Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

Wedding Reminder

Yesterday, Leanne and I attended the wedding of my boss’s daughter.  She is a couple of weeks older than my little brother, Erik.  But I definitely felt like I was on the older side of those in attendance.

There were several comical things that happened during the wedding that I may explore at a later point.  I just wanted to capture a couple of thoughts related to my observations of my boss.  He lost his wife just over 3 years ago (another topic to explore later).  It was so great to see him and the whole family happy.

Craig (my boss) did an incredible job walking his daughter down the aisle.  He did a great job welcoming everyone to the reception.  And his part in the father/daughter dance left all the fathers of daughters in the room with our jaws dropped.  There’s no way most of us can compete with the show he and his daughter put on for this dance.

When I started with the company more than 17 1/2 years ago, his daughter was a little girl.  Time certainly flies.  Now while I still have several years to go before Hannah reaches this milestone, I’m realizing more and more how quickly the time will fly.  I want to make the most of each and every opportunity I have with my kids.  I don’t want there to be any regret.

For this reason, my run this morning with Hannah was a little extra special for me.  We didn’t set any land speed records.  We didn’t even talk all that much.  It was just nice to be together.

May I always remember to enjoy each moment with my kids.

God, Thank You for Hannah.  Thank You for giving me such an amazing daughter.  Be with her as she grows and continues to develop into the woman You are calling her to become.  Thank You for her spirit of generosity and compassion.  Thank You for her incredible intelligence and her outstanding work ethic.  And thank You for the reminder to make the most of each moment with her.  Be with Craig’s daughter and new son-in-law as they start their lives together.  Help them to grow and know You deeper every day.  Help them to have happy and healthy lives, and help them to have an impact on this world that far out lives them and their marriage.  Finally God, I ask that You prepare Leanne and I for the milestones to come with our children in the days and years ahead. 

July 21, 2013 Posted by | family, marriage, parenting | Leave a comment

Meet Irwin

Our family has grown in the last couple of weeks.  No, Leanne and I did not have another child.  But we did add another dog to the mix right before Christmas.  Irwin is a golden retriever and Labrador mix, and I believe he turns 9 weeks old today.  He’s not your normal 9 week old family dog.  Irwin has a purpose, and we only get to have him for a short period of time.  You see, Irwin is a Seeing Eye puppy.  He was bred to help a blind person.  As puppy raisers, we will have Irwin until he is 12-18 months old.  Our job is to get him house broken, teach him a couple of basic things (sit, come, etc.), and to get him exposed to public places as much as possible.  From there, Irwin will return to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ where he will go through 8 months of intense training.  This is when he’ll learn the skills required to guide a blind person.  At the end of his training, he will go through a final exam and health check to make sure he’s ready to go to work.  Assuming he passes, he will be matched up with a blind person.  They will work together for a month up at the school before they are sent home to live and work together.

The whole new dog thing has definitely added a chaos to our home, but it has also been fun.  Hannah is the official puppy raiser, and she has been doing an unbelievable job.  She takes him out to “park” whenever it’s time for him to go.  She lets Irwin sleep by her bed at night.  And she wakes up early to make sure he gets outside before any accidents.  If Hannah does this twice before she graduates high school, she’ll be eligible for a scholarship from The Seeing Eye.  So it’s likely that this won’t be the last new puppy we’ll see in our house.

Many people have asked, “how can you raise the puppy for a year and let it go?”  That’s a great question.  I’m sure it will be tough to say goodbye to Irwin when the time comes, but it will be easier to release him knowing that he has a purpose.  As parents, we have a similar experience with our kids.  Sure we get them for more than a year, and those 18 or so years can be filled with all kinds of ups and downs, but I think it’s important to realize that we have influence and responsibility over our children for a relatively short period time.  In essence, they are on loan from God.  There comes a time when we must release them for their greater, God-given purpose.  And so, Irwin reminds me of this.  I want to make the most of the time with my kids while they’re under my roof, and I want to release when the time comes them knowing full well that God has a purpose for them.

Have you ever had to release someone or something in order to pursue a higher calling or purpose?  What made this transition easy or hard?

January 3, 2012 Posted by | experiences, family, Irwin, life, parenting, puppy, Seeing Eye, stretch, thoughts | | 10 Comments

Christmas Eve 2011 Week In Review…

What a great week here at the Stretched Blog.  The blog traffic is up for the week, and we’re already running a higher page view total than last month.  If we can keep it up this week (which could be tough over the holidays), the Stretched Blog may see its highest page views per month total ever!

