Katie Guiliano On Stewarding Our Gifts

If you’ve ever wrestled with your gifting and wondered ‘what in the world am I supposed to do with this, Lord?’ then this piece is for you. Meet Katie. She is the founder and creative behind Hosanna Revival, where she dedicates her days painting scenes and verses on the covers of journals and Bibles. Her heart for women and the Word budded into a business three years ago after she painted her own plain black Bible—desiring to make the outside touch on the beauty of the Words inside.

Today she’s agreed to sit down with me, sip some coffee, and chat about all things Hosanna Revival.



She pops over to the table with a smile and a wave, her tight brown curls tightly tucked into a bun. She’s wearing a light rain coat with a burgundy mock neck underneath. There’s a smudge of green and blue paint on her right hand, smeared from her palm to her pinky. I mention the paint and she laughs, twisting her hand to look and chuckling that her husband, Nick, wonders how she never seems to notice.

We move to a quieter spot within the shop, seating ourselves at a heavy wooden table by the huge expanse of storefront windows. The day is gray, rain whispering down and quieting completely by interval, barely noticed from inside except for the haze it creates. Here in the coffee shop, the quarters are close and friendly, the walls covered with art pieces from local artists. Music hums just under the buzz of chatting, quiet enough to talk over, and the smell of fresh brews mixes warmly with the muted sounds. Katie and I settle in and talk about the start of things.

The time between painting her own personal Bible and starting a business was whirwindedly short. After painting her own plain black Bible, Katie immediately went on to make two more for her sisters. She explains, “there was a method that I tried for those first three, but after that I saw that that wasn’t gonna be the one that won. At that point, I made five more that were all very different, trying out different materials, figuring out how the heck do you re-bind a book. And then after, I made a few of these in the exact same way and saw that, okay, these are durable, these can last, these can take paint. That's when I went straight to the Internet sales.”

Beyond that, the business just seemed to work itself out. “It was kind of like—in the spiritual realm and in the business realm—realizing at the same time that this as a business will work, and this as a ministry will work. And that’s so funny because that's been my heart for so long.” Her voice is smiling as she adds, “finding this beautiful intersection where they could all go hand-in-hand was like, ‘oh my gosh you have to follow this.’ And that felt like such affirmation from the Lord.”

It was a friend who first introduced Katie to the idea that creating alongside the Creator is a gift of service. “[W]e were in a small group together and she was assigned to write me a letter of affirmation and wrote about how the Lord creates—and the Lord creates beautiful things. And that’s something that I get to do alongside of Him, for Him, on His Word. And I don't think I had ever, until that point, realized how those things really do go hand-in-hand. And how much of a gift it was that I got to create and show people glimpses of His creation.” She laughs a little. “And when you put it like that, that smacks me down—like in the best way. [It] humbly smacks you down to realize that this is Him. Without Him, I would not be able to do these things, and these skills are not mine, and apart from Him—truly—I would not be doing this.”


It seems significant, now, that we’re sitting in a coffee shop full of art. Local artists’ work hanging everywhere on the walls, sitting on tables by the coffee bar—mirror images of creation. Gifts received and gifts given back. Beautiful expressions of praise.

She says it slow, and I can hear her thinking through the meaning of it: “Being able to create for the ultimate Creator is a very cool spot for me to be in. I really love that.”

I ask what she might say to people who are unsure of how to use their gift to glorify God. “Wow,” her whole face smiles, “I love that question. Because I think so many women probably fall into that area of, ‘okay I’ve got this skill’—some skills are really clear: I can paint, I can sing—there’s a very clear avenue for some of us. But there are so many skills that seem small or insignificant, that don’t seem like they could be used to make any kind of impact.”

But, she goes on, in the same way the Holy Spirit directs our paths to use the spiritual gifts He gives us, He’s also faithful to show us how to use “these hard skills and talents” when we seek out the answer. It starts with a simple, “‘okay, You have clearly made me good at this—why? What can I do? How can I use it?’” And then, when it comes down to it, “you’ve got to use them. You’ve just got to do it. And even if it’s only for yourself, as an act of worship, then just being able to sit—whatever it is that you can do—and be able to sit and say, ‘God, You made me good at this. And I don’t know what it’s for, so I’m gonna do it for You.’ I feel like that is a really great place to start. Because then once you’re practicing whatever that skill is, you’re going to find a way that it can touch someone.”


