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

Scout Camp

My son heads to scout camp in Vermont this morning.

In about an hour, we’ll be putting him on a bus with others scouts and leaders from his troop.  From there, he’ll begin the journey to camp where he will work on merit badges and scout skills.  He will bond with others, and he will be challenged to work on his character.  I anticipate that he will come back next weekend exhausted yet STRETCHED.

The Boy Scouts of America has taken some hits in the media through the years thanks to their position on several key issues.  While I’m sure there are some very bad experiences that some kids have had in their scout troop, this is not the case for most boys.  I’m thankful for this organization – especially our local troop – where my son has been pushed.  Over the years, I have seen him develop more confidence, stronger leadership skills, and better decision-making skills.

And so today, I pray for Isaac.

God give Isaac and his troop safety as they travel today to Vermont.  May this be a week that Isaac will always remember.  Help Isaac to stand tall, to grow, and to represent you well while he is away this week.  I pray that You would ease any struggles he experiences with home-sickness.  And I thank You for this opportunity for Isaac.  More than anything, help him to know Your love this week and always.

July 20, 2013 Posted by | parenting, prayer | Leave a comment

Don’t Hold A Press Conference

We all like to be noticed.  We all like to be recognized for doing something good.  We like to hear people say, “Good job.”  We want the praise of man.  I think this is a normal human desire.

The other day, I was reading in Matthew 6 which is part of the Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus.  In part of this sermon, Jesus talks about how we should give to the needy, how we should pray, and how we should go about fasting.  Three times in this passage Christ says, “Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  When we give to the needy, when we pray, and when we fast, we should do these acts so no one knows but God.  We want the recognition.  We want to hold a press conference when we do these things.  But Christ tells us to keep it between God and us.  Surely, God’s reward is far greater than any recognition we get from man.

As a blogger this is a huge topic to ponder.  I often blog about the activities of my family including the activities related to serving others.  I hope that my main motivation in sharing these things is to encourage others to find ways to serve with their families, but I confess that there may be a part of my motivation that wants to hear others say, “Your family is so good.  You are a great parent.  You and Leanne do such a great job.”  These compliments do mean a lot, but my suspicion is that these praises of people pale in comparison to the reward that God promises.

Ultimately, I want to glorify God.  Whether it’s giving to the needy, praying, fasting, working, running, blogging, or whatever, I want my thoughts and actions to bring glory to God.

And so I stretch!  (In a year of being transformed, transformation of my motives is a great place to start.)

What do you think?  Do you struggle with seeking the praise of people?  How do you fight this?

January 10, 2012 Posted by | blogging, experiences, fasting, giving, heart, parenting, prayer, press conference, stretch, teaching, thoughts, transformed, wisdom | 17 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 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

Our Christmas Ornament Tradition

My first Christmas ornament from 1971

I love this time of year when we break out the family traditions related to the Christmas season.  One of the traditions that I love is when we put up the Christmas tree and decorate it with special ornaments.  Each year, we give our kids a “special” ornament that represents something about their year.  This year, our daughter received a canoe ornament from the Christmas shop in Mont Tremblant.  This ornament will help her remember the fun we had on our family vacation to Canada this summer when she paddled around a small lake in a canoe with her brother.  Our son received a ski gondola ornament also from the Christmas shop in Mont Tremblant.  This ornament will help him remember our hike to the top of Mont Tremblant and the easy trip down in the gondola.

We’ve been doing this tradition since the kids were born, so they are starting to develop quite a collection of these “special” ornaments.  Each year when we set up the tree, they take turns hanging up their ornaments and reminding us all about their ornaments and the memories that are associated with each of them.  It’s a fun tradition!

They're almost as tall as the tree! How did that happen?

I can’t tell you that Leanne and I thought of this on our own, because that wouldn’t be true!  My parents actually carried out the same tradition for my brothers and me.  I still have all my ornaments from when I was a kid, and yes, I still hang them up every year.  And I think my kids actually enjoy hearing the stories associated with my ornaments.  As we were hanging up our ornaments this year, we wondered if the tradition would carry on to our grandchildren some day.  I hope so!

Do you have any tree trimming traditions at your house?  What is one of the “special” ornaments that you hang on your tree every year?

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Christmas, Christmas season, family, family traditions, first Christmas ornament, Mont Tremblant, parenting, thoughts, tradition | 11 Comments

My Little Girl Turned 14 Yesterday

Hannah many years ago during the backyard Easter egg hunt

If you want to talk about a “stretching” moment, my “little girl” turned 14 yesterday.  How did that happen?