Monday’s post was titled My Treasure & My Heart was an opportunity to share some of my wrestling over time and priorities.  I really appreciate the empathy and encouragement expressed in the comments for this post.  Tuesday brought a visit from Jonathan Pearson.  Jonathan did an excellent job sharing the stretching of a young leader.  Wednesday, I started to share the top 5 posts for the year.  The number 5 post for the year was a great guest post by my wonderful wife.  She shared about Detours that she has experienced over the past year or two.  On Thursday, I shared the 4th most popular Stretched post of 2011Locks of Love – about my daughter’s generous donation.  And finally and Friday, I shared another fun Ice Breaker about our favorite toys.

I am so thankful for your continued contribution to the blog through comments.  Your comments are what makes this Stretched Community!  Please remember to take the time to Subscribe to the blog, so you can have Stretched delivered daily to your e-mail inbox.  Also, don’t forget to stop by the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook fan page.  Become a fan to keep up with some additional Stretched stuff.  I have started to share more blog highlights from other blogs that I read regularly.  I think you’ll find some great stuff here.  Thanks!

A few of my favorite posts from the rest of the blogging community this week:

I’m really excited about this upcoming week as I’ll be sharing the top 3 posts for 2011, and I’ll be preparing for the new year!  Please stop back so you can see what’s going on here!

How about you?  How was your week?  If you’re a blogger what happened over your way this week?  Did you read any great blog posts this week?  Share with the rest of us!

December 24, 2011 Posted by | blog spotlight, blogging, Christmas, Christmas season, family, Green Machine, guest blogger, Jonathan Pearson, life, locks of love, looking back, stretch, thankful, thoughts, toys | 3 Comments

Top Posts of 2011 Number 4 – Locks of Love

As I shared yesterday, my plan is to provide links to the top Stretched posts from 2011 over the next couple of weeks.  This provides an excellent opportunity for me to take a small break during the holidays, and it also provides an incredible opportunity for you to catch up on things you may have missed over the past year.  I hope you’ll hop on over to the original post, so you can read the entire post and add your comments to the existing comments string.

The 4th most popular Stretched post from 2011 was a post about my daughter and her sacrificial gift.  The post is titled Locks of Love.  Here’s an excerpt to get you going:

Locks of Love

The generous heart of my daughter never ceases to amaze me.  As you can see by the pictures, Hannah decided several months ago to grow her hair out, so she could donate to Locks of Love.  Locks of Love provides wigs for children who are facing hair loss for various reasons.  Hair is a big deal for girls, women, and kids.  So when Hannah decided to have her hair cut so someone else could enjoy a head of hair, it was quite a sacrifice – at least in my mind.

To read the rest of this post and to see more pictures of Hannah’s transformation, head on over to the original Locks of Love post.

When and where was the last time you got your haircut?

What was one of your favorite posts this year?

December 22, 2011 Posted by | blog spotlight, family, heart, life, locks of love, looking back, parenting, stretch, thoughts | 3 Comments

My Treasure & My Heart

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Matthew 6:21

Where is my treasure?

Where is my heart?

I have lots of interests.  I spend my time on lots of things.  I work.  I read.  I blog.  I run.  I watch television.  I eat.  I sleep – some.

Do I devote the same amount of time, energy, and attention to the people and the things that mean the most to me?  This is the question that stretches me.  My God, my wife, and my kids deserve my focus.

This doesn’t mean that I can’t have interests and hobbies.  But I must always keep these things in check.

Stretch on…!

How about you?  Do you know where your priorities should be?  How do they match up with reality?

(Please add your comment, and remember to come back tomorrow for a great guest post by Jonathan Pearson!)

December 19, 2011 Posted by | blogging, family, guest blogger, heart, Jonathan Pearson, life, marriage, parenting, questions, stretch, thoughts, treasure, verses | , , | 14 Comments

December 17th, 2011 Week In Review…

Another week has come and gone.  It was a busy week in real life and here on the Stretched Blog.  The blog is trending towards similar traffic patterns to last week – maybe even stronger this week.  This week saw the second best day ever on The Stretched Blog.  And I’m excited about what’s coming up in the week ahead.  Here’s a recap of the week.

