On Bible Journaling—verse mapping

Sacred Scripture comforts in our sorrows, soothes the aches and pains of this valley of tears that we walk through, and finally, fills and sustains our souls as bread does for the body.  Through reading and meditating, we receive new mercies, applicable to our need, and we are nourished.

Last year, I accomplished my resolution to read through the entire Bible (including the Deuterocanonical books of the Catholic Bible).  Also last year, I began collecting different ways to study and memorize Scripture.  I found several new (to me) Bible study methods that I’ll share with you, learning as I go…the first is called verse mapping.

Verse mapping is defined by Kristy Cambron as “a method of studying the historical context, transliteration,translation,connotation, and theological framework of a verse in the Bible. Plain and simple? Verse mapping is getting real about studying the Bible. All of it. It’s not just reading. It’s researching everything you can in a verse to learn more about Who God is, and how He wants to speak to you through His Word. In short? It’s serious study.”  This is the best definition I have found to explain the scribbles, bubbles, and lines that make up the pages of my Bible journal.

She has a wonderful post that explains very well the basics of verse mapping, and even offers a worksheet for beginners to use.  I have taken her approach along with some other methods and styles I have seen in online communities, and am in the process of tweaking it all together to make it mine…that is the cool thing about verse mapping, there doesn’t appear to be one correct way to do it, but can be custom fitted to your own personality, preferences and time availability.

This year, I haven’t made a resolution yet.  But I am drawn to journaling and Bible study, and am happy to share my process, with the knowledge that it is a process, and apt to change at any time.  This is what mine looks like right now:

1.  Choose a verse.  I like using a verse from one of the passages in the daily readings of the Catholic Church.  I love how those verses-even though they were selected hundreds of years ago-are so often relevant to my life, speaking specifically to an area that needs affirmation, consolation, or correction. I write this verse out in black ink in either the middle of the page or at the top…depending on how I’m feeling at the time.  I read it over a couple or three times, changing the focus and inflection of the words, really mull it over…there are always words that stand out.   I Highlight those, more on that later.

2.  Read it in different translations.  This is a personal preference, and I typically choose only approved Catholic translations.  My go-to versions are: the New American Bible Revised Edition, New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, and Douay-Rheims.  I occasionally use the New International Version, or the Message…mostly out of  curiosity, but occasionally, I will like the way it is worded and add it to my notes.  I still find myself quoting from the King James Version that I memorized as a child, so there is that.  For a fun exercise after you are finished, read the passage in the Amplified version of the Bible, and see how many of your thoughts overlap with the translation there.

3.  Look at related verses, Catechism, and commentaries.  I draw a light green squiggly line under words or phrases that I want to cross reference, then I record those verses or citations in green with an arrow connecting them.  Sometimes I box them in, other times, I fill in areas between boxes with this kind of info…none of my pages ever look the same, that is why I feel constrained by a worksheet, as much as I want to use and love it, I haven’t found one that fits my style yet, so mine are mostly freestyle for now.

Years ago, my husband invested in the Logos Bible software and has an extensive digital library that can be hyper-linked to Scripture, commentaries, and dictionaries.  A few years ago, he was ecstatic to find that they offer a Catholic version of this called Verbum.  Of course we upgraded to that, and have been blessed to add to our library with Catholic sources.  The hyper links make quick work of cross referencing, looking up definitions, and toggling between translations.  I love the hyperlink from Scripture to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I want to make sure I am understanding Scripture in the original way it was intended to be understood, and in agreement with the Magisterium’s translation and interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

If you can afford to invest in this awesome resource, I highly recommend it.  If not, there are free versions of Bible software available online.  I have had good success with Bible Gateway (I use the desktop version online because the last time I checked, the app did not have the Catholic versions of Scripture available) and Bible Hub.  I record the differences in translations on my map…note the translation in initials, and draw a red box around it.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church can be found online here, as well as in the Laudate app.  I use all of these in the course of my studies, are we not so blessed to have the myriad of resources available today for studying and applying God’s Word to our hearts and lives?

