Just Playing

In honor of Memorial Day, Dayspring has a nice coupon that can be used for Bible Journaling supplies:  Save $20 on a purchase of $60 and get free shipping with the code:  “MEMORIAL20”.

The newest Illustrated Faith devotional kit is out, too.  It’s created by Kristen Wolbach.  I remember feeling just blown away by some of the early pictures that Kristen posted in the Illustrated Faith Facebook group.  From the first posts of her amazing, full-page illustrations, she helped me see new possibilities for Bible Journaling.  I was so happy that she authored a devotional and designed a stamp set!  I’m not officially affiliated with Illustrated Faith, but I’ve been part of its Facebook community since September 2014.  It’s been a joy to watch the community grow from about 3,000 members when I joined to over 40,000 now and also to see Illustrated Faith take shape from its first products designed just for Bible Journaling.

I’ve been just playing around with the set this weekend (and some new watercolors, too).  Shanna Noel, the founder of Illustrated Faith published a process video on Youtube.

I am definitely one of those people who enjoys trying new supplies and techniques.  Watercolor scares me a bit, so I just practiced on paper as I followed along.  I love watching Shanna because she just keeps adding more to her designs.  After a watercolor wash, she adds white acrylic paint before stamping, she uses stickers and washi tape and then adds more doodles with Neo Color IIs.  Her pictures have so many layers!

I’ve been pondering the verse and Shanna’s message as I played:  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”  When I read this verse, I feel encouraged knowing that its up to us to be available and willing, but up to the Holy Spirit to empower the testimony.

Thinking about the message from the devotion:  “A changed heart is the only testimony worth having” makes me reflect on my own life.  For as long as I can remember, Jesus has been in my heart, I’ve felt the presence of God, I’ve experienced the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I was four or five years old when I accepted Jesus into my heart.

Though I’ve been a Christian for a long, long time, there are times when I still experience a Christ-driven change of heart.  Situations come up in life that we don’t necessarily expect or want.  Jesus is always there to remind me:  “Forgive.”  And its such a blessing to live life with freedom from anger, resentment, and unforgiveness.  No matter how long I travel life with Christ in my heart, I find it is good to have him there, and the process of transformation continues with each new adventure.

Below is the illustration I did on regular copy paper as I watched Shanna’s video and played with Kristen’s stamps…


Wishing you a safe holiday and a wonderful start to summer.  Remembering those who have given their life for our country and praying for all those who continue serve.  Remembering, too, those Christians who were killed in Egypt and those who lost their life in Manchester.  Praying.


Doodles to Live By

Recently, I shared my experience making stickers with my Silhouette Cameo from an Illustrated Faith digital file.  Below I share how those stickers worked out in my Bible together with Elaine Davis’s Doodles to Live By Devotion Kit.

The first page of the devotional focused on 1 John 5:10:  “Whoever believes in the son of God has the testimony inside himself.”  In the daily devotional, Elaine Davis asked us to title the story of our life as a movie.  I recently discovered that the story of my life was made into a movie (Who knew it could be movie material?).  The movie is called “I Don’t Know How She Does It” and Sarah Jessica Parker plays a lady who works in the investment business and has two children.  The details are a little different, some are exaggerated and others romanticized, but it’s a pretty good snapshot of what my life looks like today.  Its a secular movie and doesn’t cover the topic of faith.  If the movie were more true to me, it would be titled:  “She Does It All through the One who Gives her Strength.”

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One thing I’ve discovered is that I have journaled many of the passages that pop up in devotionals.  What I’ve started to do is find another verse with a similar message.  I decided to pair 1 Peter 4:10 with Psalm 100….


The tip-in lifts up to reveal a more active inside.  The outside of my life is pretty normal, but I have a rich interior life, always.


Below is my favorite page inspired by the cheerful color palate.  I would never have thought of using pink and light orange with honey comb.  This verse is definitely a good doodle to live by!

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I turned to Psalm 143 as I reflected on my morning practices.  It’s always best to start the day with Jesus!

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I loved Elaine Davis’s thoughts on “rest.”  It’s helpful to know that there’s another person in the world who finds resting to be a challenge!  I’m definitely guilty of wanting to “Go, Go, Go.”  And I’ve learned that even my resting is more active.  (My mother tells me I’m an only child because I never would take a nap!)  Nothing has been more helpful to me in term of finding time to rest and play than Bible Journaling, which always rejuvenates my soul.


