Monday, November 24, 2014

On Being, "The New Girl In The Harem"

I would like to share a page from my Journaling Bible and I want to tell you a little bit of the "backstory" to this journaling page - based on Esther 2:17.

I was a missionary for almost 27 years. I have been blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined - because I have seen God use me in ways beyond my abilities. So you would probably think that I walk into any situation feeling absolutely confident - but reality is, I sometimes find myself in a place where I feel like a duck out of water. And even at my age, I have to fight the urge to "duck and run!" (who knew I could use the word duck as both a NOUN and a VERB in a story about Queen Esther!?!?!)

Esther has always inspired me to try and "step up to the plate" and allow God to use me in every situation I find myself in...but it is this little jewel I found in chapter 2 that has helped my "feelings" to get in line with my desire to be obedient.
Esther felt like a "duck out of water too!" She was hanging out with a lot of girls that probably felt much better about their chances with the King than Esther did. She didn't even want to be there. She would have been content to remain in the Jewish Community, marry a nice Jewish boy and never step into the Throne Room, much less the King's Harem. I imagine her heart beating faster when she turned to get her last glimpse of her Uncle Mordecai as the door closed - and that sound probably made it hard for her to breath. I also imagine her saying "Jehovah - what possible good can I do here? In all likelihood I will embarrass both myself and YOU by trying to pretend that I am something that I am not!" I think she said those words because I have whispered them to my Heavenly Father so many times - hoping He will say "Yeah...I was just kidding, you don't have to do this!" Ummmm...He hasn't EVER said that! LOL
So - when I find myself in what I like to call a "New Girl in the Harem" situation, I go back to the first two chapters of Esther - and try and model my behavior accordingly. Esther knew she wasn't like the other girls...and she didn't try to be...and she sought wisdom from people who knew more than she did...and then she was faithful to act upon what she KNEW was right in that situation. I don't think that she lost that "duck out of water" feeling - but I see the results of her choice to be true to who God had created her to be, open to being available to what He had called her to do and to be COMMITTED to trusting that those whom He calls, He equips.
Verse 17 says that the King loved her best of all the virgins and that she won grace and favor in his eyes. I may feel inadequate to walk into the presence of a King...but if I am obedient to God, He will bring me into favor - not based on MY abilities but because "the heart of the king are like channels of water in the hands of God."

If you would like to learn more about Art Journaling in your Bible, I would love for you to send me an email. I am going to put a couple of links down here so you can see the products that I use...and I am working on some videos to cover the basics of techniques and methodologies.  I am also working on a Bible Journaling class for the YouCan! Classroom. I would love to know if you would be interested in taking this kind of class - and what aspect of Bible Journaling you would like me to build the classes around...I am so excited about helping you to get started - but want to make sure that I will be providing the most helpful information possible.

This is the Bible I am using.  It is the ESV Double Column Journaling Bible

Friday, November 07, 2014

"What? You Are Drawing and Painting In Your Bible?!?!?!"

This question was followed by the whispered question, "Don't you think that makes God mad? It's HIS WORD!"

 Yes...let me introduce myself. Hi, I'm Jann and I am a Bible Journal-er!

Since you have seen me draw on just about are probably not as surprised as my friend with whom I had this conversation. And just to be clear, I'm not poking fun at her - I think that I have had that exact same conversation with myself over the years of my personal study...because even though I have recently started painting in my Bible - I have written my heart out in the margins of many Bibles as I have dug into God's Word to learn everything that He has wanted to teach me. And I have often drawn small images to remind myself of a principle -- like the one I drew here at the end of the book of Genesis!

Rabbit Trail: I felt that it ends rather abruptly - after we have studied all the things that happened to Joseph over the course of his life the final sentence of Genesis is - "So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. After they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt." That's it!?!?!?! No - and now, here's the rest of the story?!?!? Seriously - when Joseph died he had been in a place of honor, helping Pharaoh rule Egypt...and when we next see the Israelites they are slaves! How did that happen?!?!? I don't like unfinished stories! I always am asking..."and then what happened?" *sigh* And here is what happened to me as I pondered and talked to the Lord about the fact that it was particularly unsatisfying to not know what happened with Joseph's family after his stopped being about the years between Joseph's death and the huge changes that took place - and the conversation turned to my "need to know" stuff  - my desire for God to tie everything up in a bow for me...not just the story of Joseph but most things in my life. And over the course of several days of meditating on this thought - I began to see that God is much more likely to not tie things UP in a BOW - but to continue to tie things INTO the on-going story....more like a braid. That imagery was key to my new understanding - so I drew those two images side by side.

