Jon Stolpe Stretched

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December 2011 Top Posts

We’ve reached the end of another month.  December was the BEST month so far at Jon Stolpe Stretched.  Traffic on the blog increased slightly by over 500 page views since November and by almost 300 page views since the previous record month (September 2011)!  Comments continued to roll-in.  And new people joined in the conversation and community.  The blog added TWELVE new subscribers, and the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook Page attracted a couple of new followers in its fourth month.  Here are the top 10 posts and top 3 commentors for the month:

Top 10 Posts

1.  On Fire

2.  Ice Breaker – Christmas Movies (the new #1 Ice Breaker question)

3.  Ice Breaker – Christmas Songs and Carols

4.  Surprise!!!

5.  Our Christmas Ornament Tradition

6.  Ice Breaker – On The 13th Day Of Christmas What Gift Are You Hoping to Get

7.  Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know (originally posted on October 24, 2011)

8.  Ice Breaker – Favorite Toy

9.  Leaders Are Readers – Creating My Reading List For 2012

10.  It’s 40!

Top 3 Commentors (We blew by the 1,500th comment mark this month!)

1.  Larry Carter (for the 2nd month in a row!)

2.  Brandon Gilliland

3.  Bill Grandi

I now have 32 regular subscribers.  If you’d like to become a subscriber, see the “Join the Stretched Community” window on your right.  It’s great to see this starting to take off.

Thank you to all of you for reading and contributing to the blog and to the reader community.  I continue to grow a lot through this experience.  *** This month, the top commentor will receive a copy of The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.  Get your comments in for an opportunity to win!!! ***

As always, I love to share your “stretching” stories on my blog, so leave me a comment if you’re interested in being a guest blogger on Jon Stolpe Stretched.  As a side note, I’d love to see guest bloggers in the monthly top 10 list!

Finally, if you’re a blogger, how did your blog to this month?  What was your top post?  What was your favorite post?

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January 2, 2012 Posted by | birthday, blogging, Christmas, Christmas movies, Christmas season, family traditions, fire, first Christmas ornament, guest blogger, Ice Breaker, stretch, thankful, thoughts | , | 4 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 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

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

Surprise!!!

My wife did it!  She surprised me for my 40th birthday with a party at our house on Saturday night.  And yes, I was surprised.  She sent out invitations, contacted friends, went food shopping, and coordinated the surprise plan with our neighbors, our family, and other friends.  Nobody dropped a clue.  I showed up at our house Saturday night after a day of making Korv (a Swedish Christmas sausage) expecting to take a shower and head out with Leanne and a couple of friends to celebrate over dinner.  When I walked in the house, I was greeted with a house full of friends.  It was such a wonderful opportunity to touch base with some people who mean a lot to me.

There were many highlights to this evening, but I wanted to share a particular detail with The Stretched Community.  One of our good friends, Amy Sullens, made a cake for the party.  Amy did an incredible job representing me on the cake.  On top of the cake was a running shoe (that looked quite realistic).  The shoe obviously represents my running interest.  The Happy 40 Birthday sign on the front of the cake looked just like a runner’s race bib.  On the left side of the cake was a tent and a campfire which represents my love for camping and a couple of camping traditions that go with me each year.  There were two chickens on the back of the cake.  Yep, I still have a couple of chickens.  And finally, the right side of the cake boasted a laptop computer with Stretched by Jon Stolpe on the screen.  My blog made my cake!

All this, and the cake was delicious!

What four things would go on your cake to represent you?  They can be fun things, or you can choose to go deeper.

(If you’re interested in cakes like this, you should check out the Cake Art by Amy Facebook Page.)

December 13, 2011 Posted by | birthday, blogging, camping, chickens, looking back, running, stretch, thankful, thoughts, unbelievable | | 24 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

December 3rd, 2011 Week In Review…

We’ve come to another weekend, and I have to say that this week didn’t let me down.  It was busy, it was challenging, and it was fun!  I hope you had a great week as well.  As I look forward to what is sure to be a great weekend, I just wanted to recap the week.

After a slower week last week due to the holidays, it appears that people came back to the Stretched blog as they’ve returned to their regular blog reading routines.  It also looks like we may have picked up a new reader or two.  As always, I’m thankful for all of you who stopped by and left a comment or just checked things out.  Monday’s post was a recap of my Thanksgiving Marathon experience.  I really appreciated the encouragement of so many of you who cheered me on despite being miles away.  On Tuesday, I shared my thoughts about our recent visit to the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero.  Wednesday featured my thoughts about seeing Mary Poppins on Broadway.  Thursday, I shared my monthly recap post on what went down in November.  Friday finished things off with another fun Ice Breaker about Christmas movies.  This week we learned that It’s A Wonderful Christmas Story when you go on Vacation with an Elf and The Muppets.  Check these posts out if you missed something this week.

Thanks a million for your contribution to the blog through comments.  I’m hoping to catch up on returning comments this weekend.  I love what you all contribute to this Stretched Community!  I just wanted to remind you all to take the take 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 couple of my favorite posts from the rest of the blogging community this week:

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 3, 2011 Posted by | blog spotlight, blogging, life, looking back, stretch, thankful, thoughts | 4 Comments

November 2011 Top Posts

We’ve reached the end of another month.  November was another good month at Jon Stolpe Stretched.  Traffic on the blog increased slightly since October!  Comments continued to roll-in.  And new people joined in the conversation and community.  The blog added a four new subscribers, and the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook Page attracted several new followers in its third month.  Here are the top 10 posts and top 3 commentors for the month:

Top 10 Posts

1.  Paterno and Grace: Is There Any Chance They Go Together?

2.  Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know (#3 from last month)

3.  Me and Grace: Is There Any Chance They Go Together?

4.  Jimmy Buffett, Taffy, and Church Searches – Stretching Through Blogging Blunders by Larry Carter

5.  Blog Spotlight A-J

6.  Thanksgiving Marathon Recap

7.  The 9/11 Memorial

8.  Ice Breaker – Hair

9.  What Are We Doing Here?

10.  Ice Breaker – Encounters with Famous People

Top 3 Commentors (We blew by the 1,000th comment mark this month!)

1.  Larry Carter

2.  Arny Sanchez

3.  Leah Adams

I now have 24 regular subscribers.  If you’d like to become a subscriber, see the “Follow Blog” window on your right.  It’s great to see this starting to take off.

Thank you to all of you for reading and contributing to the blog and to the reader community.  I continue to grow a lot through this experience.

As always, I love to share your “stretching” stories on my blog, so leave me a comment if you’re interested in being a guest blogger on Jon Stolpe Stretched.

Finally, if you’re a blogger, how did your blog to this month?  What was your top post?  What was your favorite post?

December 1, 2011 Posted by | blogging, looking back, stretch, thankful, thoughts | 15 Comments