Lectio Divina

My church has a wonderful Wednesday night program.  This year we are reading a book called Soul Feast:  An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by Marjorie J. Thompson.  The first spiritual practice that she introduces is “Chewing on the Word of God” or how to read the Bible spiritually.  As I read this paragraph, so much of it resonated with my own experience of Bible Journaling:

What makes our reading spiritual has as much to do with the intention, attitude, and manner we bring to the words as it does with the nature and content of those words. Spiritual reading is reflective and prayerful.  It is concerned not with speed or volume but with depth and receptivity.  That is because the purpose of spiritual reading is to open ourselves to how God may be speaking to us in and through any particular text.

Spiritual reading doesn’t simply inform:  It shapes us as readers:

The term formation, then suggests being shaped ever more deeply according to the mind of Christ, who reveals and offers us to our full humanity.  Spiritual reading has a formative intent.  Through it we seek a living, transforming relationship with God-in-Christ.

I read this and thought “Yes! Yes! Yes!”  People of often ask me regarding Bible Journaling:  “What if I am not creative?  What if I am not an artist?”  My response is that Bible Journaling is not about producing a beautiful picture, but about entering more deeply into a relationship with God.

Marjorie Thompson introduced a more ancient, time-tested practice for slowing down and savoring the Word:  Lectio Divinia.  This is a four-fold process of slowly reading a passage often outloud in a quiet space (lectio), carrying the Word with you and tossing it in your brain (meditaio), offering prayer to God as it naturally flows from the Biblical text (oratorio), and being in quiet with God:  “a place of rest…[with] no expectations, no demands, no need to know, no desire but to be in the divine presence” (contemplatio).

I practiced reading the prophecy of Zechariah found at the beginning of Luke in this way.  I read the passage slowly about eight times, meditated on the Word, prayed, and sat in stillness until some of the Words just lifted off the pages and spoke to my heart.  Bible Journaling became a way to record this special time with God.  As these words spoke to my heart, they were a message of hope, encouraging me to carry on serving with no fear.





Visual Faith Event 2016

Last Saturday, I was blessed to spend the day at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield, VA for a Visual Faith event.  At the start of the day, I was greeted by a new friend who said, “Before coming, I prayed that I would either be encouraged or encourage others.”  I think we both left feeling encouraged.  It was a beautiful day.

Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins, gave a talk about God, gold, and margins.  These concepts come together in the margins of our Bible where the “golden margins” leave room on the page to meet up with God.  For publishing, the Golden Margin means the ideal margin settings for the text.  Curiously, I’ve thought about the golden ratio as a margin artist.  Sometimes I find the 2” x 7” rectangle left on the right side of the beautifully laid out text as challenging for design purposes.  One day, I thought:  “what if I designed a tip-in based on the golden ratio.”  Here’s an example of what I mean:

I printed out the familiar golden ratio block and thought about how I might add design elements….


Then I made the tip-in.


The golden ratio makes anything pleasing to the eye.  (Nerdy art tip!!!)

I loved Lisa’s idea of beginning a page in our Bible and leaving room to come back to the page to report back on what God has done as a result of spending time in the text.  She shared Isaiah 58:6-11 as a passage that encourages us to go out into the world and then meet back up with God.  The passage exhorts us to take away the yoke, stop pointing fingers and speaking wickedness, pour ourselves out for the hungry and satisfy the afflicted.  Then when we call to God, God will say “Here I am.”  Lisa shared a time when a friend left a blessing bag for a homeless man and was blessed to see him enjoying the products she left for him the next morning.  Lisa also acknowledged that there are plenty of times where we go out and do as God says and we find ourselves going back to the margins with a lament.  The relationship we tried to reconcile remains troubled or something just wasn’t well received.  In these cases, the challenge is to ask ourselves how do we still see God shining.

She gave us the memory device:  Go, God, Gold.

Go:  What we do as a result of reading God’s Word

God:  Returning to God with our report

Gold:  How did God shine?

Isaiah 58 is pretty packed with journaling in my Bible, but I added a reminder on the backside of a tip-in.  YES, MY MARGINS NEED A MARGIN!!!


Lisa shared how and why gold is used so often in illuminated manuscripts.  The gold exalts the text, reveals the presence of God, shows the costliness of God, reveals the presence of God, and draws us into the picture.  She showed images from the beautiful St. John’s Bible where gold is used throughout as a symbol for God.

