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Dreaming Big

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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"

This past week has been crazy. On Tuesday I launched my second book, The Gratitude Challenge, and unexpectedly on Thursday my husband worked a 20-hour shift. Yes, you read that correctly, twenty hours!

On Friday, family came into town and on Saturday we hosted a belated Christmas gathering. Needless to say, our one on one time over the past week didn't happen.

Sunday, as I sat writing book number three, boom! The house rattled, startled I jumped, what the heck was that?

I continued writing and moved to checking off tasks on my to do list. 

Boom! Again, the house rattled and this time I yelled to my husband, "What is that sound?"

He chuckled, and responded his friends were shooting exploding targets. 

"Oh! Why aren't you over there with them?" I replied.

"Because you asked me to stay home with you for the Super Bowl."

A twinge of guilt permeated my body. 

I'm sure he'd rather be with his friends on Super Bowl Sunday than sitting at home with me. I even told him a couple of times to go and don't worry about me.

To be honest, I was fine to be home by myself and tick through the 200 things on my to do list that I needed to get done before tomorrow. 

But then I thought back to what I often preach from the stage and even in my writings. 

I'm often asking my coaching clients, "Are your actions aligning to your priorities?"

If the answer is no, sometimes we must make sacrifices to get in realignment.

And so even if my husband would rather be watching the super bowl with friends, though he never indicated this, just sounds more fun to me than hanging with your wife...lol, and I could use the time to work through my to do list, at the end of the day we are each other's priority.

Sunday wasn't about watching the Super Bowl. It was about him cooking me dinner. Us sitting together, while the Super Bowl was on, and chatting about the past week.  Discussing what we had going on in the coming week. Our time together was about reconnecting and getting synced up from a crazy week. 

I believe, on reason, a relationship fails, is due to continuing to kick the can down the road. We go weeks or even months without focused time together. And this doesn't just have to be in marriage. I see it in companies where managers don't connect with their employees, where parents don't make time for their children, and when friends no longer get together because life is "busy."  

Yesterday taught me, as life has repeatedly, I'll never regret the time I spend with my husband, my family or my friends. My "to do" list, can always wait.

Who do you need to make a priority this week? Take out the calendar, cancel a meeting, and schedule time with someone that is your priority.

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"


Anytime we pursue a #goal we learn lessons. Here are six lessons I learned launching my second book. These lessons can apply to any goal we pursue.

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”

For the last, oh I don't know, ten years, I'd committed to reading through the entire Bible. I'd get excited, open the Bible daily and read a chapter or two, but as with many goals, by the time I read through Genesis, fifty other books stole my attention and the remainder of the year, reading through the Bible was hit or miss. 

I'd failed miserably.

In 2019, I set a rule for myself. The first activity I would do in the morning would be to read a devotional and the Bible. Temptations of social media, email, television, and any other distraction use to steal my mornings but no more, because I'd set a boundary and I wanted to stay within the bounds.

I missed a couple of days here and there, mainly when I was traveling. I'm almost through the entire Bible and it's amazing how God speaks to us when we are in his word and listening to his ever guiding voice.

On December 28th, God turned on a facet of writing ideas that hasn't shutoff.  What he is given me is good. There is no way on Earth I could have come up with what is flowing through me onto paper. 

I share this story of commitment because as I was chatting with my friend/personal trainer Zach and it hit me, that if we want to see change, results, or difference in our life, it doesn't happen overnight. 

We reflected on my weight loss journey. For three months, as I trained with him, eating healthy and working out, I saw almost zero results. The lack of evidence of my hard work frustrated me, but he kept telling me to stay on the course. I trusted his expertise and continued to do as he instructed. And sure enough, after the three-month mark hit, still staying faithful to the plan, the pounds started to melt off.

I share both stories to say, if you've been working toward a goal but aren't seeing the results you expected, keep going, even if you stumble, move forward.

Yesterday as I read my devotional, the verse Proverbs 16:3 smacked me in the face, "Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed."

The verse doesn't state commit your good intentions, it says, "commit your actions."

