Bible Art Journaling – John 21:25

I recently won an online sweepstakes and received the Crossway ESV Journaling Bible. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to win this, as it is the exact Bible I was wanting as a more permanent place for art journaling! (I’ll try to get a review of it up soon.)

Up until today I was too scared to start using it. I didn’t want to “ruin” it. I continued to use my old water damaged Bible for art, but was intimidated by the fresh pages of the new Bible.

Last night I finally jumped in head first and started with the Contents page. I decided to copy one of my favorite doodles that I did awhile back based on John 21:25. I found the initial inspiration on Pinterest and then did my own highly detailed version. I liked the idea of putting this verse on the contents page, as a reminder that these books only give us a glimpse of what God has done. Oh, to see the whole glorious picture one day!

It was a lot harder than I anticipated to get it scaled down smaller for the Bible and maintain the tiny details, but in the end I am content (see what I did there?!?) with the result. I hope it inspires someone else to jump in and start journaling in, through, or about the Word for themselves!

“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

  

Clouds of Circumstance

He climbed up onto the changing table for me to take off his nighttime diaper and get him dressed for the day.  The lightbulb had gone out in that room the night before, so I went over and pulled the curtains open to let some light in.

“Oh, it’s not very bright today,” I said.

“Is the sun bright, Mama?” he asked as he turned his head to look out at the morning sky.

“No, there are a lot of clouds today,” I answered, walking back over to him.

“But Mama, the sun is still bright even when the clouds are out…

I am stunned into silence, barely muttering an agreement as I change his clothes, my mind now somewhere else.  Somewhere deep where emotions run wild and where the Spirit now floods with the light of truth to clean up the mess the emotions have made.

                            The sun is still bright even when the clouds are out…

                                            The Son is still bright even when the clouds are out.

“The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.” (Isa. 60:19)

What my three-year-old has done is not simply correct my scientific logic, he has opened my eyes to how my emotions have been clouding my spiritual vision.  In his moment of innocent insight, he has uncovered an area of great struggle and – yes – sin in my heart.  Let’s call it what it is.  In sin, I have been letting the clouds of my circumstances darken my vision and cause me to lose sight of the fact that my Source of Light has never left me.  

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The sky may be covered, but the Light still shines.

The horizon may be darkened, but the brightness of the Son cannot be diminished.

My vision may be clouded, but His vision is clear and His perspective eternal … and He is for me.

I repent, as the Spirit reveals to me that I have let my emotions and my circumstances become idols in my heart.  I have let them be my guide, rather than His light. In repenting I turn back.  Back to Him, my source of light and life.

Friend, I do not know what clouds may darken your horizon.  I do not know what circumstances may loom ahead.  But I do know that my sweet little boy is right…

Our God still shines bright even when the dark clouds hinder our sight!

Psalm 119:103-109

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
I have sworn and confirmed
That I will keep Your righteous judgments.
I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.
Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord,
And teach me Your judgments.
My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law.

Beauty in Torn Pages

“Desiring God’s will for their lives and believing that includes each other…”

Wedding Invitation

I read over those words, run my finger over the embossed calligraphy so carefully chosen eleven years ago, and I wonder.  Did we really believe that?  Were these just pretty words to grace manilla cardstock, or did we believe them deep down?

Oh yes, we truly did believe that then.  When we picked those specific words to begin our wedding invitation we were a starry eyed young couple who wholly believed that it was God’s will for us to be together.  I realize now that there was a part of me that also thought that if it WAS God’s will for us to be together, and if we submitted to His will, then surely this would be our “happily ever after”…


“Babe, come here.  I’m going to paint your hand.”

“What??”

“I want to paint your hand and put it in Song of Solomon in my art Bible.”

He chuckles a little, shaking his head in amusement, and says, “Alright.”

I hold his hand in mine, turning it palm up, and my heart flutters.  Oh, I love these hands.  Strong, calloused.  Gentle, loving. These hands personify love and strength to me.

I layer on black paint and then carefully turn his hand over to put it on my Bible page…and it is almost too big for the page.

“Squeeze your fingers together so it will fit…” I tell him, before pressing his hand down against the delicate pages of my Bible…


“…believing that includes each other…”

I read those words again.

Do I still believe that today?

‘Yes’ is not strong enough.  I don’t just believe.  I know.  That man is not only my best friend and soul mate, but I can honestly say that I see now how divinely we two have been knit together.  We were literally made – created with Divine design and intent – for each other.  I would not be who I am today without him, and I cannot become who I am to be down the road apart from him.

But did I always believe that?

Absolutely not.  

There were days … months … years even … when I could not see how that could possibly be true.  Pain and woundedness and bondage and heartache clouded my vision and I thought, “Surely this cannot be God’s will.  This cannot be what He wanted for me.”  I loved him – deeply – but loving him hurt too much.  I know he felt the same way at times.  That this marriage was too painful, too hard, to be the divine will and purpose of a loving Father.


“Okay, now slowly lift your hand straight up.”

