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Dreaming Big

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This weekend I had the honor to keynote a women's breakfast at a local church. The next day I spoke at the same church and the pastor said, "I heard the event was transformational."

What an impact his statement had on me. God laid on my heart two years ago to get The Giving Challenge in churches. I could see the vision but many couldn't. I had a director of women's ministry tell me my talk didn't have enough scripture. Well friends, I'm more concerned about living out scripture than reading it from a stage.  

Two women saw my vision and worked tirelessly to make a dream become a reality. Several months ago, on a dark, cold night we gathered and believed a success would be if 30 women showed up.  A women's event was the first of it's kind for this small church. We were giddy exclaiming our stretch goal of 50 women. We had 35 RSVP and were ecstatic! But you know what happened the morning of the event? 70 women packed the room. We had to set up more tables and chairs. My assistant ran out to my car to get more books. And somehow there was enough food for everyone!

After the event, I saw hugs, tears and excitement of going out into the community to give in ways the women had never thought about giving. I heard stories that would break your heart and stories of new connections made between women that want to pursue a dream God laid on their heart.

I can't quite put into words everything that happened on Saturday, but God showed off. And I need to thank Him for giving this gal something bigger than she could ever dream.  

If you have a big dream, you gotta do more than pray. You have to share your dream with others. You have to work hard to make it happen. And when the opportunity is presented, show up like your life depends on it. Put in the work, knowing you deserve the opportunity that was given to you!

I love what Mark Batterson says in his book on prayer, "We are called to pray about everything, but there comes a time when praying can be a form of disobedience, laziness, or negligence. We can't just pray like it depends on God; we also must work like it depends on us."

I wonder how many prayers go unanswered because people don't act to follow a path God had laid before them.  

Pray for your dream but also take the steps to make it happen. If you're on the wrong path, God will let you know. But if doors keep opening, keep walking through them!

Now go make your dream happen!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

"The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life"




Was it all you dreamed it would be on January 1st when you were excited for all the new opportunities and restarts the beginning of a year brings?

I'm on track with some goals and others, like hopping on the elliptical for 30 minutes three times a week, not so much. But that's okay because it's not like I'm sitting around eating bon bons. Besides two twizzlers, a tootsie roll and a handful of chocolate chips, I've steered clear of sugar. A total win, as on most days I'd consider myself a sugar addict. Can you relate?

If January was fabulous for you. Congratulations! High fives all around! What's your plan for keeping the momentum in February? If January was a little depressing or didn't meet your expectations, that's okay, as in a few short days we'll ring in a new month. Slap the restart button and recommit to doing what you said you were going to do.

I attribute January's success due to planning, tracking and accountability. On Sunday night I write a plan for the week. I look at my annual goals and write the next one to three steps I need to take on each goal. I then print out the plan and throughout the week I x out and highlight what I've accomplished. The more marked up the sheet, the better. Finally, daily I check in and video chat with my entrepreneur bff and let her know what I need to get done for the day. And on Sundays I check in with my girls, giving a rundown of everything I finished, where I fell short and what I need to focus on for the upcoming week.

Everyone has their own system, but if you don't have one, try implementing the one above. A little direction, planning and accountability go a long way.

If you need help, just comment on this post!

Here's to a productive week!

Blessings,
Stephanie

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About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

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

Meet my friend Temwanani Chilenga.


In her words, "I am a lady aged 23 and single. I live in Lilongwe, Malawi. Am a fifth born in a family of 6. My family lives in Lilongwe city and I live in Lilongwe rural because I chose to be with people from the rural. I work as a primary school teacher at Chambu primary school in Lilongwe rural."


When I asked her why she chose to work in a rural area, she said, 
"Because most people are not interested to work there because of working conditions. As a result most children don’t go to school and people don’t feel loved, so I went to educate the children and show the people that they’re loved and they can achieve their dreams."


I "met" Temwanani in a teacher Facebook group and have been inspired by her faith in God and the difference she is making to hundreds of students she teaches, 270, to be exact.


