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June 2020

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Boy, time flies when you are having fun.  I mean what a difference a year makes.  This time last year, I was attending a writer's conference, learning from some of the best in the industry.  I took a children's book writing class from the fabulous Michelle Medlock Adams. Did I mention she's written over 100 books, and sold millions of copies?

Anyway, this year she's now my writing coach and I've submitted my first children's book draft to her. Scary friends, scary. But often, we must take a step of faith, out of our comfort zones, to move forward in life. 

This past week, I mailed out her book, What is America? to several of my friends who recently had babies. Books are a great gift!

As I mailed out the books, I was reminded of a contest I ran last year, asking my followers to answer the question, what does America mean to you? 

With everything going on in our country, I thought it would be a good reminder to share some of the responses I received. 

"What “America” means to me is… a country full of history, magnificent scenery, and abundance of variety in landscape & people. It’s a place I call home. I treasure that our founding fathers not only prayed and included God in forming this great country but were also thankful for His favor upon them. America means freedom in so many ways. A few among them are the freedom to worship, freedom to pursue my God given dreams & passions, freedom to live where I want and travel east to west and north to south, and freedom to create wealth or live simply. America is a representation of God’s grace in person!" ~Kim 

"What “America” means to me is…my homeland. For many years I’ve heard it referred to as “the land of the free”, “land of opportunity”! Even in the midst of all of the present turmoil, it’s still all of that. A place where many many folks from all over the world also want to make it a place to call home. We are so blessed to have much more than so many other countries." ~Joyce

"A land built on the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors, providing us with the greatest freedoms that any land has ever known. Most of my family heritage is based on 1800’s immigration, but I am grateful for all who forged this amazing nation!" ~David

"America means freedom, opportunity and hope. It is a symbol of courage, taking risks and standing up for a cause. Our forefathers risked their lives for a higher good, greater life and fought for family and future generations. America truly means the land of the free and home of the brave!" ~Jeanne

"America means freedom and opportunity.  America is a place where people should be able to come to and be LOVED. America represents hard work and determination. America should be seen as a place that is SAFE, but we all must do our part to make it so." ~Kayla

"What “America” means to me is… we are always bigger than we think we are.  (And in this case, “big” is a good thing — not like a dress size or a price tag.) Decent, hard-working immigrants made their homes in this “new world” and managed our original 13 colonies just fine …. and they believed that they would be better off if they could somehow govern themselves without the hand of a distant, far-away kingdom managing their affairs.  Our colonial ancestors saw that if only they could work together (“united”) for a common cause for their own common good, they (and now “WE”) would all benefit. Instead of complaining about how small they were in number ….or how poor they were in resources… our ancestors bonded together in a big way to gain their independence.  America means that even immigrants and people lacking in resources … people who might feel “small” or powerless …. can stand united for the greater good.  

I think BIG when I think of America.  Partner with others and work hard for a common cause … and we are all better off!" ~Victoria

"Freedom of choice and a sense of pride." ~Karen

"Freedom at the price of veteran's lives who love this country so much that they are willing to sacrifice their life to keep it free. God Bless the veterans." ~Maria

"Freedom. One word seems so simple, but our great country was built on this basic principle. While we may not always agree with each other, we have the freedom to express our views without repercussion. The formula works. Just look around and see how many people want to come to our great nation.  From this one word comes the right to pray to our God, support the political candidate of our choice, and attend the school of our choice . . . and that's just the beginning!" ~Jerilyn

What does America mean to you? I'll be sharing responses all week on social media!

Happy 4th of July!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life” and "The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life"

I run a FB Group, The Gratitude Challenge. Are you a member? If not, you should join, it's full of positive posts, challenging others to focus on what they are grateful for each day.

Recently, Harold, a long-time coaching client, posted, "I'm grateful that I've tested positive today."

I immediately thought, "Oh no! Harold has the COVID-19."

But instead of responding, I paused. I know Harold. I'd just chatted with him on Friday, his post mentioned nothing of COVID-19, he loves quotes, and I realized, he wasn't talking about a sickness, but his attitude."

Sneaky, sneaky Harold!

I scrolled through the comments, "You mean negative? If you tested positive means you have the covid virus in your system."  

And "Hopefully you mean negative!"

Oh, those sweet ladies that responded. I know they were probably concern for his well being and thought he'd made an error with is words. The mistake happens all the time. No harm and no fowl in this case. 

But what happened on this post is becoming a pandemic of sorts on social media. And unlike this post, our country is becoming divided due to words people are speaking. And at the end of the day, I'm not sure we are solving any problems.

The interaction got me thinking and I realized, there were a couple of steps I took before responding, and I think maybe moving forward could save each of us a lot of heartache and maybe a friendship.

First, I didn't immediately respond. I almost did, but I paused, and reread the post.  

Second, I thought about the person that made the post. I know him well, which made me look at the post in a different light. 

Third, I responded with a comment asking for confirmation about the meaning of his post, I didn't assume. "Knowing you...you're talking about your attitude!"

