I credit St. Catherine of Sienna for encouraging me to see the images in the spiritual life and to not be afraid of drawing in books. My spiritual director introduced me to her dialogues and mentioned that he finds her images so rich he ends up drawing in his margins as he reads. I found myself doing exactly that and noticed those drawings helped me remember the text. Like the monks of old, I was meditating on the text as I drew and doodled my way through each page.
Bible journaling is just an extension of this doodling, a habit I have developed to remember and absorb the text. My doodles are far from perfect. Sometimes I don’t even write on a page, sometimes I just slowly hand write a verse that jumps out at me. It’s an artistic way of practicing Lectio Divina. It also helps me to bring the scripture to life in my daily activities. I remember a verse or a picture and try to ponder it as I go about my day. Really it’s been an amazing gift!
So for those of you checking Facebook Bible journaling groups and Pinterest looking at pictures people have decorated their bibles with, and haunting blogs wondering how these people were blessed with so much talent and why can’t you be that amazing? Stop! Just be simple, grab some crayons or colored pencils and some micron pens if you can afford them and start scribbling! Don’t let your fear of messing up stop you from giving Bible Journaling a try. God will reward your small efforts tenfold or more as He always does. And if you doubt the importance of illuminating text grab a bag of popcorn and watch Secret of the Kells and be inspired!
- A Bible, any one will do! I use an ESV Protestant translation version because it fit my budget and I was able to walk into my local bookstore and walk out with it.
- Micron Pens – at the minimum one. They don’t bleed through my bible pages – a plus when writing out text on the front and back of a page!
- Colored pencils. I was able to finally treat myself to some Prismacolors and I love them!
- I also have a wonderful pencil case from Mochithings that holds my pens; three rolls of washi tape; scissors; and a pencil sharpener. It’s small so I can bring my supplies with me to appointments and the park easily.
- Washi tape – I bought a selection from a wonderful vendor on etsy. She has fast shipping and great prices.
It’s just like everything else, Scrapbooking, the Bullet Journaling, everything starts out simple and then it becomes a market for everything. I actually came across, “Bible Art” that was the beginning of this. She seemed quite upset because she has a copy write on something. Anyway, I started out many years ago doing Kay Arthur Bible Studies and we marked up our Bibles during our studies. I love adding a little artwork to my studies, but I don’t like the idea of covering the text. I did contact one lady about why she does it and didn’t it bother her. She said she purchases a Bible that is just for her Bible Journaling, it’s not the one she takes to church or Bible Studies. Silly me, I want my Bible that has ALL my notes in it with me. I am with all you ladies on this. Keep it simple. I want room in the columns to write more notes, after all there is more than one verse or section on a page. Thank you for Jenny for sharing and making a lot of people feel relaxed.
I know many people are so intimidated by the Pinterest version of Bible Journaling, they are afraid to even try. I always think back to Bibles our grandma’s or great grandma’s kept notes and family records in, they were simply beautiful legacies to leave.
I am new to the bible journaling arena. right now I just have blank journals, an ink pen some twistable crayons. I want to begin reading in Isiaha. thank you for the beginner advice. I love the power acronym.
Sue F. says
Have you come across any “Catholic approved” versions that have journaling space? I’m looking but haven’t seen any.
The only one that includes all the books is the NRSV Notetaker’s Bible. It is out of print but you can find them on Amazon, but be careful because sometimes they are outrageous. I’ve contacted TAN and St Benedict’s Press about the NEED for a Catholic Journaling Bible.
Theresa George says
I am searching for a bible to write in with no luck whatsoever. Did you get any feedback from these companies?
You come to my mind often, I pray you are all doing well.
Cody Doll says
I found your blog several months ago. I loved all that I was seeing with the bible journaling but it put the perfect beast in it’s place. I felt that I could never do what others do, let alone be able to afford any of the fancy things they use. Reading your blog is such an encouragement. I realize now that bible journaling isn’t about the awesome art I can make but about the journey with God and being in His presence. Thank you Jenny!
Hi Cody so nice to “meet” you. I’m glad you found some encouragement here. When I stop and think about it, I’m sure the enemy would like nothing more than to discourage us from spending time in the Word by telling us all sorts of lies, including we’re not talented enough to practice Bible journaling.
I’ve just discovered Bible journaling but became more and more discouraged as I looked at samples on pinterest. I am not an artist! Thank you for encouraging me to start where I am.
