Friday, November 8, 2019

3 Ways to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude

Have you ever heard the saying, a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles? I don't think it means that if you reluctantly try to be grateful, that you'll suddenly experience something miraculous. But I do think that when you begin to cultivate a heart of genuine gratitude, you will be more aware of the everyday blessings, no matter how small.

Giving thanks tends to be something we focus on in the weeks leading up to November. While it's absolutely important to be grateful during the holidays, especially leading up to Christmas, I think most of us could do a little better about being grateful all year long. Don't get me wrong, I know it can be hard. I've gone through seasons where I struggled to find the simplest thing to be thankful for. Coming up on the holidays this year, it will be even more difficult as my family and I navigate this time of year without my mother in law. But I know that those hard times are the ones I need gratitude all the more. So whether you find yourself in a difficult or busy season or if like anyone of us, you could just use an extra dose of gratitude, I want to encourage you to try one of the following practices to help cultivate a heart of gratitude.


One way I am working on being more thankful is through prayer. My women's Bible study is currently going through the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. In the book she mentions an acronym for P.R.A.Y. and it starts with Praise, followed by Repentence, Asking and Yes. She says this about praise...
"Thanksgiving is one of the most important aspects of prayer. It's not just a means of warming up (or buttering up). It's not just a preamble before getting down what we really want to say. Gratitude to God for who He is and what He's already done should thread throughout every prayer because ultimately His name and His fame are the only reasons any of this matters."
Reading that challenged my perspective on gratitude. Am I giving thanks just because I hope I get something from it or am I giving thanks out of a heart of gratitude without expecting anything in return? It has become part of our Bible study prayer time that we start with praise. Sometimes this is finding something from a list of the attributes of God to praise Him for. Other times it's just praising Him for something He has done. Spend some time in prayer today remembering what God has done and thanking Him for who He is.

Bible Journaling as a Record of God's Work in Your Life

The next way I am working to cultivate a heart of gratitude is through my Bible journaling. This can look like using your Bible journaling as a way to record things you are thankful for and I absolutely encourage that. However, one of my favorite things about Bible journaling has been having that record of how God has been working in my life. I can look back on certain entries and recall what was going on in my life at the time and how God has worked in that situation since. For example, I did the page below based on a sermon I heard the end of 2017. I was in a season where I was seeking some direction for where God was leading me. Looking back now, I can see all the things he has done in the couple of years since and I can't help but be thankful for it.

More than just a way to record your thanks or keeping a record to look back on, Bible journaling is a way to put the focus on the scripture and less on me. Of course we can use our Bible journaling as a way to work through things going on in our lives but the primary focus is on the Word. Nothing else can shift your focus like opening your Bible and digging in. 

Fill Your Mind with Positive Influences 

Over the past year or so I have often said that what goes in is what will come out. By this I mean that if you put things in your mind that cause you to be fearful or jealous, those things will be what you experience. However, if you put in things in that help you to focus on joy and gratitude, you are more likely to feel joy and be thankful. Obviously, this is not a fool proof formula but I have found the more that I read my Bible, pray and listen to worship music, the easier it is to have a better attitude. A simple way to be more intentional about this is just to have a verse written on a card and place it somewhere you will see often. This will help you focus more on that verse instead of whatever it might be that is stressing you out. Another way is to listen to more worship music throughout your day. The main idea is to just be more aware of the things you are allowing into your mind and if necessary, replacing some of those things with more of God's truth. Below I have listed some resources to help you cultivate a heart of gratitude.

Thanks and Praise Spotify Playlist   

I created this playlist to use for my recent Bible journaling workshop but it's also been my recent favorite playlist. I chose songs that focused on giving thanks or praising God.

22 Scriptures for Thanks and Praise verse cards

available now in my Etsy shop Anchored Hope Prints: I created this verse card set as a simple way to have scriptures to read about thanksgiving and praise. I also used these in a recent workshop. One thing we did was to read through each one aloud. I loved how this practice helped us to focus on the Word. I purposely made this set with graphics that are not specifically fall themed because I want you use these at any time of the year, not just around Thanksgiving. My hope is that these cards will give you a starting point for your Bible journaling but also that you will use them to focus your heart on giving thanks. You can even print one set to keep together and another to use directly in your journaling.

FREE Gratitude Documented Prompts by Illustrated Faith

Illustrated Faith has been doing a project called Gratitude Documented for several years. They release the prompts for free but then offer other resources that you can use along with it. You can create a mini book, use a journal or create an entry in your Bible for each one. There's tons of ways you can use this!

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer

While this book is specifically focused on prayer, not necessarily gratitude, I wanted to share it as a resource because learning to create a deeper more meaningful prayer strategy can do much more than just make you more grateful!

100 Days of Grace and Gratitude - Devotional Journal by Shanna Noel

The second of Shanna's 100 Days books, 100 Days o Grace and Gratitude came out in 2018 and was part of that years Gratitude Documented. However you can work through the book at any time of the year and at whatever pace works best for you. Each day has a short devotional thought along with some scriptures and a place for you to journal.

