I have been enjoying my time Bible journaling. I still struggle with my perfectionist tendencies; my frustration when my journaling does not look on paper ANYTHING like what I saw in my head and the deadly thief of
Pinterest Perfect comparison. But what I have gained…time in the Word of God; time spent rolling a passage around in my head trying to get a feel for what I want it to look like in the margin.
This time spent Bible Journaling has been used looking up different translations of the same verse. I do this in an effort to have a clearer understanding of what I’m reading. But just the physical act of handling the “living and active” word of God, well that is completely worth it and considered time well spent. Today I want to share some tips on Bible Journaling for the hesitant and those who think they are not artists.
*August 17, 2016 Update: I’ve written a book, Bible Journaling Tips, Inspiration and Permission, to encourage and inspire you in your Bible journaling!
Bible Journaling Tips for the Hesitant
Whenever I cruise around Pinterest I always come across beautiful Bible journaling pages and examples…that look NOTHING like mine–Not.Even.Close. And that can be discouraging, defeating and downright depressing. Here I am trying to spend time with and glorify God in His Word and compared to the images I’m seeing splashed across the internet, well, mine looks like a child got a hold of my Bible, a sheet of stickers and some glitter glue.
And that is Ok. It’s ok. It really is Ok because Jesus Himself said in Matthew 18:3…
I’m not an artist, at least not by the world’s definition of an artist. But guess what, I’m not striving to be an artist. I’m striving to spend more time with God and Bible journaling is helping me do just that.
So here are some tips, beginner to beginner…hesitant to hesitant…perfectionist to perfectionist–the one who is afraid of making a mistake–I’ve got an easy solution! This is for you, the one convinced you are not an artist–sure you are, you just haven’t found your medium. Even the one who is concerned about writing, drawing or somehow defacing the Word of God–I’ve got a super simple answer for you. Here are my tips:
Wait, before I get to the tips and tricks to use in your Journaling Bible, I may need to explain a Journaling Bible. It’s a Bible with wide margins so you can get artistically creative as you spend precious time in the Word. Do you love documenting and writing the tender conversations between you and God as you read His love letter to you? There’s room to write out those intimate conversations. Do you love getting your artistic flair on with lots of bold colors? There’s room for that too!
I’ve included a couple of examples of Journaling Bibles I found on Amazon at the bottom of this post. And for the truly, absolutely, scared to death of making a mistake in your Bible, I even found an adult coloring book using the Psalms so you can still get your creative juices flowing while enjoying the Word of God.
Easy Bible Journaling Supplies
1. Choose a Favorite Verse or Book of the Bible to Get Started
It helps if it’s a verse or book of the Bible you’re comfortable with already. That way you won’t be trying to translate or understand it; it will already have some personal significance to you and you will have a heart knowledge of what it says and means to you, not just head knowledge. Make sense?
2. Use Washi tape
I used to think, “What’s the big deal over the tape?” Let me tell you the big deal…instant, easy and simple adornment. A strip here and a piece there and it instantly adds a more personalized feel to the pages you are reading. You could even use it to edge important or favorite pages so they can easily be found when your Bible is shut.
3. Use stickers
I know, almost too easy to be true right? I was amazed at the amount, quality and variety of stickers available; these aren’t the rainbows, Ziggy, Garfield and unicorn stickers I grew up with. If you’re a scrapbooker this will not come as a surprise–obviously, I’m not. You can find typography (letters), illustrations, word art, flowers, birds, religious items, ribbons…I mean you name it and you can find it in a sticker form.
4. Use your favorite pen
There are some lovely pens out there. Some are distinguished by tip size and archival quality and other stuff…use your favorite pen to get started. Yes, even if your favorite pen happens to be from the local bank, optometrist or hardware store. This is just like starting in a book you already feel comfortable with. You already like how the pen feels and writes so use it.
