Connie Denninger, Visual Faith and Creative Havens

Many of you know the amazing work of Connie Denninger and her vision for “Visual Faith.”  Recently I had a chance to ask her about the story behind her work.  Here’s what she had to say:

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I have been a visual kinesthetic learner since my earliest memories. SHOW me and let me DO IT. Then it connects. I have been teaching Visual Faith practices for over twenty years with Keep the Faith projects that connect my personal faith story and His faithfulness, After meeting Sybil MacBeth at a Praying in Color event we hosted, I have been teaching Visual prayer practices for ten years. I jumped into the Bible Journaling communities when it first started. I think I was #43 in the Illustrated Faith Community that now has 42, 900 members. One of the early fascinations was the incredible need for community in the Bible Journaling world.

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Often members could not find anyone else that was “processing” life and Word this way. It was both permission-giving and affirming. The Holy Spirit used both of those in such a way that people were not able to “be silent” about what they were seeing and learning. They HAD to tell others.

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I had finished reading Lisa Hickman’s Writing in the Margins about 6 months before I stumbled onto Bible Journaling online. When I found out that Shanna Noel and Lisa didn’t know about each other and how the Lord was working in their own lives, it was time to bring them together. So Illustrated Faith- Virginia happened in Nov 2015, in Northern Virginia and I saw what it could possibly mean to raise up teachers and coaches to bring these visual faith practices to our families, churches and neighborhoods. Now that has evolved into the launch of Visual Faith Ministry- a website and ministry that brings together resources and a coaching and encouragement team that seeks to raise up the gifts of the laity in the Kingdom in a collaborative learning community. The Lord has been faithful. My role in all of this has been to be a “condoit” of grace that connects the gifts of His people.

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I don’t consider myself an artist in that I can draw “images”, but delight in using creative approaches for making a section of Scripture highlighted in a way that makes it easier for me to see and remember. These tools have been very helpful in dealing with my diagnosis of “spiritual amnesia” and the challenge to remember God’s faithfulness to me on a daily basis. Many of my additions in the margins center around events and celebrations and worship services. That connects to may support role to my husband who serves as a Bishop of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod in the Southeastern District. Often the entries are just the lectionary connections to the readings for a worship service. We refer to this as the simple practice of “worship into the week”. How does a worship service experience become the center of my meditation in His Word for the rest of the week? This has brought me much Joy- to simply spend more time in God’s Word.

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Most of my margin work is simply rewriting a small section of a Scripture reading that “stands out” in my reading. I often use an ancient practice called Lectio Divina that moves me to read a portion of Scripture a number of times and seek the words the Holy Spirit needs ME to SEE. One of the things I teach people is to turn their own handwriting into a font. So the words often are simply my own handwriting, with a “wild outline” that creates a space for adding colored pencil. I have not done well with looking at a font and “recreating” the letters. This has been my simple adjustment to allow my own writing to be the center of my marginal interactions. So a margin might start out with a rapid writing in the margin during a worship service and then the rest is finished during the week. It became an amazing blessing to realize that those scribbles, when pinned on Pinterest or shared in an online community becomes a witness of blessing to hundreds and thousands of people. My go to supplies are regular colored pencils, alpha stickers, a Micron or non-bleeding fine-point Sharpie and washi tape. However, anything is game to be in the margins- from magazine photos, to worship service images, or a pretty napkin.

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I love hosting open studio events called Creative Haven that invite a host of people to stop by, pick up a new visual prayer handout, try a new product or assemble a Make and Take project.

In November 2016, I got an email from Joanne Fink asking if I would help to 46take an editing look at her book- The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling. She found me on Instagram. She saw that my work is to teach others to teach others about visual faith engagement practices. What a fun experience and the forging of a wonderful relationship with Joanne. Our team now seeks to design ways to use her product line for Michael’s Stores in our Visual Faith communities. It has been a blessed connection to share in the 14 Facebook Visual Faith Communities in the United States and one in Israel outside of Jerusalem.

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One of my greatest joys is that Visual Faith connections has blessed the lives of my three daughters as they personally use these tools of engagement and bring the practices to others. It is truly a gift that blesses from one generation to another as we gather around tables in our homes and worship centers.

Connie Denninger—November 2017

My Promise Bible

Just when I thought that I had reviewed every coloring Bible, I received a request to review one more!  Christian Arts Gifts was kind enough to send me two copies of their new coloring Bible:  “My Promise Bible.”  I’ll be giving one away on Facebook soon!  Watch for it.

This Bible is in the King James Version and is the successor Bible to “My Creative Bible” with all new line art.  The Bible has a theme of God’s promises through both the art and the selection of verses that are illustrated.  It has two cover options:  Blue Butterflies and Pink Roses:

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The translation is the King James Version (KJV).  Much has been written and I can hardly do justice to the impact the KJV of the Bible has had on our culture and the English language.

I woke up this morning reflecting on what has helped the King James Bible stand the test of time.  (I was an economics major, so the exact question I was thinking: “What has given the KJV its durable advantage?”  As a matter of practical reality:  The KJV Bible has spent a seriously long time on the best seller list!  Why this 400-year-old version?)

  • The translation uses a word-for-word approach that must capture something of the rhythm and beauty of the original Greek and Hebrew.
  • It has been read aloud in congregations and been absorbed; it has a comforting familiarity.  Hundreds of words and phrases from the King James Bible have become part of our every day language.  If you are interested in just how many, I would encourage you to read the book:  Begat:  The King James Bible & the English Language by the linguist David Crystal.  The hymns we sing often include verses from the KJV.  Even with its “thees” and “thous”, which have fallen out of contemporary usage, the KJV still reads like one expects the Bible to read.
  • One English word that first appeared in the KJV is “network.”  I think the KJV of the Bible may be the first example of what’s known in the business world as “a network effect”.  The fact that so many people have used it over time increased the “value” of reading it.  There was a time when many people had just one book in their home and it was a King James Bible.  And the King James Bible has been read widely by influential thinkers, writers, and poets.  There are countless stories about the Bible changing the lives of individuals; it could be said without too much hyperbole that the King James Bible transformed the language and culture of the English-speaking world.
  • Another reason behind the success of the KJV must be Tyndale.  I just began reading a wonderful biography of Tyndale by David Teems.  In his own life experience, he shared much in common with the early Christians who wrote the New Testament.  He lived in exile and was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1536 because he translated the Bible into English (Latin was the language of the church).  His work of translating the Hebrew and Greek into English helped created the demand for an English Bible and demonstrated the beauty and power of the Word of God in English.  His life was cut short, so he did not translate the whole Bible, but many of the most memorable verses from the King James Bible, published in 1611, were first found in his work.  How the Bible spoke so clearly to him in his trials and his colorful gift for language still shape how we read the Bible in English.