Monday, I kicked off the week with a post which indicated that the Stretched Blog was visiting The Handwritten.  If you haven’t read it yet, please head over to Michael Perkin’s blog to read my guest post titled Stop & Start.  On Tuesday, I shared about my surprise party and I threw out a question about the cake.  We learned some interesting things about some of those in The Stretched Community.  Wednesday, The Stretched Blog paid a visit to Deuceology for a guest post titled I’m Dreaming Of A Stretched ChristmasLarry “The Deuce” Carter mentioned that the post has been running strong over on his blog.  Please head over and check it out, and read the other stuff that Larry’s writing about.  My Thursday post was an introspective post about what it means and looks like to be on fire with our faith.  I’m still wrestling through this one, and I appreciated the comments that contributed to the conversation and my thought process.  And finally on Friday, we finished the week off with another fun holiday Ice Breaker where we learned about what gift everyone would like to receive on the 13th day of Christmas.  You should check it out if you’re trying to figure out what to get The Stretched Blogger for Christmas!

I am so thankful for your contribution to the blog through comments.  Your comments are what makes this Stretched Community!  Please remember to take the time to Subscribe to the blog, so you can have Stretched delivered daily to your e-mail inbox.  Also, don’t forget to stop by the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook fan page.  Become a fan to keep up with some additional Stretched stuff.  Thanks!

A few of my favorite posts from the rest of the blogging community this week:

I’m really excited about this upcoming week as I’ll be sharing a guest post by Jonathan Pearson along with some other great ideas brewing as we head into the Christmas weekend.  I can’t wait!

How about you?  How was your week?  If you’re a blogger what happened over your way this week?  Did you read any great blog posts this week?  Share with the rest of us!

December 17, 2011 Posted by | 12 days of Christmas, birthday, blog spotlight, blogging, Christmas, Christmas season, family, fire, guest blogger, Jonathan Pearson, life, looking back, passion, stretch, thankful, thoughts | 2 Comments

The Stretched Blog Visits Deuceology

Today, I have the honor of guest posting over at Deuceology.  Deuceology is a blog by my friend Larry “The Deuce” Carter.  Larry is a Christian, blogger, husband, dad, and a huge Tennessee Vols fan.  Everyday, Larry posts his thoughts and struggles as he seeks to spur others and himself closer to God.  I love his honesty and openness which leaves me challenged on a daily basis.  Please check out his blog and my guest post which is titled I’m Dreaming of A Stretched Christmas.  Then do me a favor and leave a comment.  Thanks!

Larry "The Deuce" Carter from Deuceology

Regarding guest posting, I love opportunities to guest post as it provides another opportunity to “stretch” me, so contact me through the comments if this is something that interests you.  And I love to share others stretch stories and guest posts, so let me know if that’s something that interests you as well.)

December 14, 2011 Posted by | blog spotlight, blogging, Christmas, Christmas season, family, guest blogger, stretch, thoughts | 5 Comments

December 10th, 2011 Week In Review…

These weeks keep blowing by at a rapid pace.  This week was a milestone week.  I turned 40 on Thursday, and the Stretched blog is having one of the best weeks ever.  Here’s a recap of the week.

Monday, I kicked off the week with a post about my reading list for 2012.  Thanks to all of you who gave me ideas to add to my list of consideration.  If you missed it, please stop by and add your recommendations.  On Tuesday, I shared about our families Christmas ornament tradition.  I really appreciated hearing about your favorite family ornaments and Christmas tree traditions.  Wednesday’s post paid tribute to my Grandpa and his legacy.  Thursday was my birthday.  I appreciated all the birthday greetings through the comments and on Facebook.  Finally, we finished the week off on Friday with another holiday Ice Breaker where we learned about everyone’s favorite Christmas songs and carols.  As always, I’m thankful for all of you who stopped by and left a comment or just checked things out.

I am so thankful for your contribution to the blog through comments.  Your comments are what makes this Stretched Community!  Please remember to take the time to Subscribe to the blog, so you can have Stretched delivered daily to your e-mail inbox.  Also, don’t forget to stop by the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook fan page.  Become a fan to keep up with some additional Stretched stuff.  Thanks!

A few of my favorite posts from the rest of the blogging community this week:

I’m really excited about this upcoming week as I’ll be guest posting on a couple of blogs.  It should be a blast!

How about you?  How was your week?  If you’re a blogger what happened over your way this week?  Did you read any great blog posts this week?  Share with the rest of us!

December 10, 2011 Posted by | birthday, blog spotlight, blogging, Christmas, Christmas season, family, family traditions, first Christmas ornament, guest blogger, life, looking back, stretch, thankful, thoughts | 4 Comments

It’s 40!

Yesterday, I shared about my Grandpa, and I mentioned that I think about him every year at this time.  The reason I think about him especially today is that we share a birthday – today!  Yep, that’s right, the Stretched blogger turns 40 today.  How did that happen?

