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Gratitude

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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"

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"

Overcome with emotion, I scroll through remembrances left for Private First Class, Daniel Dean Bruce, a Marine, who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam on March 1, 1969. 

I first heard his story, this past week on the Charlie Adams radio show. PFC Bruce grew up just miles from my current home.

According to Wikipedia, PFC Bruce, within less than a year of joining the Marines, on night watch at the Firebase Tomahawk in Vietnam, the enemy threw a grenade. He caught the grenade, secured it near his body, and took off running. The grenade exploded, killing him instantly, but saving the life of three Marines. 

The next day, after risking everything for his brothers, his wife gave birth to a baby girl.  

I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to comprehend making such a selfless decision, knowing there is a life ahead you'll never experience and child you'll never get to see or know.

For his bravery, he received the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

May we take this day to remember Marines, like PFC Bruce, and all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

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”

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13

I gotta admit friends, this past week was rough.  My day job is overwhelming. I feel myself slipping back into my workaholic tendencies, people pleasing, and spinning out of control thoughts causing anxiety.  On Friday I went to bed at 5:30. Yes 5:30, because I was exhausted.

Earlier in the week, Carole Baker interviewed me, and we chatted about Sacred Reinvention. You can check out the interview here. As I prepared for the interview, I jotted down ways to shift my mindset through these difficult times.

Here are four tactics I came up with. They've helped me navigate these difficult times, and I thought they could help you also. 

1. I have a choice as to what I media I take in, watch and read.  When I'm tired, I want to scroll through social media, or zone out to the news.  I've worked hard this week to avoid doing both, as much as possible. Instead, I'm reading. When I want to turn on the television, I pick up a book instead. When I want to mindlessly scroll, I close my Facebook app, and switch over to my kindle app. I'm choosing to pour positivity, instead of chaos and craziness, into my mind.  

2. I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating, as I'm having to repeat the tactic to myself multiple times a day.  Ask yourself what you can control. I've found what makes me anxious and overwhelmed at work are tasks and requests that I can't control the answer and/or information. It's just not available.  This goes for thoughts that may have us spinning out of control. Stop yourself and ask, what I'm thinking about, can I control it? If not, move on and make a list of what you can control. 

3. I found myself this week commiserating with a coworker about my job. It's ironic and sad, that at a time when so many are out of work, I'm working more hours than I can handle. I had to choose gratitude. I had to choose to focus on what I do have, instead of what I don't.  I have a job and I'm grateful for the steady paycheck. Right now, I don't have the hours to be focusing on myself and my passion business. But I know it's not forever. It's easy to get wrapped up in what we don't have. 

4. It could always be worse. As I start to complain, I gotta stop myself. There really is no reason for me to complain about anything in life. I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry, heat when it's cold, a closet full of clothes, running water, and the list of what I have is endless. I have my health, and family and friends that do also. This week I found out that a sweet little boy, I wrote about months ago, passed away. I'm reminded of the conditions my friends in Africa live in. It could always be worse. When you start to complain, just utter those words. They'll stop you in your tracks.

Friends, each day as we roll out of bed, we have a lot we can control, and the hardest, at times is what we think about and take in. Hopefully my tactics listed above are helpful.

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”

Crazy. That's how I would describe the COVID-19 pandemic. Did I ever think we'd live through a time where March Madness would be canceled? Schools would shutdown for weeks and months, and toilet paper would be a hot commodity?  

No.

But as is life, it's always changing and some days throwing us bigger curve balls than the day before. 

The pandemic is serious. 

At the end of the day, we all have a chance to be infected. Just typing those words, give me a bit of anxiety. Maybe you are reading this and you or someone you know is already dealing with the virus. I'm so sorry.

Over the past couple of days, I've tried to not let fear rule my life, consume my thoughts, or cripple me to inaction. All are very real possibilities. 