4.  Define and/or clarify key words.  Those words in #1 that I highlighted…sometimes looking up the definition and or Hebrew/Greek word it was translated from can be so enlightening to the message of the verse.  I use a tan/brown pen for this step, sometimes I box it in. Verbum has links to the Greek and Hebrew, and will also shed more light on the original meaning of the verse.

I also like to add the dictionary definition and list synonyms for the word.  I typically use dictionary.com and thesaurus.com for this and write it in blue. I will upload a picture of my latest entry so you can see how it all comes together.

5.  Sometimes I will have thoughts that I want to record…I do this in my favorite purple color…you can see this on today’s map that I am sharing here.

This is one of three techniques I use for my journaling Bible verses. The other two will be in separate posts…later.  What do you think?  Do you map out verses or journal them in some way?  I find it a good exercise for hiding God’s Word in my heart, and processing it out loud, so to speak, for later use.  I’d love to see your maps, thoughts, or entries.


Evolution of a Prayer Journal

I’ve been spending more time in my prayer journal this week.  It’s a lot of the same stuff I talked about in previous posts, but now, since discovering the bullet journaling phenomena, I am moving everything over to a composition notebook, for the sake of more effective archival and retrieval.  Also, it is sometimes very difficult to put my thoughts into verbal words, as my mind is prone to wander about and fixate on the next shiny thing that grabs my attention.  Having a lined journal will allow me to wrangle those thoughts all into a hopefully cohesive and coherent prayer, from my heart to God’s…and one day, will be a good way to remember His goodness to me.

Since I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home wife and Grammie, I have extra time in my day for prayer.  I may not always have this opportunity to spend this kind of time in the presence of God, so I want to show my gratitude by doing it well, redeeming the time, so to speak.

From the time I wake, until the time I go to sleep, I want to be in a habit of keeping company with my Lord.  There are several ways I accomplish this, one of which is memorized prayers.  When I wake up and ideally, before my first sip of coffee, I want to give my day to Jesus.  “Good morning, Lord!  I love you.  What do you want to tell me today?”  I put on the coffee, and continue in worship:  “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.”  It’s here that I often see the first thing He wants me to do today…maybe dishes that didn’t get put away the night before, or a load of laundry that needs to be put on…Sometimes I just take mental note, other times, I may jump right in and get it going while the coffee is brewing…but when that coffee is ready…I’m all about the waking up!  I pour a big cuppa, add my favorite sweetener and stir it all up and take it to my prayer spot.  Here, I keep my Bible, my journal(s), special pens/pencils, religious reading material that I’m working through, and prayer aids, such as chaplets and/or rosary.  I say my morning prayers, then make a mental note of the prayers I pray weekly…I have different areas of specific prayers that I have divided up into my seven day week.  This way, I feel I give adequate time and attention to the things I am praying for.  I don’t try to journal much during this time, but just sit and wake up using the prayers and/or prompts that I already have written out.  This gives me time to set my heart and mind on things above, and I find my day goes so much more smoothly this way.  When the parish bells chime at noon, it is a reminder to pray the Angelus.  I don’t have it memorized yet, so I put it in my prayer journal at midday.  I also am developing the habit of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  It plays on our local Catholic radio station every day at 3pm.  I love to sing along, and almost have it memorized.

I have been using the CAST model of prayer for just over a year.  There are things I LOVE about having it in a binder, and there are things that are not working for me.  I am hopeful that keeping a composition notebook with a good index will help me keep the things I love and fix those things that didn’t work.  For the time being, I’m maintaining the one, creating another, and using them both in different ways…and I keep a separate journal for planning my days.  I’m wondering if this will continue, or if I will decide to combine them all somewhere down the road.  We’ll see.  For now, it’s nice just to have some semblance of an organized plan.

