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Giving

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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"

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"

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"

Sunday, we celebrated International Women's Day.  I spent the prior day with my mom, sister and niece shopping, eating cake and catching up.

On the two-hour drive home, I took in the day, but was reminded how grateful I am to have amazing women in my life. Women that challenge and support me and my crazy big dreams. But also realizing how lucky my niece is to be surrounded by strong women who support her in all her endeavors. 

Many young girls and women aren't so lucky and it's our duty to step in and fill the gap. Here are four ways you can give to girls and young women in your community. 

  1. If you are a momma of girls, ask your daughter if there is a gal in her class that could use support. Maybe invite this young girl to dinner, church, or help her out with clothes, school supplies or take her along on a family outing.  
  2. Girls on the Run is a fabulous nonprofit that, according to their website, "is a life-changing program for 8-to 13-year-old girls that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running." My mom has been involved with this organization for decades. I've witnessed firsthand how powerful the lessons these girls learn and the impact it makes in their life. Volunteer to be a coach, sign-up for the 5k and be a running buddy, attend a fundraiser, share info on social media or donate. 
  3. Do you live in a college town?  I do and over the years I've found various ways to support collage gals.  Invite them for dinner. Take them out for dinner. Make a connection for them. Be a reference. Give them a job. Offer advice when asked.  Invite them to come to laundry at your home. If you aren't in a college town, you can send care packages, encouraging texts and send pizza.  Trust me, anything you do for a college student, that has to do with food or laundry, they'll be grateful.

There are tens of ways we can give to the women in our lives.  Finally, we can even find ways to give to strangers. I love this story from my friend Melanie about a recent way she gave to a momma she recognized could use a little kindness and encouragement. 

Yesterday one of my kids and I were at Noodles and Company for lunch. There was a mom with three small kids, maybe 8 and under. She was trying to order while the older two were trying to help watch the youngest (maybe three), who ran around the restaurant. Other customers looked at her with a "control your kids" look in their face, all the while she did her best. 

After we finished our lunch, I went back up and bought her a cookie and a rice crispie treat. As I gave her the treats, I shared with her how she was doing a great job, that my kids are teenagers now, and I remember those days and it will get easier. 

She teared up and said her husband was deployed and it meant a lot to her to hear the encouragement because she was raising her children alone. We chatted a few more minutes and I told her little's they had to eat their chicken and veggies before they could have the cookie.

When I returned to my table, my son asked me why I bought the treats and chatted with a stranger. I explained I remember taking him and his brothers out and it not going well. Most people were not kind about it, but occasionally, there would be someone who did a small act of kindness that made the craziness ok. I could now pass the kindness onto others. 

We ran errands and went to his swim meet. I saw him hold doors open more, say thank you to salesclerks and cheer on other kids at his swim meet."

Friends, there are opportunities all around us to help women and girls we know, and the ones we don't. 

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"

I gotta be honest, I no longer believe in Random Acts of Kindness. What? Stephanie, aren't you the Giving Gal? Don't you look for ways to give and be kind every day?

Yes, yes I do.

But what I continue to learn on my giving journey is I wake up each day knowing I'm going to look for ways to give. And then when I see an opportunity, I'm going to act. The act of kindness is intentional.

With that said, I'm still supporting wonderful holidays, like Random Acts of Kindness week, because at the end of the day, any time we can spread kindness and positivity, we should.

Here are 14 ways you can give this week:

  1. Donate clothes to a local nonprofit (call before you donate to see what they need)
  2. Send cards to your local nursing home
  3. Help a neighbor with a chore
  4. Compliment a stranger
  5. Call a family member
  6. Send five encouraging texts to friends
  7. Forgive someone
  8. Give a hug to a stranger (ask permission first😊)
  9. Call a teacher friend to see if there are supplies, they need, if so, purchase and donate
  10. Make a positive post on social media
  11. Bake cookies for your coworkers (or buy Girl Scout cookies😊)
  12. Thank a first responder (police officer, firefighter and/or ems)
  13. Send a thank you card to someone that has made a difference in your life
  14. Disconnect from technology/television and have a family game night

I'd love to know your thoughts on random acts of kindness. Do you believe in them? Or have I changed your mind?

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"


It's the "love" month.  And this week we'll celebrate both Galentine's Day and Valentine's Day.  

Don't know about Galentine's Day? It's the day before Valentine's Day when you gather your best of friends and celebrate friendship.

 And then there is Valentine's Day. It's a holiday that you either love, hate or love to hate!

As I scrolled through my phone looking at pictures, I realized, there are lots of ways and things we can love this week. Here's my list.  Reply to this newsletter or comment on the post and let me know what we have in common. Also, let me know what you'd had to the list. 

