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On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field released yesterday!

It was appropriate that I spent part of yesterday at my daughter’s track meet where she lowered her mile PR (personal record) by another seven seconds.  She is doing a great job heading into the final dual meet of the season and the conference championships.

Yesterday was a fun day!

On Track picked up several great reviews on Amazon, and the book has been featured on a few blogs around the blog world.  I hope you’ll check out the posts and drop a comment thanking the bloggers for sharing their space with On Track.  Here are the links to get you started:

Guest Post: On Track over at Millennial Leader

Interview with Jon Stolpe, author of “On Track” over at I’m Just Thinkin’

Track over at Cycleguy’s Spin

Did you order your copy of On Track yet?

Head on over to Amazon today to order your copy!

Here’s where I could really use your help.  Could you share about On Track with your friends?  Maybe post about it on Facebook or Twitter, or find a creative way to let others know about On Track.

As a reminder, I am offering a FREE pdf copy of the interior of the book to subscribers of The Stretched Newsletter.  Head over to the main page of the blog and sign up on the right hand menu bar to get your copy today for FREE!

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I’m excited to announce the release of my very first book TODAY!

On Track: Life Lessons from the Track & Field is now available on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.  Click on the link below to order your copy today!

Here’s a bit of the introduction from the book to wet your appetite:

I haven’t always been a runner.

In fact, there were many moments when I utterly despised running.

Somewhere between college and my early thirties, I discovered running, or maybe it discovered me.  I began pounding a couple of miles at a time around my neighborhood after I came home from work one night and realized I was starting to develop a bulge around my midsection.  My love for food and my slowing metabolism had to be counterbalanced, and running seemed like the natural cure.

Despite running cross-country for a season in high school, along with a season of winter track, I was not a confident runner.  Now in my thirties, I jogged around my neighborhood trying to go as fast as I could for as long as I could.  I ended up running two or three miles, and I was done.

Then a good friend of mine invited me to join him in preparing for a half marathon.  This was an utterly crazy idea in my opinion, but somehow he convinced me to join him on a nine-mile training run one Saturday morning.  I had never run this far in my life.  This nine-mile run flipped a switch in me.  I suddenly wanted to run more.  I was now looking forward to running the half marathon with my friend.

Writing has been a similar journey for me.  I wasn’t a bad writer in high school.  In fact, I somehow managed to survive four years of high school honors English.  But my first love was always math and science.  These two subjects pushed me into the world of engineering.

I wrote several papers in college as a requirement for classes, but writing was not something I considered fun.  I graduated and entered the real world of construction and engineering, where I stayed away from long writing assignments unless absolutely necessary.

And then another good friend introduced me to the world of blogging.  He helped me set up my first blog, and I was off and running (I mean writing).

Blogging, like running, became a refuge from the demands of work and raising a family.  It became a place for me to reflect on life’s stretching moments and to stretch readers.  As the years went along and the blog posts began to pile up, I began to receive encouragement and confirmation that my writing was connecting with readers.

My blogging took me down roads I never imagined.  I’ve written about life from many different angles.  Somewhere along the road my interest in running, my interest in writing, and my faith started to intersect.

This book is the product of this intersection.

This book isn’t just for the runner or athlete.  I believe it provides practical life lessons we all can embrace.

If you’re stuck in a rut or need a little guidance in finding your way, I’m hoping this book will help you get On Track!

On Track has picked up several great endorsements and some wonderful reviews.  Here’s what readers are saying about the book:

On Track is a fantastic, quick read!  The stories are inspiring, the lessons life changing and the motivation undeniable!  Jon will have you hooked from the very first page!  The only challenge to reading this book is wanting to stop to apply its principles in your life immediately!  I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get or keep their life On Track!” Mark Sieverkropp, entrepreneur, speaker, author of Project:  Success (www.sieverkropp.com)

“This small book packs a big punch. When Jon writes about his races, I feel as though I am there. He draws me in and then promptly gives me a life lesson to take away. Whether you’re an athlete now, have one hidden inside, or have never so much as laced up your running shoes, read Jon’s book to discover how to get your life ‘on track.’” Matt McWilliams, entrepreneur, leadership guru, author of The Power of Gratitude (www.mattmcwilliams.com)

