Monday, August 6, 2018

Hello Again

Once again I abandoned this little corner of my world for a very long time. My long held dreams of being a "writer" (whatever exactly that means) have shifted significantly over the past few years. Because of that this space hasn't felt as important or needed. I more often than not find myself over on Instagram where the pictures are pretty and the writing is brief.

But, I keep coming back to this, I believe that stories matter. And more than anything else, this blog has been a place to capture my stories. So, I am hoping to come back here and dust things off and re arrange and make myself comfortable again with the words. Life is an adventure, and I would like to share that.

It has been nearly a year since I have written here, and even longer since I have really written about what's going on with me and my crazy clan. I wasn't sure what to start with here and I figure an update is as good an idea as any.

A lot has changed in the past year for the five of us. All of the kids were in school last year and in a few weeks I will have a kindergartner, a 4th grader, and a 5th grader. It's hard for me to believe that my oldest only has one more year at the elementary school.

We spent a good portion of last school year fighting to find answers about our middle daughter's chronic health issues. We still have no reasonable explanation for why she is constantly sick or why she has struggled with side a wide range of symptoms. We did, however, learn how to manage her symptoms and boost her immune system so by the last quarter of the school year she had perfect attendance. This is a first for her since she started school and we celebrated BIG time! She also pulled out A/B honor role despite missing 19 days of school. God was good. He didn't answer my prayers of "why", but He offered comfort and guidance as we navigated "how".  We are starting back with immunity boosters this week and hoping it's a much smoother school year for Goose.

A good bit has changed for me in the past 12 months. With all three girls in school my days were opened up and I began to look more closely at myself and what I needed to thrive. The past year I have learned what it means to make mental health a priority. For me this has meant daily medication for depression and occasional medication for anxiety. It means making my time in the Bible a TOP priority. It has meant going out of my comfort zone over and over again as I find rhythms and routines that work for me.

I also started graduate school and have loved being back in the school environment, even if if it is very different doing it all online. I am about to start my fourth class and have a projected finish date of Spring 2020.

There is so much more to share, and I hope to do that in the days to come. However, right now, this feels like a good place to stop. I am out of practice writing and it will take a while to get back into feeling comfortable again putting myself out there like this. But, it feels right, and I am excited to be back "home."

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Bible Journaling with Kids: Guest post by Amanda Schenkengberger

By Amanda Schenkenberger

As a Bible journaling teacher, one would assume I am swimming with Bible journaling ideas. You would think that you could give me a verse and I would come up with all sorts of brilliant DIY entries. While I have a few good standbys in my back pocket, I am often stumped by what to journal, and especially when I am trying to Bible journal with my kids.
Hi: my name is Amanda, and I'm a recovering perfectist. My kids, on the other hand,  are messy and have their own ideas about what to journal. Not surprisingly, when you try to put rigid Amanda into a loosey goosey kid mold, it doesn't go over well.
Even though it's a stretch for me, as a homeschool mom who loves to Bible journal, I desperately wanted to involve my kiddos in Bible journaling as part of our school curriculum. I wanted to have deep spiritual conversations about Jesus and how we can apply the Word to our lives but I couldn't figure out how to do it.
That was, until I discovered "Bible Journaling with Kids" by Chelsea Wojcik. You know those answers to prayers you never prayed: this book was totally one of them. In this book, Chelsea gives you the basics of what you need to journal with your kids, PLUS 7 focused topical units with Bible journaling prompts for an entire year (examples: love, joy, hope, etc...).
Once I got my hands on this book, I was so excited because the ideas wouldn't stop coming after that. At my finger tips, I had all the verses I needed and easy questions to ask my 5 year old. It gave me the freedom I needed to let go and be okay with my son doing his own artistic thing.
The biggest factor that changed things for me was Chelsea's suggestion of getting your kid their own journaling Bible. I felt like smacking my head against a wall. OF COURSE! Why did I think of that?!
So, as per Chelsea's suggestion, I immediately went to the thrift store and found a children's Bible for my 5 year old and got ready to Bible journal the first verse in the unit about love. And you know what my 5 year old said, "Mommy, this Bible doesn't look like your journaling Bible."
I sighed as the joy of my clever thriftiness vanished. I tried to show him the space he could use to journal but he was a little hurt by that. After all, I send journaling Bibles to women all over the U.S., why couldn't I give him one?
After thinking about it for like, half a second, I let him pick out one. Of course, it was the same cover as my main journaling Bible. My 5 year old is such a sweetie.
Anyway, we ended up having a wonderful conversation about love and who to love and how we could do it that day and what makes him feel most loved. It was the glorious time in the Word I had been wanting to have with my son that, before, had felt unattainable.
I started thinking about this whole predicament I had been in and how well Chelsea's book, "Bible Journaling with Kids" helped me overcome it and I thought, "If I have struggled with Bible journaling alongside my kiddos and I'm a Bible journaling teacher, how many other moms are struggling with it!?"
And that is why I am sharing this book with you because, mom-to-mom, sometimes we just need a little help in order to be able to enjoy our children. Our to-do lists are long and it is easy to get overwhelmed by #allthethings we must do to keep them alive, let alone invest in them spiritually
Then there are times when I don't want to come up with yet another crafting idea to keep his mind occupied. Or I simply have no idea how to engage a 5 year old in a spiritual conversation and I just need someone to say "Do this", and Chelsea has detailed that in her book.
I am so thankful that the Lord had our paths cross through the magic of Instagram because Chelsea has been such an encouragement to me through her book. If you find yourself in the "How do I Bible journal with my kids?" boat as well, there's nothing I can recommend more highly than Chelsea's new book, "Bible Journaling with Kids." Get it! You'll be so thankful you did.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Imperfections and Bible Journaling.

