[Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Traci Smith’s blog and is shared today with her permission. With many Christian formation classes on a break for the summer, Traci’s spiritual practice of Bible journaling seems especially timely. I often see children (and youth and adults!) color during worship, so why not journal through the lectionary as it’s being read and preached each week? Faithfully, Allison]
I’m on vacation for a little while, visiting family in Chicago (and letting the boys get spoiled rotten by grandma and grandpa!) It’s a great time to work on some spiritual practices that have become important to me in recent weeks and months, and also to write about them. These are spiritual practices that don’t show up in the book (sequel anyone?), but they’re easily adapted for children. For this one, Bible Art Journaling, I’m just going to tell you a little bit about what I do, some of the supplies I use, and link you up to a couple of Pinterest boards. I’m sure you can take it from there.
So, art journaling…I got interested in this idea as a spiritual practice when I read this book: Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God in the Pages of your Bible. It’s a simple book, but it got my creativity going. For a long time, I wanted to do it, I had been admiring pages I’d seen on Pinterest, and thinking, “I should really get a new Bible devoted just for this.” A few weeks ago I felt the art sort of bubbling up inside and a real need to connect with God through the pages of the Bible in a new way, so I took the plunge and bought a journaling Bible. I’ve loved it. Every single page has brought God’s word to life in new ways.
Here’s how I do it (although this, like all arts, is very much a “how the Spirit moves” type of thing).
OPTION 1 (free form)
- I pick a scripture to read (either something I know is resonating with what’s happening in life, something someone suggested I read or, sometimes, if I’m at a loss, I just start flipping through to see where the Spirit leads).
- I meditate on it awhile and think about which part sticks out the most.
- I create an image (either a tiny one in the margin, or a full page).
OPTION 2 (copy cat)
There are dozens of examples of Bible journal pages on Pinterest (I’ll link to the board I’ve collected at the end of this post). A couple of times I’ve just used one of those pages as an inspiration and created my own version of it.
I’ve just gotten started with this. I think I’ve made about 10 pages so far. As I go, I’m hoping to have the whole Bible full of art and new insight. A few thoughts and “tips”
1. Getting started is scary. It’s the Bible, and so it feels a bit like “uh oh, what if I mess it up?” You can’t. You won’t. It’s a journal. It’s a record of how God is speaking to you. Think about what a gift you are creating for your future self or for someone you might like to pass it on to one day.
2. I’m going to link to some of the (very few) supplies I have used so far, but a tip about using watercolors: The paper (at least on the Bible that I use — again linked later –) is thicker than traditional Bible paper, but the watercolor does seep through to the other side. It’s not a big deal, and it actually creates character on the reverse side. I like to put a paper towel on either side of the page when it’s drying to keep it from seeping through an additional page.
3. Approach it with an open mind… just like with other spiritual practices, sometimes the page doesn’t turn out exactly how I think it will, and I’m disappointed. In these cases I’ve either come back to it later or tried to take it as a lesson… there are other times to try something new.
- Obviously, first you need a Bible dedicated to this practice. Any Bible will do, but a specific “journaling” Bible is helpful because the margins are bigger and the pages are a bit thicker (although maybe not thick enough, as I mentioned. This is the journaling Bible that I have and love. It’s a brown hardcover, and the margins are wide and lined for any written journaling I might want to do. As you can see from some of the pictures in this post, I sometimes write and sometimes paint. The lines are easily ignored. Here’s a different one that’s in the ESV (English Standard Version) and here’s a KJV one.
- Next, some simple art supplies. I really don’t think that spending a jillion dollars (especially to start) is the way to go. I use
- colored pencils (there’s always the trusty old Crayola ones but I decided to go with some fancier ones that I use for mandalas too (that’s an upcoming post!)
- Simple watercolors and brushes and
- Sharpies (extra thin ones, not normal ones!)
Aside from some water and paper towels, that’s it! I’m sure that others have used a lot of fancier tools, and I might get in to that in a future post, but for beginning this practice, I say, start simple. I’ve had great success with just these few supplies and some silence for creativity.
One of the books that I am thinking will really be fun to check out is THIS one that has creative lettering techniques. Haven’t gotten around to getting it yet, however. Here is my Pinterest board for inspiration.
Good Luck, have fun, and share your experiences in the comments!
Ready for more?
Check out Part TWO of Bible Journaling.
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