HANCOCK COUNTY — Rows of evergreen trees grace a page in Stacy Jones’ Bible. Behind them, the bluish-purple of a watercolor mountain peak blends with the words of a Psalm.
On the facing page, green pencil accents the first verse of Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from?”
Artistic Bible journaling brings creative expression next to the words of Scripture. The embellishment that has for years marked pursuits such as scrapbooking or making greeting cards finds a new focus, applied — gently, for most Bibles have thin pages — to interacting with the verses.
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“It’s just a fun way to get the word of the Lord out there,” said Deb Jackson, who with Jones has led Bible journaling sessions at Wilkinson Church of Christ.
A Bible journaler generally has a separate Bible devoted to that artistic expression. Jones said she uses a different Bible for Bible studies. She also keeps a practice notebook to try out art ideas: “I don’t want to make a mistake in my Bible.”
She and Jackson began the group sessions they led with a Bible verse to read, a reflection on that and a time of prayer. Then the 26 to 30 people gathered would try different types of embellishments at stations.
“It was amazing to see the different ideas people came up with,” Jones said.
“They have talked about how that has gotten them back into reading (the Bible,)” Jackson said. She said the journaling has done that for her, too.
A different group discussed Psalm 23 at the start of a recent Bible journaling class at Palette and Paper in Oaklandon. Then, crafting faithful from as far away as Lebanon and Bloomington turned to their totebags, which held colored pencils and tools for shading and blending the colors.
The Bible brought by Brandi Thomas, the leader of the session, featured watercolors, highlighting, die-cut shapes and calligraphy. On one page, a fish swam a different direction from the school. The scene was near Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”
Thomas, who was born in Greenfield, also teaches Bible journaling at her home church in Greenwood.
“I feel like it helps me connect. It definitely helps me remember, because of the multi-sensory experience,” Thomas said.
Down the table from Thomas, Joan Webb of Greenfield was shading around a lamb. Group members were tracing a lamb onto the margins of a Bible page. Psalm 23, the passage they discussed, begins, “The Lord is my shepherd…”
“We all go through periods of life when we’re more attuned to things … to our spiritual life,” Webb said. “It’s easy to get away from it. I felt like I needed to get back to it, and this is a way to help me do that.”
Webb is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Herron School of Art at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and feels art is therapeutic.
“It does not matter how good your art is,” Webb said. “What matters is how good art is for you.”
Jones, co-leader of the Wilkinson classes, said what’s been good for her is artistically documenting a Bible passage that’s been meaningful to her.
“It helps you remember … ‘This is how I felt in this moment.’”
-Journaling Bibles are sold in different formats, some with wide outside margins, some with a center margin, and some as “interleafed” volumes that incorporate blank pages amid the text, said Bible journaling teacher Brandi Thomas.
-Caranita Wolsieffer, an Outlook Christian Church member ministering in Italy, released “Child of God, Delight in Him” in 2017. The McCordsville church played host to a book launch party in August when Wolsieffer was visiting. The book combines a Bible study about different names of God with art journaling and coloring pages.
-Palette and Paper in Oaklandon offers monthly Bible journaling classes. It will also offer a Bible journaling retreat Feb. 15-18 at Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center in Beech Grove. Learn more at www.paletteandpaper.com.