Gratitude Challenge

“Do you want to do a 30 day gratitude challenge?”

The question was asked by one of my best friends. Near the end of October, she proposed that for the next 30 days leading up to Thanksgiving we would write down and share one thing that we were grateful for each day.

As I️ started writing this post, I️ realized that I️ never really asked my friend what motivated her to start this challenge. So I️ asked. She said:

“I was reading a Facebook post about gratitude and it inspired me so much! I felt led to express my gratitude to the Lord more because I know gratitude leads to contentment. And that’s what I desire for my life, to be content in every season of my life like Paul was (Philippians 4:11-13). I knew this would benefit me so much. Then, I felt I had to share this challenge with my close friends and family! And they were all so excited and on board to join me.”

Today marks day 23 of our challenge. I️ have to say, focusing on gratitude for the last 23 days has been both challenging and rewarding. Some days gratitude has come easily. Other days, it has been more difficult to find something to be grateful for simply because it’s so easy to let negative situations detract from the good that actually exists.

I have to be honest, some days I had to choose to express gratitude for situations that weren’t ideal. However, in making the choice to be thankful, the Lord revealed how much He has been working. Through this challenge he is helping me to see the positive side of each situation and building patient and contentment in me.

The same is true for my friend. She told me that in the beginning this challenge was so easy to do because she could clearly identify some tangible things in her life to be grateful for, such as the Lord blessing her with a job she loves and a new, reliable car. However, after she expressed gratitude for the obvious/tangible things it became more challenging to come up with other things to be grateful for.

My friend prayed for a fresh perspective and that the Lord would show her other things she had to be grateful for. Like me, God revealed that she also needed to be grateful for things she wasn’t so happy about in her life or things she wished were different. For example, my friend truly desires to be married one day, but the Lord has shown her that she needs to be grateful for her season of singleness.

In all, we have both found our journey to 30 days of gratitude to be such a blessing. It has challenged us to appreciate all aspects of our lives, the tangible, the intangible, the good, and the not so good.

We have 7 days left in this challenge and we would like to extend an invitation for you to join us in expressing gratitude. We all have things in our lives to be thankful for. As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day, let’s not allow this time to slip by without being thankful for all that we have.

So will you join us? Will you take the next 7 days to reflect on your life and express gratitude? If so, follow the 3 simple rules below to participate.

Rules of the challenge:

1. Follow me on Instagram @_ssullivan_

2. Starting tomorrow (11/17), look for and like my gratitude post each day

3. Comment on the post with one thing you are grateful for

I hope this challenge will shift your perspective like it has for me and my friend. We look forward to sharing in this time of thanksgiving with you!

“in every situation [no matter what the circumstance] be thankful…”

1 Thessalonians 5:18


21 Days of Prayer: Personal Reflection

Our 21 Days of Prayer has come to an end. If you missed my last post, twice a year, in January and August, our church sets aside 21 days to focus on prayer and hearing from God, essentially a time of spiritual reset. For this cycle of 21 Days of Prayer, I decided to take a break from social media and Netflix due to the amount of time I was wasting scrolling and binge watching. Going into the 21 days, I felt that giving up these two things would give me more time to spend with the Lord, focusing on hearing from Him regarding several things I had on my heart to pray about.

During the first two weeks, I felt slightly disappointed that my time didn’t pan out exactly the way I had imagined. August  is always one of my busy months at work and almost every evening during the first two weeks of the 21 days was spent working from home in order to accomplish all my tasks. When I was able to find some quiet moments in the evening, I felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself. In the still moments, I felt restless, but the thought of bring myself to do one more task seemed daunting. Most nights I ended up reading for a few minutes and falling asleep early. As I reflect back on those days, I realize two things: one, constantly filling my time with so many things has made it hard to embrace the “empty” moments. Secondly, rest is what my mind and body desperately needed.

In the last week of the 21 days, working from home was no longer required, which freed me up to actually reflect on what I felt like God was speaking to my heart as prayed and read His word during the 21 days. While some specific prayers have yet to be answered there are a few things the Lord revealed to me. In fact, most of it in the first week!

  1. Believe in His power and plan. There’s one specific person/situation that I have been praying about for a long time. After the first week of the 21 days, I learned something that made it seem like my prayers weren’t being heard or answered. At church that Sunday, I was overwhelmed and cried out to God. I later found in encouragement in several verses, stories in the book of Mark, and through several songs. One word kept catching my attention, believe. The Lord helped me to see that He will work in the situation, in His timing, not mine. I have to believe that anything is possible in Him. I feel this is a truth that could be applied to other areas of my life as well. For now, I have resolved to continue to pray about the situation and trust that God will work in His way and in His timing.
“I will wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5

2. Dream again. Prior to the start of the 21 days our pastor talked about having God-sized dreams, thinking about things we were trusting God for in our future. To be honest, I was upset with myself because I did not feel like I had taken time recently to really dream about my future and the path the Lord may have for my life. Day 1, God answered one of the things on my prayer list by resurfacing a dream I had a long time ago that I never pursued. I have now started reflecting more on that dream and what it really means to me.

3. Do not be afraid. As I initially thought about that resurfaced dream, I realized that I had let fear and lack of confidence, among other things, hold me back from pursuing it, like many other things in my life. I know that I cannot continue to live my life being afraid when the Lord is with me. A verse that has constantly been on my mind lately is Joshua 1:9,

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

4. Rediscover me. The last thing I have realized is that I have to take time to rediscover me. Who am I? Who has God created me to be? What are my gifts, abilities, interests, passions? So much of my life has been focused on what I thought other people wanted me to be, that I feel like I have lost sight of who I see myself being. It’s time that really take some time to rediscover Sierra. A few months ago, I started following Chrystal Evans Hurst, reading her blog and listening to her podcast. She recently published a book called, “She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You.” Perfect timing, right? I purchased the book and look forward to diving into it at the start of September.

In all, the past 21 days may not have gone as I had imagined, but the Lord still used so many things to speak to my heart. I will admit, there were times where I desperately wanted to take a break from my thoughts and binge watch some shows or scroll through my social media feeds, but I’m grateful for the time away and hope to continue to make space in my life for more spiritual/personal reflection and growth.


Taking a Break

Twice a year, in January and August, our church sets aside 21 days to focus on prayer and hearing from God. You can think of this time as a spiritual reset. Our 21 days of prayers starts today! My relationship with the Lord is the most important thing to me. With the busyness of life, it’s so easy to get off track or consumed with just trying to make it through the grind of every day. I have been looking forward to this time because I am in need of a reset, a time set aside to refocus on what is really important. 

If I want to know God’s desires and direction for my life I have to take some time to get quiet so that I can hear from Him. So during these 21 days I am stepping away from the things that I feel have been a distraction or at least filling the quiet space in my life that I could be using to connect more with the Lord and those around me. 

Over the next 21 days, I will be taking a break from all social media and Netflix. Because let’s be real, we all know that scrolling aimlessly and binge watching can consume more time than we realize. For me, a social media break also means taking a break from this blog. My hope is that the next 21 days will be a time to refresh and renew my mind. 

See you in 21 days!