Sparkling Vintage Fiction. Among other things.

Faith

Fab fiction for February!

February 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical:
redeeming-graceRedeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith — When famine visits Bethlehem, Boaz holds out hope for rain while his relative Elimelech moves his wife Naomi and their sons to Moab. For a while, it appears the Lord is blessing Elimelech’s family, and his sons marry two lovely Moabite women. But calamities strike, one after another, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land with only her childless daughters-in-law for comfort. When news reaches Naomi that the famine in Bethlehem has lifted, only Ruth will hazard the journey to her mother-in-law’s homeland. Destitute and downhearted, Naomi resigns herself to a life of bitter poverty, but Ruth holds out hope for a better future. And Boaz may be the one God has chosen to provide it. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Biblical Romance:
building-benjaminBuilding Benjamin by Barbara M. Britton — Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife. As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her own tribe. (Biblical Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Contemporary Romance:
grace-and-the-rancherGrace and the Rancher by Mary Alford — Can a runaway singer and a makeshift rancher, thrust together by circumstance and held together by the common thread of loss and a love of music, find hope and a happily-ever-after under the stars of Delaney Mountain? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

capturing-beauty Capturing Beauty by Brenda S. Anderson — Photographer Haven Carlysle is a changed man. He returns to Duluth to capture the North Shore’s beauty … and to recapture the love of his son. But that means making amends with his ex-girlfriend too. Enter Callie Beaumont. All her life, Callie has longed to work outdoors soaking up God-breathed beauty, and the opportunity is finally on the horizon. But being the liaison between the handsome photographer and his son has thrown her dreams, and her heart, into chaos. Can Haven capture her heart when she won’t let him capture her image? And will his poor choices cost Callie her dream job and him the love of his son? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

the-lawman's -secret-sonThe Lawman’s Secret Son by Lorraine Beatty — Suddenly a Father Police officer Seth Montgomery knows all about order—but his world is thrown into chaos when he learns he has a five-year-old son. With little Jack suddenly in his care, Seth turns to neighbor Carrie Fletcher for help. Given her checkered past, Carrie prefers to keep to herself, but there’s no denying she cares for the boy—and her feelings for charming Seth are rapidly developing, too. When someone from Carrie’s past shows up threatening to jeopardize the life she’s worked so hard to build, Carrie will have to fight for her future with the new family she’s found…or risk losing everything. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

maybe-it's-youMaybe It’s You by Candace Calvert — Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive ER nurse, Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past. Can hope spring from crisis? (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

a-second-chanceA Second Chance by Alexis Goring — Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with her “best friend,” Traci resigned herself to being a bachelorette for life. Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. But his widowed sister Gina Braxton appreciates his compassion and kindness, since she’s raising her two kids alone. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, Traci and Marc find hope for their broken hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances)

the-amish-wandererThe Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton — After her daed, the bishop, is admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community, Bethany Weiss is ready to get away from Jamesport, MO—and away from God. Silas Beiler, dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, is hitchhiking toward Pennsylvania in hopes of stability. He sleeps in barns where he can and works for food when possible. When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago, full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Can their old love overcome both this new pain and the hurt and rejection of their past? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

avalancheAvalanche by Gayla K. Hiss — Set in the North Cascades National Park of Washington State, Avalanche is the inspirational story of one man set on revenge and the woman who risks everything to help him find the fugitive who killed his partner. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

the-doctor's-texas-babyThe Doctor’s Texas Baby by Deb Kastner — When Carolina Mason shows up in Haven, Texas, after a three-year absence, no one is more surprised than town veterinarian Wyatt Harrow. Especially when he sees Carolina’s two-year-old son, Matty. Their son. How could she have kept his child a secret? Carolina doesn’t deny the boy is his. She thought she was doing what was best for everyone when she left, but she realizes she was wrong. Though Wyatt is eager to make up for lost time with Matty, Carolina’s not so sure that extends to her. Can these former sweethearts navigate their complicated past to make a family for their son? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

spring-raineSpring Raine by Delia Latham — A last-minute decision sends a young woman to a seaside community and lodging at Paradise Pines…where life takes a whole new path. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