So back to our regular painting in my Bible. I think it has a little bit to do with the difference between a braid and a bow...and the new insights I gain when I apply all aspects of my heart, mind and soul to my relationship with God. If I just approach my study to the things that are easily "tied up with a bow," I may miss some really big things...and I don't want to miss anything...not one little thing. And that is how I got from a couple of little drawings at the end of a chapter to painting, drawing and writing in the margins and sometimes all over a page in my Bible.


I have kept several art journals going all the time...some are just about recording thoughts, ideas and dreams. Some are about working through life's difficulties...and many of them have been journals that were created as visual expressions of my prayers, songs of praise and worship of God during my Bible study and personal devotions.

I honestly don't know why I didn't make the leap to journaling IN my Bible before seems like a natural progression....just makes sense.  But it may have had something to do with the question that my friend asked me, "Don't you think that makes God mad? It's HIS WORD!" Because, as I said - I think I have had that same conversation with myself several times - and, in the past, I have answered that question without asking God what He thought...and perhaps the answer would have been different if I had.

A few weeks ago, I met Shanna Noel - a talented artist, scrapbooker and Bible Journaler (and just a beautiful person all around!). After reading through her blog, watching a few of her videos, and participating in the Journaling Bible Facebook Group (this is a closed group, but just ask and I will get you an invitation to become a member), I was ready to step into Bible Journaling for myself.

Let me be clear. I LOVE the Word of God! I approach it with reverence and awe! I do not want to treat it lightly nor with ANY disrespect. What I feel is ok for me, may not be right for you and I do not think that I am holding the "enlightened" position here. I have come to a few basic "rules" for my Bible Journaling...and again - these are just what I feel are good for me to follow as I begin adding art into my Bible - but I have had several of you ask if I have any guiding principles that I would be willing to share. So here they are:

1. I have chosen a specific Bible to do all of my art journaling in - in fact, it is called a Journaling Bible. I am pretty sure that when Crossway published it, they were thinking more about giving people a larger margin to write in...but I say, I'll take all the space they will give me!

I use this Bible as part of my daily quiet time and devotions...but it is IN ADDITION to my main study Bible. This helps me keep things a little clearer. Just like I have Bibles and study aids that I use to help me gain understanding to scripture - this Bible is a designated aid in my devotional process.

2. I don't draw/paint in it every day - but if I did, that would be ok too! I have found that I rarely have two days that are the same when it comes to my quiet time and personal Bible study. Some days, I am so overcome with the need to listen, that I don't do much talking, drawing or writing at all. Other days, I am on a deep word study - with three Bibles, a concordance, a dictionary and a commentary or two laid out over my desk and I am scribbling notes as fast as I can write. But there are definitely days where I gain a bit of insight - or my feelings are stronger than my words can express - and it just feels right to use art to try and capture what I have learned - or want to remember - or want to make as a visual offering back to is on those days that my Journaling Bible comes out and I begin to work in it.

3. I've adjusted a few of my techniques to minimize the "destruction" of the words on the page. One of my "boundaries" when choosing color mediums is that they allow me to still read through the color to the least for the most part...some opacity is just going to happen and I'm ok with that. I think everyone will have to determine what they are comfortable with. For me, I'm coming down on the side that says, "I'm not trying to keep this Bible pristine." My primary focus is what I have learned about Him and His love, plans, desires, commands and promises for me and for His church. Those things are never neat, tidy or pristine when I am working them out when no art is I'm expecting there to be a bit of a mess when I add ink, paint, chalk and pencil into the mix.

4. I do not add art into my Journaling Bible just for the sake of "art." I have other journals for that. If I add it to my Bible it has had to pass the "is this where it belongs" test for me. I'm not saying that every thing I add has to be earth shattering or eternally profound...but I only want to put things in there that further my understanding and relationship with God. Simple question to ask - and so far, the choices have been pretty clear. I am glad that I have other journals where I can put things that are not right for my Journaling Bible. The fact that it doesn't need to live on the pages of my Bible doesn't mean that it doesn't have value...and I am just trying to find my way along the path.

So - that is the short list of "boundaries/rules/principles" that I am working with right now. Hope they make sense to you - but if they don't...please send me an email or leave me a comment - I would love to continuing talking with you about it!

I have to say that it has added a new richness to my personal walk with the Lord. I'm sure I will have more to share...but that is for another day. Here are a few of my recent entries. I will repost them with a bit more explanation as to the techniques I used - or what my inspiration was, in another post.


If you are interested in trying this for yourself, here is the Bible I am using. I have to say that it has added a new richness to my personal walk with the Lord. I'm sure I will have more to share...but that is for another day. Here are a few of my recent entries. I will repost them with a bit more explanation as to the techniques I used - or what my inspiration was, in another post.

Joshua 4:6,7
Proverbs 16:31
Psalm 91
Charles Spurgeon

Psalm 90:2

Close up: John 1:36

John 1:36

Hope you have a great week! And be sure and take some time for "creative play!"