Just as an example regarding the power of word choice:  Tyndale first crafted the heroic question:  “O Death, where is thy sting?”  Before Tyndale, Wycliffe translated the Latin Bible into English.  Here is his translation of 1 Corinthians 15:55:  Death, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy prick?  “Prick” just does not work as well!

I loved reading this whole passage from Tyndale…

Deeth where is thy stynge? Hell where is thy victory?  The stynge of deeth is synne: and the strength of synne is the lawe.  But thankes be vnto God which hath geven vs victory thorow oure Lorde Iesus Christ.  Therfore my deare brethren be ye stedfast and unmovable alwayes ryche in the workes of the Lorde for as moch as ye knowe how yt youre labour is not in vayne in the Lorde.

Spelling had not yet been standardized, but the words are totally and completely familiar, and it’s a comfort to me to think of Tyndale penning these words as so much of his work was thrown into the fire and he himself faced death.  In the Lord, his work was not in vain.  Nearly 500 years later, his work endured; praise God!

Thinking of Tyndale inspired my first page in this Bible…

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This “My Promise Bible” is a joy to work in.  I’ll share just a few more pictures.  I can hardly wait to color the inside cover.  At this point, I have seen many illustrations of the first passage of the Gospel of John.  I think this is my favorite!

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There are many whole pages to color.  Here is one:

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Here is the same page after adding some color.  I used Prismacolor Premier colored pencils and some gelly roll pens for detail…

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Many pages have line art in just the margins…

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The Bible provides an introduction to each chapter:

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At the back of the Bible is a section all about God’s promises with coloring pages for each theme…IMG_8363 1

The Bible also has some pages with room to write prayers and notes at the back:

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The very back page has a pocket with stickers and really pretty Bible tabs, pink for the rose Bible and blue for the butterfly Bible.

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The My Promise Bible is a relaxing and beautiful way to spend time in the King James Version of the Bible.

Growing up, I remember my mother telling my father that there were newer translations of the Bible, which took into account more recent scholarship and were easier to read, but my dad always read his King James Version.  I called him up today to ask what he liked so much about it.  He said that the Bible was his favorite because it was given to him by his grandmother, and it had her handwriting in it.  He went on to tell me about her kindness, her life of faith, and her complete dependence on God.  When I called, he was preparing for a Bible study on aging, and of all things, he was reading the passage:  “O death, where is thy sting?”  He said that was the last chapter on his book about aging.  We enjoyed a good laugh about the word “prick.”  God wink!

The KJV connects the generations.  I hope to give this Bible to my son so that he knows what it meant to my great grandmother, grandmother, father, and me!  My hope is to highlight in this Bible all the ways it has impacted our family and our culture and our language.  My prayer is that he will know the promises of God are for him, too!

Choosing a Journaling Bible

When I started Bible journaling, there were only a couple of journaling Bibles to choose from, and I am so glad that was the case!  I don’t know how I would choose today.

I hope to simplify the choices for you.

If you already have a translation of the Bible that you prefer or that is used in your church, you might start by looking for a journaling Bible in that translation.  To start searching, just go to Amazon and enter the translation you prefer and “Journaling Bible”.  (Catholic friends, a New American Bible, Revised Edition, will soon be available as a Journaling Bible.)

If you don’t have a strong translation preference, then I would recommend the English Standard Version (ESV).  Like the King James Version, this is a word-for-word translation of the Bible.  The Bible is suitable for scholarly study, reading in worship, and devotional reading.  I like this translation of the Bible in every way.  The Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) are the previous generations of this Bible.  The RSV is the translation my church gave me when I was little, and the NRSV is what I studied in college.

Crossway makes beautiful ESV journaling Bibles that hold up well to all kinds of art supplies.  Don’t be confused by the number of different covers.  There are just three basic models:

  1. Double column, a smaller Bible (Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 7.2 inches)
  2. Single column, just the right size with plenty of room for art (Dimensions:  6.5 x 1.6 x 8.4 inches).  There are large print options, too!  (Dimensions:  6.7 x 1.6 x 9.8 inches)
  3. Interleaved, a bigger Bible with a whole blank page for art (Dimensions:  7.1 x 2.5 x 10.1 inches)

Personally, I prefer the single column.  I like the way that the art and the text intermingle with the single column format.  If you want lots of room for art, you might prefer the interleaved.   I find the big blank page to be intimidating.

Below is a picture of the three Bibles to help you see the relative size…

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And here is the inside so that you can see the different format options…

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Beyond the basics, there are now coloring Bibles and so many to choose from.  Coloring Bibles are fun because they draw you right in.  You don’t have to plan out or design the page yourself; you can just start coloring and spending time in God’s word.  If you don’t like how a page is decorated or you just want to do something different, you can either add a tip-in or just cover up the original artwork.  I just find it’s nice to have a starting point.

I’ve been quietly collecting coloring Bibles.  Often people say that the best place to begin reading the Bible is with the Gospel of John, so I started there and colored the first page of the Gospel of John in seven different Bibles.  What surprised me was how each version helped me to reflect on the opening passage from the book of John in a new way.

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The coloring Bibles come in different translations.  Just to provide some perspective I’ve listed some common translations from the most literal word-for-word translation (King James) to the most paraphrased (The Message).

  1. The King James Version (word-for-word)
  2. The New King James Version (word-for-word)
  3. English Standard Version (word-for-word)
  4. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought)
  5. The New International Version–More Bibles are sold in this translation than any other.  (A balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought)
  6. The New Living Translation (Thought-for-thought, a successor Bible to “The Living Bible”)
  7. The Message (Paraphrase)

We are blessed as English-speakers to be able to read the Bible in our own language at just about any reading level. I think the goal of all Bible translators is to convey the original meaning of the ancient texts while making Scripture inviting and readable.  And if we have questions, about a specific translation we can compare it to others or even go online and explore the original Hebrew and Greek.

I’ll share a little about my experience with the various coloring Bibles…

The Inspire Praise Bible:  This is a brand new edition of the Inspire Bible with all new line art and a theme of Praise.  It is available in the New Living Translation.

What I liked?  This is a wonderful devotional Bible.  The illustrations are fresh and fun.  The Bible has a youthful feel.

Who would like this?  This is a good choice for most women, of any age, and a fun Bible to share with those that may be new to the Bible.

How I plan to use it?  I plan to use this in my every day devotions.  I’ll use it together with my Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling kits, starting this month with Gratitude Documented.

