Gratitude 52 Journal Interview #1 of 4: Jennifer Nave

In 2016, we participated in the Gratitude 52 Project.  We had the pleasure of connecting with many wonderful women.  To wrap up the project, I wanted to highlight a few of you lovely creatives who had completed at least 46 of the 52 prompts in a series of interviews.  

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing their gratitude journals and stories in my blog.

For the first interview, I'm happy to introduce Jennifer Nave to you.

Her interview is below.  Enjoy!

Hi Jennifer!  Introduce yourself.  What’s your full name?  Your profession?  Your biggest passion?

My name is Jennifer Nave.  I’m a 43 yr old mother of 2 grown children:  a son, 21, who is in the Navy and stationed in San Diego, CA, and a daughter, 19, who lives at home while she attends college full time.  My husband David runs the municipal cemetery.  He is the most precious and amazing man on earth. We live in western Colorado.

I had been an office administrator my entire adult life until November of 2014 when I was unceremoniously forced into “early retirement.”  Since then I have been a full time domestic engineer and part time self-employed web and graphic designer working towards offering my skills to the public.

My passion(s) are my husband David, camping/boating/hunting/fishing, my dog Delilah, and my art, which in a nutshell consists of pen & ink sketching, watercolor painting, writing and illustrating.

How would you describe your personality and your interest in art? 

My personality and my art (as well as my writing) lean towards whimsical and capricious.

What made you decide to join this project?  

I was searching for something that was a year-long commitment (whimsical and capricious often equals scatter-brained and squirrel moments).  I wanted to challenge and commit myself to completing a project.  It was a gigantic bonus to learn about your art and your Christian-based expression of gratitude.  It felt tailor-made for me.

What did you learn from this project?  

I learned that there is ALWAYS a positive and grateful way to look at almost anything, and the act of finding the good in things becomes a habit.  Also, I learned that when I am passionate about something, I can see it through to completion. The act of pushing through to reach a goal can also become a habit.

How were you surprised by this project?  

I was surprised by how much I looked forward to the emails arriving every Friday, getting the prompt, and then digging deep to come up with a creative “answer."

How has your own art and journaling style developed as a result of this project? 

I have learned that journaling of any kind doesn’t have to be strictly In . A . Journal. I was super disappointed early on in our weekly arting, that the journal I had chosen for 2016 was far less than ideal for a watercolorist.  I made some modifications to the journal itself which decreased my available pages to about half of what I had projected. Consequently, I needed to use alternate items to draw and paint on by approximately week 38.  What I discovered was torn bits of leftover 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper make lovely make-shift journal entry pages.  Making due with what you have on hand is the Mother of good and beautiful things.

What were your favorite materials to use in this project?  Did you discover that you were drawn to some materials more-so than others?  

My favorite materials are my clunky OLD drafting pencil, my Pigma Micron pens, and my tiny little pots of Twinkling H2o’s which I only have in 6 simple colors, but they have served me so very well. I LOVE a little (or a lot) sparkle on...well, EVERYTHING!

What was the most difficult part of the project?   What did you overcome?  

Hands down the most difficult part of the project for me was Week 8 - Role Models. My role model is my pastor, co-worker, and close friend, Rex Townsley.  Back in March of 2016 he was battling colon cancer.  With absolute certainty in my mind and heart I used the term “Cancer Survivor” on his page.  On January 13th of this year we attended his funeral.  He was 57 years old. It was painful in March of 2016 to deal with someone so precious and dear to me battling something so unfair and frankly unimaginable; but today, looking back over my 2016 art and coming to his page is almost unbearable. I am forcing myself to see his page, not as a constant reminder of a desperately loved man lost, but as immortalizing a superhero who is no longer bound to earth in a body that failed him.

 EPSON MFP image

How did you fit it in with your schedule?  What did your schedule look like before/during/after?

The word schedule is something I have not been very devoted to since Nov. 2014 when I stopped working full time. I just haven’t had one, and my state of mind and the cleanliness of my house has suffered for it.  My resolution for 2017 was to develop a schedule and weekly routine and then stick with it.  To answer the question, art was my priority, and I did it when/where/for as long as I felt like it.  Now, I have my day split in two, first half is “Eat The Frog” time which is household chores. The second half of the day is dedicated to “Office Hours” where I can then retreat to my home office/art room to work on websites and their maintenance, developing my blog, and arting!

Describe a page or two of which you are most proud.  What do you love most about those pages?  

I think my most favorite page is from the Week 17 - Eyesight prompt I did of my daughter’s eyes. I love that it really looks and feels like her beautiful green eyes, and the chance to honor the doctor who saved her eyesight was such a blessing.  


