Choosing a Journling Bible in the UK

A friend asked recently about where to get a journaling Bible, and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to jot down some of my thoughts for a blog post at the same time and put up the links for anyone else who might like to get a Journaling Bible in the UK. [NB All the picture links are affiliate Amazon links, because it means I can show a picture, whilst still respecting copyright. I have listed all my favourite on-line retailers at the end.]

The Journaling Bible I use is the NIV Mint Polka-dot Bible (NB at the time of writing, this is currently being reprinted and is back out in February 2016). It is beautiful and I love it. It is about the size of an A5 notebook and 3.5 cm thick. The paper is quite thick, although you do have to be gentle with it. The margins are just less than 5 cm (4.9 cm precisely) from text to edge and they are lightly lined, with narrow lines (just less than 1/2 cm space between lines). I like the lines as I find it helps with getting  my lettering straight and because they are light, they are not noticeable on pictures I draw.

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What I do not like about my Journaling Bible is the new NIV text. For instance, it takes gender neutrality so far that it renders some passages nonsensical and some of my favourite passages I just don’t even recognise! However, I only use my journaling Bible for drawing and writing in, so it doesn’t bother me too much. I tend to read the passage in my every day Bible and then I journal in the NIV Bible. [Currently my every day Bible is an ESV Literary Study Bible and as an aside, this is the best Bible I have ever owned, but that is for another blog post…]

With hindsight, if I was buying a journaling Bible now, I guess I could choose one of the ESV ones, as they have a huge choice of covers and styles. Also, if you prefer another translation, you can get most Bible translations in the form of a Bible suitable for journaling in. For instance, The Note Takers Bibles, have a large margin and are available in many translations. However, in my meditation process, I usually use a parallel Bible we have at home, or the brilliant parallel Bible feature available on Bible Gateway, to read the different translations of the passage I am meditating on. I journal the text from the verse that reminds me most of how the Holy Spirit is illuminating the meaning for me and how God is speaking to me. So, for me, it still works well to use a translation for Bible journaling that is different to my preferred one.

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This text actually comes from the Living Bible Translation

 

I would recommend doing some research by asking Mr Google to find reviews on the Bibles you are interested in. Often you can find someone who has blogged about the Bible you are looking at, so you can see more of the inside and hear about how it works for journaling. Also, you can get 2 column journaling Bibles, like my NIV Bible, but there are also some single column journaling Bibles, which give a different space at the side of the text and a whole different feel to the journaling you do. (I am really enjoying the single column of my Literary study Bible, but it is a very different reading experience to the normal double columns.) If you go to Christianbook.com, whilst you may not want to order the Bible from them, as they are in the US, they have a brilliant filter function on Bibles by type and style and cover etc. and also many of the Bibles feature videos or pictures from inside , which is very useful.

Here are the on-line Retailers, that I would personally recommend and who sell journaling Bibles at the time of writing (NB these are just my personal recommendations based on my own experiences):

ICM Books Direct: The home of Christian Books… I think all the books ICM sell are discounted, but in any case, it is the best place to start to find discounted Journaling Bibles and books of all kinds.

Wordery – do a brilliant selection and are very reasonably priced.

Eden – again do a large selection of Journaling Bibles, although they are not always the cheapest.

Amazon does a lot of the journaling Bibles – again, they are not always the cheapest.

And then, once you have chosen your Bible, check out this great blog post by Deborah Gregg on getting started with your Bible and check out Faith Treasury Etsy Shop for some awesome art journaling kits to get you started with art supplies.

Enjoy 🙂

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Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul…

“Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul” Dr John Maxwell.

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It can be easy to focus on the negatives and forget all the blessings that God gives us. I am currently enjoying Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts  .

 

I think at this time of year, more than any other, we can suffer from discouragement. As I mentioned in my previous post on performance vs peace, it is a time when we can desperately want things to be perfect, yet despite our best laid plans, it can all be somewhat of a flop. That is why I needed to remind myself of how to be an encourager this week, so I can encourage others, but also, so I can encourage myself!

Barnabas (son of encouragement) is such an amazing example of an encourager. Check out Acts 11:19-26, where you will find that Barnabas was full of faith, full of the Holy Spirit and full of fruit, which enabled him to be such a great encourager.

And isn’t this what our families and churches need? They should be places of encouragement! It is so easy to find things to criticise in church and at home – really anywhere. We can make a difference by looking for opportunities to encourage each other and making our homes and churches places of encouragement.

So to be like Barnabas:

When we are full of faith – we can be looking for God at work in all circumstances. We can ask, what is God doing, what might He do?

When we are full of the Holy Spirit – we can be led by the one who is called the encourager and helper. He is slowly changing us and improving our character, leading us to display more fruit in our lives. He is building us up, so we can build others up.

