Month: November 2016

The Thanksgiving Meal – Connecting Through Food

We know that Thanksgiving Day gives us an opportunity to connect with family and friends, and one of the biggest parts of the day is the food. Sharing food is another way that we connect with each other. It technically could fall under connecting through acts of service or connecting with family, but sharing a meal together is special in its own way. Food, and especially during the holidays, isn’t just about the taste and the presentation. It’s about so much more: memories, traditions, feelings, and ambience.

Thanksgiving meal

When you serve or are served a Thanksgiving meal, what kind of feelings and emotions do you have? What kind of memories do you experience during the meal? By serving certain types of foods at Thanksgiving, the feelings of warmth and tradition bring some level of comfort to us. Our world is ever-changing and feels a bit unstable, but the simple act of sitting down together for a Thanksgiving meal with our favorite dishes can help us to feel grounded again and experience a little of the stability that we crave. Because of this, we can connect more easily with our friends and family at our table and repair or strengthen neglected relationships. The foods we all enjoy can bring us together and begin a season of peace, charity, and grace.

What are your favorite foods to share and connect over during Thanksgiving? I’ll share my simple menu for this year’s Thanksgiving meal. I tried not to overdo it this time and am sticking mostly to tradition. Find my menu with links to recipes below.

Thanksgiving Meal Menu

Pumpkin Bread
Sweet Spiced Nuts

Main Dish:
Brined, roasted turkey

Thanksgiving meal

Side Dishes:
Slow Cooker Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Colorful Roasted Vegetables
Cranberry-Apple Sauce

German Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie (new dessert I’m adapting & attempting)

Thanksgiving meal

I hope you all have a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving meal, connecting over your very favorite foods. Tell me what one of your favorite Thanksgiving foods is – I’m all about mashed potatoes and gravy myself! By the way, there’s still time to sign up for my Thanksgiving PDF if you haven’t yet.



Thanksgiving Grace

Thanksgiving Day is almost here! We know that Thanksgiving is about gratitude, but maybe this year we can make it about grace as well. If I asked for a show of hands of all those who are overly stressed out right now or who have had a difficult year, I wouldn’t be able to count them all. Let’s make this Thanksgiving less about ourselves being grateful for all our blessings and little joys (for which we ARE grateful) and more about extending a gentle grace to those around us. That includes grace for ourselves and making an effort to relax, enjoy, and not let stress overwhelm us.

Thanksgiving Grace

When I think of grace, I like to roll several parts of the definition into one. Grace is given to you and then you can share with others. And in another sense, it’s about treating others the way that you would hope others would treat you. While I talk about grace here, I mean something like this all combined into one:

Thanksgiving grace

But I also like another meaning of grace, the idea of a Grace Period – a postponement, delay, or pause. We can make Thanksgiving our Grace Period, a time set apart from the daily stresses and our issues with family and friends, and focus on how we can extend grace to those around us if even for a day or two before jumping back into the rat race with both feet.

Let’s start with giving ourselves grace! Stop setting the bar ridiculously high for yourself to have the “perfect” Thanksgiving. It’s about family, friends, food, and fun, not about fancy tablescapes, picture-perfect recipes, serving dinner on time, or acceptable behavior of children (and adults!). Learn to simplify, go with the flow, and appreciate the smaller victories of the day (like, hey I didn’t light a pie on fire this year!).


Give grace to those around you during this holiday. When we are stressed out, we are more irritable and far less tolerant of others. By making sure that we are in the right frame of mind first, we can love those around us this Thanksgiving no matter if they didn’t bring the food we asked for, showed up unexpectedly, started a political argument at the table, broke a dish, or had a bad attitude. Remember that we are all imperfect sinners. Take a deep breath, smile, and show love to your friends and family. There is beauty in the gift of grace.

I created a simple (not too fancy so I wouldn’t be too stressed out!) PDF with thoughts and tips for having a Thanksgiving with more grace and less stress. It includes thoughts on how to de-stress during Thanksgiving, 3 of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, and tips for hosting. I wish all of you a blessed, happy, peaceful, grace-filled Thanksgiving!