He starts to pick his hand up and then glances at me hesitantly.  He looks back down and tries to lift even slower, but as he does part of the page sticks.

“Did it tear?!”  I ask, worried.

“I am so sorry!” he says, his voice pained with remorse.  “I tried to lift slowly, but the paint stuck too much.”

I look down to see a beautiful imprint of his hand, but also a page torn in three jagged pieces.

I am disappointed, but also touched that he cares about my little art project.  I grin reassuringly at him and say, “It’s okay.  I’ve become an expert at repairing book pages as the mother of your little boys.”

“Are you sure,” he asks.  

“It’s fine!  Don’t worry about it!”

I’m not actually sure it’s fine, but I feel so loved by him joining me in this moment – by him showing concern for something just because he loves me – that I’m not going to tell him that I’m doubtful I can fix it.

Like a puzzle made of tissue paper I begin to carefully lay the pieces of the page back together. I doubt that it can be saved, but I also can’t bring myself to throw the pieces out without at least trying. It takes some meticulous piecing and taping and touching up, but in the end I sit with my Bible in my hands and smile…

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If only I had known in those hard places, those times when it felt like my heart was being ripped in shreds, what the Lord had planned. If I had truly understood that our loving Father does allow us to walk through fire.  That He does let the pages of our heart be torn.  But that He is also the Father who turns our ashes into beauty.  Who takes the torn pages of our stories and gently pieces them back together.  And then points us to the blank pages ahead and gives us hope that our story is just beginning.


It is my favorite page.

I love it because of how it looks now, but I love it even more because of the story it tells.  A story of destruction and tearing and ruin and mistakes, and then of restoration and forgiveness and redemption and beauty.  Just like us… 

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I am grateful.  Humbly thankful.  Amazed and in awe that the Lord kept us together somehow, and that the marriage I once thought was impossible is now the greatest gift I have.  That the man I once thought I would never be able to respect and live with peacefully is now the most godly and loving man I have ever known.  

Don’t throw out the ashes.  Don’t toss the torn pieces of your story. Put them into the hands of your Father and wait on Him.  Wait to see what He does with them.

You never know … those torn pieces just might become the most beautiful page in your story.

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“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.”

Isaiah 61

Bible Art Journaling – Proverbs 29:18

Proverbs 29:18 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It has inspired several articles and teachings I have written, as well as my husband’s personal favorite doodle of mine:

I knew I wanted to also do something on this verse in my practice art Bible, but didn’t want to merely duplicate my other drawing. It wasn’t until I was listening to some instrumental hymns during my quiet time that it all came together and I knew just what I wanted to do in my Bible…

Yes, let my vision be my Lord! Let His sight be mine. Bring priority, perspective, purpose, and passion in my life, Lord!

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18)

A Personal Process of Grief

Faster than I could even bring to the surface all of my excitement and joy, pain and fear forced their way in.  I had only known I was pregnant for three days (and oh, how much celebrating I did in those three days!) before I ended up in the hospital in intense and confusing pain.  Doctors frowns and furrowed brows and “can’t be certain” statements added emotional pain to the physical.  For nearly two weeks I went to the doctor’s office every single day, to be poked and prodded.  At first the numbers looked good for the baby, but there were concerns about my safety.  Then the numbers didn’t look so good for the baby anymore, and the ultrasound for me still didn’t look good.  The symptoms didn’t look good.  Pretty soon nothing looked good.

When I finally had an answer, when there were no more questions and no more doubt that our sweet seventh baby was no longer with us, I felt a deep sadness – but also, I must confess, relief (and then guilt over that relief).  The doctor had been pressuring me to “deal with it” (“it”- to her – being my symptoms, but to ME being my child’s LIFE) and get it over with on her terms.  But I had refused, repeatedly and unwaveringly.  I was in no position to take a life, no matter how hopeless the doctor thought it was that that life would carry on.

So when I knew the pregnancy was over and that my baby was gone, I felt relieved that the Lord had made the decisions that only He has the authority to make.  While it wasn’t the decision I had been earnestly praying for, it was His decision, and that was what was most important to me.

Even though I had peace about what had happened, I still had to wrestle with the Lord on some thoughts and emotions I was battling.  It was a very hard couple of weeks.

During one morning of prayer journaling and Bible study, with me crying out to God in sadness and weariness, the Spirit gave me an answer in the Word that I took as both permission and a directive:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

I sensed Him telling me, “It’s okay.  Mourn.  Grieve.  Yes you only knew you were pregnant for a few weeks, but you lost a baby.  A baby for whom you longed and prayed.  A baby you loved, no matter how briefly.  Mourn, Amy, and let Me comfort you.

But how do you mourn something you never even saw?  Something you never got to hold?  Something most of the world would say isn’t even worth mourning over?

How do you mourn something so small, yet so valuable, as an unborn life?

For me, it has been a process of sight.  I never got to see the baby.  I never even got to see his or her heartbeat.  On this side of heaven I will never get to see his or her eyes or smile.  To be able to mourn my baby I needed some things I could see.

