Grand Canyon + Journaling Bible = An Epic Bible Journaling Journey

restoreWhat do you get when you open your Journaling Bible to reflect on a bucket list experience? It’s an epic Bible Journaling Journey! For me, that experience was my family’s trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona this summer. A couple spots at the Grand Canyon had short verses, mainly from Psalm, posted at them, so in honor of that, I decided to use a passage from Psalm for my Bible journaling page. I thought of how the trip felt like a restorative time of admiring God’s creation.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:3

The expanse of rock has etched itself unforgettably into my memories. The canyon seems to go on and on in a way that the mind almost cannot make sense of at first. As I stood and gazed from many view points, including Hermit’s Rest, Desert View, and the area near the Bright Angel Lodge, I had to remind myself that what I was seeing was real. I heard others around me say it too: I have to keep telling myself this is not a scene from a movie or a picture of Mars. It is real, and my mind cannot completely wrap itself around it.

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Do I mind feeling small? Not really. I know I am small in the *grand* scheme of life. Yet, I have a God who created something so wild and beautiful that it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. Do I know exactly how He did it? Nope. I am okay with that (even though it sounds like Grand Canyon Ministries has some theories if I decide to seek that out). Just experiencing the beauty was plenty to fill my heart and mind for now.

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As you view the canyon from different spots, it takes on whole new looks and shows different parts of its personality. For me, Desert View in the early morning was my very, very favorite. We woke up at 4 a.m. to get there really early before the crowds, way before the Desert View tower opens to visitors. Seeing it in the quiet of morning was so spectacular. For me, personally, the views that included the river were always my favorite because they looked more refreshing.

Hermits Rest View

My second favorite spot was Hermit’s Rest because we made it there on our very first day at the canyon in the extreme heat of the day — and it really felt like a restful spot. My son took a nap on my husband in front of the giant fireplace that Mary Colter (an architect who left a beautiful mark on the south rim with a few structures that seem to pair really well with the particular view where she placed them) designed while I walked away from the crowds to see some beautiful views. Yes, you might be noticing, I am not a huge “crowds” person (lol). Introvert alert. The nice thing is that the canyon is so big, and if you time it right, you don’t really have to be overwhelmed by crowds. I never felt like it was really crowded, even at the peak times, but it just took longer to wait for the free buses to have room for riders.

My words and the pictures cannot do the Grand Canyon justice. Pictures cannot really capture it.

It’s not the perfect place. It is really, really hot this time of year. Even the bugs don’t want to live there because it’s so hot (seriously, don’t bother packing bug spray this time of year). We literally saw dead prickly pear cacti. It was so dry that even some of the cacti were dying! For me, it felt like a place of extremes — extreme heat, extreme beauty, extreme heights, extremely harsh in some aspects. I am used to living in a place where it rains a lot, so it was just different for me in that way. The dry heat dried out my nose, throat, and skin to the point that I wished I had a good saline spray and body lotion with me; it also gave my son nose bleeds by the end of the week. Yet, less-than-ideal aspects still felt small in relation to what we were getting to experience.

We saw lots of elk — their stature is regal compared to the deer I am used to seeing — and also jack rabbits with tall ears, squirrels that looked a little different from the ones at home, and one long horned sheep that was on the move. Besides the canyon itself, a highlight of the trip for us was seeing lots of pueblo ruins from the 1100s. In America, our opportunities to see historic sites rarely go back that far. It gave me chills to walk along the different ruins and think about how this was someone’s home long ago. We went to the Wupatki and Wukoki pueblos, along with the Tusayan ruins close to the canyon, and the dwellings of Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff. These structures are still recent compared to the history and people we read of in the Bible.

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Sometimes I like to think about how many other people throughout history have walked the same paths that I am walking; in the Bible we can think about the spiritual paths people have taken, how they are similar or different from our own. It creates a sense of connection.

Bible Journaling Challenge: Think of a place or time that you felt restored. The New International Version of the verse says “refreshes.” Looking at Psalm 23, create a journaling page based on a memory of being restored or refreshed. Especially in the heat of summer or in a “desert season” in your life, the moments of refreshment are encouraging.

 

 

 

The Joy of Velcro (and Bears)

Today I’m going to share how I made the cover of my Journaling Bible extra unique. The secret — yes — velcro! I bought the little teal cross at Hobby Lobby for about four bucks because I thought it would look awesome on the front of my Journaling Bible. Then I started thinking about how the pages would not lay flat for me to write and draw if I decided to have a huge cross glued to the front. Fortunately, velcro came to mind. It was super fun to ask people, “How do you think this cross is attached to my Bible?” and then do the little show-and-tell this week. You’re never too old for show-and-tell. Speaking of show-and-tell, I saw this guy as I was driving to work last week.

 

 

It was amazing to sit in my car and watch this bear for about five minutes. I had never seen a bear while I was driving before (even though I did have one come in the yard with me one time while I was reading a magazine). Seeing the bear was one of my big praises for the week. I always marvel at God’s creation (preferably from a safe distance, haha).

Challenge #5: Do something in your Journaling Bible that will bring you joy this week. Maybe you’ll choose to velcro a cross onto the front like me, or maybe you have something else in mind that will make you smile when you look at it.