Here's six ways I'm staying positive during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Keeping up with my morning routine. It's easy to get sucked into the news or social media first thing in the morning but I'm getting my cup of coffee and reading my devotionals and books. 
  2. Practicing gratitude. Several of you have written to say The Gratitude Challenge is helping you through this difficult time. Wonderful!  You can either use The Gratitude Challenge (snag a copy here) as a tool, or just grab a notebook and each day, when you start to worry ask yourself, "What good can I find in this moment? What am I grateful for?"
  3. Getting outside. You don't have to congregate or be with people but get fresh air. Go for a walk. Yesterday, I put on a backpack, grabbed my hiking stick and hit the trails. My mind cleared and I was able to focus on the deer running through the woods, looking at animal tracks and jumping all over to avoid mud pits. My soul felt refreshed.
  4. Talking with friends and family how I'm feeling. I'm not ruminating in the state of panic and focusing too much time on the topic, but it helps to verbalize how we are feeling. We are all in this together.
  5. Giving to others. I've spent time sending text to friends, writing and mailing cards, and even sending little gifts that have been sitting on my desk for weeks.  Giving always makes me feel good and it will you too!
  6. Ask what can I control. It's easy to get spun up with all the news. I'm constantly trying to take a step back and ask what can I control? This one question helps me in all sorts of ways, not just with the virus. It's a great tool for work and life. It forces me to realize that it doesn't no good to worry about what I can’t control and to put my efforts and energy into what I can control. Here are some things you can control.

I hope this list helped. Please take care of yourself my friends. Stay hydrated. Stay home if you feel bad. Get rest. Give others the benefit of doubt and do what you can to stay positive and healthy.

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”


Reclined in a comfy lounge chair, sunk in the sand, waves crashed on the shore and the words from Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller, sucker gut punched me, "I don't do guilt."  

That's a mantra of Shelly's mother-in-law, that she's adopted, and I'm working to change my mindset and also stop the guilt.

I'm grateful I read these words early in my vacation, so I could put into practice my new mantra, "I don't do guilt."

Being aware of our bad habits or thoughts often goes unnoticed because that's the way we've lived for so long. 

I've spent the last week relaxing on the beach and by the pool and worked to be conscious of my thoughts and feelings, especially when it comes to guilt.

Do you struggle with guilt?

Let me dig in a little and give you a couple examples:

Eating: I know I'm not alone in a constant battle of thinking about what I eat and then feeling guilty about what I put in my mouth.  Leading up to vacation, I was on a healthy streak, lost weight and felt great. 

But then vacation. 

I decided on vacation, that I wasn't going to feel guilty about what I ate. I indulged in chocolate cake, chocolate dipped strawberries daily, and scoops of gelato.  I snacked on French fries and nachos, and sipped on sweet, non-alcoholic dirty monkeys (try one) and strawberry daiquiris. And guess what, when I got home and stepped on the scale, I'm only up a couple of pounds. And with going back to focusing on healthy eating, I'll drop those pounds over the next week or two.

Can you relate?

I think there is a healthy balance to work towards to eating to nourish our bodies, and yet being okay when on a vacation, celebrating an event or taking a break on weekends.

Rest: I've focused on rest for the past couple of years and if you struggle with rest, I'm here to tell you change can happen. But you'll need to move through the guilt of taking time for yourself, putting your to do list on hold and saying no.  

While on vacation, I found guilt creeping up for literally doing nothing but sitting in a cabana and reading and dozing off. I'm not talking an hour, but days of doing nothing. And guess what? It felt great!  But also, what I've learned over time is that rest, reading and doing nothing helps my creativity to flow. 

As I sat focused on nothing, words flowed from heaven and I couldn't move my pen fast enough to write the ideas, that turned into chapters, and hopefully another book. 

When we give our minds time to rest, opportunities we may have not seen in the past, creep to the surface.  Rest is good.

Do you struggle with giving yourself time for disconnecting and resting?

If so, look at your calendar, and schedule time to sit back, relax, take a nap and rest.

