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Do you remember the sitcom Three's Company? Sunday evening, I got sucked into a celebrity spotlight show on John Ritter. I only knew John as an actor but hearing costars and friends talk about him made me think about the legacy we leave.  

His friends never mentioned him partying, his wealth, the materials possessions he owned such as a mansion or sports cars or the awards we won. Over and over they genuinely shared stories on his generosity on the set, his kindness to all he encountered and how he made people feel, the gratefulness he had for the opportunity to act and do what he loved, his passion as a father, and the joy he brought through his smile and making others laugh.

After all these years after his passing, he still made an incredible impact in the lives he touched, and many gave them credit for their career and how he still influences their craft today.

So, how will people remember you? Will it be for the gifts you gave that money can't buy? I sure hope so!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

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


My hands sweat and my heart races every time I watch the TEDxCalvin video spotlighting me as one of the speakers.

I keep telling myself, "God gave me this opportunity, He has gone before me and will be on the stage with me."

The only way I can get on this stage is by His strength. I can not do this alone. 

You may be thinking, "Stephanie, you get on a stage all the time and speak, why is TEDx any different?"

No notes, no slides. 

My entire talk is memorized, which in all the years I've been speaking, I've never done.  

I don't read from my notes but they are a guide to help me stay on topic, order and so everything flows.

With that said, I've put in the work. 

I've been working on my talk since November. I've rehearsed it no less than seven times each week. When I'm in the car, I turn down the radio and give my talk. When I'm soaking in the tub, I give me talk. And some mornings, I shout it out in the shower! 

I've recorded my talk and practiced it in front of a few friends. 

I'm prepared. 

A TEDx Talk has been on bucket list for years. And this is definitely one that I couldn't just show up and check off. 

The preparation for the talk also made me realized I don't have to be a procrastinator which I've proclaimed to be for…oh…my entire life. 

It's a label I've given myself and lived up to on many occasions. But I've learned through this process, we have the ability to change. 

The event is on March 2nd. If you are the praying type, please add me to your prayer list. I'd really appreciate it. 

Thanks for all your love and support!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”


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"




Dear Friend,

Hello! I’m Stephanie, aka, the Giving Gal. On January 1, 2011 I started my giving journey. I gave a gift for 522 days and that journey changed my life.

The giving journey led to me writing The Giving Challenge and now creating

The “Lent” Giving Challenge, starting March 6th.

Instead of giving up chips, wine or sweets, what if you gave away something each and every day for 40-Days, changing the lives of those you encounter and in the end, changing your life?

It’s easy to participate! Sign-up here.  

Once you sign up, you'll receive lots of fun tools to help you on your journey.

Each morning I'll send out a Giving Challenge via email and in my Facebook Group. You can take the challenge or create your own. Let's flood the world with intentional acts of giving!

You'll also receive and be able to download a Lent Giving Challenge packet that includes:

  • Impact Pages: Write down how many people you impacted and a few notes to review later.
  • Journal Pages: Take a few minutes to write about your daily challenge.

What are you waiting for? Join now and invite friends to on the 40-Day adventure with you!

I can’t wait to go on this journey with you. A journey of 40-Days to a more generous life!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”

Learn more at GivingGal.com.

I'm preparing for my TEDx talk, and I give three steps to follow if you want to go on your own giving journey.

First, wake up in the morning and declare, "I'm going to give a gift today!"

Second, look for an opportunity to give.

And finally, and most importantly, act when you see the opportunity.

This morning my flight to Austin, TX was canceled. I called Southwest customer service, and the agent on the other end of the line was friendly and helpful.  When I told her the flight I wanted for tomorrow, she said, "There is one seat left."

"Praise the Lord!" I exclaimed.

She chuckled, and at that moment I received a nudge, "Ask her if you can pray for her."

I ignored the soft, gentle voice and continued to chat with the agent, asking her about her day. "Busy, but good," she commented.

This was my opportunity, but I was scared to act. I didn't follow through on giving this gift that the agent may have needed today.  So, if you are the praying type, will you pray for the nameless Southwest customer service agent? We don't know her name, but God does, and that's all that matters.

Again, the soft whisper, "Ask her if you can pray for her."

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.

6 Ways to Get Your Giving Groove Back

Does your chest tighten thinking about purchasing gifts for picky, non-appreciative people? Is your bank account empty from pursuing your dream? Are you feeling scroogey about shopping, wrapping and giving when you have so much else to do? I'm going to let you in on two little gift-giving secrets. The purchase price of the gift doesn't matter and neither does the giver! Yes, you read that correctly. The gift – in fact, the whole holiday season and many of the stressors therein – is not about you. This means you can relax! Here are six actions you can take today to get out of the holiday funk and reignite your joy for giving.

