technological-advancement-ice-breaker

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Steve Jobs

Most weeks on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question on Fridays. 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.

Question:  What technological advancement would you love to see in your lifetime?

My Answer:  I used this question last week for a Toastmasters Table Topics contest I facilitated, and I loved the answers given by the contestants.  One contestant said they’d like to see a memory chip developed to help people remember things, and another contestant said a time machine would be an amazing advancement.  I can’t argue with either of these responses.

Today, I’m speaking at the PSPE (Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers) 2016 Annual Conference on the topic of Engineers Managing Engineers.  As part of my presentation, I’ll be talking about the importance of encouraging innovation among our team members.  As the end of my talk, I’ll be asking attendees to help me brainstorm ways to foster innovation, so this question goes along with my experience today.

Since the memory chip and time machine ideas were already mentioned, I’m going with something different.  I’d love to see scientists develop an affordable human teleportation device.  I first saw the device imagined on early episodes of Star Trek.  Captain Kirk and Spock used teleportation to visit alien planets.  Aboard the Starship Enterprise, Scotty would “beam” Kirk and Spock all over the galaxy.

With family and friends spread throughout the world, I’d love to travel to visit others without wasting time.  I could travel to Dallas, TX to visit my parents and youngest brother whenever I want to see them.  I could go to Guatemala multiple time a year (or even multiple times a week) to spend time with friends in Santo Domingo Xenacoj.  Imagine all the possibilities of having a human teleportation device.  Beam me up, Scotty!

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!

101 ICE BREAKER IDEAS

To get a FREE copy of 101 Ice Breaker Ideas (an eBook by me), sign up below:

rooftop-reflections-sunday-july-17-2016

I spent two weeks in Guatemala in July.  Each morning, I woke up before anyone else in our house, and I climbed up the steps to the roof of our house in Santo Domingo Xenacoj.  This is where I started my day with prayer, reading, and rooftop reflections.

Each morning, I recorded a video documenting my “Rooftop Reflections.”  I initially posted these on Facebook, but I realize many of my readers aren’t connected with me on Facebook.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll release these videos to you here on the blog.  These videos provide another glimpse into my experiences in Guatemala.

Here is the seventh installment:

the-parable-of-the-broken-glasses

I wrote ‘Soul Keeping‘ because we are taught more about how to care for our cars than how to steward our souls. But you cannot have an impactful life with an impoverished soul.

John Ortberg

When I was in first grade, my parents took me to the eye doctor where the optometrist determined I needed to wear corrective lenses (the fancy name for glasses) to correct a problem with my eyes.

For four or five years, I wore brown, plastic-framed glasses.  I looked like Ralphie from A Christmas Story (if you need an image).

Like Ralphie, I often broke my glasses horsing around with my friends.  The eye doctor was used to fixing my glasses on a monthly basis.

Eventually, the glasses did their job, and I was able to stop wearing them.  In fact, my vision was better than 20/20 for the longest time.

I stopped visiting the eye doctor for several years, because my vision was excellent.

Then I turned 40.

A long overdue visit to the eye doctor indicated my need for reading glasses.

I picked up my first pair of reading glasses, and I’ve been able to get a new pair each year as my reading vision has changed slightly along the way.  I use the new pair as my primary reading glasses, and I use the older pairs as backup glasses.  I have two pairs on my nightstand, and I put one pair in the car.  It’s nice to have the coverage in case I need to read something with small print.

This brings me to my story – my parable.

According to Wikipedia,

A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.

This week, events transpired in my life that caused me to take pause.  I broke one of my pairs of backup glasses.

Tuesday night, I was responsible for facilitating a Toastmasters Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contest for my Area.  I arrived early at the location of the contest, so I could set up and greet contestants and attendees.  As I was getting out of my car, I grabbed my spare set of glasses, and I must have put them on the roof of my car as I was getting other contest material out of my car.  Once I was in the contest location, I forgot about the glasses.

