10 Things Instagram & Pinterest Don’t Tell You About Bible Journaling

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If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I’m just a little bit obsessed with Bible journaling.

After months of watching YouTube and looking at pretty pictures on the internet I decided to dip my toes in… only to find out that I had actually been Bible journaling for years – just without the pretty pictures (you can read that story here).

Recently I got a journaling Bible – the one I chose was the Inspire Bible because, well, it was already pretty so I didn’t have to worry about actually drawing pictures since art isn’t a natural gift of mine.

But since I’ve had my Bible I’ve come to notice a couple of things… things that don’t reflect in the pictures that show up in your feed, things that are sometimes not even evident until you watch enough hours of Bible journalists (like anything under umpteen hours will probably prevent you from realizing it).

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt since receiving my journaling Bible:

Here are 10 things you didn't learn about Bible Journaling from Pinterest or Instagram.

1. Heavy medium damages Bible pages. Some medium causes wrinkling, others cause discoloration and an increased fragility of your page.

Now if you are slightly OCD about books like I am that may be a deal breaker for you. It will be difficult to think about adding things like water and coffee grounds to your Bible pages.

The Fix: Don’t do it in your Bible. The answer may seem a little obvious but sometimes we just need someone to tell us that it’s okay to not do Bible journaling in our Bibles.

It’s perfectly acceptable to illustrate our faith in a separate book or on paper. Personally I like to make my notes on a sheet of loose paper which I then keep in a binder. This makes it so much easier because then I’m not bound by the amount of space that I have in the margin.

I can literally write to my heart’s content. Then I can store my pages sequentially to reread the messages whenever I want or need to.

2. Starting may be your biggest hurdle. You may find yourself so intimidated by all the images rolling through your feed that you feel impotent.

While you may have heard many persons assure you that “it’s all about your time with God” still you may find that you make excuses to start.

Yes, we know it’s about spending time reading the word of God but the pressure to produce may become so huge, so ginormous that you are not even able to crack open your Bible let alone draw a stick figure.

The Fix: Just start. It may be easier to start by reading. Don’t think what your journaling entry is going to look like or anything like that.

Just pray and ask God to open your eyes so that you can see wondrous things in his work – that’s a prayer he loves to answers. When he does, try to capture it as best as possible.

3. Journaling cards may be too heavy for your Bible. One of the big things that persons do is a journal card “tip-in” or “tip-out”.

Basically this is where a piece of cardstock – usually with a journaling prompt – is washi-taped into your Bible. But here’s the thing y’all – cardstock is really heavy for a bible page so it tends to make it flop if added to the edge and stiff and ‘stucky’ (my word which just means that it leaves this hard impression under the pages) if taped into the spine.

The Fix: Use regular paper. You can decorate it or use printed paper but it will definitely be lighter and more similar in texture to your existing pages.

4. The Bible that most persons use for journaling is not the one they read. Did that surprise you? Me too! I always wondered why some persons covered the words in their Bibles and chalked it up to personal differences.

Covering up the word is something that I decided not to do and it’s a choice that each person needs to make for themselves.

When I realized that a lot of Bible journalists have a separate Bible that they read during their devotional time it made total sense – there was an audible click as things fell into place for me. It explained why they are a little bit more flexible when to choosing medium to use in their faith illustration.

The Fix: Decide what end of the spectrum you are on and if you will have a Bible dedicated solely to bible art.

5. Doodling, painting, drawing pictures or sewing in your Bible may not be what Bible journaling look like for you. Maybe you’re actually going to … journal, you know, write words … and that may be all you do. And that’s okay.

It’s important to be yourself and do the things that match your personality and your identity in Christ.

The Fix: Do you. But be willing to experiment (maybe on a separate piece of paper or a journal).

Bible journaling collage 1

6. Even writing on the pages of your journaling Bible will cause the pages to curl up at the edge. Yes, this will straighten out once you close your Bible but I wanted you to be prepared for it. 

The Fix: Keep your Bible closed for a few minutes after writing your entry. Make sure the ink is perfectly dry first to prevent smudging.

7. It’s not about the pretty pictures. Now I’ve said this before and I’ve actually heard it said by countless YouTubing Bible journalists… the pictures are just a single part of the whole experience.

You’ll know this if you ever tried to copy someone else’s Bible art – it may be pretty but it may be less meaningful than a concept that sprung up out of your own worship.

The Fix: Focus on the worship and the lessons that God is whispering into your heart. If you find yourself getting distracted, whisper a prayer and ask God to help you focus on what’s important.

8. You may have actually done more faith journaling in your ‘regular’ Bible than you do in your journaling Bible. Ever since I’ve gotten my journaling Bible I’ve found myself reaching for my regular Bible with the narrow margins. I feel as though I’m not quite ready to move on… it’s actually become a challenge for me to figure out how to add color and beauty to my Bible with the itty-bitty margins.

The Fix: Well there’s actually no cure for this one (smile), so keep showing up for your time with God and expressing your faith in whatever medium you’re comfortable doing so.

9. The journaling Bible and the images therein are a lot smaller than you may realize. This was another shocker for me – the images look so much bigger when you’re looking at a picture than they actually are so I was a little surprised at how short my Bible was.

In order to give us space to journal (and the ability to lift the Bible) the print in the journaling Bible may be a little smaller than you’re used to.

The Fix: When choosing a journaling Bible go for a large print edition if at all possible. There are a few of them on the market now which gives a bit more flexibility when choosing a Bible. 

10. A 2-inch margin actually means 1 5/8 of an inch journaling space. Yes, I know that the margins are advertised as being 2 inches. In actuality, it’s a little bit less but they didn’t lie to you.

Let me explain – there is about 2 inches of space between the last word in the column and the edge of the page. However, only about 1 5/8 of an inch is lined space.

What you may not be able to tell by looking at the pictures is that there are rows of little dotted lines in the margins of the journaling Bible.

Bible journaling collage 2

These lines make it easy for persons who actually write words in the margins to keep things neat and straight without presenting much of a humbug for those who prefer to paint or draw.

The Fix: If you find that you actually need a full 2-inch margin, get away from the lines. Start your illustration closer to the words and use up every available white space. 

The Tracing Paper Trick

I wanted to share one more thing with you: the tracing paper trick. I use tracing paper because of availability but you can use deli paper and the effect is the same – this thin paper makes an excellent tip-in.

In fact this is what I use instead of journaling cards now as they are so much lighter and more gentle on my Bible pages.

I simply put my design on the tracing paper and tape it into my Bible. The good thing about this method is that I’m able to use things that I’m not able (or ready to try) in my Bible … think markers and paints. I get a cute picture – that’s translucent - without having to worry about what it would do to my pages - perfect, right?

I may do a tutorial on this someday (smile), until then, have you tried Bible journaling? What did you find most surprising when you started? Share them in the comments below.

Loved this post on Bible journaling? Check out the rest of the series here.

Get your own Inspire Bible and start Bible journaling today!