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Thursday, January 26, 2017

bible journaling {a beginner's guide}

That's my vibe. 

A creative avenue makes everything better in my little corner of the world. Give me that option, and anything I do immediately becomes more enjoyable and applicable to my life. I'm the sign-maker of the pep rally, the prop designer of the play, and the arranger of the style items on the book case. So when I first saw the concept of Bible journaling, all I could think was "YES!!" A creative way to learn and imprint God's Word? Sign. me. up. 

Odds are, if you're following along on this creative, DIY space of the internet, you appreciate a lot of the same things that I do. But I guess there is also the possibility that you are currently yelling "WHAT HAS SHE DONE TO HER BIBLE?!" into your screen. Hang with me here! Before I tell you how I do Bible journaling, let me share with you why I do Bible journaling. After mulling it over, I think it all boils down to three things...

 - Scripture memorization. This is something I've always struggled with. It's easy to read a passage, nod in agreement and then move on with your day. I find myself defaulting to the familiarity of Scriptures rather than actually knowing the Bible verbatim. I'm thinking "Oh yes, I've heard that verse" or "I could quote the general idea of that Scripture." or "Hmm, isn't that in such and such book?" Truthfully, God wants us to deeply know and apply His Word. It's supposed to be hidden in our hearts, not just an app on our smart phones. Gosh, it's one of the ways God communicates with us! But truly studying and meditating on Scripture takes work and discipline that's not often a part of our busy days.
Through Bible journaling, I'm praying over and selecting a Scripture at least once a week. I'm pouring into each word as I create a design and apply it to my Bible. For a few hours, that verse is my sole focus and when I'm done, I have a visual image of it through the design. I can truly say that every single page I've journaled is now a Scripture I can easily recite!

 - Creative fun. Guys, three words... adult coloring books. They are all the rage. I think its because they allow a busy, stressed out adult to sit down and just focus on a pretty design. They're relaxing to work on and fulfilling to complete. I know y'all aren't shocked in the least to hear that crafting, creating, and designing do this for me. Making something beautiful is a beautiful thing in and of itself! 

 - Worship. I think any time you're actively giving God glory, you're worshiping. This comes in a lot of shapes and sizes, but I'm pretty sure God is happy to have them all. Spending time in His Word, reflecting on what He wants me to know and learn, usually listening to some awesome music in the background, what a great way to worship God!

Are you convinced? Have you whipped out your debit card, pulled up your Amazon Prime account, or already jumped into the card to head to Lifeway? Drive safe and keep reading!

Here are a few recommendations to get you started.

 a journaling Bible. This is your only must-have for Bible journaling. I have this Bible and give it two thumbs up. I selected it based on the translation and the make up of the outside cover (it's an NIV with a soft brown, flexible leather cover). Amazon seems to have the most affordable options, but you can find journaling Bibles (or sometimes they're called notetaking Bibles) most anywhere Bibles are sold. They also come in both lined and unlined margins varieties, so keep that in mind if its a deal breaker for you.

a journaling bible mat. This is a hard plastic mat to place behind the page you are working on. Whether you purchase one of these or just use a piece of cardboard or heavy card stock, I'd definitely recommend using something. If there's no buffer between the pages, your artwork will be imprinted on the following pages and potentially even bleed thru the super thin paper. I learned this the hard way with my very first page (got the sads) and immediately ordered the Illustrated Faith mat pictured above.

pens. Pick your poison here! I feel like pen choice is such a personal decision so feel free to use a few different options and see what you like. Be on the look out for pens that bleed through the page and for pens that are not waterproof if you're using mixed media. I found this blog post to be a great resource on different types of journaling pens and what might work best for each person. Having said that, I agree with it's author that this variety pack of pens are my favorite. Just make sure to hide them from the rest of your family! I'm looking at you, J.B.!

twistable colored pencils. These are a popular tool for most Bible journal folks. The Twistable colored pencils are inexpensive and simple to use. Lazy? Come sit by me. And get excited because these bad boys don't ever need to be sharpened! Huzzah!! The tips are also super soft on the thin pages and the colors blend together wonderfully.

gelatos. Currently these are my favorite way to color my designs (and the one I used on the design below)! Gelatos are sort of a half crayon, half watercolor option. They draw on like a crayon, and then you can used a sponge or a damp cloth to smooth out the color. If you aren't paying attention, they can be a bit pricey online, but I've found them to be super affordable at Michael's. Plus you can use up to a 50% off coupon with their app!

watercolor paints. Y'all know I'm a watercolor girl. And I enjoy using them in my Bible journaling too! The only downside for watercolor paints is that they do color thru the page. Where as a gelato color isn't going to show thru on the backside of a page, a watercolor paint definitely will. That might not be a big deal to you, but its something I weigh when I'm considering a design. Can't beat the price though. A watercolor paint set can be found almost anywhere for just a couple bucks!

washi tape. While I own an entire basket of various patterns of washi tape, (True story. Support group is imminent) I actually have not used a bit of it inside my Bible. But my day is coming. I can feel it. And you can find washi tape anywhere! Craft stores, Target, online. Go nuts! The great thing about washi tape is that it's lightweight and both permanent and non-permanent. Meaning, you can stick it down wherever you like and it's not moving, but if you did decide to readjust it or remove it, washi tape peels up easily without leaving any damage in its wake. What more could you ask for out of decorative tape?!

A great resource for Bible journaling ideas is simply to do a Pinterest search! There are so many beautiful designs to take in! There are even traceable designs for free or to purchase if you're apprehensive about beginning. 

These are a few of my favorites.

via  /   via  /  via

You can also see the great variety in styles. Some folks go all out with the stickers, washi tape and paint. They'll use a page in their Bible as a canvas for a specific scripture and exclusively use their journaling Bible as a work of art. While these are beautiful tributes to God's word, I'm a bit more subtle with my own style. I prefer not to cover up any scripture text and stay within the confines of the margins. That allows me to continue to use this Bible as a study reference if I choose to.

For a more concise idea, I'll give you a peek into what I'm working on this week.
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about  these things."
 - Philippians 4:8 

The madness of today's political climate has been seeping into my heart and God knew what I needed to focus on this week. So I've been churning this verse around day after day. 

I started my journaling design on the computer. This is probably where I differ from most folks. While I think the majority of people like to grab a pencil and work on a free hand design, I love my graphic design work via Illustrator. So I usually carefully create my design on a computer before bring it over to my Bible to trace with a pencil. 

From there I added ink and then color. In my mind's eye, I was planning a metallic gold ombre look for underneath this pretty script. Key words there are "I was planning". Bless my heart. 
This design is the perfect example of design plans gone wrong. As I started to apply my metallic gold gelato color, I realized that the pen I used for the script was not waterproof! GASP. Smears incoming! Since both the ink and the gelato had already been applied to the page at this point, I was stuck.
So the gelato work was done really tediously and didn't come out with quite the application its supposed to. Never the less, I think this design is still along the path of what I was originally imagining. The metallic gold shimmers beautifully in person! These are the golden things to rest our mind on!

I hope you'll consider Bible journaling! It's been such a fun venture for me and I love the real life application that these Scripture are making on my heart.

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