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June 2016

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Frankie, Frankie get in here…were the words that echoed down the hall every time I entered my great grandmother’s home. She was letting my uncle Frankie know he had visitors. Moments later he’d scamper down the hall and greet you as if he hadn’t seen you in years. A big smile on his face, arms open wide and a big bear hug would ensue. We’d chat for a little bit and often head back to his room to get a glimpse of his “homework.”

My uncle Frankie lived with my great grandmother until she passed and then he went to live with his siblings. You see, Frankie had Down Syndrome. Growing up, I don’t ever remember anyone telling me Frankie had Down Syndrome or was different than me. In my family, I was taught everyone was the same and learned the Golden Rule early, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

My great grandmother dissed the notion he was different also. When Frankie was born, April 27, 1951, doctors gave little hope to my great grandparents that Frankie would live beyond five years old. I guess back then, they didn’t know much about Down Syndrome. From what I’ve researched, many with Down Syndrome have congenital heart disease. Well Frankie did have a heart disease. He had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. Did I mention he loved hugs?

Frankie attended school and learned how to read and write. He spent much of his days writing. That is why we always had to go check out his homework, something he took great pride in and worked hard at daily. What did we get Frankie for his birthday every year? Notebooks, pens and stickers. Oh and a Cincinnati Reds t-shirt or hat. One of the only times he wouldn’t come out for a visit was if the Reds were on TV. Not only did he have a love for the Reds and Indiana University basketball, he loved playing both sports. I remember some fierce wiffle ball games in my great grandmother’s backyaIMG_8446rd.

I often say my seven year old nephew Carson is the best dancer in the family, but before Carson came along Frankie held the title. He loved music and dancing. He was incredibly gifted and could identify the artist singing a song as soon as he heard the first few notes. If there was music, Frankie was busting a move. We’d all sit back and laugh. Which made him continue his moves, as he loved being the center of attention and was the life of the party.

Frankie had a deep respect for the flag and military. He hung out at the American Legion and was a favorite to the patrons. At parades when members of the military would pass you could count on Frankie standing at attention with a salute. Annually he’d attended, with family, the local Memorial Day service and as soon as the National Anthem would play his hand would be over his heart.

Frankie had an incredible memory. My mom shared a story with me of a time she forgot his birthday. Yes, he took note of who remembered and who did not. Several weeks later they were attending a funeral and he walked up to her and busted out in song, “Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday, to me…” That was his subtle way of letting her know she had forgotten his birthday.

My cousin shared on Facebook a talent Frankie had that I’d forgotten. He would look at his wrist, as though looking at a watch, and tell you the time. There was no watch on his wrist, but he’d usually be right on the time. We sometimes joked he was Rain Man.

Frankie passed away at the age of 65 on Sunday, June 26th. Frankie was truly a gift from God to our family. The laughter he brought will never be replaced, but the many stories we have of him will be shared and remembered for years.

Not to get all political, but I can’t imagine why some doctors recommend women who are carrying a Down Syndrome baby abort. I say this honestly, Frankie was much better than you or I. He never judged. You were his friend the moment he met you. He never met a stranger. He loved this country and members of the U.S. Armed Forces. He loved Twinkies without worrying about the calories. His heart was filled with joy. He had a passion for life and living. He loved his family. He laughed often and smiled just as much. Maybe the world needs a lot less of what we see on the news and in our social media feeds each day and more people like my great uncle Frankie. The man who never knew a stranger.

I know this is true because I’m seeing all the comments on Facebook.

“Frankie was an awesome human being.”

“He was a great guy!”

“Frankie was always a joy!”

“He was a real sweetie.”

“A very loving man.”

“He was a special guy.”

“He was a special person, with a special soul.”

“Frankie was a blessing to all who knew him.”

“Always smiling with a heart the size of Texas.”

How will you be remembered? If people can’t say these types of things about you, TODAY is the day to make a change. Today is the day you…

  • Start smiling more
  • Give bear hugs
  • Have fun!
  • Dance to the music.
  • Bless others through your actions
  • To never know a stranger

Today is the day to be more like Frankie!

P.S. If you knew Frankie, I’d love for you to share your favorite Frankie story or memory. Thanks!

Blessings,

Stephanie

About the Author:

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Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and soon to be author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish and live their big dreams, and bless others daily through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

 

 

I was a brat! Yes, there I admitted it. I have those days where I’m selfish and don’t want to give a gift!