After all this talk about gold, I found myself reflecting on a Go, God, Gold moment in my own life.  Lisa encouraged us to think through how God shines even when things seem broken or not going as planned.  This brought to mind a passage from 1 Peter:  “When you are grieved by various trials remember that trials show the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold.”  For a while, I just pondered the wonder that a genuine faith is more precious than gold.  Our faith, a gift from God, shines most brightly in times of trial.


After Lisa’s presentation there was time for fellowship and lunch.  This is the second time I’ve had the opportunity to get together with this amazing group of Lutheran women.  Both times I’ve come away inspired to do more at home with my own children to encourage their faith.  I was inspired to order the book Praying in Color for kids after a break-out session where someone shared how popular visual prayer is with her homeschool group.


I also loved this idea:  One of the ladies said to me:  “Haven’t you done a rolodex with your kids yet?”  I was like “Huh?”  And another friend said, “Oh yes, I always give a rolodex as a baby shower gift.”  And I was thinking, “Really?”  So the idea is to create a rolodex filled with faith words and pictures from faith events like baptisms and confirmation as a way of encouraging discussion about faith at home.  Feeling inspired to start our rolodex!!!  In the meantime, I wrote down the definition I found for “blessed” in Connie Denninger’s rolodex and entered it in my Bible.  (I used my inkjet printer to print the above picture onto Removable Window Decal paper that I found at Staples, a fun option for adding photos to your Bible.  The paper is transparent, so you can even lay the picture over the text if you like and the text will shine through.)



A Few Thoughts on Blogging

I just renewed the domain name for this blog, which reminds me that it’s been two years since I got started.  My hope when I began my blog was simply to inspire others to spend time in the Bible in a creative way.

I love the Bible and feel deeply convicted that it is a book for everyone.  When I see the Bible on the list of most challenged books, I think people today are so confused about the Bible and the positive impact that it has had on history, culture, and the lives of millions of people around the world.  It is filled with treasure.  My heart’s desire upon starting the blog was simply to do something to inspire more people to take their Bible’s off the shelf and read.

Maybe it’s something about being raised Presbyterian.  I remember reading in confirmation class that Presbyterians were leaders in the movement for public education in our country.  The hope:  Everyone would be able read the Bible.

It’s been a blessing and a gift to see the Bible journaling movement explode.  When people share creative interpretations of Biblical passages they naturally gravitate to passages that have spoken to generation after generation.  They share the verses and stories that have changed the course of history.  They share the Bible that I’ve heard preached at church.

(not the Bible others think should be banned—a rather narrow-minded view, in my opinion.)

That was my hope at first.

Here’s the funny thing about my Christian life:  the fruit of my endeavors always seems to be in my own life, growing my faith, helping my spiritual formation.  I start out thinking that I am going to do something for God or the Bible, but God doesn’t need my help, and the Bible doesn’t exactly need a cheerleader.  When I look back on the past two years, I see a wonderful adventure in my own life.

So if you are feeling the nudge to begin a blog yourself, I thought I’d share some of unexpected benefits of blogging:

  • I’ve become more comfortable being known for the kind of Christian that I am. I’ve always been a quiet Christian, very at home in secular circles at school and at work and in social settings.  And even at church, I keep certain things to myself.  For example, I am a Presbyterian who loves reading about the lives of Catholic saints.  I just don’t generally bring that up!  One of my earliest posts was about St. Francis.  When I posted it, I felt like I just confused everyone in my life.  Blogging helps me keep it real!
  • I’ve become more comfortable writing. Most of us learn to write in school or in our professional lives, where a certain style of writing is preferred.  Blogging has helped me find a voice that feels natural to me.  This has helped me in all the writing I do.  I once struggled to write simple e-mails!
  • I had a writing instructor say “Writing is a tool for thinking.” As I work out my thoughts on my blog after doodling in my Bible, I’ve made all kinds of fun discoveries connecting one passage to another or to my own life.
  • It’s not possible to write about every event, but the events I have blogged about remain part of my prayer life whether it be the conflict in Syria or trouble race relations in the U.S.
  • The blog has kept me accountable. This has happened more often than I can count:  I post something on my blog and find the passage I just wrote about applies directly to my life.  This has helped me live my faith.  My post on gelatos, which became my most-read post, is a case in point.  The words I wrote about service have been guiding me through this year.
  • Best of all: writing a blog has helped me make wonderful connections.  I’ve made treasured friends, who share my love of the Word and making good use of the margins!