The Inspire Praise Bible devotes a whole page to this passage.  The verse that stood out to me with this illustration:  “And his life brought light to everyone.”

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The Inspire Bible:  This is the first edition of the Inspire Bible.  I thought it was wonderful.  I can’t believe they started from scratch!  And I like the new one even more.  It’s available in large print.

What I liked?  My favorite thing about the Inspire Bible is the selection of verses that are illustrated.  They are verses that have spoken to generation-after-generation.  I love being about to open the Bible and just start coloring.

Who would like this?  A good choice for most women, of any age.

How I plan to use it?  I haven’t filled this Bible up, so I’ll continue to use it for my daily devotions when I’m not using the Praise Bible.

In the Illustrated Faith Word Nerd Devotional Kit, the author suggested journaling the first passage of John and focusing on something new.  Every time I read this passage, I discover something new!

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The Message Canvas Bible:  The Message now is available as a journaling Bible and the editors and artists did an amazing job.

What I liked?  The illustrations are amazing and so much fun to color.   I love how the thoughtful illustration made me reflect on the text.

Who would like this?  Anyone who loves The Message or who loves to color.  The illustrations are less flowery than other coloring Bibles.  I would feel comfortable giving this to either a man or a woman.

How I plan to use this?  This is a Bible I would grab to relax, read, and color.  It’s a joy!

The illustrator combined the ideas of light and life in this sun with vines.  I love the light bursting over the open grave as an image of a light that darkness cannot overcome.  As I colored I thought of Jesus as the life and the light.  I wondered about the “I am” statements of Jesus in the gospel of John and wrote them all out:  The bread of life, the gate, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way the truth and the life, the vine.  This was my very favorite page for coloring and meditating on scripture.

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My Creative Bible:  This is a coloring Bible in the King James Version with many nicely done illustrations.

What I liked?  I enjoy coloring and reading the beautiful language of the original King James.

Who would like it?  Anyone who prefers the King James Version of the Bible.

How I plan to use it?  The Bible has a bit more of a vintage feel to it, so I was thinking of using it together with my Distress inks and markers to create a Bible that has the feel of an art journal.

The Creative Bible puts the most famous verse from each chapter of the Bible on the first page of each chapter.  I wanted to focus on John 1, so I made a tip-in inspired by an art journalng page from kath-allthatglitter.blogspot.com.

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Praise:  A Creative Journaling Bible:  This is another illustrated Bible of the King James Version.  The illustrations are largely plants and flowers.  One strange thing about this Bible:  Most journaling Bibles have faint lines for writing.  This Bible has thick black lines, thinly spaced.  I’m not sure who writes that small?

What I liked?   All the artwork is drawn by artist Laura Elizabeth Marshall, which gives the Bible a cohesive feel.  I love the gold edge on the pages.

Who would like it?  Gardeners and people who like flowers.

How I plan to use it?  I’ve been dreaming of doing a Bible journaling project on plants of the Bible.

I colored each of these leaves with three shades of green.  As I colored this simple illustration I was filled with awe about how much color and detail goes into all of creation. Since I plan to use this Bible to celebrate God’s creation, I thought it made sense to focus on the verse:  “All things were made by him.”

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The Beautiful Word:  The Beautiful Word Bibles from Zondervan are a series that comes in both small and large print and in two versions (NIV and New King James Version).  Some Beautiful Word Bibles come with full-color art.  Check and double check that you have the version you want!  (Zondervan also produces lovely journaling Bibles without line art in the NIV translation.)

What I liked?  I like the simple art.  It provides a good beginning for adding detail.  For a verse selection starting point, this Bible worked with BibleHub to identify the most searched for Bible verses.  The art will draw you into the Bible verses that people are searching for!

Who would like it?  Sunday school teachers.

How I plan to use it?  The NIV is the translation currently given to children at my church. Since I teach Sunday school,  I plan to journal the memory verses and the Bible stories in this Bible.

I added some artwork from Karla Dornacher’s book Bible Journaling – Everlasting Hope to the simple illustrations already on the page.  The verse is:  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  I enjoyed how the message paraphrases this:  “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”  As I worked on this page I thought about how hope lives in the Gospel of John and also how hope lives in our neighborhoods as Christ lives in each of his followers.

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The HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible for Teens:  This Bible says that it is for teens; I think what makes it for teens is that there are some pages inserted with questions that teens often ask about Christianity and the Bible with thoughtful answers.  I think this Bible would be fine for any age.

Just speaking personally, I don’t find HSCB translation as inviting as some of the easier to read translations like the New Living Translation.  And it doesn’t have the comforting, familiar feeling of word-for-word translations like the King James or the English Standard Bible.

What I liked?  I like that the illustrations are more abstract, the text is nicely laid out on the page, and the paper is a crisp white.

Who would use it?  Suitable for men or women.

How I plan to use it?  I was thinking of using this Bible to write prayers, thoughts, and memories for my husband.

I pulled some colors from the cover of the Bible and just focused on God’s grace.  I do love how the HCSB translates John 1:16:  “Indeed, we all have received grace after grace from his fullness.”

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Can you have too many Bibles?  It may take me the rest of my life to fill these in.  I think each of these Bibles will end up having a distinct feel and purpose.  All of them gave me plenty of inspiration.

Thoughts on Journaling Bibles for Children.

For my kids, age 5 and 10, I simply bought them each a Crossway ESV Journaling Bible.  Once a child starts coloring in a Bible and adding stickers and detail, any Bible becomes a children’s Bible.  I think The Message Canvas Bible would be a good choice for boys or girls.  The Inspire Bible would probably appeal more to girls.  Another option for younger children who want to join you in Bible Journaling is My Own Keepsake Bible, a storybook coloring Bible…

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Ultimately, the best Bible is the one that you will use and my prayer is that you find one that fits your needs and draws you into the Word and closer to Jesus Christ, light of the World, the Word made flesh.

 

The Inspire Praise Bible

I signed up to receive an early release copy of the new Inspire Praise Bible.  (I’m not sure if they are still available or not, but I got the Inspire Praise Launch Team Package.)  When I saw the purple cover and heard that it had all new line art and thicker pages, I couldn’t wait!

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When it arrived, I looked at my Illustrated Faith “Word Nerd” kit and I looked at my “Inspire Praise Bible” and froze with a silly fear:  “I don’t know how to do purple.”  Don’t get me wrong, I really like purple, but I’ve been working with Illustrated Faith supplies since they were introduced, and historically, purple has been missing for the most part.

