30 Things I am Thanks Giving
Psalms 30:12 That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Another year to give thanks to our Almighty God for who He is and for all he has provided for us. On a side note, is it me or has this year flown by? It feels like yesterday that I was sitting on my laptop writing the first 30 Things I am Thanks-Giving. When I finished writing that article I was happy with it as well as the response to it from everyone. The response was so good, that I decided to write it again. I am considering turning this piece into an annual article because it just reminds me of all that God has done for me throughout the year. I don't know about you, but I seem to forget and overlook the things that God has done in my life, so in the beginning of this year I started to document every month of my life and all the things that occurred throughout that month that were important to remember. By doing this it allowed me to not only forget, but to reflect when it seems like God is nowhere in sight in my life.
I truly encourage everyone to do this. Month by month write down all the things that are significant to you. Whether it is bad or good, write it. It will remind you of God's faithfulness and his involvement in your life because for some reason we seem to forget that God is closer to us than what we think.
As I have gotten older Thanksgiving has easily become one of my most favorite holidays of the year. It's not because of all the amazing food, fun gatherings with family and friends and football (which these things are great reasons) but because it allows me to reflect back on the year and in my life and it truly allows me to count my blessings. I love this holiday because unlike Christmas there are no gifts involved. Don't get me wrong, I love gifts, but for many years now, the Christmas holiday has been so misinterpreted and has slowly lost it's true meaning, LOVE. Like I said, I love Christmas, and I love seeing my kids open their presents, but Thanksgiving stripes away the possessions and puts the focus on God, family and friends; there are no strings attached. Since becoming a father, my mindset and outlook on life has changed completely. I no longer see the same, think the same or live the same. Something about parenthood humbles you and the older you grow to be, the more you step outside of the box. Thanksgiving does just that for me, it's steps me out of my box. As I sat and thought about the layout of this article I wanted it to be simple, but I also wanted it to be personal, from my heart, but relatable to every reader.
So, to kick off this Thanksgiving season, I wanted to list the top 30 things that I am thankful for in this 2017 year.
1. I am thankful to Jesus for giving his life for me so that I can have a relationship with God and have eternal life. I had this as the number one spot last year and honestly, I will keep it there as long as I live. What could possibly take the number one spot in my life? Nothing. Jesus had been the center and core of every season, transition, decision and pivotal moment in my life. From Fatherhood to ministry to career, He has been at the forefront of it all. I am thankful that when all else may fail, he will not fail me.
2. I am thankful for my wife Jennifer Sierra and not only being able to share our lives together, but to celebrate a milestone in our marriage this year. We were blessed to celebrate 10 years of marriage this year. I truly believe that the best is yet to come for us and it begins now. She is our families rock and support and I would not want to go through this with anyone else but her. This year has truly been a year of stretching and growth for the both of us, but we have embraced the seasons and have grown and challenged one another.
3. I am thankful for my children, Micah, Aria and Saige. This time last year I was only thankful for two, but this year God has blessed us with three. I will talk about our third in the following part. I have been blessed to lead these kids as their father and leader. As much as they think I teach them things, they don't realize how much they teach me things. They teach me to be a better father, but mostly importantly how to be a better person. I am thankful for another year of good health, lots of happiness and being able to watch them grow up and learn as much as they have. I know that God has great things in store for their lives and I can't wait to see it unfold.
4. I am thankful for our newest addition to the family, my daughter Saige Jaylene Sierra. She was born on February 7th, just a day before my birthday. One of my prayers to God was that she would bring completion to our family when she arrived, and she surely has. Not only does she look like both my oldest daughter and son, she compliments them well and is tough enough to hang with them, even at nine months. She holds a special place in my heart and her life holds so much significance to me. I have always given my children a nickname that best described them. For instance, Micah' nickname is Champion and Aria's nickname is Princess. For Saige the one word that stood out from birth was Hope. She is the Hope of our family. The Hope that Christ is with us and has never left our side. From the moment we knew that she was arriving we were very scared. We did not know what to expect, but throughout the entire pregnancy God continued to show up. God showed us that he was in control even if we weren't. So, every time I see Saige I think of God's faithfulness to us. I think about the Hope that is found in God. We could not have asked for a better gift them her.