The past week, even though I felt I did nothing, besides read books, write, nap and eat, working on my mindset with guilt was a huge win. Day after day, and now that I'm home, when guilt surfaces, I whisper, "I don't do guilt."  

The change in mindset and the simple tool of acknowledging when I feel guilty and whispering those words has been freeing.

Are you willing to join me in not doing guilt anymore?

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”

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”

Guest Post by Laurie Mullet, MSA, RN

We received our first kitchen table as a wedding gift. Oak and 62" round – it came with two leaves and six rickety chairs. It had been handed down through my brother-in-law's family for a generation or two and we were honored to receive it.

The table was perfect for our apartment and I did everything seated there. Together we journeyed through my life as a newlywed. I studied for college, paid bills, and wrote letters. I prepared meals, entertained our families and played late night Uno games with friends and neighbors. The table became the center of our home. I adorned her with flowers, candles, holiday d cor, and 1950's table clothes.

Soon we were blessed with two children and one leaf was permanently placed, making the table oval. From here, I heard tales of other children and listened intently as my children's minds began to expand and grow in a world that I was no longer controlling. This table was the special place for birthday celebrations featuring lop-sided homemade cakes. I mended boo-boos', negotiated peace talks, and suffered over late homework assignments. At this table, I cried into my milk and brownies the night that our son Seth announced he would join the Marines during a time of war.

When Seth got married, we decide to hand the table to the next generation. We were empty nesters now, off on a different journey. My husband, Joe, built a huge counter to prepare food for the two of us or for our family gatherings of fifty.

A convenient breakfast bar, we centered there each evening, dropping our work bags at one end and preparing and serving dinner right from the counter. Often we carried our plates into the living room to watch TV, a treat we rarely indulged in when the kids were home.

Time passed and the dining room remained empty. We eventually purchased two plastic tables from Menards, covered them with tablecloths, and this served as our table when our kids and grands came over. All ten of us around one big table-it was great! We liked it so much we decided it was time to purchase a new table. We took a trip to Shipshewana, but the $10,000 price tag sent us home empty-handed.

One day my husband called and said, "They are getting rid of an old conference table at work. It seats ten, but you could squeeze four more chairs at the corners. It's not wood, it has a Formica top. Do you want me to bring it home?"

A hearty yes was all he needed to lug it home. We bought ten stainless steel chairs, a rug the same width and length as the table, and voila! A family gathering place was created ready for meals, special occasions, and craft days or jarring up honey which can create a sticky mess. I never worry about nicks or scars to the table but embrace all the spills, glue and glitter that two gran-girls can bring! Most days the table is empty, ready for company.

Annually, the Porter County Community Foundation hosts a tea. Last year, the speaker was Sarah Harmeyer, the founder of Neighbor's Table and a self-acclaimed "people gatherer." Sarah moved to Dallas and found herself working long hours, exhausted, and lonely. When reflecting on her life, she discovered she was most energized when she was at a table preparing and sharing a meal with others. 

She asked her dad to make a table that would seat twenty and placed it in her back yard. She sent invitations to three hundred neighbors requesting them to join her for a carry-in supper. Ninety neighbors came to the first event!

Harmeyer has since served over three thousand people in her backyard table. In 2017, she left her full-time job and began making and selling tables with her father. With a goal of having backyard tables in all 50 states by 2020, she is halfway there!

Sarah got me to thinking about all the wonderful things I had done around the table. She emphasized that it wasn't what I was doing at the table that held memories, nor was it the table. Rather, it was the people that were with me that provided the warmth to my heart. It wasn't the food that delivered the sustenance, but the conversation that was shared. She challenged me to begin inviting friends and strangers alike to our table, for there in may lay the memories of tomorrow.

With the holidays quickly approaching, I have lots of plans for our table. You too will have an abundance of opportunities to sit around the table. Who will you invite?

Guest Post by Laurie Mullet, MSA, RN