I like to think of myself as a capable independent woman. I’m self-sufficient, I have a good job that I work hard at. I have stamina – I work full time as well as single parenting. I can problem solve on the go, I can organise my finances, I can invest in deep friendships that last, I can discipline my kids with grace and firmness, I can project manage my household within a certain amount of domestic chaaos.
But I still have to say “Never Eat Soggy Weetbix” to remember the points of the compass, I still want a good rom-com so I can feel the rush of vicarious romantic bliss and I still want a Bible that’s pretty. Does that seem shallow? After all, it’s not the cover that counts. God’s word is precious. As a good Protestant, I sometimes feel like my Bible should have a dark monochrome cover and remain unblemished. But then the distinctly feminine side of me wants colour and art and negative space. These kind of specialty Bibles and journaling Bibles are a relatively new fad but they are a genuinely good thing – and I find, not shallow at all. Far from it. For lots of reasons, a beautiful journaling Bible takes me a lot deeper into God’s word.
There are plenty of beautiful journaling Bibles out there. There are some with artistic picture pages, pre-drawn colouring pages, and some with blank writing space. I love looking at art, but I am a horrible artist. Every time I have tried, it looks like a kindy kid drew it (Full disclosure – when my son was 3, I made his hat for the Easter parade and when we arrived at daycare, the teacher said “oh that’s so sweet! You let him make it himself!”).
But the journaling Bibles that have picture pages give me a moment to pause and just take in the colour scheme and the artistic theme. It gives me something to ruminate on as I meditate on God’s word.
Source: NIV Journaling Bible with illustrations by Hannah Dunnett
Some have black and white outlines for colouring in. I’m told many people find this calming – personally I find it a bit boring – but anything that puts you in the moment or switches off the noise of the outside world while you’re in God’s word is something I am a big fan of.
Source: NIV Journaling Bible for coloring in with illustrations by Stu McLellan
My personal favourites are the Bibles that have text space. I use one Bible for my personal devotions, group Bible study, Sunday sermons and conferences. That way, my Bible is filling up in what to other people might seem a chaotic mess, but to me is a collage of thoughts and observations.
Working through a whole book of the Bible with a commentary
Working through passages at a conference – and with some new colouredy pens
Reminders to self about who’s who in the Bible zoo
I am one of those people that remembers more if I take notes. So for me, this approach helps me to ingest more of the learning – note taking focusses my mind which is usually full of all the things I need to do around the house after church, so this helps me switch off the work and domestic to-list and focus.
In addition, I like to read the Bible through every 6 months (ish) and as I work through, these notes give me little reminders of deeper points in the passage.
As Christians, we need to be in the Bible. It’s where our God communicates with us. It’s where we get to know him and what he has done for us. Having a beautiful Bible is not wrong or shallow – it’s useful. For me it helps me focus and be in the moment. It supports my learning and memory style. It makes my daily reading deeper when I get to those previous thoughts and memory joggers. And, frankly, I like pretty things. God made me distinctly female and, as a woman, I like pretty things. I thinks its OK to express that feminine side in a beautiful Bible that fits your personality and devotional style – especially when the focus is not the pretty thing in and of itself, but the one who made us.