The Fall

The story of “The Fall” is so much easier to teach to children than to grown-ups.  Children easily relate to this story:  God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the garden, but one. A crafty snake came along and convinced Eve to take a bite.  She gave it to her husband, who also took a bite.  Then they both hid from God because they knew they had done wrong and they also discovered that they were naked (a detail which makes kids giggle!).  When God questioned Adam, he blamed Eve, who in turn, blamed the snake and then all three got punished.  Every child without exception can relate to being asked not to do something by an authority figure and then doing it anyway, trying to blame others, and getting in trouble.  The message of the story to little kids is simple:  We all mess up sometimes; it’s best to listen to God and do what he commands.

Somehow this story gets enormously more complicated and problematic reading it as an adult.  Among the reasons…

  • It raises hard to answer questions: Why did God put a tree in the Garden of Eden with such dreadful consequences?  What was the serpent doing in the Garden of Eden in the first place?
  • The story has all kinds of messy consequences for women.
  • This story is woven into St. Paul’s challenging theology of redemption.

Dare I try to address some of these harder issues?

The Problem of Sin

Let me start with why the serpent and the tree were in the garden.  In this physical world in which we live, there are certain limitations and wherever there are limitations, there will be the temptation to ignore the limits.  Also, as people of faith, we take it as a given that God is loving and good.  The first chapter of Genesis assures us that God created the world and called it good.  And yet, we know from experience that there is much sadness and evil in the world.  Solomon expresses this beautifully in Ecclesiastes 1:13:  “It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of many to be busy with.”  Later in Ecclesiastes 4:1-4, he laments:

“Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun.  And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them!  On the side of their oppressors was power; and there was no one to comfort them.  And I thought the dead who are already dead are more fortunate that the living who are still alive.  But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.”

It can be hard to reconcile our faith in God’s goodness with the unhappy situations in the world.  This struggle is as real for us today as it was in Solomon’s time.  What Genesis 3 teaches:  Much of what’s wrong with the world is the fault of humans. We have free will.  We could choose to make things better.  We could choose to follow God’s ways, but too often we don’t.  We could choose love over fear.

For Paul, the serpent in the garden becomes a reminder to Christians of the importance of staying true to the Gospel that we’ve heard preached in the Bible.  He writes in 2 Corinthians 11:3-15  “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”  Paul goes on to give this troubling warning:  “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”  The serpent is in the garden to remind us that even in paradise there were temptations.  In this world, we need to be on our guard.

Eve and the Struggles of Womanhood

I’ve been really wrestling with what to say about this.  Here’s just a few of my complaints:  Eve, the mother of all living, gets blamed for a lot and yet she wasn’t created yet when God told Adam not to eat that fruit.  She had no experience to suggest the Serpent might be lying to her.  Wanting knowledge and wisdom is generally an admirable quality.  When Solomon asks for wisdom, it pleases God.  And it was a pretty simple mistake; personally, when I am told that I can’t eat something, then all I think about is eating it!  In the next generation, Cain kills Able, which seems like a much worse offence, and yet we remember Eve as the one who ruined paradise!

God gives woman this punishment:

I will surely multiply you pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.-Genesis 3:16

Childbirth becomes painful and there’s suddenly a shift in the story from harmony between the husband and wife to power struggle between them.  There’s a sense in which this story explains some of what seems given about life.  Childbirth IS painful.  I know exactly what is meant by “Her desire shall be for her husband.”  It’s a feeling that hits me from time to time when I am in the midst of juggling work, caring for our home, preparing meals, planning special occasions, and caring for children while my husband is busy with work and the demands of his life.  It’s not always easy striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman!  And for much of human history women have not had the same rights as men.