One of my favorite pages...even with the spelling errors.

I am supposed to be blogging every day for 31 day. I missed days three and four. In the past I would have just given up on the project. Missing two days in the first week would have been too much for my perfectionist tendencies. 

But I am not giving up or stopping this project. I have learned a lot from my time journaling the Word. And one of the BIG things I God has taught me is that there is no room for perfectionism in the Christian life or in creativity. I could write a whole blog post about how I have let perfectionism impact my personal walk with God, but I will keep it simple. When I give into perfectionism I am saying I believe perfection is possible in my own power. When I believe perfection is attainable in my own power I'm saying I don't need my Savior.

Unfortunately I have let perfectionism impact my Bible Journaling journey as well. And I have a inkling that I am not alone.

Perfectionism says that if my page doesn't look perfect there is no point in doing it.
Perfectionism says that if my page doesn't look like "hers" then I shouldn't even bother.
Perfectionism says that if my time spent creating doesn't produce a Pinterest worthy out come I wasted my time.
Perfectionism says that I have to have the "right" supplies.
Perfectionism says that I have to be up to date on the latest techniques.

Perfectionism LIES!!!

The truth says that imperfections reflects humanity and need for a savior.
The truth says that God has me on my own journey, that what He is doing in me is different then what he is doing in "her" so my worship will look different.
The truth says that ANY and ALL time in the Word with my Savior is time well spent.
The truth says that it's not about my supplies it's about my heart.
The truth says that growing my faith is far more important than growing my creativity.

It can be so easy to get caught up in perfectionism or what we think Bible Jouranling "should" be.
If we let it, it can become just another box to check or something we use to compare ourselves to other believers that makes us feel "better" or "worse" than some one else.

BUT, if we let it, Bible Journaling can become something that draws us into a sweet conversation with our Lord. Art worship can be something that grows our faith and changes out heart.

So here is my prayer. That you will let go of perfectionism and play freely in the margins of your Bible (or your prayer journal, or hymnal, or whatever.) Pull out your markers and paints and stickers and create with abandon as your worship the Lord.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Why I Bible Journal

I started Bible journaling three years ago. It was back before it was this big thing. There were a handful of women sharing pictures on one facebook page. Since then it has exploded and people's reasons for Bible journaling are as diverse as the people worshiping in the margins of their Bible. Before I go any further in this 31 day journey I wanted to share my personal reasons for adding art worship into my spiritual walk.

