Jon Stolpe Stretched

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

Denny

Yesterday, I learned that someone my age passed away.  Seventeen and a half years ago, we had worked together for our former employer.  We both put in long hours.  We learned a lot through the experience.  I left the company when the company went through some traumatic events and changes right before I got married.  And he stuck it out as the company emerged like a phoenix from the ashes.  I learned yesterday that he stuck it out at the company for a total of twenty years before jumping over to my company.  He spent his last two years working in a different office and department, so I had no idea.  It would have been nice to reconnect after so many years.

I’m not sure how or why he died.  After doing some investigation, I learned that he did have a young son.  It doesn’t appear that he was married.  There are so many things I’d like to know.

Life has a funny way of reminding us that life is fleeting and relationships matter.  At the age of 41, it seems unfair that he would depart from the world leaving his son without a father.  But I guess I’m reminded that life is short.  We’re not guaranteed an extra year, an extra day, an extra minute.  His passing is a reminder to make the most of my life.  His passing also reminds me that relationships matter.  We lost touch as soon as I left the company.  Life can be like that.  People come and go from our lives.  In some regards that is natural.  But his passing reminded me that each and every relationship matters.  I don’t want to take my relationships for granted.  I pray that my interactions today would be intentional – that I would live and respond as if its urgent.

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.  Isaiah 40:8

God, thanks for Denny.  Comfort his family.  Help me to be intentional with my life and my relationships.  Thank you for today.

July 16, 2013 Posted by | life, prayer, thoughts | 2 Comments

Guest Post – How To Have God’s Will For Your Life

Today, I have the honor of presenting Brandon Gilliland.  Brandon is a young leader with lots of passion and incredible talent.  He’s training to become a surgeon.  In his spare time, he plays the guitar, and he blogs about leadership, following Christ, playing the guitar, and becoming a surgeon.  Brandon currently writes at two blogs.  You can check them out here and here.  Please jump over and become one of his regular readers.

(If you’re interested in becoming a Stretched guest blogger, let me know in the comments, and I’ll get back to you.  I’m always looking for people to share their Stretching stories.)

How To Have God’s Will For Your Life

A question that encompasses many Christian’s lives is “How do I follow God’s will for my life?” I have wondered this myself many times. As a student on track to become a surgeon, I have many doubts in my mind. I commonly question myself the methods that I am going through. A few short months ago, a really questioned if this track was God’s will for my life. I sometimes still question it, but I am starting to discover that becoming a surgeon is what God desires for me to do with my life. It is a lot of work, but if it is God’s will for my life, He will give me the strength and the necessary opportunities that will ultimately allow me to become a surgeon.

Like I said earlier, there were a few moments when I was not sure what God’s will for my life entailed (on the career side of things). As Christians, we should desire to stay in God’s will for our lives. If we are truly following Christ, we should have the desire to please and serve Him.

If we are always questioning if what we are doing is God’s will, then how can we serve Him to our absolute best ability? The answer is rather simple: focus on God. This is easy to say, but it is not easy to live out on a daily basis. There are a few things that I have to remind myself of all the time to be able to be assured that I am living God’s will for my life.

Pray

First off, prayer is important. If prayer is not an important part of your life, you can be certain that you are not in God’s will. If you are not on the same wavelength as God, you are not going to make the decisions that He wants you to make.

“Pray without ceasing…”

-1 Thessalonians 5:17

Keep the Main Goal in Mind

After prayer is an important part of your life, you need to keep the main goal in mind. Obviously, this goal can not be set properly without consulting God first. When you believe that God has revealed to you a certain goal after you have prayed about it, you can begin to focus on that goal. Go can desire something else, but you can have the right thought pattern. That leads us to the next point…

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

-Colossians 3:2

Focus on the Small Things

Ultimately, it is essential to know God’s main goal, but it is not beneficial to focus entirely on it. If you focus too much on the main goal, you can begin to drift. Instead, it is important to focus on the small tasks that lead to the ultimate goal. This method insures that you can follow God’s will. If you are doing everything that God wants you to do at every moment, you can be 100% sure that you are in God’s will for your life.

That is the problem though. We do not always pray. We do not always focus on God. We are not always on God’s wavelength.

This is the reason why we can stray from God’s will. He desires so much more for us, but sometimes we give up on the blessings He has for us.