finding-joyFinding Joy by Melanie D. Snitker — A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. He returns to his family’s ranch, the scars on his face a daily reminder of all he’s lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers. Only deep desperation could force Chelsea Blake to work on a cattle ranch. But if she’s going to avoid her parents’ judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker’s efforts at forcing her to leave. Surprisingly alike, will the two set aside their disapproval to find immeasurable joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General Fiction:
the-secret-heartThe Secret Heart by Marie Wells Coutu — After a whirlwind romance, beautiful Shawna Moore marries Hunter Wilson, the governor of Tennessee. Now, she wonders if the governor ever loved her or only hoped to avoid a scandal. In this modern re-imagining of the biblical story of Bathsheba and King David, an investigative reporter is asking questions–the wedding took place only six weeks following the death of Shawna’s first husband in Iraq. If he discovers the truth about Shawna’s baby, Hunter’s chances for reelection, as well as Shawna’s reputation, will be ruined. But keeping their secret is destroying their marriage. Will Hunter’s choice mean the end of his political career or his family? (General Fiction from Write Integrity Press)

home-at-lastHome at Last by Deborah Raney — All her life, Shayla Michaels, owner of the Coffee’s On bakery, has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite–well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts? Everything changes one icy morning when Portia runs into the street and Link Whitman nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with Shayla. Can they overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? (General Fiction from Abingdon Press)

baggage-claimBaggage Claim by Cathe Swanson — When Ben Taylor, widower and single dad, gets caught up in a dangerous insurance fraud network, he has to learn to take a stand for right – and make a leap of faith: can he trust his nanny – who isn’t quite what she appears to be – and his newly-discovered biological father to hide and protect his four young children? (General Fiction, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:
the-matchmaker-brides-collectionThe Matchmaker Brides Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women of the late 1800s who have found themselves in the role of matchmaker. They think they have mastered the art of recognizing romantic potential in others, but when it comes to their own lives they have been unlucky in love. In small communities from Tennessee to Colorado, Wyoming to Indiana, love unexpectedly enters the women’s lives with men they never imagined marrying. But what will it take to get these ladies to say “I do”? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

the-reluctant-guardianThe Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson — Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society’s shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She’s determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents–or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage–alone and after dark–the ensuing gossip may force them together.Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety and he certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall’s coach “accident” was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged. Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career–and his life. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

the-reluctant-guardianThe Reluctant Guardian by Susanne Dietze — When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she’s rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her… Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he’d be. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

shine-like-the-dawnShine like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky — In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. An even which…might not have been an accident. When Nathaniel Harcourt returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor, he also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend. Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook Multnomah)

the-bounty-hunter's-babyThe Bounty Hunter’s Baby by Erica Vetsch — Bounty hunter Thomas Beaufort has no problem handling outlaws, but when he’s left with a criminal’s baby to care for, he’s in over his head. And the only person he can think of to ask for help is Esther Jensen, the woman whose heart he broke when he left town. But can he convince her to put aside the past until he tracks down the baby’s outlaw father? Esther is ready to run Thomas off her Texas ranch–until she spies the abandoned newborn in his arms. Soon, working together to care for the precious babe stirs old hopes of a family. With trouble heading to their door, they could overcome it together–if she’ll entrust her wary heart to this sweet, second-chance family… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Thriller/Suspense:
raging-stormRaging Storm by Vannetta Chapman — When a massive solar flare wiped out all modern technology across the globe, the small town of Abney, Texas, was thrown into chaos. Shelby Sparks and her diabetic teenage son, Carter, have found refuge, but Shelby knows Carter can’t survive without insulin–and Shelby will risk her life traveling to Austin to make sure he gets it. Shelby’s best friend and high school sweetheart, Max Berkman, won’t let her make the journey alone. Together, they reach the capital–only to discover that Austin has turned into an urban nightmare on the brink of anarchy. Now the only thing more uncertain than finding what they need is the hope of making it out of the city alive. (Thriller/Suspense from Harvest House Publishers)

Speculative:
long-time-goneTime Search by Danele J. Rotharmel — While the TEMCO staff searches for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for his targets–it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first! (Speculative/Time Travel Fiction from Prism Book Group)

Western Romance:
long-time-goneLong Time Gone by Mary Connealy — Rancher Justin Boden is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on. With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine? (Western Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

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Sunday Serenade: Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah

I’m excited to begin rehearsals tomorrow for a December performance of The Messiah tomorrow with our local community choir!

