Bible journaling helps readers engage Scripture
"She was writing all over the Word of God!" said Rush, who attends New Vision Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. "She kept asking me to paint in her Bible. That gave me panic attacks."
But treating Scripture as a canvas wasn't a sign of disrespect, Rush discovered. Instead, it helped Ashley connect with God as she overcame severe depression.
"I was wrong -- she had more respect for the Word than I did, and she was spending time with her Creator," Rush said.
She and 17-year-old Ashley were among the leaders as LifeWay Christian Stores nationwide held Bible journaling workshops Tuesday (Aug. 22) to show others how to enhance their study of Scripture through art.
"Bible journaling is not simply writing in your Bible," said Laurel Keller, marketing specialist for LifeWay. "It's a way to engage with Scripture, and it can truly transform the way you spend time in the Word."
Participants clustered around tables to experiment with art supplies, testing new techniques in their Bibles or on the pages of a free Bible journaling workbook provided by the LifeWay store.
"OK, this is pretty neat," said Tina Lillig of La Vergne, who attends First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, after using the edge of a credit card to spread bands of yellow and orange acrylic paint across a page.
The credit card trick also impressed Jeannie Hubanks of Rockvale, who attends New Vision Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. A seasoned Bible journaler, Hubanks is accustomed to using a brush. "This will save a lot of time," she said.
In a fast-paced hour, Rush addressed common questions about getting started.
Queasy about writing in a Bible? Create "permission pages" in the front of your Bible to remind yourself it's OK.
Not artistic? Use tracing paper to copy meaningful designs into your Bible, and embellish with stickers or stamps.
Daunted by hand lettering? Turn ordinary cursive handwriting into "faux calligraphy" by thickening downward strokes with a Crayola marker.
Worried your design will bleed through the page? Coat the paper with clear primer, and choose the right pens.
Intimidated? Remember why you're journaling. "This is between you and God," Rush said.
Several participants used Bibles designed for journaling, with wide margins for adding notes and illustrations. The store offered giveaways and discounts on journaling supplies and Bibles, including the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Notetaking Bible, which releases Sept. 1.
LifeWay Christian Stores held their first nationwide Bible journaling workshop in January 2016 to overwhelming response. About 200 people attended in Murfreesboro alone -- including Dawn and Ashley Rush, who showed up with "more tools and supplies than we had here in the store," said Rosa Galarza, assistant store manager.
Since then, LifeWay Stores have offered workshops on a variety of topics. The next nationwide workshop, on Sept. 12, will focus on apologetics -- how to have discussions about faith.
In addition to the practical training, LifeWay's workshops help people find gospel-centered community with other believers, said Keller, who wrote LifeWay's workbook on Bible journaling.
For her, Bible journaling has been a personal journey.
Journaling begins with focused attention to the Word, she said. "If I pull out a single verse and meditate on it, it makes my time with the Lord that much sweeter."
Bible journaling has also helped Keller memorize Scripture, she said.
"This is all about enhancing your personal relationship with the Lord by being more intentional whenever you're reading your Bible," Keller said.
"It makes you sit down, look at Scripture, and really think about what it means to you."