My son’s journaling Bible arrived today, and he seriously could not wait to dive in; there was no stopping him. He said he wanted to start by drawing a shark. I wasn’t quite ready to do the creation story, so the next best place I could think for a shark was someplace in God’s long monologue in Job. When my son looked at the passage, he quickly decided to do a lion in a den. He reached for some water colors and painted the den. He asked me how to draw a lion. Then he put a little lion in the den and colored it with colored pencils. Then he added a sun and some blue for the sky. I asked him to write the verse in the margin, which he did. And then he added an answer to the question the verse asked.
What absolutely astonished me was how completely fearless he was about Bible Journaling. Of course, he has seen me do this for over a year, but he has also seen me doing rough drafts and careful pencil drawings first. I still get nervous doodling in the bible. He just dove in.
What I learned:
- Just start.
- Think of something you enjoy drawing and a verse to match.
- Be willing to change course as you reflect on the text.
- Use whatever art supplies are on the table.
- Don’t be afraid.
- Enjoy the process.
- There’s always room for a picture of a lion somewhere in your Bible!
Before bed, he asked to do another page. We talked about more things that he likes to draw and he mentioned a tree, so I suggested Psalm 1. I asked him why do you think the Bible says that a person who studies God’s word is like a tree planted by the water? He said, “Well, a tree planted by the water is growing in the right place.” And I said, “Yes, spending time in the Bible is the perfect place to grow spiritually.” He said, “I’ll make it an apple tree, because it says the tree will bear fruit.” I just smiled on the inside (maybe got a little teary, shhh! My son thinks I cry way too easily.)
I’d like to say that it took me so long to get to this post because I was putting off the final assignment from Writing in the Margins. I feel sad to be reaching the end of this book; it has been a good friend for over a year. The truth of the matter is that I got caught up in the tidal wave that is “the end of the year” at work and also Christmas at home. But I have had several long drives and enjoyed beautiful Advent and Christmas services at church, which gave me plenty of time for reflection.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would like to do next on my blog and also of ways to spend more time with my children in the Word. I just ordered my eight-year-old his own journaling Bible, and I thought we would set aside some time on Sunday afternoons to create entries in our Bibles about the stories that I think everyone should know starting with creation in January then proceeding through the flood, the patriarchs, the exodus, the kings, the prophets, and the birth of Jesus in late November. Then the following year we could continue with the life of Jesus and the Easter story and the formation of the church. With my three-year-old, I’ll tell her the stories and plan some fun crafts. (New Pinterest boards related to each of my favorite Bible stories may happen, too!) Writing a blog has been a bit of an experiment for me. I wasn’t really sure that I would keep going, but as it turns out, I already have the whole next year of entries mapped out in my planner! So I am definitely feeling led to move forward with this ongoing experiment, and in the process, I really hope to share the whole Bible story as I understand and love it!
I keep reflecting on the last verse that Lisa Nichols Hickman offers in her book as an example of how the margins in our Bible can become a halo of light: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives wisdom to the simple.” This verse seems to keep pointing me in the direction of what’s next. My prayer for the coming year is that as the Bible story unfolds for our family at home and in my writing here that our lives will be filled with light and wisdom!
Many thanks to everyone who has followed me so far on my journey through Writing in the Margins and also to those who just stop by. It’s been so encouraging to me to Bible Journaling touch so many lives! What comes next should be fun. Wishing everyone many blessings as you engage the Word creatively in the margins of your Bible!
It can feel a little intimidating seeing so many amazing artists adding their own art to the Bible. I love playing at art, but it’s not something I’ve studied or do for a living. For me, journaling in the Bible is a fun way to get the Word of God into my heart, more so than about putting my art in the Bible. I just enjoy the whole process! It’s a fun way to study the Bible. I have enough that’s serious in my life! It’s strange, but after over a year of doing this, I still have a really hard time covering up the words in my Bible with art. For the most part, I like to keep what I add to the margins; I am not sure why. I’ve found that my journaling Bible has quickly become my favorite Bible to read for all purposes. I am not the best at memorizing chapters and verses, but I can always quickly turn to a verse that I’ve journaled. This Bible has become deeply personal and meaningful to me.
With this next passage, I found myself falling back on some of my favorite supplies: Microns and stickers. I love this Bible passage from Psalms and wanted to include as much as possible in the margins. It’s reassuring to me to find a passage that describes God just as imagine God to be: Strong, righteous, and just with love and faithfulness always meeting me first, drawing people together in community. I’ve been pondering the meaning of the festal shout. I wish I could say that I know it for certain, but two things make sense to me: 1) It’s a joyful noise made together in community. 2) It’s a shout made for the pure joy of being in the light of God’s love.
A prayer that welled up inside me as I read this passage:
God, you know I long to see your face. Until then, let me always walk in your light. Lead me to know the festal shout and guide me to the community of faith where I belong.
I am taking some time this Advent to wait and quietly listen to where God’s leading me.