Here’s a passage from the Bible that I fell in love with as a result of this devotional:  “My people will abide in peaceful habitation.”  God wants us to have safe places to live.  My home is not just a place where I rest.  Most days, I work from home and workout at home.  We prepare and eat our meals here.  I get involved in all kinds of crafty messes and welcome all the neighborhood children.  We occasionally have brave grown-up guests, too.  Our home rarely feels like a sanctuary, but its the perfect place for us, and I’m grateful for wonderful neighbors and a safe place to live!IMG_6656 (2)Proverbs 3:7-8:  Be not wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing for your flesh and medicine for you bones.

I would love to explore this idea further:  Our pastor mentioned in a sermon that the use of the word “bones” in the Bible refers not just to our physical bones, but to the core of who we are, what gives us our framework for living.  Every passage that I’ve read with the word “bones” in it makes more sense to me now.

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The next passage from the devotional was Colossians 3:16.  I love the encouragement that Paul gives us to “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  For me, this is what Bible Journaling is all about!  Colossians is heavily journaled in my Bible, so I put the verse next to Psalm 33 and it took on enriched meaning for me.  The page reminds me of Elaine’s message that when we gather to sing, it’s a happy occasion, like singing “Happy Birthday” at a party or singing with friends around a campfire.  Singing at church can have the same joyful feeling.IMG_6658 (2)

The next passage is: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”  If I were reading this passage on my own, I would have interpreted this way:  Figuring out what truly motivates a person can be a challenge, but it’s possible with a little wisdom to discover true motives.  I think Elaine Davis takes a different approach.  She boldly starts out knowing our purpose:  “Getting out there & serving is our purpose.  It is our purpose to use our hands to serve our communities and our feet to walk alongside those in need.”  The passage could also be read:  A man of understanding draws out this true purpose and helps others know how to serve best.

For me, at least, a desire to serve others is something that motivates me strongly, so it all work outs just fine!

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Elaine shares that one Bible verse that hit her like a bolt of lightning and gave her strength during a tough time in her life was:  “When I am weak, then I am strong.”  She asked us to think of our own lightning bolt verses.  Here’s a few that come to mind:

For everyday circumstances:

  • I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
  • Love is patient and kind.

For scary moments:

  • Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

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I happened to work on the next passage on the day that it was youth Sunday at my church.  Seeing the high school students tell their faith stories brought back memories for me of preaching at Youth Sunday in the church where I grew up.  Everyone thought I was going to grow up to be a minister, but life has brought other changes.  Hearing the young men and women talk was a good reminder that the Jesus I knew when I was their age is still the same.  God keeps taking care of me!

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I like to make other people happy.  That’s just the way I am wired:  I can feel what others are feeling very easily and I’d just rather feel happy along with those around me!  It’s easy for me to cry with others, too.  I’ve grown to see this as a strength, but others are quick to turn it into a weakness:  “Oh, you are a people pleaser!” Here’s how I see the difference:  My self-worth is not tied up in making others happy.  I find my worth in Christ, because I know that Jesus died to bring me to God.

I recently went through a time in my life where I couldn’t do anything right.  Nothing I did made anyone happy!  It was just a season, but it was still hard on me.  Through that season, I learned to focus on discerning God’s will for my life and simply doing my best.

In general, I think that the very qualities for which we receive the most comments and criticism are clues to our greatest strengths.  There’s a positive flipside to every perceived weakness.  We are each created in unique way.  Our individuality is a gift, and God makes no mistakes.  God’s approval is the one that counts.

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I have journaled this passage from Romans many times, but there’s always room for some wordstrips!  I think this passage below is the ultimate doodle to live by.


I had so much fun with this devotional!  I appreciated the stamps, the stickers, the digital supplements, and most of all the heart-felt message!  Happy doodling!

The Margins of Melinda Ransdell’s Garden…From the Edge of Her Bible to the Edge of Her Yard

Melinda Ransdell loves scripture and inviting others to engage the Bible through formative practices like Bible journaling.  She and her husband use the practices at their church in the bulletin (what, doodle in the margins of the Sunday order of worship!?  Yes!), with new members and in leadership development, as well as in  confirmation class.

