stretch quote people

There are amazingly wonderful people in all walks of life; some familiar to us and others not.  Stretch yourself and really get to know people.  People are in many ways one of our greatest treasures.

Bryant H. McGill

 

How would your world change if you really got to know someone?  Tell me about a person you have come to treasure.  Leave your responses in the comments.

shaving

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

Charles R. Swindoll

When I was a young kid, I remember watching my Grandpa Miller shave with his electric razor.  He rubbed in back and forth across his face, and I can still hear the buzzing sound if I close my eyes.  When he was finished shaving his face, he would reach down and run the electric razor across my cheeks and down my chin.  I didn’t have any hair on my face, but the experience of having the electric razor running over my face gave me the feeling of being all grown up.

I remember watching my Dad shave in our upstairs bathroom.  He gently rubbed shaving cream under his chin, above his lip, and around his cheeks.  Then he carefully ran the blade of his disposable razor across his face removing the shaving cream and the stubble on his face.  I learned a lot in these moments of observation.  The method I use to shave my own face today is a reflection of the lessons I learned while watching my Dad shave his face.

When my own facial hair began to emerge, my Dad took time to show me how to shave.  I don’t remember the particulars, but I remember it being a milestone in my development.  At first, I only needed to shave every couple of weeks.  Then I had to shave once a week.  And eventually, I had to shave on a daily basis.

Sunday night, I experienced another shaving milestone in my life.  My son, Isaac, turned fifteen in May, and he is turning into a man before my eyes.  I noticed the past few weeks that he has had hair above and below his lip.  Blond hair has also been extending from his sideburns down his cheeks.  It was time for Isaac to shave for this first time.

At ten o’clock in the evening, I called Isaac into my bathroom where I grabbed a razor out of the linen closet.  We stood in front of the mirror where I gave brief instructions on how to shave.  Isaac applied shaving cream, and he took his first few razor strokes down the side of his face.  He rinsed the razor removing the shaving cream, and he proceeded to take a few more strokes under his lip.  Before I knew it, Isaac and I stood in front of the mirror.  We didn’t share many words, but I think we realized the magnitude of this moment.  It was a sacred moment.

As parents, we have the honor, privilege, and responsibility of ushering our children through the milestones of life.  Whether it’s taking their first steps, boarding the school bus for the first time, driving a car for the first time, or shaving for the first time, we must learn to embrace these sacred moments of parenting.  They are holy moments, and they come and go quickly.

4 Ways To Handle The Sacred Moments Of Parenting

  1. Keep your eyes open.  Sacred moments of parenting are easily missed if we aren’t awake.  As we parent our children, we must learn to be present, so we don’t miss out.
  2. Record these moments.  Take pictures.  Write notes in a journal.  Make a video recording.  Store up these memories in your mind.  By recording these moments, you will provide a place for future reflection and reminiscing.  You will provide a record for your children and their children.  We learn through our parents, and our children will learn through us.
  3. Celebrate.  Don’t be afraid to have ceremonies to commemorate the sacred parenting moments.  Take time to acknowledge the milestones and transitions your children are experiencing as they move from youth to adulthood.
  4. Share.  Your parenting experiences – good and bad – can be used to teach others.  Your parenting stories could provide the inspiration to other parents who need help navigating the challenges of parenting.

Tell me about a sacred moment in your own parenting journey.  Or tell me about a sacred moment you experienced at the hands of your parents.  Leave your response in the comments.

 

vacation lessons

I’m still here!

Last week, I took a vacation with my wife’s family to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The vacation gave me the opportunity to enjoy time with my family, to enjoy relaxing on the beach and at the pool, and to enjoy being unplugged.

The WiFi where we were staying was terrible.  At first, I was kind of bummed.  I had hoped to do some writing while we were on vacation, and I planned to post on the blog (at least a few times) during the week.  Instead, I went an entire week without posting a thing on my blog.  I checked Facebook a few times, and I read a few of the blogs I follow.  Besides this, I took a vacation from the blog world.

Some would say this isn’t a smart idea.  In the past, I’ve scheduled posts or had people guest post in my absence.  This was an option I decided not to pursue this time around.  I’m not sure how it will impact my traffic.  In the short term, I’m sure it will have a negative impact.  In the long term, I think it may actually make a positive difference.

Without question, I believe it will improve the quality of my posts.  Blog experts say consistency is queen – meaning I should have posted through my vacation.  And they also say content is king.  If this is true, I’m excited to see how my week away will impact my blog.

We live in a day and age when most people struggle to disconnect from the world.  We have smart phones at our finger tips.  With a WiFi connection, we can connect with our laptops and tablets to the rest of the world.  All this connectivity has some positive perks:

  1. I can connect with almost anyone from around the world.  This means I have friends in Tennessee, Washington, Ukraine, Canada, Guatemala, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and many other places.  From this standpoint, the world has decreased in size.  I’m thankful for these friends.
  2. I can access information within seconds.  Google is a company, and it is also a verb.  If I want to know who won the Tour de France, I can google it, and I’ll have the information in seconds.  This provides a powerful learning tool for the curious.
  3. I can build my own platform.  Last year, I wrote and published my first book.  I hired an editor on-line.  I received help with my cover design.  And I launched the book following instructions I found on-line.  This time of connectivity provides all kinds of opportunities we probably couldn’t experience before the birth of the Internet (thanks Al Gore).