Keep Working on Connection

Glad to have you here for Day 31 of 31 Days of Connection! Yes, we made it to the end of the series! If you’ve missed anything, you can stop by Day 1 for links to all of the posts.

The Connection Series

Connection really is important for us human beings. The opposite is isolation and that leads to loneliness, a lack of ability to communicate effectively with family and close friends, and other issues. Some connection happens automatically because of circumstances or personality, but it usually requires being intentional. That’s why we’ve covered several different ways of connecting in this 31-day series. We’ve gone from connecting with self, family, and friends, to connecting at work, connecting through writing, and through various social media networks.


If you haven’t had time to read through all of the posts (because sheesh – daily posts?!), this is your chance to take a breath and go back to catch up. Even if you don’t think some of the posts apply to you, check them out because you might pick up a few helpful tips that you weren’t aware of. Each post contains a daily challenge to help give you a nudge toward improving your skills. I included a handy daily connection challenge checklist for you on Day 3 to help with accountability. But lucky you – now that you made it this far I have an updated checklist for you!

Daily Connection Challenge Checklist

I’ve got the same Daily Connection Challenge Checklist, but now I have filled in all of the daily challenges for you. All you have to do is download, go through each day and mark off that you completed items or what you did to meet that challenge. The challenges listed on the checklist are shortened, simplified versions so I do recommend that you always read the full challenge on each post. Work through the challenges at your own pace, but do set a due date to give that sense of urgency to help you actually complete it.

Download the updated checklist here:


Keep Working on Connection

You’ve completed the 31 Days of Connection and worked on the challenges, so all is well and you’re great at connecting now, right?! Probably not, but you’re certainly more aware of specific types of connection that are more difficult for you and hopefully you have connected with at least one new person or improved one relationship. So where do we go from here? Since connection requires being intentional, we need to continue to work on it and improve our relationships with others. As you find success in some forms of connection, find new ways to reach out, both personally and professionally. Our goal is never perfection, but always striving to do better than we did before and I know that if I can do it, you can too!

Day 31 Daily Connection Challenge:
Keep working on connection! After reading the series, brainstorm some additional ways that you can work on it in your own life. If you have already gone through all the daily challenges, figure out which ones were the most difficult for you and work through those again this month!

Thank you so much for being here with me to finish out Day 31 of 31 Days of Connection! What were your favorite ways to work on connection? What were the most difficult for you? Any questions or feedback? Let me know in the comments! I would love to stay connected with you – please take a moment to join my awesome group of subscribers.

Click here for links to all 31 posts of the series.


Connect Through Public Speaking

Welcome to Day 30 of 31 Days of Connection! Find all the posts you may have missed linked up on Day 1.


Connect Through Public Speaking

Well, if you thought putting yourself out there to connect through videos was intimidating, then public speaking may be your toughest connection challenge. Public speaking is many people’s biggest fear. There are a few oddballs like me who actually enjoy it (and yes, I lettered in Speech in high school). Whether or not you enjoy it, it’s an excellent way to connect with a group of people in a personal way. Of course, public speaking does not always have to be in front of a large group. There are plenty of opportunities to connect without it being such a formal event.

Public speaking can certainly be a planned event on a stage in front of hundreds of people, but it can take many other forms. It could happen in the form of teaching or training a smaller group of people, giving a presentation in a meeting at work, sharing your thoughts with the group in a Bible study, or something similar. You probably didn’t realize that you’ve already been doing public speaking in various forms. When you speak up in a group of people and share authentically or speak about a subject you’re passionate about, people will feel connected to you, leading to new and better relationships.


Public Speaking Tips

There are a few things to remember in order for your speaking to help you connect, no matter where you are:

Know your audience. Before you speak, it’s important to understand exactly who your audience is – age, gender, goals, why they are listening to you, etc. This will help you speak in a way that relates to your target audience and makes for a better sense of connection.

Be yourself. Don’t try to act like somebody else when you are speaking. If you are pretending or uncomfortable with what you are speaking about, that will come across to your audience. If you are thought of as phony or not credible, then you’ll turn off your audience and lose the chance to connect.

Make eye contact. Looking at the back of the room over the heads of who you are speaking might be a strategy to overcome fear, but it makes your speech less personal. Make eye contact directly with different members of your audience as you are speaking and it will feel like you are speaking to all audience members as well as the ones you’re looking at.


