Why Me!

December 8, 2017 — Leave a comment

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.

William Barclay

Today, I celebrated the 23rd anniversary of my 23rd birthday!

It was a fantastic day.

I woke up at 5AM, so I could make it over to my men’s group (DIBs – Dudes in the Basement) where we had the opportunity to catch up on some of life’s happenings over the past several days before diving into a discussion about the Bible, it’s relevance, and it’s validity. We are using The Problem of God by Mark Clark as a starting point for our weekly discussions.

I took the day off of work, so I came home to a warm pot of rice pudding (one of my favorites) and an empty house. It’s rare that I am home alone, so I took a few minutes to enjoy a bowl of pudding and listen to the quiet of the house.

Then I dove into a project – the making of the Korv. Korv is a traditional Swedish sausage served at Christmas time. My Grandpa Stolpe, who shared the same birthday with me, used to make the Korv. As I made this year’s batch of sausage, I thought of my Grandpa. I’m so thankful for the heritage he passed down – not just in food, but in faith, work ethic, and humor. The Korv project took all morning.

For lunch, I drove over the California Tortilla to enjoy a free birthday burrito. It’s nice when restaurants send a little gift your way.

After lunch, I had the honor and privilege of being interviewed for Amy Robles’ podcast. Amy is a friend from Ellory Wells’ Catalyst Mastermind, and it was a fun to catch up as I shared about the Stretched Men Group and Rooftop Reflections with her audience.

As we were talking, she said something that made me think. She said something about me having a purpose to everything I did – an intentional focus to how I lived my life. I don’t always think about it that way, but I think she’s right. I want to live my life in a way that honors God and represents Christ well. I want to treat people the way I want to be treated. And I want to leave a legacy. I don’t want my life to be a waste.

After my interview, Isaac and Leanne came home from school and work.

We went out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants (Craft Ale House), and we enjoyed time together. Here Leanne gave me a gift I will always treasure – a painted picture of the same photo used for my book cover. The painting was created by Brittany Brubaker who was on our 2017 Guatemala trip. My plan is to hang the painting in my office. It’s a reminder of a place that is special to me, and it’s also a reminder of the purpose and dream I have to have an impact in Guatemala.

Having reminders like this can be important for keeping our eye on the prize – for keeping our purpose in focus.

I am made on purpose and for a purpose, and you are too!

What’s your purpose? How are you living out your purpose in your daily life? Share your thoughts in the comments.

“Increasing your highway cruising speed from 55mph (90km/h) to 75mph (120km/h) can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%. You can improve your gas mileage 10 – 15% by driving at 55mph rather than 65mph (104km/h). Note how quickly efficiency drops after 60 mph.”

http://eartheasy.com/move_fuel_efficient_driving.html

What is your optimal speed?

We live in a culture that promotes faster, quicker, speaker, busier. People seem to think multi-tasking is the way to go to get more things done. More is better.

Right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

What if we were designed for a specific speed? What if we were created to work a certain amount of time each day, play a certain amount of time each day, and rest a certain amount of time each day?

When people hear what I do for work and play, they often ask me when I sleep or how many hours of sleep I get per night.

I’ll confess I’m often proud to tell them I get 5-6 hours a night (sometimes less). I where my lack of sleep on my sleeve like a badge of honor.

What a loser!

Many studies indicate you need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to achieve peak or optimal performance.

God created us to work, and he also created us to rest. In fact, he gave us Sabbath as a reminder to take a break.

Finding your optimal speed requires these intentional actions:

  1. Practice regular Sabbaths. My Dad says you should take a break one minute every hour, one hour every day, and one day every week. The Sabbath was made for us. In order to achieve your peak performance, you must learn to take breaks.
  2. Just say no. This can be challenging especially if you are a people-pleaser like me. When you let too many things on your agenda, you are no longer able to focus on the things that truly fit you. For more about this, I’d encourage you to read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. His teaching about your Zone of Genius fits right in with this point.
  3. Experiment and take notes. Not everyone is exactly the same. My optimal speed may be a little different than your optimal speed. Test out things to see how they impact your overall performance. I’d encourage you to keep a journal to document your daily activities and to comment on your perceived performance in relationship to these activities.
  4. Look in the mirror. What does your face tell you? Do you have bags under your eyes? Are you wearing a smile? Or has the stresses and strains of your life etched your face. I can usually tell if I’m operating in my sweet spot or not simply by looking in the mirror.
  5. Get someone else’s opinion. You and I need people in our lives who can help us see beyond the blinders we where. I meet with a few different groups of people. These people call me on the carpet when I’m doing something stupid – like operating outside my optimal speed. Who is in your corner who will give you an honest assessment of your commitments and your priorities?

I’m still trying to figure out my optimal speed. I want to make sure I’m operating efficiently.

What’s your optimal speed? How do you find and stay at your right speed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

“The focus of Lesson 1 is Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia. Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/Lesson-1/Newton-s-First-Law

Does it ever feel like you can’t stop moving?

Even when you lie down to sleep your brain keeps going.

