Illuminating the Word

Illuminating the Word

My majors in college were art and music. I was seeking a teaching degree and K-12 certification. Life happened and, with about as much accuracy as a SCUD missile, I missed the target by 30 credit hours. One would think I would have gone back but, as I said, life happened. That was 1981. In January, nearly 34 years after I ended my six-year stint as a student of the arts, I’m finally putting that specific part of my education to use in a focused manner. And it has made such a tremendous difference in my life!

A lot of you reading this will relate with groans to the term “bible study”.  We can read and read and read some more and then Google it and read even more than we had, and still often leave the passage scratching our heads and wondering what it’s all supposed to mean, how does it apply today and, more importantly, how in the world does it impact me personally. We listen to our local ministers. We listen to the celebrity preachers on TV. We might even consult our friends and neighbors. And still, we most often just don’t get it.  Well at least I don’t.

four siSee, the thing is … we each have a way of learning that works best for us individually. There are four styles of learning, and each of us learns in a combination of one or more of those styles. Me? I’m a combination of Visual, Kinesthetic (tactile and doing), and Reading/Writing, in that order.  I only learn through Auditory if it’s said in a way that I can instantly visualize mentally.

That’s why my discovery of art journaling led to a subsequent discovery of bible art journaling that made such a huge difference in how I study, comprehend and, ultimately, apply the lessons in the bible. And it’s been truly, literally heaven-sent.

Book of Kells on display in Dublin
Before you react too harshly, we’ve been adding art to the bible for centuries. This is the Book of Kells ca. 800 AD.

Bible art journaling is, basically, creating a piece of art that illustrates (illuminates) the message you personally get out of the related passage.  With one big difference. Literally speaking, that piece of art is created on the relevant page of said bible. For some of us, that’s a huge step outside our comfort zones.  A) It’s a bible for God’s sake! B) We’re supposed to treat all books (especially the bible) with respect (per my paternal grandmother), to take care of them and preserve them. Not write in them and especially not doodle in them (I’m still pretty sure she’s spinning like a 78 record in her grave over my adventures in this study form).  Heck, I have a hard time throwing out a book that has become water damaged beyond salvaging. My riskiest adventures in marking up books to this point was wearing out a few dozen yellow highlighter pens on my college text books.

But, it happened to me in a gradually accelerating chain of events.  It went something like this:

I saw a post on Pinterest about “art journaling” that looked interesting and something my youth group kids might enjoy doing. If nothing else, I might learn a few new techniques from it that would be affordable and doable by the 12-18-year old members of the group.

The Pinterest find eventually led to a Facebook group hosted by Art to the 5th Academy called the Documented Life Project 2015: Art Journaling. I decided to join it with a goal of completing the weekly challenges as “examples” of art journaling that I could then show my youth group kids and inspire them to journaling greatness.

DLP 2015 is a secular program, but I did my best to find scriptures and messages for each of the challenges which meant twisting the context on a few and eventually led to someone in the group suggesting I might want to check out Shanna Noel’s Illustrated Faith Facebook group, the Journaling Bible Community (awesome, life-changing suggestion!).  And that eventually led me to two others – The Bible Art Journaling Challenge by Rebekah Jones of the UK, and the Documented Faith Project by Stephanie Ackerman, both of which also have Facebook groups.  I’ve linked their websites here as they are also available on Instagram and Pinterest. You’ll find access info to their various social media programs on their websites.

Variety of journals I use
2015 Weekly/Monthly Planner, Prayer Journal, regular journal, all from Office Depot (and probably on clearance); Composition book – 88 cents at Wal-Mart during back to school sales.

Up until recently and even for the faith-based groups, I was doing my art-journaling in anything from a legitimate journal to an 88¢ composition book from Wal-Mart (a purposeful choice as that’s what my youth group kids used to make their prayer journals).  I had beautiful, blank pages to work with. Nana was resting peacefully in her grave. All was well.  Then, all of a sudden, along came Rebekah R. Jones of the Bible Art Journaling Challenge, mentor extraordinaire, with her Week 17 project … “In His Image” (Genesis 1:27).

Let me tell you, I was full-out mired in concrete and raising my hands up to cry, “Why me? Why this? God, you KNOW I’m not pretty!” You see, our challenge was to do a self-portrait on the blank left hand page next to the first page of Genesis. Now, Rebekah is a calm and patient and gentle teacher. There would be no punishment if I just … sort of skipped that assignment.  But a higher power than even Rebekah stepped in and compelled me to study the passage, to study what Rebekah had said about it, and … finally … to do it. And I did. And the rest is history and a love affair with the Bible that I pray will never ever end.

WK 17 – In His Image

This is the first of, I’m sure, a series of posts on the subject and my experiences with it.  I hope you’ll follow along! PS:  Nana? Don’t get too upset. Everyone says I look like you!

PSS … Seriously, being patient is part of attaining God’s plan for your life, but if you just can’t stand the wait … click here for a link to a set of galleries of the finished pages.