21 Journal Prompts Inspired by Great Women

Great minds think for themselves.

It’s becoming somewhat of a lost art. Yesterdays ago, history’s most influential ladies pondered on the page. They knew why they believed what they believed. So should I. So should you. 

What you’ll find here isn’t a list of rapid-fire questions but anecdotes. Each journal prompt shares a life lesson from the likes of a princess bride, Holocaust survivor, or children’s book author to name a few. You now have three weeks of reflection.

I hope you have a good pen! 

Day 1

Children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter held “an old-fashioned notion that a happy marriage is the crown of a woman’s life.”

What do you believe is the crown of a woman’s life? And how does this impact your priorities?

Day 2

Her home was her garden. Kitty Hershey designed High Point Mansion from the outside in. Grand windows overlooked her landscaping and invited natural light to each and every color-themed room.

Sketch or describe your dream home. . . and give it a name.

Take a photo tour of High Point Mansion. 

Day 3

Queen Victoria intentionally and publicly vowed “to obey” Prince Albert despite protests and concerns of usurpation. She met him as a bride, not a monarch, at the altar.

How is submission a strength?

Read What Queen Victoria Wants You to Know About Power Struggles in Marriage 

Day 4

On a boat named for her, Edith Carow spent the summer of 1878 with a grieving Theodore Roosevelt. She longed to comfort him but couldn’t accept his hasty proposal. When he proposed to someone else, Edith added Splendid Misery to her reading list.

How do you comfort? What comforts you?

Day 5

Corrie ten Boom understood time. She held it in her hands as a watchmaker and felt it slip through her fingers inside a concentration camp. She understood evil and so cautioned: “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”

Define your priorities and reconcile your calendar.

Day 6

Can you imagine the honor of being called the “Great Believer”? Henry Ford referred to his wife Clara as exactly that for her faithful support of his visionary ideas.

Name a trait you’d most like to emulate. What steps will you take to become the Great _____?

Day 7 

There is no rest for geniuses. . . or those who marry them. Mabel Hubbard struggled to break Alexander Graham Bell‘s poor sleeping habits for decades of marriage. She encouraged, bribed, and even teased him by painting a “portrait” of him as a night owl.

Do you bemoan expectations or show acceptance?

Read their courtship story in Why A Great Woman Says “I Do” To The Man She Does 

Day 8 

It came down to one breath. Barbara Bush watched her baby girl’s soul leave with a final exhale. Twenty-seven years later, she journaled the first question of abortion should be of when the soul enters, not of when life begins. 

When matters? When the soul enters or when life begins?

Day 9 

Opposites attract and, in the Gilbreths’ case, achieve. Aboard their honeymoon train, engineer Frank requested a list of qualifications that romantic Lillian brought to the new partnership. Their accomplishments outnumber their children. . . and they had a dozen.

Make a list of your own qualifications, experiences, and interests.

Day 10 

To be perfectly candid, Betty Ford was just that. The First Lady memorably spoke her mind, much to the delight of the press and, occasionally, the dismay of the polls.

What is the cost of living transparently? What is the price of not?

Day 11

Investigative reporter Nellie Bly knew how to write front-page news. She often was front-page news. In 1889 she took inspiration from the bestseller Around the World in 80 Days, set her own itinerary, and arrived home in 72. 

Draft a dozen adventures for yourself as bold headlines.

View Nellie Bly’s modest packing list for her trip

Day 12

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” This from The Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher.

How can you tell a woman is a lady? How can people tell you are?

Day 13

Not all gardeners work with earth and seeds. Tiffany girl Clara Driscoll grew a garden of glass and light. Her stained-glass Dragonfly lamp received a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exposition. Grand success, yet she resigned in order to marry.

When should women sacrifice a career for marriage? . . . motherhood?

View Driscoll’s Dragonfly lamp 

Day 14

No tabloid even rumored the homely Anne Morrow would wed the rugged hero of the skies, transatlantic pilot, and incidental global celebrity Charles Lindbergh. She seemed so unlikely a choice that newspapers printed Charles’ engagement to the wrong Morrow—her prettier sister. 

How do the people who love you see you?

Day 15

Equal rights are unequivocally wrong. Wife, mother, and activist Phyllis Schlafly campaigned against the feminist agenda. She recognized the movement limited the women it supposedly liberated, saying, “Self-imposed victimhood is not a recipe for happiness.”

Which feminist lies are you most susceptible to? What truths ratify the victim-mindset they promote?

Day 16

Sixty-three years of living “happily incompatible” to husband and evangelist Billy Graham led Ruth to advise time and again that “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”  

What qualities make a good forgiver? Are you one?

Day 17 

Clementine Churchill dashed off to the hospital the moment she learned her husband Winston had been hit by a taxi. She did not even stop to put on shoes.

Lists everyday and grand gestures of how you might better cherish the one you love.

Day 18

Shadows, though frightening, bring depth. Poet Joy Davidman fought many demons the night she could not reach her suicidal husband. In her helplessness, she experienced God and His peace. The encounter sparked a faith journey that led her to become a pen-pal to C.S. Lewis

Share your faith journey.

Day 19 

When reminded of a hateful wrong done to her, Clara Barton dismissed the story as if it had never happened. She said, “I distinctly remember forgetting that.” 

What do you distinctly need to forget?

Day 20 

On the evening of her wedding, Maria Feodorovna received a letter from her mother. It warned of the physical tortures “Minnie” would experience within the marriage bed and reminded the young bride of her duty as a wife. 

Write to Minnie preparing her for marital intimacy. 

Read the letter in Advice From Great Women With Anxieties 

Day 21 

On matters of homemaking, Audrey Hepburn stated, “You can’t just buy an apartment and furnish it and walk away. It’s the flowers you choose, the music you play, the smile you have waiting. I want it to be. . . a haven in this troubled world.”

How do you create a haven?

Titus 2:3-5

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

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How do you become a great woman? I'm asking. It's not rhetorical. You see, I'd like to be one. I intend to gain a fair blueprint by learning from inspirational women in history. You're welcome to join me.

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