You can see in my photo, I try to pray for a lot of different things…these are things that are on my heart often, some days I pray for more than one area, whether I’m on that day or not.  This is just a prayer prompt for those days when I don’t know what to pray.  Eventually, I will have collections and prayers for each category, but for now, it’s just a prompt.  I am also in the process of getting to know the saints, and have given some of my favorites a permanent place in my prayer routine.  I love the thought that I have prayer support from that cloud of witnesses that surround us.  (Hebrews 12)   Isn’t the Body of Christ wonderful?  When we are in Him, and He in us, even physical death cannot sever us from His body, which is the Church.

About that rock wall at the foot of the cross:  I told my sister that some days I feel like the young girl on “Secret Life of Bees” (and if you haven’t seen it, go now, borrow, rent or purchase a copy and watch one of my all-time favorite movies ever).  She is a sensitive soul, and feels her sorrows deeply.  When she is heavy and burdened, she runs to a rock wall on her family’s property, and leaves her sorrows there.  How I need a rock wall…like the wailing wall in Jerusalem…but alas, we are apartment dwellers, :). So, I have the next best thing, a pile of rocks where I can leave my own anxieties, burdens, and sorrows.  It fits with my CAST verses, and now I have them in a handy journal.  I like the thought of seeing them reduced to one little rock in a pile that has been cast off…and somehow, I feel lighter, even just looking at the pile of burdens that I am not carrying anymore.

Well, that’s it for today.  Would love to see your prayer journals and hear how you organize your prayer time.  Blessings.

Letting Go of the Old

Did you ever need a reset?

I do.  I’m in a slump as of late, and need to reset, regroup, and refocus.

I have come to a place in my life, where I’m seeing things more clearly, experiencing God’s presence and hearing Him speak to my heart in ways I have only dreamed of; and at the same time, I feel an anxiety in my spirit…a simmering frustration that occasionally bubbles up and spills out of my mouth in biting words I don’t really mean to say, and hot tears that defy my own ideas of stoic self-discipline.

I know that a large part of my problem is  my own “all or nothing” attitude.  I find something that I love to do, and all sense of balance goes out the window…I throw myself 100% into the new thing that I love, and forget to maintain the essential disciplines that keep my little world turning here.  Facebook, which was intended to be a TOOL to keep me in contact with my children, has turned into a vice for me.  I lose all track of time, and find it difficult to walk away…as a result, my relationships and responsibilities have suffered.  I think this is at least partiality the culprit in my bubbling anger…I’m irritated at myself, and feeling lazy and unmotivated to change, so I surf around on Facebook…escaping what I know I need to do, for the sake of one more article, one more comment, one more share…until I’ve wasted another afternoon instead of doing what I know I need to do.

Anyway, until I can find some semblance of self control again, I’m disabling my Facebook, and re-vamping my schedule to reflect a more balanced list of priorities.  I hope to be reading more and journaling again, which hopefully will lead to some new blog posts here.  My posts here will no longer show on Facebook, as my personal page there will be no more.  Please bookmark NewThings if you wish to follow.  I don’t know how long I’ll be MIA on FB, but would appreciate your prayers in the meantime.



CAST your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you.


We’re halfway through my prayer journal, and actually have come to the thickest portion of the contents.  I just wrote about this section here.  As this section is the busiest part of my journal, it is always evolving, and has taken on a significant change just since I wrote about it.

Because sometimes I feel like I get bogged down in the “gimme prayers” and I tend to forget God’s faithfulness to me in answered prayer, I felt I needed a way to track it better.  Now, after I pray through my pocketful of daily prayers, I turn to my page of “Supplications”.  These prayers include, but are not limited to specific requests for myself, my spiritual walk, areas I am working on, etc. as well as names of people I’ve committed myself to pray for, with dates.  On the back of this page, on the same line as the request is written on the front, I record answered prayers with the date answered.  I call this “satisfaction”.  Whether His answer is yes or no, or not yet, I know that He has heard me, and answered me.  When this page is full, and I need to add intentions, I transfer all prayers that I am still waiting on an answer for to the new page, and continue from there.  This serves a dual purpose, it keeps me mindful of things that I promised to keep in prayer, and it keeps me mindful of answered prayer that I can add to my “attitude of gratitude” page.  I plan to make a page or two for this section with one of my favorite poems, “Wait”, as well as Bible verses reminding me to keep persisting in prayer.