I am inspired to know that one ordinary day Melinda looked at her yard and the neighborhood and realized there was a wonderful ‘margin’ there.  With her scriptural imagination, Melinda began to conceive a peace and prayer garden.  I loved seeing her garden come to life with photos posted on Instagram and Facebook.  I can just see her with coffee in hand, on her back deck, studying scripture, wondering what God might have her do in her ‘margins’ of life.


Here is the story, in Melinda’s own words, of how she in-scripted the margins of her back yard.  Melinda explains,

“It’s all about finding peace in the chaos of this busy world we live in.

Very fitting, our garden is situated right off the busiest road in town. We don’t live in a big town but we are a main thorough fare for those heading West out of the capital Dover, DE.


Our town Wyoming, DE, is a very quaint little place. All along the main street are beautiful properties with some nice landscaping. When we moved in we had a blank slate so I started thinking about what we could do.

So, like every normal person, I looked on pinterest for inspiration.

My husband and I definitely wanted a sitting area because our front porch is too small for sitting and getting to know our neighbors.


That’s what we really wanted to do, get to know the town of Wyoming. A couple years ago we learned from our church district about a ministry called I-neighborhood. It is all about sharing the love of God with the people who live right next door and down the street or work at the local market. We’ve adopted such crazy and busy lifestyles in our society, that sometimes we forget to just take a second to look up and smile at the person ringing up our groceries. Let alone, take the time to intentionally form relationships with those who live right next to us. It’s all about being aware and looking for those opportunities to share God’s love with others. I want to do that by offering a place to sit. That’s how a restful, prayerful, meditative garden came to be. So I began to sketch:


I’ve seen lots of Prayer labyrinths before. My church in college had a traveling one visit and the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington has a huge permanent outdoor one. A prayer labyrinth offers a place to slow down, walk, reflect, dwell with God and offer up prayers. Prayer Labyrinths have been used for thousands of years and can be found in some of the oldest Cathedrals. I wanted to offer people the opportunity to quiet their minds, take a rest from the craziness and experience some peace.


There is also a popular practice I first discovered whole visiting some of the amazing gardens of Charleston, SC, it’s called a Peace Pole. On it reads, “May peace prevail on Earth” in several languages. I love the idea of promoting peace of Earth, especially through a faith that should be all about it.

On pinterest I stumbled upon a couple pictures of community prayer boxes. I love this idea! Giving an opportunity to have someone else offer prayer up for you, too, is supportive and builds community.
Hopefully the town of Wyoming, DE will come and take a rest. Take a moment to still their minds. To see someone cares. And just maybe they’ll also feel the great love God has for them.”

Local metal artist Graydie designed this “At Peace” sculpture.


I have no doubt Melinda’s neighbors will definitely find peace the next time they find themselves on the edge!

When I took a glimpse at Melinda’s posts – the ‘resurrection’ story of her Garden’s margins became perfectly clear.  She started with a Bible study in Lent – check out this photo of her garden tablescape…


…and look at what it transformed into after Easter:


How could she not share this good news in her garden?

Creating Stickers with the Silhouette Cameo

The Silhouette Cameo

What is it?  It’s a software-driven cutting machine that lets you cut your own stickers and die cuts for Bible Journaling (among countless other applications!).


Can I just say that the people at Illustrated Faith keep getting me deeper into the craft world?!?  Last summer, I heard Shanna Noel talking about printing and cutting images from the Revival Camp digital bible journaling kit with her Silhouette Cameo.  She showed off some adorable, perfectly cut feathers.

My husband surprised me with one for my birthday in August.  It’s a pretty incredible machine.  The only trouble:  Every time I use it, I have to revisit the instructions to remember how it all works!  I’ve written the following tutorial for myself as much as anyone!!!  I was inspired to use the machine again by the “Doodles to Live by Supplement.”

Here’s a step by step guide:

Step 1:  The very first step is to get an image.  Go to the Illustrated Faith Print and Pray Shop (or your favorite spot for digital art) and place an order.  Download the file to your computer.

Step 2:  The Illustrated Faith downloads are often PDFs, which don’t work with the free version of the Silhouette Studio software.  It’s pretty easy to convert a PDF to JPEG.  There are any number of free online image converters that you can find with a simple search.

