Baby Showers and Bible Margins

Simply wanted to share a few photos and ideas from a lovely baby shower I attended this past Sunday for a dear friend Nicole.

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First, a few pictures of the lovely welcome (above) and the delicious desserts (below)….

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There were lots of exquisite gifts – but this bouquet of “roses” below was one of the highlights! (instructions here)

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But the best part, by far, was the corner set up for entering prayerful blessings into a Bible for the baby to come!

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Tucked into the corner were verses to prompt ideas…

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And there were mason jars of Micron pens and highlighters

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As you can see, the Bible was not specifically a ‘wide-margin’ Bible, but it was beautiful and everyone found the perfect place to scribble in their prayers and hopes for the baby.  The Bible used for this event was a teal ESV Children’s Bible with illustrations.  As you well know, there are lots of great options – like this NIV “Journal the Word Bible” with margins wide open for drawing, doodling and writing.  There is also a lovely floral cloth-covered version available of the NIV Bible.

Review: The Art of Words

I pre-ordered a copy of The Art of Words by Valerie Wieners.  It arrived Thursday, and I haven’t been able to put the book down.  I have had so much fun doing all the lettering practice in the book.

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I have several books on lettering, but this is my favorite so far.  I love it because Valerie includes several different alphabets with pages to trace and pages to practice.  She then shows you how to combine the different alphabets to create fun works of art with letters.  Most of the books I have on lettering suggest adding flourishes, but I’ve always been clueless how to add flourishes that look right.  I love that Valerie explains how to add flourishes to letters, and also, which letters are the best to flourish.

She provides many lettering project ideas in the book:  hand lettered tags and cards, wrapping paper, signs, painted canvas, scrap book pages, and bible journaling.  At the end of the book, there are pages to trace and color and background illustrations for lettering projects.  The hand lettering examples are filled with verses of scripture and encouraging words.  The book is beautiful, but most of all it is extremely inviting and makes hand lettering simpler.

Here’s one of the practice pages.  Making “fake calligraphy” is really pretty easy!

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Putting it all together, after practicing all the alphabets in the book, I picked a Bible verse that was quoted to me recently by a friend in my Bible Study:  “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”  I’ve been thinking about the verse ever since the lady said it.

All of us probably have years which feel a bit like they were consumed by swarming locusts.  Despite all God’s admonitions not to worry, we may find ourselves losing sleep over relationships, work/money, sickness (either our own or the illness of someone we hold dear), or other frustrations.  The verse suggests a willingness on the part of God to restore these years to us.  God is faithful and good.  With God, we always have hope and a future.  He will turn our weeping into joy.

I may have been a little over-zealous in my use of flourishes, but I had fun making this page (and received some peaceful assurance in the process!)

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Rise Up

I just finished up Kristen Wolbach’s beautiful “Rise Up” devotional from Illustrated Faith.  I was immediately drawn to the devotional kit because I’ve been a long-admirer of Kristen’s Bible journaling.  In her introduction, Kristen shares: “The past year has been one of the toughest seasons of growth I have encountered, but with it have some really beautiful face-to-face moments with Jesus.”  As I worked through the devotional, the Bible passages and her daily thoughts offered wisdom from the trenches.  God has used the devotionals prepared by Illustrated Faith to minister to me in such deeply personal ways.  I drew so much strength from Kristen’s words and also the Scripture she selected.

I thought I would share some of what God spoke in my heart as I worked through these pages.  In no particular order…

One of the passages selected was 2 Timothy 3:1-4:

In the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

Sometimes I wonder when I read Paul, if there have always been people like this?  Our generation has more than our fair share of lovers of self, money, and pleasure.  But God, in His mercy through the Holy Word, has shown us a better way.  I pray that more and more people with see how good and pleasant God’s ways are and that we can move out of darkness into the light!

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One way this is happening is through the Bible Jouranling movement.  I love how people share the Bible verses that inspire them and guide them in their real lives.  When I turned to II Samual 6:16-23, I found that I had always illustrated the page with a prayer for the Journaling Bible Community.  Kristin asks:  “Do you ever feel like you want to worship or pray a certain way, but fear what others may think or feel about it?”  I don’t worry too much what others may think, but spending time in my Bible in a creative way has been one of the most freeing experiences of worshiping God ever.  (You are unlikely to find me dancing naked, but I love King David’s enthusiasm for the Lord!).  I first posted this picture in November 2014.

