Category

Gratitude

Category

If you have been hanging around me for the last three years, you know my husband, and I bought a house, stripped it to its bones, and remodeled every floor, door, wall, and everything in between. It was a labor of love. 

Over the past year, my husband started a woodworking business. We both thought that by the time he retired in four years, the business would be built up enough that he'd have his retirement job. 

Well, what's the old saying? "Tell God your plans, and he'll laugh?"

Over the past year, my husband's business has grown so much he's outgrown his current woodshop. We couldn't believe it! Or maybe I could, as his work is impressive.

We wavered for weeks as to what to do. Build on? Sell our dream home? Or just work with what we have and not grow.

With a step of faith, we put our home on the market and thought, "if it sells, we'll move."

In the meantime, we found the perfect property that had a barn the size he'd need to expand and then some. Exciting! There was even enough space for me to hold retreats.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the day we accepted an offer on our house; the following morning, we got word the house we wanted to buy got struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

I kid you not!

Well, okay then. We had a clear sight that was not the right house. But where would we go? Our house was sold, and there was nothing on the market to fit our needs. Trust me; we'd been looking for months.

We ventured out to look at a horse farm. I loved it. It didn't meet our needs, but the property was terrific. I'd have all the trails a girl could ask for. After a few tears and listening to my husband's wise advice, this was not going to be our home.

Moments later, I snuggled in bed, and I swear God told me to look at For Sale By Owner Listings. I did, and there was a house that was just listed. 

I sent it to my hubby, we called, and within 12 hours, we were looking at the house.

It needs work, but the house we are in proved that we aren't scared of work and know how to remodel a home.

It has the barn my husband needs to grow and expand his business. It doesn't have the trails I've grown to love at my current property, but it's six minutes away from a park. That will work!

Friends, if you doubt if God has a plan for your life, He does. But what I have learned over and over again is I must give him 100% control. We handed the beautiful home that we love over to him and controlled where we went next to Him. I can tell you this when he has control, all the stress and anxiety go away. 

Give your next step to God and have a little faith!

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”

Want to change your day? Do these four things.

  1. Start the day in scripture. Read the Word of God, giving you sound wisdom on how to live out your life and tackle the day.
  2. Take a moment to reflect on the previous day. What do you want to remember? Did you have lunch with a friend? Travel to a new place? Got offered a job? Your child said something funny? Jot it down.
  3. Practice gratitude. Write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. According to research, gratitude has many health benefits.
  4. Pray. Ask for forgiveness of your sins, thank God for the blessings in your life, and take the worries of the world to him.

I created Thank You Notes to God to give you an easy way to ensure you start each day on the right foot. Order your copy today! I can't wait to hear how your life changes by practicing these four things daily.

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"

She was in the third grade when I met her.

I was a police officer participating in Shop with a Cop. 

After the event ended and my hubby and I drove home, I couldn't get this family out of my mind. We broke a few rules and got their contact info.

Fast forward to today, and this is the third year I had the honor of taking her to college. 

Mike packed my car in such a way that I'm still in disbelief.

As we huffed and puffed, carrying each load a long distance from the parking lot to the fourth floor of her apartment building, we practiced gratitude.

At first, I complained there were no dolls, students to hold the door and help like last year. 

And yet, with each trip, we chuckled as we declared we were grateful it wasn't raining, we had water, we had arrived earlier than most families, and we had a parking spot. The list goes on and on.

We went shopping to fill her refrigerator and cabinets and couldn't leave without lunch at Chick-Fil-a.

Hugs, I love yous, and goodbyes filled the apartment and then another round when she walked me out to my car.

On the ride to college, we chatted about how her life might have been different if I hadn't listened to the tug on my heart all those years ago.

Yesterday I received a text from her that said, "a club I'm going to be in on campus."

The Random Acts of Kindness Club.

It was at that moment I knew I had done my job. All the kindness my husband and I had shown, she and her family continue to carry on and show others that same kindness.

The next time the Holy Spirit tugs on your heart to help a stranger, take action. You never know how both of your lives will change. 

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”

Friends, so much is going on in the world I don't even know where to start. This morning I sat curled up in my cozy chair pondering if I should release a podcast or send out my newsletter this week. They both seem so trivial when Afghanistan is crumbling and so many are in danger of losing their life and Christians being persecuted. 