If you are feeling the nudge to start a blog, it’s easy to do.  You may inspire others to begin a journey in Bible journaling.  You may find the greatest adventure is your own!




After Revival Camp, I’m a bit addicted to travel journals.  It’s just nice to have one as a keepsake of an important Bible study.  Right now, I am part of a woman’s Bible study at my church.  We are reading the book Fervent:  A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer.  The book is a companion to the movie War Room.  I felt inspired to make some travel journals for the women in my group.

My son recently talked me into getting some oil pastels while we were shopping at WalMart.  He said to me, “You can review them on your blog!”  He knows that it doesn’t take much to convince me to try new art supplies!  I haven’t tried them in my Bible yet, but I had fun making a cover for the travel journal with them.  It’s possible to create some fun, messy textures with these.


After I made the cover, I simply scanned it and saved it as a photo.  Then I printed it on card stock and cut it to size with a trim cutter.  I also cut six pages of regular photo paper to fit on the inside.  Then I used a long-reach stapler to bind the books.  I am looking forward to sharing these with my friends tomorrow!


I’ve enjoyed reading the book so far.  I absolutely love when an author can take a passage of scripture and make me think of it in an entirely new way.  Priscilla Shirer picked out a story about Elisha recovering an ax head from the water and turned it into a story about how God can help us recover our passion:

The servant was doing good when he lost his cutting edge.  He was being productive, building a new dwelling for himself and for those others involved in the school of prophets.  In fact, if he hadn’t been working so hard–if he’d just been sitting around doing nothing–there’s little chance the ax would’ve ever become gradually loosened and ultimately dislodged.  This tells me that being engaged in good, even godly, productive things is not an automatic guard against losing your cutting edge.

She goes onto say that it took a work of God to retrieve the ax head:

Listen to me.  Nothing–nothing!–is too far gone that your God cannot resurrect it.  Even your cutting edge.  So go to him to get it back.  Don’t try to regain it yourself.  Don’t set your hopes on other people or circumstances to fuse it back into the fiber of your being.  Trust it into God’s care.  Only His miraculous work can make it bubble back up to the surface where it belongs.  And He is more than willing to do it.

It never fails to amaze me how much wisdom there is in the Bible, even a simple story about a man feeling suddenly dismayed as a borrowed ax head fell into Jordan river.  Her interpretation of this story definitely needed to find a way into my Bible…


Update (9/20/2016):  As I was drifting to sleep last night I thought about this story in relation to the time that Jesus walked on water.  Peter reminds me of this worker, eager to build a home for the prophets of God.  In the story of Jesus walking on the water, it’s not an ax head that sinks, but Peter.  As Peter is lifted from the water, he receives his cutting edge.  Jesus tells Peter two chapters in Matthew later: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Sometimes sinking moments lead to breakthroughs in our faith.

My Last Report from Revival Camp

At the beginning of the summer, when I signed up for Revival Camp through Illustrated Faith, I said to myself, “I shouldn’t do this.  I don’t need another project.  I’ll never finish it.”  Then I felt that nudge from the Holy Spirit to do it anyway.  I’ve been astonished at how closely this devotional with odd passages from Nehemiah has paralleled my own life.  The camp guide unexpectedly turned into a life guide for me.

We were planning a trip to Baltimore this weekend, but honestly, I just felt more like staying home and Bible Journaling, so that’s what I’ve been doing this long Labor Day weekend, finishing the last three devotions from camp.  My husband played with our children and I feel like I’ve been on a mini-retreat!