“Jon offers a tidy little book, a parable if you will, comparing life to running at a track meet. Readers will enjoy sharing the author’s personal experiences and will find the extra boost they are looking for to get their life back on track. An easy, enjoyable and worthwhile read.”  Matt Appling, teacher, artist, author of Life After Art (www.mattappling.com)

“In this marvelous, short, easy to read book, Jon Stolpe likens life to a track meet. He uses track and field analogies to help the reader think through life choices. Each scenario is practical and applicable, even if you have never had track and field experience. The reader is consistently pointed to Jesus Christ as the key to staying ‘on track’ in life.”  Leah Adams, speaker, author of From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest and HeBrews A Better Blend (www.leahadams.org)

Head on over to Amazon today to order your copy!

Once you’ve had a chance to read it, I hope you’ll leave a review on Amazon.  Also, take a few minutes to tell your friends about On Track!

Also worth considering, I am offering a FREE pdf copy of the interior of the book to subscribers of The Stretched Newsletter.  Head over to the main page of the blog and sign up on the right hand menu bar to get your copy today for FREE!

Will you be picking up a copy of On Track?  How would your life be better if you lived on track?

Yesterday for our Easter celebration brunch, I decided to make cinnamon rolls.  My Mom is the queen of cinnamon rolls, and I figured it was time I give it a try for my family.  I have such great memories of smelling and tasting Mom’s famous cinnamon rolls when I was growing up.  Living so far away now, it has been a long time since I indulged in this delicacy.

I started out by following the recipe in one of our cookbooks.  I combined flour and yeast.  Then I added warm milk, sugar, and butter.  I mixed the dough for a few minutes before adding more flour.  I then proceeded to knead the dough for several more minutes.  I was started to dream of the smell and flavor of the cinnamon rolls.

Then my plans started to unravel.

I set the dough aside for an hour to let the yeast do its work.  According to the recipe, the dough should have doubled in the hour.  When I came back to check on the roll dough, I was disappointed to discover that the dough did not rise.

The yeast was bad.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus warns his disciples to be aware of bad yeast.

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Matthew 16:6

It’s a great reminder.  We need to be careful about how we fill our minds and hearts.  Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

4 Ways to Help You Find the Good Yeast

  1. Use God’s Word as the standard.  It all starts here.  Be careful not to take God’s Word out of context.  The Pharisees and Sadducees were known for taking parts of the Law from the Old Testament and forgetting other parts.  In their focus, they missed out on the coming of the Messiah.
  2. Surround yourself with people who will help you grow.  It’s important to find people who will build you up and point you in the right direction.  The wrong people will drag you down and point you towards the wrong way.  Who do you have in your life who helps you grow?
  3. Get rid of the bad yeast.  When you discover a bad influence, you need to do some pruning.  What is the bad yeast that you need to remove from you life?
  4. Be intentional about seeking out the good yeast.  In Philippians 4, Paul charges believers to think about things that are just, noble, trustworthy, and praiseworthy.  This doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes focus.  It requires us to be intentional.  How are you being intentional about finding the good yeast?

I ended up making the cinnamon rolls anyway.  They actually tasted pretty good, but they just weren’t the same as the ones my Mom makes.  Time to throw away the bad yeast in our refrigerator, and time to get new yeast – good yeast!

OnTrack3dCover04132014Tomorrow is the big day!

On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field officially launches tomorrow on Amazon.

 

Ice Breaker – Easter

April 18, 2014 — 7 Comments

Each week on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

(I’m always looking for Ice Breaker question ideas.  If you have an idea, send me an email at jon@jonstolpe.com.  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

Question:  What is one of your favorite things about Easter?

My Answer:  Besides the obvious spiritual answer, I like black jelly beans.  I don’t eat jelly beans very often, but Easter often provides the excuse or opportunity to eat at least a few black jelly beans (and marshmallow peeps).

There are several other things I really enjoy about the Easter season.  For me, Easter signals the official start of spring.  Easter means brunch or dinner with family and friends.  It means Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.  It means a sunrise service.

