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Stephanie Jones

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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"

Overcome with emotion, I scroll through remembrances left for Private First Class, Daniel Dean Bruce, a Marine, who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam on March 1, 1969. 

I first heard his story, this past week on the Charlie Adams radio show. PFC Bruce grew up just miles from my current home.

According to Wikipedia, PFC Bruce, within less than a year of joining the Marines, on night watch at the Firebase Tomahawk in Vietnam, the enemy threw a grenade. He caught the grenade, secured it near his body, and took off running. The grenade exploded, killing him instantly, but saving the life of three Marines. 

The next day, after risking everything for his brothers, his wife gave birth to a baby girl.  

I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to comprehend making such a selfless decision, knowing there is a life ahead you'll never experience and child you'll never get to see or know.

For his bravery, he received the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

May we take this day to remember Marines, like PFC Bruce, and all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

With gratitude,
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”

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13

Tis the season for morels. Yummy mushrooms that sprout up near fallen trees and smatterings of bark. The conditions must be just right, and it takes an eagle eye to spot them, camouflaged against the forest landscape. Over the past several weeks, my hubby and I have hunted for mushrooms. On several occasions we found enough to fry up for dinner. But instead of continuing to eat what we found, we bagged them up and shared our love of mushrooms. This past week we were able to give two bags away to friends. One was such a fun gift to give. 

Our plumber stopped by to fix a leaky pipe and said, "Have you guys ever found any morels out here?"  

My husband chuckled, led him into the kitchen, and showed him a plate full that we'd just washed and dried out for dinner. "Want them?" my husband asked.

"You serious?" our friend questioned. 

"Absolutely!" my husband exclaimed. 

I loved witnessing our friend receive the unexpected gift. Sure, I'll miss the mushrooms for dinner, but the smile on his face, is better than the mushrooms we'd munch on for dinner. 

What do you love? What do you have an abundance of? Give it away to someone today!

Happy Giving,

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"

My first book took me five years to write and publish. Those five years were some of the most frustrating years of my life.

God called me to do something that, quite frankly, I didn't want to do. I didn't know how to do. I didn't feel worthy, as writing and grammar had been a weakness. Writing was uncomfortable and a constant battle.

I cried. Quit. And threw little tantrums like a kid who was just told, "no you can't have a candy bar," at the grocery store.

Yet through my unfaithfulness and trust that God knew what He was doing and where he was leading me, He never wavered. He always remained faithful.

Over the past year and a half, I've been on a journey to get back to studying the Bible. I've spent almost every morning in devotionals and the Bible. I switched out my morning music from pop and country to praise and worship. I became faithful in just showing up and listening to where God was calling me next.

In December I had a whirlwind of travel from Nashville, to Las Vegas, two trips to my hometown and The Big Apple with my bff. It was a trip of a lifetime, experiencing New York City at Christmas time.

My Vegas trip was an adventure to work on my goals. I had started the process before I arrived and over the course of two days at Oolapalooza, I heard God tell me not to focus on speaking in 2020. Instead, use your time to write three books. Not publish, just write three books. At the end of the event we were encouraged to go on stage and share one big goal. Nervously I stepped up to the microphone and exclaimed, "My big goal is to write three books, because I feel God calling me to do so."  

For many onlookers the goal seemed crazy, but not to  me. After I shared the goal, I was confident that if I stay disciplined (my word of the year), I could write three books in one year. 

In 2018, if you came to me and told me give up speaking for a year, I would have told you you've lost your ever-loving mind. I've worked years to get where I am in my speaking career. And that there was no way I'd write three books in one year– I was struggling to get out my second in seven years. 

And guess what? 2019 was my most successful speaking year, in revenue, number of events, types of events, etc. and yet, God asked me to walk away from the success and to write.

I had two speaking commitments booked for early 2020, one in February and one in March. And do you know what happened three days after my last speaking engagement? My husband and I were put on a doctor ordered quarantine. The weeks following our country would shut down and events across the country would be canceled. And do you know how much time and effort I put into securing speaking gigs...? Zero.

Why?

Because being in the word for a year had me attuned to listening and hearing God's whisper.
So here I am on May 19th and I haven't been writing just one, two, or three books, but five. Each day since, December 28, 2019, I have sat down with a pen and paper and God has poured ideas and stories into my mind. Stories I'd forgotten have surfaced just at the right time. 

We are almost halfway through the years and I'm not frustrated that I have no speaking engagements on the books. I'm grateful that when God whispered, I listened and followed the path, even when it's unknown to me, He's leading. Why? Because I have faith and trust that his plan is better than mine.
It's taken me awhile to get here, but the journey has been worth the wait.

