“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

Thomas Aquinas

There is a deep longing inside all of us for true friendship.  We long for someone who will really know who we are.  We want someone in our lives who will accept us for who we are.  We need someone who will walk along side us when we are traveling the rougher roads of life.  And we desire someone in our life who will celebrate with us when something amazing happens in our life.

The need for friendship doesn’t go away as you get older.  In fact, I’d argue that the need for true friendship only increases as life moves forward.

Jane E. Brody wrote an excellent article for the New York Times on the challenges of male friendships.  In the article she shares, “Among various studies linking friendships to well-being in one’s later years, the 2005 Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging found that family relationships had little if any impact on longevity, but friendships increased life expectancy by as much as 22 percent.”

If you want to live a long, productive life,  you better make friendship a priority.

My friendships have changed over the years.

I remember when Mark Winteroth moved in next door to my first house in Carol Stream, Illinois.  Mark and I became fast friends.  I saw Star Wars for the first time with Mark.  Mark would always greet me with a hug when he saw me in my front yard.  I remember the time when I was over at Mark’s house for a play date.  Mark was in trouble for some reason right about the time we were eating lunch.  At one point, Mark let out a huge belch as he was heading to his room for a “time out”.  I was eating alphabet soup at the time, and Mark’s burp naturally made me laugh so hard the soup came pouring out of my nose.  I don’t know what the letters spelled as they came out of my nose, but it was an experience I will never forget.

We need friends who make us laugh.

When my family moved to Wheaton, Illinois, I was wondering if I would have any friends like Mark.  That wondering was quickly resolved when I met my next door neighbor, David Shutters.  David’s friendship meant the world to me.  I remember getting in trouble with David on more than one occasion.  For example, we thought it would be a great idea to nail bike tire tubes to the railing of Curt Brees’ tree fort.  Naturally, we then went to the ground and filled our pockets with rocks before heading back up the ladder to the tree fort.  You can guess what happened next.  We started shooting rocks from the tire tubes to the ground below.  It didn’t take long for one of us to break a window in the Brees’ garage.  This wasn’t the only time we got in a little trouble all for the sake of testing our boundaries.  My friendship with David pushed me outside my comfort zone on many occasions.

We need friends who get us to try new things.

When I was 8 years old, my family moved to Lumberton, New Jersey, and I was convinced I’d never find any friends like David Shutters.  Eventually, I started hanging out with several boys in the neighborhood – Billy McBride, Brad Zerbe, Stephen Coar, Shawn James, and Brad Kaufman were a few of the guys who made up the Lumberton Hollybrook “gang”.  We rode our bikes all over the neighborhood.  We played “war” in the woods behind Billy’s house.  We played street hockey in the bus-stop cul-de-sac.  We played Atari and Commodore 64 games.  There was something nice about knowing you had friends to hang out with when you got off the bus at the end of the school day.

We need friends who will simply hang out with us.

I had several friendships that blossomed through my time at First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Holly, New Jersey.  Paul Braun’s friendship is one of the best examples of these friendships.  Paul was a year ahead of me in school (and he’s probably one of the smartest people I know).  We met at church, and I eventually started going over to Paul’s house to play after church.  We spent hours and hours together playing basketball, volleyball, and other backyard sports.  The Braun house always had some interesting things to play with in the basement.  We played for hours with the strobe light waiting for one of the kids to run into someone or something.  Paul was known for shocking his sister’s friends whenever they came over to the house.  Now, Paul has his doctorate degree in Materials Science Engineering, and he is a full-time professor at the University of Illinois helping the world become a better place through his discoveries and inventions.  Paul and I spend many hours talking about the future.  In fact, Paul was one of the big reasons I went into engineering.

We need friends who will listen to us and give us good advice.