I probably could just let the story simply rest as an explanation for the struggles of being a woman, but then St. Paul offers an interpretation of this story that leaves me scratching my head again:

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. -1 Timoth 3:11-14

With regard to St. Paul’s words, I know deep in my heart that St. Paul would personally encourage me to come learn about Jesus and that he would welcome me as his sister in Christ.  I appreciate how he commends many women in his letters and I don’t want to paint him as a man who does not appreciate women; he gets enough grief from others.  That being said, I would love to ask him:  Why focus on the punishment rather than finding a way to make life more like it was in paradise?  The Bible tells us that we are all created in the image of God, male and female.  In chapter 2 of Genesis, Adam and Eve were so close and dear to one another.  Where there’s love and mutual respect, each person’s voice is heard and taken into consideration.  This sounds a lot more like paradise to me, and every day I pray, “Thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”  Holding women to something that Eve did thousands of years ago seems inconsistent with the overall message of freedom, forgiveness, and grace found in Paul’s letters, especially when we see how quick he is to proclaim that Jesus overcame Adam’s transgression.

St. Paul’s Challenging Theology of Redemption.

As Christians, we tend to read and interpret Genesis 3 through the lens of St. Paul, who refers to the story often in his writings.  In Romans 5, St. Paul draws parallels between Adam’s disobedience and the obedience of Jesus, between Adam bringing death through his sin and Jesus bringing the promise of eternal life. Paul shared his understanding that both Adam’s trespass and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ have universal implications:  “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18)  When Jesus hung on the tree, he took the curse of death upon himself; he met humanity in our experience of death so that we might share with him in the experience of resurrected life.  In attempts to explain this mystery Christians turn to big words like forgiveness, liberation, expiation, redemption, and justification.  Our sins and transgressions are expiated by Jesus’ death on the cross so that his righteousness takes the place of our unrighteousness, his obedience for our disobedience, his holiness for our unholiness.  In this exchange, Jesus takes on our sin and pays the ransom himself so that we may be redeemed.  When we accept by faith what Jesus has done for us, we are justified, no longer guilty before God.  We still face death, but Christians claim that death has lost its sting.  Just as Jesus shared in our death, we will share in resurrection life.

Reading the story of the fall again, I took heart noting that as God was passing out the consequence of sin, he also promised a savior and offered hope for the future through the offspring of Eve.  To the snake God said:  “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  (Genesis 2:15)  Christ’s feet were nailed to the cross and we can be assured that the head of the serpent will be crushed.  Eve’s most precious and lasting legacy is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s what found it’s way into my margins…I fell back on using my favorites, micron pens and colored pencils.


Getting to Know Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Tombow Dual Brush Markers Overview…

What they are:  High quality water-based markers with a brush tip and fine tip.

Why they are great for Bible Journaling:  Many high-end blendable markers are alchohol-based and are designed to bleed so that brush strokes completely disappear.  Tombow markers work better on thin Bible pages since they are water-based and odor-free.  They come in 96 colors, which makes it easy to find a light, middle, and dark color for creating a blended, three-dimensional look.  The brush tip makes brush lettering easy.

Page prep needed:  Gesso, strongly recommended.

Ideas:  Writing, doodling, brush lettering, coloring, stamping

These markers were a Christmas present from my husband.  He definitely knows the way to my heart!  As it turns out, ninety-six colors is a lot of colors.  I did my best to sort them in rainbow order.  My eyes were exhausted at the end of the exercise!  I’m not sure that I have all the colors listed the way the company would categorize them, but this will give you an idea….


The nice thing about having so many colors to choose from is that it’s easy to find colors that work together well for creating a shaded look.

After my most recent post on the story of Creation in the Garden of Eden, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how simple the Biblical version of paradise really is:  A garden to care for and a wife to love.  In Ecclesiastes, Solomon comes away with this conclusion about life that seems to go write back to the simple picture of paradise painted in the garden of Eden:  The best thing for us is to simply enjoy our toil and find someone to share our life with.  I illustrated a few verses from Ecclesiastes that came to mind as I thought about the Creation story…

The Tombow markers are fun for just writing and doodling….(I put geso down on the page first.


They also work great for stamping.  I love the Homespun Alphabet Stamps from Illustrated Faith, but they are so big that I don’t think they work well inked in black on Bible pages, but I found that if I colored the stamps with the Tombows it created a nice translucent effect….(After coloring the stamp, I just huffed on the stamp with my breath to introduce a little extra moisture before stamping.  I painted this page with gesso first, too.)