But the longer I sat in silence I realized I shouldn't just speak weekly when life for me is all good and I'm plugging along. I mean, life is still good for me, but my heart aches and is burdened about the travesties across the world. How can I help? How can I make a difference? Will any actions I take make a difference?

And then I realized that yes, there are actions we can take. There are prayers to be prayed, encouragement to be sent, and research that needs to be done, and education on what is happening (checking multiple sources) to be informed. 

Check out my latest podcast as I share my thoughts on who we need to help, right now, from the comforts of our home and offices.

Listen on..

Thank you for allowing me to share my heart. 

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"

Last week was a difficult week for America. I found myself waking and walking around with a heavy heart. 

As I scroll through social media, I read so many vile, hateful, and condescending posts. I pondered the darkness that has infiltrated our society.

Each morning I turn to the word of God for His insight, guidance, and a reminder of how, as a follower of Christ, I am to conduct myself.

The verse of the day was Proverbs 11:24, on generosity. But another verse caught my attention, Proverbs 10:31-32.

"The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice, but the tongue that deceives will be cut off. The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words."

Are my words helpful? A simple question to ask before posting or commenting. The advice seems like useful guidance.

I then flipped back to the beginning of chapter 10, and as I read through it, a theme arose.

"The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions." (v.11)

Are my words life-giving? 

"Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses." (v.12)

Am I loving?

"Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut." (v.19)

Should I keep my mouth shut?

"The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense."

Are my words encouraging?

As I continued into chapter 11, several other verses captured my attention.

"Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (v.2)

Am I humble or prideful?

"With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous." (v.9)

Are my words hurting my friends?

"Upright citizens are good for the city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart."

Are making actions making my community better? Are my words tearing my community apart?

"It is foolish to belittle one's neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet." (v. 12)

Are my words belittling my neighbor? Aren't we taught to love our neighbors and our enemies?

"Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you." (v.17)

Am I kind?

Today I am grateful for the words and guidance God has provided me. When I want to respond or post on emotion, I am reminded of the effects my words have on my heart and mind, my friends, neighbors, and community.

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”

Hello friends! I wanted to take a moment to say thank you! Thank you for sticking by me through 2020. Even though this year did not look like what I thought it would, God gave me some incredible projects to work on that I will be rolling out in 2021. You will not want to miss what we have in store for you!

I hope the next couple of weeks bring you rest and rejuvenation as you head into a new year. Take time to set a couple of goals and enjoy time with friends and family. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See in you 2021!

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”

We are all on a journey that I think in a million years we would not have chosen or expected. Was a pandemic on your radar or penciled in on your calendar? I know it wasn't on mine. I feel like I'm living in a bad movie that I can't pause. What about you? But one thing I know is we are on this journey together.  

If you are living with COVID-19, I'm so sorry for your diagnosis. I am not going to pretend for one second, I understand what you are going through or experiencing at this moment, or in the future.

If you have a loved one sick, or tragically lost a loved one, please know those affected by COVID are at the top of my prayer journal. 

As I travel the country speaking, engaging with people on social media, and hear from listeners, there is a consistent pattern I've observed. Those who choose to focus on gratitude seem to have a different attitude and perspective on where they are in life. 

What I'm sharing is a conglomerate of these lessons I've taken in over the years. Some are mine, and some are from friends and strangers. I challenge you, as you learn to navigate this pandemic and challenging holiday season, you use gratitude as a tool, to help you along the way. 

1. Write down what you are thankful for. Keep a pen and journal handy for jotting down three to five things, each day, you are grateful for. When you are having a bad day, pick up your journal, to help you focus on the good. 

2. Focus on the now. Stop yourself from saying, I'll be grateful when (fill in the blank). Look at your surroundings, be in the moment, and find the good right where you are. What I've discovered is, when we get to the future, we'll have something else we'll be chasing. Stay in the now. 

3. Slow down. Take time to pause throughout your day, have a stop and smell the roses moment, and be grateful for what you notice when you slow down. If this season has slowed you down, jot down, what you've noticed that maybe you didn't realize before. Be grateful for the new discoveries.

4. Lessons learned. Take note of lessons the pandemic and upcoming holiday season is teaching you about yourself. Write it down in your journal and be grateful to God for revealing to you your strengths, or weaknesses, you never knew you had. 

5. Curb complaining. Complaining sucks the energy out of us and the people that surround us. We need all the positive energy in our life we can get. Learn to flip complaints to words of gratitude.