1. Meeting new people

2. Snuggles

3. Live music

4. Travel

5. Receiving gifts

6. Giving gifts

7. Chocolate 

8. Supporting a friend pursue their dream

9. Mugs with words of encouragement

10. Inspiring quotes

11. Going to a college football game with my husband

12. Dinner out with friends

13. Weddings

14. Leaving notes of encouragement for strangers

15. Meeting coaching clients in person

16. Sunsets

17. The Pumpkin Show-Seeing old friends and riding rides

18. Dairy Queen

19. Seeing the results of hard work and effort

20. Fundraisers with friends

21. Journals

22. Rainbows

23. Jumping in leaves

24. Bookstores

25. Taking a hike

26. Trees

27. Watching my nephews/nieces play sports 

28. Writing

29. Family time

30. Friends getting together (old and new)

31. Pictures of those no longer with us (they make me sad, but I love I'll always have memories with them)

32. Hugs

33. Reading my Bible

34. Worshipping and going to church

35. Celebrating birthdays

36. Baking with friends

37. Signing books

38. Cincinnati Reds Baseball games with family

39. Christmas

40. Flannel Pajamas

41. Goals written on a whiteboard

42. Seeing my husband's smile face while fishing

43. Kayaking

44. Winter hats

45. Thanking Veterans

46. Running races (actually finishing races...lol)

47. Popcorn

48. Lots of snow

49. Coffee with friends

50. Family

51. Friends

52. Wedding pictures

Happy Valentine's Day! I love all my followers and readers! I hope you spend this week/month spreading love and kindness to all that cross your path.

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”

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”

The beginning of the new year is always emotional for me.  I tear up thinking about how one goal to give a gift every day for a year changed my life. That goal was set on January 1, 2011 and I haven't looked back.

If you don't know my story, I gave a gift for 522 consecutive days, missed a day on a business trip, took a break, but intentional giving had become a lifestyle so I started my daily giving again and I've pretty much given a gift every day since 2013. If you are interested in the 522 gifts, check out the list here.

I honestly can't tell you why I tracked in the first place, or why I started a little blog. The only thing I can think is that God gave me a nudge, and instead of ignoring doing something that was uncomfortable, I jumped in, even though fearful, and didn't look back. At the time, I hated writing and had no clue what I was doing.

There is something you may not know about that original year of giving. I almost quit. I almost shut the whole thing down. Why? A couple of negative people that attacked me through FB.

What if I would have quit?

What if I would have let a couple of negative Nancy's kill all the good and positivity other and I were spreading?

My life would be extremely different. 

First, I believe it was giving that pulled me out of many depressing days. There wouldn't be a book, The Giving Challenge, or inspirational speaking, or a second book, The Gratitude Challenge. But more importantly, thousands of people would not have received gifts. Days wouldn't have been brightened. Children wouldn't have been fed. Did you know every book I sell provides three meals to a child in need? To date, we've given close to 30,000 meals (that's with the help of a corporate match).

None of this goodness is from me. Sure, I'm the vessel, but I'm just doing what God called me to do.

It saddens me to think how many people have set a goal for the new year, and within a couple of months, someone will squash that goal. I think about all the books that were supposed to be written, to inspire someone, that are buried in a notebook in a closet. Or what about the weight someone wanted to lose so they could take better care of their children or grandchildren, but they gave up on themselves and now they are watching life on the sidelines instead of actively engaged. 

I don't know your goal for the new year, maybe you have one and maybe you don't. But I challenge you to think about what's been bugging you. What is something in your life that you can't shake? What is the little desire burning in you, but you've already given up because maybe people will think your goal is stupid, or right now you don't see a path forward to accomplish the goal?

Well friend, follow that nudge. I don't think God puts empty, unfulfilling dreams in our heart. At the end of the day, where we end up may not be what we had in mind, and may even be better? I know my goal for giving ended up way more incredible than I could have ever imagined. I’d dreamed small.

What's the one thing that is weighing you down? What's the one goal that you don't want to start another new year thinking about? Share it with me.  Let's hold each other accountable.

In my last post I talked about reflecting on 2019. If you haven't done that, take some time this week to do so, as it will help gain clarity for 2020 and help you steer around obstacles. This is also an exercise you can do with your team at work.

Friends, let my 2011 goal of giving a gift every day for a year be an inspiration to you. To motivate you to see what happens when we set a goal and stick with it. It's your choice of what you do now, choose wisely.

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”

As we countdown to Christmas, I would love for the Giving Gal community to sprinkle kindness everyday between now and Christmas. Here are a few ideas, but feel free to share in the Giving Challenge FB group, ways you are giving!

December 18th– Send a Christmas card to someone that's not on your list. Better yet, give a card to a stranger.

December 19th– Leave a treat for your mail carrier. I'm filling bags with chocolate, a hot chocolate packet and a note.

December 20th– Give a donation, any amount will do, to your favorite nonprofit organization.

December 21st– Have a family baking day and give sweet treats to your neighbors. Bonus points for giving to a neighbor you don't know.

December 22nd– On this day in 2003, my friend, Trooper Scott Patrick was shot and killed in the line of duty. In memory of Trooper Patrick, buy a meal or a warm drink and say thank you to a police officer.

December 23rd– As you ramp up for the final days of the Christmas holiday, find a way to give to yourself. 

December 24th– Call a relative or friend who can't be home for Christmas.

December 25th– Spend quality time with friends and family.

I would love to hear your stories and better yet, spread your Christmas joy in giving on social media and challenge your friends to get involved. Use #GivingChallenge.

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”

Happy Giving Tuesday! I think every day should be Giving Tuesday, don't you?

If you miss this week to participate, that’s okay, pick a Tuesday in the future and create your own Giving Tuesday. Why you are at it, maybe challenge a few friends to participate with you.

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 when you create and/or give your gift and share it with me on social media! I’d love to see how you are giving.

Blessings,

Stephanie

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