Please don’t be discouraged! That discouragement comes from the pit of hell. God is pleased with our time and effort spent in His Word, not our final product.
Love the pics of your Bible Journaling! I mark and date my bible, then Zentangle on a coaster 🙂 Very cool, Jenny.
I’ve just recently began dating my Bible. It will be fun to look back over the years and see common themes in different times of my life.
For our homeschool, I printed a page from the USCCB site. I love it since the verses are numbered and separated by spaces. After we read the verse that I felt called to, I allowed them to doodle, along with me, in the margins. Then, I told them to read on and draw on whatever spoke to them personally. It was a great success and we simply put them into sheet protectors and into our binders. For me, it was less stressful to use printed pages. It’s a start.
Thanks for all of the inspiration.
What a FANTASTIC idea Michelle!! I’m going to do this with my younger ones tomorrow.
Lux Ganzon says
I like to keep thins simple too. And the Bible should never be to complex for everybody to understand. 🙂
Have a wonderful weekend!
It’s in my own mind I get all tangled up in the complexities of “shoulds” “coulds” and “want tos”
Tiffany | A Touch of Grace says
I really want to get a journaling Bible! I love the idea of it, just haven’t done it yet. Love your doodles!
Thanks for sharing on the Shine Blog Hop!
Thanks for the visit Tiffany.
Joanna Sormunen says
I have been fascinated by the idea of Bible journaling for some time. I do a prayer/study journal but I gave up drawing there because it gets too visually confusing for me. But drawing in the Bible sounds wonderfully meditative to me. Now I just need to pray for a study Bible, hopefully I will be able to get one 🙂
I hope you find one and see if Bible journaling is for you. Surprisingly, considering my lack of artistic brilliance, I rather enjoy it…mistakes and all.
Adrienne Turner says
I can’t believe I stumbled across this post! I’ve been art journaling for awhile and have been wanting to get a bible to start some journaling in there as well. Right now, I have a separate notebook that I keep my quiet time doodles in. This post is wonderful! I can’t wait to get started!
I would love to see some of your doodles Adrienne. It soothes my soul to browse bible journaling and prayer journals on Pinterest.
Wowww… I’ve never thought of drawing on my Bible. Although I do write in there and sometimes underline verses I like. Maybe I’ll try drawing. It looks really inspiring.
Thank you for sharing this inspirations..
Hopping in from Thought Provoking Thursday Linkup
Hi Grace. I too have been an underliner and sporadic notetaker in my Bible. This has opened up a new way to spend time in the Word for me.
Great advice !! I bought a new bible to begin “drawing ” and Journaling in and didn’t know where to begin … Thanks for the advice!
I’m glad this post was helpful Heather.
Gina Duke says
Thank you for this post. I would like to Bible journal too, but find it intimidating by what others are doing. I will give it a try and keep it simple. I am your neighbor at the wise woman linkup.~gina
Gina, I think if you feel called to give it try, then do and don’t worry about getting it “right.” But don’t feel called to try it just because everyone else seems to be doing it. I know you know this. Sometimes I try a new way of connecting and spending time with God because I’ve seen someones else’s great idea and realized after the fact it just wasn’t for me. It may have even distracted me from my time with God.
Maria Hass says
Whatever helps you own it and apply the Bible to your life! The Bible does nothing in the life of a believer if it’s sitting on a shelf collecting dust. And casually reading during mass or service doesn’t do it either, I’m sorry to say. I know many people check it off their list because they read a verse or two on Sunday. That’s not life-transforming, although it may be a good start.
I do agree with you Maria, but sometimes, in times of aridity, reading a verse or two of our Bible or making our prayers regardless of whether we “feel” it or not is a good start.
Do you want a good laugh? I didn’t read the part about it being a guest post…..until it got to the part about living in Alaska! 🙂 Kellie
Were you like “What?!?!”
Sherri S says
I LOVE IT! I write in my bible, but I scribble and then can’t tell what I wrote later on. I also try to date it so I can look back at that time in my life and remember what God was speaking to me about.
I have just started dating mine. Like last night the Lord was speaking to me of being generous with my children out in the world and I dated it because I knew I would want to reflect and recall that time again.
Coupon Gal (Andi) says
i love it – keep it nice and simple 😀
Isn’t the acronym KISS–Keep It Simple Silly (I think it’s really another word but I care for it).