And the loveliest things about Tombow brush markers is that it’s really easy to do brush lettering.  I followed the style of Dawn Nicole and wrote out this verse with my Tombow Brush pen.  I also colored in some stamps from Growing Meadows….


In all the examples above I coated the page with gesso first.  I was wondering what would happen if I didn’t.  I’ve run out of pages in the back of my Bible, so I tested the markers in the preface by stamping and writing out one of my favorite hymns.  The pens don’t exactly bleed, but they shadow in a distracting way, so I think I’ll keep using the gesso with these pens.  I had a little bleedthrough in one spot where I stamped a small star….

more love to thee

I wouldn’t say that Tombow Dual Brush markers are an absolute must-have for Bible Journaling, but they would definitely be part of my version of paradise!

Here’s one more neat thing you can do with these markers….




The Second Creation Story

I once had a friend tell me that it caused a bit of a spiritual crisis for him when he studied the story of creation and the story of Adam and Eve more closely.  (So I hope this post doesn’t upset anyone!)  He was all of the sudden troubled by the discrepancies.  In the story of Adam and Eve, the land is dry and a mist rises up; in the creation story there is water everywhere and finally dry earth on the third day.  In the story of Adam and Eve, God creates man out of dust and then plants the garden and makes the animals.  In the creation story, male and female are created on the sixth day as the grand finale before God rests.  The culmination of the Genesis 2 story is the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib.  I made myself a little page of notes to keep all this straight in my head.


What to make of the discrepancies?  Through the years, many people have gone to a lot of trouble to reconcile the stories creating elaborate explanations and solving the riddles by suggesting new characters (a first wife for Adam named Lilith?).  But honestly, I think the simplest answer is that there were two ancient creation stories that were both considered sacred, and they both got preserved in the Bible.  What makes both stories sacred is that to this day, they still provide lots of material for discussion.  They offer insight into God and express something fundamental about what it means to be human.  We read the Bible with a modern mindset and expect consistency, but maybe hundreds of years ago when the words were first written down it was more important to preserve the stories than to reconcile them.  And I am grateful because of I love them both!  Maybe the two passages had different purposes.  The first creation story seems to go well with priestly literature, especially passages about the Sabbath.  The second creation story seems to go well with wisdom literature, especially Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

It astonishes me how much food for thought can be found in the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.  If I were a pastor, I could probably start a dozen or so sermons with just Genesis 2 as the reading.  Here’s just a few ideas that pop easily into my head….

  • Christian vocation–even in paradise Adam had work to do: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”  (Genesis 2:15)  I’d draw on scripture from Ecclesiastes, too:  “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.”  (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
  • Ten Commandments–“even in paradise there were limitations.”
  • God’s breath: God breathed life into Adam, life into scripture, and life into us through scripture.  I’d build upon this verse:  “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • Rivers in the Bible: It’s nice to daydream about rivers flowing out of Paradise and what they would bring to us.  This makes me think of Amos:  “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like and everflowing stream.”  (Amos 5:24)
  • God’s provision: “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” (Genesis 2:9)  Maybe I’d incorporate a reflection on Psalms 34:  “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  (Psalms 34:8.)
  • Humility: I’d go to Ecclesiastes: “All go to one place.  All are from the dust, and to dust all return.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:20)
  • The Function of Language: Words can be used to name things and express love as they are in Genesis 2, but they can also be used for lying, tricking, and gossiping.  For this sermon, I would pair this passage with “Finanlly, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  (Philippians 4:8)
  • Womanhood:  I love that the first recorded human words in the Bible are an expression of true love.  I’d have to draw on Proverbs 31 for this:  “An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.”  (Proverbs 31:10)
  • Marriage and what it means to be created for relationships (I’ve heard this sermon recently!): I’d draw on Ecclesiastes again:  “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
  • Then I would ponder the mystery of Adam’s rib and how that prefigures the creation of the church from the body of Christ in a 4-part sermon series.
    • Baptism and Communion: Instead of the rib of Christ, the gospel of John gives a pierced side flowing water and blood (John 19:35).  I could envision a sermon on how the church comes into being through the sacraments of baptism and communion.
    • Body of Christ: Paul frequently refers to the church as the body of Christ.  For example, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  (1 Corinthians 12:27)
    • Bride of Christ: Paul refers to the Genesis story when he writes:  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
    • The resurrection: Adam woke from his sleep; Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

It strikes me a bit funny that there are about 50 chapters on the building of the Tabernacle, and by contrast, just two chapters on the creation of the entire universe.  Despite the succinctness of both stories, they seem inexhaustible in terms of the wisdom in every verse.