We’ve conditioned ourselves to go, go, go, and the more I experience life it seems like inertia might just be our enemy sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a person of action. I want to be busy getting things done – things that matter.

Here’s the problem: We are also directed to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

How can we be still when everything in us seems to be leaching forward?

The discipline of stillness takes intentionality. It takes purpose. It takes an all out resistance to our natural tendency to move.

According to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, we actually need an unbalanced force to stop us or to change our direction.

I’ve experienced these kinds of unbalanced forces before. Like the time my wife was hospitalized leaving me with two young kids to care for while running around between home, the hospital, and work. Or like the time when I received a call from my Dad telling me my Mom had been diagnosed with “Early Onset Alzheimer’s Progression.”

Sometimes these unbalanced forces can seem catastrophic at the time. When we step back, these might actually be the things we need to re-calibrate us – to cause us to stop, to think, to be still.

Recently, I have felt inertia taking over in my life. Some of it is fantastic. But some things in my life require that unbalanced force to force me into a better pattern or position.

I’m not waiting for something catastrophic; I want to take the right next to step starting now. I want to slow down and even stop to take in life, to connect with my Creator, and to make sure I’m on the right path.

How about you? What helps you slow down when it seems like life is moving at a breakneck speed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

TODAY is the day!

Rooftop Reflections is officially available on Amazon.com for all the world to see, purchase, and review.

I’m truly praying this book will have an impact on readers which will hopefully result in having an impact on churches, communities, and the world.

This process of writing and launching this book has taken me down a wonderful journey – a journey which has confirmed to me that we are meant to be part of something EXTRAORDINARY.  Too many of us are stuck in the ordinary (or at least the perception of ordinary).  I know, because this was my story.  It all changed when a young youth pastor at my church invited me to go to Guatemala in 2012 with him and a bunch of high school students.  I was the guy working in corporate America trying to keep these running smoothly for my family and my life in general.

To steal a phrase from Jeff Goins, Guatemala WRECKED me.  In fact, it flipped my world upside down and caused me to look at things differently – in an EXTRAORDINARY way.

Purchase your copy of Rooftop Reflections – Missional Thoughts of an Ordinary Guy in an Extraordinary Place TODAY by clicking HERE.

For more information about the book, I’d encourage you to go to the book website at rooftopreflections.com.

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.

C. S. Lewis

My wife and kids will tell you that I’m a bit of a book hoarder.  I love getting books in the mail, and I love supporting other authors.  I especially love to promote these books when they have an impact on my life.

This week, Andi Cumbo-Floyd released her latest book, Love Letters to Writers.  And it’s just what I needed!

Despite the fact that I am getting ready to release my own book (December 5th – Rooftop Reflections – go to rooftopreflections.com to find out more information), I have felt disappointment and discouragement regarding my own writing consistency.  I’ve allowed the busyness of life and other activities to take me away from my passion for day-to-day writing.

Andi’s new book provided the right encouragement and reminders I needed to take a new look at my writing and my approach to writing.

In Love Letters to Writers, you’ll find 52 chapters or letters designed to challenge and encourage your writing.  I love the way each letter spoke to me and brought me back to a place in my writing experience where I thrived.  If you are a writer who needs a little (or a lot) encouragement, this book is for you.

If you are not a writer but you are someone who is trying to develop a daily discipline in your life, I think you’ll find Love Letters to Writers helpful.

Pickup a copy of Love Letters to Writers today!

What daily discipline are you trying to develop in your life?  How will your life be different by developing this discipline?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Heart Condition

November 18, 2017 — 2 Comments

What’s the condition of your heart?

Last Friday night, I met with my men’s group (DIBs – Dudes In the Basement) for our DIBs Fall Summit 2017. DIBs is a group of guys who have committed to meeting together for 20 years. We have 17 years left in our commitment. During the Summit, we focused on the condition of our hearts. After some food and ping-pong, we gathered to talk about our hearts.

When it was time for me to share, I confessed that I felt overly busy. I honestly left very little room for “being still and knowing that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). There are a lot of great things I am doing – Dynamic Marriage, Stretched Men Group, Rooftop Reflections book launch, new job in June at Siemens, H.O.P.E., etc. I shared that I had been having trouble sleeping over the course of the previous two or three weeks. I honestly believe I was dealing with the feeling of overwhelm.

In my sharing, I paraphrased Psalm 19:14 to fit my current condition and desire: May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart AND MY SCHEDULE AND MY TO DO LIST be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Does my schedule reflect a heart for God?

Do my thoughts reflect a heart for God?

Do my reactions and my actions reflect a heart for God?

Do my motives reflect a heart for God?

What am I doing to gain a better understanding of God’s heart?

How am I helping others see God’s heart?

These are all questions I believe are worth answering or at least pondering as I consider the condition of my own heart.

The men in the group challenged me to look at my schedule and consider what may need to go. Following the conversation, I realized I needed to start by giving up one activity that I was doing out of loyalty instead of out of passion.