1. Focus on the good.

Whether it is an annoying coworker, a family member who seeks attention (and not in a good way) or a friend who is a little too high maintenance, we let their faults overshadow their positive qualities. As they frustrate you during this season, remind yourself why you love and appreciate that person, then give them the gift of encouragement. Write a card, send a text, share in person, or pick up the phone and let people in your life know how you feel about them. They may be carrying a burden you don't know about, so for this magical time of year, choose to focus on the good.

2. Freely give with no expectations.

Too many times when we give, our gifts come with expectations. For example, we think the receiver will like, appreciate, and say "thank you" for the gift. Maybe your gift – if you get honest with yourself – has other expectations like a gift from them in exchange, or that they'll bury an old hatchet with you. The definition of a gift is giving something and expecting nothing in return. When you change your mindset on this, you'll start to find joy in giving. If you are giving a gift that fits your budget and you put effort into the purchase, don't worry if someone doesn't like or appreciate the gift. That's on them, not you.

3. Focus on what you can control.

Many times in giving, we get caught up in not only the recipient's reaction to the gift but also that of onlookers. We've all felt pressure during the show-and-tell portion of the holiday party or family gathering when each person takes a turn talking about what they received and from whom. This stress can also rise to the surface regarding holiday season volunteer work or charitable donations. Ask yourself why you're so stressed about a particular person's gift. If you put thoughtful consideration into your gift and the receiver doesn't like it or wants to exchange the gift, that is okay. If other people think it's too much or too little or too weird or too boring, that's also okay. You've done your part, now move on.

4. Find gratitude.

If you have watched any of my friend, Kelsey Humprey's interviews, you've heard leaders discuss a gratitude practice. For instance, Tony Robbins practices gratitude for 3-1/2 minutes on three things every morning. He says, "I pick one of them, and I make it really simple, like the wind on my face or the smile on one of my children's faces, so I don't just have to have a giant thing to be grateful." (Watch that clip again here.) If giving is stressing you out due to lack of funds, be grateful for what you can give. Get resourceful and creative. Find ways to give away your time or your talents and make a memories instead. If you're in a position to give at all, many would say you're #blessed. Try and remember that during the bustle.

5. Find some perspective.

Remember, it could be worse. If you are having a pity party for yourself because you're down in the dumps about the holidays, volunteer at the local food pantry, soup kitchen, homeless or domestic violence shelter. Talk with people and inquire about their story. You'll quickly learn the things you are allowing to ruin your holiday really aren't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life.

6. Fill your own gift bag, too.

I know I said giving isn't about you, but you can't be a joyful giver if you are stressed, tired and in a bad mood. Gifts for you could be an hour-long massage or the bargain set of brightly colored ballpoint pens that just make you happy.

Make the needed changes in yourself to find the good in others, give freely, and get most of this season of giving. Don't enter the New Year with regrets about how/what/ when or even why you gave. To be your best self means living and giving without regrets.

Happy wrapping!

Stephanie

My weekly giving challenge this week in the Giving Gal Gazette, is to celebrate Giving Tuesday. Okay, I'm a week ahead on this challenge, as Giving Tuesday is November 27th. I'm giving you a week to prepare. We've created "Giving Tuesday" gift tags for you to download and recorded a video to give you ideas on how you can give on Giving Tuesday. Snap a pic on the 27th and share it with me on social media! I'd love to see how you are giving.

Did you know another word for a holiday is rest? Shocking!

When was the last time your holiday was peaceful?

Imagine hosting a gathering in your home feeling relaxed and content. Whether you are opening your home to friends and family on Thanksgiving, Christmas or a guest in someone's home, your hospitality doesn't need to come at the cost of your health and sanity.

According to Google, the definition of hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Notice there is no mention of immaculate home, free of dust bunnies, Pinterest-perfect food presentation, use of best china and fine silverware, or breaking the bank to redecorate the home with new paint and furniture. The latter may sound extreme, but I've heard of people doing this…for what? To impress people that "should" love you (and your home) just the way you are.

Pondering these words from Present Over Perfect Author, Shauna Niequist,

"For years, I have bridged that gap between differing opinions, tempered my own, made sure that everyone in the room was happy and fed and taken care of. It began as a clean love for hospitality, but over the years, I think, it devolved into caretaking and people pleasing at the expense of my own self, at the expense of telling the truth about what I think and what I need and what matters most to me. “

Her words stung.

I felt a punch in the gut when I read "caretaking and people pleasing." Guilty! When did this become our responsibility during family celebrations?

Here are six steps you can take to prepare your soul for upcoming festivities and de-stress.