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Lamentations 3:21-33 is another passage that I’ve illustrated before.  As I read the following passage, I found myself wondering:  “What could possibly be good about being yoked to a heavy load while being insulted and punished?”:

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.  Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust–there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.

As I wrote out the question, the song lyrics came to mind:  “What wonderous love is this that caused the Lord of Bliss to bear the heavy cross for my soul?”  Whatever we may face in life, it can’t compare to taking on the sins of the world through a death on the cross.  Jesus was lifted high on that cross so we might know the height and depth and breadth of God’s love and to move us to love God and love others.  If we know we are forgiven, how much more should we be able to forgive others?  But the story doesn’t end with death on the cross.  If we know we have the gift of eternal life in Christ, we are free to have hope in the power of the resurrection whatever this life throws at us.  As it says in this passage:  We can trust that “God does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men” and that His mercies never come to an end.  When we experience struggles, we can rest assured that there are hidden blessings:  the building of character, the discovery of hope that does not fail, and a greater awareness of just how loved we are by God.

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I added a tip-in to the following page to remind me that I visited this verse again as part of the “Rising Up” devotional.  Who am I in Jesus?  I am justified by his grace as a gift!

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The passage from Mark 2 is one of my favorite lessons about Jesus to teach preschoolers.  Most of the time when I teach the story to children, I focus on the four friends who brought the man to Jesus and their dedication.  They carried the man and dropped in through a roof to get close to Jesus!  Children love reenacting this story!

As I read the story this time, I related more to the paralyzed man; I thought of how I felt paralyzed by a situation recently.  The verse that struck me this time:  “Your sins are forgiven, rise up, pick up your mat and go home.”  The verse gave me peace that some recent anger has passed and that I just need to get back to doing what I am good at.  As I worked on the page I reflected:  for many, home can be the hardest place to go to.  I prayed for others to have the peace of mind to go home and for warm welcomes and reconciliation.

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Oh the struggle bus!  I love this phrase from Kristen’s devotional.  Sometimes we just have to get off the struggle bus and choose joy.  I couldn’t help myself from drawing the bus in my journal.

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I love the antidote:  “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as Servants of God.”  Kristen shared the Greek word for servant:  “Doulos is described as one who gives himself up to another’s will; devote to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.”  To be able to serve joyfully is a grace and a calling.

I added the verse to a tip-in.  There’s more Kristen Wolbach art in the background!  (I should form a fan club!)

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Sometimes, even when you are doing your very best to do the will of another person, you just get it wrong.  I appreciated Kristen turning to the example of Peter cutting of the high priest’s servants ear.  Peter thought he was doing the right thing by coming to Jesus’ defense.  Jesus is obviously displeased.  I always take comfort knowing that Peter, the guy who messes up often, is known as “the rock”.

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II Corinthians 4:7-12 is a passage that I’ve turned to at times of distress, but reading it again in a better frame of mine, what I see is a lot of hope and the promise of a victorious outcome.  We may face perplexing times, but through Christ, we have resurrection power!

Paul says we are to  carry in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us.  This verse reminds me that we ourselves are to be like the body of Christ offered in communion:  taken, broken, blessed and given.

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I’ve been singing Jason Gray’s “I Will Rise Again” as I worked on the above passage.

Kristen encouraged us to write our own song of deliverance as a response to David’s song from II Samuel 22.  As I was reflecting over my life and the conflict I’ve experienced, most of it has been over relatively small and trivial things:  Does my son still need a nap?  Where to put wet towels?  How to format a spreadsheet?  (It’s weird, but much bigger challenges I’ve been able to easily navigate).   I guess its common enough to fight with those who are most like us over small differences of opinion or understanding.  With bigger problems, we tend all acknowledge the problem and find a way forward.  With small problems, we wonder how can something so small turn into such a big deal, which adds to the pain.  Just look at the schisms in the church:  Most have been about minor points of theology.   Still, we all love Jesus and are doing our best to follow him.   Somehow Jesus is the center that holds.