I took some pictures of my Bible and started a Pinterest board to get some color inspiration.  Now that I am over that initial hurdle, I am delighted!  (And I’m finding that most of my Illustrated Faith supplies still work great.)  This Bible has a theme:  Praise!  And it just feels natural to want to add my own words of praise as I illustrate the passages.  The Bible is just a little big bigger than the original Inspire Bible.  The pages are slightly thicker, but still feel like Bible paper.  I can still trace images through the paper.

What I love most about the Inspire Bible:  The illustrators of both the original Inspire Bible and the new Inspire Praise Bible have selected wonderful Biblical texts.  They have highlighted the verses from each book of the Bible that have spoken to generation after generation.  Someone new to the Bible could literally get drawn right into these beautiful passages.

A few thoughts about the translation:  The Bible is in the New Living Translation, which conveys the meaning of the ancient Hebrew and Greek on a thought-for-thought basis as we might speak today.  I find that translations that strive to stay word-for-word like the King James Version and the English Standard Version (which evolved from the Revised Standard Version) have a rhythm about them that is familiar even when the exact wording is slightly different.  That being said, the New Living Translation is inviting and clear.  As I read it, I find myself checking it against other translations, especially when I hit a passage I may have memorized before.  Generally, I have been pleased with how the thoughts are expressed, especially in terms of preserving the meaning while making the text easier to understand.

The combination of the illustrations with the easy-to-understand text make this a good Bible for both beginners and people who want to hear and experience the Word in a fresh way after having heard it all their lives.

Let me show you some pictures.  Here’s the inside cover…

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The back cover has a little pocket with some ready-to-color stickers….

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There is line art in the margins, but there are still plenty of pages with blank journaling space.

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And full pages to color.

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The Inspire Praise Bible also has some elegantly illustrated full-color vellum pages with room to journal…

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To get started, I printed out some different pages from the Illustrated Faith Print and Pray Shop.  I held the pages up to the Bible and found one that harmonized with the purples.  When the color is right everything just pops, and for me, it takes a little trial and error to find that magical moment of “Yes!”.  The page below is from the Seek Inspiration Journal Kit.

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Then I looked for colors in my art supplies to match the colors in the printable.  I’ve discovered that when I am drawn to a piece of artwork done by others, it’s often the colors that I love.  If I stick with the same color scheme in my own work, I’m almost always pleased with the final result.

After printing out the printable onto card stock, I cut the shapes with scissors, leaving a border of white around the edge, which makes cutting easier and also tends to look better than cutting too close the design.

Here’s my first page…

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I plan to be following along with Illustrate Faith’s Gratitude Documented this November, and I’ll be sharing my pictures on Instagram if you want to follow along.  I’m a little late to the Instagram party, but I so enjoy seeing the many, many Bible Journaling posts there.

Here’s a link to the free printable with prompts for the month of November.  Shanna Noel is hosting a pop-up group for this challenge if you would like to join in!

 

 

The Fullness of God Is Grace upon Grace

I am a little bit artsy, but I am over-the-top nerdy.  When the Word Nerd kit from Illustrated Faith Kit came out, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive.  I have been blessed as I let my inner nerd guide me through the devotional.

The first page I did was the dedication page in my Inspire Bible

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Week one of the Word Nerd kit from Illustrated Faith suggested reading the first chapter of John and responding to the text by taking note of something new.  I opened my Inspire Bible and the page had some line art on it.  I thought, I never thought about that verse before, so I’ll just color this page.  As I did so, something about the following translation of John 1:16 did not sit right with me:  :  “From His abundance, we have all received one gracious blessing after another.”

So I opened a ESV translation, which read. “From his fullness, we all have received, grace upon grace.”  And I felt a sigh from my heart:  “Ah, yes.”  But I didn’t fully understand.

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I looked at the “Week 4” card next:

Open to the Psalms and find one that speaks right to you.  What stirs your heart about it?  How does it feed you?

The Psalm that I picked for the “Week 4” card was Psalm 119, which seemed like a good idea at the time, since it fit the “Word Nerd” theme.  I ordered some cute background paper from the Illustrated Faith Print & Pray shop along with some additional printables that fit the Word Nerd theme.  The alphabet paper made me think I should learn the Hebrew alphabet as I journaled through Psalm 119, which is an acrostic poem and mentions a letter of the alphabet at the beginning of each 8-line section.  I practiced writing in Hebrew.  (I hope that I wrote:  “Blessed be God who teaches my hand to write.”)

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A minister who travels often to Israel told me that all Hebrew letters aren’t just letters, they represent a picture of something and the names of the letters are used as words and the letters all correspond to a number, so I decided I would make myself a little table.  What I didn’t know when I started this project is that people have spent decades studying the Hebrew alphabet and nobody agrees about all the pictures or the meanings.  What I was trying to do was not neatly possible.  I tried, but I left the table below in pencil so that I can revise it as I learn more and clarify my thinking.  For the spelling of Hebrew letters, I just used what was in my Bible, but don’t be surprised if you see alternative spelling elsewhere.

The letter “Beth” made it all seem so simple:  Early forms of Beth looked like a tent; the word is translated as “house” and the letter represents the number “2”, which is about division and the appearance of choice.  The chart below is as far as I could get in one week…

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If you look into the meaning of Hebrew Numbers, there are countless interpretations! I took what I read into consideration and then simply anchored the meaning of the first 10 numbers to the creation story.  Beyond 10, I held to the rule that the fullness of a number multiplied by 10 must show the fullness of meaning.  I have a deeply held conviction that numbers need to make sense and relate to one another!  (The numbers associated with the letters is part of a system called gematria, which seems to have emerged after the Bible was written.)

1 = God creates light and saw that it was good (God is one and God is good!).

2 = God separates the heavens from the earth (it’s the only day not declared good).

3 = Green life starts to grow (strength and hope).

4 = God puts the sun and the moon in the sky to mark the seasons (seasons).

5 = God creates the graceful birds of the sky and makes the water alive with fish (grace).

6 = God completes the work of creation (the whole of creation).

7 = God establishes us the Sabbath; a rest reminds us that God is sovereign; the world carries on without us (God’s sovereignty?).

8 = One beyond (life and eternity).

9 = New beginnings (Adam and Eve are told be fruitful and multiply; 9 months is the length of pregnancy).

10 = The fullness of God.

Curiously, once I finished my table, I understood why I struggled with the New Living translation of John 1:16:

God’s fullness (10) = Grace (5) + Grace (5)

I wondered if other combinations adding to ten would tell me something about the fullness of God.  I may be full of beans, but for me personally, it was a very satisfying result:

10 = The oneness of God (1) + new beginnings (9); God created this world and could start again.

10 = Choices (2) + life and eternity (8); God shows us fullness in that He gives us choices; the right choices lead to life and eternity and God gives us the Word to guide us.

