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

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

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

Date Night

I’m fairly certain that I’ve  blogged about this before, but I think it’s been a while.  I just wanted to celebrate the weekly date night that my wife and I try hard to preserve.  Last night, we enjoyed some time together and some delicious dessert at a local treasure, Little Ortino’s, in “downtown” Schwenksville.  We enjoyed unbelievable coconut creme pie and peanut butter fudge pie, the great music of Jim Brickman, and wonderful company and conversation – with each other!

Monday night is sacred in our house.  Our kids know that this is the night that Mom and Dad get away together for an hour or so.  We all know not to schedule anything for this night.  Sometimes, we go for a walk.  Sometimes, we play tennis.  And sometimes, we grab dessert somewhere.  Whatever it is, we get to spend time together.  We get to connect – just the two of us.

If you’re married, I strongly encourage you to set aside a regular time to get away with your spouse.  Lock it in and make it sacred.

What is the best date you’ve experienced?

 

September 20, 2011 Posted by | experiences, family, marriage, thankful, thoughts | 17 Comments

The Birds and The Bees – Talking to Your Kids About Sex

I was blessed as a kid with parents who spoke clearly and appropriately about sex.  The summer before I went into sixth grade, I remember my dad taking me camping to Lake Atsion.  It was here that we spent time camping and cooking.  And it was here that my dad gave me “the talk” about sex.  I’m sure it was somewhat awkward for both of us, but this was clearly an important conversation.

From what I’ve heard, most kids don’t learn about the birds and the bees from this type of candid discussion from their parents.  Most kids learn from their peers, from pornographic magazines and websites, and from experimentation.

Leanne and I decided early on in our parenting that we didn’t want our kids learn first about sex from others.  Several years ago at a Family Life Marriage Conference, we picked up a four book series called “God’s Design for Sex.”  Each book is written for a different age group to give parents the tools to talk to their kids about sex with age appropriate material.  Leanne read through these books with Hannah already, and I’ve been reading the books with our son.  As Isaac is in the first weeks of sixth grade, we are finishing up the third book in the series.  There’s been a little awkwardness as we’ve talked about things like periods, AIDS, and about some of the “mechanics” of sex.  (I’m an engineer, I couldn’t help it.)  But our conversation has also been good.

I’m thankful for the example of my parents, for helpful tools like these books, and for the chance to teach our kids about a subject that matters.

How did you learn about sex?  How have you handled this subject with your own kids?

September 15, 2011 Posted by | book review, family, life, marriage, parenting | 20 Comments

Be Generous

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, 
   who conduct their affairs with justice.

Psalm 112:5

When Leanne and I were celebrating our 15th anniversary in Cape Cod, we met Bob (above).  Bob met us one morning as we were getting off the boat on Nantucket.  This meeting had been arranged by Bob’s son who goes to our church, and I want to make sure I never forget what we experienced.  I don’t want to forget this day, because it was truly a great reminder of generosity.  Here’s what happened.

Leanne and I decided that we should go to Nantucket  on the actual day of our 15th anniversary.  We arranged the visit boat ride over to the island from Cape Cod through Mary, our bed and breakfast hostess.  We decided to take our bikes on the boat, so we could enjoy some biking and sight-seeing during our once in a lifetime day trip.  As we unloaded our bikes from the boat, we met Bob.  He was standing there patiently waiting for us in anticipation of starting the tour.  Bob took us over to his yacht club where we dropped off his bike and proceeded to walk a few blocks up a hill to The First Congregational Church where our friend from church had been married.  We walked up to the bell tower to enjoy spectacular views of Nantucket.

After walking back down to the yacht club, we jumped in Bob’s Suzuki Sidekick.  From here, Bob took us all over the town where we saw The Oldest House on the island, the old windmill, and some homes of well-known business people and celebrities.  The town is beautiful with its cobblestone streets and its blooming hydrangea bushes.  As we traveled around the town, it was obvious that Bob knew many facts about this town and he was so happy to be able to share the place he loves with us.

