Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bible Journaling for Beginners

Bible journaling has been around for a long time.  I'm definitely not the creator nor am I an expert in the craft, but I thought I'd stop in to share my journaling journey so far (that's a mouthful, isn't it?!) and answer a few frequently asked questions I get a lot on Instagram.  

A few months ago I was looking for a way to make a deeper connection to scripture.  I love bible studies and have been involved in several over the last few years, and while they've all been wonderful, I keep feeling like there was more I could be doing to commit scripture to memory and deepen my relationship with the Lord.  As someone who grew up in a private Catholic school (K-12), I never really wrote in my bible.  Honestly, I kind of thought it was off limits.  I was always worried about desecrating something so revered and sacred.  I eventually starting highlighting verses and even wrote in the margin when I was really feeling adventurous.  Everything changed for me when I ran across this quote...

Not that you have to write in your bible to believe in His word or develop a close relationship, but this quote really resonated with me.  It wasn't long after I found this quote that I discovered bible journaling.  Bible pages covered in paint...scripture that came to life through illustration.  As booted bachelorette Olivia would say, "this is my jam".  :)  Two of my favorite things...art and scripture.  

So I bought a bible journal (totally separate from the other two I have for reading and studying) and set off on a new adventure in worship.  And let me tell y'all...it's been a game changer!  I crave my morning routine like no other...waking up to read the bible (I'm doing the She Reads Truth Lent study), taking notes, and then illustrating my faith.  In fact, that was my Lenten promise...wake up an hour before everyone else and start my day in scripture.  Instead of giving up random things that aren't really much of a sacrifice, I wanted to transform my heart.  And my prayer time has been so very transformative!

All that to be said, I wanted to share with you some of the pages I've journaled since starting in January and answer a few frequently asked questions.  Not sure how helpful this will be, but it will be nice to have it all in one place if I'm asked any of these questions again!!

The most frequently asked question I get is, 
And the only way I know to answer is by saying that I know it's not for everyone, but I'm thankful that God knows my heart and understands my journey.  We all worship differently...there isn't one way that's better or worse than another.  Whatever brings you closer to God...this just happens to be what strengthens my relationship with Him.  And I'm a visual learner, so this made so much sense to me!!!  One of my favorite bible journalers (@shelbymaryann) said it perfectly..."I don't throw paint on a page and say 'God, cover yourself'; I do it because God revealed Himself to me".  There are TONS of bibles in the world and only one God....I'm using this bible to bring me closer to Him.  Eventually one day I'd love to pass this onto my boys or grandkids :)  

A: Right now I'm doing the Lent study from She Reads Truth.  Before I read the scriptures assigned for the day, I pray for God to open my eyes and show me what He wants me to see.  Typically one verse will stand out among the others and really resonate with me,  so I'll choose that verse to illustrate.  Other times I will get a mental image of the verse as I'm reading and then I'll know that's what I'm meant to illustrate.  There's no right or wrong way.  You can illustrate your favorite verses, those you want to remember, etc.  It really doesn't matter!  The most important part of this worship is just spending time with God.   

A: It just depends.  Typically anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the scripture. What I love about bible journaling is the chance that it gives you to completely focus on one verse and really let it sink in.   I pray the whole time as I journal.  I really soak in the scripture and the story or verses that surround it.  It really gives me a chance to take it all in and really understand the message God is trying to convey.  I feel like I've learned more about the bible in the last couple of months than I have in the last 35 years because I'm SO invested in what it says and the illustrations really help me to make meaning of the message(s).

A:  I do!  Most everything I letter is handwritten except for the stamped stuff (type print).  I have always loved to letter and as you can tell, I'm VERY inconsistent...just lots of practice!!!  I would love to take a calligraphy course!!!  I need more practice for sure!