6. Let out your emotions. It's perfectly normal to be sad and angry. Write about the emotions you feel, and ask yourself, in the depth of these emotions, what is there to be grateful for?

7. Thank people. Along this journey we cross paths with many people. Don't forget to say thank you. Tell each person that is helping you along the way how grateful you are for them. Bonus points if you write them a thank you note. Be specific in noting the ways they helped you. 

This list isn't all inclusive, and you don't have to do all of them, each day, every day. But as you go through your day, take time to pause, and constantly ask yourself, what can I be grateful for in this moment. The more you practice gratitude, the more it will become a habit, and the longer it's a habit, you'll potentially experience a life-changing mindset shift.

May God pour out unexpected blessings during the thanksgiving week and provide healing to those in need.

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"

For over twenty years, I've had a dream to walk out my back door and be able to hit a running trail. 

Two years ago, I came one step closer to living out this dream. My husband and I bought a home on ten acres of wooded land. We hiked through trees and thicket and tied bright orange ribbons on trees, so the contractor we hired to cut the trail, would know the path to take.

After months of back and forth, the big day arrived. I couldn't wait for the contractor to zoom through the woods on his machinery, and within days, I'd have the path of my dreams.

But after one day of working, he encountered a muddy section of the land, where he would need to cross to get to the back half of the property. He committed to returning when the ground dried up.  

You can guess where this is going. After going back and forth for months, trying to get the contractor to return, he stopped returning calls and texts. I complained about this guy for nearly a year. And then I decided to stop complaining and figure out, without big machinery, to cut the darn trail myself. 

My husband taught me to use a weed eater. Yes, embarrassing as it may sound, I had never used a trimmer.  I had no idea trail building would be so laborious. I'd worked for an hour and no joke, the progress I made was only mere feet. My goal of two miles would take longer than anticipated.

But the more I worked in the woods, the more I enjoyed the work. I became grateful that my contractor bailed on me, because now, as I ran the trail, I discovered that God had given me everything I needed to do the job myself. 

Okay, okay, so what does this entire story have to do with loving your neighbor when it is difficult? 

As I worked my way to the back half of the property, I discovered the neighbors that butt up to my woods, had been using our property as their dumping grounds. And I'm not just talking about grass clippings, I'm talking about old Christmas trees, bushes and scrubs they'd pulled out of the dirt, landscaping concrete, and the list goes on and on.  

We put up no trespassing signs. We talked with them about illegal dumping and trespassing. And when all else failed we called the police. The property was ours that we intended to use, and they were destroying it.

Do you think any of that stopped them? Nope! As I walked back there to continue work on the trail, I must route around the damage they've caused. I am steaming mad! At one point, I considered dragging all the crap they've put onto my property, back onto their property.  But then I realized, I'd then be no better than they were. "Stephanie, is this how you love your neighbor when you are mad? Seeking revenge?"

Nope, so I left the piles of mess.

But friends, it gets better. Not only do they dump their waste on our property, but they also hit golf balls; not one or two, but tens of balls on our property. And you might think, "Stephanie, what's the big deal with golf balls on your property?"

Nothing if I'm leisurely walking through the woods. But as I'm running through on the trails, I risk turning an ankle, or worse, falling and crashing into down trees or branches sticking out of the ground. It's dangerous!

Over time I've amassed quite the pile of golf balls. One day, I thought, "I'm going to throw these golf balls in his yard. Hopefully, they tear up his riding lawnmower." 

Sad but true, my friend. These are the thoughts that ran through my mind.

No joke, as I picked up the balls to start throwing them back, I turned around to see a heart (ugly as it may be) in the tree.  I smiled, nodded my head, and whispered, "Message received God."

I dropped the golf balls and snapped a picture. I also leave the pile of the balls off on the side of the trail and add to them every time I go out on the path and work. They are a reminder to love my neighbor, even when it is difficult.

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”

Has COVID-19 affected your summer vacation plans? I know it did mine. The first of June I should have spent the weekend trekking a part of the Appalachian trail with my sister and a friend. Plans were cancelled and disappointment sank in.

Weeks later, my sister messaged me about having a girl's weekend at my house. Sounded fun, and the weekend she suggested happened to be a weekend my hubby would be out of town for a guy's weekend. What perfect timing?!

We scheduled a couple of hikes, but as the weekend drew near, the weather forecasted 90-degree temperatures with high humidity. We discussed rescheduling for when the temperature would be lower.