When we got back to the yacht club, Bob offered to take us for a ride in his boat.  At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I was dreaming – was I going to wake up back at home in Pennsylvania?  Bob drove us around the harbor area of Nantucket and pointed out various homes and sites.  He also shared stories about his family and about his business.  You could tell he was particularly proud of his kids.  The boat ride was so refreshing, and I felt like I was flying along the water as we motored across the harbor.  It was a boat ride to remember.  (Leanne even had an opportunity to drive the boat.)

Our time with Bob wasn’t over when we arrived back at the yacht club.  Bob invited us to lunch at the club.  It was an offer we couldn’t refuse – and I’m not sure he would have taken no for an answer.  We enjoyed sandwiches and lemonades on the patio overlooking the tennis courts and harbor.  Bob continued with stories of the yacht club.  He told us about the boat races that he and his brother had won.  He shared about how his kids had grown up at the yacht club every summer.  He wasn’t bragging.  He was celebrating.  He was expressing thanksgiving for what he had experienced.

Following lunch, we said our good-byes.  As Leanne and I walked to our bikes, we looked at each other and agreed that we would never forget our 15th anniversary, and we would never forget the generosity of Bob – a man we had never met before this day, a man who expressed generosity to complete strangers.  I don’t anticipate the business success that Bob has had in his life (although I suppose that’s possible), but I want to be like Bob when it comes to being generous.  Thanks, Bob for a great day and an important reminder to be generous.

Have you ever experienced generosity that blew you away?

September 2, 2011 Posted by | experiences, life, looking back, marriage, new experiences, thankful, thoughts, vacation | 7 Comments

Less Like Scars

“It’s been a hard year, but I’m climbing out of the rubble.

These lessons are hard, healing changes are subtle.”

– Sara Groves

Recently, I’ve had several people ask how things are going…how’s Leanne?  Almost a year ago, Leanne was hospitalized.  We’ve spent the past year recovering and rediscovering new normals, new priorities, and renewed appreciation and passion for each other, for friends and family, and for life.  God is good!

As I look back on my journal and my blog from the past year I see pain, loneliness, and despair, but I also see healing, connection, and hope.  Sara Groves song, Less Like Scars, speaks so clearly to my thoughts as I look back on this past year.

It’s been a hard year
But I’m climbing out of the rubble
These lessons are hard
Healing changes are subtle
But every day it’s

Less like tearing, more like building
Less like captive, more like willing
Less like breakdown, more like surrender
Less like haunting, more like remember

And I feel you here
And you’re picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars and more like
Character

Less like a prison, more like my room
It’s less like a casket, more like a womb
Less like dying, more like transcending
Less like fear, less like an ending

And I feel you here
And you’re picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars

Just a little while ago
I couldn’t feel the power or the hope
I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t feel a thing
Just a little while back
I was desperate, broken, laid out, hoping
You would come

And I need you
And I want you here
And I feel you

And I know you’re here
And you’re picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad, bad situation
But you are able

And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars

And more like
Character

Today, I rejoice.  I praise God for significant milestones achieved in the healing process.  I’m thankful for a new compassion for families faced with the challenges of mental illness and other health problems.  And I smile as I realize the promise of a bright future with hope for tomorrow.  God is good!

(And by the way, Leanne is doing well – and so am I.  Thanks for asking.)

How are you?  How have you seen your scars transformed?