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I just kept journaling my way through II Samuel 22.  I added some text to a picture of a candle:

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And journaled the last part of the song…

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On speaking life, Kristen writes:  “Like the beautiful relationship between Boaz and Ruth.  I can’t help but celebrate when he speaks such lovely words over her life.  He takes the time to love her right where she is and reaffirm all the ways she has been faithful and appreciated.  It’s a wonderful example of what redeeming words look like and how they affect others.  The truth is, we rise highest when we lift up those around us.  Praise and encouragement are free gifts, but man, they are precious as diamonds to the one who receives them.”

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As I read 1 Peter 5:6-11, the words that spoke to me where:  “The God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”  Talk about an encouraging word.  I just added these words to the page below…

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I loved Kristen’s story of working at a small town cake shop, how they would pray together and be there for each other through life’s ups and downs.  They nicknamed the cake shop the “Jesus Factory.”  I was reminded of monastic life where people worked together to make jam or soap to support themselves, while living together intentionally in Christian community.  I heard from a friend who lived in a monastery that the passage below has always been very important to monasteries, especially the phrase “Pray without ceasing.”  The passage provides a lot of wisdom for any Christian work place.

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The following image is from Day 1, but it was the last page I did.  Maybe because I’m generally more comfortable in the background.  I love Jesus and hope that God’s love for others shines in all that I do, but I’m not quite the overzealous candle that Kristen describes on day 1.  As I worked through this devotional, I felt the warmth of God’s love and the glow of His presence and a gentle encouragement to shine.

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Thanks for joining me on this journey!  May you find the blessing in all your battles, trusting that you will rise up stronger than before.

Grab a Napkin…and try this! With thanks to Becky Davis Shelton

Guest Post by Lisa Nichols Hickman author of Writing in the Margins.

The margins of Becky Davis Shelton caught my eye this week when I learned she is Bible journaling with napkins!

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Check out her work and a bit about her below.  Anyone else out there journaling with napkins?  If so, we would love to see your work.

How did you get started Bible journaling?

I have actually journaled in my Bible since I was ten or twelve years old. Until recent months, “journaling” for me was note taking in the margins of my Bible and underlining and/or highlighting scriptures that had special meaning to me. Around a year ago, during my daily perusal of Pinterest, I started noticing Bible art journaling pins on my feed. The more I saw, the more intrigued I became with this beautiful and meaningful artwork. In March of 2017, I began researching online the different journaling Bibles on the market and ended up ordering my Inspire large print and a large set of artist quality colored pencils. Thus it began.

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What difference does it make in your life?

Art journaling has kept my mind literally in the Word on a daily basis. I never journal a verse without studying at least a chapter. I believe God put me on this path to keep me centered on His Word.

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Do you have a favorite scripture verse for yourself? Do you have a favorite scripture you have journaled? Why are these your favorites?

I have many favorite scriptures. Probably foremost is Galations 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This verse describes my life on this earth. Jesus gave himself for me. That is powerful.

Other favorites are:

John 14:6 – I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I John 1:9 – But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

I love Ephesians 4:32 and have journaled this particular verse. It’s been a favorite scripture since I was very young. It has special meaning because in just a few words is explained how we are to treat others, exactly what type of forgiveness we are expected to extend to others and why.

What are your favorite tools to use? And do you have a technique you would like to share?

I think my very favorite tool is my light pad. I am no artist! I do lots of tracing of pictures I run across. I love glitter and metallic gel pens. I have a number of different brands and use them all! I use tons of washi tape, pre-printed die cuts and borders as well as cuts I make myself on my Silhouette Cameo.

As for a technique, lately I have learned the napkin technique, which produces such vibrant and colorful images on the page. My preference is to be able to read all scripture printed on the page so it is a challenge to find the right napkin that allows legibility and lends itself to the scripture.

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To accomplish this, I used Dina Wakely clear gesso for the process.  I put one coat, then the napkin, dry it, another gesso coat and dry it. Then I add my lettering and other decorations.   You might check Dollar Tree for lots of napkin choices.  And you might also consider a napkin swap with friends in your Bible journaling community locally – or even across the states if you are in a virtual group.

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You may see more of Becky’s work on Pinterest!  Enjoy taking a look at her work!

