Build that Bible Habit

Sometimes when I underline something I also unintentionally cross words out. Those pretty, hand-lettered bullet journals and Bibles on Instagram and Pinterest? They intimidate me to the point that when my new copy of the Catholic Journaling Bible arrived, I let it sit for weeks, afraid I would ruin it if I dared to write in it. I eventually did, though, and have left sloppy notes and wobbly underlinings throughout it.

Each day that I pick up my Bible I am building a habit so that eventually sitting with Scripture will be part of the natural rhythm of each day. Eventually Scripture will be as familiar to me as an old friend. This desire to be in the Word is what draws me to the Ethiopian man and Saint Philip in the Book of Acts.

When we meet the Ethiopian man he is deep in study of Sacred Scripture. He doesn’t understand what he is reading but he is present with it nonetheless. His time in prayerful contemplation has prepared his heart for an encounter with the Gospel. Once he hears the Good News of Jesus Christ, he recognizes the Truth and asks to enter the Church and a life with the Sacraments. (Acts 8:27-38)

And Saint Philip’s knowledge of Scripture is even more amazing. Not only does he know the writings of the Old Testament but he lived the Gospels! Philip intimately knew the Word of God as his dear friend, Jesus. And surely his time with the Word—both the written and the Living—disposed him to be open to the promptings of the Spirit and enabled him to evangelize.

In the Gospel Jesus quotes Isaiah, “They shall all be taught by God” (John 6:45) and so it is when we study the Bible. Sisters, when I read my Bible each day it is not like reading any other book. I read, I pray on it, I think about it, I reread, I underline, I study the footnotes and look up the cross references. Exclamation points and hearts are drawn in the margins near passages that amaze me or move my heart. I jot down words the Lord places in my heart as I study His Word.

My Bible is not picture perfect but that’s okay. I have come to realize that the messier my Bible the more rightly ordered my life.

[Tweet “I have come to realize that the messier my Bible the more rightly ordered my life.”]

Do you have a Bible you’re comfortable picking up and engaging with? Find one today.

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker, and homemaker. She, her husband, and seven children live in central Illinois, and her son’s alleged miraculous healing through the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen was submitted to the Vatican for Sheen’s beatification. Bonnie pretends she has a green thumb, bakes a fantastic chocolate chip cookie, loves naps and chai tea, and blogs. You can find out more about her here.


  • Reply
    Gretchen Schaubhut
    April 19, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Blessed good morning! Bonnie, I also felt intimidated upon receiving my journaling bible. Opening the pages, I didn’t want to “mess up” . I also saw all of the gorgeous, creative bibles on Pinterest and Instagram. It was daunting. What pens to write with, did I use watercolor in my bible, oh wait, can I draw well enough on those thin, delicate pages? Then I thought, this is a book, my book, my bible. Just start reading, the rest will come. So now I read my bible, and like you I sometimes underline ore jot notes in the wide margin and I feel okay.
    Your reflection helped begin my day!

  • Reply
    Kaycee Farrell
    April 19, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Bonnie and others, what bibles do you’ve and recommend for a beautiful and accurate Catholic women’s bible to love and study?

  • Reply
    Wanda Walters
    April 19, 2018 at 8:39 am

    I loved today’s posting of BIS because people in my family have been marking up their Bibles for decades. When I read Mama’s Bible, I can see all her notes on the various passages and even dates where her favorite ministers spoke on that specific passage. In the back of her Bible are three pages that are supposed to be blank. Not in Mama’s Bible! An entire sermon is captured on those pages, followed by research from Biblical readings published through the SC PH Conference and (I think) Rev. Long. It is so comforting to see her lovely handwriting in her beloved Bible.
    My grandfather’s Bible was the same with passages underlined. And he would add things on the side margins. In both the front and back of his Bible were his favorite verses written in his handwriting along with messages to himself. My grandmother gave my Mama her Daddy’s Bible in 1995 and Mama passed it onto my cousin Jeff around 2006. A very treasured book!
    Probably one of the greatest Bible treasures was my grandmother’s family Bible. My sister was given George’s family Bible (the big ones that some families put on coffee tables) and I got Leafy’s. I will never forget the day that I got it… it was the same day that my grandparents had their wills signed and I was the one that made sure that the wills were fair to all of their children. (I helped write the wills.) My grandmother told me that she knew I would appreciate it more than anyone else in the family and she wanted me to have it… she even laughed and said I had made sure that I wouldn’t get anything else when they died.
    When I was little, I loved looking in those big Bibles with the maps, beautiful artwork depicting Biblical scenes, and the family history captured. To me, it was the most special book that I had ever seen. And in 1987, when my life was turning upside down and going in circles, Leafy gave me that beautiful, old Bible. Today, it is still one of my most treasured possessions and yes, it traveled to Europe and around the world in suitcases and backpacks… as I saw, that precious book with its family history and handwritten notes was like taking my family along on the journey.

  • Reply
    Diana Kedora
    April 19, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Can you recommend a bible? One such as yours?

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 8:39 am

    When I received my BIS journaling bible I felt the same way! I do not have an ounce of art talent. I heard someone say ” We need to live in our bible”
    So now I underline and write in the margins nothing fancy just what I feel on my heart. Thank you BIS ministry for all that you do!

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