I loved the Grounded devotion and the story that went along with it.  My major take-away from the devotional is that we can resolve many sticky situations when we ground ourselves in God’s Word.  In this case, a supposed prophet told Nehemiah that there was a conspiracy to kill him and that he should go hide in the temple.  That just did not sound right to Nehemiah.  Here’s how he reasoned through the situation:  “Should such a man as I run away?  And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?  I will not go in.”  Nehemiah finds the right path through this situation by recognizing that God is not likely to send someone with advice that goes against all the instructions he first received.  And Nehemiah shows courage by not running away, and humility by recognizing he is not the kind of man who can enter the temple.  There were those who wanted to give Nehemiah a bad name, but Nehemiah did not fall for it because he was grounded in God’s Word. Grounded

Lady bugs.jpg

The Wild devotion focused on the testimony given by the people of Israel.  It was a retelling of many of the events of the Old Testament as a way of demonstrating God’s steadfast love.  The devotion encouraged me to reflect on my own life and what God has brought me through.  One of the passions I’ve focused on throughout camp is vocation, so I wrote down all the ways that God has helped me through my 20-year career in investments (a fun thing to think about on Labor Day weekend).  Honestly, it’s been a wild and crazy trip that began with me getting a job other than the one I applied for, a few attempts on my part to do something else, and ultimately finding a sense of purpose in an often frustrating business.  God has blessed me with so many people who have helped me along the way.  As I wrote everything down, I kept repeating to myself:  “God if you only had done this for me, it would have been enough.”

This week’s devotion turned into a prayer in my journal:

God may my journey testify to your faithfulness.  May I always listen to you and follow your instructions.  Let me rise above conflict.  Refresh, revive, and restore my passion.  May every step bear witness to your passionate love!

This reminded me of another prayer I say often:

Grant that I may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into opportunities to love and serve the church and all souls with joy and simplicity, lighting up the paths of the earth with faith and love.

Both prayers ended up in my journal:



The final week of camp focuses on “Shine.”  It feels good to confess this to the world on Labor Day weekend:  All my work is done with God’s help!”  Not just the work I get paid for, but all of it!  If the laundry gets folded and put away, praise God!  It’s an everyday miracle!!!  I wrote down the words “joy” and “simplicity” because those are the two things I notice most when I feel God’s help.  I have joy in my daily tasks and there’s a simplicity that shows up even in challenging situations.  In all my work, I try to follow this advice from St. Francis:  “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’ll be doing the impossible.”  This has always worked for me in the past.

Lately, I’ve been going through a strange season of life.  Instead of feeling in the flow; I keep meeting resistance.  I am loving and serving, but without the consolations of joy and simplicity.  I relate to Nehemiah’s dilemma; I can’t run away.  In the past, God has moved mountains for me—I recently tripped over something smaller than an ant hill.  (Maybe God wants to know me the blessings of strength and resilience?)

When I read the final line of the devotion, I burst into tears:  “Friend, He’s rubbing the dullness off your sparkle and about to hit you with a light.  For one reason…to shine for Him!”  I always hope that others can see God clearly when good work gets done, but I also worry that I’ll mess up and make God look bad.  If I testify that God is with me in all that I do, I wish I could do everything better.  And yet I know that God is with me.  I feel that even my journal was completed with help from God, who kept me going simply by meeting me right where I was in life through the Words of each weekly devotion.

With god's help

This Labor Day weekend my prayer is that God meets you in all the work that you do.  May you know the blessings of loving and serving with joy and simplicity in whatever your vocation may be.  May God bless you with strength and resilience as needed.  And if you find yourself in an especially challenging season of life, may you find joy in the God who has promised that he will never leave nor forsake you.

Tia Stanfield and her incredible Note-taking approach to Bible Journaling…

Thank you Lisa Nichols Hickman for sharing Tia’s beautiful, heartfelt comments!

After seeing Tia Stanfield’s photos on the Journaling Bible Community Facebook page – I knew I had to get to know this gal. Her pages are not filled with illustrations, but with back to basic highlighting and note-taking. For those of us overwhelmed by all the artistic approaches to Bible journaling, Tia is a great reminder of what is the essence of this craft: praying, reading, taking Scripture to heart and letting a wonderful conversation begin. I reached out to Tia this week to get to know her just a bit.

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Tia, tell me a bit about your life….
I’m a SAHM to our two girls, Abbie 12 & Lily 8. My husband and I have been married for 15 years, together 17. Both my girls are ADHD, so keep me rather busy and with Abbie starting Jr High, that is getting even crazier. They do Girl Scouts, youth group and Abbie does Taekwondo, so I play mom taxi most days. I love being a full time mom and wife.

We go to Good Shepherd CC in Boring, Oregon. It’s an amazing church to call home. Real bible teaching. We are currently working through James and will start Hebrews in Sept. I like that it is taught from the ESV translation. We have been attending Good Shepherd for 14 years. I’m excited for Women’s bible study to start up in Sept. We are going to be going through the first 5 books of the OT.