Unfortunately, it’s not all positive.  In this world of instant information access, we are faced with some major challenges:

  1. Our attention span is decreasing.  If you made it to this point in the post, you’ve already defied the odds.  I’ve heard on many podcasts that we are losing our ability to focus on things for a significant length of time.  Books are becoming shorter in an effort to keep the attention of readers.  Newspaper articles and on-line magazine articles are shrinking their average word count to keep up with popular blogs with average 300-600 words per post.  Headlines are not considered to be successful unless they can nicely fit into the 140 character Twitter limitation.
  2. Our ability to verbally connect face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) is being challenged.  My kids haven’t had to answer the “house phone”, because we don’t have a land line phone.  Kids are getting used to communicating through text messages, Instagram, and Snap Chat.  I interviewed several engineering candidates over the last year, and I am amazed by how few of these candidates are comfortable looking me in the eye and having a conversation.
  3. Our immediate relationships are being put on the back burner in exchange for face time with our cell phones and other technological gadgets.  We have a “No Phone At The Table” Rule to combat this problem in our house.  If you are talking to someone or spending time with someone, put your phone away and engage with the other people in your presence.

Vacation provided many great reminders for me.  I’m thankful for the chance to take a break.  I’m thankful for my family.  And I’m thankful for my friends (off-line and on-line).  As I head back into my “normal” routine this morning, I look forward to capitalizing on the connection I experienced while I was away, and I look forward to connecting with those I know on-line.

What are your vacation plans for the rest of the year?  How will you connect while you are away?  How has your connectivity positively and negatively impacted your life?

This picture was taken right down the street from where we lived last year while we were in Xenacoj.  On our way back from Zully’s house, I had the perfect opportunity to get a picture.

The colors in Xenacoj are amazing.  And the combination of the sky, the flowers, and the yellow house were a perfect match.

The weather in the Philadelphia area yesterday was reminiscent of the weather we experienced nearly every day in Xenacoj – low humidity, moderate temperatures, and sunny skies.

Beautiful indeed!

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vacation

As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you’ve allotted for vacation.

John Battelle

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 are your vacation plans for this summer?

My Answer:  I’m leaving later today for a week of vacation in Hilton Head, SC.  While I’m there our family will be celebrating my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary.  I’m looking forward to a restful week.

(FYI, I may or may not post while I am away.  No promises other than I plan to relax.)

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!

After we left Zully’s house, we passed these boys sitting on the curb just hanging out together.  There were no adults around at the time.

This is a common sight in Xenacoj where children roam the streets during the day and early evening hours.  The community is watching them, and they are safe.

As we passed by, they greeted us.  I think they were just as curious and intrigued as we were at the time.

Pray these boys would grow up to become strong men, strong husbands, and strong fathers.

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Before we headed back to work after our siesta, we gathered the women for one more picture.

As they sit on the front porch of the house our team built three years ago, I am reminded of the gracious welcome our family has received whenever we visit Zully’s family and whenever we visit Xenacoj.

Our family most likely will not be going to Xenacoj in 2015, but we are planning a multi-week trip in 2016.  I look forward to visiting with Zully’s family and our other friends in Xenacoj.  I look forward to gathering on Zully’s front porch to hang out with members of our Guatemalan family.

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Forced To Slow Down

July 15, 2015 — 8 Comments

slow down

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.

Eddie Cantor

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my basketball experience at the gym.  In the post, I asked “Are You Fully Committed To Your Goals?

My basketball experience was inspiring at first.

However, things turned a different corner the next day when I developed a pain in my lower left leg.  I can’t be 100% sure, but I’m fairly certain this pain was caused by my efforts on the basketball court.  After years of running for distance, my legs were not used to the running required on the basketball court.  On the court, you stop.  You jump.  You sprint.  You run backwards.  And you cut around other players on the court.  For some reason, my leg didn’t like this experience.

I tried to work through it for a few days by walking and biking, but the pain in my leg only became worse.

Instead of visiting the doctor, I did the thing that most guys would do.  I kept running, and I kept complaining about my leg pain.  This lasted until my daughter (who currently knows everything) looked up my symptoms online.

What did we ever do without the internet?

Within a few minutes, she determined that I might be dealing with some micro-tears in my lower calf muscles.  She prescribed rest and a few other tips based on her web findings.

To confirm her findings, I consulted a few friends who are part of the medical field.  Naturally, they recommended rest, ice, and some stretching.  They also suggested a gradual return to exercise along with some muscle-building exercises should I desire to return to the basketball court.

Up until this injury, I have been very consistent with my daily morning workouts.

The injury forced me to slow down.

Sometimes we need to take a break.  We need to give our minds and bodies the opportunity to recover, to rest, and to recharge.

Don’t wait until you face burnout or injury, decide today to build breaks into your schedule.  These breaks will help you become more effective when it comes to pursuing your passions and dreams.

My leg is finally starting to feel better.  Today, I will head back to the gym to restart my exercise routine.  I won’t be able to jump back in at full tilt.  I will have to slowly build back up to my pre-injury intensity.  I won’t get back on the basketball court today, but I’ll get back there sometime soon with proper training which will included opportunities to recover, rest, and recharge.

When were you forced to slow down?  How to you recover, rest, and recharge?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Over the past three summers, we have had the opportunity to visit with Zully’s Grandma (La Abuela).  She and her husband live next door to Zully’s family in a hut made with cornstalk walls, a metal roof, and a dirt floor.  This is the life she is used to growing up in Xenacoj.

There is a contentment on her face.  I’m sure life hasn’t always been easy for Zully’s Grandma, but I get a real sense of peace when I look into her face.

She reminds me that contentment does not come from things – from gathering wealth.  True contentment is found in family and in faith.

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This is Zully’s aunt or cousin.  (I’m not quite sure.)

She has been part of our yearly visits to Guatemala, and she and her husband live in the metal structure in the background.

In Xenacoj, families tend to live close together.  Several immediate family units live on the same property, and they work together to keep the property clean.  They share jobs including gardening, laundry, and cooking.

We saw some broken families during our visits to Guatemala, but we also experienced intact families like Zully’s family where the parents and grandparents are still together.

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