A:  Okay, so this isn't so much a question as it is a statement, but I see this one posted so often and it makes me sad!  Y'all. C'mon!  You absolutely DO NOT have to be artistic to explore this type of worship.  There are SO many different ways to journal.  There are tons of ideas and examples on Pinterest if you are more inclined to draw your inspiration from other sources (just be sure to give credit if you share).  There are tons of embellishments/stickers/stamps you can use to decorate your pages (more of a scrapbook type feel), too.  Check out all of the goodies you can get through Illustrated Faith.  If you don't know where to start, browse through the hashtags on IG (#illustratedfaith  #biblejournaling  #biblejournalingcommunity).  Those are some of my favorite.  There are TONS out there though!!!  
Just remember that it's not about the art...it's about your HEART for Jesus.  Doodle, scribble, paint, whatever!!!  Just do it for the Lord :)  


A:  This one's easy!  All you really need is a bible journal (the most important "supply") and then any other tools/embellishments/stickers/stamps/pens/paints you enjoy using.  I figured it would be easiest to show you what I use and explain what are some "musts" and what I could do without :)  This is an area where it's easy to get overwhelmed, so my advice is to start small until you find your style.

1:  This is the exact journaling bible I use.  It's the CROSSWAY ESV SINGLE COLUMN BIBLE JOURNAL.  I chose this one because I saw a lot of bible journalers recommending it and I have to say that I love it.  My next bible journal will be a two-column version for no other reason than I want to try something different.  

2.  TAB PAPER PUNCH, FILE - this is a supply you can absolutely live without.  Totally not necessary, but after journaling for a month & a half, I decided to add it to my supplies.  I wanted to create tabs for my bible and this is what I use to do that...just scrapbook paper and the Tab punch. 

3.  LOWERCASE ALPHABET VINTAGE WOOD STAMPS - I found these on a random trip to Hobby Lobby (half off, of course) and use these the most often out of all the stamp sets I have.  They're absolutely NOT necessary, but I love the different look that it gives my pages like the example below.
I like to use them when I'm wanting to add key words or phrases to my illustrations.

4.  STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER PEN SET - I absolutely LOVE these pens and find myself using them all of the time.  I also have a set of flair pens and Micron pens, but this Staedtler set is my go-to. They write beautifully on the pages and don't bleed.  You may see a light imprint of your lettering on the backside of your pages, but they don't bleed.  I also love that this set comes with varying widths in the tips.  My two favorites are the 0.5 and the 0.3.

5. PRISMACOLOR ART MARKER 30% COOL GRAY - This isn't a must by any stretch of the means, but I love this pen for creating shadows.  It's really versatile and a great tool to have on hand for added dimension like the shadows in the lettering below.

6.  ARTIST'S LOFT FUNDAMENTALS WATERCOLOR PAN SET   - This is the set of watercolors I use to create all of my illustrations.  I absolutely LOVE these!!!  I started using these watercolors a couple of years ago when I would make watercolor prints and turns out they work perfectly in the Bible, too!  The colors don't bleed through and they're pretty vibrant.  The paint does dry a teensy bit chalky....and your pages will be a little crunchy...but these are my most favorite paints to use!!!

7.  CRAYOLA COLORED PENCILS  - I really only use watercolors, but every now and then I'll need these to color a picture I'll cut out and then glue onto the page I'm studying.

8.  WASHI TAPE - If there were one "frivolous" supply that I couldn't live without, this would be it!  I pick up new rolls whenever I go to the store...especially when they're on sale!  I love having a lot from which to choose.  Washi tape is a great addition to any page and it's what I use to adhere my tabs and additional commentary,

9.   GLUE STICKS - really random, but these are a must for me!  I'll often draw pictures I cut out and then adhere to my bible pages, so I always make sure I have these on hand. I use them to adhere my stamped phrases and words, too.

10:  RIBBON - I waited a long time before I started adding ribbon bookmarks to my bible, but now I can't go without it.  It's definitely not a must, but love creating my paperclip ribbon bookmarks and using them to mark my pages, so in the last few weeks this supply has become a must for me.

11.  AMERICAN CRAFTS DECORATIVE DATE STAMP - this is definitely NOT a must, but it's a tool I like having on hand.  You can always write the date of your entry/illustration, or you can stamp it.  Just a little something extra I enjoy using!  The phrasing on this particular date stamp was perfect for the occasion as we prayed for our friend, MacKale, to have a successful limb salvage surgery.