If you have made it to the end, I thank you for reading what's been on my heart these past couple of months. Thank you for your commitment to supporting me on this journey. If you are struggling with where you are in life, I encourage you to get in the word of God. Read what he has to say and listen to where he's calling you. If I can be of any help, don't hesitate to reach out.

With gratitude,

Stephanie

If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is. – 2 Timothy 2:13

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”

Fear is a liar.  I have a shirt displaying these words and some days I believe the quote and others, well, I'd rather curl up in a ball and hide under the covers. 

On March 2, 2019, I walked through a door, onto a stage with a spotlight focused on yours truly.  It's the most terrifying stage I'd been on in all my life.  

I'm a professional speaker and the weeks leading up to this event, TEDxCalvin, I'd spoken to hundreds of people from a women's retreat, a church service, and a women's giving circle but there was one big difference.

With the three events, I mentioned I had notes. I don't read from them, but they are a guide to keep me on track, and within the timeframe, I'd been given.  

TEDxCalvin, there were no notes, no PowerPoint, just my memory. 

I'd spent months and months rehearsing. Sometimes I recited the talk perfectly, and other times I blanked. I mean to the point I couldn't remember anything. No words flowed from my mouth.  

Blanking was my biggest fear.  

What would I do if I started my talk and all of a sudden, poof, my talk was gone.  I'd make an incredible fool of myself in front of hundreds of people.  Strangers. 

Do you want to know what happened? I confidently walked out onto that stage and gave a flawless performance.  I'd done something that I almost let fear kill.  Speaking on the TEDx stage was a big dream of mine.  It's a hurdle I needed to jump to grow as a speaker and expand my audience.  

Why do I share all of this?  Because I know there is something you want to do. Right now with the pandemic fear is floating around everywhere. Some for good reason, and other for not.

What's your TEDx? What's the thing you've been putting off that's going to take your personal or professional life to the next level?  

Author and pastor Chris Hodges writes, "Courage is the condition of your heart that allows you to believe you'll succeed without knowing how you'll succeed."

When I applied for a TEDx talk, I didn't know how I was going to succeed.  I honestly didn't think about the stage.  I just had the courage to apply.  

Applying wasn't scary.  Well, okay, maybe a little.  But if I didn't apply, I'd never be able to speak on the stage.  

I'm guessing that's how your BIG dream is.  The end result is scary; that's why you haven't taken steps to pursue it.  But usually, the first step and sometimes the subsequent steps aren't that bad.  

The worst part of TEDx was the final step, but I knew I'd put in the hard work. I'd left nothing to chance. I put in hours of hours of rehearsals.  I had lots of people praying for me. I truly prayed and believed that God had given me the opportunity, that he'd laid a path for me and all I had to do was walk through the door.  Have a little faith and trust that everything was going to be okay.  

And you know what, if I would have completely bombed on the stage, I'd at least gone down having the courage to succeed instead of wondering if I had what it took to grace the stage, constantly living in regret, wondering if my speaking career was staying steady because I hadn't been a daring woman to take a leap of courage.  

My friend, you only have one life to live. Will you live in fear or courage? The choice is yours. Choose wisely. 

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 gotta admit friends, this past week was rough.  My day job is overwhelming. I feel myself slipping back into my workaholic tendencies, people pleasing, and spinning out of control thoughts causing anxiety.  On Friday I went to bed at 5:30. Yes 5:30, because I was exhausted.

Earlier in the week, Carole Baker interviewed me, and we chatted about Sacred Reinvention. You can check out the interview here. As I prepared for the interview, I jotted down ways to shift my mindset through these difficult times.

Here are four tactics I came up with. They've helped me navigate these difficult times, and I thought they could help you also. 

1. I have a choice as to what I media I take in, watch and read.  When I'm tired, I want to scroll through social media, or zone out to the news.  I've worked hard this week to avoid doing both, as much as possible. Instead, I'm reading. When I want to turn on the television, I pick up a book instead. When I want to mindlessly scroll, I close my Facebook app, and switch over to my kindle app. I'm choosing to pour positivity, instead of chaos and craziness, into my mind.  

2. I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating, as I'm having to repeat the tactic to myself multiple times a day.  Ask yourself what you can control. I've found what makes me anxious and overwhelmed at work are tasks and requests that I can't control the answer and/or information. It's just not available.  This goes for thoughts that may have us spinning out of control. Stop yourself and ask, what I'm thinking about, can I control it? If not, move on and make a list of what you can control. 

3. I found myself this week commiserating with a coworker about my job. It's ironic and sad, that at a time when so many are out of work, I'm working more hours than I can handle. I had to choose gratitude. I had to choose to focus on what I do have, instead of what I don't.  I have a job and I'm grateful for the steady paycheck. Right now, I don't have the hours to be focusing on myself and my passion business. But I know it's not forever. It's easy to get wrapped up in what we don't have. 