The contest went well.  The speakers did a fantastic job presenting to the contest audience.  The judging team selected winners wisely.  And the audience enjoyed the experience (from what I could tell).  After the contest, I cleaned up the room and packed up my contest materials.  I said goodbye to the last few lingering attendees, and I climbed in my car to begin the journey home.

100 yards after pulling out of the parking lot, I heard a loud thumping noise on the roof of my car, and I immediately realized the source of the sound.  My glasses had flown off the top of my car.  It was dark, but I decided to make several passes on the busy road to see if I might find my glasses.  Disappointingly, I could find the glasses, so I drove home with the thought of trying to find them in the morning on my way to work.

The next morning, I made a few more passes in the busy morning traffic, but I could see the glasses from my car.  Bummer!

At lunch time, I decided to make one last effort to find the glasses thinking they may have landed in the longer grass along the road.  I parked my car in a parking lot, and walked down the side of the road looking back and forth as I went.  Just when I was about to give up and head back to my car, I caught a glimpse of a familiar sight – the inside cover of my glasses case.  Half of it was laying on the side of the road blending into the grey of the road surface.  I walked a few more feet and found the other half of the case.  But where were my glasses?

As I began the journey back to my parked car, I found my glasses on the side of the road!  My excitement was soon replaced by sadness as I quickly discovered the lenses were missing, and the frames were smashed to smithereens.  It looked like my glasses took a ride in my garbage disposal.

I picked up the pieces and headed back to my car.  (A blog post was surely on the way.)

I’ve had a lot of thoughts since the incident with my glasses.

First, I’m a little frustrated with my carelessness.  I wish I had gone back out to my car when I realized I needed them for the contest.

Second, I’m a little disappointed in my opulence.  Where I serve in Guatemala, glasses like these are a treasured possession for those with failing eyes.  I could have brought the glasses with me on a trip to Guatemala to give to someone who really needs them.  Instead, I decided to have backups for my backups.  I want to be a good steward of my resources, and this means saving and spending appropriately.  And it means giving appropriately too.  I don’t want to be a hoarder of the resources God gives me.  I want to use the resources God gives me to help others and to honor Him.

My broken glasses remind me to hang on tightly to the things that matter, and they remind me to let go of the things that would be better served in the hands of others.

Are you hanging on too tightly to something?  What can you do TODAY to let go?  What does it mean to be a good steward?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

national-tattoo-story-day-ice-breaker

Tattoos are like stories – they’re symbolic of the important moments in your life. Sitting down, talking about where you got each tattoo and what it symbolizes, is really beautiful.

Pamela Anderson

Most weeks on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question on Fridays. 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.

Total is National Tattoo Story Day.  Today’s Stretched Ice Breaker question is inspired by this special holiday.

Question:  What’s your tattoo story?

My Answer:  I don’t have any tattoos, but I’m always a little curious about the reasons people get their tattoos.  It’s unlikely that I would ever get a tattoo for two reasons:

  1. I hate needles.  Seriously, I don’t like them.  Why would I put myself through the process of sticking myself over and over again with needles?
  2. I’m not confident I could pick something to permanently mark on my skin that I would like for the rest of my life.  For one, my skin is likely to change (stretch or sag), and a tattoo that once looked amazing might look pretty creepy some day in the future.  Secondly, my interests and tastes are likely to change over time.

Both of my brothers have tattoos, and they have their own stories.

My Grandpa Stolpe had a couple of tattoos that were used to line of the radiation beams when he was being treated for cancer.

If for some reason I were to get a tattoo, I’d probably get a cross on my thigh with the following references incorporated into the artwork:

  • Hebrews 12:1-3 (Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.)
  • Colossians 4:2-6 (Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.)
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.)
  • I Corinthians 9:24 (Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.)

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!

101 ICE BREAKER IDEAS

To get a FREE copy of 101 Ice Breaker Ideas (an eBook by me), sign up below:

rooftop-reflections-saturday-july-16-2016

I spent two weeks in Guatemala in July.  Each morning, I woke up before anyone else in our house, and I climbed up the steps to the roof of our house in Santo Domingo Xenacoj.  This is where I started my day with prayer, reading, and rooftop reflections.