5. Buy some clear/white glitter glue
Again, so simple and maybe even a little more childlike than you’d normally stray, but it is so easy and fun to use. Use a smudge over a favorite verse or around a sticker or to accent something you’ve drawn in the margins. I mentioned in my last Daybook post that Picasso had his “Blue Period” and I’m in my “Glitter Glue Period.”
6. Use a piece of scrap paper first
This will help you get a feel for what you’re doing and what you want to do. You’ll be able to figure out size, shape, etc. Plus, working in rough draft form on a piece of scratch paper first will teach you important things like how long does my ink need to dry before I smear glitter glue over it…or is this ink waterproof so I can watercolor over it?
Now to address the other concerns I mentioned above. If you are concerned about “defacing” the Word of God, purchase a Bible specifically designed for journaling and illustration. The one I am using right now is getting harder to come by, The NRSV Notetaker’s Bible but you can still find them in “Used-Good” condition on Amazon.
*UPDATE, that Bible is so hard to find if at all. Here are a couple of choices I’ve been using, the Blessed is She Catholic Journaling Bible and the Inspire Catholic Journaling Bible. The Inspire Bible also comes in a non-Catholic version.
And finally, afraid your art won’t look like the lovely art you see in the journaling Bibles on Pinterest; it may not. That’s ok. As a matter of fact it’s to be expected and celebrated! You are a unique, precious soul created by God the Father and He intentionally only made one of you.
Afraid of making a mistake? Cover it with stickers, scrapbooking paper, or Project Life Cards.
And finally, if you make a mistake…you make a mistake. Find some deeper level meaning, like “I make mistakes in life and yet God forgives and loves me anyway.” Make the mistake and move on.
Laura Butts says
I just got my Catholic journaling bible in the mail today and I love it so far haven’t journaled in it yet but I’m going to start this weekend. Love the pictures for the non artistic (me) and I can’t wait to get started with it. I’m going to take your advice and start with one of my favorite bible verses Jeremiah 29: 11-14 thank you for your page
I want to learn bible journaling. It’s really hard when you were taught not to write in books, let alone the Bible.
I know. The best way to get started is to just do it ♥ The first time will be the hardest friend.
Alejandra Reyes says
Hi Jenny, thank you for sharing. I just bought a very beautiful Bible for starting my journey. Im very excited but I don’t know what are good pencils for using. I want o use some kind of paint. Do you have some recomendations so I don’t ruin the paper the first day. Im sorry for my english. Its not my first lenguaje…. Thank you so much.
Hi Alejandra and welcome! If you go through these links, I’ve mentioned different resources for Bible journaling. The main thing I can tell you is, use a back page of your Bible as a test sheet. Whenever I get new pens or highlighters I test them on a back page first just to make sure.
Judy A. says
Hi. I am one of those folks for whom drawing, putting stickers, etc. in a book seems like anathema. I could never understand people who cut up old books to create paper flowers, either. First off, it feels like destroying someone else’s work just to create my own. Secondly, it feels like destroying the Word just to create doodling seems like an evil act.
One thing I’ve hit on to help me get over this hurdle is printing passages out on a laser printer or toner-based copier. That way, you can journal/art journal to your heart’s content without demolishing the . original. The toner won’t smudge if you use inks over it. I also like the idea of creating on a separate piece of paper, and then taping it into your Bible along the spine. As long as the piece is fairly flat, you can still open and close the book properly. Doing it this way also has the advantage of being cheaper than purchasing an expensive (and in my area, difficult to find) journaling Bible.
If any of your readers are feeling iffy about doing artwork in their Bibles, the separate page idea might be the way to go.
There is also the option of printing or drawing something on clear transparency paper and taping that into your Bible so that you can see through it (to a certain extent). I have been considering doing this with maps to add to each story that talks about specific locations so I’m not always trying to match them up with the maps in the back of my Bible but have the exact locations right there where I need them. 🙂
Oh my goodness, I love this idea for the maps! I never use the maps at the back but I could totally see this idea working!