12.  STAZ-ON STAMP PAD - Several journalers recommended this stamp pad for bible journaling so this is what I use, too :)  I have found that it will bleed through to the opposite side of your page if you press too hard.  It's even bled through when I didn't press that hard, LOL.  Now when I stamp I usually stamp on a separate sheet of paper, cut out, and glue on the bible page.  Works just as well :)  All that to be said, I do love this stamp pad and will definitely get another when the ink runs dry.

13:  PAPER CLIPS - I use paper clips to make my ribbon bookmarks.  Totally NOT necessary, but I've started using them a ton in the past few weeks!

A:  Okay, so this is like picking a favorite child...I just CAN'T!!!!!  I follow a lot of journalers on IG and love seeing their illustrations decorate my feed. I love the way they interpret scripture, but most importantly I love their hearts.  Their messages and words behind the pictures are what inspires me the most.  Although I couldn't possibly choose favorites, the journalers that tend to always hit a chord with me are @shelbymaryann  @wethreekingsillustrated  @christy_fae  @bowed.anchor.journaling  @valeriewieners   @tazandbelly  ....oh, and I KNOW I'm missing A TON!!!!  I mean, I seriously can't choose favorites...they're all SO inspiring!!!  

Okay, so I think that's it?!  I think! If you're thinking about starting your own bible journal, take a cue from Nike and just do it :)  You will love the way it transforms your prayer time. And keep in mind that it's not about the art, it's really about your heart for the Lord.  No time spent with God is ever wasted :)  


  1. Seriously, I just love looking at your photos. They inspire me and touch me. What a great way to share your talents, but most importantly fall in love with Jesus more.

  2. These are just beautiful - I'm in awe of your talent at every turn!

  3. This is so cute! I had never heard of Bible journaling before until I saw it on your Pinterest page.

  4. Cara,
    I have been following you for years, both your school blog and this one. You are an inspiration in so many ways, but I have to say this post, hands down, has meant the most! I ordered a Bible to journal in and have "jumped in"! Thank you for being you and for being so inspiring!

  5. Okay, I've been following your blogs for quite some time now and after reading all of your posts, I always ask myself the same question when I am finished reading: "HOW DOES SHE DO IT ALL?!?!?!?!?!?" Seriously, though....where do you find time to teach, make all of your adorable TPT products, cook amazing dishes, decorate your home so beautifully, shop for all your home decor, and do all of the other things that aren't mentioned in your blogs? What does a typical day look like for you and how do you manage your time to be able to do all these wonderful things??? You're my hero!

  6. Cara,
    I have been a follower of your teaching blog for years. I also teach first grade. You have always been an inspiration.
    I recently began Bible Journaling and today stumbled across a pin that lead me here! You are amazing. I love your pages.
    Thanks for being an inspiration in the classroom and outside!
    Tamera Wilson
    My Heart Belongs in First

  7. Thank you SO much for this post! I am just getting started with Bible Journaling and this post is so helpful :)


  8. I'm so glad you're doing this!! I love and respect God's Word. I hope no one discourages you from using the talent He gave you.

  9. May I copy some of your ideas? I especially love the owl:-)

  10. Thankyou for the info especially on what mediums you use to create such beauty in your bible. I'm excited to start doing this myself hopefully soon. I will definitely be following you. Thank you again!

  11. I really enjoyed your photos and comments. When your Stazon gets dry, order a refill instead of buying a new pad.

  12. Your journal examples are beautiful. I really must know, how did you come up with pearls, handcuffs and happy hour? Totally didn't expect Bible study. Please tell me your DH is a cop! ;-D

    1. LOL! That made me smile :) My DH isn't a cop, but I do come from a long line of LEOs :) Pearls is for June Cleaver...my "About Me" section explains it all! Blessings!

  13. Oh! I get it, now. The Martha Stewart reference went right over my head! So cute and I remember the awesome bedtime happy hour. Enjoy because they grow so fast. I still ask my 15 year old daughter for "happy hour" sometimes. Thanks for the chuckle and God Bless!

  14. You have done some beautiful work! It is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing it and for sharing the tips.