The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book (review)

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Parables-CBThe Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional by Laura James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Parables of Jesus is a coloring book and devotional in one. Each of its 46 readings focuses on one of Jesus’ parables. The coloring picture that follows relates to the reading.

The devotional readings begin with the parable or part of it quoted from the Bible. The entry lists, as well, other places in the gospels where Jesus tells the same story.

The devotional readings include a variety of things such as explanations of the first-century customs behind the word pictures in Jesus’ story, how the people in Jesus’ day might have understood the parable, and a practical application from Jesus’ picturesque stories to our twenty-first century lives.

Devotions end sometimes with a prayer, sometimes with a question to answer, and sometimes with a challenge of how to apply the parable to life. Devotional pages are framed on one corner with a leafy border—also to color.

The pictures that follow each devotional illustrate the parable. There are lots of scenes with people as well as objects. The style of the people in the pictures reminded me of figures found in Egyptian art. The “About the Author” section of the book’s listing identify the style: “… reminiscent of Ethiopian Christian Art.”

Each devotion and coloring picture is printed on the right-hand (odd-numbered) side of the page with the opposite side blank—except for when the devotion needs more than one page, and it completes overleaf. The book is printed on heavy white paper, suitable for a variety of coloring media.

The book concludes with two lined pages for notes.

I found the devotions drew me in and helped me to know how to better relate to and apply these familiar but sometimes mysterious stories.

The format with its left-side pages of white space made the book feel uncluttered and peaceful. Users could write their own thoughts and responses to the devotions in the space or leave it blank.

The consistent style of the drawings throughout gives this coloring book the appearance of an illustrated picture book. The illustrations would only be enhanced with color added, making it a perfect book to color and give away as an illustrated devotional.

This is a beautiful and inspiring book, designed to provide hours of coloring meditation.

I received The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional as a gift from Hachette Book Group for the purpose of writing a review.

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Creative God #BibleJournaling

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One of my favorite psalms is 104. It’s full of pictures—God laying the “beams of His upper chambers in the waters,” chariot clouds, angels that appear as “a flame of fire,” mountains, valleys, beasts, trees, birds… I wanted to do an art journal entry, but where to start?

I decided to focus on the latter half of the psalm which describes the creation and movement of the cosmos—earth, moon, stars, sun. The words that jumped out at me were sum-up ones:

“O Lord, how manifold are all Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all,
The earth is full of Your possessions” – Psalm 104:24.

I found a black-and-white globe online (with North America facing), printed and cut it out. Then I sketched with pencil and pen on the white “ocean” parts, with white gel pen on the black “land” parts. Pencil crayons and paints finished the graphic.

As I was working, a thought occurred: But God never made the boats, ships, planes, skyscrapers, and vehicles.

Ah, another answered, but it was He who planted within mankind the creative spirit to design, re-form and use elements He had created in their raw forms and states. He created us humans to remake, reuse, recycle.

Night and day, stars, moon, and sun entered the drawing above and below where I attached the globe.

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What to put on the underside?

The words just a bit further down in Psalm 104 remind me that God has never left creation but continues to sustain it: “These all wait for You.” Still further along we read the very real end of any creature that was but is no longer sustained: “You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust” – Psalm 104:29. Who of us hasn’t experienced that in the reality of physical death—of pets, of loved ones?

As I contemplated how I might finish the back of the globe, another reminder of God’s ownership came to me in the words of Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness.”

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Father God, I remind myself that the earth is Yours and all its fullness. In wisdom You have made them all. These all (I included) wait for you. Along with the psalmist I say: I will bless, praise, and sing to the Lord as long as I live – Psalm 104:35,33.

Strong tower name #BibleJournaling

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A short while after I was introduced to Bible journaling, I was reading through Proverbs. When I came to Proverbs 18:10…

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower,
The righteous run into it and are safe”

a picture popped into my head of a tower, the bricks of which would be inscribed with the names of God.

I sat on this idea for a while, fearful that my limited artistic skill wasn’t up to reproducing the picture in my head. But then I decided to give it a try.

To draw the tower, I found photos of an actual tower in Portugal that looked sturdy and strong enough to be a place of refuge. (As I write this and search for the tower image again, I discover that it’s actually called the “Tower of Belem” in English: Bethlehem!)

I copied it as best I could, and then found a list of the names of God in my Thompson Chain Bible. Not all of them fit on the bricks, but many did. Some, like “I Am,” are repeated several times, because that name, associated with God and Jesus comes up many times and in different ways.

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In the Bible, the name of someone represents the essence of all he or she is. We are kept by all God is—His attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, love, holiness etc. It’s an amazing and comforting thought!

Presence Blessing #BibleJournaling

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Some of the things I’m putting in my journal Bible are pieces I’ve written in the past about Bible characters and events. One such is a poem I wrote in 2003—“Presence Blessing” sparked by 1 Chronicles 13:14.

The backstory: David wanted to move the Ark of the Covenant from someone’s house to Jerusalem, the centre of worship. Instead of moving it in the prescribed way (carried on poles by the priests) he had it placed on an ox-pulled cart. In transit, when it shifted and threatened to fall, a man reached out to steady it. When he touched it, he fell dead. God’s power, that was on the Ark, was not to be tampered with.

David was shocked and grieved. He stopped the Ark right there and left it in the house of Obed-Edom.

It was in Obed-Edom’s house for a mere three months. Yet during that time, it was obvious to everyone that God’s blessing was on him and his family (1 Chronicles 13:14). How might that have looked and felt, I asked myself. “Presence Blessing” was the result of my musing on those questions.

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Rubber stamps

Method and Materials: To do my Bible journal entry I decided to use some decorative rubber stamps of fruits and vegetables I had from years ago (typifying the bounty I imagined Obed-Edom experienced as God’s blessing). The glaze that came with them is long dried, but I found that loading them with brush marker ink worked fine.

I tried it out on scrap paper and saw that the ink bled through even copy paper, so I knew it would wreck the thin, unprotected pages of my Bible. Thus I prepped my page with transparent gesso before doing any stamping.

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Page, stamped & outlined with pen.

The plan was to decorate the right margin of the Bible page and attach the poem, hand-printed on tracing paper, as a tip in. I stamped the page fine, but then the washi tape wouldn’t adhere to the gesso-treated page. Need a Plan B.

I decided to attach the poem to the facing page instead. Once attached, it felt like it needed a little decoration behind, but nothing with words as the tracing paper is pretty thin and words under would make the poem hard to read.

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Pencil-crayoned rainbow.

I came up with idea of a rainbow, which I coloured with pencil crayons.

After it was all done, I was happy with the look of it. And on second thought,  I realized the rainbow is a wonderful symbol of God’s presence.

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The thin tracing paper allows the rainbow to shine through.

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The two-page spread.

Some rainbows in the Bible:

  • Gods first rainbow was a covenant with the people of Earth – Genesis 9:12-17.
  • Rainbow light surrounded God’s throne in both Ezekiel’s and John’s visions – Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:2-3.
  • A little article I found on rainbows in the Bible concludes with this thought about them:

    “All mention of rainbows in Scripture have a direct connection to the power and glory of God.

    “The sign of the rainbow was meant to be ‘for all future generations’ (Genesis 9:12). When we see a rainbow now, we can let it be a reminder of our covenant-keeping God and His indescribable beauty.”

    And so with that little experience, I’m finding that Bible journaling is not only fun and creatively challenging but it’s taking me, sometimes consciously, sometimes intuitively, in good, even prophetic directions!

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Complete Guide to Bible Journaling (review)

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Complete Guide to Bible Journaling: Creative Techniques to Express Your FaithComplete Guide to Bible Journaling: Creative Techniques to Express Your Faith by Joanne Fink

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I got this book, I had only a vague idea there was such a thing as Bible journaling and no idea how to go about it or what a movement it had become. But now that I’ve read it, I’m a convert!

What a comprehensive and gorgeous guide this is!

Six sections take the reader through:

Getting Started: An explanation of what Bible journaling is and how to begin.