*I believe our stories matter.
I grew up in a family of story tellers. I'm sure I have shared that on here before. My father is a forth generation pastor and my mother is a high school drama/speech/composition teacher. Story telling is my culture and my inheritance. The stories that resonate most with us are the stories that point us back to HIS stories. Bible Journaling helps me record my stories and points me back to God again and again. Every time I take to the pages of my Bible to record my story I see His thumb prints all over everything.

*It's my Ebenezer.
Over and over again in the Bible God tells His people to remember. They watch rainbows, stack stones, broke bread all to remember. They build their ebenezers and when their children asked they told them all that God had done for them. My journaling Bible has become that for me. It's where I record what God is doing and what scriptures He is using in my life. When I look back and when my daughters look at those pages I can remind myself and them and any one else exactly what God was doing at that time.

*We are created in the image of a creative God.
We are told in the very first chapters of the Bible that we are created in the Image of God. The God who created the entire universe made us in His likeness. I have to believe this means that we were created to create. This looks different for every one. Maybe for you this manifests as baking a cake, painting a picture, taking a photo, sewing a beautiful dress, creating concise spreadsheets. If I am created in the image of a creative God, then using that creativity to respond to His Word feels so very right to me.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

31 Days of Bible Journaling with Joy

I have tried doing the Write 31 Days challenge twice in the past. Both times I gave up part way through. The first time I just sorta of gave up. Last year I made it about half way through before God called me to a season of silence. It's been a really quiet year for me. I have only posted on here a couple time since last October as I sat with the lessons and seasons God brought into my life.

But, now I feel God calling me to share what's on my heart and how He is working in my life.

Over the past few months our life has gone through a lot of transitions and for the first time ever I find myself with a lot of free time on my hands. I recently celebrated my third anniversary of Bible journaling. In my first journaling Bible I did 66 entries in 2 years and 10 months. I started a new Bible 56 days ago and have already done 60 entries in the Bible and two Bible journaling studies in journals as well as a scripture writing challenge in September. I share all this not to make myself look important, but because God has brought into my life a hunger and excitement for His Word.

Over the next 30 days I want to share with you all why I Bible journal, as well as some of my favorite supplies, techniques and resources.

Through the month I will also be sharing pages from my Illustrated Faith Word Nerd Study. If you would like to join me feel free to check out my affiliate link: Word Nerd.

Day 2: Why I Bible Journal

Day 4: Imperfections and Bible Journaling

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bible Journaling Then and Now

Three years ago I was searching for something. We were going through a lot of transition at the time and while my faith didn't waver, my walk had become rather stagnate.  Then I stumbled across this thing online called Bible Journaling. An amazing woman named Shanna Noel had just started a facebook group and I found a community of women who were expressing themselves creatively in the margins of their Bibles. I fell deeply in love with this style of worship, but a recent change in my husbands job meant we didn't have the finances to buy a wide margin Bible or supplies.

Then an amazing women I had never met before sent me a package through amazon. A Journaling Bible, some washi tape, and some fineliner pens. Sunday will be three years since that package arrived on my door step and changed the way I interacted with my Savior, The Word, and my faith.

I did 66 entries in that Bible in a little over 2.5 years. Then last month I started a new  Bible. Things were shifting for me again and I was being pulled deeper into my walk with God. It seemed like a good time to start a new Bible. Since then I have already done over 30 journal entries. I am seeking the Lord more deeply than I have in a long time.

As my journaling anniversary approaches I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of some of my very first journal entries, and what those same passages look like in my new Bible.

My very first Bible entry September 10, 2014

The same passage in my new interleaved Bible done a few weeks ago.

This was my second journal entry in my first Bible. I had minimal supplies and pulled out things from past attempts at scrapbooking and art journaling.

Both of the entries for the story of Jacob's Ladder were inspired by a sermon my Dad gave years ago. I love that the entries were done nearly 3 years apart and with out meaning to I used a similar color pallet for both.

I forgot to date this one. OOPS! I love this passage in Romans about how we should treat others.

This is one of the first pages I did in my new Bible. I love how you can see how my style has changed and grow. My prayer is that my heart continues to change and grow as well.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Messy Bible Journaling

Hello Dear Friends! It's been a long time. Nine months to be exact and I have missed this space. I tried writing a number of times, but every time I tried I felt God telling me it was time for silence. But at the prompting of some dear friends I think it's time to get back in this space. I'm not exactly sure what that looks like, but I would like to share more about my creative journey the past few years.