4. It could always be worse. As I start to complain, I gotta stop myself. There really is no reason for me to complain about anything in life. I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry, heat when it's cold, a closet full of clothes, running water, and the list of what I have is endless. I have my health, and family and friends that do also. This week I found out that a sweet little boy, I wrote about months ago, passed away. I'm reminded of the conditions my friends in Africa live in. It could always be worse. When you start to complain, just utter those words. They'll stop you in your tracks.

Friends, each day as we roll out of bed, we have a lot we can control, and the hardest, at times is what we think about and take in. Hopefully my tactics listed above are helpful.

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”

This past week I was chatting with my friend, Rashawn Copeland, and he asked me how I'm still giving while being stuck at home. 

We discussed the obvious gifts such as texting friends, checking in on each other, and mailing cards. After we got off the phone, I dug a little deeper into the gifts I had been giving. This weekend I also added new kindness acts that were on my "to do" list.

1. During these times I'm a bit sad to not live in a neighborhood.  I love my home, that is nestled in the woods, but people aren't just walking by to see decorations. I decided to do a gratitude chalk the walk.  Because you know who is coming to my home? ShipIt Shoppers, Door Dashers, the mailperson, and delivery drivers from USP, FedX, and Amazon. And oh! My neighbor Joe. He always seems to drop off a random food item. Grab some chalk and make a gratitude chalk the walk on your porch, steps, sidewalk or driveway. 

2. Have you heard of the Heart Hunters? I've also seen another group called Hearts of Hope. Either way, I love the meaning. I've yet to cut out hearts and put them in the window, but I did add colorful hearts to my Chalk the Walk.  Grab some construction paper, or white paper and markers, and post hearts around your home for all to see. Check out this facebook group. There are hundreds of cool ideas!

3. What talent can be used during these times? Many of the women from my hometown are sewing masks for hospital employees. But maybe you are like me and can't sew. This weekend, my husband, as a gift, used his talents to make me, as he called it, a "bird condo." What talents do you have that you can share with others?

4. Laughter is good medicine.  I can't remember if I mentioned this in previous blogs, but it's worth repeating, because it's getting me through this craziness. See a funny meme, share it.  I have a group chat with coworkers, family, and friends. And guess what we do every day? We share funny memes. Last night my coworker shared one with me. I died laughing and I payed it forward. I shared the meme with my family and my mom loved it! She said she couldn't stop laughing.  Friends, get the laughing started and keep it going!

5. Share books.  I have a closet full of books and I'm giving them away. It's fun to make a little note and send the book on its way.  Want a chance to win a book? Make sure you are following me on Facebook or have joined the Gratitude Challenge group. That's where I post my giveaways!

I'm sure over the next couple of weeks I'll continue to find fun ways to give. What ways are you giving?

Happy giving,

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"

These are challenging times, and I'm not going to gloss over the fact we all are dealing with unprecedented times. I'm grateful that I've worked from home since 2008, so my daily life really hasn't changed. It's gotten busier.

But for many, maybe even you, they are going a bit stir crazy. Over the past week, I've stumbled upon various activities that might help you and your family to keep your body and mind active and healthy.

  1. Want to learn a new language? Rosetta Stone is giving away free lessons for students. Maybe it's an activity for you and your child can do together.
  2. Spending more time on the couch than you'd like? Beach Body is offering 14 days for free. This program could help jump start moving your body and getting on a healthy food plan. This is one I'm seriously looking at taking advantage of. 
  3. You know I can't have a list of activities and not include giving!  The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has these notes that you can print, fill-out and leave at your neighbors' door. Let's all get through this together!
  4. Scholastic, oh does that word take me back in time. I loved their book fairs!  If you have kiddos at home, they have great free resources to keep children reading, thinking and growing.
  5. Ever want to go to an Ivy League School? It's never really been on my list, but I just might have to add it after reading about the Science of Wellbeing course at Yale. It started on March 29th, but I think you can still sign up. If not, check out another free course from Coursera.
  6. Put up Christmas lights. I don't know about you but twinkling lights always make me feel better. Maybe decorate the tree for Easter or spring! See how others are spreading cheer through their lights.
  7. Have you always wanted to watch a Broadway Musical?  If so, Broadway HD is offering a 7-Day free trial. Just remember to cancel so you don't get charged. My favorite musicals: Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. The music is spectacular!
  8. Are you a fan of the arts? Travel and Leisure have compiled a wonderful list of Museums around the world that are offering virtual tours. Which museum will you visit?
  9. Got a young girl in your household? Cisco Networking Academy is offering free Girl Power Tech courses. I'd love the take the entrepreneur class!

Check back with me and let me know what activities you enjoyed!

Stay healthy,

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”

P.S. I'm not affiliated with any of these programs. They've just come across my path over the past week and I thought one or more of the offers might be helpful to my friends and followers.