When we are full of fruit, we can be like Barnabas, who was full of fruit and then pulled the best out in others to make them fruitful for God too. God is saying, “I can achieve much through you”.

John Stott said that discouragement is the greatest enemy of the church, and I think it is one of the greatest enemies of the home too. So, let us encourage one another today – encourage our children and our husbands, and our brothers and sisters in Christ, and create a fertile soil for growth and fruit. Discover what God wants to achieve through you today, as we encourage one another.

 

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A little poem I wrote, reflecting on God’s love – He gives a waterfall, when all we need is a thimble, so that we can overflow His love into other’s lives and encourage them and have freedom to live abundant lives, whatever our circumstances are. Love Big – says it all!

Merry Christmas to you all

Love Michaela 🙂

(My Blog post is written using the notes I took from Geoff Colmers Sermon – “Encourage one another” TVBF Sermon 19 January 2014 )

Prayer: The World’s Greatest Wireless Connection

“Prayer: The worlds greatest Wireless connection” was a T-shirt quote I saw recently, which I just love. It reminds me of the Bible’s exhortation to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Now I love to pray, but  until recently I felt like a dismal failure at praying all day. I had been brought up to see prayer a bit like that chorus –“Prayer is like a telephone, for us to talk to Jesus”. Really, a telephone is not a great picture for me regarding prayer. I find using the telephone is highly stressful with little people around (or even big ones) and usually while I am on the phone some kind of minor accident or altercation or a burning desire to ask permission for X, results in it being nigh on impossible for me to hear the other person, let alone believe that they might hear me.

At the beginning of the summer a kind friend sent me a book by Evelyn Christenson called What Happens When Women Pray which revolutionised my prayer life. I’ve already shared that I love to pray, so I didn’t expect to find much to learn when it came to prayer, but I could not have been more wrong! If you have ever found prayer difficult, boring or dull or even if you think you are pretty good at it, you really need to read this book (that was just my roundabout way of saying everyone needs to read this book). The formula Evelyn gives for small group prayer and prayer meetings would really change the course of the church in the modern world, if people would use it, because instead of prayer meetings being the least attended church events, I think they would be the most attended.

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Prayer can and should be a joyful experience! (Yes, even prayer meetings…)

 

However, for today, I wanted to share about personal prayer. I love pictures and illustrations and I am eternally grateful for the picture Evelyn gave me to replace that old telephone analogy.

“Pray without Ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Did you ever sit in a room before a glowing fire with someone you love? Did you talk every minute? Or did you feel compelled every now and again to clear your throat and say, “Now dear, I think I’ll say something to you.” Then with a bright introduction, did you proceed with a formal speech? Of course not. When you’re with a person you love, there need not be a bit of conversation in order for you to experience real communication. If you feel like saying something, you do; if not, you don’t, but the line of communication is always open.

Praying without ceasing is like that. How? It’s simply turning the dial of our communication system with God to on, making possible a two-way conversation with Him at any time. When that communication line is open, we can say whatever we want to Him, and He in turn can say anything He wishes to us. Yes, it’s possible to “pray without ceasing” 24 hours a day.

Evelyn Christenson What Happens When Women Pray (Victor books 1980) Page 89-90 *Used with permission from Evelyn Christenson Ministries

This was just so helpful a picture for me. I felt the pressure was off and I didn’t feel a failure anymore – this was kind of what I already did, but now I could be more intentional about it.

I am not a morning person, and I do not do my devotional time first thing (incidentally, Evelyn mentions the same thing), but what I now try and do every morning, is to say, “Hi Lord, good morning,” to remind myself of that wireless connection. I also try and finish my day with a “Good night, Lord” and I always try and think on a Bible verse before I go to sleep, which I find really helps me drop off to sleep peacefully.

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Little moments of beauty are an opportunity to stop and say – “Thank you”

 

 

So, my prayer life now tends to consist of trying to live wirelessly and working in partnership with God, in the trenches, rather than seeing God as being off in some remote location that requires dial-up. When I need to I can say “Help”, “sorry”, “thank you”, “praise Your name” or I can just ‘be’ without saying anything.

The tremendous difference it has made is in my listening. I am not waiting for a phone call from God as though it is some big special occasion, but I am expecting for Him to speak, when I need to hear something, because He is right with me. I spend a lot more of my prayer time in my quiet time listening to what God has to say to me, rather than it being about me sharing a long list of intercession. And sometimes listening is meditating on a verse. Sometimes it is really thinking and pondering on a truth that I have discovered in my Bible reading. Sometimes for me, it is God whispering into my heart (which I would always test against His word). Sometimes it is recognising God speaking to me through a friend, or a child, encouraging me. For instance, one day in my quiet time I was struggling with feeling loveable and that God really had made me awesome (aka Psalm 139:14). I was interrupted by Miss G, giving me a picture she had coloured in, on which she had written, “Mum, I just wanted to say that you are awesome.”