Here’s what found its way into my margins…I used a beautiful stamp designed by Jamie Dougherty as part of the Prima Creating in Faith Collection.  I think the stamp is worthy of the moment that Adam first lays eyes on Eve and says:  “This at last is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh!”  (I put gesso on the page and used Distress Inks as watercolors.)

How to Host a Bible Journaling Open House

While I was at the Illustrated Faith event in Virginia, I had the opportunity to meet Connie Denninger and see her studio where friends from her neighborhood gather to do Bible Journaling and other creative endeavors.  While I was standing in her studio, I felt that nudge from the Holy Spirit…”You can do this.”  Immediately I felt the protest begin:  “but I live in a messy, little home.”  But the sense that I just need to do this persisted.  So I called Connie and she gave me some tips:

  • Practicing hospitality is different than entertaining. It’s simply opening your home and welcoming others.
  • It’s ok to “Clear a path,” especially with small children in the home.
  • Whatever you decide to do, keep it simple. Imagine doing the same thing 100 times.

So with these things in mind, I invited a friend and her children over.  I had coffee, cookies, and M&Ms.  I cleared off our kitchen table and set out art supplies.  The older kids spent an hour in their Bibles (believe it or not)!  I have taught Sunday school forever, and I’ve read Bible stories with my son at bedtime, but it was a new experience to be in my home talking with kids about Bible stories.  I am going to do my best to make this a regular weekly practice at our home!  If it’s just our children and me, that’s ok, and if friends want to join us that’s awesome!


Fun with Crayola

The Bible Journaling trend took shape within the world of scrapbookers and papercrafters, so most of the sources I have read suggested some pretty fancy art supplies for Bible Journaling.  I happen to enjoy fancy art supplies a whole lot (maybe more than chocolate and jewelry!), and my current addiction has been fueled most of all by Rebekah R. Jones, who has absolutely wonderful art tutorials on many, many products.  Now that my son has started Bible Journaling along with me, I found myself wondering what kid art supplies would work well.  I decided there’s no way to find out without giving them a try.  I picked a theme:  “God’s love for us,” gathered some art supplies, and had so much fun.  It’s surprisingly liberating to use simple, kid supplies.  When you give up trying to create a masterpiece, sometimes it’s easier to create something good.  One thing that I’ve learned from a year of Bible Journaling is that Bible pages are more accepting and forgiving than I would have imagined.


Crayola Products Overview…

What they are:  Art supplies designed for kids

Why they are great for Bible Journaling:  They are inexpensive and widely available.  The Crayola palate is bright and cheerful.

Page prep needed:  None for crayons, water color pencils, Crayola twistables, Kid paint, or acrylic paint.  Gesso for markers.  (Even with four coats of gesso, the Crayola water colors still bled through my page, so maybe go with a different brand of watercolor paint.)

Ideas:  Many techniques that are demonstrated with fancier art supplies can be achieved with Crayola products.

Fancy art supplies that work well with Crayola products:  Prima Art Basics Gesso, Staz-on Ink and clear acrylic stamps, Sigma Micron pens, especially the Graphic 1.

It occurred to me as I put worked through some of these pages that this is a pretty good introduction to a bunch of easy Bible Journaling techniques.

First tip:

Test any supplies on the back pages of your Bible.

crayola products

I discovered that the Crayola classic markers and the Crayola washable Supertip markers both bled badly.  It really surprised me that the Crayola water colors bled so badly.  I’ve used many different water colors in my Bible without any bleedthrough troubles.  Of the supplies I tried for the first time, I was most pleasantly supplied with the Washable kids paint.  It dries a little chalky (kind of like Artist Loft watercolors), but it doesn’t bleedthrough and it has a pleasant smell (unlike most tempera paint I’ve used).

