Friday, 8 September 2017

What's my motivation?

Its been along time since I've got my brain into gear to write a blog for our Journaling community. I'm quite comfortable writing my none journaling specific blog but I'm not overly confident writing for this blog. I am surrounded by so many massively talented artists and I'm not a natural at explaining how to do techniques, usually I just dive right in and try without giving "the how to" a great deal of thought.
It may just me but I feel that sometimes we can get too concerned about the need to be deep and meaningful, or "intentional" to use a buzz word. We feel reticent sharing something simple because we haven't spent three weeks meditating on the verse, we've just spent time in our Bible on a random verse which has caught our eye and we've "just" illustrated it.
The pages I've shared above are nothing more than an attempt to illustrate a passage or story in the Bible. My 21st Century take on the work of the monks who so painstakingly copied and illustrated Bibles several centuries ago. they are without doubt works of art, and amazingly beautiful but there are many instances where the scribe (I suspect younger ones!)  have added in little personal, humorous sketches, little jokes, if you will.

I do not see this as wrong, or a "less than" way of journaling. On these pages I may not have written anything, I may not have had to read background or notes to help me understand, I've just enjoyed drawing, colouring, painting to illustrate a favourite verse. What I have done though, is spend time in my Bible, I've read a little before and a little after the verses I've represented.

I often just pick out key words, sentences or verses and write them out straight on to the page. or on top of a piece of decorated paper (yeh for deli paper and tracing paper) I spend a little more  time on these because I am reading the verses searching for what I feel are the most important points for me to take away. I'm also doing this current Bible for Ben so these pages are hopefully to direct and encourage him in the future.

The above pages are the pages where I have written something which has a resonance or meaning to me. A personal response to verses which have, do or will impact my life experiences. they may take the form of "note to self" of they may take the form of writing a memory of an event in my life. They may even take the form of a prayer or words of advice for Ben (and for me)
My point is that what is important in all these pages is the fact that I have spent time in the Word, I have spent time with Father God, it may not always be deeply meaningful but is no less valuable to me, if it has merely made me pause and  spend time being quiet in company with my Heavenly Father then that is enough.
Sharing the less "heart felt" pages is not shallow or meaningless, it may be that the verse you simply coloured in a few minutes is the verse one of our sisters (or brothers) really needed to hear. Sharing is not fishing for likes, its not showing off or seeking praise, it is being willing to share a small part of yourself in the hope that it will help or touch someone, or even, Praise the Lord, make someone smile or laugh. 

Bible Journaling Apps

I have three Bible Journaling Apps but they're  not what you think! I'm not going to give you a list of web sites, urls (whatever they are) pinterest posts or apps for your tablets, smart phones, laptops or trusty old desk tops.

I have three Journaling Bibles on the go at the moment (well, four actually but that's another story) I use each one for a different purpose in terms of my approach to spending time n the Word.

Number one, my first one and the one which has been used the most and is somewhat straining at its seams. This is the Bible I use the most, on most days at some point. its more of a dip in, choose selected verses, look for words of encouragement type of relationship, though I have actually journaled my way through complete books using devotionals and study guides on occasion. I began this Bible in January 2015 with the sole intention of giving this to Ben. There are some words of encouragement, some of guidance, some of warning and lots of pictures, doodles and thoughts which will hopefully remind him of me.

Bible number two, and I love this one! The leather, is so  beautiful as are the pristine pages. I am over time working through this Bible from start to finish (I may be gone some time to quote a certain Titus Oates!) I am writing an outline of the key points of each chapter  using a variety of commentaries and study guides. I don't do this every day, but this one is earmarked for my second nephew Samuel. he respects my faith but no longer believes. I trust that he will take time to look through it from time to time and give some thought to the guidance within. He calls me his God mother even though my nephews and niece don't actually have God parents as they were all dedicated not baptised as children.

Bible number three, I've only just started this one and I'm using it to follow inductive Bible study guides which are a much more in depth focussed way of reading and studying the Bible.  

All of these approaches (apps!) to Bible Journaling bring me deeper in to God's Word. each one fills a need and a desire to know more. No one way is better than another, I spend more time in the first Bible and that approach to journaling because it is more fun! and doesn't demand quite as much focus and deep thinking (for me) The others I try to do at least a couple of times a week  but I don't always manage that.