Hi!! I just discovered bible journaling 2 days ago. My pinterest board is filled with pictures drawn in bibles. Oh how I wish I could draw like that. Lol i am glad i am not the only that has trouble drawing. I have no problems drawing in my bibles that I own, but some of the margins are filled with notes. So I bought a sketch book from walmart for $5 and some markers for $6. My first entry was about Peariless times. That was more of a prayer for country. My first drawing was ps. 1:3. And i have to say thst reading your blog after doing my entry helped. Lol i might have to draw stick figures but i can focus on His word and Spirit.
It’s all about Him right. I think that’s where we get off track is thinking about what we have to give Him instead of thanking Him for what He has given to us.
What an awesome family you have!! I am the eldest of 5…spread all around the country.
Kudos to you and your Bible journaling efforts and encouragement to others who feel they aren’t quite up to the task. You’re right when you say we were made in the image of God and ours is a mirror of His handiwork reflected back to Him. I am artistically inclined, but I realize others tend to ‘shrink back’ due to insecurity and perfectionism. I can sometimes relate.
I appreciate your candor about creating near perfect ‘art’ in one’s journaling. I have a closed FB group, Barefoot Journaling Chronicles, and I post all kinds of creative inspiration for Journaling, scrapbooking, and short story writing. We even have a quarterly short story writing contest and I create prizes around the winner’s stories. You, or any of your readers here would be most welcome to join us for more creative inspiration moving forward. We’d love to have you…
Will be showcasing your ‘The Littlest Way” on our page as Bible Journaling inspiration and encouragement. Thank you for your efforts and Blessings on your blog and your little community there.
Barefoot Journaling Chronicles
Hi Evon, thanks for letting me know about your group. I’ll have to check it out.
Please do…we’d be happy to have you. <3
I really enjoyed this. I recently started a Journaling Bible and often get discouraged when my picture doesn’t “look right. ” but I have told myself I’m not perfect and my journaling abilities reflect that. I love to turn on YouTube with a favorite christian artist when I journal. It helps minimize distraction and gives me an added layer of worship.
I LOVE listening to music to inspire me, calm me or encourage me while I’m journaling. You’re right, it’s another layer.
Thank you for sharing and, most of all, pointing out that Bible Journaling is all about spending time with our LORD and Savior! I am ready to delve into this artistic world with a new freedom and self-acceptance! Thank you – from the bottom of my heart! Blessings!
Yay! I am so happy so many of you are encouraged by the simplicity of just spending time with God and ignoring the voice that tells us what we can’t do.
Casey @ Wiping Tears says
I love this post so much!! Admitted perfectionist/non-artist/OCD/overly practical girl here. Drawing isn’t my thing, but I just recently started highlighting verses with colored pencils to color code them for my life. It adds color to my pages in a pretty but functional way.
I am so glad to see this trend. When I went looking for a wide margin Bible 4 years ago, it was near impossible to find. I love having room to write notes from the studies I do and thoughts on verses/passages.
What I love so much about the Bible journaling mind set now is that we are choosing a brave and bold way to express our faith. We’re coloring outside the line or even making our own lines and really owning our faith.
Pamela Nees says
Love this post! Thank you! I had ordered a journaling Bible in early January and it was just delivered today-in March! (I think they had sold out of all the pretty ones over Christmas!)
So…I plan on starting today—I especially loved your idea to start with a verse that is a favorite- my verse for 2016 is Jeremiah 9:23-24…so that will be the one…
Again, many thanks!
I had to look that one up, “23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.” I’d love to see how you journal it!
Thank you for this. I gotten a notetakers bible for journaling for my grand daughter. I wanted to be able to make it interesting for her to look and read. However, im not an artist. This is a great way to share with her.
Oh yay! What a great gift! Right now, 3/15/16 Hobby Lobby has their Washi tape for 50% off!
Sandy E says
Love it, love it, love it. Finally an artist I can relate to!
Haha! Yay! How’s it going? Have you stretched your creative wings and tried Bible journaling yet Sandy?
Thank you for writing this. It was exactly how I was feeling. I needed to hear this!! 🙂
Yay for a word in due season!