  1. Find a quiet place, hide in the closet if you must, and grab a pen and paper.
  2. Grab your Bible and read Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
  3. Focus on this scripture. Before food and home preparations, it's essential to prepare your heart to serve your loved ones. Memorize Matthew 11:28 and repeat these words as often as necessary over the next month.
  4. Jot down everything that worries and stresses you out about the holidays. Get them out of your head and on paper. Moving forward, don't let negativity control your thoughts and steal your joy.
  5. Close your eyes and envision your home for the holidays. Use all your senses. What smells are waffling in the air? Do you hear laughter and feel the warm embrace of loved ones? I bet you see smiles and taste pumpkin pie…or if you are like me you taste the whipped cream. Savor this moment. Don't be in a rush to move on. Let these feelings soak into your bones. My guess is your writings and what you envisioned doesn’t match.
  6. Are you getting excited about the holidays? Is your attitude changing? Do you realize the difference between what's important and what's not? As descriptive as possible, compose your definition of hospitality. Think back to number five and incorporate the thoughts that danced in your head. At the bottom of your paper, transcribe Matthew 28:11. When finished, post your note on the refrigerator as a constant reminder the world’s interpretation of celebrating the holidays doesn’t match the definition of hospitality. Take refuge and rest in the one who created you.

The holiday you dreamed of is within your reach.

Remember hospitality is all about how you make people feel in your home. If you are uptight and stressed, your guests will feel it.

Be generous with hugs, laughter, and listening. This year, I'm giving you permission to change your ways and enjoy the holidays.

 

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

Is your home overloaded with candy? Are your kids on a sugar high? Is the excitement of picking a costume and trick-or-treating starting to fizzle? If you answered yes to these questions, you are not alone.

I can't help you on the fizzle, but I can help you with creative ways to get candy out of your home and teach your children about giving.

For children to give their candy away, you'll need to:

  1. Get Creative
  2. Give them options.
  3. Let them make the decision

Get Creative.

You may be reading this, and you know your kids will be 100% on board or your reading this and think...this is going to be so hard. My kid is going to throw a fit! Well, let them throw a fit. Giving at the beginning is hard, but it's a life lesson your kids need to learn. If you don't teach them, do you think they'll grow up to be a giver? Maybe so, but likely not. You know your child best so make this fun and allow them to be creative.

Give Children Options.

You can't just walk in and tell your children you are giving away their candy and expect them to be happy about it. Research ways to give that best fit your family. To help you out, here are a couple of options to give your children:

  1. Operation Gratitude's Halloween Candy Donations Program: This program donates treats to our troops and first responders. Candy donations need to be received no later than November 15th. Click here for additional information. {Conversation starter} Chat with your kids about the important role the men and women in uniform play in our community. Why we should have respect for them and the sacrifices they make for our freedom and safety.
  2. Call your dentist to see if they have a buy-back program. Mine does! {Conversation starter} Do you know how cavities develop? CANDY!!!
  3. Ronald McDonald Houses: In my book, The Giving Challenge, I share a story about the Ronald McDonald Houses. If you are near a house, drop off your leftover candy. For an RMH near you, check here! {Conversation starter} Talk about gratitude. How we should be thankful for our health. Many children in our country are battling life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. Places like the Ronald McDonald House provide comfort, care and allows families to be close to their loved ones in the hospital.
  4. Create Gifts: Purchase mugs or mason jars and fill them with leftover candy. Decorate the mug or jar, tie a ribbon around it, or paint it. Have your child make a card and write a sweet note. Maybe drop off the gifts to a local nursing home or assisted living facility. Ask the staff to provide the gift to someone that doesn't receive visitors or needs a pick me up! {Conversation starter} Gifts don't always have to cost a lot. Sometimes the gifts we create ourselves can be just as unique. Also, the gifts we give don't have to go to people we know. We can bless strangers in need.

Let your children decide.

The list above is only suggestions. Have your child read the list and see if there is a place they want to donate. Or better yet, see what ideas they have and where they would like to donate their candy. Let the decision be theirs to make.

How is Giving Gal getting involved?

I'm also getting my leftover candy out of the house. I don't need it! I'm sending a box of full-sized candy bars to work with my husband for his office and giving three more boxes to my mom for blessing bags that her church passes out to those in need. My gift for the day!

Where will you donate your candy?

Giving Challenge: Get creative, give your child options and let them decide how to give away leftover candy.

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

Halloween is almost here! If you were thinking about sitting in your house with the lights off, hoping kids don’t stop at your home, you still have time to change your mind. I’m not a fan of all things Halloween, but I do believe it’s an opportunity to connect with our neighbors and those that live in our community.

Will you take the Halloween Giving Challenge?

  • Turn your porch light on and pass out treats.
  • Compliment the children on their costumes.
  • Dress up and have fun.
  • Set out a teal pumpkin (or sign) and have non-food treats available.
  • Chat with parents… get to know your neighbors and those in your community.

 

Have a happy Halloween!

Blessings,

Stephanie

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

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