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.



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,


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.



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.



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?



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!



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.


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,

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.



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?  


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.



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”