Planning with Illustrated Faith

Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different planners:  Day-timers, a three-ring binder with a daily to-do list, and the Happy Planner.  I know in this digital age it may seem strange to have a paper planner, but personally I find it so helpful to have one book where I can write all my notes and appointment reminders, just as I keep all my art in my Bible!  Below is a collection of planners I’ve used over the past few years.

I was happy to discover that the Illustrated Faith Planner has a similar layout to a DayTimer with a monthly calendar spread and a weekly place to journal “to do” lists and notes.  The Illustrated Faith planner is much thicker than a Daytimer, but it’s shorter and narrower so that it could fit in a large purse.  The major advantage is that the Illustrated Faith planner is very pretty and coordinates with my Bible Journaling supplies.  Of course, all the supplies that work well in a Bible also work well in a planner, too.  My planners are practical and always get messy, but stickers and washi tape make everything more fun.

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Through the years, I’ve learned its best to keep all appointments on one monthly calendar.  I started filling in a few dates today.  The eye glasses on the page reminded me that I needed to make an eye exam appointment.

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Today, I also thought a little bit about how best to use the weekly layout.  One really cool tip, I learned from Shanna Noel of Illustrated Faith is to use washi tape to divide the planner page in half.  This lets you carve out space for whatever you need to plan.  I like to plan our dinners and grocery shop once a week.  I also find it motivating to keep a quick log of my simple home workouts.  I love the idea of writing down prayers in my planner when others ask me to pray for them or when I have a joy to remember.  This still leaves me a little room for some word art and adding a memory or picture from the week.  There are so many different ways to organize the journaling space.

For each day:  I am in the habit of writing down the three things I would like to get done each day.  Many other things always come up, but I find if I set my priorities and limit the list to just three things, I get a lot more done.

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I don’t know that I’ll stick with the color scheme below, but I picked out a color for all the things in life I need to plan.  The Tombow Dual Brush Markers are nice for planners since they don’t bleed and they come in so many colors that its easy to match a color scheme.

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I had fun playing a bit today with the new planner.

Today was the kind of crazy busy day that reminded me why I need a planner.  I’m in the midst of a big project at work.  My daughter had a dance recital practice tonight.  My son had a baseball game.  I had concession duty.  I also had a Deacon meeting.  My mom asked me to join her at an event, too.  That’s five places to be at one time!

In the midst of rushing here and there, for a brief moment, I caught a beautiful glimpse of my daughter in her dance outfit and my son in his baseball uniform.  I didn’t quite have time to take a picture, but I savored the moment in the midst of the craziness.  I thought of the phrase:  “Life is what happens when you are planning something else!”  Somehow everything fell into place tonight with the help of my husband (who now can make snow cones and walking tacos), neighbors, and grandparents!  I’m grateful for this crazy, but fun season of life!  And for a fun, new planner to help me figure out how to get it all done!

Happy Pentecost

On this Pentecost Sunday, my pastor preached on Acts 1:8, a verse I just spent a lot time playing with as I watched Shanna Noel’s Process Video.  On this Pentecost Sunday, our minister reminded us of the story of our church, which was founded in the 1700s.  I live in a town called Chambersburg, and Colonel Chambers, the first European settler to the area, leased the land to our church for the price of one rose per year; our church still pays one rose each year to a member of his family.  The ceremony took place today.

Our pastor spoke of how the church was founded in the frontier days, when survival was in a matter of question, shared how our church survived the burning of Chambersburg during the Civil War, and was sustained through two World Wars and the great depression.  He reminded us that the Holy Spirit has been guiding us and sustaining us as a congregation for centuries and offered us the assurance that the Holy Spirit is still at work.

It helps to hear this long-term perspective from time-to-time.  We sang the Hymn “I Love to Tell the Story.”  The sweet, old hymn talks of telling the story to those who haven’t heard it, which is how I often think of witnessing.  The song also reminded me that those who know the story best still hunger and thirst to hear it, too.  We are called to be witnesses in all kinds of circumstances, and I think we receive the story ourselves in new ways as life presents us with challenges and new situations.  Despite what the song says, the story never really gets old!

I came home and did the page in my Bible that I practiced on paper last week.  Happy Pentecost!

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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…

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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…

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…and look at what it transformed into after Easter:

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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!).

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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!!!

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