It might be worth noting here the difference between shadowing and bleedthrough.  With shadowing you can see the underlying image.  With bleedthrough, the ink seeps through the page.  I find that I can live with shadowing, but I do my best to avoid bleedthrough.  (Everyone will find their own preference with these problems!).  For example, above, the acrylic paint shadowed, but did not bleed through.

The first page I tried with my new supplies….


For this page, I first lightly penciled in the lettering.  Here’s a few tips for hand lettering:

  • First write out the verse, quote, or song lyrics on a piece of scrap paper.
  • Circle the words to be the focus.
  • Practice a few ways of writing the phrase.
  • Think of drawing the letters rather than writing the letters; this makes it a little easier to get a pleasing shape to the letters.
  • If you want the text to be centered, find the center of the phrase and start with the letter in the middle, working outwards on both sides.
  • Write the letters lightly in pencil.  Then write with micron pens.
  • It’s easy to draw bubble letters if you first just write the letter and then draw an outline around it.  Once you have traced the pen with microns, you can erase the inside line.
  • Do pencil work (and the micron pen work if desired) before adding gesso.  It’s really hard to erase pencil off a surface with gesso.

After the letters were penciled in, I applied gesso with a foam brush.  I used crayola markers to color the letters.  Then I painted a little rainbow with the acrylic paints.  The acrylic paints were nice to use.  They have a really matte finish, which works well in the Bible.  (Sometimes really glossy acryilic paints can stick to the other page.)  The paint dries a little rough to the touch, but I was overall happy with them.

Up next, I tried twistable pencils…008

My box of twistable pencils included about five in neon colors, which work really nicely as Bible highlighters (with no worry about bleed through).  The twistable pencils had vibrant color.  I found I had to work a little hard to get the color on the super-smooth Bible paper and that it was hard to achieve any kind of shading or blending, but they add bright color.

Then I tried the Twistable crayons…(I was not as big of fan!)  I just found that it was hard to get the color to go where I wanted it to go and that the color was not as vibrant as the pencils.  The colors didn’t shade or blend well.  I found myself wondering:  “What’s the point?”  And then I watched my daughter scribble with them.  She loves them!  They don’t break and are super fun for young children to use.  I found they work best, coloring large areas, so I drew a little flower bouquet.  I used a super-fine Micron 005 for the drawing and a Graphic 1 for the lettering.


Up next, I tried the Crayola colored pencils, which felt like coming home after using the Twistables.  Colored pencils are definitely the most natural medium to use on thin, smooth Bible pages.  With the Crayola pencils it was possible to achieve some shaking and color blending.


And then I opened up my box of 64 Crayola crayons.  Is it weird that I really love the palette included in the box of 64 crayons and still know most of the color names by heart?  I still love a new box of crayons and a coloring book, but I find crayons work so much better on paper with some texture, like newsprint, than they do on Bible pages.  I couldn’t achieve shading, which is ordinarily super-easy with crayons, just solid color.   Crayons work fine for highlighting text.  I pictured myself making a coloring page in the margins of my Bible, which I drew with pencil and then traced with a Graphic 1 pen.  Then I just had fun coloring with some of my favorite colors:  carnation pink, sea green, indigo, and violet…


I had fun just playing with the Crayola classic markers.  Lots of the techniques I’ve seen demonstrated with Distress Markers actually work quite well with Crayola.  Of course, it’s a much different palette!  (Yes, I colored my salad plate with Crayola markers.  Shhh!  Don’t tell my mother!  I think it’s more customary to use a craft mat or ceramic tile.)


I was most excited to try stamping with Crayola markers.  The bright colors are super fun with the letter stamps that I purchased from Growing Meadows Etsy Shop.  (My acrylic block is black form Staz-on ink.  The ink really stays on!)  When stamping with markers, it is recommended that you “huff” with your breath (not blow) on the stamp just before stamping to introduce a little extra moisture to activate the ink.


