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Paperback Inspire Bible Comparison

5 Jul

I was able to get my hands on an early copy of the new paperback Inspire Bible, and I wanted to show a comparison with my hardcover Inspire Bible. Both Bibles have the exact same content. There is no difference in the amount of pages and illustrations. 

However, I was disappointed to find that there was an overall size difference. The new paperback is about half an inch shorter, slightly narrower, and then because of the thinner cover, there is a difference in the width. The difference isn’t quite as noticeable when it’s laying flat open, but a decrease in size means a decrease in margin space. I was expecting them to be the same size as far as height and length, so it surprised me to see such a noticeable difference. I didn’t look through all the illustrations in the paperback, but I’m sure there are some pages where the design gets cut off because of the size difference. 

Obviously, since it’s slightly smaller, the paperback is also more lightweight than the hardcover. I think having a lighter option is great for those who want to carry this Bible around a lot. The lower price also makes it more enticing to those with lower budgets. The retail price for the paperback is half the price of the new Large Print coming out in September, so that is definitely a bonus.
Another major difference with the paperback is that the endpapers have no design. The blank edges are great for those who may want to decorate it themselves, or for those who want to add tabs and don’t want to obscure the designed edges on the other versions. Although the cover is mostly decorated, some of the flowers could also be colored in or extra detail could be added to the blank space as well. 

I think over time the paperback version will have the same issue as the softcover version, in that the cover does not stay closed when the Bible is completely closed. That would definitely bother me, and I would either get a cover for it or get a stretchy band to help keep it closed. I cover all of my journaling Bibles with a handmade fabric cover anyway, so this wouldn’t necessarily deter me from buying it, but for those who purchase this Bible specifically for the cover design, that might be a drawback to using a cover. Another thing to note is that the paperback version does not have a ribbon bookmark. Again, not a deal breaker for me, but this might bother others.

Eventually there will be 4 types of Inspire Bibles: the hardcover (teal), the softcover (butterfly design), the paperback (white floral), and the large print (blue cover). I still prefer my hardcover to the paperback, but I think that the paperback will appeal to a lot of people looking for a compact, lightweight pre-illustrated journaling Bible. With all the different types, there is sure to be an Inspire Bible to appeal to a wide range of Bible journalers. 

HCSB Notetaking Bible [Review]

1 Jul

Since I started Bible journaling at the beginning of this year, I’m always looking for different translations to add to my library and study from. I was excited when I got the opportunity to receive a copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Notetaking Bible from B&H Publishing to review. After receiving the brown one, I purchased a second copy for myself, the red floral. I gave the brown one to my husband for Father’s Day so that we can study the Bible together and take notes, journal, pray, and draw together. I love that there were several different choices in covers so that we could have the same Bible but be able to tell them apart.

We have been excited to read from this translation, so this was a great opportunity to start. Here is a description from about the translation itself: “HCSB employs a translation philosophy known as Optimal Equivalence, which seeks to achieve an optimal balance of linguistic precision with contemporary clarity. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. In places where a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is favored. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original are conveyed as accurately as possible.” 

These Bibles are beautiful and well made. Each margin is lightly lined to help guide notetaking, and even some of the blank pages are fully lined to offer more space for writing. The Bibles include the HCSB notes in the back, a concordance, and full-color maps. Each Bible lays flat when open to make it easier to study and write on a flat surface. 

I especially like that these Bibles are single column, which makes it easier to take notes right next to the verse you are studying. As far as size comparison, this Bible is bigger than my ESV double column, but smaller and lighter than my Inspire Bible. As with all journaling Bible, the pages are fairly thin and would require pens and highlighters that won’t bleed through. My favorite pens to use are Micron pens and gel highlighters, which neither of these will bleed through the page. 

Overall, I highly recommend these Bibles to anyone looking for an HCSB journaling Bible for notes or creative journaling. 

Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H publishers through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Journaling Through Psalms

11 May

I have been doing some simple journaling through Psalms in my new NLT slimline Bible, as I mentioned in my review post here. This Bible wasn’t intended for art journaling, but I wanted to add color to the pages as I do my daily reading. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have a Bible now that will remain untouched by paint and color.