As we chatted, we realized, with crazy weekend schedules, we'd delay our gathering until November. Who wanted to wait until November for a girl's weekend? Not me!

We agreed, that even if we couldn't hike, we could still hang out, chill, and eat good food. Our weekend stayed on the calendar.

Do you know what happened? We ended up getting in two amazing hikes. We laughed, got lost, and sweat so much we probably all dropped a couple of pounds...bonus!

We soaked in the hot tub, had a glass of wine, nibbled on chocolate, gathered around the table and ate good food, and we even sat in the quiet reading books. Despite several hurdles, we made our girls weekend happen.

Friends, COVID-19 is affecting our lives in so many ways, but it doesn't have to cancel all our plans. We just need to make a few adjustments and move forward with what we can do.

I can tell you one thing for certain, being with family and friends was good medicine, healing for the soul, and a gift we all gave to ourselves. You deserve an adventure! 

What adventure will you take this summer?

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"

Boy, time flies when you are having fun.  I mean what a difference a year makes.  This time last year, I was attending a writer's conference, learning from some of the best in the industry.  I took a children's book writing class from the fabulous Michelle Medlock Adams. Did I mention she's written over 100 books, and sold millions of copies?

Anyway, this year she's now my writing coach and I've submitted my first children's book draft to her. Scary friends, scary. But often, we must take a step of faith, out of our comfort zones, to move forward in life. 

This past week, I mailed out her book, What is America? to several of my friends who recently had babies. Books are a great gift!

As I mailed out the books, I was reminded of a contest I ran last year, asking my followers to answer the question, what does America mean to you? 

With everything going on in our country, I thought it would be a good reminder to share some of the responses I received. 

"What “America” means to me is… a country full of history, magnificent scenery, and abundance of variety in landscape & people. It’s a place I call home. I treasure that our founding fathers not only prayed and included God in forming this great country but were also thankful for His favor upon them. America means freedom in so many ways. A few among them are the freedom to worship, freedom to pursue my God given dreams & passions, freedom to live where I want and travel east to west and north to south, and freedom to create wealth or live simply. America is a representation of God’s grace in person!" ~Kim 

"What “America” means to me is…my homeland. For many years I’ve heard it referred to as “the land of the free”, “land of opportunity”! Even in the midst of all of the present turmoil, it’s still all of that. A place where many many folks from all over the world also want to make it a place to call home. We are so blessed to have much more than so many other countries." ~Joyce

"A land built on the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors, providing us with the greatest freedoms that any land has ever known. Most of my family heritage is based on 1800’s immigration, but I am grateful for all who forged this amazing nation!" ~David

"America means freedom, opportunity and hope. It is a symbol of courage, taking risks and standing up for a cause. Our forefathers risked their lives for a higher good, greater life and fought for family and future generations. America truly means the land of the free and home of the brave!" ~Jeanne

"America means freedom and opportunity.  America is a place where people should be able to come to and be LOVED. America represents hard work and determination. America should be seen as a place that is SAFE, but we all must do our part to make it so." ~Kayla

"What “America” means to me is… we are always bigger than we think we are.  (And in this case, “big” is a good thing — not like a dress size or a price tag.) Decent, hard-working immigrants made their homes in this “new world” and managed our original 13 colonies just fine …. and they believed that they would be better off if they could somehow govern themselves without the hand of a distant, far-away kingdom managing their affairs.  Our colonial ancestors saw that if only they could work together (“united”) for a common cause for their own common good, they (and now “WE”) would all benefit. Instead of complaining about how small they were in number ….or how poor they were in resources… our ancestors bonded together in a big way to gain their independence.  America means that even immigrants and people lacking in resources … people who might feel “small” or powerless …. can stand united for the greater good.  

I think BIG when I think of America.  Partner with others and work hard for a common cause … and we are all better off!" ~Victoria

"Freedom of choice and a sense of pride." ~Karen

"Freedom at the price of veteran's lives who love this country so much that they are willing to sacrifice their life to keep it free. God Bless the veterans." ~Maria

"Freedom. One word seems so simple, but our great country was built on this basic principle. While we may not always agree with each other, we have the freedom to express our views without repercussion. The formula works. Just look around and see how many people want to come to our great nation.  From this one word comes the right to pray to our God, support the political candidate of our choice, and attend the school of our choice . . . and that's just the beginning!" ~Jerilyn

What does America mean to you? I'll be sharing responses all week on social media!

Happy 4th of July!

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"