Christ is my reward,
and all of my devotion.
Now there's nothing in this world
that could ever satisfy.
(‘Christ is enough, by Hillsong)
In John 15:4 Jesus says, ‘Remain in me, as I also remain in you’. Some translations use the word ‘abide’. The Greek word is “menō”. It means to remain in one place with someone at a given time. It is characterized by waiting, endurance, perseverance, expectation, and intimacy. Jesus wants us not only to pray, but to spend time with Him!
I often call these set-aside times my ‘cuddle time’ with Jesus. Besides prayer and Bible reading, I like to keep a journal. This helps me to meditate on Scripture, and helps me to enjoy Jesus’ company in an artistic way.
What is scrapbooking?
One of the best ways I have found to really focus on Jesus during these ‘cuddle times’ is what I call ‘devotional scrapbooking’. I once met a lady who was really upset with my terminology – she was aghast that I could even say that! Her argument was that one cannot talk of ‘devotions’ and ‘scrap’ in the same sentence, and that I should repent.
I promptly went home and did some scrapbooking on forgiveness …
I started doing devotional scrapbooking when we lived with the Iso – a village in Africa with sea sand, oppressing heat and chickens that won’t lay eggs. There were no shops selling nice stationery, Gospel CDs or Christian books. But I had glue and old magazines and a creative mind.
I will show you how I do this kind of journalling, but remember, there is no right or wrong way of doing devotional scrapbooking. Just use your God-given imagination, and let your love for Jesus take form, with scraps of paper and glue and coloured pens. Your set-up cost would be minimal – if you do not have these already, you should get markers, glue, tack and a note book. For the rest you use scraps, which is free! For me, having fun that doesn't cost anything, makes it even more fun! Read this article on how to use real scraps for scrapbooking.
Let me first give you a few examples of what I have done, then I will show you step by step how I go about it.
Materials you need
You will need a note book, with or without lines. I prefer books with lines, because I also like to write things down sometimes. Choose a note book with thick pages, otherwise the glue could make the paper wrinkle and if you use markers to write, it will show on the back page. If you happen to have a notebook with thin paper, and you want to start immediately, you can just glue two pages together, or just stick a piece of picture over the areas where the words are showing on the back pages. The wrinkles will get less visible anyway, as time goes on.
Add some glue and scissors. And don’t forget the markers.
Last, but not least, you need magazines. Stay away from fashion magazines – the thin models with the angry faces just makes me think of peanut butter and then I get distracted. Do you know why they all look so angry? They are hungry! I prefer magazines on interior decorating, house renovations or gardening, or Christian magazines. You can also use old photos, pieces of material and old gift paper.
Go slow. Enjoy this expression of worship. Linger in His presence. You do not have to finish an entry in one go. I often work on an entry for days and weeks. I sometimes even go back to old entries and add pieces to it, or write new ideas or Scripture on it.
If you are in a hot place – I mean hot weather, not the kitchen - and the fan is running all the time, you might have a problem. Because you need to pack out letters and pieces of paper, any slight breeze will destroy your masterpiece before you can glue it. You can put off the fan and enjoy the tickling effect of sweat running down your back. Better is to set the fan to a lower speed, while blowing over your head. But, the best way I have found is to keep the fan going, and use very small pieces of tack to position your letters, before you glue it.
Get some nice worship music to play in the background – I often just listen to instrumental music. It seems to give my imagination more freedom. If I listen to music with words, I tend to focus on what they are singing, and not on what I am scrapbooking about. Remember that while you are arranging your composition, your mind is not in limbo.
If you don’t like your end product, do not despair. Just glue something else over it! This is a very flexible way of expressing yourself.
You can either cut or tear out letters for the words you want to spell. If you are going to use small letters, it works better to cut them out. If you cannot find certain letters, you can exchange a ‘d’ with an upside ‘p’, ‘w’ and ‘m’, ‘u’ and ‘n’, ‘N’ and ‘Z’, and an upside ‘9’ can be used as a ‘b’. Try not to use ready-made stencilled letters - then it goes too quickly! The idea is to linger and think and meditate, not rushing through yet another art project.
Let’s go …
If you do not know where to begin, just choose a word to start with, like ‘Jesus’ or a short phrase, like ‘Jesus is my King’. As you get experienced with devotional scrapbooking, you will find that it gets easier to think about what you want to do, and how to express your thoughts in a creative way.
Let me show you how I did one recently ...
I saw the words ‘Nuwe lewe’ in an old magazine, which means ‘New life’ in my language. So, I started to think about this for a while. What was God saying to me? I was drawn to meditate on my new life in Christ and, starting with that piece from the magazine, I also glued smaller pieces of paper over the bottom of the picture, to cover up an advertisement.
Then, I decided I wanted to use two pages in my notebook for this entry. I started going through the magazines again, and tore out a few more pieces with similar colours for the second page.
If you chose a piece of a picture, you would usually position that first on the paper, before you start playing with the letters to form the words you want to spell out. Remember my tip to use small pieces of tack to keep it all in place.
As I was thinking about the new life I had in Jesus, I could not help but to be thankful that He saved me and that He is renewing me every day. The ONE thing that was vivid in my mind, is the hope that I have for a future with Jesus.
Christ my all in all, the joy of my salvation.
And this hope will never fail, heaven is our home.
(‘Christ is enough, by Hillsong)
My son died in 2010 and the hope that I have of seeing him again, is a constant encouragement to me. In fact, this hope has become as real to me as the chair I am sitting on right now! So, I started to look for letters spelling the word ‘hope’, because that was the main concept I wanted to link with my new life in Christ.
When I had everything positioned the way I liked it, I started glueing it. A quirky bonus if you work with glue, is that you can spend days getting the glue off your fingers – I strangely find it very therapeutic.
On a subsequent day, I looked at this “New life - Hope” entry, and meditated on it again. I wrote down Psalm 33:20-21 because it summarized my feelings. On yet another day I also added verses which speak of a new life in Christ.
And here is the (probably) not-yet finished product …
Remember, you can write onthe pages, overthe pictures, doodle, glue more pieces of paper, and add more words later. The idea is to help you stay focussed on Jesus, abide with Him, and enjoy the pleasure of His company.
I often look back at my entries. Sometimes I add a word or another picture, and at other times I just look through them and thank God for all the lessons He taught me, and for all my blessings.
Devotional scrapbooking does not take the place of regular Bible reading and prayer time. Being creative while meditating on God’s word is just one of the ways to help you connect with God, and getting to know Him better.
Let’s devote ourselves to prayer and intentionally pursue the pleasure of Jesus’ company!
Romans 12:1.“I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship”.
What do you need to change in your schedule in order to lavish more time on Jesus?
Brother Lawrence 1944. The practice of the presence of God. Whitaker House Publishers - Amazon and Kindle. Free PDF.
Note: even though the testimony of Brother Lawrence is very old, its still powerful.
Johnsen MA 2012. Using real scraps in scrapbooking.
Sheets D 2015. The pleasure of His company: a journey to intimate friendship with God. Bethany House Publishers; Amazon and Kindle