Each morning, I recorded a video documenting my “Rooftop Reflections.”  I initially posted these on Facebook, but I realize many of my readers aren’t connected with me on Facebook.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll release these videos to you here on the blog.  These videos provide another glimpse into my experiences in Guatemala.

Here is the sixth installment:

the-parable-of-the-lost-landscaping-plan

Don’t matter how much money you got, there’s only two kinds of people: there’s saved people and there’s lost people.

Bob Dylan

Have you ever lost something?

You remember having the item at one point in time, but now you can’t find it.

The search begins.  You look all over the place for your lost item.  Every closet, every corner, and every crack is checked and checked again.  You look under every bed, and you look everywhere else.  The search continues until you find the lost item or until you lose hope.

When you find the item (especially after a long search process), you celebrate.

Recurring Theme

This seems to be a recurring theme in my life.  In June, I wrote about The Parable of the Lost Blue Water Bottle.  There was much rejoicing when I found my lost bottle.  Since I made this story public, I’ve had several people point out my water bottle, “Is that the famous blue water bottle?”

Almost two years ago, I wrote about a lost item.

Over two years ago, I wrote about a lost child.

Four years ago, I wrote about a lost key.

Over five years ago, I wrote about a lost landscaping plan.

The lost and found theme that seems to run through my life is powerful.  Despite the countless stories of missing items, I’m generally a very organized person.  But God seems to be trying to get my attention.

Found!

My collection of lost and found stories grew last weekend when I discovered a long-lost item.

At my house, we have been going through a season of de-cluttering.  We are selling and giving things away, and we are simply discarding things we no longer need.  As we go through each room in the house, we take time to sort through the “stuff” we have accumulated since we moved into our house ten years ago.  I’m amazed to discover how many things we never use.

Last weekend, we spent the day cleaning up our basement.  As I was cleaning up my workshop area, I came across a brown bag full of paperwork.  I decided I should probably look through the paperwork to see if anything needed to be saved.  After twenty minutes of paging through appliance owner’s manuals and other miscellaneous pieces of paper, I discovered a familiar folded up document – I found our lost landscaping plan!

A smile immediately crossed my face, and the smile quickly turned into laughter.  I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I ran upstairs where Leanne and Isaac were preparing lunch, and I unfolded the landscaping plan for them to see.  They could hardly believe their eyes.

We had the landscaping plan designed for us shortly after we moved into the house.  We had big dreams of using the plan to beautify our property over the years.  Unfortunately, we lost the landscaping plan several years ago, and the initial landscaping plans were replaced with a new make-it-up-as-we-go plan.  We looked high and low (but not in the brown bag in the basement).

Whenever we lose an item in our house, our family jokes that the lost item must be with the landscaping plan.

This week, we celebrated the return of our landscaping plan with our H.O.P.E. group.  Leanne made cake.  I shared the story of our rediscovered landscaping plans.  And our friends helped us celebrate.

I’m planning to frame the landscaping plan to hang in our house as a reminder.  This new wall hanging will remind our family of the humorous story that has become a part of our history.  And the wall hanging will remind me of something else…

We Were All Lost

At one point or another, we were all lost.  God went to great lengths to “find” us.  He sent his Son to give us a way home.  When we decide to follow Christ, there is much rejoicing in heaven.  My lost landscaping plan reminds of the measures God took to help me find my way home, and the landscaping plan reminds me of the opportunity to share God’s love with others.

If you want to read more stories about the lost and found, check out Luke 15.

When was the last time you found something you previously lost?  How did you celebrate when you found the missing item?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

WORLD TRAVELER Ice Breaker

Most weeks on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question on Fridays. 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.

Question:  What countries have you visited?

My Answer:  Outside of the United States, here are the countries I have visited:

  • Canada
  • France
  • England (only on stop-overs to and from France)
  • Guatemala

Writing this list, I realize I have so much more of the world to see.