My mom was hit and run over by a car in 2000. Due to this and her diabetes, she is unable to live alone. So, she and my brother live with us. It can be rather challenging as she is a rather negative person and a bit demanding with little concern for what is someone else’s. I’m am trying to honor God by honoring her but it is a daily struggle, I have to admit.

How did you get started with Bible journaling?

I had a few likes on my Facebook page and saw Time Warp Wife’s bible pages that she shares on her time line and I fell in love. I found a group for bible journaling and bought a journaling bible. I managed a few pages with art and lettering but quickly realized I was not going to be able to do what I wanted with my limited art skills. Sadly, I don’t have time or money to take class to become a better artist, so I put it up for about a year. Then, God inspired me to change how I was using the journaling bible.

I always wanted my journaling bible to be a gift to my girls. So, I started highlighting verses that spoke to me and adding notes and prayers to go along with them. I am loving how this is drawing me closer to God and that I am leaving them a gift that will have meaning to them one day.

Tell us about a time when Bible journaling made a difference in your life:

When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, the pregnancy pinched off a nerve in my lower back that caused long term nerve damage. Then, when I went in for the C-section to have her, there was an issue getting the needle in correctly for the spinal, also causing long term nerve damage. Due to this, I was unable to sit in any chair/seat that was not super soft. On top of that, I had some health issues that made me rather dormant for about 6 years. I was unable to sit at church, walk for a long time, keep up with the girls. I was just existing, not living.

As I was unable to do bible study at church, I started doing the SOAP studies from Love God Greatly. They did a study on Psalm 119. I was studying verse 37. When I read it in the amplified, I was moved to tears.

…restore me to vigorous life and health in Your ways.

These words were a promise from God that I did not have to continue to life a half life.

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I prayed these words and God moved me to start low carb eating. That was in late July 2015. As of today, I have lost 96 pounds. I can now walk 2.25 miles in an hour. I can sit at church with a lot less discomfort. I am starting the bible study again for the first time in 9 years. (Last time was when I was pregnant with my youngest, before this all started.) I can breathe better with my asthma. The Lord is fulfilling His promise to me, daily. Only with God, I was able to lose 50 pounds in 3.5 months from not cheating once in my new way of eating. That is God, not me, not will power.

What supplies are helpful to your process?

I love my micron pens and the no bleed sharpies (black case not the grey). I just started using the new sharpie highlighters with the see-thru window in the tip. Really nice and they are not too dark, so they don’t ghost much and rarely bleed. I also love my ruler for making straight lines for arrows to a special verse. I use pink, orange, green and blue. Sadly, purple is just too dark, it bleeds through really bad.


Revival Camp Update

My journey through the Illustrated Faith’s online workshop “Revival Camp” continues!  I feel like this devotional experience has been so inspired and watching Shanna Noel’s tutorials reminds me of the feeling I had doing Bible Study with some of my favorite youth leaders when I was in high school.  I appreciate her honesty and love for God and, of course, her Bible Journaling tips.  It’s so much fun to watch her create!

For the “Grow” badge, we focused on Nehemiah 10:29, a passage where the people of Israel took an oath to return to God’s Law as given to Moses.  Earlier when Nehemiah actually read the law to the people, they burst into tears.  It’s not easy to follow the 613 commandments of the Old Testament.  I am grateful that Jesus has made the law simpler for us:  “A new commandment I give you that you love one another:  just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”-John 13:34.  An oath seemed to fit well with the Revival Camp theme, so I made one myself:  “I will grow in Christ and keep learning to love others as Christ loves me.”

As this weeks devotional encouraged, I spent some time with Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:1-8.  There are many parallels between the two passages.  The more time I spend Bible Journaling, the more I discover that certain phrases appear often throughout the Old Testament.  Both of these passages suggest that if we meditate on the Law of the Lord day and night, God will prosper our way.  I was inspired by Shanna Noel’s video this week to break out my water colors to paint a tree planted be by a stream.  As I read Joshua 1:1-8 I was most taken with the words:  “Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.”  I felt encouraged by these Words to keep growing in Christ through all the passions that God has placed in my heart during Revival Camp and to be strong and courageous in my pursuit of them.


