I am. I just can’t seem to start. My excuse is that I am in “limbo” mode and I am somehow stuck, unable to move. I turned to a faithful friend and asked for some advice. I love the “faithful intention” she talks about. Perhaps these tips will help you if you are procrastinating on starting or just doing your Bible journaling.
by Dolli Neikirk
It seems that devotional time, prayer time, or quiet time with God comes so easy for some, yet for others it is a struggle. For those of us who do struggle, the desire and even the need for this one-on-one time with God is there, but something seems to always get in the way. We put pressure on ourselves and suddenly this time becomes a burden, yet another item on our to-do list, rather than precious time with our Heavenly Father. What I try to keep in mind is that God understands our humanness and He knows our hearts. Our frustration in finding time with God is a cry out for Him. So what can you do?
What is in your way?
When I find myself in a rut with my Bible journaling I take a moment to think about what could be getting in the way. Always first on my list is the enemy. He delights in our lack of disciple and motivation. He will deliberately try to thwart our plans for journaling time – reminding us of household tasks, tempting us with electronic devices and social media, throwing unrelated thoughts into our brains we just can’t shake. I have even had secular songs get stuck in my head during my devotional time. Darn you satan!
Secondly, are you trying to make more of this time than it needs to be? Do you have this grand vision of spending 30 minutes reading a devotional, followed by 30 minutes in prayer and reflection? Do you feel as though you don’t have the right tools: a special Bible, the latest devotional book, fancy gel highlighter pens, perfectly sized letter stickers, a dedicated War Room or beautifully organized craft room?
First and foremost is to remember that while an hour long prayer session is wonderful, God is happy to spend any amount of time with you. His nature is to drop everything and run out to you, arms opened wide, just as the father did when his prodigal son returned in Luke 15. So even if you just have 5 or 10 minutes, that is time enough to flip open your Bible, read a verse, spend a few minutes thinking about it, and jotting down some notes. Bible journaling does not have to be this elaborate time of selecting paint colors, cutting out die-cuts, and perusing Pinterest for ideas.
He is there
Often times when I think I’ve randomly selected a verse, I quickly learn God did the selecting. He always teaches me something, regardless of whether I spent an hour in prayer and journal time or if I quickly scribbled a verse on scrap paper. God always seems to show up whenever and for however long of time I spend with Him.
You can journal anywhere
Ideally we would all have this nice space to retreat to, filled with reminders of God’s faithfulness, prayer prompts, and devotional books. But the reality is only a few people have a dedicated space. I am blessed to have a crafting space and a nice tote with all of my Bible journaling supplies, but I also have a small paint-stained bag with some colored pencils and a small travel Bible I keep with me. With these few materials I can find time to journal anywhere – while in the pick-up line after school, while waiting for an appointment, or during my lunch hour at work. I also take these items with me when I travel for vacation or other trips.
You have options
Another option is to download the Bible on a smartphone and carry along a small notebook and some pens. You can easily look-up verses, jot down or sketch out journaling ideas, then when you have some time, take those ideas to your Bible. Or you can use a tip-in method of taping your notebook page in your Bible using washi tape. There are also some great drawing and art apps on smartphones that allow you to use different types of “pens” or “markers” and then save your work to your phone’s camera.
Another option is adult coloring books. I have a great one with Bible verses that I use with my colored pencils. This is the perfect solution for those who do not feel artistic, but love the idea of visually connecting with scripture. I found a small travel size one I will be taking with me on vacation in a couple weeks, along with my travel Bible and colored pencils.
This year I took on a challenge to Bible journal every day, but I wanted to be realistic knowing that I may not be able to fulfill this challenge daily. Rather make a new year’s resolution, I called this my “faithful intentions.” Instead of “pledging” to journal daily, which implies a promise, I fully “intend” to journal daily, meaning I plan to, but I know that I may not always do so, like those five days in a row when all I did was color in my coloring book. Was it Bible journaling, no, but since it was a scriptural coloring book, I was spending time in God’s Word. On Sunday’s, I may just have my sermon notes in a notebook as my “journaling” for the day.
You can do it
Have I lived up to my faithful intentions? I do try to be “intentional” in making time to Bible journal, so there is some accountability on my part, and yes, every day since January 1, I have done something on paper for God – maybe it was coloring in my coloring book, maybe it was fleshing out ideas from a sermon on scrap paper to journaling in my Bible later, or maybe it was just practicing my lettering by writing out a verse in fancy script in a notebook. In each of these examples, I have been faithful in my intention to spend time with God in His Word daily. It hasn’t always been easy, and I have sometimes found myself ready for bed and realizing I had not journaled that day. But taking just five minutes to write a verse actually helped me sleep better, and many times the next morning I would have a great image in my mind to journal in my Bible. It was like God used that verse and played it over in mind all night long while I slept.
What will you do?
I challenge you to make a faithful intention for time with God, maybe your time is weekly instead of daily, or maybe it is just monthly – like finding a Bible journaling meet up near you (or starting up your own). And if you miss a day, there is still no doubt you intended to find the time, but you have not broken a pledge or promise to God. He understands, and will know your heart.
So you may be thinking, those are all great ideas, but I still can’t seem to make any of them work for me. We all go through seasons where no matter how hard we try, there is just no routine to our routine. This is a great time to just be still. Just a few minutes of being still, resting in the arms of God, not thinking, not praying, not speaking, not listening to music, just being in His presence may be what you need to rejuvenate and move on to the next task at hand. And you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. This may be a time in your life where you just need God to hold you, and that’s okay.
If you would like some ideas on how to a monthly Bible journling meet up let me know. I have one at my church and it has been a blessing to me, and very easy to do.
I have been a scrapbooking for over 15 years, beginning with Creative Memories, where I was a consultant for five years. I also enjoy watercolor painting. I guess you could consider me a professional, as I have sold a couple of paintings LOL! I discovered Bible journaling over a year ago through Faithfully Yours, and have felt God calling me to use it in some way. I lead a Bible journaling class at a local scrapbooking store, and have monthly meet-ups at my church with Bible journalers from my area. I am honored I am able to share some of what I’ve been doing here, on Faithfully Yours.
You can see Dolli’s Bible journal pages by visiting her Pinterest board.