I came here from Pinterest today 🙂
I love your comment about your gltiter phase!! so true.
I would also add sketch out your art idea or lettering idea in pencil first.
I don’t feel that my pages are anything like the super glorious stuff you can find online either. The main thing is spending time soaking in the words and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday I saw a new creative journaling Bible that will have the wide margins AND coloring sections (cool right!!??) too. Your readers might enjoy hearing about it, too.
Thank you Christine, I’ll look into it. Yes, we have to get over our desire to create “picture perfect” and relish a perfect way to spend time instead.
Coming from somone very similar to yourself. Thank you for being so down to earth in your writing.
Hi Shelby! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Gosh the internet is wonderful, but it can get discouraging can’t it. To be clear, through no fault of the other person, just an “us” think I guess, lol!
I can’t thank you enough for this encouraging, practical, down to earth post! Lately I have been very intrigued by Bible journaling but I was too worried I’d mess up (I am among the ranks of you perfectionists and can’t claim drawing as one of my gifts) and didn’t know where to begin.
When I came across your post yesterday it gave me the courage to begin! So I pulled out an old Bible that I found while cleaning out my grandma’s closet, my daughter’s glitter crayons and turned to some of my favorite verses. First I started with basic highlighting, and then I got a bit braver. Before I knew it an hour had passed. What a JOY to immerse myself in God’s word in this way!
So thank you, thank you Jenny for helping me to discover this awesome way to deepen my faith. And for those of you still worried about creating art that rivals Da Vinci, remember that the time spent with God’s word is the most important thing. And besides, you and the Lord are the only two who ever have to see it.
Yay Holli!! You know what I loved most about this comment? “Before I knew it an hour had passed.” Isn’t that how it is when we spend time with a sweet friend? We lose track of time…you lost yourself in Him…AWESOME!!
Thank you for your post! I myself am such a perfectionist, that I haven’t done much in my Bible, or even my journal notebook, for a long time now, for fear of ruining it. Even though your advice sounds very simple and there’re things I’ve sometimes used when doing devotions, your honesty and vulnerability have given me the motivation to try once more and be willing to be vulnerable too and not worry so much about commiting mistakes. Thank you, again!
You are so welcome Katie. I still struggle with this…still. So I have to step back and analyze the “mistake” verse time in the Word. Time in the Word always wins over the supposed mistake.
Jan Jones says
I have purchased 4 ESV single column journaling Bibles, one for each member of my family. I like that you keep things simple. Although I draw pretty well, I do not want to spend a ton of time drawing. I’d prefer to use most of the time to really study the Bible. I believe you have discovered the way to have the best of both worlds, beautiful and simple. Thanks for all your tips. I think they will be very helpful to make Bible journaling less intimidating.
Oh Jan, thank you so much for your comments. It is so much fun to spend time with friends and family over the Word and Bible journaling just brings another aspect to it.
I’m a total beginner – just got my journaling Bible today! So how do you get over the issue of the pages getting wrinkled? I did one page with a little bit of watercolor and it’s totally driving me crazy that the page is now wrinkled. It is probably my perfectionism – but did you have to get past that?
I just got past it. I actually kind of like the crinkly pages.
Susan Barnett-Kiengsiri says
Use clear gesso first to set the page. Then use your paints or water colors.
Thanks for the tip 🙂
Dana Nichols says
Great post! I’m just getting started and loving it. Thanks!!
Thanks so much Dana! It is so much fun!
sondra mcdermott says
Love your article! Newbie at bible journaling and I am a perfectionist. You have helped me to understand that what I journal is okay and from my heart to God.
Yay Sondra! Go for it girl. God is already pleased with you so there’s no worries.
this was such a refreshing post. So glad I found it! I’ve often thought how much I would love to create all those beautiful journaling I see in Pinterest. Thank you for giving me permission to create at my own level and be content with that. I love God’s Word and am excited to abide in His truths and journal visually.
Thank you again!
I am so glad to hear you found it helpful Glorya. Sometimes you just need another person to say, “Me too,” to help clear the way for you.