First 15 Devotional - Encountering God Through Thanksgiving

First 15 has become one of my favorite resources. I often play the audio from one of the devotions during the first part of my workshops. This particular devotion was one that I used for my recent workshop that was focused on documenting gratitude.

What do you do to help cultivate a heart of gratitude? Do you have any additional resources you would like to share?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Bible Journaling with Watercolors

When I first started Bible journaling, I rarely used watercolors. I tried it a few times but as I began learning other mediums, I just didn't reach for them as often. Now that I have been Bible journaling for a while, watercolors have once again become one of my favorite things to use in my Bible journaling. I love that I can carry one small palette instead of a bunch of different inks or paints, which makes it an easy medium to transport but also to use for wokshops. Below I will give you some examples of how I have used watercolors in my Bible journaling as well as some tips I have learned.

The first image below titled It is Well with my Soul is one of my first experiments with watercolors. It's just a simple wash of color in the corner with some stickers layered on top but it is still one of my favorites! I vividly remember the time I spent pouring over this passage and listening to the song "It is Well" over and over while letting the message sink into my soul. Journaling this page in my Bible was a turning point in my walk with the Lord and a jump-start into my love for the beautiful world of Bible journaling. Each of the other entries shown below have their own story attached as well. I won't tell them all now but I just love how Bible journaling is a beautiful record of God's work in my life! 

Each of the pages above uses a simple watercolor technique that anyone can do! Just like anything else, it of course takes a little practice to learn the right amount of water and color to use but the goal isn't a realistic painting, just to get some color on the page. Even painting the flames was fairly easy with the help of this Youtube video. With that in mind, here's some of my top tips for getting started with watercolor paints for Bible journaling.

1. Try it out before investing in more expensive paints 

I always say that it's best to try out something before investing in it. The same is true for watercolors. If you can, I recommend finding a friend with a set you can try out or find a cheaper set like the Artist Loft palette from Micheal's. I have several of the Artist Loft sets for my Bible journaling workshops and they work well enough for the looks we're trying to get with them. They're by no means professional artist quality, but again that's not the look I am going for anyway. Some people have found that these can become chalky and transfer some color to the opposite page. I haven't really found this in my own journaling but it is something to keep in mind. If you decide that you love watercolors and know that you'll use them, then maybe try some nicer paints. Some of the slightly more expensive paints are my favorites to use. You still don't need to go high end to get a better quality for Bible journaling. Here's some of my favorite sets (some affiliate links are used): 

36 Pan Artist Loft Watercolors - Available on Amazon or at Michaels: This is the most budget friendly option at just $7.00 on Amazon. I have seem them cheaper at Micheal's and it's an even better deal if you can use a coupon! 

Masters Touch 24 Pan Set - Available on Amazon or Hobby Lobby: This is another budget friendly option. Look for the Masters Touch sale at Hobby Lobby where you can get anything in that brand for 50% off. Like the Artist Loft set, this one has a tendency to be a little chalky but is also a great option for beginners. 

Illustrated Faith Shanna's Favorite Watercolors - Available at Dayspring or This set was the first one that I used other than the cheap Artist Loft set. I grabbed it when it was on sale and have loved the vibrant colors it creates as well as it's compact size. 

Prima Marketing Watercolor Confections - Available at or Amazon and possibly Hobby Lobby: These come is sets of 12 with lots of options to choose from. I have the Pastel Dreams set and I love it for creating softer colored backgrounds. 

Koi sketchbox Watercolors - Available on Amazon: I received this set from my sister who was upgrading to more professional watercolors. I reach for this one when I am looking for certain colors. It's the set I used for the flame page as well as the page with the wine glass. They're a nicely pigmented color and doesn't leave a chalky finish. 

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolors - Available on or Amazon: These are a favorite among many Bible journalers but also the most expensive option on the list. I don't currently own this set but I have tried them using my sister's set. The Praise and Thanksgiving page above was used with this set. The are a bit different in the way they behave compared to the other paints so just keep that in mind. 

For a little more in depth look at different types of watercolors, check out Lindsey Decor's Tip Tuesday all about Watercolors here

2. Test out several techniques to see how the paints react before jumping into your Bible 

Watercolors are a great medium for Bible journaling because they rarely bleed through the pages and don't generally require page prep with something like gesso. That said, I know it can be intimidating to try something new especially when it involves a fair amount of water. I recommend finding some tutorials online to help you get an idea of ways to use watercolor and trying them out on either watercolor paper or just something like cardstock. Know that different types of paper and even different Bible will react differently with watercolor to it's best to experiment with the amount of water and paint you used. You can also test them in your Bible by using some of the blank pages in the back. Below I will share a few techniques that I used in the pages above. Check out Youtube or the Illustrated Faith blog for more ideas. 

3. Just Go For It! 

My final tip is to just go for it. If there is one thing I have learned since I started Bible journaling, it's that the goal is to spend time in the word and not ultimately to create a beautiful page. Of course, I want it to look nice but even those pages that turn into what seems like a disaster were times I spend creating in my Bible and that matters more than the end result. So don't be intimidated if you are new to watercolor, get in there and try it out!