Today I wanted to share a little bit with you about my journaling process lately. Our church is nearly two weeks into a 100 day Bible Reading plan that walks through 100 essential Bible passages starting in Genesis and going through to Revelations.

Currently we are still in Genesis and I have been stumped more than once. Doing pages for the "stories" is a bit of a challenge unless you want to draw illustrations. Since that is not my talent or my desire I've had to really think about each entry.

Today's reading was about Joseph and his dreams and how his brothers sold him into slavery. After reading the passage I knew I wanted some sort of nod to the coat of many colors so I started by putting some watercolors down on the page.

While I wanted for the paint to dry I pulled out a couple more resources. I have been using my ESV study Bible a lot as I try to understand the stories better. It's been a big help and I have enjoyed the extra study. When I am still stumped I pull out another translation. Lately I have been using the She Reads Truth CSB Bible as well as my 1984 NIV Devotional Bible. Reading the stories in multiple translations has helped me understand them better.

After the paint dried I pulled out some favorite Illustrated Faith stamps to add another layer to my page. The dots and the plus signs are some of my favorite ways to add some pattern to my page.

My goal on this page was to make a great big mess. I used some cardboard stencils and some gelatos to help achieve the look I wanted. I used my fingers to smudge the color into the stencils. It's not the neatest method but it fit the look I was going for. I also added some bits of washi on the page.

For the phrase I wanted to capture I used Amy Tangerine clear letter stickers and Illustrated Faith home spun alphabet stickers. Once I put them on I wanted them to pop more so I used my thick illustrated faith pen to outline them.

Some tabs, a paper piece, and some journaling and the page was done. As I read through the story today I was struck by the way God can work even in the biggest messes. Jacob played favorites. Joseph bragged to his brothers. His brothers were jealous and lied to their father. Rueben was a coward who wouldn't' stand up to his younger brothers. And yet, in the midst of all that chaos, God was still at work.  If He can work in that kind of mess, imagine what He can do with the mess in our lives.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Last Christmas Pageant: Or Missguided Wisemen, Angry Shepherds, and Baby Angel Wings

In my mind I am 11, but the math says I couldn't have been more than 9 maybe 10. Either way, I was in upper elementary school the year the associate pastor's wife decided to put a new "spin" on the traditional Christmas pageant presented every year at the Christmas Eve service. Preschoolers in cardboard angel wings and bathrobes weren't quiet enough, so we added a bit of creativity.

My best friend, her brother, and I were selected to play three siblings who were so excited for gifts that they missed the true meaning of Christmas. We were visited by a special angel: the associate pastor in a white sweatsuit and the special cardboard wings that were covered in glittered and typically reserved for "the angel of the Lord".

The "angel" narrated the Christmas story to us while our classmates and younger siblings acted it out.

Have you ever read "The Best Christmas Pagent Ever"? If not, you should! While our nativity play wasn't quiet as epic as the one in the book, in my mind, it is close.

My good friend a grade younger than me was selected to play Joespeh and thought himself much to old for the whole production. As a result he spent the entire pageant with his arms crossed and a scowl on his faces The only time he broke his pose is when the Wisemen walked past him. They were supposed to stop and bow down in front of the manger between Marry and Joeseph but I guess we hadn't practiced with every one on the stage. The end result was the wisemen walking right past the baby Jesus doll and kneeling  in the only free space, in front of the Christmas tree.

As if the pastor in sparkling wings made for a five year old girl and misguided wisemen didn't make the night memorable enough, my young brother did.

We were down to the last few moments of the pageant when the baby angels parted to reveal a group of kindergarten "shepherds" hitting each other over the heads with their staffs. My 5-6 year old brother (the senior pastor's son) their apparent ring leader.

To this day if you bring up this story my brother will chime in, "What did you expect when you gave five year old boys sticks?" He will then go on to explain that so-and-so called his best friend fat and what else was he supposed to do?!