Smile. We’ve already talked about how a smile can bring connection. Sometimes when you’re speaking to a group, you forget to smile because you’re focused on your words. Smile before you start and remind yourself to smile a few times as you speak. It puts your audience at ease and gives them positive feelings when they smile back.

Speak confidently. Whether or not you are an expert on what you’re talking about, say it confidently. It helps you come across as more knowledgable, credible, and trustworthy. People are more likely to trust and connect with you when they feel you are comfortable with your subject matter.

No matter where you are speaking, you have an opportunity to reach out and share yourself with others. By doing this regularly, you can connect with more people and build more relationships.

Day 30 Daily Connection Challenge:
Don’t skip this one just because it’s public speaking! You don’t have to give a speech in front of a crowd, but bonus points for you if you set up a speaking opportunity for yourself. Find a way in the next 2 weeks to speak publicly in one of the many forms we talked about. Remember the tips from above and see if you can use that opportunity to make a new connection with somebody.

Thank you for being here with me on Day 30 of 31 Days of Connection! Do you have a fear of public speaking or do you enjoy it? Did you realize that there are other forms of it besides a speech in front of a crowd? Let me know in the comments! See you back here one more time for Day 31, friends!

Connecting Through Video

Welcome to Day 29 of 31 Days of Connection – almost through the series! Stop by Day 1 to find links to all the posts in the series.


Connecting Through Video

Using video to connect with others is effective because it involves both sight and sound. Watching a video of someone speaking gives you the facial expressions, body language, voice tones, and accents that you are missing when reading text only. You can use video to connect with family, friends, and connect outside of your circle of known contacts. There are many different ways to share video online, but I’m only covering some of the main ones.


Connect Through Video Personally

You can connect on a more personal level in the following ways:

Use your smartphone and send video to family and friends. Our phone cameras do so much now – it’s simple to record a quick video with your phone and email or text it to a friend. It’s a way to send a message that’s a little more personal and special and doesn’t take much time or effort.

Communicate online through FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. Video chats and calls make it easy to meet with family and friends over the computer. Connecting live with somebody is even better than a phone call. It requires internet access on both/all ends, but other than that it’s free!

Use Facebook Live Video from your own profile to share with your Facebook friends. Facebook recently rolled out Live video on profiles – both on computers and phones. Just start a live video, record as long as you want, and it’s posted on your page. It’s only for your own Facebook friends to see and interact with. They can watch you live and comment or watch it after and comment then. It’s a fun way to share your day.


Connect Through Video Publicly

You can connect in a more public way using these methods:

YouTube. Record your videos with your computer or camera and then upload to your YouTube page. These are shared publicly. You can prepare, film, edit, and post the kind of videos you want, whether to build traffic, grow your brand, or just make a connection with new people through their comments and interactions online.

Video uploaded to a Facebook page. You can upload your videos to your Facebook page to share publicly. Share one that has been edited to near-perfection or share one with raw unedited everyday-life footage. Your fans can connect with you by commenting and sharing.

Facebook Live video on pages. When you do Facebook Live on your public page, it will show up on the live map as well as to all of your followers. They can interact right then by asking you questions and making comments that you can respond to while on camera. Your live video is automatically recorded and then can be seen on your Facebook page by your followers anytime and they can comment and share at that time.

Instagram Stories. Instagram stories are very short video clips that you do through your phone and post to Instagram. If your Instagram profile is set to public, then anybody who follows you will be able to see your story and comment to connect.

The more you share of yourself and your life through video, the more others feel they know about you and connect with you on a deeper level. It can be a little scary, but once you take the chance, you’ll find it easier to do the next time. Are you ready to reach out and connect today through video?

Day 29 Daily Connection Challenge:
Step out of your comfort zone and record either yourself or something happening during your day. Use whatever method of recording that’s easiest for you. Now post that video online somewhere! You could just message it to a couple of people or share it on your own Facebook profile so only your friends see it. If you’re feeling particularly brave, share your video publicly on YouTube, a Facebook page, or Instagram! Try video chatting with a friend or family member this week through a Google Hangout. If you don’t know how to use it, click here to find more info. Remember to arrange video calls ahead of time – most people don’t like to be caught off guard by having to show up live unexpectedly.

