Book Review: Draw Near by Sophie Killingley

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Fun, imaginative, enjoyable and creative, are all words I think of when I think of the word ‘journal’. I love any kind of journal that can provide you with a creative outlet; a way to not only write on the pages, but to be creative and to creatively note down thoughts, ideas, questions, prayers, reflections and so on. As a Christian, a journal can be used alongside your Bible study time, your quiet time with God, to write down the prayers that are on your heart (I wrote about using a prayer journal in this blog post), to list prayers that have been answered, to thank God, share your praises to God and to list all the things you are thankful to God for. A journal can be used for many different things which is why it’s always special when you come across one that lets you do all that plus more. I especially love a journal when it helps you in your journey of faith

Draw Near by Sophie Killingley, published by The Good Book Company, is just that sort of creative journal, and exploring it has brought me so much joy. It does all the above and more. Sometimes I find it’s rare to find a journal (and specifically a Christian journal) which is affordable, has lots of pages, is designed to cover a whole year, and one that is undated, so that you can start and finish it any time you like and use it flexibly. The reason I say this journal does so much more, is because it helps you in your daily journey of faith. It helps you to form and maintain good daily habits such as reading the Word of God, reflecting on scripture, prayer, a companion to your Bible study time, a reminder of particular verses that you have read along with notes, thoughts and questions that you want to jot down. This journal also has a specific section for each week to use during church, a space for sermon notes, Bible verses that really stuck out, your take-home points, and anything else you want to note down.  

At the start of this Draw Near, there are monthly sections which help you to creatively engage with the Bible. There are suggested creative tasks which you can do, along with beautifully-drawn illustrations to colour and use daily to help in maintaining those good habits. There are also two blank bullet journal pages to use however you want. Each month includes something different related to a particular book of the Bible. Moving on a little further into the book, there are the weekly pages, which include each day of the week, along with the ‘sermon notes’ section I mentioned above. There’s also a space to write your verse of the week and any answered prayers that you may have. At the end of the journal, there are more blank bullet journal pages. 

The journal has a beautifully-designed front and back cover, along with elastic to keep your journal pages safely together, which means you can place extra pieces of paper inside, and you won’t lose them. My husband, David, and I both fell instantly in love with this journal when we opened it. Straight away, we could see just how much love and care, time and creativity went into creating it. It’s filled with beautiful illustrations throughout, amazing quality thick paper (which is perfect for using paints on), big boxes and sections with plenty of space to write, doodle and be as creative as you want, and really engaging pages to help you daily in your journey of faith. It’s the perfect size to pop into my bag and to take with me on the go. 

Although paperback, the cover of this book is very strong to keep the journal nice and safe. For a journal I’m going to be using at least daily, I like one which keeps the pages inside intact! The writing is a good size and in a clear font which is always a bonus. Another helpful tool included in this journal, is that on each ‘sermon notes’ section, a Bible timeline is included at the bottom of the page, so you can mark where you are in the Bible in that particular day’s teaching passage during church, which I think is a really helpful and unique tool that’s been included.

At the beginning, there are a few pages to read from the author herself where Sophie explains why she created this journal, the story behind it and how it’s designed to help Christians, and help you draw close to God each day. She also makes some suggestions for how to use this journal. I also found what Sophie had written to be very relatable, and I’m sure many other Christians have felt and experienced the same too. Sophie explains that after a period of particularly bad mental health, she struggled to manage her discipline of reading the Bible and praying each day. I know in my own life, this has very much happened to me, and it can be difficult to get that discipline back. 

It’s important to remember that it’s only through God that we can feel His incredible peace and strength, and experience His amazing healing, miracles, answered prayers, and be filled with joy. As we know from reading God’s Word in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” We know just how important those good habits are, and how important it is to get straight into God’s Word daily, to maintain those good regular habits, and to keep on drawing closer to God.

This beautiful journal helps with just that. I suppose you could say that Sophie is being our accountability partner in journal form! It’s a fun, creative and engaging way to get into God’s Word daily, to make sure that you are spending time daily in prayer, and to use the journal as part of your quiet time with God. Dotted throughout the journal on the weekly sections, are boxes with the word ‘suggestion’ in, and then some writing. These are helpful little suggestions when using this journal, encouraging you to spend time reflecting. One suggestion box that caught my attention as I was flicking through the pages says the following:

“Expression, not perfection! Getting creative as part of your daily spiritual walk isn’t about creating incredible and technically perfect pieces of art. It’s about expressing ourselves creatively to God, trying to take time to understand and internalise all we’re learning and thinking.”

This is such an important reminder. Sometimes, it’s so easy to look at what everyone else is doing and get caught up in the moment thinking that everything must look perfect, that it must look a certain way when journaling. I’ve fallen into this trap myself, and you know what it does? It takes my focus off of what is truly important and what truly matters. But that’s a post for another time! Sophie has created a wonderful space where we can use this journal how we like and to be as creative as we like, but most importantly, in a way which helps us to spend time with God daily, to read His Word, to pray and to reflect on His Word and His goodness. 

Thank you, Sophie, for making this truly amazing, helpful, engaging, fun and creative, God-centred journal.

Draw Near is available to purchase over on The Good Book Company and on Amazon. And if you head on over to The Good Book Company, there are some wonderful free downloads for you to enjoy with and alongside this journal, such as Bible verse bookmarks to print, colour in and use, and beautiful monthly verse screensavers for your phone. You can follow Sophie over on Twitter.

Do you love journaling? Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly journaling, or Bible journaling, I would love to know.

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