Sometimes I just sits...and colours! other times I do what I'll call journaling art for want of a better description, or I do something creative in my prayer journal that is meaningful at that time.
Finally, I doodle (or journal) my thoughts on a Sunday morning because I'm a multi-sensory learner, I don't take things in very deeply through just reading, writing or hearing.

l hope this encourages any one  who feels they are struggling to find their niche or their style, or even how to start with Bible Journaling. There is no right or wrong way, there is no better or lesser way, there is no requirement to be an artist or a theologian, there is simply the need for a desire to spend time in the presence of Father God, delving deeper in to His Word and along the way sharing thoughts and encouragement with our brothers and sisters.     

Explore all the apps, upload the ones that appeal to you, install and away you go!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

the "J" word!

I've been enjoying a little trip down memory lane, looking back through my journaling Bible from the day I brought it home from the local Christian Bookshop. There's no avoiding it, I know it's a cliche but its been a journey! 

I didn't delay, I didn't test things out on pages at the back, I just dived right in and began at the beginning, (hmm, anyone else humming a song now?) I did what some people call their permission page and then I did Genesis Chapter 1. I didn't use any "techniques" I didn't have any wonderfully named supplies I simply drew in pencil, went over it with a micron marker, rubbed out the pencil and then coloured it in with ordinary pencil crayons. "Simples"!
I began to experiment with different lettering styles and I have to confess I began to build my stash. I knew I was never going to be an "artist" in the pure sense but I was determined that I wasn't going to be deterred by my lack of skills, I was going to fall in love with my Bible again, a love affair that had somewhat faded since my first heady days as a Christian. I decided that I was going to share my journaling pages even though they were (and still) are usually simple and often simplistic.

I discovered the joys of washi tape, tip ins and one of my favourites Vellum (tracing paper to you and me).and I discovered a joyous family of brothers and sisters from all around the UK who shared my love of the Bible. I enjoyed taking tippy toe fairy steps out of my comfort zone thanks to lovely friends like Sarah Anderson, Jo Boardman and Deborah Gregg. (The list of people I am now blessed to call my friends would now need a blog all of its own)

More recently I have been an enthusiastic convert to the fun which is deli paper and the gelli plate. I have been blessed to meet many of my Facebook friends in the flesh! meeting up monthly  with DEN, meeting up with friends at our homes and with people travelling to join us from as a far afield as Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Ashby de la Zouche (love that name) Huddersfield, Chester, Manchester, Stockport and from all around my home in Winsford.

I've loved dabbling with collage and I've even painted in my Bible. Its been a journey and its a journey I'm happy to continue. Bible Journaling has brought me back to my Bible, It has brought me back to spending precious time in the Father's presence, its brought me friends and family, its brought me a network and a circle of encouragement and its brought me a wealth of experience, wisdom and encouragement.

f you are new to this crazy band of Bible Journalers, welcome; saddle up and enjoy the journey, I can guarantee it will be joyous, it will challenge, it will bless, it will encourage and it will bring you closer to the Father day by day.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A couple of years ago Bible Journaling became popular, looking at my journals I discovered that I was already doing a form of Bible Journaling. I then came across a book by Sybil McBeth an American author called Praying in Colour and this set me on an adventure with my prayer life.

I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to sit still, and even more difficult to concentrate for any length of time. When I pray, I need something to focus on, otherwise my mind wanders and I think of all the things I have to do, and not focus on the prayers I should be saying.

Sybil McBeth states the following in her book: One morning I retreated to the back porch of my house, determined to catch up on nine months of a somewhat neglected spiritual life. I lugged a basket of coloured pencils and markers to the centre of the porch’s glass top table. I have never been able to draw, but I love colour and shape and movement. Doodling allows me to combine those loves on paper. So, I opened a pad of paper and began to draw. I doodled a random shape with a black pen, without even realising it, I wrote a name in the centre of the shape, the name belonged to one of the people on my prayer list, I stayed with the same shape and the name, adding detail and colour to the drawing. Each dot, each line and each colour became another moment of time spent with the person in the centre.

When the time seemed right, I moved to a different place on the page and drew another shape with another name in the middle. I embellished the new shape, I drew new shapes and names until friends and family formed a colourful community of designs on the page. To my surprise, I had not just doodled I had prayed. The entire prayer time was silent and wordless. I had thought ‘of’ each person as I drew, and when I had finished there was visual record of my prayers.