Thanks for being here with me for Day 29 of 31 Days of Connection! Have you tried connecting through video? Have you done any video calls or posted videos on Facebook? Do you have a YouTube channel? Let me know what fun you’ve had with videos or what fears might be keeping you from it – leave a comment! See you back here again for Day 30, friends!

Why You Should Connect on LinkedIn

Glad to have you here for Day 28 of 31 Days of Connection! Stop by Day 1 for links to all the posts in the series.


Why You Should Connect on LinkedIn

We’ve covered some of the top social media networks to talk about how you can connect better – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and now LinkedIn. I know you’re wondering if connecting on LinkedIn even matters unless you’re looking for a job. I say yes, it does! It’s another opportunity to connect with a different group of people and I happen to think that everybody should be on LinkedIn. Here are a few reasons to be there:

  • Practice the art of connection
  • Build your own network of fans and promoters
  • Find useful info – less “fluff” and more substance
  • Increase your knowledge and share
  • Improve chances of finding a job when you need one

So now you understand the why, but what about the how. How should you be working on connection through LinkedIn?


How to Connect on LinkedIn

There are a few different ways that you can reach out to develop new relationships and improves existing ones. Here are some ideas:

Connect with everybody you know. Don’t get caught up in the idea that LinkedIn is just connecting for job opportunities. You never know who you might end up connecting with through somebody you know or a friend of a friend. If you haven’t already taken the time to check through the people suggested for you, be sure to do that and ask to connect with all that you personally know as well as any that you have some sort of affiliation with and any that you would like to connect with in the future. Don’t be spammy and try to connect with a hundred people you don’t know – that’s not a good strategy. Always start with the ones you know. Then go for the ones that know people that you know. And keep building from there.

Post useful and helpful info and links. Post on a regular basis in order to stay in touch with your network. Show your value by sharing truly helpful links and information for others to use. Respond to those who comment on your posts. Share about opportunities to join and connect in some way as well so you can continue to grow your relationships.

Send messages. You can send messages through LinkedIn to people that you have no connection with (don’t be spammy) to introduce yourself and you can message your own connections. Take time to reach out and thank somebody for connecting with you as well as congratulate someone on a recent accomplishment.

Like, Comment, Share. Repeat. If you find any shared info helpful, do click Like and even leave a comment. It’s how you show support and begin a conversation. If you find a link interesting, share it to your connections with your own comment about why you want to share it. Click Like when LinkedIn notifies you of events such as friends getting new jobs or celebrating work anniversaries. Showing support leads to your connections supporting you back and improving the level of connection between you.


Endorse. LinkedIn will give you opportunities to endorse your connections for their listed skills. Take a few minutes to go through and endorse the ones you can truly speak to. Don’t endorse just to endorse. Be honest – if you know a connection is actually good at something or you have seen them demonstrate a specific skill, then endorse away. Some of them may take the time to endorse you for some skills which helps build up your profile for professional purposes.

Join Groups. This is your chance to connect with people with similar interests. To find groups to join, hover near the top and you’ll see a bar that includes Interests – hover over that and then click on Groups. Click Discover near the top and you’ll be shown groups that LinkedIn thinks you might like and that have your connections as members. If you want to search for certain types of groups, go to the dropdown menu to the left of the search bar at the top and select Groups. Put in search terms for the types of groups you are interested in. After you join a group, be sure to participate and get to know people.

Improve the way you use LinkedIn and you’ll improve the way you connect with people, both personally and professionally. If you haven’t joined LinkedIn yet, give it a try!

Day 28 Daily Connection Challenge:
Connect with some new people on LinkedIn by checking People You May Know under My Network. Like and comment on 3 posts by 3 different people this week and respond back if they comment. Find links to 2 helpful articles this week and share them on LinkedIn with your own commentary on why they are helpful. Search for groups that you have an interest in and join 2 of them.

Thank you for being here for Day 28 of 31 Days of Connection! Are you already on LinkedIn? If so, have you been using to connect with people or just leaving it static? What keeps you from using it more often? Let me know in the comments! See you again for Day 29!