The Silhouette software can be upgraded to the “Design Edition” for $50.  My understanding is that this edition of the software can handle PDF files.  I haven’t tried it yet.

It’s worth noting that the basic Silhouette software is free regardless of whether you have a Silhouette Cameo or not.  If you don’t have a Silhouette Cameo, it might be worth downloading the software to see how you like it before buying the machine since the software is a huge part of the overall experience.  There’s a bit of a learning curve to the software, but it’s powerful yet relatively simple and easy to use.

Step 3:  Once you have your images and they are in the right format, you can create a new file in Silhouette Studio.  As soon as you open a new file, set the page width to the size of your sticker paper under design page settings…

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Step 4:  Then open the image in your software.  The particular image I am using was designed to be printed landscape on a regular piece of paper, but when cutting, it helps to leave space for the registration marks. I decided to work with these as two separate portrait pages:  The doodles and the word strips.

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Step 5:  The next step is to add registration marks to the page.  These are marks on the page that help the cutter know that your page is aligned correctly.  Your image should fit within these marks.  Mine still clearly does not!  I uses the Type 1 registration marks with the default orientation.

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Step 6:  Now that all the key pieces are in place, it is time to cut off part of the image (all the word strips).  Curiously, the Silhouette Studio does not give you the option to crop a picture.  It does have a knife tool, however.  The knife tool works just like a knife:  You drag it across the image and the image is separated at the knife line.  If you hold the “shift” key as you use the knife, you get a nice straight line parallel to the side of your screen.  At first, it’s hard to see that anything changed.  Don’t worry.

As soon as you make the cut, you have to switch back to using the pointer.  (Don’t keep making more cuts!  If you make more cuts by accident, just “undo.”) You will be able to pick up and move part of the image to the side and delete it.  You can move the main image to the middle of the page.

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Step 7:  Next go to the “Trace” dialogue box; the icon looks a little like a slice of bread with jam.  (See the green arrow.)  First you select the trace area.  Then you choose “Trace Outer Edge.”  Orange lines will appear on the outside edge of the individual pictures.  The orange lines sit on top of the image as a layer, and do not appear when you print the documcent.  The cut lines tell the machine where to cut relative to the registration marks.

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Step 8:  Next you simply print your project.  I have a Brother color inkjet printer.  I used some matte white sticker paper that I picked up at Staples.

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Step 9:  Place the printed sticker paper onto the cutting mat, which is slightly sticky.

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Step 10:  Then it’s time to get ready to cut.  Go to the “cut settings” dialogue box and select “cut edge” and “white sticker paper.”

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Step 11:  Once you’ve set the type of paper you are using, the software tells you how to set the Silhouette Ratchet Blade.  There’s a little grey tool that comes with the machine that helps you set the depth of cut.

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Step 12:  After you put the cutting blade securely back in its spot, you load your mat into the machine.  Make sure that your Cameo is connected to your computer with the USB cable and plugged in.

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Step 13:  Then the fun begins.  If I were a better blogger, I would take a video of the next step!  It is seriously cool to watch the Silhouette Cameo cut.  One tip:  Leave plenty of room behind the cutter for the mat to come through!

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And that’s all there is to it!  It’s amazing that the machine can cut through the top layer without going through the sticker backing.  And the best part is that once you’ve gone through the set-up, you can save the project and keep printing stickers again and again.

One more tip:  I also wanted to make stickers from the word strips.  I found that the tracing tool did not work well with this project.  It picked up on the black font, but not the edges of the colorful rectangles.  Not to fear!  There is a solution.  There are drawing tools along the side, which allow you to freehand draw the cut lines.  It’s a little bit tedious to do, but it worked great.  I used a rectangle around the whole thing.  Then I drew one horizontal line and copied and pasted it down the blocks.  Then I drew the smaller vertical lines, sometimes copying and pasting, sometimes just drawing more little lines.  There may be an easier way but this got the job done.

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I have the new “Doodles to Live by” devotional kit, the supplemental materials, and some paints.  I can’t wait to get started!!!


If you are new to the Silhouette Cameo, I hope this quick tutorial helps.  If you have any tips for me, please comment!