Describe your creative setup.  Did you have a special Gratitude Journal space to create? 

I do have a very nice and cozy art desk set-up in my home office, but I found that I gravitated to the kitchen table where I sit next to a low window to work.  Arting in the kitchen allows me to do what I WANT to do (draw and paint) with the things that I HAVE to do like dishes, cooking, and laundry.


How has gratitude journaling made your life better? 

It gives me something to look forward to, gets my creativity flowing, and helps me focus on the good stuff.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to journal and express themselves artistically? 

Keep an open mind when it comes to art supplies and DO NOT compare your skills and abilities to anyone else's.

What else would you like us to know about you?  Feel free to share anything that’s on your heart. 

This month of January has been brutal in more ways than one but also because I haven’t had G52 Prompts in my email box! When do we get started again? I’m so anxious!!

How can we connect with you?  

Thank you for your interview, Jennifer! (And new journaling prompts will be be coming soon :)). 

Be sure to head over to her blog and connect with Jennifer there.  And be on the look out for 3 more interviews coming to you soon.


What have *you* created for yourself today?


Journaling Plans & Inspiration for 2017

In 2016, I headed up an Online Journaling Community called the Gratitude 52 Project.  If you want to see all of the archived prompts and the art that nearly 1000 lovely ladies created in their journals, you can view them on my portfolio website at

I sent the below post on Sunday in my Gratitude52 newsletter.  Many of you asked to keep the momentum going with the prompts, so I shared with you my "next steps for 2017" in the post below.  If you already read it, awesome.  If you may have missed it, I thought it would be helpful to share the update here on my blog too:

  a few of my own pages from the Gratitude 52 Journaling project
  a few of my own pages from the Gratitude 52 Journaling project

a few of my own pages from the Gratitude 52 Journaling project

. . .

Thank you to everyone who completed Gratitude 52 Project survey.  Your participation is greatly appreciated as it will help me determine how I can serve you further in 2017. (If you haven't taken the survey yet, you can still do so here:

A few insights from your survey answers revealed:

  • You'd like for me to continue with themed journaling prompts, grouped into 6 weeks at a time.
  • You'd like to participate in our journaling community via Facebook.
  • You'd like for me to create and lead an online women's devotional journaling course, focusing on Scripture.
  • You'd like me for me to include more encouraging stories and perspectives from my own life, which is completely honoring.  Thank you.

Here is what you can expect in the next couple of weeks:

  • I will be highlighting a few of you lovely ladies who have completed at least 46 of the 52 Gratitude 52 Journaling prompts.  If you'd like to be included in the interview series here on my blog, drop me an email me by 02/28/17. There is no prerequisite other than to have completed at least 90% of the prompts.   Those interviews will be shared on my blog the next few weeks, so be sure to bookmark my page and sign up for my blog newsletter.
  • I will be taking a few months off to meditate on the next steps for our journaling community.  2016 has been one of the most difficult years of my life; it's also been intensely strengthening.  Leading this community helped me to keep pressing forward when I was facing some very dark moments.  Your creations and connection online inspired me in more ways than I can express with words here.   At some point, maybe years from now, I will reveal more about this; but for now, it is vaulted up until I am able to speak about it.  I'm actually reading this wonderful book by Melissa Moore, who is a survivor of some really significant trauma.  The book is called Whole:  How I Learned to Fill the Fragments of My Life with Forgiveness, Hope, Strength, and Creativity.  One piece of her advice when facing trauma is to, quite literally, do nothing.  She quotes Don Iger:  "Doing nothing can be a very powerful action unto itself."   So, at least for a month or two, I will take a break from doing, deal with some deep wounds, let whatever emotions come to the surface, and prepare myself for the next journey with our art, wherever that may lead.  I hope to have you along for those next steps once they are revealed to me.  

So really, 3 things to expect in the next upcoming weeks and months:  Inspiring blog interviews, rest, then hopefully some fresh journaling inspiration for you.

Thank you, to each one of you, who have stuck with this journaling experiment.  It is truly an honor to have connected with you here in internet-land and in person.  I hope you were inspired and strengthened during our 2016 Gratitude 52 Journaling Project too.

I am deeply grateful for each one of you.


Make Art

"One day Boudin said to me, Learn to draw well and appreciate the sea, the light, the blue sky. I took his advice." - Claude Monet


This past weekend I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a good friend.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get stuck into negative thinking that perhaps art is pointless, maybe even a little vain.  Quite frankly, it can lead into despair.  