I also discovered that it is super easy to create brush writing with fat Classic Crayola  markers by simply use more pressure on the down stroke and less pressure on the upstroke.  The only trouble for Bible Journaling is the large size of the letters this creates.  (If you would like to see some awesome Crayolography inspiration check out the blog “In a Brush.”  Colin Tierney does the most beautiful hand lettering with Crayola markers.  He even works magic with ink injected into a chili pepper!  Sadly, I’ve discovered that better art supplies won’t automatically make you a better artist.)  Here’s my first attempt at brush lettering with Crayolas…(I applied two coats of gesso to this page before beginning!)


Next up, I had some fun with Crayola Kids Paint.  I discovered that the paint blends well and holds a brush stroke, which creates some neat effects…(The beautiful book on the left is from an Illustrated Faith devotional kit, but the paint on the paper to right is just kids’ paint.)


It didn’t work quite as well when I tried the same thing in my Bible, but it wasn’t a complete disaster either.  I started out by creating some letters out of masking tape.  Just a tip, it’s so much better to lift the tape off the wax paper and cut out the letters than it is to cut through the waxed paper.  It’s so frustrating to get the waxed paper backing off the back of tiny letters….

stencil letters

Then I just painted the page.  I did not bother prepping the page with gesso.  I applied more paint than I meant to apply, but still had absolutely no bleedthrough.  I ended up covering part of the text, but the paint is transparent enough to still be able to read the it.


I also tried just painting a stamp.  The stamps are from the Growing Meadow Etsy shop and I used Staz-on ink.  This time I did put gesso down first since I wanted to use the Crayola markers for my lettering….I tried just spattering a bit of paint on the page for a fun effect.


Finally, I tried Crayola waterpaints.  I decided to use a new stamp set that I have from Illustrated Faith to go with the verse, “For you are of more value than many sparrows” as just one more expression of how God loves us.  The verse happened to be on the back of a page where I did experience some bleedthrough on one of the first pages that I did…


To solve the problem, I simply applied a coat of clear gesso to the whole page.  Then I applied two coats of white gesso to the margin area.  Then I applied another coat of clear gesso to the whole page.  I then proceeded to paint with water colors.  It’s been a long time since I’ve used Crayola water colors.  A couple things I remember from art classes at school:  1)  It helps to add a little water to each of the colors and let the paint sit for more vibrant color.  2)  If you add a little water to the page first, it’s possible to create a neat sunset effect.

Then I added my stamps.  I’ll share just a few tips for stamping, too:

  • The clear acrylic stamps work with clear acrylic blocks that are purchased separately.  The advantage of using clear stamps is that it is so much easier to judge placement correctly than with wood stamps.
  • I’ve been using Staz-on ink pads because I read that they don’t bleed through the paper as badly as some other ink pads.  When they are brand new, however, and super juicy, they do bleed, so I’ve been just putting gesso down whenever I stamp.
  • Place the clean acrylic stamps on your Bible page exactly where you would like them to go face down and then pick them up by placing an acrylic block on top of them.  That way the layout is perfect.  This is especially helpful if you are using a few stamps at once.  I took these pictures while making my rough draft…


  • Before stamping in the Bible stamp a few times on scrap paper.  Sometimes the first time you put ink on a stamp it isn’t fully coated.  By the second or third stamp, the stamp usually turns out better.
  • Place a mat of some kind under the Bible page to get a better impression.  I’ve been using the Stamper’s Secret Weaopon.  (A mouse pad could be a good substitute if you have one.)  It’s tough stamping in the Bible because you just get one chance.  A mat of some kind helps the odds be in your favor.
  • If the stamped impression does not turn out the way you like, you can always go back and fill in missed spots with a micron pen.

Here’s how the final page turned out.  (Notice most of the shadowing and bleedthrough from the original page can’t be seen anymore!)…


But even with four coats of gesso the Crayola water colors bled through…(maybe these are not the best choice for Bible art; I had better luck with the Artist Loft brand from Michael’s.)  Fortunately, in this case, the colors work just as well on this page…046

Well, aside from the Crayola water colors, which just really seem to want to bleed through the page, most of these simple, every day products seemed to work ok.