And Easter is a reminder of the ultimate gift I’ve been given.

Happy Easter!

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.) And keep STRETCHING!

Also don’t forget to sign up for the Stretched newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.  Subscribers will get a special deal on the upcoming release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.


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4 more days until the release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field!

 

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Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy. 

Henri Nouwen

In the picture above, it looks like I’m holding a giant pencil.  In reality, it’s the Washington Monument held by my strategically placed hands.

Perspective is an interesting thing.  We all come at life looking at things from a slightly different perspective.

In the world today, people seem to be convinced that perspective drives truth.  Or better said, “Truth is based on my perspective.  If you don’t see life from my perspective, you’re wrong.”

Absolute truth has essentially been thrown out the window, because today’s “truth” is based on our own perspectives.

There is something wrong with this when taken too far.  If you think I can hold the Washington Monument between my two hands because of the picture above, you would be wrong.  You don’t see the whole picture.  I think this is true for many aspects of life especially in today’s culture.

The only way to truly have the correct perspective is to keep searching for the truth.

Readers could argue that this is my perspective, but I’m convinced that absolute truth comes from a perspective build on God and His Word.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

John 8:31-32

What’s your perspective on truth?


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5 more days until the release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field!

It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure. 

Ernie Harwell

Today, our family says goodbye to Cody.

If you remember from a year ago, our family welcomed Cody to our family.  To read about his entry into our family, you can click here.

Cody joined our family when he was seven weeks old.  He was a tiny light-yellow fur-ball.  We knew he would be only joining our family for a short time.  He had a purpose, and we were assigned a role in helping him prepare for his purpose.

Cody is a Seeing Eye Puppy.  He was bred for the purpose of helping blind or visually impaired people.  Our assignment has been to help him grow through his early puppy stages.  We were responsible for getting him acclimated to the public.  And we were supposed to teach him basic commands like sit, rest, and down.

We’ve taken him to New York City, to our local Target, to the library, to church, on a bus, and on a train.

It hasn’t always been easy.  He has chewed a couple of window sills.  He left a couple of pee stains.  And his yellow hair is dispersed throughout our house.

Today, Cody heads to Morristown, NJ where he will begin the next phase of his journey.  He will go through a medical exam.  He will be placed with a trainer.  He will learn all the essentials for guiding someone who cannot see.  And if all goes well, Cody will be matched with a blind person.  And Cody will become a guide and friend for someone special.

Saying goodbye is bitter-sweet.  It’s tough to say goodbye to our four-legged friend who has certainly captured our hearts.  And it’s exciting to know that Cody may have the opportunity to change someone’s life forever.

Cody’s departure is a reminder that there are several things we can learn about goodbyes.

Five Things To Know About Goodbyes

  1. Goodbyes are part of life.  We all have to say goodbye.
  2. Goodbyes stretch us.  A goodbye can teach us many things.
  3. Goodbyes are not always fun.  It’s not always easy to say goodbye.  Sometimes goodbyes hurt.  And sometimes goodbyes make us sad.
  4. Goodbyes provide an opportunity for new beginnings.  Goodbyes often open the door to new adventures.
  5. Goodbyes don’t have to be the end.  Even if we won’t see someone again, we will always have memories.

What have you learned through your goodbye experiences?  How have you been stretched by the farewells of your life?


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6 more days until the release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field!

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April 22, 2014

On Track is a fantastic, quick read!  The stories are inspiring, the lessons life changing and the motivation undeniable!  Jon will have you hooked from the very first page!  The only challenge to reading this book is wanting to stop to apply its principles in your life immediately!  I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get or keep their life On Track!”

Mark Sieverkropp, entrepreneur, speaker, author of Project:  Success (www.sieverkropp.com)

In one week, On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field will be officially released.  Initially, On Track will be available on Amazon as an eBook and in paperback.

