Painted with His Grace

It has been on my heart to feature other artists journaling in their Bible.  It felt like an answer to prayer when Lisa Nichols Hickman contacted me about writing this post about a lady she met at the Illustrated Faith event in Virginia.  Thank you Lisa for this guest post!-Sally

Journaling the Bible with Melissa by Lisa Nichols Hickman

If you’ve ever seen the pink-tinged petals on the Georgia state flower, the Cherokee Rose, then you’ve caught a glimpse of what the margins of Melissa Brumbelow Noren’s Bible look like – they are painted with grace.


I met Melissa at the Illustrated Faith event in Springfield, Virginia last November. As soon as she began to share her Bible journaling story, I knew this Georgia gal was something special.

After languishing on the waiting list for week, she got up at the crack of dawn to drive to the event from southern Maryland when she learned twelve hours earlier a coveted spot opened up.


Prior to Bible journaling, her faith life was solely dependent on the tiny little church where she and her husband worship in the pastor’s basement with a community of believers. They found the church once they decided to stop bar-hopping and go church-shopping.

Finding that church wasn’t easy. One Sunday when visiting a more traditional church community, a congregation a member asked, “What is it that you are looking for in a church?”

Melissa answered, “I’m not quite sure I know what we’re searching for but we’ve been moved in our hearts to get back to church and find a church home.”

“Huh.” The woman responded.

A friend at work was much more helpful in the search. Rabbi Nick, a Messianic Jew who works with Melissa at the power plant, gave here a challenge. “Melissa, I know you are searching. I want to give you a challenge. I want you to spend as much time reading the Bible as you do fixing your hair in the morning.”

“But wait, what’s wrong with my hair.” Melissa responded.

“I love that big southern hair of yours,” Nick replied, “but try it and see what happens.”

So now, every morning, Melissa journals with her Bible for forty-five minutes in addition to her usual routine before going to work.

Looking back, Rabbi Nick was the one who painted the way for Melissa’s Bible journaling. “I want you to highlight throughout your Bible and get to writing. Write down your questions in the margins. Write down what speaks to you. Then, we’ll meet for lunch at work and talk about what God is saying to you in scripture.”

Melissa says, “I didn’t get nervous. I just started doing it. And I loved it!”

As she continued in the margins, she logged onto Pinterest and discovered the images from Shanna Noel’s Bible. Then she read Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible and started doing the prompts. Now, Melissa’s go-to Pinterest site is Doodle 101.

Her favorite journaling Bible is simple, but perfect for Melissa’s southern spirit, a plain Black ESV journaling Bible. In its margins, she’s found a bit of what she was searching for in her faith development: the opportunity to have a conversation with Christ and deepen that relationship.

Psalm 139

After months of back and forth sharing, Bible journaling is as natural as breathing.


Nick gave her another challenge. “Now, Melissa, you’ve found a ministry. You have to go and serve.”

Next week, we’ll hear the beauty of what unfolded when Melissa began to share Bible journaling with others both in her workplace and in her larger community. That story, prompted by Nick’s challenge, involves a large collection box surreptitiously placed by her desk at work for co-workers to donate extra Bibles for a Bible journaling retreat with kids at risk.


If you want to paint your Bible with a little bit of Southern charm, check out these chalkboard style paints with names that ooze Southern hospitality: Butter Pecan, Gulf Dreams, Carolina Fields, Mississippi Mist, Buttery Grits, Georgia Peach, and Magnolia.

Melissa learned the ‘paint swipe’ technique at the Illustrated Faith event. Squeeze the paint onto a flat surface, then take a credit card and dip it into the paint. Swipe that across the margin of your Bible. The first time is a little wild, but trust the spirit and go light on the paint at first. Much better use for your credit card and the freestyle technique always reveals something lovely and surprising– not unlike that grace with which we are all painted.


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