Hannah hanging with her brother this summer

We had a great weekend celebrating!  Hannah is turning into quite the young lady.  She’s smart.  She’s kind.  She’s beautiful.  She’s caring.  She’s compassionate.  She is laser focused.  Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

What’s your family celebrating these days?

November 21, 2011 Posted by | experiences, family, life, looking back, parenting, stretch | 7 Comments

Borrowed Beauty

Later this year, I will hit a milestone birthday – the big 4-0!  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve thought about it too much.  Although maybe I’m giving myself too much credit.  After all, my blog post today is starting with this thought.

At any rate, something happened last night that made me feel old.  Many of you know my daughter, Hannah, or have an idea of who she is thanks to my blog.  Next month, she will turn 14.  This is part of my aging process.  It seems like yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital in her car seat and sweater outfit that Grammy made for her.  Well, she’s not a baby any more.  My Sweetie is turning into quite a beautiful and caring young lady.

Yesterday as part of her Columbus Day holiday, she went Halloween costume shopping with Leanne at our local Goodwill store.  She came home with this beautiful red evening gown that she purchased for $20 with her own money.  After dinner last night, she tried in on for me.  Wow!  How did we go from a baby sweater to a flowing red gown so fast?  As I hugged Hannah and commented on her beauty, I asked her not to grow up so fast.  She smiled as if to say, “I can’t help it, and I’m proud of who I’m becoming.”

I’m proud of her as well.  As Leanne and I were talking about Hannah later last night, Leanne reminded me that Hannah is really on loan from God.  God gave us Hannah and Isaac to nurture and support for a little while, but they were never fully ours from the beginning.  They belong to God.  I’m so thankful for the chance to borrow these two amazing kids.  And yes, I will cherish each moment and day I get to spend with them.

How do you look at your kids?

What’s something you are borrowing that will one day need to be returned?

October 11, 2011 Posted by | family, life, parenting, stretch, thankful, thoughts, trusting God | 5 Comments

Magic Boy and Super Sitter

It’s hard to believe how quickly our kids grow.  This picture was taken the first day of school (this year), and I think they’ve grown another few inches since then.  A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids with us to visit Grove City College for Homecoming and Leanne’s 15th Class Reunion.  Leanne and I felt especially “older” as our kids were clearly the oldest kids among Leanne’s classmates.

One of the cool things about our visit was how our friends’ kids were attracted to our kids.  When we were walking over to line up for the parade, one of our friends’ kids ran up to Isaac and said, “Hey Magic Boy, do a magic trick!”  And he was completely serious.  He had been to our home a month or two prior to homecoming and remembered Isaac doing magic tricks for the kids.  Leanne and I often remark to each other how much of a performer our son can be.  He loves to put on shows for people.  He is the first to jump on the piano or to take out his trumpet when guests come over.  We sometimes wonder what Isaac will do when he grows up.  Perhaps, he’ll be the ring master for a circus, a musician, or a preacher or worship leader.  It’s fun to imagine as we watch our son bloom.

At Grove City, most of the kids were attracted to Hannah.  And many of the parents were putting bids on Hannah to come to their homes over the summer to watch their kids.  Hannah is a leader and a care-giver.  She knows how to take charge and how to have compassion.  She had the opportunity to hold a baby, and it was fun to watch her as the baby fell asleep in her arms.  She also was the leader for the preschoolers and elementary kids as they made up games and did crafts together.  Leanne and I often say that Hannah will have an interesting future.  Will she be a teacher, a missionary, a mom, or president of some organization?  Like her brother, it’s fun to watch as our daughter matures and becomes a young lady.

As we watch our kids grow, we have come to know and realize that time goes so quickly.  Each moment is precious as they fly by before our eyes.  It’s for this reason that I often say that Paul’s call in Colossians to “make the most of every opportunity” was about sharing our faith, but it’s also a great reminder to take advantage of the time we have with our kids.  Walking around Grove City College a couple of weeks ago with our kids was a huge reminder that our kids will be venturing to college before we know it.  We need to make the most of these days we have with “Magic Boy” and “Super Sitter.”

What characteristics and gifts to you see developing in your children?  What are you doing to make the most of the opportunities you have with your children?

October 4, 2011 Posted by | experiences, family, life, looking back, parenting, thoughts, Uncategorized | 6 Comments