I was blessed to attend the Illustrated Faith Virginia Event over the weekend. I could write pages about all the thoughts and ideas and inspiration I took from the experience, but maybe it would be best to simply tell the story through the three pages I journaled at the event and upon coming home.
Shanna Noel spoke in the morning and she shared a very practical way to begin Bible Journaling. Simply go to church and take notes during the sermon. Then go home and illustrate the Bible passages from the sermon. She played a sermon for us, and we all quietly listened and took notes. Then we were given time to illustrate the passage. A funny thing happened to me at this point. For weeks, I had been looking forward to the opportunity to journal in my Bible together with others. But I found that I really needed some quiet alone time to find some inspiration. So I camped out at the back of the church sanctuary just long enough to read the Bible passage, to hear what God was speaking to me through it, and to think how I wanted to illustrate it.
The biggest blessing to me on this trip was to hear so many stories of how God uses the ordinary circumstances of women’s lives to minister to and bless others. Shanna’s scrapbooking blog became the launching point for an amazing Bible Journaling ministry. Connie Denninger, the author of Vintage Grace, shared stories with me of how her home studio has become a place where people from her neighborhood gather to Bible Journal and pray for one another. Diane Marra of His Kingdom Come told me of how she adopted a young girl only to discover that God had bigger plans for her; the girl had two sisters, who also needed a home; Diane took in all three. As I read these words
Set your mind on things above, not on things that are one earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
I began to get a strong sense that God surprises us in all kinds of ways when we set our minds on things above and simply take a step back. The words “Adventure Awaits” seemed to apply. At the very end of the event Connie shared that she often prays the Thomas Merton prayer: “My Lord God. I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead.” That seemed to be the beginning of many great adventure stories I heard at the event, so these words found their way onto the page, too, once I got home!
The sermon we listened to suggested that if we want to transform something not quite right in our life the first step was to be aware of the problem and the second is to own it. The next thing to do is nail it to the cross and then to have compassion. As I tried to name something that trips me up, the first thing that came to mind was a few cross words that I had with my three-year-old the night before I left to attend the event. One of Paul’s pieces of advice in Colossians is to put away anger, and I knew I somehow needed to put a reminder to myself to just cherish this time with my little girl, not to get frustrated with myself or her.
The next day, I started looking for some pink paper to make a dress. I could only find one piece and it happened to be one that my daughter and I had used earlier to paint hearts with celery sticks last Valentine’s day. The messy, painted paper spoke to me. I’ll know in an instant what this means to me when I open my Bible. I also used a few of the gifts that were in my bag to add trim to the dress. And wrote this prayer on the underside of the dress:
God, help me each day to put anger away. Teach me to practice gratitude and to cherish each moment, especially to enjoy the moments my children are young.
Not only was Shanna Noel at the event, but also Lisa Nichols Hickman! I kept pinching myself!!! Shanna happened to share a passage from Colossians that included the verse that offered so much inspiration to Lisa’s book. As I added more things to this page, I decided I wanted the words: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” to pop out a bit more. I settled on the idea of just writing them fresh on a piece of orange origami paper:
It was just absolutely amazing to be in the same room with both Shanna and Lisa, who have both been such an inspiration to me! During Lisa’s talk, she shared a few more Bible Journaling prompts! I was rapidly reaching the end of the ones in her book. We didn’t have a lot of time to put her suggestions in the Bible, but she did give us time to talk and share our initial responses with our table. And it is really nice to hear how God speaks to others through the scripture. (I’ll share my full responses soon!).
The event was definitely a “Wow God” moment. I felt so inspired by Shanna, Lisa, and Connie! Something that I’ll take away from the day is just a vision of seeing over 170 women gathered from all different Christian backgrounds to worship God through art. It’s so beautiful the way that art transcends denominational differences and brings the Word to life in new ways. I have a deeper appreciation for the many ways that Bible Journaling has blessed others and a bigger awareness for the reasons that others get drawn into Bible Journaling. It’s clear to me that this is just the beginning of something bigger, and it was special to be with others who share that same vision.