10 = Hope (3) + Sovereignty (7); God is the one who gives us hope and is on the throne no matter what happens in the world and working all things together for God’s purpose.  (As a Presbyterian, this combination held a strong resonance for me.)

10 = Seasons and elements (4) + the whole of creation (6); God’s fullness is seen in the seasons and elements that make up this world and how everything in this world is connected.

10 = Grace (5) + Grace (5); God’s fullness is grace upon grace.

What still kind of astonishes me about the last equation:  the letters represented by the equation form God’s name.

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The “yah” is the number 10.  The “he” is the number 5.  “Vav” can mean “and”  Like I said, I may have made many wrong turns, but I understood or think I understand (on a very deep level!) what seemed not quite right about the New Living Translation of John 1:16.

I think that John may have tried to express his understanding of the meaning of God’s name. He was saying something that he held to be as true as 5+5=10.  I’ve seen grace defined as “unmerited favor.”  God is the one who gives favor to whom he pleases.  God will do what God will do.  God is who God is.  Praise God’s Holy Name!!!  God’s fullness is “awe” and “awe”!

That was my major blessing and discovery:  A sense of feeling God revealed in a most curious way.  And I just set out to learn a little about the Hebrew alphabet!

As I journaled my way through Psalm 119, I found it was very easy to learn new Hebrew words once I learned the alphabet.

One of the things that I love about Psalm 119 is how the whole Psalm affirms the relationship between virtue and happiness.

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I looked up the Hebrew word for love, which is “ah-ha-VA”.  But it turns out the word I should have been looking for was “chesed”, which is translated below as “unfailing love.”  My pastor tells me that “chesed” is the most frequently used Word in the Old Testament and that it is often translated as “loving-kindness.”  I suspect the New Testament writers were thinking of “chesed” when they wrote about love:  Love is patient; Love is kind.  We use the word “love” to describe all kinds of likes and fleeting feelings, but God’s love for us is the kind that never lets us go, that holds all of creation in a loving embrace.

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I just enjoyed reflecting on the goodness of God and God’s Word as I made this page.  There is truth to Psalm 119:45:  “I will walk in freedom for I have devoted myself to your commandments.”  As more and more people live by the ten commandments, we all experience greater freedom.

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The verse:  “You have done many good things for me” made me think of the Johnny Appleseed song that’s often sung as grace.  My favorite word that starts with “Teth” is “tob”, which means “good”.

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I am very blessed to have my grandmother’s Bible.  I pulled out her Bible to read Psalm 119 in it and found these notes from her:  “Why read the Bible?  To know salvation, to know how to be holy, to find comfort, to get values, to get wisdom, to have joy.”  I can tell from the notes in my grandmother’s Bible, how much comfort she took from the Word of God.

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There were too many fun verses to illustrate on this page!  I played around a little with trying to better understand the way that God’s word is a light.  The word for light is made up of the characters “aleph”, “vav”, and “resh”.  I got a little frustrated with the various definitions people provided for “aleph”.  I broke down and bought a Biblical Hebrew dictionary with Scripture references.

By far and away, the most common use for the word “aleph” is “one thousand”, which is a little confusing because the character “aleph” is used to represent “1”.  “Vav” is a connecting symbol.  And “resh” means beginning, but the picture represents a head.  So I was thinking of light and the Word as “strength for our heads.”

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I like how The Message translates Psalm 119:130.  “Break open your words.  Let the light shine out.  Let ordinary people see their meaning.”  Learning just a little bit about Hebrew has helped me break open some words, to see nuances that I didn’t see before, and to have better understanding.

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I could find eight different words for “The Word” in Psalm 119.  The number 8 is often about life and eternity.  The “chet”, the eighth letter of the alphabet, looks like a doorway.  Maybe the Word is a doorway to life and eternity.  (When I go looking for meaning, I often find it; I’m not always right!).

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Psalm 119 keeps giving me more and more reasons to love the Bible!

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Just learning the Hebrew letters gave me so much food for thought.  I had so many “ah-ha” moments.  I feel like I have a deeper understanding of many passages in both the Old and New Testaments.  I’ve felt God revealed in a way that I did not expect.  God wants our hearts, more so than our heads, but it can be a delight to make connections and seek out meaning.  I’ve discovered that it’s not about having the right answers, but about the journey of discovery as we continue to seek out the fullness of God.

If you would like to learn Hebrew Alphabet, make it easy on yourself and begin with a song.

I learned to write the Hebrew letters by watching a YouTube video by a Baptist pastor.

The website Ancient Hebrew Research Center, which was created by a man who simply got pulled into the study of Hebrew letters, shares what he has learned from looking at the history of the Hebrew alphabet from early forms of the letters to its present from.

Rabbi Trugman will take you deeper into the alphabet with his YouTube video series Secrets of the Hebrew Letters.

The best sight I found online was Hebrew for Christians.  He shares what he has learned from the Jewish tradition in a respectful way and yet see things from a Christian perspective.

If you want to see the Hebrew for a verse, Bible Hub shows it side-by-side with a word-for-word translation.  (Type in any verse.  The first page will be parallel translation.  Just click on the word “Hebrew”)

It’s been a great journey, but the final page I journaled on Psalm 119 is just a simple prayer to return to the ordinary focus of my days.

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Everlasting Hope by Karla Dornacher

I pre-ordered a copy of Everlasting Hope by Karla Dornacher because I love her inspired art and I knew she would create a great Bible journaling resource.  It arrived yesterday.  Just looking through the pictures, stickers, and images made me want to play in my Bible.  So many fun ideas.

Here’s some pictures from the book and below I’ll share the page I did this morning.

There’s the cover…

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Karla shares some illustrations from her Bible and also pictures to trace…

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There are two alphabets to practice.  Here’s one of them…

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And teacups!  Oh how I love teacups!

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Several pages on vellum to cut out and trace…

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And stickers!!!

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Every time I open my Inspire Bible, I turn to a page that has been colored on one side with oranges and greens and on the other side with pinks, purples, and bright yellows.  It’s a small thing, but I keep thinking that I need to redo the right side of the page with colors that match…

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Karla’s book gave me just what I needed for a redo!  I copied one of the illustrations onto cardstock and colored it with Distress inks and markers.  I cut it with a paper trimmer and glued it to the page.

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Problem solved!

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I’ve been asking for a way to fix this page and found an answer!

Whenever you aren’t happy with how a Bible page turns out, just keep working on it until it makes you happy.  There are many ways to fix a mistake.

The book is not a comprehensive introduction to Bible journaling, but with so many ideas and illustrations it will give you plenty of inspiration to spend time in your Bible!