What do you need to follow God’s will on?

January 11, 2012 Posted by | blog spotlight, Brandon Gilliland, God's will, guest blogger, life, prayer, stretch, teaching, thoughts, wisdom | 8 Comments

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

Top Posts of 2011 Number 3 – Reflect More, Risk More, Leave A Legacy – Start Blogging (A Guest Post by Jason Fountain)

As I mentioned last week, 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 3rd most popular Stretched post from 2011 was a guest post by my friend Jason Fountain.  The post is titled Reflect More, Risk More, Leave A Legacy – Start Blogging.  Here’s an excerpt to get you going:

Reflect More, Risk More, Leave A Legacy – Start Blogging

John Maxwell relates a story shared by sociologist Anthony Campolo.  Campolo tells about a group of 50 people over the age of 90 years old who were asked one question: If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?

The question was open-ended and the people’s answers were varied. However, three ideas consistently emerged.

1. If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more. 
2. If I had it to do over again, I would risk more. 
3. If I had it to do over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.

I want to share with you an idea that can help you begin to accomplish all three of these goals TODAY.

To read the rest of this post, head on over to the original Reflect More, Risk More, Leave A Legacy – Start Blogging post.

What would you change about 2011?

What is one thing that you’re looking forward to in 2012?

December 26, 2011 Posted by | blog spotlight, blogging, guest blogger, Jason Fountain, Let's get it started, life, looking back, stretch, thoughts | Leave a comment

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

Top Posts of 2011 Number 5 – Detours – A Guest Post by Leanne Stolpe

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to provide links to the top Stretched posts from 2011.  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 5th most popular Stretched post from 2011 was a guest post written by my wife, Leanne.  Here’s an excerpt to get you going:

Detours

This week I took a day off and went to the beach. This is something I used to do a couple of times a year but recently haven’t done for quite some time. So, it was a big deal to me. I filled up my tank with gas. I packed a picnic lunch, and figured out my directions. I put my tunes in the cd player and started on my trip. I didn’t even get on the turnpike when there was a detour – right at the start of my trip!

It reminded me of how this past year seemed like a detour in many ways.

To read the rest of this great post, head on over to the original Detours post.  I promise it’s worth the visit.

When was the last time you took a detour?

What was one of your top posts this year?

December 21, 2011 Posted by | blog spotlight, guest blogger, life, looking back, stretch, thankful, thoughts, trusting God | 5 Comments

Potential, Position, and Pain (A Guest Post by Jonathan Pearson)

Today, I have the privilege of presenting guest blogger, Jonathan Pearson.

Jonathan Pearson

Jonathan Pearson is the Communications Pastor at Cornerstone Church, Assistant Director of The Sticks, and co-creator of MillennialLeader.com. Jonathan writes, tweets, & speaks to inspire people to work together to reshape the world. Jonathan can be found online at JonathanPearson.net and on twitter as @JonathanPearson. Jonathan is married to Melissa and the two live in Orangeburg, S.C.

(I’m always looking for opportunities to share others stretching stories.  Please leave me a comment if you’re interesting in guest posting at Jon Stolpe Stretched!)

We all have those things that we’re uncomfortable with…

Those things that we find ourselves insecure about.

Those things we dread because we know we’re not good in a particular situation.

Those things that when forced to, we do OK in, but we don’t want to be forced to.

And then we have those things that we’re uncomfortable with but know are a necessary inconvenience.

Those things that we know, if we do them, we’ll lead us beyond where we are.

Those things that, once we get through them, take us to another level.

Those things that stretch us.

For me, it’s being young and leading people older than me.

Everyday of my life, it stretches me to think different, remain humble, and love those I lead.

Everyday, it forces me to get uncomfortable, to seek God, and to do the very best I can.

Some days, I screw it up.

Some days, I knock it out of the park.

But if I was never in over my head,

if I was never forced to get uncomfortable,

I’d never grow.

My potential would never be reached.

It’s in those times of tough, hard nosed, in over your head times of leadership that we’re prepared for our destiny… that we’re prepared for the God sized calling in our lives.

Don’t regret or detest what stretches you.

What’s stretching you these days?

December 20, 2011 Posted by | blog spotlight, guest blogger, Jonathan Pearson, leadership, life, stretch, thoughts | 12 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