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Bible Journaling is an awesome way to pray creatively and be quiet in your heart and listen. It’s not about producing a masterpiece, it can just be doodling fun and can be very helpful if you struggle with meditating.

 

So, I can do that for you right now too – “You are awesome!” You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and He longs to spend time with you and to be always connected so that He can provide the power source for your life. If you have never read Evelyn Christenson’s book, I really recommend you go and buy it or borrow it and read it! Your prayer life will never be the same again. And I really want to encourage you to listen for God’s voice. We are all unique and different, so the way you hear from God may well be different from the way I hear from Him. The principle way God speaks is through the Bible, His word, so a great way to be listening to God is to be spending time in the Word each day. That doesn’t have to be a whole lot of time. Let’s keep it real here, I have a busy life and a short quiet time (and it’s not really quiet, lol, although that is for another blog post). Maybe you are in a season where all you have time for is a verse. But just meditating on a verse – writing it out on a card and placing it where you see it or adding a screen saver to your computer or phone wall paper, you are going to be feeding on that all day and God is going to use that to speak to you.

Why would we live any different way, when we can be wirelessly connected to the power source 24/7?! Remember – Prayer: the world’s greatest wireless connection.

Be encouraged 🙂

P.S. You can find out more information about Evelyn and her ministry right here.

Faith and the Spyglass…

God has been speaking to me a lot recently about faith. As one of our advent activities this week, we read a beautiful book by Richard Paul Evans* called The Spyglass. It is a wonderfully told story about faith, and what stood out for me, was the role of imagination in faith, taught in the story. I’m not going to spoil the book for you, but the Spyglass of the title is a device that allows the user to look through it and to actually see with the physical eye, what the future could be like. Eventually the characters in the book must learn to have faith without this device, but it enables them to move on from where they are at the beginning of the book.

One of the most familiar verses about faith in the Bible is Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.”(NIV) In the Spyglass story, the people needed help to be able to have faith, because they had trouble imagining how life could be any different from the depths their Kingdom had sunk to. They needed to remember that all of life requires faith – not just over the big questions, but the little things too. Atheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim or Budhist all need faith to believe in the origins of the world, because none of us were there to see it with our own eyes and so far no video footage has surfaced. And all alike, when we plant a seed, we need to have faith to trust that the natural laws will function as we expect and that it will grow and come to fruit. The Spyglass story showed that without some measure of faith, it is not possible to thrive. That is because we need faith and a vision beyond our own physical eyes, since without that the people will perish (Proverbs 29:18).

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People of faith are often depicted in our culture as weak, but I believe the truth is that without faith we would achieve nothing and it is those with the most capacity for faith, who actually have the most potential to achieve great things. I wish I could say that I lived a life full of faith all the time, but I still end up with doubts and fears and worries that I have to keep ‘fessing up and giving to God. However, the Spyglass book reminded me again of the importance of having faith in all aspects of my life and of that truth that the more I can grow my faith, the more potential I have to achieve great things for God. It also reminded me that we are in the long term investment category. The seeds we are planting now in our own lives and our children’s lives require faith and vision to see what they might become. The 5-year-old we are struggling to teach self-control to will one day use those very lessons to do great things for God. My little snatches of time each day with God are sowing seeds of character and excellence that will grow, even though it all seems so meagre in the present.

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Sisters, do not weary of doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest of righteousness (Galatians 6:9). Even though we may not have a spyglass to allow our physical eyes to see what the future might be, may we pray that God will give us the vision in our heart and the imagination to grow our faith and allow us to achieve much more than we ever thought possible, in partnership with Him (Ephesians 3:20).

Be Encouraged 🙂

P.S. *According to the Wikpedia Page on Richard Paul Evans, he belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Whilst I would not agree with many/ most of the claims of the Church he belongs to, I still think the Spyglass book has a relevant and interesting perspective on faith.

[Edit December 2015] P.P.S If you are interested in learning more about imagination and faith, there is a great podcast by Clay and Sally Clarkson here.

 

Wings to fly…

As part of my plan of improving myself and seeking excellence, I have decided to try and read at least one poem each day, just for myself to feed my soul. I read this poem by Emily Dickinson recently and I simply love it!

 

A Book

He ate and drank the precious words,

His Spirit grew robust;

He knew no more that he was poor,

Nor that his frame was dust.

He danced along the dingy days,

And this bequest of wings

Was but a book. What liberty

A loosened spirit brings!

 

By Emily Dickinson

 

I hope that in this busy time of advent, you get a chance to let a book (or poem) give your soul wings to fly.

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Be encouraged 🙂

 

 

P.S. You can get Emily Dickinson’s collected Poems for free on Amazon, just click on the picture below.