As I read this, the idea of praying in colour appealed to me and I began to experiment

On Friday 16 June I had the privilege of leading a Praying in Colour Workshop at a Come Closer Event in Milton Keynes. This was something I had never done before but was encouraged by a friend Deborah Gregg. The session lasted for approximately an hour. During this time I had opportunity to introduce Praying in Colour, I then lead a time of prayer using this method. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was mind blowing, all the ladies participated, and we prayed for people they know who had concerns. At the end of the session many ladies wanted to share their experience of praying in this way, comments included, helpful, able to concentrate, blessed, challenged and many more.

As I drove back from Milton Keynes, I could not thank God enough for the way His Spirit had moved in our midst, and the way He equipped me to lead this workshop. 

If anyone is interested in a workshop, I would be more than happy to organise one at Waltham Abbey, as a taster,or at another Church within a 50 mile radius of Waltham Abbey. Please contact me on for further details.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Walk in Love - by Deborah Gregg

Following on from Sarah Anderson's fantastic blog last week about 'Love' I thought I'd share some photos on how I put together this colourful page in my Journaling Bible - using watercolour smooshing, gelato stamping, and washi tape ripping! :-) 
It's only as I write this, that I've realised that I think I've learned all these techniques from Sarah Anderson - so thanks for your inspiration, Sarah!  

This tiny book of 2 John contains some real gems of encouragement and exhortation. We are to love one another, to walk in obedience to God's commands, and to walk in love. This will help us to stay the course with our faith.
I love the way John ends this letter (and in fact 3 John aswell) so personally, saying, 'I've so much to tell you but don't want to use paper and ink, I hope to visit and tell you face to face!' Part of me wishes he had written a longer letter about all this so we could learn more from him. But equally, that's often how I feel when sending little comments and words of encouragement on Facebook to many of you in the Bible Art Journaling UK Facebook group! It was so good to be able to meet some of you at the DEN Retreat in Winsford last weekend, and I'm so looking forward to meeting up with more of you at New Wine (week 2) this summer! And at other events no doubt. And in the meantime we have the beauty of sharing our faith together via Facebook! :-D

So, back to the page...first I prepped the Bible page with 2 coats of Art Basics Clear Gesso, dried each coat with a heat tool. I've recently found that applying clear gesso with an old store card (working gently from the centre out to the edges) it goes on really smooth! Also the short edge of the old store card fits straight in the pot so actually no need for a brush at all and less waste/mess. 
 Then I chose two colours - orange and lemon (citrus theme here!) and used a waterbrush to paint splodges of colour straight onto the page randomly. I did make it fairly wet for this (which is why I prepped the page first with 2 coats!)
 Next I took a piece of very cheap kids tracing paper (it's a bit like deli paper but not waxy) and laid it on top of the page, smoothing it down with my fingers and moving some of the liquid paint around a little, in the layer underneath.
 Then I very gently lifted the paper up and separated it from the Bible page. (And took a photo with one hand!!!)
 As you can see, it printed a lovely image on both the Bible page and the paper. Then I repeated the process using some red paint splodges.
 Tracing paper over the page, smooshed it around with my finger tips, and lifted it off again!
 Then dried with a heat tool.
This tracing paper is now ready for use elsewhere, to cut up, rip up etc. so will be added to my rummage box for future projects.
Now for some stamping! I used a 'Love' word stamp from Time to Sow, which I had mounted onto some EZfoam. I decided to use a bright red gelato stick, and made a gelato scribble on a craft sheet (you can use an old plastic folder for that, or a laminated A4 sheet, etc)
 Using a waterbrush, I added a little water to the gelato colour, and dipped the stamp into it to coat the word.
 I then totally copied Sarah Anderson's technique and stamped repeatedly all over the page, using up the fading colour as I went along, topping up with more colour now and then.
I quickly dried the page with a heat tool, and then used a Versafine Onyx Black ink pad to stamp the same word 'Love' once in the big space below 2 John. To mix up the lettering a little, I used a Dovecraft mini alphabet stamps with the black ink for the word 'IN' and simple silver stickers for the word 'Walk'. I quite often add my words in reverse order, it sometimes helps to get the positioning right on the page, to start with the key word and then fit the other words around it.
I finished off this page with some ripped sections of washi tape. Another Sarah inspiration (!) tearing off small pieces, you can also rip them lengthwise to create little softly ripped edges and dot them around the page.
I then left this page open to dry fully for at least 24 hours - I have found that stamps on top of Art Basics clear gesso can smudge unless completely dried. (In truth, the Versafine ink did feather a little but I think that's because the page was still slightly damp). So I left it open on my dining room table for a day or so, and actually that was a great reminder of this passage and verse to me.
This verse is a great encouragement to us all to walk in Love.