7 Day Journaling Challenge Reflections

Have you tried journaling, but could never stick to it? Have a lot on your mind and no way to vent? Are you in a dry season in your devotional life and want to switch things up? My 7-day Journaling Challenge is made for you. 

Last week, I shared why I love journaling, ways to incorporate writing into your devotional life, and 10 free prompts. (Haven't read my latest post? Need to download the challenge worksheet? Click here!)  I will be journaling everyday this week using my writing prompts and documenting my experience below. On this page, you will find the my experience and my reasoning behind each prompt.

How can I start the challenge?

  1. Read my last post. Download the challenge worksheet. 
  2. Each day, grab a pen and journal or scrap paper. 
  3. Follow the prompt instructions.
  4. Share your experience in the comment section of this post. (be sure to tell us what day you're on)
  5. Check here every day at 5 p.m. for my daily reflection
  6. Follow By Lady Bry on Facebook for more updates and fun!

Day 1

Today’s challenge: Take a moment, and close your eyes. Take a few loud deep breaths. Direct your attention to your body. Notice everything you smell, taste, and feel. Capture every thought. Now, open your eyes and dump out everything out of your mind onto paper.

My Observations:

  • an itchy eye, feeling annoyed
  • The Fosters tv show playing in the other room
  • thought: visualized an office building
  • no taste
  • no smell
  • heard the hum of the air conditioning

At first, I assumed my observations were random and trivial: an itchy eye, the hum of the air conditioning, etc. As I started capture my thoughts, I realized these observations pointed me to where my mind focused; I'm starting a new job, so of course my mind focused on an office building and the familiar hum of an air conditioning that puts me to sleep at 2 in the afternoon. In sum, this exercise gave me a greater sense of my thoughts.

Now it’s your turn. Try today’s prompt tonight, and tell me what you learned from your thoughts in the comment section below.


Day 2

Today's Challenge: Making a tough decision? Write out a pros, cons and opportunities list. Include how this decision will provide opportunities for you to share the love of Christ and bring glory to His name. 

Here, let me help you. I'll write down my list. Here's a trivial/comical example:

Decision: Should I stay at home and work on my blog or go to the library?

PROS

  • I work and focus better in the library because of the quiet environment.
  • Food is at home, and I'm always hungry. 

CONS

  • At home, I can easily be distracted by food, roommates, outdoor noises, etc. 
  • If I'm distracted, I'll get less work done. 
  • I will get more work done and plan ahead at the library

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Either way, I share God's truth in writing this blog.

In case you're wondering, I chose to go to the library. While this was a trivial/comical example, I've used this method to make much more important decisions, from choosing between two job offers to selecting a neighborhood live in. This method is more than just a pros and cons list, but makes you take God and His will into your decision making process.

Sometimes I have trouble making a decision because I'm worried I will choose outside of God's will. I've driven myself crazy trying to make a decision because I was so afraid of making the wrong one. I believed, "God has one calling/path/direction for my life, and I need to do everything I can to find it." My friends, that is a lie.

Here's the truth: There is no one right path for our lives. I first discovered this essential truth in Lysa TerKeurst's book The Best Yes (I highly recommend!) and learning this gave me so much freedom. God's will isn't a staircase. There's no one way up and one way down. There's a right way and a wrong way, but there's no one way. God's will is a road, and there's 10,000 ways to get to the right destination. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
— Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

So how do we make wise decisions? By following Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust that the Lord will guide you to the right opportunities. Instead of bending on your understanding of your future, bend to His gentle nudges and whispers even if they seem impossible or crazy. Acknowledge him in every decision you make by determining how you can glorify Him in every opportunity. 

What decisions do you have to make? Share what you think of this decision making method in the comments below.


Day 3

Friends, I owe you an apology. My daily challenge updates have turning into every other day check-ins. To be honest, I've been doing the challenge amidst starting a new job. (more on that coming in my next post on Monday) That being said, I have a free weekend with plenty of time to continue this challenge with you. Maybe you're like me and stopped the challenge halfway through. That's totally ok. I'm with you. Let's pick up where we left off.

Today's Challenge: List three things, people, or events you are grateful for and three prayer requests. 

Gratitude

Dear God, thank you for ...

  1. a successful job interview and new job
  2. a friendly work environment and supervisor
  3. opportunities to share my faith
  4. *bonus* blessing me even when I didn't think I deserved it, even when I doubted you

Prayer requests

  1. soften my heart to start tithing with this new job
  2. boldness to speak truth and love in the workplace
  3. an opportunity to share my faith with a co-worker

One of the latests trends in self-improvement/care is gratitude journaling, the practice of writing what you're grateful for at the start and end of each day.

Why is gratitude journaling important?

Our minds naturally remember bad events easier than good ones, also known as negativity bias.  Let's say you go to a party, talk to a bunch of people, dance and eat great food, but then you have a fight with your best friend. When you go home and think about the night, your mind will focus on the fight, not the fun parts of the night. That's negativity bias.

Gratitude journaling breaks our mental cycle of negativity, forcing us to think positively even in negative situations. I started gratitude journals at the beginning of the year. I never got into the daily habit, but still like to do it every once and a while. Listing my gratitude and blessings easy when life is good, but so challenging when things take a turn for the worse.

So, why do we need to think positively with gratitude journaling? God does not want us to dwell in defeat and pessimism, but instead lift our burdens to Him in prayer (hence the prayer requests in this prompt). He wants us to focus on His goodness and blessings in the middle of the storm. 

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
— Philippians 4:8-9

Day 4

Today's Challenge: Write a list of 16 people you need to pray for and why. Divide the list into four, and pray for 4 people each day for the next four days. Bonus: send an encouraging note/text or call to your people. Let them know you're praying for them. 

My list started as expected with family; then more people came to mind: Friends, I'd encounter that day, loved ones I had not seen a few months, people I didn't even know. I ended with 19 people. 

Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer. You may not see that prayer came to fruition. It could take months or years. You have to believe God will answer your prayers. How can we believe that? How has God answered your prayers or met your needs in the past week? Do you believe he can do the same for your friends? Think down to the details. Write your list in your journal, and share in the comments below. 


DAY 5

Today's Challenge: Write a list of all your fears. 

Today's prompt is about practicing honesty with God. Fear is like an invisible snake. We may not notice fear binding us, constricting us from God's will, sucking the life out of us. We serve a God that can cut us free from the bandages of fear. 


Day 6