Here’s a sampling from the King’s College Choir. While we may lack their polish and professionalism, we make up for it in enthusiasm.

Sparkling Vintage Fiction: The Sanctum by Pamela King Cable

sanctum coverToday on A Sparkling Vintage Life we step back to an era of history that was perhaps less “sparkling” than “sparking”: the southern U.S. in the late 1950s, where racial tensions crackled and smoldered and threatened to burst into flame. (Sound familiar? The more things change …)

Author Pamela King Cable explores this volatile time period with sensitivity, grace, and a sense of God’s faithfulness in her new novel, The Sanctum–which is now a bestseller, having reached the top 100 on Amazon in the category of Contemporary Christian Fiction!

On a November day in 1946, Neeley McPherson turned five … and accidentally killed her parents. Thrown into the care of her scheming and alcoholic grandfather, she survives by her quick wit, and the watchful eye of an elderly black man, Gideon. In 1959, as equal rights heats up the South, authorities accuse Gideon of stealing a watch and using a Whites Only restroom. Neeley, now thirteen, determines to break him out of jail.

When the infamous Catfish Cole, Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon of the Carolinas, discovers their courageous escape, he pursues Neeley and Gideon into the frozen Blue Ridge Mountains to a wolf sanctuary. There Neeley crosses the bridge between the real and the supernatural. But will Neeley’s actions lead to tragedy again? Or will she finally realize the desire of her heart?

Let’s welcome Pamela to A Sparkling Vintage Life.

The Sanctum is set in the southern U.S. in 1959-1960. What has intrigued you about this time and place in history?

I was born in the South, a coal miner’s granddaughter, but my father escaped the mines, went to college and moved his family to Ohio to work for the rubber companies in 1959. I spent every weekend as a little girl traveling back to the Appalachian Mountains.

Many of my stories are based on people I’ve known and places I’ve been. History also plays a great part in my work. As a writer it is my desire to transport a reader’s mind—but my ultimate joy is to pierce your heart. When I was a little girl someone in my family taught me respect for all people. He said we were related to the great Martin Luther King since after all, my maiden name is King. I soon realized it wasn’t true, but I never forgot what he said. Later, I discovered blatant prejudice had incubated for decades within my family. My southern grandparents believed wholeheartedly in segregation.

pamela king cable

Pamela King Cable

For over a decade I lived near Summerfield, North Carolina, located northwest of Greensboro. This area is historically saturated with horse and tobacco farms, which today still dot the landscape. By chance I discovered James W. Cole (1924-1967) was ordained into the ministry in Summerfield at the Wayside Baptist Church in 1958. He toured as a tent evangelist and broadcast a Sunday morning radio program, becoming an active member of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and eventually the Grand Dragon of North and South Carolina. The man intrigued and appalled me, and since the first part of the book takes place in Summerfield during that time period, I wrote him into the story.

What sparked your imagination for this particular story?

Late in 2008, and for the next two years, I labored over a new story to give myself a break from the heat and intensity of my novel, Televenge. Little did I know of the fierce obsession and passion that would overtake me in writing The Sanctum. Wanting to include the possibility of the paranormal and spirituality from different points of view, I focused on a young girl with fuzzy, red hair who called herself Neeley, and the story began.

This skinny, parentless thirteen-year-old who wore thick eyeglasses and hand-me-down dresses captivated me from page one. Placing my little redheaded girl on a tobacco farm in 1959, and in the caring hands of an elderly African-American male, a rugged individual who wasn’t afraid of his gentle side, I quickly fell in love with them. The novel slowly wrote itself, dragging my heart behind it.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is located in the recently restored Woolworth’s building in downtown Greensboro, a Woolworth’s that also found its way into my story. As I further studied the Civil Rights Movement, I thought of it in terms of rights for all people. My great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee, according to our family’s historian. So I then researched the Trail of Tears.

And finally the wolf appeared. An animal that has fascinated me all my life, the wolf is about family and order. It is a subtle character, but a voice to be reckoned with. I studied wolves carefully, and found people who loved the animal enough to create wolf sanctuaries. I spent time on a sanctuary near the town of Bakersville in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a five-hour drive from my home. When I arrived a sign read “The Wolf Sanctum.” From that moment I called my novel, The Sanctum.