August 30, 2011 Posted by | experiences, family, life, looking back, marriage, questions, thankful, thoughts, trusting God | 7 Comments

Refuel Your Marriage – Cape Cod Getaway Highlights

As I mentioned yesterday, Leanne and I had the wonderful opportunity to take a vacation to Cape Cod.  We dropped the kids off with Leanne’s folks for the week, and we enjoyed some time away for just the two of us.  We try to get away at least once a year without the kids.  Usually, it’s just for a night or two, but this year we decided to extend it to almost a week to celebrate our anniversary.  In the past, we’ve enjoyed our stays at different inns that offer a bed and breakfast type atmosphere.  This year was no different.  We stayed at the One Centre Street Inn in Yarmouth Port, MA.  It was such a refreshing experience to wake up to a gourmet breakfast every morning after a quiet nights sleep.  Here are the brief highlights from our trip:

Monday – Travel and an evening at Dennis Beach (on the Cape Cod Bay)

Sunset on Dennis Beach

Tuesday – Martha’s Vineyard

Edgartown Lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard

Wednesday – Nantucket

Leanne on our Nantucket private boat tour

Thursday – Provincetown and Cape Cod Baseball League

Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown

Friday – Nauset Beach and an evening in Chatham, MA

My lobster dinner in Chatham

As you can see, we had an adventurous week.  Time like this is so important for refueling our marriage.  It gets us away from the distractions of home life.  It provides an opportunity to focus on us.  It gives us a chance to take a break and relax.  It gives us a chance to enjoy each other.  And it gives us a chance to talk about the future and to set goals.  (And by the way, our kids had a blast with Grammy and Pappap.)

If you’re married, I strongly encourage you to get away with your spouse on a regular basis to refuel .

How do you refuel?

July 18, 2011 Posted by | experiences, marriage, vacation | 8 Comments

I’m Back…

I’m back!  But maybe you didn’t even know I was missing.

I just returned from a week of vacation with my wonderful wife as we celebrated our 15th anniversary in Cape Cod.  It was an incredible trip, and I hope to share some of the details in the days to come.  I just wanted to send out a quick thank you to all four of my guest bloggers this week.  I think they all did an excellent job sharing how they have felt “stretched” these days.  If for some reason you missed it, here are the links to the four guest posts.

Monday:  Norman Stolpe (my dad) – God in the Spaces

Tuesday:  Beck GambillFaith Stretch

Thursday:  Alex HumphreySavor The Flavor

Friday:  Hannah Stolpe (my daughter) – Middle School Missions Trip Recap

Thank you!

When you go on vacation, do you prefer the mountains or the beaches (or maybe somewhere else)?

July 17, 2011 Posted by | blogging, experiences, guest blogger, looking back, marriage, vacation | 3 Comments

Savor The Flavor

Here is a guest post by Alex Humphrey.  Alex is an author, coach, entrepreneur, husband, and Christ-follower.  I have enjoyed following Alex on his blog for the past couple of months, and he graciously agreed to share his thoughts and talents with us today.  I love what he has to say below.  Please chime in on his questions, and don’t forget to get connected with Alex.  Besides his blog, you can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

(If you’re interested in guest posting on my blog, please drop me a comment.  I’d love to connect with you.)

Last week my wife and I had “a talk”. We haven’t been communicating well and it has left us feeling frustrated and making it hard to be open with one another.

It took a while, but we finally figured out what was going on:

  • My wife lingers on ideas. She sees books, movies, and even the Bible like a delicious meal where each bite needs to be savored, experienced, and understood before she can move on to the next.
  • I try to understand the ideas quickly so I can move onto the next one. If my thoughts were a meal it would be an all-you-can-eat buffet and I’d be doing my best to finish off 10 plates in 20 minutes.

After our conversation, God made it clear: I need to linger more.

Knowing God isn’t something that can be done quickly. We must experience him. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good”. The experience of lingering on a delicious bite is the same experience of understanding the goodness of God.

There are 3 lessons I’ve taken from this:

  1. One thing at a time – More than that and I miss out on something.
  2. Experience every moment – life is a marathon, not a sprint. Every moment should be experienced and enjoyed.
  3. Work until it’s done – My method leaves a lot of projects unfinished. From now on, part of experiencing every moment is finishing what I start.

When was the last time you really experienced an event in your life? What are you doing to help you experience more of them?

July 14, 2011 Posted by | experiences, guest blogger, life, marriage, thoughts | 19 Comments