There are two other books by the same publisher with a similar format.  One features the beautiful art of Krista Harnrick and the other has illustrations by Anita Haines.  So fun!

 

Created to Create #2

I didn’t want to let September go by without sharing some of the pages I did from the “Created to Create #2” kit from Illustrated Faith.

I’ve been pondering some of the questions from the devotional…

What are your goals for your art?

At an Illustrated Faith event in Virginia, I heard Shanna Noel encourage everyone to share their Bible journaling on social media.  She said:  “Maybe your art is beautiful and inspiring or maybe you are the one that helps others realize they can do this.”  When I heard the second part of her sentence, I thought, “Yes! I want to encourage others to try Bible Journaling.”  I would encourage anyone, regardless of artistic ability, to just enjoy the process!

(I’ve been using this kit together with my Inspire Bible with line art to color.)

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What are my joys?

It’s a joy for me to spend time in the Word and to be more aware of God’s presence as I spend time in the Word.  Responding to the Bible in creative ways helps me reconnect with how I first experienced the Bible as a child in Sunday school, in a loving and devoted way.

I also enjoy supporting the creative efforts of others; I have fun using the devotional kits and printable pages that artists make.  I especially love when I do a devotional created by someone else and it turns out to be just what I needed to hear or helps me understand a passage more deeply.

(In the passage below, I picked some Pitt Artist brush pens to match the color scheme for the kit.  I’ve been reluctant to use markers in my Bible, so I was surprised to discover that these really don’t bleed.  Colored pencils work wonderfully, but if you like markers, these are a good choice.)

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Here’s the backside of the page colored with the Pitt Artist Brush Pens.

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What is your idea behind what Bible journaling means to you?

For me personally, Bible Journaling is just a fun and relaxing way to spend time in the Word.  The creative process helps me to focus on the passage, to make it personal to me, so that I can live into the Word in my daily life.

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How does my Bible Journaling glorify our amazing Father?

From a young age, I learned that our purpose in life is to bring glory to God and enjoy God’s presence forever.  I know that Bible journaling helps me enjoy God’s presence and I hope that it brings glory to God.  God has given us the gift of a Bible, a book that has spoken to countless generations telling the story of God’s people and our savior Jesus Christ.  When my children look through my Bible, they can tell how important it is to me.  They can see the verses that spoke to me.  My Bible journaling demonstrates that the Bible is not just a book on the shelf, but the book that shapes who I am as a person.

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It’s hard to believe that three years have gone by since I first started Bible journaling (and this blog–I just renewed the domain name).  At the time, I wasn’t sure how to begin, what supplies to use, what pens wouldn’t bleed.  My first Bible is filled with trial and error!

Now that Bible journaling has exploded, it is easy to find all kinds of supplies.  Illustrated Faith offers washi tape, stickers, stamps, and tip-ins.  Michaels sells supplies for Bible journaling.  You can buy introductory books on the subject.  When I started, there were only a few Bibles to choose from when I started and now there are many Bibles like the Inspire Bible, with line art to color.  New Bibles are coming out with thicker pages!  See the new Inspire Bible and this Bible from Crossway.  I started with a Bible, some pens, and a few stickers.  Now my craft supply area is overflowing with fun supplies to inspire me to spend more time in the Bible.  I almost can’t keep up!  I can’t wait to start the next kit!  I’m so proud to be a “Word Nerd”!

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Inspire Coloring Books

The Inspire coloring books are a fun addition (or alternative to) Bible Journaling.  The pages are thick like other adult coloring books and work wonderfully with markers and colored pencils. Bleedthrough is not a concern!  Pictured below is Inspire Proverbs and Inspire Psalms.

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Each of the above books contain the text of the whole book from the Bible in the New Living Translation with pictures to color and room to journal.  Some verses have whole-page coloring pages.

Here’s an uncolored page from Proverbs:

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Other verses are illustrated in the margins.  This is from Psalms…

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The pages are often very detailed.  Coloring the page below took me as long as it typically does to do three or four entries in my journaling Bible.  Still, I really loved meditating on this verse, especially after my recent self care dare.  For Christmas last year, I received some Faber Castell Artist pens, which I used for this page.

IMG_7860 I love to collect motivational/inspirational quotes, so I’m going to add quotes to the margin space and pictures in my Proverbs book.  If I put them all in one place I can find them again!

I may add the lyrics to my favorite Christian songs to the book on Psalms.

As I colored the verse “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body” on the page above, I kept thinking of the Reiki precepts:

If only for today…

  • I will not worry.
  • I will not get angry.
  • I will be grateful.
  • I will work diligently.
  • I will be kind to other people.

Reiki is a form of alternative healing that can be practiced with traditional medicine; all of the above are considered “good medicine for any illness.”  It’s easy to see why!

I was thinking about how worry and anger are both forms of discontentment.  Worry and anger are not effective responses; the best thing they can do is tell us that there’s a problem.  Then we have to make a choice about how to move forward.  There are two remedies:  1) Change the situation (work diligently) or 2) Change perspective (practice gratitude).  Sometimes it’s not a choice:  once we have done everything we can do, we may have resort to a change in perspective.

The serenity prayer just popped in my head:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  (The key is the wisdom to know the difference!)

Putting all these thoughts into practice, along with practicing kindness to others, leads to a peaceful heart.  And as Solomon says, a peaceful heart is good for the body!  The wonderful thing about the Reiki precepts: it’s enough to put these in practice, just for today!  It’s ok if you were bad at putting them into practice yesterday and as Jesus says:  “Do not worry about tomorrow; the problems of the day are sufficient!”

In some ways, coloring can be more relaxing than journaling.  My favorite thing about working on the page above is that my own kids and some neighbors sat down to color with me.  One of life’s great joys for me is talking and coloring!

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Self Care Dare

I love that the Jewish New year, Rosh Hashanah, is in the Fall.  I think the fall is such a good time to start fresh:  it’s a new year for school and a great time to start a new routine.  For the past two weeks, I have completely changed my morning routine and today with its “New Year” energy seems like a good day to share what I’ve been up to.

Here’s the big change in my life:  I’ve been waking up an hour before my kids and spending the first moments of the morning in peace and quiet with my Bible.  Waking up and spending a little peace and quiet time with God gives me more peace throughout the whole day.  And everything in life goes better if we have more peace!  (Especially our mornings!!!)  Starting my day with Jesus and coffee has taken me from “Rise and Whine” to “Rise and Shine”!

If you need some encouragement to care for yourself, to rest, or to stop worrying, read on!!!  Two weeks of daily Bible Journaling produced a lot of pictures!

I’m not sure how to tell the story of what brought about the big change, so I just share the real sequence of events….