Her life has continually been struck by tragedy, more than what any human should endure. 


More than what most experience in a lifetime. 


Yet she puts her trust in God, picks herself up with a positive attitude and a smile, and chooses to move forward.


Over the course of 2019, with the help of Temwanani, I'll tell her story, so we can see how people live in third world countries, how good life is here in the USA and how when I'm having a bad day, I'm reminded it's not really that bad and I'm grateful for what I have and where I live. And I hope once you get to know Temwanani she'll bring the same perspective into your life.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

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

Days before my wedding my husband's grandmother announced she was going to speak at the ceremony. She wasn't asking, just giving us a heads up.

As a control freak, terror-filled my mind of all the things she might say in front of hundreds of guests.

Grandma Jones was one of my favorite people but you never knew what she was going to say or how long she was going to talk.

As she shuffled up the aisle and up the stairs, I said a little prayer.

And then the most beautiful words in the entire ceremony were spoken. An Irish Blessing for our marriage. I wish I had a copy of the blessing, as her words were the perfect touch to our day.

Every St. Patty's day my mind twirls back to our wedding and the joy Grandma Jones words brought to our special day.

In memory of my Grandma Jones, send an Irish Blessing to a friend or post on social media.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

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

 

Sign-up for a Charity 5k

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and greenery is peeking through the dirt giving me hope Spring is around the corner.

Warmer temperatures not only mean a changing of the seasons but charity 5ks are popping up everywhere.

Here are seven reasons you should sign-up for a 5k:

1. Raise funds for a worthy cause.

2. Physically showing support for the nonprofit and/or family.

3. It's fun! Nothing like gathering with hundreds/thousands of people for one purpose.

4. Opportunity to get in shape.

5. A family event that gets you outside, active, and disconnected from technology.

6. You'll learn something about yourself. I've been running 5ks for 25 years and each race I increase my mental toughness.

7. Snap a few pics and share your experience and the charity on social media. Nonprofits love to see their message spread!

I believe in giving to others and to yourself. 5ks are an opportunity to do both!

Which race will you register for today?

P.S. Today's challenge is in memory of Roger Bannister. He was the first person to break the 4-minute mile. He did so much for the sport of running. Today the running community lost a champion.

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

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

Support Small Businesses and Shop Local

Did you know there are over 28 million small businesses in the United States?

I've found small businesses to be more personable and are what help make a community great. Many small businesses are also involved in philanthropic initiatives in their communities

If you are in Northwest Indiana, I love Extra Mile Fitness Company for my running shoes and Aster + Gray for a gift or home items.

Also local to NWI but available online is my favorite face cream Pelle by Lauren and homemade soaps by BUN’s Soapbox.

I not only love all these products but I made new friends with the owners.

Today if you are out and about, stop and support a local small business! You never know, you may make a new friend!

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

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

Several years ago Joellyn bravely stood up in one of my dream board workshops and shared a dream she'd never shared with anyone.

She wanted to write a book. She had zero experience but it was dream God laid on her heart.

After the workshop, Joellyn signed up for my coaching. As they say, the rest is history.

We've been working together ever since!

After we met, life threw her a curveball when her son was diagnosed with dyslexia. Joellyn didn't just become an advocate for dyslexic children but went on to become a dyslexia specialist.

Months later I was thrown the same curveball, just much later in life. I'd always knew something was different with me, but most times I just thought I was stupid. Why could I not get things others kids got?

At age 39, I discovered I’m dyslexic. The roles reversed and Joellyn was now helping me! Our paths were definitely meant to cross.

We both have dreams of standing on a stage, sharing our incredible journey together. And guess what? We know it will happen!

This morning I sent Joellyn a text, “Good luck today! You’ll do fabulous!”

Several hours after that text, I sat at my desk, tears streaming down my face, watching my client, and friend, Joellyn, testify in front of the Indiana House Education Committee on her experience with dyslexia. What a moment!

