Friday, March 11, 2016

Why do I bible journal?

I discovered bible journaling by accident in January 2015.

I had made the decision to be more intentional in 2015 about happiness, joy, and my relationship with Jesus.

The 5 years leading up to this decision weren't easy for me. They held a lot of surprises. Cancer, a new baby with Down syndrome and all the things that go along with adjusting to a life you weren't expecting.

I was unhappy, anxious, and tired. I was tired of being unhappy, anxious and tired and I wanted some place to put all my notes as I started my new journey to intentionally learn who Jesus really was, but I wasn't really sure what I wanted or needed.

I ran across Kristin Schmucker's Instagram by complete accident. I'm honestly not even sure how I found her and saw the most beautiful bible I ever did see....and what was that? 2 inch margins for notes?! In a bible?! It couldn't be. I scrolled and saw in her hashtags #biblejournaling, clicked on it and thus my world was changed.

That's when I discovered Illustrated Faith. I actually had no intention of painting in my bible when I bought it, because I have never considered myself creative or artistic (except it's the one thing my soul always yearned to be)...but when I got it, it's the first thing I did.

So, since February 11, 2015 I have been painting in my bible. And it has been amazing.

Before I started bible journaling, I had such a hard time studying the bible. So hard, in fact, that I didn't do it.

I would start reading or begin devotionals and never finish them because, honestly, they bored me. I couldn't get into it. I couldn't stay focused. I definitely couldn't get excited about being in the word.

But now that I've started journaling, it's something I look forward to every day. I look forward to seeing what God has to say to me, what He has to teach me. It has helped me with anxiety. It's such a peaceful and calming stress reliever. It has taught me what joy is, how it's not the same as happiness and it's teaching me how to attain it.

It's led me to meet wonderful women that I know I'll consider friends forever. It's presented me with opportunities I never would have gotten before. It has truly been a huge blessing in so many ways.

I am also not under the false impression that bible journaling is for everyone.

I have had a lot of people ask me if I can read the words after I paint. No, not always. But that's okay with me. I have other bibles I use for studying. This one is specifically for journaling.

And I don't hold the book itself as sacred. It's the words inside that hold the power. The thing is, when I look through these pages, I can feel what I felt when I painted them. I remember why I painted them. I date my entries and I write my thoughts in a notebook when I remember.

Bible journaling can be an extremely personal and therapeutic thing if you let it. It can be so rewarding. But, I also know that some people aren't okay with painting or writing in the bible. That just might mean that this form of worship isn't for you. And that is totally okay! We all have our things. What's important is that you find your thing and that it makes your relationship with God stronger.

Just like the memorial stones God had Joshua and 12 other men stacked at the Jordan river so the Israelites could be reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the future, that’s what these bible pages are for me. They’re a documentation of how God has been with me from season to season. How He has never left me. How He has spoken to me and how I have responded to Him.

The art shows how God used HIS word to intertwine into the story He has written for ME & how I am responding to Him. The pages are the memorial stones of His faithfulness in my life. They’re things myself & my kids can look back on. They are are stacked w/ the intent of remembering how God has moved in my life. I will cherish these bibles forever, physically & in my heart.

I pray someday that my kids can look back on them & learn from them too. I hope they see a woman who was not perfect, but sought after the One who is. I hope it inspires them to seek Him too.  I want them to see I struggled in life just like they will, but I leaned on Jesus the best I could and He was there for me. I want them to see the things God taught me and hope they can learn them too.  I want something tangible they can have of my journey with Jesus and I pray that it means the world to them.

So that's it, friends. That's why I do it. I think everyone probably has different reasons, but we all have one thing, the most important thing, in common and that is Jesus. 😘 To see more of my pages, please find me on Instagram --> @neelysphoto and say hi!


  1. This is beautiful, Neely. So much of your soul comes through in this and its even more lovely than your journaling pages. -Michelle (aka mnpgrue on Instagram)

    1. That's so sweet, Michelle! And it means so much to hear! Thank you! :)

  2. Neely, you are such a delightful transparent soul! I don't think you quite realize just what an inspiration you are! 💗
    I'm lovepinklucy, by the way!

    1. Crystal, that means so much to me. Thank you!

  3. This is great! I'm so thankful you kept my Instagram feed busy with all your beautiful pages. It inspired me to start my very own journey with bible jornaling. I knew it was something I wanted to try but gave myself every excuse not to. It's amazing to go back and look at the pages and remember the connection you made with His word. That's what I was always missing with just doing regular devotions. There's nothing better then reading, painting and connecting! Thank you for pushing me with you beautiful work and words. Much love sister!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad that it has helped you connect better! It's definitely rewarding!


© neely beattie
Maira Gall