I hope in some small way these pictures have inspired you to create and play in your Bible using whatever supplies you may have at hand.  Most of all, I hope that the passages I illustrated remind you of just how loved you are by God.







In the Beginning

This is the first of what I hope will be a long series, simply journaling through the Bible stories that I want my children to know.  As I share these stories with my children, I thought I might as well share them with everyone.

It should be clear by now that I have a deep love for the Bible.  As I share my thoughts on the creation story, I feel I should explain that I don’t read the Bible as a fact book or a rule book.  I do my best to take the message of the Bible as a whole and balance everything I read with the declaration by Jesus that the most important commandments are to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  I also read widely and expect the Bible to hold up in light of what I have learned through history and science about the universe.  If I read something in the Bible that doesn’t make sense, I don’t disregard it, I just say to myself, “Maybe I need to consider this text in a new light.”  I begin to think of the text as a riddle—it must be true in some way other than the obvious.  I think the words “In the beginning, God created” is the best beginning to any book ever!  I love knowing that God is creative and that we are created in the image of God be creative, too.  This knowledge gives me confidence to color and paint and doodle away on the pages of my Bible.  What a fun and wonderful way to honor and love a creative God!

That being said, if people are encouraged to read the creation story as factual, they could very well say: “There’s no way the world was created in seven days or that God would make plants before God created the sun” and read no further, which would be a shame.  So I would encourage everyone to read the story as true just not absolutely factual.  Below are just a few beautiful truths that I see clearly spoken in the creation story:

  • God created the heavens and the earth.
  • God is present from the beginning, hovering over the face of the waters.
  • In the creation story, God simply speaks creation into being. God’s Word is powerful force, shaping the world for good. (Our words our powerful, too, and shape our experience of life.)
  • Every person is created in the image of God with the innate ability to create, to love, and to see the good.
  • God has blessed humans and created the world to be a good place.
  • We are charged with being good stewards of the earth.
  • The creation story sets up a lovely rhythm for life, which is truly meant as gift to us.
  • God loves us!

As I illustrated the verse, I pondered certain unresolved questions I have about the creation story.  It has always really bothered me that the plants appear before the sun is in the sky.  I asked my eight-year-old about this, and he suggested that God’s face is so bright it can grow plants, which is a reasonably good explanation!  As a doodled, I found myself wondering (and this is a bear with me moment!) what if the creation story isn’t about what happened, but about God’s overall plan?  What if the story is meant to be read as foretelling events?

  • Day 1 : Paul tells us that Jesus Christ is the firstborn of all creation.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus is introduced as the true light that gives light to the world.  Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”  I began pondering the meaning of these things in relation to God’s first command “Let there be light.”
  • Day 2: A separation of the heavens and the earth—Is this suggestive of the fall?  The earth becomes separated from heaven.
  • Day 3: For Christians, the third day rings with all kinds of significance.  On the third day, Christ rose from the dead.  In the creation story, the earth rises and comes to life with green vegetation.  Maybe the plants on day three are symbolic of our new life in Christ.
  • Day 4: It’s not just that the sun and the moon appear in the sky on the fourth day, but that they begin to be used to keep track of the years and the seasons.  It’s curious that in the West, we count the years from the time of Christ.
  • Day 5: Maybe the fish and the birds represent ways that the gospel message would be spread, by sea and by air.
  • Day 6: When the Word of God reaches us, we begin to live more fully into the image of God.
  • Day 7: Maybe God won’t really rest until we fully reflect what it means to be created in the image of God.

A couple other verses swirled around my head as I pondered this passage….

  • For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.  Psalm 90:4
  • Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  Psalm 121:4.

Spending time illustrating this verse gave me time to ponder the passage in an entirely new way.  While my mind is satisfied by the flow of my newest reading, my heart prefers to read the creation story as accomplished fact rather than aspirational, to know that the world is a good place created by God and that each and every one of us is created in the image of God with the ability to create, to love, and to see the good.  There’s something ennobling about a much simpler reading:  “As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be!”  MAY IT BE SO!