This week, I’m spending time writing guest posts, doing podcast interviews, and answering questions about the book.  If you are interested in joining the On Track Launch Team, it’s not too late.  I am looking for people who are interested in reviewing the book on Amazon and on their blog.  I’m looking for people who will promote the book via their social media channels.  I’m open for podcast interview opportunities and other creative ways to get the word out about On Track.  If you have an idea and want to help out with the launch, send me an email at jon@jonstolpe.com, so we can connect.

How are you being stretched to get part of your life on track?

 

 

I spent most of the day on Saturday at the track helping out at the 7th Annual Viking Track & Field Invitational hosted by my daughter’s track team.  The day was absolutely beautiful and perfect for a track meet.

I was recruited to help out with checking in runners and handing out lane assignments before each of the races.  With twenty-five teams participating, it was a pretty busy job.  I had a great time working with the other “clerks” who had also volunteered in an effort to support their kids and the track team.

A minor mix-up happened at the end of the day that resulted in a relay team being assigned a heat and lane that didn’t necessarily match up with their seeding time.  The coach of the team came over to express his frustration with the situation, and I initially jumped in to explain what may have happened.

Eventually, I sent the coach to the officials tent at the finishing line.  I did not hear from the coach again, but our team’s track coach came over to find out what have happened at check in.  I told the coach how I made a mistake checking in the team after the team was late in checking in for the race.  I took partial blame for the problem, but I pushed it back at the team for failing to check in on time.  After I explained the story, our coach said something like, “That was our fault.  We screwed up.”

The coach didn’t push blame on the other team.  He took responsibility.  And he moved on.

What a great example!

So often when confronted with a problem, we seek to shift blame.  We don’t want to take responsibility.  We are typically looking to blame someone else.  We say things like, “I didn’t check them in correctly, BUT they were late checking in.”

It’s time we took responsibility.  We must learn to take the BUT out of our responses.  My story should have simply been, “I didn’t check them in correctly.”  Period.  No BUT….

I should have apologized to the coach and sent him to the officials tent (the officials were the only ones who could change the lane assignments).  Mistakes happen.  We need to take responsibility for our mistakes.  And we need to move on.

Hopefully, this didn’t ruin the day for the coach and his team.  It was a beautiful day for a track meet, and the rest of the meet seemed to go very well.

Do you struggle with shifting blame?  How can you take responsibility today?  What suggestions do you have for taking the BUT out of your responses?

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8 more days until the release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field!

 

 

Each week on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

(I’m always looking for Ice Breaker question ideas.  If you have an idea, send me an email at jon@jonstolpe.com.  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

Question:  If you had a time machine, what year would you go to – past or future?

My Answer:  The idea of time travel has always intrigued me.  I’m not looking to rush things, and I don’t want to live in the past.  Picking a year is pretty tough.  Just for the fun of it, I think it might be interesting to go back to 1990.  This is the year I graduated from high school.  I would be more intentional in spending time with my parents, my brothers, and my grandparents.  At this stage in my life, I had no idea how the years would move my family geographically apart.

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.) And keep STRETCHING!

Also don’t forget to sign up for the Stretched newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.  Subscribers will get a special deal on the upcoming release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.

Enjoy the Journey

April 10, 2014 — 13 Comments

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. 

Greg Anderson

Last night, I posted a picture of the proof copy of my new book, On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.

It came in the mail yesterday.  Actually, I received four copies.

Part of the self publishing process includes an opportunity to review an actual copy of your book before it goes public.  Honestly, I’m not sure I knew this was part of the experience until recently.

Writing a book has brought about a lot of new experiences.  I am doing my best to enjoy each aspect of this journey.  Believe me, I’m looking forward to the actual book being complete and available to the public, but there is so much that happens along the way.  I don’t want to miss it.

Most of life is the same way.

We have goals.  We have dreams.  We have targets.

One day, we’ll get there.  We’ll reach our dreams.  We’ll achieve many of our desires.  We may also miss out on reaching some of our targets and goals.

But there is a lot that happens between now and the achievement of our dreams.  These happenings aren’t meant to be missed.  They are meant to be experienced and enjoyed.  To quote Billy Joel (sorry David), “This is the time to remember, ’cause it will not last forever.”

Enjoy the journey!

What’s happening on the journey to your dream?  How are you making the most of the experience?