CAST  your burden on the Lordand he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

CAST your anxieties upon the Lord, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7


I’m still working on my prayer journal, and have come up with a simple(r) acronym that doesn’t take up as much space in the binder that is my prayer journal.

Part of praying is talking to God, and part of prayer is listening to Him speak to our hearts.   Since I last wrote about adoration, I have been thinking a lot about who God is, who He claims to be, His descriptive names and attributes, and how that affects me, His creation.  Looking back, I am realizing how much my little prayer journal system has changed, and yet, remains the same.  I find that by focusing on one or two attributes at a time, I can obey the instruction of Scripture to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name, and worship Him in splendor” (Ps 29:1,2).

Because prayer is a two-way street, I like to visualize what it looks like from God’s end.  Does He call me by name?  Does He look at and affirm my own attributes and character when He speaks back to me?  I think He does.

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the Lordhe who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Ps 103:14 ~ For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.

2 Cor 5:20 ~ Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.

Eph 2:6 ~ … raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

I find that focusing on what God says about me is a good way to keep a balanced and healthy view of myself.  Meditating on Who I am in Christ keeps me from one of two traps that I fall into when I focus on myself; that is either thinking too highly of myself, and becoming proud, or thinking too low of myself, and falling into despair.  Isn’t it a balancing act?

And just when we think we’ve arrived at humility, we’ve lost it to pride.

In my prayer journal, I added another A-word to my acronym, Affirmation, and started keeping a double-sided page to record my progress.  On the front, I list the attributes of God with their Scriptures, as I had been doing.  On the back side, I list the affirmations of who I am in Christ according to God’s Word revealed in Scripture. This helps me implement my newest, 2-fold habit of Ascribing the Lord’s glory to His name, and accepting the Affirmations of who I am in Christ, according to His word.  I really prefer to mine them myself, so, when I’m reading my Bible or listening to the Divine Office, and I come across one, I record it, right away on my Affirmations page.

If I get stuck, or am limited for time, or just need a quick reference, I go to my browser, and type in “who I am in Christ”.  WOW!!!!  There are treasure troves of Scriptures that have already been collected on this topic, it’s easy to get lost in them all.  I also still have my old alphabetized list of the names and attributes of God that I have collected (with my songs for worship and adoration on the back) that I also use as a personal resource.  By the end of the year, it will be fun to see how my collection has grown.  Maybe I’ll do a collage with it and post it here, who knows?

Another peek inside


Monday’s Supplications:

On Mondays, I pray for my own marriage and family, as well as those of my siblings, children, and dear friends.  Inside my orange pocket, I keep post it notes with names written on them.  It helps me to hold them while I pray, and say each name aloud as I lift them to the Father.

I ask the Lord each day to strengthen me with His Spirit, and specifically, on Mondays, I ask Him to give me a spirit of humility and meekness.  Before adding this to my prayers, I had no idea the struggle that my spirit would engage in as a result…because if you want to be filled with meekness and humility, you have to be emptied first of pride and selfish ambition.  For strong personalities such as mine this is a painful emptying.  It requires me to submit my ideas of what is black and white, right and wrong, fair and just to the One who defines it all…not easy for me, beneficial, yes…easy?  No, not so much.

I am trying to incorporate praying the rosary more, and offering up the intentions of the day while I meditate on the Joyful Mysteries.  I don’t yet have the mysteries memorized, so I keep a post it note on my Monday page to help me stay on track. Often, I will put on a youtube video and pray along, but in the event that I am praying on my own, in the quiet, without noise, I find post it notes to be a wonderful prayer aid.