Here’s what found its way into my margins.  I borrowed the overall concept for this page from a post by Donna Zachry in the Facebook Group Journaling Bible Community.  (I had to really hunt to find it again!) I’ve seen the first page of Genesis illustrated many ways, and this stood out in my memory for its ability to communicate so much about the creation story in a single image.  (This was the scariest page to do ever!  It should get easier, right?)  For this page, I penciled the design first, put down two coats of gesso, and colored with Tombow markers.


If it’s helpful, I made a template for the bubble letters, which I’ll share below.  I just print the template on card stock, cut out the letters, and traced them.  (I plan on helping my son recreate a similar page in his Bible!).

create template

Getting to Know Inktense Pencils

Art supplies were on my wish list for Christmas, and I was very blessed this year by the arrival of many new supplies!  As I’ve gained a better sense of what art supplies work well in the Bible, I would like to turn my attention to learning how to use the supplies I have better.  I decided from time to time, I will share just a “review” and “how to” and that I would start with my new Inktense Pencils from Derwent.

Inktense Pencils from Derwent Overview…

  • What they are:  Ink in pencil form; once activated with water the ink dries to a permanent color.
  • Why they are great for Bible Journaling:  Very little water achieves intense color; good control over where the color goes; the colors blend nicely when wet and can be layered once dry without creating a muddy effect; great for any type of multimedia work.
  • Page prep needed:  Use gesso for best effect
  • Ideas:  Coloring a stamp or coloring page traced into the Bible, background color, freehand illustration.  (Can be used to color fabric, too.  Just good to know!)

The first challenge for me with the Inktense pencils was getting familiar with the colors.  I wish that it was easier to look at the pencil and guess the final color.  I made myself a couple of charts, one dry and one where I colored just 1/3 of the square and used a wet brush to drag the paint across the square.

inktense colors

Some of the colors really surprised me once I added water.  They looked so different from the dry version.  I just used plain copy paper and found that it was a little hard to make the pencil lines disappear after adding water.  It’s clear on the picture above where I colored and where I dragged the ink.

I played around a little just coloring a coloring page I found online…

coloring page

I just colored the inside edge of the lines on the coloring page with the pencil and then painted each area with a damp brush.  I mixed the water with the ink just a little and then painted.  I did the same coloring page twice, once without gesso and once with gesso.  I found that it was much easier to activate the ink on the page with gesso and that the lines from the pencils totally disappeared on the page with gesso and that the color was more vibrant.  The pencil lines were still slightly visable on the unprepped page.

Next I tried coloring in an image that I stamped in my bible.  Once again, I just colored the inside edge of the lines and painted each area with a damp brush.  What was totally awesome was how easy it was to keep the ink in the tiny little spaces.  The colors all stayed true….(I used regular water color paint for the background and the stamp is from Winnie and Walter.)


I loved spending time with this passage.  I found myself singing a line from Rich Mullin’s song “Step by Step”, which found it’s way into the margins:  “Sometimes I think of Abraham, how one star he saw had been lit for me.”  In this passage, the promise is repeated to Isaac.  When I stop to think that I am part of a promise made to Abraham and Isaac thousands of years ago and that I live in a nation that has been richly blessed through the Word of God, though how it helped shape our nation at its founding, I feel humbled and in awe.  I also find it deeply touching that when we are called by God and step out in faith, it is so that we can be a blessing to others.

I also wanted to try using Inktense pencils for background color.  I’ve found that it is hard to erase pencil from a surface that has been prepped with gesso.  I usually write in pencil first, then trace the pencil with micron pens and erase the pencil marks (before putting down the gesso).  I used green sticky notes to mask off the margins, added a layer of gesso and then just lightly added some Inktense pencils to the background, overlapping the colors as I went.  (It’s hard to see on the picture on the right below….)

in progress

But once, I added color the ink came to life.  My husband says that he likes the effect of the Inktesne pencils better than my water colors in the previous entry.  Once the color dried, I went back over the lettering with a thicker micron pen and added some detail.  I think this assurance from St. Paul, pairs very nicely with the promise made to Abraham and Isaac.  We are God’s workmanship, created to be a blessing: