Two Journaling Bibles: A Review!

After six years with the same Bible, I have invested in a new one. Bibles are not cheap, so it was quite a leap to make the purchase. The binding on my old Bible completely tore, and the entire thing was falling apart. Despite having this same copy of the Word through high school graduation, all of college, two trips overseas, and dating then marrying my husband, I knew it was time to move on.

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The first thing I was looking for in a Bible was plenty of room in which to write. As you can see from my old Bible, I write it in A LOT! I take notes along the margins, underline verses, circle key words, draw lines between phrases and words that are repeated, and so forth. I love it. However, I just did not have enough room to write everything I would have liked.

I began looking for a new Bible that could accommodate my superfluous note-taking habits. I also wanted it to be cute, and I really didn’t care for extras like devotions or concordances.

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So without further ado, here are my two favorite picks and little about them.

Single-Column Journaling ESV Bible

On the outside, this hardcover ESV journaling Bible looks like something you might find in an antique store. The pages are a slight off-white that make it easier to read. Width measured from the outside edge of each page to the text is about one centimeter shy of two inches, and the margins have very light dotted lines. It includes a ribbon bookmark, a Through-the-Year Bible Reading plan, and a table of Biblical weights and measurements. This Bible is the English Standard Version with some footnotes. It has a lovely lay-flat binding. I have noticed some bleeding through and shadowing when writing/highlighting.

Journal the Word NIV Bible

With a more vibrant color on the cover, this softcover New International Version Bible is very bright. It has a ribbon bookmark and a lay-flat binding, just like the ESV Bible above. This Bible has a preface about the translation and a page of Biblical weights and measurements. From the edge of the page to the text is about a 2 inch margin. In some sections (such as the Psalms), it is closer to 2 and a quarter inches. There are light dotted lines in the margins. I haven’t noticed any bleeding through or shadowing.

Ready for my results?

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ESV Journaling Bible

Pros:

  • Beautiful hardcover
  • Lovely off-white pages
  • I use the ESV at church

Cons:

  • Small font size
  • Some bleeding through and shadows
  • More expensive than some other options

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Journal the Word NIV Bible

Pros:

  • Bright softcover
  • Lighter/Easier to carry around
  • I use the NIV at work
  • Have not noticed any bleeding through pages
  • Less expensive than some other options

Cons:

  • Binding doesn’t seem quite as sturdy as hardcover Bible
  • Small font size

As you can see in the photo below, both Bibles and roughly the same size, are both single-column, and have similarly-sized fonts.  While I love the extra large margins, my only qualm with journaling Bibles is the small font size.

I’ve found that these two Bibles are very similar, however, with the hardcover comes a price increase of roughly $15. We actually used the ESV Hardcover Bible for our wedding guestbook, and it was perfect. Personally, I think that the NIV Journal the Word Bible will be exactly what I need for my everyday devotions and Scripture-reading, primarily because of the light weight.

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I hope this review helped! Do you have a favorite Bible, journaling or otherwise? I would love to read your comments and questions below.

How to Avoid Envy

I thought jealousy only reared its ugly head on the playground or in the middle school cafeteria. I never once expected it to follow me to adulthood and marriage. But it has, and it makes me feel quite ugly inside and out.

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My Story

My husband and I have talked about our family and career goals. We have plans that we have prayed about, and we are open to God’s leading in whatever direction he has for us. Yet, I can’t help but feel so jealous of stay at home moms with new babies who live in seemingly perfect neighborhoods. The grass seems greener on the other side.

The funny thing is that I felt this same pang of envy when I was a college student and a recent graduate — before I started dating. It seemed like everyone else had found someone they loved, and I was destined to be an old, single cat lady. Then one day, I woke up with a sense of confidence and almost joy about that “cat-lady” life I had once dreaded. I looked forward to it. I made plans for graduate school and living with my best friends.

Not long after that, a guy I had met in college sent me a Facebook message. We chatted. Later, he asked for my phone number; after that, a date. Fast forward a couple years, and he asked for my hand in marriage.

It was definitely not instantaneous. Become satisfied with being single and God will magically grant you a boyfriend… is a terrible way to live. However, I became less jealous of others when I saw the beauty in my own situation. At that time, I worked with two wonderful, strong, older, and very independent single women in two separate settings. Their lives encouraged me to live my singleness to the fullest, and I began to appreciate them.

Today, as a happily-married woman, I find other things to keep me envious. It’s ugly, and I hate it. I know that God hates it, too.

How can I (and you) avoid it?

I already mentioned the first way: Relish what you have. Rejoice in your current place. Just as the wonderful single women in my life encouraged me to enjoy my singleness, so the married women in my life can also encourage me to make the most of these days. Are you a working mom wishing you were home? Or a homeschooling mom wishing you had a career outside the home? Maybe you’re a high school student waiting for the day you can leave home… Or a wife hoping for fertility. Who is in your same spot? Find them at church, in a Bible study, on a blog, at the gym, at school or work… The opportunities are endless. Find the joy in today and relish it. Encourage each other to celebrate today, because this too is the day that the Lord has made.

Romans 12:15 urges its readers to rejoice with those who rejoice. This doesn’t come easily. A family member of ours gave elaborate, expensive gifts to the family at Christmas time. My husband and I opted for inexpensive books, journals, and shirts. I went into Christmas knowing that our gifts were meaningful and not going to put us into debt. However, when I saw the mounds of presents this person brought in, I became jealous of the money they make and of the exuberant responses they received from family members. But the verse I had memorized so long ago came back to me… Rejoice with those who rejoice. They may make more money than we do, but they sweetly gave of what they had, not hoarding their extra money for themselves. I can rejoice with them instead of harboring envy towards them. 

Finally, a warning to take care of yourself… Obviously, the “rejoice with those who rejoice” includes things like going to bridal and baby showers, attending weddings and graduations, sending greeting cards, and buying presents. But for a person with serious pain and heartache in a specific area, it might be okay to opt out of some of that rejoicing. When a church’s young members all began to get pregnant around the same time, a woman I knew carefully selected which showers she would attend. She had struggled with infertility for a long time and was in a deep place of pain. For her, it was not the pang of jealousy, but the sharp, heart-wrenching stab of hurt. She went to the smaller showers for her closest friends, and had prior commitments during the others. In this way, she was able to care for herself and her emotions, which enabled her to more fully love and celebrate the friends to whom she was closest.

The Fruit of the Spirit

The fifth chapter of Galatians ends by expressing the results of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives: things like love for others, kindness towards those around us, and self-control in our actions and in our hearts. Just prior to that paragraph is a section explaining the desires of the flesh: jealousy AND envy, as well as idolatry, selfish ambition, and dissension. We are called to a passionate love, even towards those we think have everything we want. For in the loving, we cease to be jealous of what they have and, instead, come to celebrate the unique paths where God has placed us.

Hello 2016

It’s been a crazy year… But haven’t they all been crazy recently?

When 2015 dawned, I was bowling with my mom, brother, stepdad, and stepfamily. It’s a long-standing family tradition. I celebrated six months with that handsome guy in January, turned in my first real resignation letter in March, and began the process of moving to a new state. During a Sunday morning sermon, our pastor explained that sometimes we don’t see the next step. We don’t see point C when we’re standing at point A. We have to step out in faith to point B and follow God’s leading. He said: “Jesus is standing on the waves, calling you to step out of the boat in faith,” referencing Peter’s walk on water. At that moment, I realized God was asking me to follow Him to my next place, which involved moving closer to the guy who would soon become my fiance. So, I took a new job, moved to a new city with new roommates in a new apartment, and fell deeper in love with the handsome guy I’m marrying in less than six months. He proposed in October, and it was perfect.

In 2015, my OneWord was love. One single word to focus on for the entire year. That’s three hundred and sixty five days of one word. One. Word.

But y’all… It works. I learned so much about love. When 2015 began, I was celebrating six months with my first and only boyfriend. When 2016 begins, I will celebrating less than six months until we say “I do.”

When 2015 began, I was learning how to continue to love a Buddhist co-teacher. When 2016 begins, I will be learning how to continue to show love to 60 sweet and crazy teenagers.

When 2015 began, I was praying for the future service opportunities I would have to show love to others. When 2016 begins, I will move from assistant to teacher roles in the toddler class at church.

Above my desk in my bedroom hangs a quote from Ann Voskamp:

You love as well as you are willing to be inconvenienced.

So much truth. Love is not easy or convenient or simple. Love cannot be an afterthought. The beautiful thing is we get another shot each day. I’m not the best at showing my fiance that I love him, and sometimes I find it difficult to accept his love, but I know that he’s not going anywhere. He loves me, and we are willing to try again if we didn’t do such a great job of showing that love this time around.


 

As we move into 2016 in the next few hours, I wanted to take a moment to announce my OneWord for this year. In a world of smartphones and commercials and social media and pushy waitresses, I want to focus. I want to be in the moment. Like the quote: “Wherever you go, be all there.” I want to be mentally aware where I am physically existing. I want to be connected to my body, my soul, my emotions, and my Savior. I want to be real with people who are actually in the same room with me. I want to pray with passion because God and I are actually having a real and meaningful conversation. I want to give and serve and love it. I want to invest into people and I want to be invested in. I want to go and meet and dream and love. I want to be present.

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