IT’S MUCH MORE THAN A HOBBY…IT’S THE WAY GOD DRAWS ME IN

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

In September, I met blogger Karen Kondziella Hunter at a Visual Faith event led by Connie Denninger. I instantly knew Karen was pretty amazing.  I think you’ll see in her reflection here – just how so!  Here’s her journey with Bible journaling, in her own words:

“Before I discovered Bible journaling, I was already bringing my faith and love for paper crafts together. In my home church and online I was hosting and teaching classes that showed others how to bring their faith more deliberately into their scrapbook pages and other craft projects. In late 2014 I was perusing Pinterest and came across photos of colorful Bible pages and was immediately hooked.

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I had never thought to draw and paint right in a Bible, but I knew I wanted to do it. My heart did a little joyful leap at the thought of interacting with the Word in such a creative and hands-on way. I quickly purchased my first journaling Bible and jumped right in. Since then, creative journaling has been an integral part of my devotion, bible study, and prayer time.

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When I first started journaling in my Bible I was also going through a bit of an identity crisis (moving from a successful teaching career to being a full-time mom) as well as a difficult season in a close friendship. The more time I spent in the Word, the more God revealed to me that my worth and my identity is found in Him – not in what I did or didn’t do and not in who my friends were or weren’t. Looking back at those entries from that season I can see God’s gentle, yet firm hand as He helped boost my confidence as His daughter and heal my fragile heart from a broken friendship.

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Not too long ago, we began to consider a move to another state. This was a big decision for our family and Bible journaling was an important part of my praying over this major life change and seeking God’s wisdom and guidance. Looking at those entries in my Bible affirms and reminds me that God walks alongside us through all of life’s changes and challenges and He will give us guidance and direction when we ask for it.

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Since I began Bible journaling, I have been more consistently in God’s Word than I ever was before. That time spent has also been more fruitful and rewarding as I paint, pray, and journal – turning over and meditating on the Word.

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Yes, I find joy in creating art, but creating art with the Word as my primary focus results in so much more than just an end product. The primary joy for me is the confidence of Christ’s nearness to me. I also feel a great joy knowing that God is blessing my art when I share it. He has used me to inspire others to spend more time in the Word and grasp that joy for themselves.

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Acrylic paints are my go-to for bright colors that don’t bleed through thinner Bible pages. Applied thinly, they also dry quickly so I can get on to the lettering and journaling. I also use a lot of alphabet stickers (many from my scrapbooking stash). I’ve been using more and more stamps as manufacturers are recognizing the popularity of faith-related crafting and so many choices are being made available. The right pen is also important to me – I typically use Pigma Micron pens in various sizes.

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At the beginning of the year I compiled a slide show of 100 of my Bible Journaling pages from 2016. As I looked through these entries, there were so many “favorites.” Each entry represents intimate time with God and a relationship that grows closer and better every day. Bible journaling has made me see the Word as living and active in my life. It’s not a trend or hobby – it’s the way God created me to draw me in to a life walking alongside Christ.”

Check out Karen’s blog at:  http://karenscraps.blogspot.com

CELEBRATING ONE YEAR OF BIBLE JOURNALING WITH BRITTNEY VAKESIA MICHAEL

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

I first noticed Brittney Michael’s work on the Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling Facebook page.  Perhaps it was her middle name – Sfarzoso – (which means ‘gorgeous’ in Italian) that captured my attention.

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I reached out to her to get to know her a bit and to learn about her past year of Bible journaling.  Here’s what she said:

“I am married we do not have children but hope to have some in the future. I am currently in graduate school for the (human services program) to obtain my Masters of Science degree. I am a nature person! I love nature I and my husband and I like to take walks through the park and trails walks. We like to ride our bikes together! I basically love anything that is nature. My favorite hobby is arts and crafts. I am very artistic and unique. I hope to some day to travel the world. I am a firm believer that God sent his Son to die on the cross for my sins I love Jesus. I also like having quiet time in my prayer closet to meditate, study and pray to my father.

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I got started Bible journaling when a church member from Center Point Church in Warner Robins, Georgia offered group classes to educate anyone who was interested. I started following her on Facebook and she had a page and I observed and asked questions. She referred me to the bible journaling group founder Darlene and thats when my world changed. I started in February 2016. Soon it will be one full year in February 2017.

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Bible journaling is a vital part of my life because it help me grow spiritually and make my walk with God more intimate. Bible journaling has helped me read the word of God with excitement and not be a “bore” like before. Bible journaling allows me to worship God in spirit and in truth. I can praise the Lord with my bible journaling and I can express myself better through in the bible (like doodling throughout the bible). Bible journaling helps me to understand what I am reading and helps me remember what I need to remember.

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One day I was reading the book of Genesis 22:14 NLT and I was currently going through somethings financially and God spoke through his word that reads Yahweh-Yireh (which means “The Lord Will Provide”). That moment mattered to me and helped in a difficult time.

Being a nature person – I loved this text from Proverbs – which uses even ants to teach me a lesson!