Oddly enough, I don't remember doing any more Christmas pageants after that. I'm not sure if I simply aged out, blocked them from memory, or if the powers that be decided to try something different after that year. Whatever the reason that was the last time I remember us doing a Christmas production.*

In the years since I have seen a number of Christmas pageants and productions. They have ranged from adorably painful to spectacular but, none can compare to my memories of the year the wisemen bowed down to the presents and my brother started a sword fight onstage.

*The exception being when my sister directed a Christmas musical with the 5-6th grade Sunday school class, but that is another story for another day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Ritual of Journaling

I wrote a little bit the other day about perfectionism and how it holds us back from journaling. 

I think we each have a lot of reasons for not journaling. Perfectionism is a big one for some of us. Another thing that has kep me from journaling for years was feeling like it was a chore. I loved the idea of journaling, but actually sitting down to write felt like home work. No fun.

Over the past few years though I have unintentionally developed little rituals that have made time in my journal feel like a mental retreat rather than an assignment.

While I some times journal on the go, I prefer to journal at home in one of three spots: my dinning room table, my office writing desk, or a giant, leather chair next to the front window.

Before I start journaling I make sure I have any and all supplies I might need. Pens, pencils, journal, embellishments, glue sticks, photos, all in close reach. 

I normally keep a drink close by as well. In the summer that normally means ice water, lemonade, or sweet tea/lemonade. In the winter I lean towards hot tea or coffee. 

Good light, a warm blanket in cooler weather, and some quiet music also help set the mood. 

If it's a morning when I feel particularly scattered or distracted I will also keep a note pad or sticky note close by so I can jot down reminders or to dos as they pop into my mind. 

Because I have three kids and a revolving front door with neighbor kids coming and going I expected to be inturupted. Knowing that and deciding ahead of time that inturuptions are to be expected keeps my irritation at bay. Some times, depending on the day and the child, I will invite them to join me while I journal.

Tonight I would encourage you to find some things to add to your journaling time to make it a ritual you look forward to. 




Monday, October 17, 2016

Blank Journals

I love an empty notebook. There is so much beauty and possibility in an empty page. While I enjoy the occasional guided journal, blank journals are what really make my heart skip a beat.

The best thing about good, old fashioned, journaling is that all you need is any empty notebook and something to write with. 

Over the years I have used everything from $.50 composition books to embossed, leather journals with beautifully thick pages. 

That may be the very best part of using a blank book. There is something for every style, need, and budget.

Later this week I will share some of my favorite ways to use a blank journal, some prompts to get you started, and a few extra things.

Tonight though, I wanted to share with you my two favorite styles of blank notebooks to use.

Hands down my favorite style of journal is a hard back spiral bound notebook. 
The thick cover is ideal for journaling because it doesn't require a desk or table for writing, and I just love the ease of writing using a spiral bound notebook. 
As beautiful as some bound journals are, I find them not as easy to use. 
If you are looking for this style of journal I cannot recommend EcoJot enough. I normally get them at Barnes and Noble and currently have one in use and two on hand for when this one fills up. 

The other style of blank notebook I can't get enough of is Traveler's Notebooks or refillable notebooks. I will most likely do an entire blog post on these later. But for now, the basic idea is a sturdy cover (made from leather or stabilized fabric) with elastic bands to hold inserts. The thing I love about these is the varsatiliy. I like be able to have a different notebook for different subjects, but still have them all in one place. 

Which style of notebook do you like to use? Have a favorite? Share it in the comments! 



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Journaling and Perfectionism

I am half way through this series and I have written/posted every day. That's huge for me and I was super excited. Then I logged on today and saw my stats. Right now my posts are being viewed, on average, 5 times each. That's a record low for me. And I was crushed. So much work and my blog is doing worse than it has in years. Seriously? My first reaction was to walk away from the whole thing. I couldn't have been more wrong.

It easy to give up when things don't go the way we hoped. 

Perfectionism kills creativity. 

It's also the main reason we don't journal.

We miss a day.
We make a mistake in pen.
We can't spell.
We hate our hand writing.
We try something new and it doesn't turn out.
We see beautiful photos on social media and convince ourselves we don't have the "right" talent or skills.

Our fear of imperfection keeps us from recording the moments and memories that make up our stories. 

So, I'm going to keep writing here, and keep journaling, and keep trying new things. Because nothing is ever perfect...