What do you most hope readers will take away from The Sanctum?

That above all else, God is faithful.

Most of my readers have reported they feel drained. As though they’ve stepped through a portal in time. They’ve been informed, enlightened, and yet their hearts have been pierced clean through. They’ve said to me many times that the characters became alive. I want all of my readers to experience that. To want to linger inside the pages, to live in the story until it becomes a part of them. Until the story is pressed into the recesses of their memories.

Are there any particular challenges you’re facing in your writing life these days?

I believe it’s with the publishing industry in general. The industry is in desperate need of a major overhaul. The length of time it takes from finishing the novel to publication is painfully long. There’s got to be a better, faster way for traditionally published books to get to market. Also, the worn-out process of retailers returning our unsold books, it’s still the most ridiculous part of this business. Total nonsense. If the Gap can’t return its unsold blue jeans to the Levi Company, why should Barnes & Noble be allowed to return its unsold books to the publisher? This is an antiquated process that needs to stop. Now.

How do you stay spiritually grounded during the writing and publishing process?

Spiritual life-changing moments in my life have consistently fed my desire to write. However, those moments came at a price. Compassion and love from my Heavenly Father saved me from the bottom of my barrel, from the depths of despair. In the midst of the darkest valley of my life, He raised me up and placed in me a desire to pierce the hearts of my readers with the written word straight from my sanctified imagination. He delivered me, saving my life more than once. It wasn’t just the hand of God that moved; it was His whole arm. There is nothing like experiencing the miracle hand of the Master first hand. The undiluted and undisputed faithfulness of God molded me as a woman of faith, and as a writer. Remembering all of this keeps me spiritually grounded, in every aspect of my life.

Who is the one person who has influenced your professional life the most and why?

Donald Maass, author and literary agent. Don is to the writer what Lee Strasburg was to the actors in his time. I am a graduate of the 2005 Breakout Novel Intensive and have studied under Don at different times and locations around the country. Don made me a better writer, and I am ever grateful to him for it.

Are there any particular authors and/or books that have inspired your writing journey?

On my thirteenth birthday, I received a copy of Gone with the Wind. I devoured it in a weekend. Margaret Mitchell became my hero until I discovered Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, and Eudora Welty. The rich story content of the South fans the flames of many writers’ fires. But for me, their work was a springboard, catapulting me into the possibility of creating my own unique stories driven by compelling and unforgettable characters.

I love the works of many authors. Pat Conroy, Lee Smith, Silas House, Dorothy Allison, Alice Munro, Diana Gabaldon, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver … the list could fill this page.

Favorite musical artist. Do you listen to music when you write? What?

Growing up in the late 60s and early 70s, I’m a classical rock kind of girl. I have many favorite artists. But when I write, I listen to music without words. Words are distracting. Classical music, or arrangements from motion picture soundtracks can set a scene into motion. I’m not one to write in coffee shops or anyplace with commotion. I work hard to keep my ADHD self on track.

Any movies (old or new) that you’d recommend?

Movies I can watch, and have watched, over and over are as follows: Steel Magnolias, Green Fried Tomatoes, The Color Purple, The Help, National Treasure, Places in the Heart, Driving Miss Daisy, Matewan, Forrest Gump, Hope Floats, Winter People, Cold Mountain, A Time to Kill, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Ghosts of Mississippi, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Selma, Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Apostle, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and To Kill A Mockingbird.

What’s the next book project coming up for you?

Plot outlines for two books: Bitter Homes and Gardens, and The Pinnacle

What is one of your favorite lines (scenes, quote from a character) from you current book?

“My life had to change, and yet I knew, living in North Carolina, danger arrived in winter. Southerners hole up during cold weather. Food is tasteless, and the world around us smells like our rusted tin roofs. Religious conviction freezes on our faces, but our sins are not confessed. I was a child of winter. I had learned the consequence of snow and cold. It was a dreaded time of year, knowing every cold and flu season brought me bad luck and closer to truths too terrible to bear. But the day I turned thirteen began a new chapter that taught me bad luck could turn into good luck, even though it might take time. Even though the evidence of good luck is often invisible as a bubble at first. Even though the evidence of things unseen can make you think you’ve lost your mind.” ~ Neeley McPherson, The Sanctum

Is there anything you’d like readers to know about you that I haven’t asked? If so, tell us!