Around the time my youngest daughter started kindergarten, I watched this video on Facebook…

On the first day of school, I came home and made my bed.  After listening to the Admiral, I made my bed really well.  I put brand new sheets on and arranged the pillows.  And cried and cried and cried.  I laid down on the bed when it was made and cried some more.  I’ve been making my bed every day since (without all the tears!).

I guess nobody can tell you how you will feel when your youngest child starts kindergarten.  It’s a huge life change to go from being a mama of littles to a mom of big kids.  I had that feeling everyone warns you about as you are holding your tiny infant:  “It goes so fast.”  I also just cried because I haven’t had time to make my bed before noon in years.

It’s taken me some time to unpack my emotions that day.  At least part of the puzzle was intense tears of contrition for all the little things that I’ve let go (like making my bed).  And as Admiral William McRaven says:  “The little things in life matter.”  Little things, like getting enough sleep, eating nourishing food, spending time in the Word, getting exercise (beyond just chasing kids!), making our living space more welcoming.  I get that it was just a season of my life, but as I move from one season to another I was surprised by how quickly my priorities shifted back to little things, especially toward caring for myself.

Somebody who has taught me so much about caring for myself and using my time well is Holly Rigsby.  She posted a video on Facebook about how she makes her bed in the morning and shared that she was going to host a “Take Back Your Morning Challenge” on Facebook.  So I signed up!  And about the same time Illustrated Faith offered a printable called “Self Care Dare.”  Everything started coming together…

One of the things, that I love about Holly is that she often teaches by asking quesitons.  For example, she doesn’t describe her dream morning, but asks:  “What does your morning look like and what would you look like it to look like?”  Truth-be-told, my mornings were chaotic, usually beginning with kids jumping on me and pulling me out of bed, and the word “quiet” came to mind when I thought of what I wanted.  Focusing on that one word, “quiet” set everything else into motion for me.  Maybe another person would prefer “energetic” or “productive”, but for me waking up slowly and alone is a good thing!

The next morning, I set my alarm for 6:00 AM, with the idea that I might actually get up by 6:30, and I would have a little quiet.  But I woke up right away and then I was like, “Now what?”  How do I want to use this quiet time?  Well, one of my favorite things to do is color in my Inspire Bible, so that’s what I did…I started with one of the recommended verses in the Self Care Dare printable.  It was a strange experience to wake up and read an invitation to rest, but I sure enjoyed the peace and quiet and a little time to play before the day starts.

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Holly encouraged us to map our morning, plan it out.  I found that it was even easier to wake up the next morning, knowing that I would enjoy the first few moments of the day.  The next day felt like waking up on Christmas as I journaled more about rest and played with one of my gelatos.

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In one of her morning pep talks, Holly says we can either “Rise & Shine” or “Rise & Whine.”  (Most of my life, I’ve been in the “Rise & Whine category.)  According to Holly, there are two major reasons why mornings are tough:  Sleep deprivation and attitude.  For a long time, sleep deprivation was the issue for me, especially with little ones in the house.  But that problem resolved itself, so I need to fix my attitude about mornings.  Holly says:  “Life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change.”  It’s been a good change for me to start the day with Jesus, his Word, and some grace…

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One of the suggested Bible passages for the self-care dare was 1 Corinthians 19:  “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?”

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Throughout the years, I have seen so many people use the above verse as motivation for fitness and weight loss.  I’ve always silently objected.  Paul didn’t say lift weights and eat right, he said don’t have inappropriate sex.  As I worked on the page above, I wondered if maybe I should explore the topic more deeply.  I thought “Maybe I should read all the verses in the Bible about the Temple and to appreciate this verse more fully.”

So I printed the verses out after finding them on Bible Gateway and copying them into a Word document…As I read through the verses, I could see some parallels between the temple of the Bible and our own bodies:  There are times we build up, times we neglect, times we take things into our temple that we shouldn’t, times we restore and rebuild.

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I picked another verse to journal…I focused on the passage about the pillars of the temple named Jachin and Boaz because I was thinking about the pillars of self-care.

Holly shares that the best practices of a morning routine fall into three categories:  movement, mindset and nourishment.  She calls this the trifecta of a good morning to supercharge your mood, energy, and momentum for the day.  From my notes:

  1. Movement is life; movement is energy.  In the morning, stretch or take a walk, or both.
  2. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.  Read something inspirational every morning.
  3. Each and every time you eat or drink is an opportunity to nourish your body.  The simplest starting point is the first thing that goes into your body.  Wake up and drink a glass of water!

 

More quotes from Holly:

  • Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.
  • Don’t strive for perfection, but shoot for daily continuous improvement.

I decided to work all these thoughts into an illustration of “my temple.”

I wondered if it was ok to put three pillars instead of two as described in the Bible.  I thought “That’s probably fine.”

The thought occurred to me, “The middle pillar is you.”  Then I had an epiphany “Oh, you have to have the mindset to balance the nutrition you take in with the movement you give out to keep the temple in good shape.”  For a moment or two, I may have gotten lost in some sort of mystical moment, thinking about contrasting energies represented by Jachin and Boaz.

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One of the things that I love about Holly is that she can speak tough truth.  She calls it the “shoulder shake” we all need from time to time.  These words hit me hard….

You cannot be too busy for you.  You will always have time for the things you put first, and for all the busy, frazzled moms out there, you have to put yourself first because the quality of what you give will decline if you are not replenishing and restoring your reserves.  It is not selfish.  There is not reason to feel guilt…If you claim to be super mom and everything to everyone, but you are not taking care of yourself than what everything and everyone is getting from you is crap. -Holly Rigsby

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In many ways, taking care of yourself is a prerequisite to loving God and others…(my page from the next morning.)

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A big part of self-care, of course, is watching your own self-talk.  It is so important to talk to ourselves, the way we would talk to someone we love.  I loved this little reminder from the Illustrated Faith Self-Care Dare…It didn’t quite fit on the page where I thought it belonged, so I just wrote the message where there was room on the page.

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I’ve been following Holly for about six years.  I was first drawn to her fitness program, but I quickly discovered her most helpful advice was about how to manage time better.  She taught me that productivity means doing the right things at the right time.  For example, there are times during the day where an e-mail can be written in 20 minutes and times when takes 3 hours because of foreseeable interruptions.  If it’s important, get it done when it’s possible and save yourself some frustration.  During times when your not as productive, lighten up.  She says almost everyone has three power blocks during the day.  Know ahead of time how you will use them.  As Holly says, “You don’t need more time.  You need more reason to use your time well.”  I never learned to love “15-minute intense interval workouts,” but this wisdom has made all the difference in my life.  During some of my lighten-up moments of the day, I colored this page from Habakkuk.