5. I am thankful for my In-laws. My mother, father, brother and sister-in laws have all been such a huge blessing to my life. This year has really opened my eyes to see just how much they truly care for us. Each one has played such a huge and significant role in our lives and in our children's lives. I owe each and every one of them my life. Even with a travel filled year and being away from the family for weeks on end, they stepped in and shared the load with us and made it so much easier for my wife and I. I don't know what I would do without them and I cannot be more blessed with an amazing extended family. I am so thankful for all the memories we have shared and cannot wait to create new ones together.
6. I am thankful for mother Ana Garcia. I always say this, but I am who I am today because of this woman and her sacrifice. It has been a different year for us as a family, but I could not be happier for her. I know that with the new additions and transitions in her life, God is leading the way. I am thankful for what she has done for me and for what she continues to do after all these years.
7. I am thankful for my father, Juan Sierra. After seeing him so many times last year, this year has been opposite. We only got to see him once this year, when he came down to see Saige. Even though we have not seen each other much, we continue to build a strong relationship together. I know this year has been a tough one for him, but I am praying and believing that the best is yet to come for him and the family. I appreciate all he has done and continues to do for us as a family.
8. I am thankful for my brother, Jovanni Sierra. He is my one and only brother and as much as I wish we would see each other more, I have to say that we make the best out of whatever time we do get. I am thankful to share some personal moments with him this year and to be able to counsel him through that. I am also thankful for the father that he has evolved into. We have also shared some scary moments together, but once again God has been faithful, and we are able to share another year of holidays together. I love you my little bro and continue to pray that you line up to your God given purpose in this life and that your relationship with the Lord becomes your foundation and source for your life.
9. I am thankful for my niece and nephew, Kianni and Eli. As much as I wish I could see you more, the time that we have been together have been full of lots of memories. This year was the first year that you guys were able to do a sleep over with Micah and Aria, which I know was a lot of fun. I am so thankful for the love that you have towards your cousins and I pray that it can be something that keeps you guys together even as you grow up. As your uncle, I pray for you guys just as I do for my very own children. That God's presence be with you all the days of your life and that you grow up to become a great woman and man, of God. Tio loves you a lot.
10. I am thankful for my church, Rethink Life. This year, I believe is are fourth year attending the church and has been the best one yet. Every year God continues to stretch us and deepen our relationships with the church. I am thankful for the opportunities that this church has given me and my family to lead but to most importantly serve. From serving in the worship team, assisting the staff and pastors, serving the community every month, to being involved in the Leadership Academy, this year has been full of a lot of great and amazing opportunities that have made us better. We are thankful for the culture of excellence and servant-hood that is displayed week in and week out. I am thankful to be in a place that truly cares about the lost sheep and continues to find ways to reach out. Rethink Life is truly reaching beyond the 1% of Great Orlando and I can't wait to see what is in store for 2018.
11. I am thankful for my Pastors, Pastor Rodney and Michelle Gage. I cannot begin to express how much they mean me and my family. Every conversation, meeting, get together has greatly impacted our lives. There isn't ever a time that I leave empty after a conversation, encounter or meeting with them. They are constantly imparting and giving of themselves. I am blown away at the level of gratitude and honor they possess and showcase. They are surely the real deal and I could not be more blessed to have these two by my side in ministry and in life.
12. I am thankful for another year at Nutrex Research. I was blessed to celebrate two years with this company and since day one it has been a huge blessing to my life. I was blessed to receive a promotion in March that opened my career to more travel and more opportunity. It was challenging at first, but it has ultimately been the best and most rewarding decision I have made in my career. I have been blessed to call the Northeast my second home. I also have been blessed to establish some great relationships with people in these regions. It is funny how far God will take you to begin a relationship with someone across the country. I have built great relationships that will go beyond this career.
