Cultivating a Thankful Heart with a DIY Gratitude Journal

Legacy of Faith / Special Days Through the Seasons

Within the last few years it has become all the rage to start keeping a list of all the things you are thankful for, a list of all the blessings from God. This practice became popular again in large part due to Ann Voskamp’s best selling book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. But it’s not a new idea or concept. People have been listing out and praising God for all He he has done in their lives for hundreds of thousands of years.

If you go back in the Bible and look up the phrases, “Thank you” or “Praise be to God” just to name a few, you will see that not only is God’s Word full of the message of hope, truth and grace, but it’s also full of ordinary people giving thanks to God. Ordinary people just like you and me.

Next month we celebrate my absolute favorite Holiday, one of the few days that we haven’t over commercialized but rather still celebrate God’s provisions over a feast of food with family. Thanksgiving is one day a year where it is not about buying or receiving gifts, elaborate decorations or traditions that require a whole lot of pre-planning.

Cultivate a thankful heart all year by focusing gratitude. Create a simple DIY Gratitude Journal to record your blessings list or to journal you way through the Bible. | CreativeHomeKeeper.com

Instead Thanksgiving is a day where we cook a big meal and sit around the table as a family. Celebrating one another, lifting praises to God, being reminded that we are blessed and we have so much to be thankful for. While Thanksgiving is a special and cherished day, it’s not the only day that we should be reminded to give thanks.

We should be thankful 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our hearts should be overflowing with gratitude as we praise and worship God as we go through our days. Sounds easier said than done, right?

So what do these terms, thanksgiving and gratitude, truly mean? Especially since they are thrown around a lot this time of year.

Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

Thanksgiving: the act of giving thanks; a prayer expressing gratitude; a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

Nancy Leigh DeMoss explains it that

Choosing gratitude means choosing joy… It’s a choice that requires constantly renewing my mind with the truth of God’s Word, setting my heart to savor God and His gifts, and disciplining my tongue to speak words that reflect His goodness and grace- until a grateful spirit becomes my reflexive response to all of life. Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, (page 17.)

Choosing joy, setting my heart to savor God, disciplining my tongue… allowing these to help transform my whole being until giving thanks is my nature response in any and all circumstances.

I am reminded of Paul, over and over in His letters to the various early Christian churches he exhorts them to give thanks no matter what their situation may be, after all Paul was in prison and persecuted for his faith a number of times, yet he still continued to live for Christ to proclaim,

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

One thing that I am working on with my own children is to train them to say thank you. Thank you after a meal, thank you for receiving something they want or need. But as Nancy Leigh DeMoss points out,

There’s a world of difference between being able to say “thank you” — and actually have a thankful heart. (page 22)

Over the weekend I FINALLY begin reading Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It has been sitting on my bookcase for over a year with the intention that I would read it soon. But soon never came, it was always passed over for something I felt was better. I think it’s because I knew that my definition of gratitude and being thankful would be challenged as I read through it. And I have been right to assume so. I’m only three chapters in and wow… was I right!

A grateful man or woman will be a breath of fresh air in a world contaminated by bitterness and discontentment. And the person whose gratitude is a by product of an a response to the redeeming grace of God will showcase the heart of the gospel in a way that is winsome and compelling. (page 24)

Am I a breath of fresh air? Or am I adding to the over-pollution of bitterness and discontentment?

Am I showing gratitude because I truly have a heart for the gospel and all the God has done?

Those are some tough questions, and I’m not always pleased with how my response looks.

One of the things that I am most excited about in Nancy’s book, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, is there is a built in 30 day devotional in the back of the book. And not just any devotional, it actually has meat to it.

Many times, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this when the occasion merits it, book driven devotionals are a sweet little passage followed by a Bible verse or two for reflecting. There may be a spot to journal or there may not be. I tend to approach those type of devotionals with what I call a “quick drive by reading” where I quickly read through it yet don’t allow any of the words or messages to really sink into my heart. Anyone else guilty of this too?

Nancy’s devotional is designed to be read AND worked through after reading through the book.

Each daily devotional requires you to spend some time prayer and reflection through journal writing, which is something that I used to do all the time but have since ceased doing so.

I haven’t actually started working through her devotional though yet, my plan is to work through it during the 30 days of November mainly because I like have a clear and distinct starting and stopping place. Plus I love the idea of having daily Bible reading time with the pure focus on cultivating a heart of gratitude during the month of Thanksgiving.