Tami B says
Thank you for being so open, honest and transparent! It’s refreshing to find someone like that. Thank you, also, for the encouragement of why to do Bible journaling! I appreciate it very much!
Thank you Tami for taking the time to leave such a sweet and encouraging comment. I appreciate you. Enjoy your time spent in the Word!
There is a link at the bottom of this post “Project Life Cards” and it just goes to a blank page. Do you know what page it is supposed to go to?
It goes to an amazon link. Try this one, Project Life
Loved this post. It’s something I’ve always been quite hesitant to do because of the perfectionist in me. I think stickers are the way to go.
Thanks for your post!
Stickers and Washi tape are so much fun! Just do it!
Can you show an example or two of what to do with the washi tape? I bought some because it’s the trend, but realize I just don’t know what to do with it !
Sorry I’m just getting back to you. I’m a momma of a lots of children who love to play soccer, lol! This post shows some examples of using washi tape. I’ve applied some to the first page of each book of the Bible, I use it to apply journaling pages to my Bible or just to add a little flair on a page.
Kaitlyn Essman says
Cannot find a Bible on Amazon, they’re all sold out 🙁 any suggestions?
I know, how frustrating! I do have a post up on Bible Journaling when you don’t have a Journaling Bible
Rachel R. says
Hey, the characters in your drawing are discernible; I’d say that’s pretty good! I’m not much of an artist, either, and that’s exactly WHY I’m starting to do this. It’s good for me to get out of my comfort zone, and to do something I CAN’T get all wrapped up in getting perfect (’cause it is definitely NOT GOING to be perfect no matter how hard I try!)
Yes! Do not get wrapped in perfection and then discouragement…those feelings come from the enemy! God is pleased with our effort and intention to spend precious time with Him in His Word.
I would love to get a NSRV notetaker’s bible. Have you had luck finding any?
I have not; so frustrating!
Judy Taylor says
Lifeway Christian Bookstores has several journaling Bibles. I like the Holman. Also, try Christianbook.com.
Jessica Ballard says
Thanks for linking up to Small Victories Sunday. I love how inspired and thoughtful this post is. I have always kept a prayer journal, and I have scrapbooked, but never combined the two. It’s a really sweet idea.
I’m not a scrapbook person and can I say I’m thankful for that! As I buy supplies for my Bible journaling, I can see where I could have easily spent who knows how much money scrapbooking…everything is so pretty!
Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life says
Fun post, Jenny. I have kept a simple pen and ink spiritual journal for almost 25 years, but recently bought a journaling Bible and plan to get a little creative with that.
Stopping by today from Joan’s linkup! Blessings 🙂
Oh how I bet your life has unfolded in those 25 years worth of journaling! How awesome to have those memories on paper not only for yourself but your family.
Thank you for this…It’s amazing to discover such a different way of reading the scriptures!
Tiffany | A Touch of Grace says
I am in the market for a journaling Bible. I’ve been reading a 365 day Bible and I like it, but I want a place to write notes. Really great ideas to use!
Thanks for linking up at the Shine Blog Hop!
Sherry at The Simple Hive says
I have been considering buying a Notetaker’s Bible for a few months now. After reading your post, I think I’ll take the plunge in hopes my right brain with help me draw more deeply into the Word. Thank you!
I really think you’ll enjoy it…if you will allow yourself too. For me I need to continually remind myself what I’m doing and why. I have to remind myself this is not product based it is process based.
How fun, Jenny! Not going to lie– I haven’t delved into this world of creative/artistic-ish bible journaling. I think it is super cool and will sure have to experient soon. Thanks for sharing here!
Hi Sharita. I don’t always do something artistic, many times it’s just regular journaling or note taking.
I LOVE THIS POST!!!!! I am so inspired by this, I feel like running to grab my stored-away scrapbooking materials and get to work on my Bible study and journaling. I am not an artist (and even had a college art teacher tell me so). But, I AM creative and can be artistic in my OWN way. Thank you for that encouragement.