As I’ve been working through the Revival Camp devotions, I typically work in my field journal first, but I made an exception this time.  For our “Adventure” badge, the passage was Nehemiah 4:16-17.  In this passage, Nehemiah describes the work of rebuilding that took place while under constant attack from enemies.  Let me say:  THIS IS NOT MY IDEA OF ADVENTURE!  This just sounds awful and stressful and not the most productive way to get work done.

It does sound like a very fun preschool lesson to teach, especially with young boys.  I can see myself telling the kids this story in a room with those big, red, cardboard brick blocks, giving the children hammers and swords.  How much fun would that be?  What could be better than play sword fighting while building with blocks?  What could go wrong?

Personally, I really don’t like conflict.  I used to think I avoided it because I was like a butterfly and just floated away to prettier places.  Now I know I avoid it because when I am engaged in a real conflict, I stand my ground firmly like a bear.  I either win the conflict or the relationship ends.  And I hate to see it get to that point, so I rarely bring things to a head.  I look for the compromise instead, and if possible, the win-win solution.  I choose my battles carefully and reluctantly.  I’d much prefer to make others happy.  Many people mistake me for a people-pleaser, but that’s not quite accurate.  I just happen to deeply and truly enjoy seeing others happy, and I treasure my relationships.  (I’ve always related to Winnie the Pooh, and he is still a bear no matter how cuddly and soft and thoughtful he may seem.)

Conflict has always felt like the end of the world to me, not an adventure.  I really needed to hear these words from the devotional:  “Your dream is a fun adventure, but every action story has an element of conflict and ours is no different.”  This is a whole new way of thinking for me and one that I intend to fully embrace going forward!


The devotional dared us to identify areas where its a challenge to remain focused and to make a plan for these areas.  We were also encouraged to think of what weapons we need to claim victory.  I was reminded of a familiar passage from Ephesians:  the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness given by the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the Word of God, prayer, and perseverance.

I don’t think of “Love” as a weapon, but recently I was at the Flight 93 memorial in Shankeville, PA.  It is such a beautiful park now and I would encourage anyone to visit.  It is inspiring to see a place where a great tragedy occurred transformed into a place of healing and beauty.  While I was there, I listened to a speech by George Bush on continuous loop as my husband and kids looked at the other exhibits.  These words stuck with me:  “Individual choices make a difference.  Love and sacrifice triumph over hatred and evil.”


“Revive” is the theme of the camp and also the theme of the next passage.  For this badge, the verse was Isaiah 40:30-31.  I wrote out the verse while playing around with a scriptier style of writing.  It’s so beautiful to know that God does not stop at reviving us or restoring us to a previous state.  When we wait on the Lord, we will soar like eagles!  That’s an awesome promise!

The devotional encouraged us to make a list of ways to quiet ourselves.  I’m an introspective sort of person who needs quiet, so I have a crazy long list of options.  One thing I’ve been doing since watching the movie War Room is literally going into my closet and shutting the door and praying.  It feels surprisingly good to be alone with God in my closet.  (My kids think its a bit strange!)  I also love being in nature and coloring.  Sometimes being alone is not enough to quiet my soul.  I need to be with someone who knows exactly what I need.  Recently I went to see my friend Sarah, who I’ve known since kindergarten.  We sang along with the song “House at Pooh Corner” in her mini-van, colored together, and enjoyed milkshakes at Steak & Shake.  My hope is that everyone has a person in their life who calms and quiets their soul.  Sometimes we experience God’s perfect love for us most concretely by simply being in the presence of someone who loves us no matter what!


Only three more weeks of Revival Camp to go!

Stumbling Block

I have a challenge in my life right now, and more than anything, I want to do the right thing, to do God’s will.  My biggest hope is that we can put forgiveness into action and simply let things go more smoothly in the future.  My biggest fear is that an action I take might become a stumbling block to another person’s faith.  I am far from a saint, but I do my best to live my life so that others can see Christ in me.  I don’t want others to find a fake or phony Christ.

My husband gave me this advice, which I am still pondering:  “If you don’t want to be a stumbling block, get out of the way.  Think about it:  A ladder can lift you up, but in the wrong place it will just bonk you in the face.”

My prayer for the day:  Lord, let me be solid as a rock for you, but never let me become a stumbling block!  Let me be a ladder that lifts others up.  Don’t ever let me bonk someone in the face.