I also wanted to be able to show others that you don’t have to start with a specific journaling Bible in order to illustrate your faith. Just as God invites us to come right where we are, as we are, to Him, so also He invites us to connect with His word, right now with whatever way works best for us. Bible journaling doesn’t have to be elaborate; as a visual learner and a creative person, it only takes a little bit to help me connect with God’s word in a new way. 

I have found that the pages of this Bible are slightly different than in my other Bibles, and it does not take watercolor paint very well. I wanted to use this Bible as a way to try new techniques, but instead I plan to stretch myself to try different mediums. I am also trying to do some micro-journaling (aka tiny/miniature drawings in small margins and spaces). Flowers and leafy vines are my favorite, so I plan to add a lot of those to the tiny margins as I continue to read my way through Psalms. 
As I read, I am underlining verses that stand out to me and speak God’s truth to my heart. I have found that I am reading a lot more scripture in one sitting since I am illustrating a full two page spread at a time. I’m reading about five Psalms a day, so it should take me about 30 days to illustrate my way through all of them in this Bible.

I have also been trying to do more of my original journaling by writing out scripture and praying through it in my regular journal. I have missed doing something that has been my main method of devotions for a decade or more. I love that Bible journaling has refreshed my spirit and my time with God. It has helped me to creatively express myself as I connect with scripture as well as return to writing and praying the way I have always done. 

And of course, I had to sew a pretty cover for this little Bible. Although I like the neon blue and pink fuzzy cover, I wanted something a little more subdued. This makes two Bibles that I’ve done a cover for in this fabric because I love this pattern so much. I’m excited to read and illustrate more in this Bible. Follow me on Instagram @kountingsheep to see more pages.

Life Verse Creative Journal Set [Book Review]

10 May

Do you have a life verse? A verse of the Bible that speaks to your heart, one that perhaps you go back to over and over again throughout different seasons of your life? If you don’t have one or if you are unsure, this is a great place to start!

Life Verse Creative Journals by Jana Magruder and Morgan Grace Magruder is a set of two journals that helps you to creatively explore different passages of scripture through writing and drawing prompts. The first journal has pre-drawn illustrations and prompts to guide you through scripture and prayer to help discover meaningful verses to you. The second journal is filled with blank unlined pages to help you continue your writing and illustrating journey through prayer and scripture.

I was eager to receive this set and pleasantly surprised at the compact size of the journals. This set would be great for carrying along with your Bible as a tool to help you creatively explore God’s word. The illustrations inside the first journal are beautiful and great for coloring. They could even be used to trace into a journaling Bible. My favorite illustration was a stack of tea cups, but all of the drawings are inspiring; as soon as I opened this, I wanted to sit down to write and color and paint.

There is a good mix of drawings, hand-lettered verses, prompts, and blank space for writing. Each page is unique and different. One page even encouraged you to add in your own doodles amongst the ones already there on the page. Even the covers on both of these encourage coloring and more artwork. This set is definitely more than just a coloring book, though; it is an intentional creative exploration through several different beloved verses. The journaling prompts are not super in-depth, but they offer a great variety and the blank journal makes a good complement to do more in-depth study if you desire.

I can’t wait to get a chance to color and journal in these! I imagine that I will be using them soon as a creative study tool as part of my Bible journaling. I highly recommend this set as a gift or for yourself.


Please note that all pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Lifeway/B&H Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Girls Slimline NLT Bible [Book Review]

3 May


Today I’m excited to share with you about this sweet little Bible that I received to review. The Girls Slimline NLT Bible from Tyndale has been a great Bible to carry around and use for my daily devotions. I think the reason why I love this Bible so much is because it would have been something I would have wanted as a teen girl. To be honest, I was absolutely giddy to receive it as a grown woman!

Here’s the description from the publisher: “This adorable edition of God’s Word for girls features the easy-to-understand New Living Translation text with a soft-fur, bright-neon LOVE design and silver glittery lining. The BOLD FAITH design on the back cover encourages girls to live out their faith in ways that bring God glory. This hardcover deluxe edition also features purple page edges, neon orange ribbon marker, special presentation page, 8 pages of full-color maps, and a 53-page dictionary/concordance to help locate passages on various topics. The New Living Translation text is excellent for young readers because it is so clear and they can understand what they are reading! When they can read and understand God’s Word, God can work in their hearts!”