In his book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks encourages readers to give up living in their Zones of Competence and Excellence so they can live in their Zone of Genius. In order to live in this place, we must constantly be looking at our activities and commitments. We must do the hard work of finding where we are passions lie and getting rid of the other stuff.

I think this also applies to our heart. In what we do, think, read, say, etc. are we drawing closer to God’s heart?

What’s the condition of your heart?

The most anxious time was during launch, just because that is so dramatic.

Sally Ride

ONE MONTH FROM TODAY, my upcoming book (Rooftop Reflections) officially releases.
The book is ready to go, but there is still work to do before I can release the book to the world.
This is where I could really use your help.

In today’s world, a successful book release requires the support of a lot of people.  Gaining traffic and traction for a book launch happens when people talk about the book and share it with their friends, family, and colleagues.  It happens when people introduce the book and the author to other people with influence.

Rooftop Reflections is all about encouraging readers to move from the ordinary to find the extraordinary in their lives.  The book shares my story and passion for Guatemala, and it challenges readers to find ways to serve their neighbors around the world and right next door.

Today, I am officially starting the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team.  If you think you can help, I’d love to invite you to join the team.

When you join the launch team, you get…

When you sign up for the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team, you’ll get a pre-release PDF version of the book, and you’ll get access to the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team Facebook Group.  In addition, you’ll get updates on the book release.

When you join the launch team, you agree to help…

In exchange for joining the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team, I’m asking you to post a review for the book over at Amazon.com.  I’m also asking you to promote the book and share your ideas for making the book launch a BIG SUCCESS.

To sign up for the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team, go over to the book website at rooftopreflections.com and hit the link to Join the Team.

(If you know someone who is a perfect fit for the launch team, please pass this along to them and encourage them to sign up TODAY.)

Thanks in advance for you help!

 

“Maintenance is terribly important.”

Manolo Blahnik

I went to the dentist this morning for a cleaning.  When the dental hygienist told me it was time for a periodontal exam, I cringed.  I have done a terrible job flossing since my last appointment, and I knew it would show in the exam.  Sure enough, there were a few areas in my mouth that showed my lack of daily dental maintenance.  My teeth were fine, but my gums need some work.  Thankfully, it’s not too late.  I have time to turn things around and to improve the health of my mouth.

If we don’t maintain our oral health, we will lose our teeth.

If we don’t maintain our automobiles, our cars will eventually need a significant repair.

If we don’t maintain our fitness by exercising and eating well, we will likely face an early death along with other health challenges.

Maintenance is really, really important – in every area of our lives.

What’s the condition of your heart?  I’m not talking about the organ in your chest.  I’m talking about your soul.

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Mark 8:36

What are you doing to maintain your soul?

Don’t forget to take care of your soul.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

When it comes to your soul, what does your maintenance look like?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

The Choice to GO!

October 16, 2017 — 4 Comments

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

Confucius

 

Stop or Go?

 

It’s Monday morning, and you have a choice.

You can stay in bed or wallow in the memories of the weekend.

Or you can embrace the opportunity that awaits you in the week ahead.

I choose to embrace what is waiting for me today and in the week ahead.  I choose to look for the green light in my path.

A good way to get started is to get some exercise, spend some time in God’s Word, and eat some breakfast.

Choose to start the week with a positive attitude no matter what you are about to face.

What’s on my agenda for this week?  Dynamic Marriage tonight, H.O.P.E. tomorrow night, dentist appointment tomorrow morning, Stretched Men Group on Thursday night, continuing the performance evaluation process at work, and working on my book launch.  These things and more are the opportunities I am embracing as I head into a new week.

The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.  Psalm 118:24

What’s on your agenda this week?  Where do you see a GREEN LIGHT in your path?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

“If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.”

Eugene H. Peterson

This morning, I’m sitting in Starbucks.  I often use this time before church to write, to read, and to observe.  I treasure this time as it gives me an opportunity to pause – to collect myself for an hour or two.

Life has been moving at a blistering pace lately.  Leanne and I are leading an incredible marriage class at our church.  My mastermind group for men is gaining momentum as we get further into the semester.  Work has been consuming as we navigate through the performance evaluation process.  Last weekend, we visited Grove City College as Isaac moves closer to college.  This weekend, Hannah is home for fall break.  And I’m in the middle of getting my book ready for release.

In my reading time this morning, I read an article about hustle and balance by my friend, Ellory Wells.  In the article, Ellory explains why he is choosing hustle right now.  I get it!  I’m a hustler for sure.  BUT… I’m also convinced we need SABBATH.  We need rest from time to time.  We need the intentional moments and opportunities to connect with our God, our family, our friends, and even ourselves.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  Exodus 20:8-11

My Sunday morning Starbucks time is part of my SABBATH experience.

Today, I’ll go to church; I’ll have lunch with my family before Hannah heads back to Messiah College; I’ll probably take a nap in front of a football game; and I’ll catch my breath.

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:27

Do you make time for SABBATH?  What does SABBATH mean to you?  How would your life be different if you really incorporated SABBATH into your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments.