I recently tried a little Bible and art journaling experiment with a group of girlfriends. It was especially awesome for us in part because we weren’t all regular “Bible journalers”. In fact, the four of us could be called an unlikely group of friends, as we are all very different.
A few years ago, the four of us led a women’s Bible study together at church. And this was no regular Bible study. (Meaning we weren’t exactly polite ladies sipping sweet tea and smiling over tea cakes.) It a group of women who got realover a period of months. We got personal. We got raw. We got vulnerable. And we got close. And we’ve stayed that way. It’s glorious.
We call ourselves The Book Club.
That’s why I wanted so badly to start this what I’m calling my “Get Psalty” experiment with this group… We are so close yet so different, and some of us love to get creative more than others! (And at least one of you just started laughing reading that sentence…)
My immediate reaction was: all the heart eyes for this journaling psalter!
And I thought to myself: The girls will love these!
Maybe, I thought, it would be cool to exchange them with each other. I knew it would be a great way to lift them up. It’s the exact opposite of a “Mean Girls”-style “burn book”, and it could really help us celebrate each other.
But would they try it?
So I brought the idea to my Book Club girls. I suggested we each have a Psalter and do a little work in it ourselves, then exchange them and work in each other’s.
The idea is that we keep exchanging them over a period of weeks, months or years, and in doing so we end up studying the book of Psalms together and celebrating each other and our friendship in the process. And we come away with a treasure for each of us – a keepsake with words from our girls that we will treasure always.
The Book Club girls showed immediate (but brief) excitement, followed by some apprehension and maybe a teensy bit of terror: We love it! How awesome! But wait… what if we make a mistake? What if my page looks stupid? What if it isn’t as good as hers?!? What if completely ruin it? What if I’m not good enough at this!?!? What if what if what if…?!?!?!?
Isn’t that how it so often goes for us as women? There’s excitement about something new, followed by that fear of failure… the comparison to others that makes us feel we don’t measure up… that (no-good, conniving, lying) voice inside us that says to us, “You can’t handle this. You aren’t good enough.” (Except we are. And you are.)
So we did it anyway. And I’m so happy that we did!
We had to speak the words out loud that we would have grace for ourselves and for each other. “Mistakes” do not exist… only happy accidents (thank you, Bob Ross, for that phrase!).
Now, we exchange psalters about once a month or sometimes a bit more often. We take someone’s (not our own), do a page as a tribute to or prayer for each other, and then we return them a week or two later. And each of us fights the urge to cry. Every. Single. Time.
Flipping through one of our psalters, you’ll find things like:
- “You inspire me to be a better person. You are truly my sister.”
- “Love you, my friend with the infectiously amazing smile.”
- “God, you continue to pour out your love through her life and friendship…”
- “God, thank you for… she is truly a gift for me and I love that you use her to show me who You are…”
When my spirit has been weaker than my day has been long, flipping through my psalter and reading what my Book Club sisters have written legitimately changes my spirit. Quickly.
It’s glorious. And I will cherish it always.
Soon, at my Bible Journaling studio called Flippy Doodle, I’ll be hosting a “Bring Your Besties and Get Psalty” workshop for those who want to try it out. Bring a friend, your sister, daughter, mother, neighbor, bestie, colleague, or even commit to try it out with someone you don’t know well yet. I assure you that you’ll cherish the result!
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My grandmother passed away when I was 17. Days later, when family were going through her things and dividing up each of the items she had kept for years, my mother asked if there was anything specific at my grandmother’s I really wanted. I could think of only one thing – her Bible.
See, my grandmother’s Bible was many, many years old. The outside was quite worn, and the inside was even more lovingly used. This was not a Bible that had collected dust on a shelf; it had been used, and used heavily.
My grandmother was a firm believer in making notes and her Bible. Notes sometimes included the names of people for whom she had prayed and the dates, or sometimes the events about which she was praying. A note and a date on a Scripture in grandma’s Bible was a glimpse into the depths and breadth of her prayer life.
I was so grateful that my family allowed me to have this treasure. It was indeed a valued family heirloom. It was her “legacy Bible.”
Years later, I discovered something called “Bible journaling,” thanks to my friends at DaySpring. I believe it resonated with me so deeply because in a way it was already part of my family’s faith history. And while she wasn’t using paint or stickers or drawings, my grandmother had spent years making notes and her Bible – meaningful notes – notes that had a lifetime impact and touched us many years after she had already departed this earth.
Now, as I’m documenting my faith in my own Bible, my hope and prayer is that this Bible will become a family heirloom as well. Maybe some of the words I write or draw or’s even scroll in my Bible will be read years after I’m gone and maybe make an impact on someone years down the road.
If you read through my grandmother’s Bible, for instance, you might find a verse labeled Melody and Sharon with a date from the early 1973. The Scripture refers to the Potter and the Clay. My belief is that what my grandmother was praying about was that I would have a relationship with my mother.
See, during that time in our lives, my mother was suffering with serious mental health struggles. Her health was very poor. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, and I know her greatest fear was that I would never be close to my mother. I know that she prayed fervently against that and prayed bravely and boldly for my mother in for me and for our future together.
Those prayers are most certainly answered, as I grew older and found great redemption in my relationship with my mother despite all of her troubles. My mother was a believer, a very faithful woman, and I came to be a woman of faith as well.
Another great find in my grandmothers Bible or notes from February 1987. She had underlined Psalm 121:3: He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
That scripture was so tremendously important because during that period of time my grandmother had an aneurysm in her leg. Doctors feared it would cause her death and were prepared to amputate her leg. My grandmother, a very independent woman, feared that amputation much more than she feared death. And she prayed fervently for that surgery not to happen. What’s most interesting about that passage from her Bible is that it was the very night she passed away. I believe she breathed a prayer to God to take away the need for the surgery, underlined that beautiful scripture, closed her Bible and placed it at her bedside, then slipped into bed and peacefully went home to meet Christ.
That Bible is so precious to me.
These days, I spend a lot of time Bible journaling (and now even working in my own little Bible Journaling Studio called Flippy Doodle), and my most precious entries are in the leather-bound journaling Bible I lovingly refer to as my #LegacyBible. It includes lots of underlined scriptures, dates and names of family and friends, references to important events in my life and the world, and photos and mementos that I treasure. I pray it’s the one our little guy will hold onto long after I’m gone. And I especially pray he will read it and get even a tiny sliver of the sort of joy I’ve found in flipping through my grandmother’s Bible.
It’s history. It’s family. It’s legacy.
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