To prepare myself I wanted to create a gratitude journal where I could record my thoughts, write down Bible verses and even begin getting into a habit of listing out a list of things I’m grateful for. Sure, a plain old notebook would suffice, but what fun would that be? And since I have already been getting my craftiness on this month, why not all another little project to the mix?

DIY Gratitude Notebook

Supplies Needed

Cultivate a thankful heart all year by focusing gratitude. Create a simple DIY Gratitude Journal to record your blessings list or to journal you way through the Bible. | CreativeHomeKeeper.com

Notebook- I choose a spiral bound, college ruled notebook because I like being able to fold my notebook in half.

Embellishments- I found some craft paper that looks like burlap at Michael’s, as well as some leftover ribbon and twine from other projects.

Mod Podge Glue

Sponge paint brush

Step One

Cultivate a thankful heart all year by focusing gratitude. Create a simple DIY Gratitude Journal to record your blessings list or to journal you way through the Bible. | CreativeHomeKeeper.com

Cut the craft paper to the size of your notebook. I only had one piece, so I decorated the cover but you could decorate both the front and back cover if you use. Attach to the front cover with some mod podge glue.

Step Two

Cultivate a thankful heart all year by focusing gratitude. Create a simple DIY Gratitude Journal to record your blessings list or to journal you way through the Bible. | CreativeHomeKeeper.com

I found a pretty, chalkboard embellishment to serve as a nameplate on the front of my journal. Using a chalkboard marker pen, I wrote “Grateful. {period}” on the front. Attach to the front cover with some mod podge glue.

Step Three

Cultivate a thankful heart all year by focusing gratitude. Create a simple DIY Gratitude Journal to record your blessings list or to journal you way through the Bible. | CreativeHomeKeeper.com

Using some leftover ribbon, I cut a piece to measure the length of my notebook and attached it using the hot glue gun (which has seen more action this month than it has in years!)

Step Four

Cultivate a thankful heart all year by focusing gratitude. Create a simple DIY Gratitude Journal to record your blessings list or to journal you way through the Bible. | CreativeHomeKeeper.com

For the final, pretty last step I cut a piece of twine and wrapped it around the front cover, laying over the burlap ribbon and tied in a bow. I used a little hot glue to attach the twine bow down.

Using any sort of or material, you can make a simple and pretty DIY Gratitude Journal in minutes to add a little extra flair to a plain notebook. Decorating a notebook to transform it into a gratitude journal certainly is not necessary or required, but it adds a nice touch and is fun to have a dedicated notebook specifically for working through the 30 day devotional on gratitude.

 

Do you have a specific gratitude journal?

Have you read Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss?

Cultivate a thankful heart all year by focusing gratitude. Create a simple DIY Gratitude Journal to record your blessings list or to journal you way through the Bible. | CreativeHomeKeeper.com

This post is part of the 31 Days of Savoring Fall Series. Click here to see all the posts in the series.

In thinking about focusing on having a grateful heart, I was blessed by this post from Heather at My Overflowing Cup where she chose to list out 31 everyday things that she was thankful for.

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5 Comments

  1. I do have a little notebook where I keep a list of my gifts, but a full-size notebook to actually journal is a much better idea. Yours looks great! I, too, have gotten out of the habit of journaling. It is a tough habit to keep up with the busyness of life, but it is important; both for our benefit and for the benefit of others (perhaps our children one day?) Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday, as well, for the same reasons you mentioned. I think that reading Choosing Gratitude during the month of November is an excellent idea. I read Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift during the month of December. Have you read that yet? I’m not trying to jump ahead to Christmas already, but it is a wonderful book to keep you very focused on Christ throughout the Christmas season. Love this post, Victoria. Paul is a wonderful example of praising and being thankful in all circumstances. When I think things are tough for me, I read his stories and I am quickly humbled.

  2. I have had that book on my bookcase for approx. 2 years. I read my blogs instead of books 🙂 I like the shortness of the blogs. Have a good night! Thanks for the review.

  3. Am so looking forward to this! I happened to have the Nancy Leigh DeMoss book, and have glanced through it in the past, but like you stated, have not read it thoroughly. I have all the materials to make the journal and it so happens at our senior center this month of October, we have scheduled a prayer journal time. With your permission, I plan to make copies of how to make this journal and get the supplies together..I have the notebooks, and we have the materials at the center; that would be a great project for us that we can start in November with our gratitude journals! God Bless you for sharing! Am awaiting your confirmation on email.
    Your sister in Christ,
    Jane

    1. Hi Jane! Absolutely, I would love for you to share this and make this together! I hope it blesses you and the residents you care for. Thanks!

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