I believe the good book has given us all we need to be successful if life, but at the end of the day we have free will and we must act to succeed.

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 Sunday at church, the speaker mentioned his wife was working on a book proposal.

My ears perked up and I initially thought, "Oh I should go introduce myself. Maybe there is a way I can help her."

Within moments of that thought, doubt crept in.

Oh, I hate going up to strangers. It's awkward.

What if she doesn't need my assistance?

Maybe I don't have as much insight as I think.

As the negative thoughts crashed down, I had to stop myself.

Sure, introducing yourself to strangers is a bit difficult, but I've done it hundreds of times during my giving journey.

And maybe she doesn't need help, but what if she does? It's better to offer and she not need it then to not offer and she did need it.

And I do have a tremendous amount of knowledge to share with someone writing a book.

In fact, I'm coaching others on writing their own books.

I'm not a fraud.

I proceeded to go down the list of all my writing and publishing experience.

After church ended, I walked, against the flow of people exiting, down the aisle and introduced myself.

And I'm so glad I did. I had nothing to worry about it. She was so kind.

Offering our experience and our talents to others is a great gift we can give.

Maybe your children are grown, and you can give a little advice to a new mom.

Or did you recently lose weight and have a friend that's struggling in this area? Share a few tips what worked for you.

We all have gifts to share with others but often we feel like a fraud. We might downplay our knowledge and experience, or think there is someone better.

If you feel a tug, to share your knowledge, have the confidence to push past fear and doubt and help someone, you may be the difference in their failure or success.

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 don't know about you but my December is crazy. I just got back from a speaking engagement in Nashville, TN and flew directly to Las Vegas for a goal setting conference. I'm home for a couple of days and then head to southern Indiana for a baking event, then New York City, and back to southern Indiana. Whew! I'm tired. Can you relate?

Yesterday on the plane ride home, I whipped out my laptop and scheduled my workout times. This morning I called and scheduled a massage. I'm scared if I didn't put myself on the calendar, I wouldn't think to give to me also.

Your "give to yourself" challenge is to get out your calendar and schedule "me time." And then more importantly than scheduling, is to be disciplined and don't schedule over your appointment and give it to someone else. Make you a priority!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”


Do you have a goal you've been working on, but you've haven't made progress in a while? Or maybe it's not a goal, but you feel stuck where you are in life.

Over the past couple of years, as I work with coaching clients, I've discovered that many times, excuses are what is holding my client back.

For example, several months ago, I met with a client and she shared a goal she'd been working on for years. But every time the opportunity became available to move forward, something tragic always happened, or so she made it sound that way.  

As I listened, I realized, one of two things, either she didn't want her dream as bad as she said she did or two, she created excuses so if she did take a step forward, she didn't have to face the possibility of rejection.  

The latter is quite common.  

We don't even show up, for if we show up, we may fail. But if we don't show up, there is no disappointment and we can, in fact, continue to lie to ourselves, about why we aren't progressing like we think we should.

One powerful way to move forward is to be brave enough to step over an excuse. But how do we do that?

First, we must be real with ourselves.  I'll give you an example. I'm training for a Disney running challenge. In February, in three days, I'll compete in a 5k, 10k and marathon.  If I want to enjoy the races, I need to train.

I have a training schedule printed and so far, I have been sticking to the plan. But on Saturday, excuses started to bubble up to the surface, to skip my training run.  

Excuse #1: I spent longer at the post office than I intended. My run would have to be shortened from thirty to twenty minutes. Since I can't run the amount of time I wanted to run, I should just go home. EXCUSE!

Identifying the excuse is the half the battle. If we don't recognize when we are making excuses, we can't move forward on our goal or becoming unstuck.  Ask yourself, is what I'm telling myself an excuse or is it a fact?

I knew questioning the time was an excuse. Twenty minutes is better than zero minutes.  Move forward.

I drove to the park and when I got out of the car, the wind sliced through my long-sleeved shirt.  It's not that cold out here I told myself and I started to run. I didn't even give the wind time to make an internal debate, I just got moving.