And the Lord provided.  Day by day, He graciously showered me with steps to take and longings in my heart that allowed me to mourn my lost little one. Step by step I mourned, and at every step I was blessed by the One Who is my Comforter.

Step 1:  A painting.

The week before I miscarried I painted a picture that had been in my mind.  I initially thought the painting was a prayer for the little one in my womb at the time, but the night before I miscarried, as I prayed, I felt at peace that the Lord was showing me that this baby would be with Him in heaven, but that my arms would one day hold more babies here on earth.  While it wasn’t what I was hoping to hear, for some reason it gave me so much peace.

Step 2: A dream.

The night before I miscarried I had such a vivid and life-like dream about the baby.  While I won’t know for sure until I get to heaven, in my dream the baby was a little boy.  Blonde hair and blue eyes and looking just like his brothers; happy and healthy and running around with his siblings.  It was a sweet dream and brought me great comfort over the coming weeks.

Step 3: A name to write.

When I felt the Lord prompt me to name this baby, I didn’t know how I felt about it.  I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl (for sure), and all the names we had picked out for future children are distinctly male or female.  Not really committed to the idea yet, I skimmed through a list of baby names, when it was as if one jumped off the screen and grabbed me, and sobs broke from somewhere deep in me before I had any clue what was happening.  I knew.  I knew then that my baby’s name was Jordan. There was something inexplicably healing and powerful about giving this child a name.  This was not a clump of cells.  It was not merely a fetus.  This was our Jordan, and we will meet him/her in our eternal home!

Step 4: The beauty of the comfort of the church body.

Shortly after I announced that we had lost the baby, the phone rang and it was our church.  A friend had let the office know what had happened and they called to check on us and pray with me.  A few hours later this arrived with a sweet note from our church:

IMG_4081 As if that wasn’t enough, I had mentioned to my husband that there was a book I remembered hearing about that I thought I should read.  Guess what just so happened to show up in my mail the very next day?! Yep, from our church. <3

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Step 5: Something to hold and remember.

With each pregnancy I have always gone out and bought the softest teddy bear I can find.  I usually do this very early in my pregnancy, before I even know the gender of the baby.  Because everything had been such a whirlwind soon after finding out I was pregnant, I never even got a chance to think about doing it for Jordan.  When the Lord reminded me of this it was as if I couldn’t think of anything else until Jordan had a bear.  My husband was so sweet to let me look around until I found the perfect one.  Smaller than all of the other children’s bears, to symbolize the tiny size of the one we lost, but just as soft and huggable because Jordan is a person who one day I will be able to hold just as tight as I hold the ones here with me now!

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Step 6: Something to see and show honor.

Art journaling has become to me a great place of healing and emotional expression over the last year.  I knew I needed to process through some of my grief in art, and felt very strongly that I needed to do a page to honor Jordan in my art Bible.  It took me a couple of weeks to feel ready to do it, as it feels oddly like doing so is closing a door on Jordan’s life.  Almost like, rather than a tombstone on earth, I am memorializing Jordan on the pages of my Bible.  It was hard, but very healing. IMG_4351 IMG_4350 

Step 7:  Remember.

This last step, for me, is the one that I will do every day from here to Heaven.  I will remember Jordan.  I will honor him/her.  I will speak of him/her.  Perhaps I will annoy people.  Perhaps I will make them uncomfortable.  I’m certain I will look crazy.  But I will never forget that I have a seventh baby who didn’t make it to my arms, but has left a permanent imprint on my heart.  

In the words of Dr. Seuss…  “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

And in the Words of my Jesus… “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

Eternal Vision

I’d love for you to scoot on over to my church’s women’s blog today!  There you will find me sharing my heart on what it means when God speaks His vision into our lives.  I hope you head on over to the  Pink Blog, and while you’re there be sure to read the other amazing and inspiring articles from my Gateway sisters!

Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes…

The image of a hurricane is one that often comes to mind as I am in prayer and worship.  In my mind I’ll see the storm of my circumstances or problems raging, and I am being blown every which way by them.  As I struggle to keep my footing, in my mind I will hear Jesus call my name.

“Amy, come to Me.”

I look towards the direction of His voice and I hesitate.  To approach Him means walking even deeper into the turbulence and chaos.  But He beckons again.

“Amy…”

I cannot resist His voice.  I never can. I fight through the winds and debris and grasp at His hand reaching out towards me.  He grabs onto my hand and then…

Peace.

Quiet.

Calm.

We are in the eye of the storm and, though the winds continue to rage around me, there with Him all is calm.

“Be still, My child. Be still.”

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While He is always able, He doesn’t always quiet the storms.  Sometimes He does.  But sometimes…

…sometimes He just quiets us.


After sharing this on a Bible Journaling Community in which I participate on Facebook, someone mentioned that there was a song that they loved that included the words I had painted.  I looked it up, and sure enough there is an absolutely beautiful and encouraging song with this exact message!  If you are needing hope and encouragement in the midst of life’s storms, you should definitely listen to this!