Let me back up and give you the story. It was after dinner, and my husband was CRAVING ice cream. He asked me to run into town and get him some. I immediately said no. We bantered back and forth, in what seemed like forever. I finally said NO, NO, NO!!!

He was annoying the heck out of me. I reminded him that one of the reasons I married him was because he didn’t annoy me. I know it sounds crazy but before Mike most guys just annoyed the heck out of me after a couple of dates. I can spend hours upon hours with MikeMike0, and he rarely gets on my nerves. I guess that’s a good thing since it’s just the two of us, no kids or pets to occupy our time. I just love hanging out with him, which we often do. But on this day he was driving me bonkers!

Finally, he realizes he isn’t getting ice cream, heads upstairs to hop in the shower and yells, “Will you at least make me some brownies?”

I took a deep breath and said, “Sure.” It would be my gift for the day.

As I was making brownies, I thought, “Stephanie This isn’t a gift. Your heart isn’t in the right place.”

I finished the brownies, and he was grateful I took the time to make them, but I was feeling guilty I had been such a brat!

The next day, while at Target, I picked up some of his favorite ice cream. I may have been a day late, but this gift was bought and given with the right intention and a cheerful heart.

Many times in life we get an opportunity for a do-over. Take that opportunity. Don’t be stubborn to prove a point. Do the right thing, and in the end, everyone wins.

Blessings,

Stephanie

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About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and the author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to live their dreams, discover their gifts, and do amazing things.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

 

A few things I learned from my father…

1. Spend time with your kids, lots of time. Take them hiking, play in the backyard, read with them and play games. My dad took us to the park at least once a week. My sister and I now have a love for simple, inexpensive adventures and love the outdoors.

2. Attend their sporting events and be their biggest cheerleader. Don’t criticize the coach if your kid isn’t getting playing time and don’t be loud and obnoxious from the stands; it’s embarrassing for your child. In the four years of my high school athletic career, my father never missed a basketball game or track/cross country meet. He expected two things, (1) Hustle and (2) 100% effort.

3. Make your kids work, and work hard. From a young age we were picking up sticks in the yard, doing chores, stacking wood, and I had my first job at 13. Guess what? It didn’t kill my sister and me, and I have never been unemployed. At times I’ve had two or three jobs to pay the bills, but it didn’t matter because my dad taught me hard work is how you become a productive member of society and get the things you want in life in life, even though “things” have never been important to him. He taught us we are not entitled to anything.

4. Show love and affection. My dad has never shied away from hugs, a kiss on the cheek or an I love you. I’m 38, and if I’m at my parent’s house, there’s a good chance in the evenings you’ll find me snuggled up with my dad on the couch watching tv.

5. Find a common interest. My dad and I have always loved to be in nature together, talk investigations and politics, and there was a time we did 5ks and even a biathlon of shooting and running.

6. Get involved in your community and set a good example for your children. My dad was a firefighter and police officer. He’d help anyone in need. Heck, yesterday he stopped for a broken down motorcyclist. The guy was an outlaw with a pistol on his side. Dad offered him water and pointed across the street to his house and said, “If you need anything I’m right over there.” I thought he was crazy, but he just responded, “I’d expect someone to do the same for me.”

7. Vote, respect the flag and honor and be grateful to those who have or are serving in the military. Not voting has never crossed my mind because my dad has taught me the importance of living in a country where it’s people are allowed to vote. From an early age, I was taught to be silent, not move, place my hand over my heart and not take my eyes off the flag during the national anthem. Many men and women fought hard and died so the flag could fly free. If you ever drive by his house, Old Glory is proudly displayed on a huge flagpole in the front yard.

If you haven’t gotten the point, my dad is pretty amazing! My guess is many fathers could learn a thing or two from him. Happy Father’s Day dad!

If you know a new father or one that could use some pointers, please share with them! Their children will thank you!!!

Blessings,

Stephanie

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About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and the author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to live their dreams, discover their gifts, and do amazing things.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

Step into my world for a moment. I know I appear to have it all put together, but most days I’m stumbling through life and laughing at myself.

Most of my coaching clients are scattered throughout the country, but tonight I was excited to meet a customer in person, someone local. I left early so I could swing by the library and get gas.

Things often don’t go as planned.

Several months earlier, I canceled my $5.99 Netflix subscription to save a couple of dollars, and I figured I could get movies at the library. I checked two movies out but forgot to return them before vacation. I returned them tonight, and the librarian said, “Um, do you know these are quite overdue?” I responded, “Yes, I’ve been on vacation. I know they are around a week overdue.”

