An Introduction to Hope Journals
A close friend of mine has been having some health issues lately. With doctor’s appointments and a few hospital stays in the last few weeks, she’s been feeling pretty blue, and I haven’t been able to visit her. For that reason, I chose to make her something that will keep her company and buoy her spirits while she’s unwell: a Hope Journal.
What is a Hope Journal?
A Hope Journal is a small binder full of cards, notes, prayers, inspirational quotes, and photos that is meant to cheer someone up during hard times. They’re great for someone who is going through a challenge: a divorce, the loss of a loved one, or an illness of their own. I think a hope journal also makes an especially great gift for someone who is sick or in the hospital, because the sweet words and memories can keep the person company and help inspire them with hope, even when they’re at their lowest.
Sample pages from the Hope Journal I made for my friend.
Why a Hope Journal?
One of the best things about a Hope Journal is that it is a gift that keeps on giving. Each section – Letters, Quotes, Prayers, Photos, and Notes – can be filled with encouragement and support that can be read and cherished again and again. In my Letters section, I added several sealed cards that were meant to be opened on certain occasions – for example, “Open me when it all feels like too much,” or “Open me when you need a friend.” The prayers can be said daily. The photos can be flipped through when the recipient needs to remember the love and support of their friends.
A Hope Journal can also be a community effort. You can rally together a group of friends or extended family to each write a Letter, add a Quote, submit a written Prayer, and share a Photo. If you get a whole group of friends, family, or a church congregation in on it, the journal will be practically overflowing with hope!
Hope Journal Supplies
These are the Amazon links to the supplies I recommend for making a Hope Journal! The free Hope Journal printable packs I made are meant to fit this (5.5 x 8.5″) size, and you can easily make sheets to fit this by folding in half a sheet of normal US Letter printer paper. The links below are affiliate links, but I really recommend buying your supplies on Amazon and not in an office supply store; I bought mine in Staples and was charged nearly twice as much as the prices below.
Recommended Hope Journaling Supplies:
- 5.5 x 8.5″ Mini Binder (I recommend a blank one so you can make your own cover – see my free printable packs below)
- 5.5 x 8.5″ Sheet Protectors (I recommend having 20-50 sheets total, so buy two packs)
- 5.5 x 8.5″ Section Dividers (These come in packs of 5)
- 5.5 x 8.5″ Note Paper (So the recipient can add notes themselves, as well)
Optional Hope Journaling Supplies:
- Label-Maker. This is a nice touch if you or someone you know already happens to have a label-maker, but it’s not necessary. You can just as easily write the section names on the divider tabs with a permanent marker.
- Stickers or other embellishments. Make it pretty! Have fun!
Why a Binder?
What’s nice about a binder rather than a notebook is that a binder can be added to over time. Pages can be moved or replaced, and the recipient can insert their own pieces of inspiration and hope into the binder. I chose the smaller size so that the journal can easily be included in a hospital bag or left on a bedside table without getting in the way or taking up too much space.
Why Sheet Protectors?
I also bought 5.5 x 8.5″ sheet protectors so that every page can be added to, edited, or replaced. It’s also a great way to keep the journal germ-safe for someone with a weakened immune system; the plastic sheets can easily be wiped down or cleaned if necessary. Lastly, if gives the journal a uniformly beautiful and polished feel.
How to Make a Hope Journal
1. Decide on the who.
Choose people to contribute to the Hope Journal. I made the Hope Journal for my friend myself, but you might want to get your recipient’s friends, family, or church in on the surprise.
2. Decide on the what.
The first thing I recommend is deciding which pages and sections you’ll include in your Hope Journal. These are the pages I recommend:
- A front cover.
- An opening page with an inspiring quote
- A “keepsake” page that says who the recipient is, who is giving the gift, and the date. The text I like to use is “Given in hope to ______ with love from ______.”
- A back cover.
And these are the sections I used:
- Letters. Stock this section with letters and cards from the recipient’s friends, family, and loved ones. If you like, you can make “Open When…” cards for certain moments or occasions, like I did.
- Quotes. Fill this with pages of inspiring and meaningful quotes that may help the person through a hard time. I include a list of quotes you might want to consider below.