Tools and Techniques: A walk through many Bible journaling techniques including lettering in different styles, tracing, using stamps, drawing, coloring with colored pencils, preparing Bible pages for paint, painting with watercolour and acrylics, the use of washi tape etc. The book is lavishly illustrated with colour photos that show processes step-by-step and display the finished designs.

Artist Profiles: An introduction to eleven Bible journaling women who have connected and attracted a following on the internet (through their websites and social media). Their stories are as varied as their styles, which go from demurely decorative illustrations filling the margins of journaling Bibles to scrapbooked Bibles chubby with bold whole page paintings and attached memorabilia.

Gallery: An embarrassment of riches here, featuring 20+ pages of Bible journaling reproductions in full colour, organized by themes (“Patterning,” “Coloured Pencils,” “Line Work” etc.).

Resources and Index: In addition to an index of the book, here you’ll find lists of resources—artist websites and the favourite social media hangouts for Bible journalers.

Bonus Section: A final 30+ pages feature examples of lettering styles and simple graphic items as ideas and to copy, stickers and traceable line drawings printed on see-through vellum.

I was impressed by the artistry and beauty of the work with which these women (no, there was nary a man to be found in the pages of this book—pity, I’ll bet some guys would enjoy this as much as the girls) illuminate their Bibles.

The purpose of Bible journaling—to get individuals to interact with God’s word—gets lots of emphasis in the explanations by the authors and the stories of the profiled artists. I appreciated that.

Over and over the authors remind readers that the object of this activity is not to achieve perfect art. The tone is accepting of any effort and a celebration of the wide variety of styles and personalities that come through in the artists’ works as they dig into the Bible. The book makes you feel like you can do it too.

In addition to people who journal in their Bibles, I can see this book being useful to anyone who scrapbooks, as well as to those who enjoy crafts like making cards and wall hangings.

Perhaps not surprisingly I’ve picked out a journaling Bible (Bibles with wide lined margins, especially designed for journaling) in my favourite version and can’t wait to get started. I’m sure my Complete Guide to Bible Journaling will soon look quite used.

I received the Complete Guide to Bible Journaling from the publisher (Design Originals, an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing) as a gift for the purpose of writing a review.

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Advent project

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The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (along with the Jesse Tree decorations)

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (along with the Jesse Tree decorations)

I’m excited to be going through Advent with Ann Voskamp’s beautiful book The Greatest Gift! It’s a Jesse Tree project where each day’s reading adds another bit to the story of Jesus’ family tree.

There are 25 decorations too, one to go with each day’s reading (sorry, you have to buy the book to get the password).

I spent last night watching curling and an old Columbo movie while I cut out and trimmed my decorations. I’m going to love December! (Our Costco had Ann’s book…maybe yours does too.)

2012 hand-copied, illuminated Gospel

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A news feature in the spring 2012 Bethany College Connection (the alumni newsletter of Bethany College, of which I am an alumna) caught my eye. I will quote from the press release “Candace’s Gospel Project”:

“First-year students in the ‘Jesus and the Gospels’ course, have a choice for their major assignment: write a research essay, or create a beautiful handwritten copy of one of the four gospels.

This year, Prince Albert, SK, student Candace Bighead produced a gospel manuscript that was simply outstanding. Candace, who was often seen around campus sketching and doodling, illustrated a copy of the Gospel of John with over 80 drawings to illuminate the life of Christ.

Most drawings are coloured with pencil crayon, and many are embellished with the thick textures of window paint, often to portray glistening water, wine, or blood. Some of the drawings are more abstract, evoking the theological symbolism of John.

The gospel itself, all 21 chapters, is copied in a very even calligraphic script.
Candace had this to say about the process of writing out this manuscript:

“My manuscript is my prayer journal. I have prayed, reflected, bled, and cried throughout writing and creating it. Drawing the whip marks and the blood of Christ just seeped into my heart and mind.”

For Candace, this was an amazing labour of love. After finishing, she estimated that she spent over 200 hours on this project.”

Gospel of John - Candace Bighead

Drawings from Candace Bighead’s hand-copied Gospel of John || Candace receiving “Award of Excellence”

I’m thinking, WHAT A FABULOUS WAY TO BRING THE BIBLE TO LIFE—one’s own and others!