Not only do the outer and inner covers of this Bible feature fun colors and textures, but it also encourages young girls to Be Bold in their faith. And you have to be bold to carry around a teal and pink fuzzy Bible!

The size is prefect for carrying around to church or slipping into a backpack or purse. It is not heavy at all, and the text is still very readable despite being on the smaller side. The extra material in the back includes Concordance/Dictionary, One Year Reading Plan, Great Chapters to Read and Verses to Memorize, and maps.

I really like the suggested chapters to read and verses to memorize, because it’s a great way for teens to navigate the Bible on their own. This section gives the reader the ability to look up helpful verses by topic to help see what God’s word says about what she is currently struggling with.

Another great feature of this Bible is that it lays flat. That way you can lay it on a desk or table to read without having to worry about losing your spot if you walk away. This also makes it easier to read with this Bible on your lap in church and take notes.

I’m really impressed with the Girls Slimline NLT Bible, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and functional Bible for a teen girl (or for yourself, let’s be honest). I’ll be posting later this week about how I have been personally using this Bible in my daily devotions.


Please note that all pictues (except the first one) and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Photo Friday: A Late 30

1 Apr

 I forgot to post a few weeks ago that I officially turned 30. It’s weird to think that this is my actual age, when sometimes I feel like I am still 23. It’s amazing how much my life has changed and how much has happened in the last decade. The morning of my birthday I was awake early before my daughter got up, and I decided to start the day with some Bible journaling. Psalm 30:5 “…weeping may tarry for the night but JOY comes with the morning.” It would be easy to dwell on all the bad things that happened in my twenties and be fearful about the future, but this verse was a great reminder that with God there is always joy to be found. Only He can bring the type of joy that “turns mourning into dancing.” God has brought me a long way, and He is always there for me, so I am happy to say I have lived 30 years of life!

Ombré watercolor in purple, owl stamps, flower washi tape, and heart tab. All my favorite sort of things.

Inspire Bible Journaling Holy Week: Good Friday

25 Mar

 I’m a little behind on my posts, so I am going to be brief today and just post my illustrations from yesterday and today. You can watch me illustrate yesterday’s page in Isaiah 53 here

 For today, I tried out some new watercolor gel crayons that I found at Target. I was pleased to find that they do not bleed through the pages, even with no prep, so I used them to add all this color. The paint went on really smooth and did not dry chalky. I’m excited to use them again in my Bible. 

 “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out His anger on us. Christ died for us so that whether we are dead or alive when He returns, we can live with Him forever… Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, 23-24

I won’t be posting this weekend as I celebrate Easter with my family. I will post my illustrated pages from Easter weekend here on the blog sometime next week. I hope everyone has a blessed Easter!

Inspire Bible Journaling Holy Week: Day 3

23 Mar

 It’s time for Holy Week Day 3 entry in my Inspire Bible. The passage I chose for today is from Luke 9:22-25 “‘The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,’ He said. ‘He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day He will be raised from the dead.’ Then He said to the crowd, ‘if any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily and follow Me. If you try to hang onto your life you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?'”

 For this page I came up with the idea to use the colors of the Inspire Bible for my illustration today. I wanted to keep it simple, since I was limited on how much time I could spending journaling today. I love that I can take as little or as long as I want, and yet I’m still spending time reading God’s word and impressing it on my heart.

  Here is the list of supplies that I used:

  • Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils and regular colored pencils
  • Apple Barrel craft acrylic paint 
  • Faber-Castell Pitt pen
  • Teal gel pen (did not like this one because it was easily smeared)
  • Illustrated Faith printable for tab and glue stick
  • Illustrated Faith heart stickers
  • Illustrated faith heart stamp and stamp ink
  • Date stamp

I swiped acrylic paint on with an old gift card, making sure not to get it on the passage I outlined. I wanted that section of scripture to stand out on this page, but all of the words are still readable through the paint. I used colored pencils for the actual illustration, and then added in some heart embellishments. 

 I did have someone ask me what this Bible looks like with tabs, so here is the top view of my Bible so far. In this Bible, I have chosen to just tab the pages I have journaled. Since the edges are so pretty, I didn’t want to also add in Books of the Bible tabs too. But that’s the great thing about this Bible: you still have the freedom to make it your own style, despite the pre-printed illustrations and edges!