As I consider this milestone, I’m thankful.  I’m thankful for all the life I’ve experienced so far and for the life that lies ahead for me.  I’m grateful for the people that God has placed in my life.  And I’m so thankful for a God who loves me in the ups and downs, the goods and the bads, and in my successes and failures.  Today’s Psalm applies perfectly to my thoughts for the day.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD; 
   he turned to me and heard my cry. 
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, 
   out of the mud and mire; 
he set my feet on a rock 
   and gave me a firm place to stand. 
3 He put a new song in my mouth, 
   a hymn of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear the LORD 
   and put their trust in him.

 4 Blessed is the one 
   who trusts in the LORD, 
who does not look to the proud, 
   to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, LORD my God, 
   are the wonders you have done, 
   the things you planned for us. 
None can compare with you; 
   were I to speak and tell of your deeds, 
   they would be too many to declare.

 6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— 
   but my ears you have opened— 
   burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— 
   it is written about me in the scroll. 
8 I desire to do your will, my God; 
   your law is within my heart.”

 9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; 
   I do not seal my lips, LORD, 
   as you know. 
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; 
   I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. 
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness 
   from the great assembly.

 11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD; 
   may your love and faithfulness always protect me. 
12 For troubles without number surround me; 
   my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. 
They are more than the hairs of my head, 
   and my heart fails within me. 
13 Be pleased to save me, LORD; 
   come quickly, LORD, to help me.

 14 May all who want to take my life 
   be put to shame and confusion; 
may all who desire my ruin 
   be turned back in disgrace. 
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” 
   be appalled at their own shame. 
16 But may all who seek you 
   rejoice and be glad in you; 
may those who long for your saving help always say, 
   “The LORD is great!”

 17 But as for me, I am poor and needy; 
   may the Lord think of me. 
You are my help and my deliverer; 
   you are my God, do not delay.

Psalm 40

How do you celebrate and process the milestones in your life?

December 8, 2011 Posted by | experiences, family, life, looking back, thankful, thoughts, trusting God | 22 Comments

My Grandpa

Grandpa and The Stolpe Boys

When I get to this time of year, I often think about my Grandpa Stolpe.  (I’ll tell you why tomorrow.)  My Grandpa passed away a few years ago, and he is missed by his whole family.  Grandpa has two kids, seven grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren.  I’m sure each one of us would have a different perspective on our grandfather, and I wanted to share a little bit about my take on the man my cousin calls Big Grey.

Grandpa was first and foremost a follower of Christ.  He lived it.  He breathed it.  He provided a clear example that Christ should come first in our lives.  I remember Grandpa leading us in prayer and Bible reading when we sat down for breakfast when we were there for a visit.  He was always involved at church.  And he had a huge heart for missions and bringing God’s love to everyone around the world.  As we sat down for breakfast, I remember Grandma and Grandpa praying specifically for missionaries around the world.

Grandpa was a killer croquet player.  Whenever we went over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the croquet set would come out of the garage and the croquet match to end all croquet matches would begin.  Grandpa knew the rules like the back of his hand, and he was always quick to teach us the correct way to play the game.  After Grandpa beat the rest of us around the croquet course, he would go back and knock out the older cousins so the younger grandchildren could win.

Grandpa had a great sense of humor.  Some of my cousins and siblings might argue with me on this, but this is something I carry with me.  Grandpa had a desire to make everyone laugh.  He always had a corny joke or response that broke the ice and made you chuckle.  For example, when the cantaloupe came out, he would say, “I can’t elope.  I’m already married to Grandma.”  Or if we had nectarines, he would say “I don’t neck with Irene; I neck with Grandma.”  I’m proud to say that I picked up some of that humor.

Grandpa was Swedish.  Grandpa knew how to speak Swedish.  He shared the Swedish traditions with our family – especially the Christmas Swedish traditions.  I big part of celebrating Christmas is eating the Swedish food.  I attribute this to my Grandma and Grandpa.  At Grandpa’s funeral, they even sang a Swedish hymn.

Grandpa was an incredible example.  After his faith, his marriage was always his top priority.  He and Grandma were a team.  They complimented each other well.  They put each other first before their own interests and needs.  Grandpa would do anything for Grandma.  After his faith and Grandma, family was a top priority.  He would do anything for all of us.  He always wanted the best for each one of us.  He and Grandma prayed consistently for each one of us.  Grandpa had a special relationship with each of us.  When we showed up for a visit, he showed us off like we were movie stars.

I share about my Grandpa to brag, to share, and to remember.

Who in your life to you want to remember and why?

December 7, 2011 Posted by | family, looking back, marriage, prayer, thankful, thoughts, tradition, Uncategorized | 12 Comments