But guess what happened? Moving didn't help. As I ran, I pulled up the weather app on my phone and the temperature felt like 37 degrees and the winds were 20 mph.  I thought, "I should go back to the car, it's too cold out here." Excuse #2!

Yes, it was cold, and the wind gusted around me, but I was already out on the trail, and I've ran in colder weather.  I talked myself into continuing my run. All I had to do was make it another ten minutes. I'd survived the first ten minutes, I could survive the last. 

Do you know what happened, it got windier and I just kept plugging along? And I didn't just run twenty minutes, I ran thirty minutes, completed my original workout and when I got home, was still able to stay on the schedule I had planned for the remainder of the day.

Guess how I felt when I returned home? FABULOUS!!!

Guess how I would have felt if I would have gone home after my trip to the post office? Guilty, disappointed, a little overwhelmed that I was off my training schedule, and dinner out wouldn't have been as enjoyable as now I wasn't too concern about the mash potatoes I consumed.

Do you know what else battling through excuses helps use accomplish? Our mindset starts to change, and our confidence grows. You see, the next time it's thirty-seven degrees outside, and not windy, I can tell myself, "Stephanie remember the day you ran thirty minutes, in the same temperature, but the wind was blowing 20 mph? This run will be a walk in the park."

Also, identifying and working through our excuses gets us one step closer to accomplishing our goal or becoming unstuck. The more running workouts I accomplish, the easier running the 5k, 10k, and half marathon are going to be.

What's the excuse you've been using that is stopping you from living the life you were meant to live? Take the power step to move past your excuse and get to tackling the goal you've wanted to pursue.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life"


Do you get overwhelmed thinking about all you have to do in the upcoming week, month, or even the remainder of the year? I know I do.

I wear myself out scrolling through my calendar and looking at all my upcoming travel, events, and projects. And in the past, this is where I'd shut down. Instead of spending my time wisely and take actions to ensure I'm prepared and meet deadlines, I'd plop my butt in a chair and veg out–numbing my feelings with sugar. 

Repeatedly, I've seen people give up on amazing opportunities because looking at the end, and then thinking about all the work it would take to get there seemed like an impossible mountain to climb.

Speaking of mountains, have you ever climbed one? Several years ago, my mom and I skidded down Sleeping Bear Dunes in the sand, only to get to the bottom, and look and up and be nearly paralyzed at the climb ahead.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, is in the top ten for number of rescues at a National Park, and at the top, there's a sign that states, "Enjoy the view from here. Don't risk injury and rescue fees by going down-or the two hours it may take to climb back up!"

Why do so many people quit, when just moments earlier they were excited to climb the mammoth dune? 

Because anytime we discover something new and shiny, we get a burst of energy that gets us started. But as we start to climb, muscles ache and it's painful. What we originally thought was going to be fun, has been littered with hurdles one didn't expect.

That's how the dune was for me. Instead of looking up at all I had to climb, I put my head down and took one step at a time. And in under thirty minutes, I'd reached the top.

If you are looking at the week, month, or year ahead, and you are wondering, how will I ever get everything done?

Take these steps:

  1. Make a list of all you must do. 
  2. Prioritize what needs to get done today. 
  3. Remove frivolous time wasters. 
  4. And start on one item, completing that task and moving on to the next.  
  5. Once that day is over, start all over. 

I've lived by this method for years and it's how I work a full time job, write books, speak around the country, coach clients, and yes, take time for myself to have a little fun!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life"

Years ago, my husband told me his dream was to see a game at the Big House, where Michigan plays football.

I remember the day I surprised him with the tickets. I think I was more excited than he was…hello I love giving gifts!

I'd never really had an interest in college football, but since it was something he loved, I thought I would try to watch and go to a game.

And guess what?

I L❤️VE going to the games! 

Over the years, we've seen numerous games at the Big House, including a night game and watching a game from the sidelines. An experience we never thought was possible.

Do you know what's on your spouse's dream list? If not, ask. 

If you do, what steps can you take to make their dream a reality?

I keep my husband's list on my phone and am always trying to help him accomplish his dreams. 

Go Blue!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”