13. I am thankful for my Primrose family especially Sabrina and Chris Boesch. I owe these two my life, literally. These two have built a solid and lasting foundation for my children. I say this all the time, but we would not be where we are if it was not for them. They have been God sent at a perfect season in our lives. I love you guys and am always praying God's favor over you guys.
14. I am thankful for my extended family. Recently I was blessed to make a trip to California and see my aunt, uncle and cousins that I have not seen in over ten years. It was such a memorable time for me. I wish I could see them every day, but I know that we have many more times and memories still left together. I pray that God continues to bless their ministry and bring fullness in every season of their lives.
15. I am thankful for my health. I thank God that it has been another year of good health. I must admit that this year I have not taken care of my health as much as I have in years past, but there is always an opportunity to start the journey and that is what I will be dialing myself into soon. I am always thankful that every day I get to utilize my hands, feet, eyes, ears, etc. We tend to overlook these simple but important functions of our body. I am thankful that every day I have the strength to provide for my family and to give my kids the best of me.
16. I am thankful for a successful pregnancy this year. I cannot tell you how nervous and fearful we were leading up to my wife's pregnancy. We put our trust in the Lord that he would allow us to enjoy a successful pregnancy as a family, and that is what he gave us. This pregnancy could not have gone anymore perfect. I am thankful that both mommy and baby are as healthy as can be. And unless God intervenes, we will not be having any more children.
17. I am thankful for another year in our home and neighborhood. I am thankful that my children can freely play outside without any danger. I am thankful that nothing crazy as occurred in our neighborhood. I am thankful for the relationships that we have built with our neighbors. It has been great getting to know then more closely. Thank you, father, that we have a roof over our heads.
18. I am thankful for Rethink Life Worship. It has been quite the transition this year, but God has been faithful through it and has stretched me tremendously. My gifting's have grown, and my leadership has matured. I am thankful that we have a group of not only amazingly talented individuals, but people with godly characters. It is one thing to have talent and another thing to have both talent and a servant's heart and that is what every member of our worship team possesses. There have been some major moves and changes this year in this group, but many have stood strong during the storm and I know without a shadow of a doubt that God will bring great provision and will put the right people in place to lead us into the next level of our lives. I am so blessed that I get to do ministry with some of the most talented and passionate people on the planet.
19. I am thankful for the healing hand of God saving friend Patrick Laporte. Back in February, at 27 years of age, Patrick almost passed away from a rare heart disease called Wolf's Parkinson's White, also known as WPW. He was hospitalized for over three weeks and it was one of the first times that something so unexpected happened to someone very close to me. I remember visiting Patrick for the first time at the hospital and all I could do is pray. I stretched my hand and touched his shoulder and cried out to God for him. I vowed that day to never let a moment go to waste without sharing the love of God in my life to him and anyone in and around my life. It was a moment that I will never forget.
20. I am thankful for another year of travel. I have been to the Midwest, Northeast, and West Coast all this year. In every location that I have been too, it has reminded me of how big and great our God is. Most recently was my trip to California and two weeks later to Vermont. It was amazing to be in two totally different regions, but still feel and see the Glory of God all around it. Every time I leave my town, I leave with an expectancy that God is going to minister to me and he does every time. Traveling really allows me to step out of my box and see what is happening in the world around me. Traveling brings great perspective, humility and appreciation for life.
21. I am thankful for a successful year for the website. I was able to continue the momentum of writing. I wrote a total of 6 articles including this one. It does not seem like a lot, but when you included some Journal logs and the podcast it is a lot. I will talk about the podcast later, but God has surely stretched my creativity and other areas of communication. I understood this year that I have a passion of communication. Whether in writing, podcast, speaking, etc. I enjoy communicating to people especially the Word of God. Thank you, father, for the continuous inspiration to stay consistent and bring good writing to people. I am constantly evolving and finding ways to make the website, articles, etc. better. Look out for some awesome things on the site.