I’ve spent years being one of her biggest cheerleaders! Who will you cheer on this week?

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

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

Down on my hands and knees, I'm almost in tears. How did I get to this point? It was January 1, 2017, and 14 months ago I ran a marathon. I ran all 26.2 miles. I didn't walk. I ran. Here I am, on the floor, out of shape with a little jiggle around my midsection. I've eaten way too much food over Thanksgiving, Christmas and the grand finale New Years Eve. This cycle is my life. Over and over I get in shape; accomplish a big goal, like a marathon, and burn out and crash. Feel my pain?

Fast forward to July, and I'm in shape and feeling great.

If you made a New Year's resolution to get in shape, most likely you've already given up. How do I know? I've been there. But for me, this year is different.

What changed? I joined Jesse Itzler's #WeDoHardStuff Facebook group. Now you might be wondering what a workout group has to do with giving.

Hang tight.

If you have followed me, you know I'm an author and avid reader. I also have a love for Navy Seals. Two years ago on my birthday, July 13, 2015, I had the opportunity to meet David Goggins. Using the term bad a$$ to describe him is an understatement. Meeting him led me to pick up and read the book, Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler (psst..it’s on sale on Amazon). I didn't know anything about Jesse, but I was familiar with his wife, Sara Blakely. You know, the founder of Spanx. Come on, I know like me, you've shimmied into a pair of Spanx to fit into a dress that is a little too small. We've all be there.

Anyway, after reading Living with a Seal (the seal being David Goggins), I had 100% respect for Jesse. I followed him on FB as I like to surround myself with people making no excuses, living life and doing good things. I learn so much from people like Jesse, both how I can make improvements in my life both mentally and physically.

Fitlanthropy

At the beginning of 2017, Jesse announced a fitness and philanthropy group= FITLANTRHOPY! What? Two of my favorite things, especially the philanthropy! Each month there is a physical challenge, and Jesse donates money to a charity.

When I asked Jesse why it was important for him to incorporate giving into a fitness challenge he said, "This challenge is marrying two things I have a tremendous passion for, fitness and philanthropy."

Failing, but not quitting.

It's July, and I've competed in all the challenges. It would have been easy to quit after I failed the January challenge.

The challenge? 2017 of each...burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, chair dips and squats.

Remember in the beginning when I mentioned I was on all fours almost in tears? Well, day one of the January challenge caused it. How was I this out of shape? It was mainly the burpees. They got to me. Have you tried a burpee? They are killers. I finished the first day in a pathetic 45 minutes. I was doing 65 of each, which if I did 65 daily over the course of the month, this would equal 2017.

Day in and day out I completed my 65 of each exercise. When I traveled, which is hard to keep up a workout routine, I kept up. I did it. I was excited. Something happened. I was…

  • getting stronger.
  • knocking out the workouts.
  • dropping my time.
  • feeling great.

I joked with my husband, "I think I'm getting muscles!"

He disagreed.

It's was a short time, but I saw a big difference. An added benefit was I was eating healthier because I wasn't going to do all this work to then eat like crap.

As my luck would have it, January 16th I threw my back out. Now if you have followed me, you know back issues have been a struggle for me since high school. I've never been pregnant but have had two epidurals due to two herniated discs. I never let my back issues keep me down. I work hard and bounce back. On the 16th I couldn't walk. I nearly crawled my way into a chiropractor's office. It was not looking good. My back was in multiple spasms. I asked my chiropractor if I could still work out? With a tilt of his head, dip in his eyes, he said, "UM...NO!" Okay, okay... just thought I would ask.

I thought that was the end of #WeDoHardStuff, but I stayed involved in the group. I encouraged people in the challenge. I missed ten days in a

row. Every day I'd try to knock out an exercise, but my back would spasm and lock up.

I know what Goggins might say, "suck it up buttercup!" But sometimes in life, we have bigger goals than the ones we are currently working on. For me, I had an upcoming Jamaican vacation. I know the two worse things for my back are travel and sitting. My husband and I worked hard over the past year. I didn't want to be miserable on the getaway. Sure I could I have endured the pain, continue to pop Ibuprofen, ice, massage, and go to the chiropractor, but I also wanted to enjoy my vacation. Not able to walk, popping pills, and in constant pain is not a way to live. It's not a permanent solution.

I did not complete the January challenge. What did I learn from failing? Or did I fail? I still accomplished a lot in the month of January.

#1 I started eating healthier.

#2 I started exercising and getting in shape.

#3 I met incredible people that are now "internet friends." Sound creepy? Not really, heck I went to Alaska with people I'd never met in person, and we became great friends. I'm all about meeting and connecting to positive, encouraging people, who lift each other up.

#4-I learned that Jesse Itzler wasn't just a guy I'd read about in a book. He has a huge heart. I asked Jesse besides giving money and time, what are your favorite ways to give? As a daily giver, I loved his answer. "I like to give by just doing acts of kindness that are unexpected to friends, family, and strangers."

Hello! Jesse is living my book, The Giving Challenge!

Giving

Since the group started, Jesse, his friends and even some in the group have donated tens of thousands of dollars to these organizations:

*Special Operations Warrior Foundation

*Autism Hope Alliance

*Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation

*Special Olympics

*The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

*Pencils for Promise

Donations in July will go to the Malala Fund. Malala Fund wants to see the world where every girl can complete 12 years of free, safe, quality education. If you haven't read Malala's book, it's an inspiring and an excellent read.

Will you join me in the July Challenge? Click here now to join!!!

I'd never ask you to do something I haven't done. I've committed to the challenges for the first six months of the year, and it has changed my life both physically and mentally. Even though I failed in January, I stuck with it and completed February (see pic above: working out in Jamaica), March, April, May, and June!

If you want to make a change in your life or you want to improve health, now is the time.

No more excuses.

What I love about Jesse Itzler's #WeDoHardStuff is you can do the workouts from anywhere.

  • You don't need a gym or expensive equipment.
  • You have no excuse, not to exercise and take steps to get in shape.
  • An amazing community will encourage you.
  • Heck, you'll even get to interact with Jesse himself. I've been impressed by how active he is in the group.

Remember even if you fail at something. You are not a failure. Look back and evaluate what you can do differently, find the positive in the situation, and keep moving forward.

If you haven't read Living with a Seal, get the book now! Share this post and comment on FB and you'll be entered to win a copy of the book.

I look forward to seeing you in the group!!!

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S.

Why the fruit in the blog cover picture? Jesse read Fit for Life back in 1992, and the book recommended an all fruit diet before noon. He saw amazing results, and all these years later he still enjoys a fruit until noon diet. Read more in Chapter 6 of Living with a Seal.

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. She gives a gift every day and challenges others to do the same.

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

People ask me if they can use my book, The Giving Challenge, for Sunday school classes, small groups, and Bible studies. My short answer is Yes!

My longer answer is, yes and I’m working on companion materials. Just like writing the book, this is all new to me. So I’m starting where I did with the book…a lot of research.

A gal I never met lent me her old Bible study materials to research. I met her at her church this morning, and while waiting for her, I received a gift.

A Conversation with a Stranger

I was sitting there waiting, and an older lady walked up to me and said, “You are so beautiful. I love your hair. And you have the most beautiful smile. It fits you. You know, some people’s smile don’t fit them. Never lose your smile.”

A simple compliment is what I needed. I’m like any other woman and often don’t feel beautiful. Just ask my husband. He’s over it! He and others don’t see what I see up close in the mirror. Well, friends, the mirror is a liar! But it takes a lot to change our self-image; this is why your words are so important. It’s such a gift to tell people they are beautiful, both inside and out.

We chatted a little while longer and finally shook hands and exchanged names. Her name was Isabel, but her friends call her Izzy. I’m not sure how it came up, but I learned she was 88. Let me just say, and I told her also, she looked AMAZING for 88.

She said. “I never thought I would make it this long.”

I asked what her secret was to looking so great and she said, ” I walk a lot. I walk every morning and every evening.”

Good advice.

Giving Challenge

Your giving challenge for today… be like Izzy. Give a sincere compliment and make some feel special today.

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. She challenges people to live their dream, discover their gifts, and do amazing things!

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

I love cupcakes! I love baking cupcakes. I love eating cupcakes. And I LOVE giving away cupcakes, especially ones I've baked with love in my kitchen. For years I had a big problem. My cupcakes tasted fantastic, but they were...well... ugly. I didn't know how to decorate them. I would grab a can of icing, a spreader and UGLY cupcakes were created.

In 2014 as I was making my annual goals, I thought... I want to make BEAUTIFUL cupcakes! I was tired of giving away awful looking cupcakes. I mean let’s be honest, most children decorated cupcakes probably looked better than mine. I wanted something that when people opened the box, they would be too pretty to eat. Is that too much to ask?

As we approach the new year, what dreams have you been pondering? Which dream do you want to turn into a reality? If you’re not sure, take a moment to think about what you really want to accomplish in 2017.

Once you discover your dream, make a plan. I know, the word plan seems overwhelming, like it's going to take you a ton of time. Well, I'm here to tell you it doesn't take that much time. Here is the simple plan I created to set me on the path of living my dream of decorating dazzling cupcakes. It was seven, attainable steps.

Step 1-Find an expert

Step 2- Contact the expert

Step 3- Schedule cupcake decorating class with expert

Step 4- Buy supplies and ingredients

Step 5- Bake cupcakes and let cool

Step 6- Cupcake decorating class with expert

Step 7- Eat, give and enjoy gorgeous cupcakes!

You see, writing a plan isn't that hard. And even the actions were simple and were crossed off the list in no time.

Here's a little insight into steps 6 & 7, I wrote about several years ago.

Last night my friend Toni from Food. (Just Sayin') came to my house and taught me how to make yummy, fluffy icing and decorate cupcakes. I had so much fun! I think my husband was even excited that I will not be making anymore UGLY cupcakes!

Tonight I had a United Way Community Impact meeting and I thought it would be a nice treat to take my newly decorated cupcakes. Filtering into the room, committee members pick up a cupcake to snack on during the meeting. As I sat down, I opened my portfolio and there in the front left pocket were several of Emily's Pay it Forward cards. I smiled as I know she loved cupcakes.

After the meeting, I approached several of the ladies that had eaten a cupcake and were taking some home for their family. Giving each of them Emily's card, I shared her story and the purpose of Paying it Forward in her memory. I encouraged them to read the card, keep it and then pass her story and the card along. They were all touched by Emily's story and what her family is doing to keep her memory alive. One of the ladies even said, "I'm taking this home and sharing it with my son!"

As I was thinking of what to title this blog I thought about My Cupcake Dream, as it was my dream to learn how to decorate a cupcake. But as I started writing and thinking about all the things I've learned about Emily over the past couple of years I changed it to Cupcake Dreamer. Emily was a dreamer and like a cupcake, her life was colorful, sweet, enjoyed by many and brought a smile to the faces of those in its presence. I think Emily was definitely a Cupcake Dreamer!

I hope this fun little story of how I turned a dream into a reality inspired you to think about your dreams, make a plan and look for ways to take action. If you need a little jump-start, e-mail me at stephanie@GivingGal.com and schedule a complimentary coaching session. It's my gift to you. After all, as a life success coach, I'm here to help you dream, discover and do!

Finally, of you don't know Emily's story, here is what's on the Pay Forward card:

"Emily was 18 years old when she was killed in a single-car accident. She was texting and driving. She was an amazing girl who had everything going for her. Unfortunately, her life was cut short by this seemingly simple act. You can visit her Facebook page...Just Drive. Live. Laugh. Learn to learn more about Em and let us know how you paid it forward."

Please don't Text and Drive and Please Wear your Seatbelt.

Blessings,

Stephanie