 For the day before Good Friday, I decided that I wanted to spend some time in Isaiah 53 (page 879). Join me tomorrow in illustrating how God prepared His people for His plan to save them even before Jesus ever walked this earth. If you would like to receive notifications for when new blog posts are published, you can subscribe to this blog, follow me on Instagram @kountingsheep, and follow me on Facebook here

Inspire Bible Journaling Holy Week: Day 2

22 Mar

 As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I am journaling in my Inspire Bible for Holy Week and invite others to join me. For the second day of Holy Week, I decided to journal in 1 Peter 3:18 which says “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” Yesterday I also got the email newsletter from Illustrated Faith with a free Holy Week printable that I used for the color inspiration for this page, which eventually led to me illustrating the next page too. 

 The supplies I used for this two page spread were the following:

  • Master’s Touch heavy body acrylic paint in neon colors (from Hobby Lobby)
  • Illustrated Faith free printable 
  • Illustrated Faith stickers
  • Illustrated Faith washi tape
  • Faber-Castell Pitt Pen
  • Pink and White Gelly Roll gel pens
  • Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils
  • Scissors, glue stick, and an old gift card for spreading the paint
  • Date stamp and stamp ink

None of these supplies bled through, and I do not prep my pages. The acrylic paint goes on really smooth and dries really fast, so I was able to add the embellishments quickly after painting. I use a pea-size amount of paint on the edge of an old gift card to swipe the paint onto the page. The paint is translucent enough that even with overlapping layers, the words of the text are still visible.

The words “sacrifice” and “suffering” really stood out to me as I was illustrating these pages. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, once for all time, we are reconciled to God, and through the strength of the Holy Spirit, we can face whatever trials we may experience in this life. Christ became human and suffered so that He could sympathize with our human suffering. 
  1 Peter 4:12-13 “Dear Friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.” I love these bright, colorful, vibrant pages to remind me that my joy comes from God, even in the midst of trials, and that Jesus’ work is finished and He lives!

 Join me today in illustrating Luke 9:23 on page 1249 in the Inspire Bible, which officially released today! Feel free to tag me in Instagram @kountingsheep if you will be joining me on this journey through Holy Week in your Inspire Bible.

Inspire Bible Journaling Holy Week: Palm Sunday

21 Mar

 This week is traditionally referred to as Holy Week, and includes Palm Sunday, Good Friday and culminates on Resurrection Sunday (Easter). This year I decided to journal my way through the week in my Inspire Bible. Each day I will be posting a finished page from the previous day, as well as the unfinished page I plan to illustrate next. I encourage anyone who would like to join me to sign up to follow this blog so you can receive email notifications when the new day gets posted. (Click “Follow the Blog” either in the sidebar if viewing on a computer or at the bottom of the page if viewing mobile.)

 I was a little disappointed there weren’t any illustrations specifically for Palm Sunday in any of the gospels that describe “Jesus’ Truimphant Entry” in the Inspire Bible. Since the NLT translation doesn’t use the word “Hosanna” in the description either, I decided to journal the illustration a few pages after this passage in Matthew 21 that had the words “LORD” surrounded by leaves and flowers. 

 The supplies I used for this page include the following:

  • Artist Loft Watercolors
  • Pentel Aquash Water Brushes
  • Illustrated Faith Pen
  • Faber-Castell Pitt Pen
  • Date Stamp
  • Black stamp ink
  • Cross washi tape
  • Illustrated Faith chipboard tab
  • Illustrated Faith mat

These supplies are some of my favorites and most used when it comes to illustrating in my Bible. I do not “prep” my pages and apply the supplies directly to the page. Most of these supplies do not bleed through to the other side; only the stamp ink bleeds through sometimes but not every time. 

 As I was painting this page, I was meditating on the truth that Jesus is Lord. He is Lord of Palm Sunday, He is Lord of the events of this week that we celebrate, and He is Lord of my every day. In Matthew 22: 37-40 it says “…You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Hosanna!

 Tomorrow I will be posting the page I will illustrate today, which can be found in 1 Peter 3:18 (page 1462 in the Inspire Bible). Feel free to illustrate with me, and tag @kountingsheep on Instagram to share. 

The Inspire Bible officially releases tomorrow, so grab your copy at your local Christian bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or online at Amazon here

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