Thank you!!! Will be connecting with you on Twitter and FB. Visiting today from Thought Provoking Thursday.
You are so welcome Dana. Sometimes just keepin it real is all the encouragement a person needs right. And you are so right, you ARE creative…each one of us is, we’re made in the image and likeness of The Creator.
Just a heads up the NIV is coming out with one that has space for journaling but also black and white premade imagez for adult coloring book for those that may not be super artist but find peace in being creative for god glory…its being release to public Dec 29th
Opps sorry its a NLT bible New Living
That’s great it has premade pages. That will help a lot of people who want to journal, but are afraid of messing up or doubt their ability.
Michele Morin says
Glad to run into another homeschooling mum over at the Faith Barista’s link up! Such great ideas you’ve shared today!
Thanks for the visit Michele. Have a great week.
Melissa Bass says
Get yourself a Wink of Stella glitter pen, no more waiting for glue to dry! 🙂
I need to look this up, thanks Melissa.
Brittany at Equipping Godly Women says
I haven’t done any Bible journaling in a long time, but I think I would probably just write instead of worrying about decoration… That may be just me though!
I do a mixture of both Brittany. I also write down information from a commentary, compose a prayer or leave a note to myself or my children.
Maria Hass says
Jenny I love it! It’s brilliant! I was always raised that it was sacrilegious to mark my Bible. Then I learned it’s ok to highlight. Now I have a plain, giant print NIV Bible with no study guides and the Lord has shown me to use Bible journaling to make it my own study guide. There are little symbols everywhere to help me apply scripture – including light sabers and Legos… Next I’m going to get a hold of some glitter glue! For sure!
How awesome that the Lord led you to a way to spend more time with Him that suited you. He is constantly after our hearts.
Christine Duncan says
Fully immersed in the Word, what’s not to love! I hope others are inspired to make the Word more personal to themselves with these great tips you’ve given, because I know I am!
Loved popping in from #Woman2WomanWednesday!!!
Hi Christine. You nailed it, it’s all about finding your way to make the Word your own.
Journalling in my bible is something that I have always wanted to do, but I feel like I am not artistic enough. Thanks so much for the tips and motivation.
I hope you give it a try Kim. It’s not about how artistic we are; it could just be writing a gratitude list next to the verse you have read for the day. The term Bible Journaling can encompass so much variety.
I love this! I just want to see more pictures of yours though!! Does the Bible you talk about have big blank margins? Do you ever copy a text to a regular sketchbook/journal? Can’t.wait.to.try.this!!! =)
Yes Monica, it has wide margins and is lined for actual writing. I go back and forth between the two. I have pages where I’ve written in text from a commentary I’ve read or a quote that is based on a particular verse there. I’ve even journaled thoughts or prayers inspired by the scripture.
I want to buy a bible that has wide margins so I can journal in it as well. I love how it looks
Thanks Terri. There are many versions available. Mine is a NRSV Notetaker’s edition. They are becoming hard to find though so I have scouts looking for them, lol!
love this post so much. And go look at my post for today. We are truly kindred hearts. I talk about mistakes I made in my first attempt at painting in my journaling bible.
I went over and saw your Bible journaling…awesome! I haven’t used that type of paint yet, only watercolor. And I have made a lot of mistakes already. It’s ok I keep telling myself. It’s not about the final product, it’s about the process.
Thank you so much for this! I, too, have been hungrily looking at the #illustratedfaith entries on Instagram and wishing sigh all my soul that that was something that I felt capable of. I would love to be able create things like that! My perfectionism, though, as well as my over-the-back-fence gazing has kept me from even trying. Thank you for the inspiration and comfort to do so! This post felt like it was written just for me! Next pay day, I think a portion of my Etsy money will go toward an ESV Journalist Bible! Blessings!
I’m so happy to hear this Gretchen. Like I mentioned to Candance in the comments, when I start fretting about how it looks I know then I’m more worried about the final product verses the process of spending time in God’s Word.