Turning Your Journey into a Legacy

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Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Whether you are a stay at home mom who could use some encouragement or a working mom who feels like you need a break from the to-do list, Bible journaling is a spiritual practice that can renew you and remind you of how God sees you — even when your day-to-day routine might leave you feeling unseen or under-appreciated. Getting yourself into a good spiritual mindset will impact how you interact with your family.

A good process to get you started is to pray, read the scriptures, ask what the scriptures are communicating to you or showing you about God, and then create your Bible journaling page based on that. All of the washi tape and bling are fun, but you can do this with a regular art sketchbook and your child’s colored pencils if that’s easier on your budget. For me – the huge literature geek that I am – looking up the words of verses in their original Hebrew or Greek and then considering the original meaning of the verses is one of my favorite ways to gain insight as I journal.

Bible Journaling with Your Family

Bible journaling together as a family is a cool idea, but you will want to keep the age of your children in mind. A younger child (like my Pre-K son) will do better with a sketchbook than a Journaling Bible. After all, you will want to teach your child to honor the Word; a younger child might have trouble understanding why it’s okay to color in the margin but not on the words. I know some people feel okay about covering up the words in the Bible when they journal, but I am not one of those people (I still like to look at what they are creating, but I personally do not want to cover the verses). When adults color over the words, hopefully they are still taking the words to heart, while young children might not have the understanding that they are covering sacred words. Teaching your child verses and truths through Bible journaling is so commendable, but respect and reverence are important to communicate too. A great option is teaching your child to do tip-ins with paper and washi tape (you can find how to make a tip-in online pretty easily, but ask me about it if you have questions). The child can write and draw on the tip-in, and it will fold up to still reveal all of the words.

Middle school aged children do great with Bible journaling. I know this because I lead a small Bible journaling club for middle school students. This is the type of template that we use often. The students draw and watercolor, and then we glue the template into the margin (Or use it as a tip-in. Yes, I really like tip-ins). Since Bible journaling incorporates prayer, reading the Word, and thinking about the Word, it is a great opportunity to communicate your faith when you do this together. Yet, Bible journaling as a family has a different dynamic than using Bible journaling alone as a quiet time. The quiet, alone times are important too.

Thinking Long Term

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Just as family Bibles used to be passed down in families, think about your Journaling Bible as something that you can use to communicate spiritual heritage. It could be passed down in your family someday. Seeing Bible verses in your handwriting could be a beautiful moment for the next generation. I plan to dedicate a page to my spiritual heritage through my grandma soon; she was a devout woman who loved God with all her heart. Even if the art is not always perfect (or even if it’s pretty bad), it is a tangible connection to you and your spiritual journey. Remember to write down times that God answers your prayers or He teaches you something new.

Join Me on the Bible Journaling Journey

Please join me by following Bible Journaling Journey via email or WordPress Reader. I plan on doing a giveaway next month. I hope to see you here!

Challenge #3: Think about how you can create a legacy with your Bible journaling. Pray about how God can help you use it to communicate your faith or to put you in the right mindset to make a real impact wherever you are.

Pick Up Your Sword

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Do you have days when you feel powerless? As Christians, we know that everything is not in our control. Yes, we have many choices that we make in the day, but God often puts us in situations where we must surrender to His guidance. Even as He communicates, we don’t see the whole picture — so we just have to trust.

Where is our power? So much more is accomplished in prayer than we could probably comprehend this side of Heaven. If you have asked Christ to come into your life, forgive your sins, and give you life eternal with Him, then you have the Holy Spirit as your helper.

You also have the sword.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

Ephesians 6:17 calls the Word of God the “sword of the spirit.”

As we practice Bible Journaling, we have the opportunity to make the sword a part of our daily armor. That is one of the things that is so beautiful about Bible Journaling — encounters with the Word are what bring us strength.

We are reading the Word, speaking the Word, thinking about the Word, and putting that experience into a creative expression that will help us remember to practice the Word in our lives. In doing so, we are sharing our testimony about what God has done for us along the way, and there is power in shared testimony as well.

No, Bible Journaling is not just doodling a pretty picture. It is preparation for the day.

Pick up your sword! The Holy Spirit will bring the verses to mind when you need them.

In Luke 24:13-35, Jesus appears to his disciples after His resurrection, but they do not realize it is Jesus that they are talking to yet because they are so deep in confusion and sadness after the crucifixion. Jesus begins to remind them of scriptures as they walk together, and eventually they reach a place to eat together.

And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:31-32

Christ was literally among them, and he quoted the scriptures to remind them of the bigger picture. People have been martyred for the very Bible we read today. The man who translated the Bible into English (what was then Middle English, for those of us who really like to geek out on language) faced steep persecution for translating the Bible into a language that common people could understand.

When we open the word, we are connecting to ancient words, ever true. At one time, people were hand-copying the words into illuminated manuscripts. Now we are interacting with those same words in our Journaling Bibles.

 

Bible Journaling Challenge #2: The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. What does that mean to you? Hand-letter a verse inside the shape of a sword, or draw yourself holding a sword.