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I like to use Crayola colored pencils, crayola markers (only if I use it in certain sections of the bible) I haven’t used gesso yet though (gesso prep your pages so the material used won’t bleed through, Washi tape, pencils, gel pens, gelatos paints, stickers, scrapbook paper, print outs, tip ins, glue, glitter, double sided tape, tape, easer, pencil sharpener, bible tab, and highlighters.”

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Rainbows, Recycled Folk Art and a Really Cool Van…Meet Bible Journaling

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

This week the Bible Journaling of Peggy Buckley Thibodeau caught my eye.  Perhaps it was her French-Canadian last name, or maybe her title of “Recycled Folk Artist”, or perhaps it was her painted van she drives around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Or perhaps, it was her story – a testimony to twenty years of sobriety.  Whatever the draw – I knew I had to reach out and get to know her a bit.  And I thought you might enjoy listening in to her story.  Here’s what Peggy had to say:

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“Thirteen years ago, I couldn’t draw a stick figure. Then I began my folk art journey. After painting for 12 years, a friend invited me to a Bible journaling event. My creative juices flowed and my eyes opened to all that is possible. I started with basic words in colored pencils. I’ve used pencil, gelatos, and gel pens. My first watercolor page struck my artist’s soul because of the vibrant color! I’m all about color! As a kid, I had a huge rainbow painted in my bedroom.

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Bible journaling is such a joy for me. I’ve been a student of the Word for 20 years, but Bible journaling has taught me to understand Bible stories visually. This takes them from my head to my heart. Sometimes, I’ll be studying the Bible, and I’ll get a picture in my head. Then I search the internet to find ideas to make it a reality on the page.

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Other times I’ll see a photo and think, “Where can I put that in my Bible?” This catapults me into topical scripture study, until I find where it fits. I’ve learned so much this way!

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Still other times, God will ask me a question. Once He asked me “what are you saved from, Peggy?” It caused me to study! I came up with Romans 5:9 and Matthew 1:21 and it was the impetus that led to the life preserver page.

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On rare occasions, I just sit down with my Bible and a pencil.

But usually, my designs begin on the computer. I’m blessed to be proficient at Microsoft Publisher. I’ll scan my Bible page, put it into Publisher, then copy and paste images and words. Sometimes I trace onto deli paper and play with the sketch, reworking it. It only gets traced into my Bible when I’m satisfied with it. I trace in pencil, then go over it with Micron or Pitt pen. Then I splash in a little watercolor. I usually do the background in chalk pastel because my finished page is less wrinkled that way. I want the focus to be on the sketch and the words, so it’s fine if the background is softer.

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For me, the process of creating gets me “in the zone”. Often, as I’m creating a page, God will speak to me about the scriptures. It’s amazing! It’s overwhelming! It’s hard to describe! I’ll have this awareness that my hands and heart are being guided by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the finished page looks completely different from what I expected or envisioned. This may seem weird, but what else can you expect from the Holy Spirit?! Anything can happen when He’s in charge! God is so honored when we want to create in the image of His creativity.

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I wish I could say that God solves problems or addresses my struggles through Bible journaling. But my life is so wonderful and stable since God lifted the yoke of alcoholism from me 20 years ago. I know I’m born again because I’ve been changed! I was a sick and selfish person and I’ve grown so much. The Bible changed my life. I study every day and it rubbed off my rough edges and caused me to grow up. Bible journaling has been an extension of that growth, a continuation of that journey.

My favorite moment in Bible journaling so far was when I did the rainbow Jesus page. I sketched it in my Bible, then lost courage. I felt overwhelmed by the subject matter. Two weeks went by, then God told me that the world needed to hear what I had to say with that painting. As I picked up my brush to paint, God told me that Jesus is Lord of all the colors (races) on the earth. The paint flowed onto the page effortlessly. I was so surprised by how it turned out. It’s my favorite page that I’ve done – so far!

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When I was a few months into Bible journaling, I went to the Lord and asked Him to teach me and help me become a better artist. After so many years of painting one way, I didn’t know if change was possible. Yet He has done exactly that. I continue to grow and learn all the time. Of all the things I do in my life, art fills me with the most joy. It’s like a spiritual umbilical cord between me and my maker! It’s like a fire that burns in my soul. I pray everyone can experience this that desires it. All we need to do is ask. God is so generous! People call me a self-taught artist, but really I am taught by the Holy Spirit. God can teach anyone! Wherever you are in your creative journey, ask God for help. Then believe God is giving you that help, and persist. God loves us to rely on Him!”

If you’re in Myrtle Beach sometime this winter season – keep an eye out for Peggy and her van!  Peggy says she uses One Shot paints. They are expensive oil based paints used by sign painters and pinstriping –$25 per quart. She notes,  “They are sticky but they wear well.”

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Or, if like me, you are far too distant from the beach this winter – follow Peggy on her Instagram: @peggythibodeau. And you can check out her work as a recycled folk artist here:  www.peggyart.com.