Well, my fee was $14.00!!! I about fell over. Here I was trying to save a couple of bucks, and I ended up spending three times more for two movies in one week. All I could do was chuckle and think, well I just gave a donation to the library.

After checking out Living Forward (a book I’ve wanted to read), I exited the library and pulled into the gas station, exited my vehicle and pumped gas. When I heard the click, I hopped out, and as I removed the handle, gas sprayed everywhere. My shoes and jeans covered in gas. Great!!! I texted my client I was going to be late as I could hardly stand the smell of gas permeating off my clothes into the air. I scurried home, changed and sped out to meet my client. I was glad I had shown her grace two weeks earlier when she needed to cancel last minute. My actions reciprocated.

We had a great session, and I’m glad she didn’t bail on me. Even though at times I’m scattered, scrambling and fumbling…I’m a darn good coach and help others based on my experiences.

I remembered a couple of things today.

1. Laugh at yourself

2. Show grace to others, as you may need it shown to you

3. Even when things aren’t going your way, they can always turn around.

Have you laughed at yourself lately? Have you shown grace to someone in a time of need? I hope you are traveling through life knowing that when things aren’t going your way that all you have to do is wait, and your low will turn into a high.

Blessings,
Stephanie

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About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and the author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to live their dreams, discover their gifts, and do amazing things.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

Standing in the audiobook section of the library I overheard a child chatting with the librarian. He was telling her all about his baseball game. Based on her enthusiastic responses she was interested in what he had to say. Moments later she came in my section and with excitement exclaimed to his mom, “Mrs. X is really kind.”

His mom responded, “Yes, yes she is.”

Interesting the first thing the child commented on was the kindness of the librarian. He couldn’t have been older than six.

Friends, children pay attention to our words and actions. They recognize and love kindness. They soak in how we engage and replicate it through their actions. We can learn a lot from kids. Kindness Matters.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Never miss a post! Sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and the author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to live their dreams, discover their gifts, and do amazing things.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

 

This morning I finished reading Brennan Manning’s book All is Grace. As I think about the past couple of days, the quote below resonated with me. We are constantly judging, trying to change others, want others to follow rules and our lifestyle, but what I know is true is God loves us just as we are. His love isn’t conditional.

He loved each and every person that lost their life in the Orlando shooting.

My friend Kevin Buchanan said it perfectly…”Because they deserve to be known by name. Their stories need to be heard. And more than anything, to know they were loved and their lives mattered.”

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Blessings,

Stephanie

About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and soon to be author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish and live their big dreams, and bless others daily through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

No tv. I’ve been on a mini-vacation and the friend I stayed with had no tv. It was good, refreshing. I didn’t miss it, not for a second. Honestly I didn’t notice its absence because I was engaging in conversation, reading, relaxing and challenging myself in the beautiful outdoors of Utah. Over my vacation I took a break from my business and social media. I was excited to get back to posting giving challenges and sharing my adventures.

Arriving at the airport news flooded social media and tv regarding the tragedy in Orlando. My heart broke. As someone who challenges others to give daily, acts like the one that took place would not happen if we are focused on how to love others, how to help others and how not to judge those we don’t agree with or see eye to eye.

Over the days and weeks I challenge you to seek out ways to love those around you, those, who in the past, you may have been judging their lifestyle. I’m not just talking about the LBGT community, I’m talking about the homeless man on the corner, the drug addict who always seems to make excuses, the cheating spouse, unfriendly neighbor…you fill in the blank.

If you are a person that is constantly finding faults in others, it may be time for you to look in the mirror. We tend to judge others to make ourselves feel better. Work on changing your ways, your heart. Work to find common ground.

I encourage you to take time this evening to read about each of the victims. I bet you’ll find you have more in common than think.

For instance, Deonka Deidra Drayton, Kimberly Morris and Akyra Monet Murray all loved basketball. As a girl from the Hoosier state, I have the same love. If I were to have met these women, maybe we would focus on our similarities instead of our differences. Maybe we would go shoot some hoops.

There is a long journey ahead for the families of the victims, survivors, first responders, medical personnel, the community of Orlando and this great nation. Sure I’ll pray, but we need to do more. What more is? I’m not sure. But if I see an opportunity, if you see an opportunity, to give, to do more than pray, to support and take action, do so.

May God bless the USA and change our hearts to be filled with love for one another.

Blessings,

Stephanie

About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and soon to be author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish and live their big dreams, and bless others daily through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.