But walking the museum halls and seeing so many pieces of exquisite art and historical artifacts brought life back into my soul.  It reminded me that art/creativity is not an indulgent endeavor.  Rather, it brings beauty, stories, joy, wonder, and human connection into the world.


"The only way to understand painting is to go and look at it. And if out of a million visitors there is even one to whom art means something, that is enough to justify museums.”
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir

. . .

How about you?  Do you ever sink into feeling that maybe art is not a worthwhile investment of your time?   What have you created or what could you create that brings beauty into the world, even if only for yourself?

Go make stuff.  You matter.

Suitcases and Unanswered Prayers

I slugged my heavy, olive green suitcase onto my bed and began packing it with neatly folded blouses and work pants.

I was preparing for a work trip, and wanted to be sure I had all of the necessary travel items with me:  

toothpaste?  check.  

hair straightener?  check.  

extra sweater just in case it gets chilly in the reception room? check  

I zippered up my suitcase and said a specific prayer, "Lord, I don't usually ask for stuff like this – it feels silly – but please bless my bag?  I'm nervous about checking it.  Please make sure it gets to where it needs to go?  I'd like my trip to be a safe and easy one while I travel by myself.  Thank you.  I love you."

I headed out to my airport, hopped aboard the plane, peered in amazement out my window as we took flight (flying is so cool), and finally landed safely to my destination.  

I walked to the airport baggage claim and eagerly awaited for my bag.

And I waited.

I waited some more.

Until I realized that – after waiting quite some time and watching the other bags get scooped up off the conveyor belt by their owners – my bag was not coming.

  me, waiting for my suitcase in the airport

me, waiting for my suitcase in the airport

Still somewhat hopeful that maybe my bag was with a baggage claim attendant, I made my way to the customer service desk.

The attendant pulled up my information.  He looked up from the screen, apologized, and explained that my bag was mistakenly sent onto the wrong flight.  It would arrive at the airport in 3 hours.

Annoyed and downtrodden, I made my way to a seat.  I sat.  And I waited.  And thought.  And felt hurt.

A quiet question rose up in my heart:  "God, why didn't you answer my prayer?  It wasn't a big request."

At that time, I noticed a limo driver walk by me in a business suit.  He had a blue-tooth ear piece in his ear.  He looked trustworthy.  I asked him if he would drive me to my hotel in 3 hours.  He said he'd come back to take me to my destination.

My bag finally arrived.

The gentleman came back.  I picked up my bag.  He rolled it for me into the back of the SUV, and off we drove to the hotel.

I sat in the back while he drove and made small talk.  I noticed that he was beaming and full of joy.  He had a rich, black complexion and a thick accent. I asked him about his heritage.  He told me his story.  He was from Ghana.  He then shared his thoughts on the election.  I was tired.  It was late.  I didn't want to talk about politics. 

I replied, "I am so thankful that this world is not my home."  

It was then that his eyes lit up.  He shared his faith with me.

He told me about his desire as a child to become a doctor, but somehow that lead him to the United States, and to banking, and to owning his own business as a Limosine Driver. He told me about his mom guiding him to Jesus when he was 12.  He told me that everybody has talents – some big, some small – and we are all responsible for using them for Him.  He told me about the apostle Paul and how God changes people.  He told me that everything would be OK with whoever is President – that God is ultimately in control.  We talked about the rapture and judgement day.  He told me that death for a believer is one of the best days to which we can look forward, and one day Jesus would be coming back soon to make all of this heartache right.  It all flowed out from him so naturally, and a lot of what he said were answers to questions with which I had been struggling lately.  I have never met a more joyous person.

We arrived to the hotel.  He gave me his card.  His name was Emmanuel.

He told me to call him if I needed a ride back to the airport later in the week.  After my trip ended, I did.  We had the same encouraging conversations on the drive back to the airport.  I got out of the SUV;  he gave me a hug.  He then put his arm on my shoulder and said a blessing for my family and me.  We said goodbye, and I teared up.  It was one of the best answered prayers I've had in a long time.

Maybe God knew what He was doing with my suitcase after all.

florida palm
the ocean

Which unlikely person has encouraged you lately?   How has God surprised you recently with unanswered prayers?

photos from my trip to Clearwater, FL, earlier last week.  I've taken a bit of a break from my blog, but I'll be back soon with drawings from my art adventures.  

Mugs for You

"I can't imagine a day without coffee.  I can't imagine!"

Howard Schultz


I made a few Limited Edition mugs from my artwork.

I'd love for you to have one.

You can head on over to my Etsy shop to check them out.

Use the code ENCOURAGE15 for 15% off.

Offer good until Sunday, December 11th.