For me, it is within sanctuaries of brick and mortar; places of clapboard and canvas that characters hang ripe for picking. From the primitive church services of the mountain clans to the baptisms and sacraments in cathedrals and synagogues all over the world. From the hardworking men and women who testify in every run-down house of God in America to the charismatic high-dollar high-tech evangelicals televised in today’s megachurches, therein lie stories of unspeakable conflict, the forbidden, and often, the unexplained.

Thanks, Pamela!

You can find Pamela’s blog on her website, and also on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

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We have a winner!

The randomly-chosen winner of a copy of Jan Cline‘s heart-stirring new novel EMANCIPATED HEART is Violetta Davis! Congratulations, Violetta. Check your e-mail for a note from me (Jennifer).

Thank you so much to everyone who entered! I hope you will continue to visit this blog, where we talk about Sparkling Vintage Fiction…among other things. 🙂

emancipated heart

Hana Kato and her family are nearing the end of their confinement in a WWII Japanese American internment camp. Her beloved Papa has been taken to prison, and Hana works hard to keep the family together until he can join them in preparation for their release. Surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor, and years of enduring difficult living conditions has tested Hana’s faith and trust. Although she stays strong through trials and tragedy, her resolve is weakened as she fights her affections for two men. Will she choose the rebel Japanese young man? Or will the bright Caucasian doctor she works with win her love? Emancipated Heart will hold your attention with a setting of an interesting era in American history, and a lesson in true loyalty, love and forgiveness, told through a Christian worldview.

Be Brave! My first Bible art journal entry

joshua 1 9

It took bravery just to put ink on the pristine page! But now that I’ve taken the plunge, future pages should come more easily.

I did not grow up writing in books, with the exception of some textbooks. Books were semi-sacred objects that one did not deface in any way, especially a Bible, which in our house was enormous and sat on a shelf and would have made a great biceps-strengthener, if I’d ever actually picked it up. It did make a very effective leaf-and-flower-presser, due to its impressive girth and weight. But the overall rule while I was growing up was that a written-in book was a ruined book.

Fast-forward to adulthood, when I began studying the Bible in earnest. After some initial hesitation, and following the lead of assorted spiritual mentors, I got over my writing-in-books phobia, swallowed hard, and started writing in my Bible–maybe underlining a phrase that stood out to me, or jotting a clarifying note in the margin. It turns out that, as a tactile sort of person, I learn best with pen or pencil in hand. So note-taking, underlining, and doodling is a way for me to more fully ingest the truths I am learning.

Now I’m taking one giant step further: I’ve started art-journaling in a Bible! One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a journaling Bible (mine’s from Crossway; there are others). It’s designed with extra-wide margins practically begging for reader interaction. But instead of just writing in it, I’m going to use it specifically for art-journaling, thus saving my regular Bible for normal reading and study.

Art-journaling helps me grasp onto biblical morsels in a different way. I suppose it’s a form of meditation: turning a particular truth over and over in my mind as I work on expressing it through ink and paint. I know it sounds sort of airy-fairy, but maybe if you’re an artist, you’ll understand. I’m not a visual artist–not in any typical sense–but I do love playing around with color and texture.

For my first entry, borrowing an idea from accomplished Bible-art-journaler Rebekah R. Jones, I chose Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

As in Rebekah’s example, the theme that jumped out at me is “Be brave,” so I masked off those letters. I chose dark, shadowy, thundercloud-like colors for the background, because the world is a scary place, but then the letters are in a contrasting light color (a pale peachy color that doesn’t show up well on camera) because Christ is the light shining in the darkness, the way a candle illuminates a dark room. Then I underlined the precise verse, Joshua 1:9, in orange to make it stand out. I don’t know if I’m completely finished with the page yet, but for now I like the way it turned out.

What do you think? Have you ever tried art-journaling (in a Bible or otherwise)? Does it sound interesting? Or does the very idea of using the pages of a Bible (or other book) as an artist’s canvas seem disrespectful? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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