Guest post by Amber Bolton of @biblejournaling: Inspire Bible TOUR workshop leader, youth pastor, and long-time Bible journaler
I’m sure they exist, but I’ve never met a person who didn’t like to color. Give someone a marker and you are sure to find them doodling on the page, writing their thoughts, making lists, or being creative. Coloring is used in therapy and in schools to calm children, and there’s no surprise that adult coloring books are in grocery store checkout lanes. Coloring has never been a fad. So, what about coloring in our Bibles and creative journaling?
Is creative journaling just making pretty pages? Is it more than an adult coloring book? These are the questions we’ve been exploring as we crisscross the country on the Inspire Bible TOUR (check out inspirebible.com/TOUR). We are meeting people who have a hunger for understanding God’s Word and want a creative way to respond that is more than just coloring. The Inspire Bible is all about our hearts and how they interact with God’s Word. It’s a form of Bible study.
The Inspire Bible TOUR has given me the chance to help people feel confident and encouraged to get into God’s Word and respond in the margin. The goal is that the margin becomes the place where truth sinks into our hearts and pours out in the beauty of our lives. I’ve encountered people who walk into the workshop feeling like they are not creative and leave with confidence to study and respond to God’s Word in a unique way. There are so many myths when it comes to creative journaling. Here are just a few.
Myth 1: I am not creative.
Everyone is creative in their own way! God made us in his image and he is creative. He’s THE creator. You don’t have to be a talented artist to mark up the margins of your Inspire Bible. It’s not about a pretty page, it’s about using the margin to respond to what the Holy Spirit is saying through God’s Word. Some people journal, others make lists, still others use all the embellishments and paints they can find. Be uniquely YOU in the margins.
Myth 2: I don’t know where to start.
So many people that I’ve met on TOUR are nervous to start marking up their Inspire. They don’t know where to begin and are afraid they will mess up. Know this, you will misspell a word or accidentally spill paint all over the page. It’s OK. Give yourself grace to get a little messy. There is no place for perfectionism when we come before God. We come with humility and an open heart. Give yourself permission to be free when you encounter the Inspire Bible. I encourage people to start in one of the Gospels or Romans. Maybe even Psalms. Read a whole chapter at once so that you can really get an understanding of the context. Jump in!
Myth 3: I don’t know what to put in my margin.
Creative journaling is more than coloring, it’s a study. I’ve created a process for creative journaling that helps me stay focused on responding and living out what I learn. Here’s what I do: 1.Pray (invite the Holy Spirit to speak through God’s Word); 2. Read (read a portion of scripture); 3. Ask (What stands out? What does this passage tell me about God? How am I to live differently based on this passage?); 4. Respond (THIS is what you put in your margin.) I answer one of those three questions in the margin of my Inspire. I’ll either write or draw what stands out from the passage, or bullet-point what it tells me about God’s character. Sometimes I’ll journal about how I am to live based on the passage. The margin is for you to process what you’ve read. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, it just needs to remind you of what you’ve learned.
Myth 4: I don’t have time.
It does not take long to fill our spiritual tanks through creative journaling. I typically spend 30-45 minutes in my process from beginning to end. I have a little corner in my office dedicated to creative journaling where I keep all my supplies and Inspire Bible. Even if you don’t have space, I’m sure you have a small tote you can keep your Inspire and a few favorite supplies in for an “on the go” option. I’ve never regretted setting aside time to spend in God’s Word, but I have regretted passing it up. It doesn’t have to be every day! Creative journaling is just one of the ways to study God’s Word (personally I think it’s the most fun way!). So, switch it up. Maybe you read a passage and journal, another day you read and go for a run, another you gather friends and spend hours in your Inspire together!
Myth 5: I don’t have all the right supplies.
I encourage people who are new to creative journaling to start with what you have in your house. Don’t go out and buy all the supplies you think you’ll love. You’ll be overwhelmed—and out of money. It will take a little time, but you’ll soon find which supplies you love most (I’m all about the embellishments and TomBow pens!) Follow us on Facebook (Inspire Bible) to see what supplies we love, or come to a TOUR event and you’ll get to try out a bunch of supplies at the table! There are lots of social media groups that share their tips and supplies that work well. The last few pages in the Inspire Bible are great “trial” pages to see if a new supply will work or have bleed through. If you are unsure, use those pages to test them out!
Myth 6: I don’t want to do this alone.
Creative journaling is both personal and corporate. I love spending time alone in my Inspire, but I also crave going through the process and learning from others (and sharing supplies). There are many social media groups who have “weekly” pages/challenges. They are encouraging and helpful! It’s a great way to share with each other what you are learning. What if you were to start an Inspire Bible study group in your church? That could be a really fun way to connect with others and share supplies!!
Myth 7: I have someone in my life who would LOVE creative journaling, but I don’t know how to get them started.
There are a few really great ways to help your friends, or even get started yourself! Attend one of the Inspire Bible Tour workshops this spring (locations will be announced soon). OR…. join us for our live online workshop on Saturday, January 7th at 10 a.m. (CST). This online workshop will be an opportunity to learn the process, get tips, and go through techniques! This is a super fun Christmas present to yourself or someone you love. Register online at amberbolton.net. And, there’s some really fun happy mail that comes with the registration, including the Intro to Creative Journaling book by Amber Bolton, a fun T-shirt, and the Inspire: Psalms book!
10 Bible Giveaway!
Enter to win a copy of of the Inspire Bible Large Print NLT!
Here’s how to enter:
- Download and print this Christmas themed coloring sheet – Download Here
- Get to work coloring, painting, or however you’d like to express yourself.
- Post a picture of the end result on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
- Use the Gleam form below to submit the link to your creation.
We’ll choose 10 winners on 12/26!