Katie gently rubs at the paint on her hand, looking off and away, thinking her answer through. She pauses, mulling it over. “And really to grow you. That’s probably . . . the Lord’s biggest heart behind giving you a skill. Is to teach you something about Him. And yourself.”

Part of stewarding our gifts means relinquishing control when and where we’re called to. Letting go and accepting help. Katie calls this a current struggle and sees the immense value in handing things over to God and others.

“I have always been a very high capacity person and can handle a lot and manage a lot. So that was such a gift. Especially in the beginning, being a full-time student and a full-time business owner. Yes, it ran me dry. And yes, I was up till the wee hours of the morning painting. But I always felt like . . . you are being pushed through this, pulled through this, and this season will be over, and fruit will come.”

But when the help came, prying her fingers open and actually letting go proved harder than she had imagined. She recalls, “about a year after I started, there was a girl, named Alexa, who came to me after she had quit a job and was looking for where the Lord wanted her next. And somehow, through her prayer, she heard that she was supposed to help me. And even though I say I heard that God wanted me to wait, because help was coming, when the help came and sat me down and said ‘Hey Katie, I want to help you. God’s telling me to help you,’ I told her ‘no,’” she laughs, “’No thank you. This is my business. I built it. Anything that needs to happen, I can do. Thank you, goodbye.’ And she left the meeting and told me to pray about it. And as I did, it was so clear God was saying, ‘Katie, you asked for help—here it is. Take it.’

But sometimes, even when the help comes—even when it’s been accepted—it’s still hard to keep giving away. We have gifts that are close to our hearts. Gifts that have been realized over years and hard work. And yet, we’re called to hold all things open before the Lord. We’re called to a balance between work and rest.

She finishes out the thought: “And so that capacity: it should have been much harder in the beginning than it was. I think just because I’m used to handling, juggling a lot of things. But then that has been the biggest struggle as it’s continued, because that season is over—where I was working myself dry, the very beginning starting stages. That season is over. We are off the ground. And I still crave that. I still try and fight to have a packed schedule and a full, busy to-do list because I still believe, ‘oh my gosh, I have to do all this and get it all done.’ Even though the help is here and the help has come—three times over at this point, you know I have three other people dedicating 40 hrs. of their work week to do this mission with me. So that has been the biggest struggle. Continuing to let go of control, cast my task person-by-person.”


In sometimes unexpected ways, continuing to let go can come at a personal cost. Soon after Katie started Hosanna Revival, she noticed similar businesses following her example—and even stealing her ideas.

Thinking back on it, she says, “I poured so much time into this business model as a whole. And no one was doing it back when I started and then, all of a sudden, Bible painting businesses popped up everywhere. And that really, really tore me apart. And I would be reminded,” she chuckles a bit, “by the strong hand of God, ‘Katie, your mission is to get Bibles into the hands of women. Why on earth would you be mad if someone else is joining you?’”

“And then another piece of that was, ‘okay God, that makes sense to me, but these are my designs. I made them. Why are they claiming them as their own?’ And then again, the Lord says, ‘Katie, how many times have you claimed something that I did as your own? An act that I did as your own? Something I made as your own?’ And I’m like, welp, daily.”

Looking at Katie’s Bibles, it’s easy to see the beautiful creativeness God has gifted to her. And yet, she struggled with the thought of sharing her artwork with people. Laughing, she sheepishly recounts that she charged a measly $25 dollars for her first Bible—which was less than the cost of the materials. It was the encouragement of those around her that made her see the worth of her art.

It took her friends saying, “‘Katie, no. These are worth more than that. You are worth more than that.’ But” she goes on, “that’s plan B, I guess. God uses His other children to affirm us and speak to us, because we can’t hear it from Him. Because we’re not looking to hear it from Him. I mean, plan A would be—in a perfect world—being able to be encouraged and built up by your Creator to overcome these insecurities.”

As we end the interview and begin to pack our things, we fall naturally into a conversation about how Katie came to know God. The intricate story He crafted to bring her into peace and joy. And that’s the crux of it. Here in this little coffee shop, all these beautiful gifts, all these beautiful things, all for the stories of God’s glory. All for praising His name with every breath we take.


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