- Prayers (you can substitute Thoughts if either the giver or receiver is not religious). Have the friends, family, loved ones, and congregation of the recipient write prayers for them. In my prayer section, I found a few prayers, hymns, and Bible verses online that I used to fill the section. I include some prayers you can include below.
- Photos. Add photos of the friends, family, children, and loved ones of the recipient. You can print these at your local drugstore for just a few cents per photo, or order them online from a site like Shutterfly or Snapfish.
You might want to include other sections in your own Hope Journal. Here are a few ideas.
- Recipes that may mean a lot to the recipient. For example, if your recipient likes to cook, you could have everyone contributing to the Hope Journal send in a favorite recipe. You can also find free recipes here.
- Songs that may inspire them. I include a list of favorite songs below.
- Patterns for projects if the person likes to knit or crochet. You can find free patterns here.
- Maps or photos of significant places for the recipient or their loved one. (For example, if you are making a Hope Journal for a friend whose spouse has recently passed away, you might want to include maps of photos of places that were special to them as a couple, like their first home, the place they got married, or the city they most liked to visit together.)
3. Make the pages and sections (or print them for free!).
I wanted the Hope Journal I made for my friend to be both meaningful and visually beautiful, so I designed a complementing set of pages for the journal. However, I know that not everyone has the time, skills, or knowledge of Photoshop to do the same! That’s why I put together two free Hope Journal packets that you can print and use below. Totally free, no sign-up required. You are free to use these for personal use (example: making a Hope Journal for yourself, a friend, or someone you know), but not commercial use (example: making a Hope Journal to sell).
Here are the two styles I put together:
You can also craft your own pages and sections using scrapbooking or other supplies.
Pro Tip: In order to make the section dividers stick out far enough past the laminated sheets, I inserted the dividers into sheet protectors as well. To do this, I had to cut a small slit in the side of those sheet protectors, at the height of the sheet divider. It’s super easy to do and should only take you a few minutes to make a whole set.
4. Fill up your Hope Journal!
Here’s the fun part! Gather as many cards, quotes, prayers, hymns, and photos as you want to fill your journal to the brim with hope. Here are some free suggestions that you can use if you’re having trouble thinking of your own.
- “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher
- “No matter where you are on your journey, that’s exactly where you need to be. The next road is always ahead.” – Oprah
- “Out of difficulties grow miracles.” – Jean de la Breyere
- “There is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.” – Pearl S. Buck
- “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel
- “We stumble on… bring a little noise into the silence, find in others the ongoing of ourselves.” – Colum McCann
- “The birds of hope are everywhere, listen to them sing.” – Terri Guillemets
- “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “We need never be hopeless because we will never be irreparably broken.” – John Green
b. Prayers and Hymns
If you like, have friends and family each write a prayer to lift up your friend in need, that you can include in the binder. If not, you can use some of the ones below.
- Bible Verse: Psalm 30:4-12
- Hymn: Lord of All Hopefulness
- A Prayer for Strength
- A Prayer for Hope
- 3 Prayers for Strength and Hope
- Prayers for Hope and Strength
- Prayers for Strength, Hope, and Courage
Pro Tip: If your friend is struggling with something specific (death of a loved one, divorce, cancer, substance abuse addiction), look up prayers for that specifically. For example, if your friend is battling cancer, you can google “prayers for cancer” and probably find many free, pre-written ones online!
I bought my friend an iTunes gift card so she could buy new music to occupy her mind while in the hospital. You might want to do the same, or burn your friend a CD. Here are a few things you could include:
- Any of the hymns on the CD Inheritance by Audrey Assad.
- The song “I Smile” by Kirk Franklin (song here, lyrics here).
- The song “There’s Hope” by India.Arie (song here, lyrics here).
- The song “Just Do You” by India.Arie (song here, lyrics here).
- The song “Private Party” by India.Arie (song here, lyrics here).
- Any music that is especially meaningful to the recipient or their loved ones.
5. Assemble your Hope Journal
Put every sheet, divider, letter, quote, prayer, recipe, photo, or CD into a protective sheet. These are easy to clean, flip through, and switch out. I left notepaper at the back under the “Notes” section so my friend could write her own notes, prayers, or quotes down. I also left in 5-10 blank sheet protectors so she could easily insert anything else meaningful to her. This includes any cards that may be sent to her or to the hospital, most of which fit easily in a 5.5 x 8.5″ sheet.