Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Overcoming Obstacles to Getting Started with Bible Journaling

"I'm really not sure where to start!"

This is the comment I've received several times here on my blog and in the Bible journaling workshops I'm teaching. There are three common obstacles that seem to make it difficult to get started: (1) a new Bible, (2) too much INSPIRATION, and (3) intimidation.

First, let me say that there are no rules in Bible journaling! The purpose of this hobby is to grow closer to the Lord and spend time in His word. Take time to pray each time you sit down with your Bible and let the Holy Spirit lead you. I believe the Lord rewards and delights in those who seek Him.

Now, let's talk about each of these hurdles and how to make the leap to get started in this fulfilling hobby.

A New Bible

I've had several ladies show up to a workshop with a brand new journaling Bible, eager to get started, but finding it difficult to make those first marks in a pristine new book! Some are anxious about making a mistake or doing something wrong.

As I mentioned in a previous post, although I had already started Bible journaling using one of the Bibles in my library (and in Bibles for display at Scrappin' Goodtime and Personal Scrapbook), I still found it a little difficult to make the first marks in my new journaling Bible.

My solution to this obstacle is to begin with an introduction page. Choose one of the pages at the beginning of the Bible - the presentation page or title page - and just start. Add some color using pens, markers, colored pencils, or watercolors. It can be something very simple, like adding a favorite scripture and a few stickers. This is the first activity in my Intro to Bible Journaling Workshops.

I also provide a punched tab for participants in my classes and suggest that they add it to the contents page so it's easy to find. Many long-time Christians have memorized the books of the Bible and rarely use the page that lists the books of the Bible when they are flipping to a scripture. Others don't want to use the table of contents because it might imply that they don't know where all the books are . . . so they idly flip through all those lesser prophets trying to find Nahum rather than just look it up. (Seriously - you know who you are, right!)

This first page can be a space to give yourself permission to illustrate your faith in this new Bible. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want and is a great way to leap over that first hurtle to using your journaling Bible as a place of worship.


There are two different types of INSPIRATION when it comes to illustrated Bible journaling. Since the purpose is to use our creative gifts to draw closer to the Lord and spend time in the Word, I believe INSPIRATION for illustrated pages comes from the Word itself as well as from sermons, devotionals, quotes, prayer, the Holy Spirit, etc. This is the INSPIRATION that determines what we journal and/or illustrate.

As the Bible journaling and Illustrated Faith movement has grown, the amount of INSPIRATION online has increased, too. Illustrated pages are showing up on blogs, Pinterest boards, Facebook groups, Instagram feeds,websites, online classes, YouTube videos, etc. This is the INSPIRATION that determines how we journal.

For example, the first section in the Illustrated Faith Genesis Devotional is about beginning something new (like illustrated Bible journaling). While the devotional is not actually focused on the book of Genesis, it caused me to think about creation and how in the beginning God created such a beautiful world. I was inspired to re-read Genesis chapter 1 and illustrate that story. The devotional inspired what I wanted to illustrate, and an idea I had seen online inspired how I would illustrate it.

I printed a coloring page about creation, which I then traced onto my Bible page. (Most Bible pages are thin enough that you can put a printout under it and trace onto the page). I traced the picture with pencil, then went over the pencil lines with colored pen, and finally colored in the picture using colored pencils. I strategically added a few stickers around the page so that they would not cover up the words.

While I was illustrating this page, taking time to trace and color and add embellishments, I was able to meditate on the creativity of God and marvel at how He turned a void into something so beautiful. He invented everything from nothing - amazing! Remember that what you journal or illustrate is much more important than how you do it!


This last obstacle is one that many of us struggle with in various areas of our lives. We are intimidated by all the "artistic" and "creative" and "perfect" illustrated Bible pages we see online and don't think we can do work that is anywhere near as good as all that. I've even met women who have no intention of sharing their pages online who feel intimidated and don't want to create pages because they won't measure up to the examples.

The solution to overcoming this barrier is to return to the purpose behind creating illustrated Bible pages - to draw closer to the Lord and spend time in His Word. Remind yourself that the Lord sees your heart, not the crooked lines or the imperfect drawing or mismatched colors or the smeared paint! And besides, I believe it's all beautiful to Him. (He is after all the one who causes rivers to meander rather than flow in straight lines, creates snowflakes that are each unique and unlike any other, and smears a multitude of colors across the sky!)

If you're still feeling intimidated, check back in a few days when I'll share some of my less-than-stellar pages and what I learned from them.

Have you started Bible journaling? What obstacles did you overcome (or are you still trying to overcome) in your quest to spend time in the Word?


  1. What a lovely post Melissa! I never thought about tracing a picture and then coloring it. That would be a wonderful way to begin actually creating art on the pages if you're intimidated....like me. I didn't like the first couple pages that I did in my Bible so instead of letting that hold me back from getting in the Word, I resorted to doing my journaling digitally and then adhering that printed piece into my Bible. BUT...I love to draw, color, etc. so I'm still working up to going back to actually playing ON the pages.
    I'm one of those that don't want it to "bleed" through either but have found Crayola erasable colored pencils! Woot! Love them! So MAYBE you'll see an actual illustrated Bible page from me yet!
    So happy that you're able to do classes on Bible Journaling!!

  2. OMGosh! I had no idea what you actually meant by "bible journaling." I thought it was a book you created from scratch. Now I discover it's an actual bible!! That is so cool!

  3. Your Genesis page is just beautiful; what a lovely way to reflect on the meaning of the story.

  4. I want to keep this post and read it back again and again. In fact I think I'll print it out. Thank you so much xxx

  5. Your Genesis Chapter 1 page is beautiful. I do not like to conceal any of His words so appreciate ow they all show through this. Great idea for the tab to the index of books! I have relied on book tabs for many years.

  6. I like the book tabs - using a paper bible again has made me realise how much I use the automatic index and search functions on my app.

    The idea of tracing through a bible page is such a neat idea - thanks for that.


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