Every now and then I see a post on social media that leads to an adventure. My adventure with Bible journaling began about a year ago when I first saw these artistic devotional pages showing up in my news feed.
At first I thought it was a new version of scripture for scrapbookers/artists, then I realized that the art was actually created by journalers! One of the first journalers I connected with was Pastor Joy Baker, who has always been an encouragement for me and a champion of Formission. She graciously agreed to an interview, captured below. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!
1. Tell us a little about who you are, where you minister, and what you love to do.
This is me in a nutshell: A Christian, Wife, Mom, Gramma, Pastor & Writer who loves God, Family, Seashores, Coffee & Books. I currently minister alongside my hubby in a church and community that has totally reached in and grabbed a hold of my heart – Maranatha Pentecostal in Triton, NL.
2. What first got you interested in Bible Journaling? How did you discover it?
I was always one to take notes when I read the Bible. Every Bible I ever owned has scribbles, dates, sermon notes, whatever. For that reason I wasn’t as intimidated by taking that a step further as some people might be. One journaling blogger called it Bible wrecking; and I guess it is – in the nicest kind of a way. A few years ago I had a cancer scare. At the time I was pastoring a church full time plus assisting in my husband’s church part time. The period of tests and waiting seemed forever; and tended to be very distracting. It was hard to settle my mind down. By the time I got ready for Sunday sermons and Church Ministries I seemed to have used up my concentration quotient. Personal Bible time was so very difficult.
At that time I stumbled on to Creative Bible Journaling. I since have come to realize it was less a stumble and more of a God-thing. I decided to give it a try and it turned out to be exactly what I needed right then. It helped me to interact with the Word of God, lingering over promises the Lord gave me for my struggles. I revisited past promises and let them speak to me afresh as I wrote and drew about them. In my meditations while I journalled my mind would recall past answers to prayer as I read special verses from those times. My faith was strengthened. It kept me connected to God through His Word when I needed it the most. It was such a positive experience for me that I’ve kept it up.
3. What actually is Creative Bible Journaling?
Bible Journaling is a creative way to express how God is working in your life. It is a creative documentation of your spiritual journey. It can consist of sermon and Bible study notes, spiritual milestones, prayers (and their answers), scriptures and promises that hold special significance, insights from your daily quiet time, anything really that illustrates the connection between God, His Word, and our lives. Although it appears to be a relatively new practice it isn’t. Its roots stem from the centuries old practice of marginalia. To spare a history lesson let me simply quote Wikipedia. “Marginalia are marks made in the margins of a book or other document. They may be scribbles, comments, glosses, critiques, doodles, or illuminations.” Historical manuscripts contained such and so did my parents’ Bibles! I’ve done it for years; as have many reading this article. The introduction of Journaling Bibles and the freedom of creative expression we enjoy today has amped it up to what is now known as Creative Bible Journaling.
4. Is there a particular methodology that you need to follow or resources you need to get started?
I could make this pretty complicated right about now and talk about washi tape, ephemera, gelatos, tabbies, tip-ins and the like. I could mention water colors and acrylics, micron pens, and more besides! I have found, though, that such talk gets very intimidating – not to mention discouraging. To get started all you really need is a pen/pencil and a Bible you don’t mind marking in (or up). It could be an actual Journaling Bible. If your preference is an unmarked Bible then a journal to accompany it is just the thing. Then, as you spend time doing your devotions, listening to sermons, reading and studying God’s Word take notes; maybe even doodle a simple image that comes to mind. These notes and illustrations will enhance your time in the Word. Let this become regular practice. In the meantime, if you want to take the creativity further, make good use of Google and Pinterest and the like. There is so much out there that will reveal itself as you go exploring.
5. What has been the response in your own ministry and places you have shared about it?
I wish I could say it’s all been good but I can’t. When I first started creative Bible journaling I kept it to myself. It was my thing with God. After a time I was being helped so much by the whole process that I just wanted to share it. When I tentatively shared a little it met with disinterest, misunderstanding, and flat-out criticism. Feeling somewhat guilty I put it aside but soon had a hunger to get back to interacting with the Word in that creative way again and I still continue. About a year ago I felt to share a specific entry in my Bible in a certain setting and it was met with interest, enthusiasm, and hunger for more. I’ve shared four Introductory Workshops in three different communities with mixed audiences. In addition we have started a Bible Journaling group that meets regularly to enjoy God’s Word together. I understand that another such group has been started in one of the other communities I shared with as well.
6. Who is Bible Journaling for?
I want to answer that question with a picture. They say it’s worth a thousand words but I will probably add a few of my own as well. This is a recent meeting of our group. I asked their permission to share.