From Crisis to Healing and Wholeness

I had a difficult conversation this past week, I had trouble sleeping for three nights turning it over in my head.  After the third night, I finally drifted to sleep with this Psalm on my mind.


Have you ever had one of those times in your life where everything that happens to you seems deeply significant and imbued with meaning?

In the morning, I woke up early and travelled to Ellicot City, MD, with some fellow deacons from church. We went to a training session about Stephen’s ministries and learned about help others through seasons of grief.  The presentation was wonderful, but what impressed me most was just the feeling of being in a room filled with over 100 people who wanted to learn how to come along side others who are hurting.

We were given a list of about 30 or so problems that people face in life.  Then we listed how many people we could think of from our church facing these issues.  The keeper of the prayer list at church was in my group, so he had a fairly good idea of identifiable needs.  We counted over 140 for a church with 500 members.  When it hit me that one quarter of the congregation is facing a big challenge in their life, it gives me great compassion for our ministers!  How can they possibly meet such big a need!?!

We learned that when people are in a crisis situation, they stand at a fork in the road:  one path leads to a downward spiral and the other path leads to wholeness and healing.  Companionship is essential in times of crisis so that we don’t lose our way.  A Christian friend comes along side a person in crisis and doesn’t leave.  The purpose of the friendship is to wait with the person in a non-judgmental way and simply listen, just to be there until the situation resolves.  Most of what a person goes through as they weep is personal to them, only the griever can know the pain.  We were told its ok to cry along with a person in crisis:  “Jesus wept.”  The speaker told us that sometimes these situations create a lot of anger within the person and sometimes it gets directed at the caring friend, not to be surprised if it happens.

Getting back to my sleepless nights:  One of the people in the room was a Catholic priest.  A friend told me once that Catholic priests are accustomed to random people coming up to them needing to confess something, after three sleepless nights I felt the need to confess a lack of forgiveness regarding a situation in my life.  It’s a little awkward for me as Presbyterian to do something like this.  I just went and sat near him during a five minute break.  A lady was sitting beside him sharing about the loss of her daughter.  I wasn’t about to interrupt that, so I sat just prayed silently as I sat beside him, and my heart started to burn inside me.  I started to feel better and decided that if he didn’t have time to talk with me it was enough to pray beside him.

But once the lady got up, he turned to me with a gentle and inquisitive glance.  I said that I was have having some trouble with forgiveness.  He put his hand on my shoulder and prayed as if he knew everything that I’d been through.  The words were just what I needed to hear.  He prayed into the start of the next presentation.  And he looked at me with tremendous compassion and love and asked me to repeat after him:  In the name of Jesus, I renounce anger; in the name of Jesus, I renounce unforgiveness; in the name of Jesus, I renounce resentment; in the name of Jesus, I renounce fear; and in the name of Jesus, I renounce control.  And I felt a burden lifted.  I felt closure to a chapter in my life.

In five minutes (plus about two!), the priest comforted a grieving mother and lifted a burden from me, but he didn’t get a stretch break.  How did he do it?

I went home and slept well.

When I went to church today, our minister preached on the passage about the disciples and how they met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, but didn’t recognize him.  They asked:  “Were not our hearts burning insides us?”  I thought about the feeling I had as I sat beside the priest the day before.  The pastor shared his own experiences of meeting Christ as he interacted with others.  He shared how a veteran reached out to him and grabbed his hand firmly saying:  “We need help” and how my minister felt Christ’s call to serve veterans with post traumatic stress disorder at that moment.  He shared how we all have moments where we meet Christ in unexpected ways on the road to Emmaus.

In the afternoon, I went to Gettysburg to cheer on a friend who serves as a marshal in the Face of America bike ride from DC to Gettysburg.  Over 140 veterans participate in the ride in bicycles designed for their lost limbs.  I took time to appreciate both the conflict that took place in Gettysburg and also the battles the veterans have fought and continue to fight.  But mostly, I felt energized and inspired by the veterans.  I saw firsthand that its possible for a battlefield to be transformed to a place of camaraderie and for personal crisis to resolve into healing and wholeness.

I am grateful for caring people:  ministers and priests, friends who come along side other in crisis, and a good guy who pushes wounded warriors up the big hills!  Christ is alive!

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