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!

101 ICE BREAKER IDEAS

To get a FREE copy of 101 Ice Breaker Ideas (an eBook by me), sign up below:

Rediscover The Wonder

September 8, 2016 — 2 Comments

rediscover-the-wonder

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.

Stephen Hawking

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 4 A.M. (when my alarm went off) with the E.T. movie theme song swirling around in my head.

Why the E.T. soundtrack?

I have no idea.

As I rolled out of bed, I remember thinking about the feeling I first had when I heard that music while Elliot flew his bicycle in front of the moon with E.T. safely tucked in the basket on the front handlebars.  As I watched E.T. for the first time, I experienced a feeling of wonder.

I wonder what it is like to fly.

I wonder how the moon was so full.

I wonder about the possibility of rescuing an extraterrestrial.

Recently, I had this feeling again as I dropped our oldest off at Messiah College for her freshman year.

I wondered again at the feelings of freedom and excitement that clearly shown on my daughter’s face as she prepared to embark on this new journey away from home.

I wondered again at the thought of meeting so many new people and learning so many new things.

And I wondered again at the opportunity to plug into the community offered at a Christian college.

I think we sometimes forget to look through the lens of wonder as we move into adulthood.  We allow our sense of responsibility and our tendency for routine take over.  We forget to look at the world with enthusiasm and zest for life.  This trickles into our relationships and even into our faith.

I like routine, but I don’t want to become complacent as I experience life around me.  I want to approach the world with energy.  I want to take on each relationship and each conversation with a sense of purpose.  And I want to live like me faith is fresh and God’s mercies for me are new every single morning.

I want to live with wonder!

What causes you to wonder?  What part of the world are you seeing with fresh, new eyes?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

ROOFTOP REFLECTIONS Friday July 15 2016

I spent two weeks in Guatemala in July.  Each morning, I woke up before anyone else in our house, and I climbed up the steps to the roof of our house in Santo Domingo Xenacoj.  This is where I started my day with prayer, reading, and rooftop reflections.

Each morning, I recorded a video documenting my “Rooftop Reflections.”  I initially posted these on Facebook, but I realize many of my readers aren’t connected with me on Facebook.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll release these videos to you here on the blog.  These videos provide another glimpse into my experiences in Guatemala.

Here is the fifth installment:

EXIT STRATEGY

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey

I don’t want to get to the end of my life with gas left in my tank.  I also don’t want to make it to the end of my life with the feeling that I wasted my life.

I want my life to matter.  I want to make a difference.  And I want to give my all to my purposes and passions.

With this in mind, I am developing an exit strategy for life.  My goal isn’t to exit this world early.  Instead, I want to have lived my life to the fullest when I do exit this world.

When I received my copy of Ellory Wells‘ new book, Exit Strategy, I was excited to see how it related to my own thoughts on exit strategy.  I was intrigued by the sub-title, “The Exact Tactics to Transition from Where You Have to Be to Where You Want to Be.”

In Exit Strategy, Ellory tells his story of leaving corporate America and starting up his own business.  As I read his story, I got the clear picture that Ellory (like me) wants to do something amazing with his life, and he’s not content to simply exist.  I liked this part of the book!

Exit Strategy then maps out  process for launching your own business – for doing your own thing.  Ellory provides a step-by-step process for starting a business in today’s web-driven world.  This isn’t just theory.  Ellory’s instructions are based on his own experience and on the experience of his clients.

I know the instructions work, because I have been following much of this material over the past year as I have been working with Ellory with some of my own pursuits.

If you are thinking about stretching into a new business pursuit, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Exit Strategy.  Then I’d recommend you send Ellory an email (his email is in the book).  I know he’d love to help you!

Whether you are thinking about starting a new business or not, I’d challenge you to think about your own exit strategy.

What are you doing TODAY to make sure you live your life to the fullest?  What is your exit strategy?  Share your thoughts in the comments.