22. I am thankful for my continuous growth in music. This year I achieved a goal of mine, which was to lead worship from the guitar. I am so proud that I did not allow anything or anyone to get in the way of that goal of mine. I am glad that I continued to have the drive to better myself and my talents, first for the Lord and second for the service of the church. I am constantly looking for ways to better myself, whether in an instrument or in a software. Thank you Lord for giving me the ability to do this. I look forward to an amazing year of growth musically.
23. I am thankful for the launch of my podcast and the 1 on 1 series. This has been huge for me this year. I have had the privilege of interview top fitness experts, worship leaders, musicians, pastors, etc. Each and every one of them have imparted something in me that has really blessed my life this year. I launch Johnny Sierra Radio with the intention of just bringing some messages from time to time, but when I realized how much influencers God has surrounded me with, I started asking around for interviews and I rarely got no's. Everyone was so kind and willing to be transparent and discuss their journeys. I can't tell you how blessed I have been and how much I thank every interviewee for their time and for sharing their journey.
24. I am thankful for another year of friendships. From old friends like Tommy and Emely, Josh and Ylonka, Kelly and Otto and new friendships like Daryl, Patrick, Chase and many others that have been huge blessings to my life. Although our lives have gotten busy we still find ways to communicate either text, call or visit and share important events and times together. Thank you for the memories and for sharing life with us.
25. I am thankful for another year of growing in my reading. I have read the most books I have ever read in a year. The travel that I have been able to do has allowed me to listen to great audio books and really utilize my time to the best of my ability. I am also thankful that for the first time in all my life I will be completing the whole Bible by the end of this year. This has been a desire of my heart for as long as I can remember and this year I have been able to do it.
26. I am thankful for the Leadership Academy that I have been a part of at Rethink Life Church. I have been feeling more and more the call towards full-time ministry and the Leadership Academy has been the start of that. I have been involved in ministry since the year 2000, but this year I have been intentional about my growth and leadership. I believe that this coming year is going to lead me to much more clarity and through the paths that God has designed.
27. I am thankful for the financial provision that I have been given. For a long time, I felt like many things were being taken away from me. From cars, jobs and even my home, I felt like I was going backwards, but for the last five years God has slowly continued to provide more and more. I truly believe that the better I manager my finances, the more he places in my hands. It all started with me being obedient to the tithe. Ever since I have taken steps of faith with my finances, God has provided more than enough for me and my family. In the last two years, God has double my salary and given me enough to be comfortable and enough to be go on vacations and trips with my wife and kids.
28. I am thankful for finally giving in and buying my first Mini-Van! Yep! You heard right, this guy is a mini-van owner and I like it. I don't know why everyone hates on the mini-van. It has the most room with the most features available for adults and children. It drives well and is great on gas. It has great trunk space and can fit eight people comfortably. I get that aesthetically it is not the sexiest thing on the road, but what else do you want in a car? Especially for a family of five. This vehicle has been a huge blessing for our family and I am glad that God held us back from getting any other car. He knew we would eventually fall in love with this van.
29. I am thankful once again for the Holy Spirit's guidance, correction and love in my life. My character has truly been molded this year. I have dealt with disappointment and lots of frustration in a lot of areas in my life, but through it all, whatever I could not control I left it in God's hands and trusted that he knew what was best. I am better today than ever.
30. I am thankful to God for my life. I am beyond blessed and continue to see God's fingerprints all over my life. I would not have my life any other way. Thank you, God, for my past, my present and my future for my life is completely in your hands.
Now it's your turn!
I challenge you to write down 30 things, one for each day of the month, that you are thankful for this holiday season. Take your time, but think hard and don't be afraid to write down the good, the bad and even the ugly. We all have each one, but I believe that the beginning steps to true freedom is through reflection and expression. I hope that you are challenged and encouraged by this article. And remember that no matter how life has been for you, we all have a lot to be thankful for.
Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!