Earlier this month, Author Stephanie Jones released her debut book The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to More Generous Life. Her book contains forty short stories about Jones’s personal giving journey. Each chapter also provides a “Giving Challenge,” an opportunity for readers to join the movement.
The Giving Challenge is an easy read with high impact. Jones invites us to step outside of our comfort zone and embrace generosity in the natural rhythms of life. Simple acts such as giving gift cards and writing notes of appreciation help others feel noticed and appreciated.
Stephanie took some time to answer a few questions about her book for Hollywood Jesus readers.
What inspired you to write a book about giving?
January 1, 2011, I started on what I now refer to as my giving journey. I intended to give a gift every day for thirty days. That turned into a year, and 522 days later I was still giving. During the journey, I blogged a bit and was sharing my gifts on Facebook. I people kept saying, “You should write a book.”
I had no clue how to write a book, but over the last four years, with lots of struggle and battles with God, I stayed obedient, He opened doors, and now I have a book that is inspiring people to think about giving differently.
How do you recommend your readers use this book?
Before the book came out and even in the preface I say, read a story a day. Whether it’s forty days in a row or forty days for forty weeks. Whatever works.
After the book came out people were messaging me and saying, “I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting. Now I’m going back and reading it daily and taking the challenge.”
So I guess my answer is, do what works best for you and your schedule!
You share so many inspirational stories in your book. Which is your favorite?
Oh, this is a hard one because each story touched me and affected my life in a very personal way. I can still read a story and tear up thinking about an encounter or how a gift changed my life.
The one I often refer to is Day 35: Giving Away My Birthday Flowers.
I think that is one of my favorites because it was the hardest to give. I learned that sometimes giving is hard, but the man I gave the flowers to was so excited and grateful, that after I had given away my flowers, I didn’t doubt I had done the right thing. It taught me that we hold on to material things so tightly, but I think many times they are meant to be given away to bring others joy.
What do you hope readers take away from The Giving Challenge?
I hope readers learn that giving isn’t about a lot of time and money. There are opportunities to give every day; you just have to look around and then take action. I hope the reader in some ways changes how they look at others that maybe they would have judged before and make a connection and hopefully change someone life.
At the end of the day, I hope the reader learns giving is simple. I think sometimes we make it so difficult; we question everything, but remember a gift is where you expect nothing in return. When you expect nothing, you’ll constantly be surprised that something good usually happens.
What is the best feedback you received from your readers?
There has been a lot of great feedback. The Amazon reviews touch my heart each time I read one. What a gift people are giving me with their feedback.
One message that stands out is from a lady I met this summer at a conference, “Can I just say how much of a blessing this book has been? I’ve been in such a funk/grump/dark place, and this reminded me that life isn’t about what I get, it’s about what I give.”
Since her message, I’ve received similar comments from many people. To know this book is helping people come out of a dark place when I think there are so many in that place, makes me know this book will change lives.