The conversation today reminded me there is a gift we can give our friends and even strangers on social media. It's the gift of pausing before we comment. It's the gift of knowing the person and their heart. I don't know about you, but often what I feel in my heart doesn't reflect properly in the words I speak or write. I often think, "That didn't come out right." If we don't know someone's heart, then it's hard to respond to their post. And finally, don't assume you know what someone is feeling or thinking at the time of their post. Engage in conversation, ask questions, maybe message the poster privately, or do like I've trained myself to do and don't comment at all.  

The last gift, on don't comment at all, is a hard pill to swallow. It's taken great willpower for me to keep scrolling and keep my mouth shut. How I react comes down to asking myself a couple of questions, maybe you could use these also.

1) What value is my comment brining to the conversation? 

2) Is my comment positive and encouraging? 

3) Is what I'm posting bringing us to unity or division?  

Usually my response is no, no, and division. The only time I post is if my answer is yes, yes, and unity. This not only goes for comments, but rules I try to follow when making a post.

There are a lot of little gifts we can give our friends, and even strangers on social media.  Be the person that helps to bring positivity, encouragement and unity to your little neck of the world.  If we all did this, we'd be a happier, less stressed, and anxious society!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life" and “The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life”

When I heard of the tragic death of retired Captain/Chief David Dorn, I knew I had to take action to ensure his murder didn't get lost in all that is going on in our country.

David Dorn retired from the St. Louis Police Department at the rank of Captain, after serving, and incredible 38 years on the department. But he didn't stay retired for long and took the helm as Chief of Police for Moline Acres Police Department. 

For over four decades, he selflessly served his community. As I read through various news articles, his friends, coworkers and family members described him as having a personality larger than life, put people on the right path, kind of leader young officers looked up to, and a family man that love his wife, children and grandchildren. 

At the age of 77, he still had a heart for protecting his community. On June 2nd, as looters ravaged his friend's pawn shop, he responded to check on the shop, when cowards shot him. 

Oh, what has become of the darken hearts of so many, they are willing to take another's life, for meaningless material possessions.

In gratitude of his service to his community, noting that he often spent time volunteering with disadvantage youth, I'm asking you to join me in a Giving Challenge to honor the life of Retired Capt./Chief David Dorn.

Do an act of kindness for someone you know, a stranger, or even a police officer.  Share why you are giving. And challenge them to keep spreading the love, one gift at a time. 

We don't change the world by hate, rioting and divisiveness, we change the world by one gift of kindness and love, to another human, at a time.

Share your gift with me or on social media and let the family of Retired Captain/Chief Dorn know he is not forgotten. #GivingChallengeforDorn

Blessings,

Stephanie

Link to: Chief Dorn's wife, Sgt. Ann Dorn's interview

Link to: My interview with Charlie Adams sharing the tragic story and challenge for Retired Chief Dorn

When I woke up this morning my heart carried a weight that had not been there the previous day. I pondered the inexcusable death of George Floyd. As a former police officer, questions swirl about the officers involved actions, or lack of action. I don't get it. I can't comprehend what the heck they were thinking! I'm appalled. 

And I'm a police wife. I love our law enforcement officers. But even when society demands we chose a side, we don't have to.

"Don't copy (conform) the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Roman 12:2

I can be horrified by a man's death at the hands of a law enforcement officer, and still love my law enforcement family. 

I stepped out my front door and walked up and down my driveway, around my backyard, and out behind and around my husband's garage, back to my front door. It's been a prayer walk I've done almost every day for 18 days. Today I was so distracted. One second I was praying, and the next second I was thinking about a social media post that had me fired up! So many emotions and thoughts ping ponging around my mind. And as clear as the Caribbean blue waters, God said, "Focus on me."

He gave me three words that centered me. Since that moment, every time I get spun up, I stop, and am reminded there is only one place I need to focus my time and energy. Focus on the words of Bible. Not the politicians, not the media, and not even my friends, but what does God say? How would Jesus respond?

Jesus would grieve for the loss the life. Every... single... life, regardless of race, religion, sex, and age, mattered to Jesus.

This next one is a hard pill to swallow, but Jesus would have forgiven the officers. As he himself was being killed, he said, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

Jesus loved everyone. He actually doesn't just instruct us to love our neighbor, he said, "You have heard the law that says, "love your neighbor" and hate your enemy, but I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:43-44, 47-48 (And note, before someone get's all crazy on me, I'm not calling anyone involved in this an enemy. I'm proving a point, that we love all. We can't be selective. Even those we call an enemy, we love).

In 100% Giving Gal fashion, I'm going to focus on three things, my time with God, practicing gratitude, and giving. I'm continuing to give to those in need, give to those that are different than me, give to those I love and give to strangers. My giving journey has stretched me outside of my circle of friends, that was predominately white, and expanded to big beautiful circle of people of many colors. 

I hope you will join me, as we continue to live giving and grateful lives, focused on God.

Blessings,
Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life” and "The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life"