3 Reasons I Love Using my Journaling Bible

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know I have a journaling Bible. My IG feed is full of images like this …

3 reasons I love my journaling BIble

I’ve always been a note-taker and margin-writer in my Bible. Last April, I spoke at Refine: the Retreat in Ohio. My friend, Kris, was the visionary and host of this wildly amazing event. It was there I was introduced to the idea of art journaling. My clumsy first attempts were no where near as gorgeous as the delightful Annie Barnett’s illustrations.  But Annie, Kris, and the other women at the retreat were incredibly kind and encouraging. I came home with a mostly empty journal but the seed of something more — an interest in the blending of words and fonts and squiggles and paint and color …

Enter the ESV Journaling Bible. In mid-September I realized I wanted one. I had no idea what I would do with it or if I would really love it but I couldn’t get the thought of it out of my mind. I mentioned it once or twice on social media and on September 23, 2014, a mysterious package arrived from Amazon — the ESV Journaling Bible, an early birthday gift from my Aunt Mollianne.

At first, I was a little intimidated. What if I messed it  up? What if I couldn’t “do” it? But, I finally talked myself into giving it a go. Here is where I started:

Journaling Bible: Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy. One of my favorite books. And as you can see … mostly I just added notes and squiggles.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten braver and less concerned about my artistic abilities {or lack thereof}. And, for a recovering perfectionist, that is one of the coolest things I’ve gained from this process.

3 Reasons I Love Using my Journaling Bible

Lately, more and more people have asked me why I use a journaling Bible and what the purpose is. As I’ve thought about their questions and my answers, I realized there are 3 reasons I love using my journaling Bible.


Using my journaling Bible helps me focus.

I tend to think about 400 things at a time. My mind is always going and it’s very hard for me to give my full attention to only one task — even in my quiet time. Since I started using the journaling Bible I have found I don’t get distracted as easily.  I am totally engaged with what I’m doing and what God is speaking to me.


Using the journaling Bible has increased my intentionality during my quiet time.

Using the Journaling Bible has helped me be more intentional about what I’m reading. I’ve always used a journal during my quiet time, filling up one after the other for the past almost twenty years. But adding the Journaling Bible has caused me to see the layers of what God is teaching me, even after just a few  months. The notes on my pages reveal the different times I’ve read a particular passage and what I learned each time. It’s as if I’m working a puzzle and every time I study a passage, another piece comes into place and the picture slowly and methodically becomes more and more clear.


Writing definitions helps me have clarity as I read the Bible.

Often I stop and look up words when I am reading Scripture. For example, in John 21 when Jesus is restoring Peter, He ends the conversation with these words, “Follow Me.”  Because this is something Jesus said repeatedly in all the Gospels, I looked up the word “follow” and note the definition in the margin. Knowing exactly what the word means provided clarity about what Jesus was saying. I love that one of the definitions is “to move behind in the same direction.” That’s the call we all have — to move behind Jesus and go in the same direction He goes.

So there you are, three reasons I love using the Journaling Bible.  I don’t think it’s something everyone has to do … or that everyone who uses this tool will do it the same way. But for this season in my life, I love it!

Have you ever used a journaling Bible? What do you think about it?

Here’s what I use {affiliate links}:

More posts about having a quiet time:

  1. Devotions, Quiet Time, Personal Bible Study. Is It Really Necessary?
  2. 10 Tips for a Great Quiet Time
  3. Quiet Times, West Wing, and Being Invaded
  4. What Is the Point of a Quiet Time?

Read the Psalms this summer with Scripture Dig!


  1. Thanks Terri for this post! I have been debating with myself over whether to spend the money for this Bible or not. I have wanted it for a long time but I am by no means an artist and just couldn’t justify the expense. I love what you have done though and seeing it may just be the courage to my own courage to try! Thanks again. Julie

    • Clearly, I am no artist either. #understatement But I do love to doodle and I’ve made a Pinterest board full of ideas … because I want to learn to be more creative, after all the God we serve is the ultimate Creator. 🙂

  2. Thanks for this post Terri…I ordered this Bible a few months ago and love it! I was hung up on writing in my Bible and getting one specifically to write in for study time helped me get past that hang up.

    • I have to buy a new study Bible every three years or so because I write little notes about sermons, etc., in the margins. But I love having a Bible like this just for my quiet time … I still use my journal to record most of my thoughts but I am enjoying adding other quotes and my own ponderings to the margins.

      I know a lot of people who don’t ever write in their Bibles. I totally get that … but you might want to get the book I mentioned, Writing in the Margins. I was amazed at the history of people who have written in the margins of their Bibles. I am now determined to view the Bach Bible in St. Louis to see the great composer’s notes. 🙂

  3. I just recently got a journaling bible as a surprise gift from a dear friend. Like you I have been intimidated by it ….afraid I will mess it up. I do love that it tends to help me be more focused in my study. I am trying to just let go of my negative self thought and just let Him speak to me. Thanks for sharing a little of you process and the tools you use.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. I am just starting out as well I purchase the pens first and started drawing and was so excited to get my bible last week. I was nervous at first but found many tips on various sites including tracing certain pictures. I loved that idea I am no artist but I had certain things I wanted to try to incorporate. I print the pictures out and resize and then trace them just a good idea for someone who wants it to look nice but is not artistic. At first I thought this will just be one of those things I attempt to do and then just give up on but I am enjoying it so much and the time that I spend actually reading and thinking about the verse. I have a separate book that I have started to write down my ideas and sketch them out love that I can make mistakes there and then try to improve it. I have issues with anxiety and when I am writing, drawing, praying they disappear.

  5. Just ran across this while I was writing a post for Do Not Depart this week on Bible Journaling. I’ll insert it into my post for Thursday! We still miss you over there but hope you’re doing well. 🙂

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