Here’s how it appeared in my Bible.  Spending in the Word is balm for my soul!!!


Preaching the Gospel to Myself

I had a rough week.  I got angry about something relatively minor, and may have said some words in ear-shot of my kids that I should not have said.  When I’m a little bit angry, I decompress by laughing, but whenever I get really angry, I decompress by crying.  As I was doing my best to get my grocery shopping done on Saturday, I was holding back tears.  By the time I got to my car, I was a mess of tears

Sunday at church, I was crying tears again during the prayer of confession and even more so before communion.  Then we sang the song “I Can Only Imagine” and I felt such grace and healing in my heart.

But when it was time for bed, my thoughts turned to trying to understand why I reacted the way I did.  It was five o’clock in the morning before I got to the bottom of it and discovered the deep underlying fear.  Here’s what surfaced:  “If others don’t see the value of my contributions, I start to fear that I have no value.”

Well, there’s no surer way to kill a fear than by bringing it into the light.  That’s sort of a silly fear.

And a very un-Biblical fear:  God so loved the world that he gave his only son!  God shows us our value in that Christ died for us.

I’ve heard it explained this way:

Regardless of what you do to a dollar bill, crumple it, step on it, or fold it into origami, it’s still a dollar.  Inflation may reduce its purchasing power, but the nominal value does not change.  As children of God, our value never changes in God’s eyes.   To let us know how priceless we are, God bought us with His own beloved son.

When I ponder that, I start to protest:  It doesn’t seem right; the numbers can’t possibly match.  Still I hear God whisper:  Find your worth in Christ.



Reaching the Soul – Bible Journaling with James Presley

Thank you Lisa Nichols Hickman for featuring the stunning artwork of James Presley!

The pen and ink marginalia of James Presley stands out within the Journaling Bible Community for its crisp, dynamic and masculine form.





Time and time again, an image would catch my eye when scrolling through the Facebook page.  Each time it was the work of James Presley.


While these images are unique in their black and white contrast and shading, James’ work gets more and more colorful the closer you look towards your feet.

You know the verse – “What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.”

Walking humbly, for James, begins on the soles of the feet and radiates upward to heart, mind and soul.

“Reaching the Soul” is a project James started back in 2008 while a youth camp counselor at Word of Life Bible Institute Florida. One of his campers that summer had a pair of white canvas style slip on shoes. I felt this urge to bring scripture to the soles of his feet.

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Since that day of summer camp, my artwork (Inks) has grown from just being on shoes to being on everything from hats, totes, backpacks, coffee mugs, travel mugs, and more. When it come to “Reaching the Soul,” James reminds us that sometimes it begins with the very place we stand and how our feet are the very basis for spiritual formation and daily discipleship.

James began Bible journaling on white canvas shoes and then turned to the pages of his Bible to work in the margins by the encouragement of his friends Jennie and Curtis Tyson who own Serenity Coffee Shop. His first Bible journaling entry was Psalm 34:6, which James consider to be his life verse due to it being the perfect explanation of his experience with salvation and how he came to know the Lord.


When I asked James about his favorite Bible journaling piece he has ever done, he said, “My favorite entry is alway my next one because the Lord always teaches and shows me something new each time I journal.”

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, James knows a bit about life and its struggles.  He grew up with his grandparents after the death of his mother at age six.  His father was absent from his life.  He moved to Florida in 2001 and attended Word of Life Bible Institute/Word of Life Culinary Apprenticeship Program from 2006 until 2011.


During that culinary apprenticeship program, at the age of 22, James claimed the faith.  In 2012 he met Jennie and Curtis Tyson, owners of Serenity Coffee Shop located in Okeechobee Florida, and was given the opportunity to display and sell his artwork.  Now, James is months away from getting married..

The tools James appreciates the most  for Bible journaling are  the Copic Multiliner SP 0.5 and Bic Atlantis ink pen.


And when it comes to the shoes, hats, totes, backpacksimage9, and other merchandise — I simply use Sharpie permanent markers.

If you are interested in exploring more of James’ work, you can check out his artwork at the Serenity Coffee Shop in Okeechobee Florida.  His artwork can also be seen on the format of Bible journaling stamps through Sonshine Stamp Co. And his work can be seen on Instagram at:  Jep0731 and through the hashtag:  #ReachingTheSoul