On this particular night we met to do a memorial page to commemorate Remembrance Day. We shared a wonderful time of prayer together for our troops, for those impacted by PTSD and for families who have given loved ones to the cause. We offered our thanks to God for the freedom to meet together around His Word in such a manner. As I sat and observed for a moment I realized the significance of what was happening. For years we have struggled with cross-generational ministry in our churches and I was sitting there watching it. In this picture are mothers and teen daughters, mother and adult daughter, grandmother and adult granddaughter, friends, neighbours, a care worker and her client, youth leaders and some of their youth. The ages represented at that table are young teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and late 70s!
Truthfully, Bible Journaling is for anyone and everyone; and although men seem to be quieter on the subject, they are still out there. My own hubby has been engaged in marginalia for years. I doubt he has ever thought of it as Bible Journaling. “Note-taking” he would most likely call it. Finally, after years of encouraging me in the practice, he asked for a Journaling Bible. (Which I immediately ordered!) For men who are interested in taking the plunge I would suggest this link https://drawingontheword.com/men-bible-journaling-not-only-for-women/ and see where it might lead!
7. You have been an “early adopter” of Formission since the beginning. Where do you think Bible Journaling fits in Formission’s vision and how has it enhanced your own discipleship?
To answer this question I won’t go further than the two components we have already emphasized within our fellowship. First of all, is the “My Health” component. For me I have found Creative Bible Journaling beneficial on two levels. The extra time spent meditating on the Word – beyond ministry preparation and beyond my personal daily quiet time – has been a boon to my spiritual growth. In addition to this is the pleasure that comes in expressing my creativity in ways that relax me physically; as well as settling or soothing my spirit improves my emotional well-being.
In recent months as I have begun to share Creative Bible Journaling with others in my sphere of influence I have found that the “Mutual Health” component comes into play. The connecting of people within the body of Christ – crossing age boundaries, denominational tags and connecting people who might not otherwise connect on a personal level – can only enhance the health of body relationships through friendship, spiritual connection, and a common love for God and His Word. There is a growing together and unity of purpose as we meet; yet our very different personalities are evident on the completed pages. Even using the same supplies our uniqueness comes through. During the process the cooperation and sharing of stories and experiences have bonded us reinforcing the truth that there is unity in diversity.
To me Creative Bible Journaling is but one way to enhance the discipleship aspect of my faith – In Bible Journaling I find myself both a learner and a teacher. It is simple and it is practical. A simple truth stands out; a simple promise is made real. I try to find ways to express its significance in the margins of my Bible. The tangible expression is a practical way to reinforce it as I meet it on the pages of my Bible again and again. As a result I am learning and growing in Christ. Sharing this practice with others is helping them grow in Christ and grow in their own discipleship. As I write this a picture comes to mind. I have to share it. The moment so captured my heart and the essence of what I had hoped to achieve in the sharing of Bible Journaling that I had to snap the picture. Here is a slice of an ongoing conversation between one of our youth leaders and one of her junior youth group during a recent journaling group meeting. The scripture is being opened up to this young lady as they talked together – one-on-one – discipleship at its finest!
8. Show us some of your favourite pieces!
You asked for it! Not all of my favorites are my own work. As a group we have shared our Bibles and I am so moved by seeing these gals pour their heart out on the pages of their Bible. By far my favorites in my Bibles and theirs have been the raw moments when we’ve met God on the pages. It wasn’t always pretty but it was real and culminated in spiritual growth. These pages will never circulate the internet! They were personal God-moments only tentatively shared to help another on the journey. Creatively speaking let me share a few that give a glimpse of some of the ways Creative Bible Journaling can unfold. The descriptions are above the photos.
This is probably my favorite page from our Remembrance Day group night. This young lady, Kendra, captured the essence of remembering the price paid for freedom; but doesn’t miss the most vital sacrifice of all!
These next two represent two different responses to a prayer meeting message hubby shared. Both myself and Terri-lee spent more time considering what we heard that night and journaled accordingly.
Then there are the times when we hear from someone in the group about how the message we preached impacted their life so much that they had to spend more time giving it consideration. To lend credence to the claim they send pictures of their journaling and it is an encouragement to keep preaching the Word and impacting lives!
Among my personal favorites are the pages in my Bible that represent my family – the prayers and promises for those closest to me. These three are my grandsons’ pages. Taking them into my Bible and talking to them about the what and why of what we are doing and sharing my love of God’s Word with them is important to me. Liam, who is older, has often asked me to show him his page and tell me the story again. I hope to share The Story and their story with them again and again as they grow!