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One morning, Holly talked extensively about mindset.  She shared that the quickest way to improve our mindset is to practice gratitude.  It’s impossible to feel grumpy while remembering things you are truly grateful for.  She suggests just taking five minutes in the morning and again in the evening to write down three things that bring about feelings of gratitude.  It never occurred to me that gratitude is as form of self-care until Holly Shared this quote from Melodie Beattie, author of Co-dependent No More:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

I love this quote, so it found its way into my Bible next to the verse:  “Give thanks.”

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As Holly discussed attitude, she asked the question:  “What do you need to let go?”  We all have hurts and sorrows and frustrations in life.  Holly reminded me, “You have survived 100% of your worst days.”  Sometimes, we need to rest in God’s promise…

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When I asked myself the question, “What do I need to let go of?”, I found that there was a conversation I needed to have.  I kept going round and round in my head wondering why someone had a change of mind about something.  It would be easy enough to just ask the person (so that I could stop asking myself the same question over and over again).  I had a good conversation and gained some clarity and felt better…

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I thought I let it go on Friday, but on Monday, I had another conversation about the same topic with someone else.  I became really worried that I was misunderstood, not just a little bit worried, but obsessively so.  Maybe it was the death throws of letting something go, but I wrote three letters I never sent, one in the middle of the night when I had terrible insomnia.  I was seriously annoying myself and I found myself distressed that I was distressed.

Some people have eating binges on a diet, but I had a full-blown, worry binge while making so much progress on feeling more at peace in life.  (Life is never a straightforward path!–Something else I learned from Holly.)

At moments like this I think of a quote by Hermann Melville that always makes me laugh:

Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.

I realized that I have a deep-seated fear of being misunderstood.  I also realized that as part of my self-care dare, I need to address this tendency to worry obsessively.

I woke up early again the next morning.  I couldn’t just jump out of bed because I had such trouble sleeping, but at 7:00 I got out of bed, drank some water, and did some stretches; I started feeling better.  It was a new day!  I had a little time to color in my Bible, too.

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That night I went to a Bible Journaling workshop taught by my friend Tess Crawford. She taught a devotion on Paul’s speech to the Athenians regarding the unknown God from Acts.  She asked us how we would live differently if we had a full awareness of God’s presence with us.  I said that “I would worry less. God only told me in Scripture not to worry about 100 times.”  Everyone laughed.  This is the page I did that night.  It’s good to be reminded that God is always with us.  The beautiful tip-in was created by my friend Tess Crawford of “Recess with Jesus.”

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While I was at the Bible Journaling workshop, which was in a Lifeway store, I bumped into a retired pastor from my church, who is fond of saying “There are no coincidences!”.  He sat down and flipped through my Bible.  He talked through numerous scriptures and it’s always a joy to listen to him illuminate the text.  At some point in our conversation he told me “You know Oswald Chambers says that worry is irritation with God.”  I responded, “That helps me right now because I’ve been struggling with some anxiety.”  He went searching for Oswald Chambers’ book If You Will Ask and gave me a reminder:  “God is in charge.”  (It seems every time I share a problem with a Presbyterian minister, I receive a book to read!  This is a good one on prayer.)

The next morning this quote found its way into my Bible.

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Toward the end of my challenge I ran out of pieces in the Self Care Dare printable. I couldn’t decide if I should do “Thrive” or “Sleeping Beauty” next, so I combined some paper pieces from both.  I love the page below because it summarizes so much of what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

 

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I stumbled upon this quote from Brene Brown over the course of my two-week challenge:

Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration — it is how we fold our experiences into our being… The Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has a beautiful saying: “Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”

Weaving together Bible Jouranling with a 10-day course on how to have a better morning helped integrate so many lessons in self-care so that they are now living in my muscle!

I am embracing the Jewish new year.  I am going to stick with a few small changes:  Waking up on purpose and spending some quiet time with God and making my bed as soon as possible.   After just making these few changes for two weeks, I’m feeling inspired to also eat better and move more, to speak kindly to myself, to practice gratitude, to let go of anything that steals my joy, and to stop worrying!

One more quote from Holly:  “What you do today will improve all your tomorrows.”

L’shanna tova!

What happens when the Bible Margins meet an Accounting Professor…?

Thank you Lisa Nichols Hickman for this guest post!

This was just the question I had to answer this past week when asked to serve at the funeral for an accounting professor at our local college.

In his office of forty years, tucked onto his desk – was a Bible filled with margin notes regarding accounting in the Bible:

2 Chronicles 24:11-12 discusses how the Israelites practiced the dual custody of assets as an internal control measure.

Micah 7:5-6 provides a rationale for internal controls.

Luke 14:29-29 outlines the lack of a budgeting process.

Luke and Matthew share the value of surprise audits.

2 Kings 12:16 speaks of fraud and the lack of financial accounting.

Also, extended teaching on financial resources in Matthew 25 and Luke 16.

Can you believe all these verses – and more – were highlighted in his Bible?

The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money. Sixteen of 38 parables are about money. One in every ten verses in the Gospels is about finances. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions-more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.

As I lingered over these texts this week, I realized two things regarding the Bible’s discussion of money…

First, we think the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is a story of creation, the fall, redemption in Christ, and living into a new creation of the kingdom of God. We don’t often think of the salvation story having to do with investments or accounting.

But the Bible is concerned with accounting concepts, internal control procedures, and financial management – because these good and wise measures create space and the right ordering of life – so there can be much more room for love of neighbor, love of God. When things are decent and in order – there is gracious space for loving and living and worshiping God.

Second, Jesus tells a different story than balanced books. He spoke of trusting God enough to be generous.

Another verse circled in the accountant’s Bible was Matthew 19:16-31 – the story of the rich young ruler.

The rich man thought he had his accounts in order – and then in this conversation with Jesus he experiences a crazy upheaval.

For all the balanced budgets throughout so much of scripture – here is a moment of throwing out the spread sheet.

This is a story that bears witness to a kingdom making generosity through an upheaval of all of life’s savings…Here s a radical act of accounting that has impact for eternal life.

I share the story of this professor’s Bible – because what I love about the Bible is that its depth and breadth creates room for everyone – even an accountant! The order of wise and right bookkeeping made sense to this professor, but also, and even more importantly – kingdom generosity made sense as well!

If you wish to explore these and more texts on money, right accounts and generosity – you might try some money stickers (as in the picture below), ledger stickers,  or numbers stamps.

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You might also consider leaving a trail of dollar signs – marking all the times in scripture – God invites us to reflect on our relationship to our financial resources so that we can be in right relationship with God and neighbor.