When I was a freshman in high school, a family moved in across the street.  Little did I know how much this family’s move into Lumberton would transform my life.  The oldest son in this family was my age, and we first met in freshman AP English in Mrs. Roszek’s classroom.  Brian Willem was the nerdy ROTC guy who also wore JAMS coordinates, and I was the “Bible Geek” guy who new all the answers to the questions when we studied the Bible during this class.  Soon we realized we lived across the street from one another, and it didn’t take very long before we were having catches in the court, swimming in his pool, and running around the neighborhood.  Eventually, I invited Brian to SYNC (our church’s high school youth group).  Brian eventually came along, and he soon became a regular participating “member” of the group.  I realized how much our friendship meant when Brian sent me a note before we headed off to college.  The note read something about how much our friendship meant to him because I had introduced him to Christ.  Brian and I are still friends despite the miles and situations that separate us.

We need friends who we can encourage.

After high school, I journeyed west to Grove City College where I studied Mechanical Engineering.  Besides meeting my future wife, the biggest part of my Grove City experience was a group called AEX (Adelphoi en Christo – Brothers in Christ).  This was a housing group on campus made up of Christian men who have similar interests in extending their faith during their college experience.  The best man in my wedding, John Hackworth, was also my roommate for two of my years in this group.  The men in this group helped me process my faith for the first time as an independent men outside the umbrella of my family.  They challenged my thinking and helped spur me on.  This group was also the foundation for my leadership.  I was stretched through the leadership successes and failures I experienced as the President of this group.

We need friends who will spur us on.

Since graduating college, I have noticed that friendship is not as easy as it once was.  I have friends and friendships, but it takes so much more effort and intentional action to make friendships work as I balance life with a full-time job and a family.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have great relationships at work with people I could call friends.  I also have a long-standing tradition with a small group of camping buddies who make our annual pilgrimage to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania every Memorial Day weekend for the past ~25 years.  (I’m looking forward to hanging out with Brian, Andy, and Jeff this weekend!)  I’m also working on building friendships with a group of men who meet together every Friday morning in someone’s basement.  We have committed to meeting together for the next 20 years.  I believe these friendships will be important for the rest of my life, but I also recognize it will take time to develop these relationships.

I’m challenged by this quote I recently read in an on-line article, “Men can be funny about friendship.  They have friends, buddies from high school or college or later.  But by middle age, if you really look at those friendships, a lot of them are sort of on the shelf.  Work and family take a lot of time and guys can drift into a wider social isolation.  That can have health consequences down the line.  The U.S. surgeon general says isolation is a bigger American health problem than cancer or heart disease.”

And this is why friendship is such an important topic.  This week, I’ll be sending out a few email messages about friendship that will STRETCH your perspective on your friendships, your marriage, and your parenting.  If you want to make sure you get these messages, simply fill out the blocks below to get on the Stretched Newsletter list.

Who was your best friend when you were a kid?  What do you value or remember about that friendship?  What does friendship look like in your world today?  How do your friendships make life better?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

I remember watching my daughter in her toddler years as she learned new things every day.  She often said, “I can do it all by myself!”  She wanted her independence at an early age, and she has continued to pursue this independence into her collegiate career.

She is not alone in this pursuit of independence.  I’m a person who wants to figure things out for myself.  I don’t like the feeling of having to rely on others.  Frankly, I want to be in control.

This pursuit of independence is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to do things by oneself; however, we miss out on the opportunity to rub shoulders with others when we become too independent.

Society tells us to be self-reliant.  Individual accomplishment is recognized and rewarded.

Here’s the problem:  Our pursuit of independence can push us away from the community for which we were made.  As we shy away from community, we miss the opportunity to collaborate with others, to build life-giving relationships, and to explore areas of life that we simply would miss on our own.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Jim Rohn

With whom are you spending the most time these days?  Are they lifting you up?  Are they STRETCHING you?  Are they encouraging you?

Are you spending time with anyone who is causing you to grow?

 

If you are a man looking for this kind of community, check out my Stretched Men Group by clicking HERE.

 

If you are a woman looking for this kind of community, check out one of these links:

 

If you are an entrepreneur looking for this kind of community, reach out to my friend, Ellory Wells, by clicking HERE.

 

If you need help finding a group, let me know.  I’d love to help you connect with others who can STRETCH you!

 

This week I’ll be sending out a series of emails about the importance of being in this type of community.  If you want to make sure you get these emails, sign up here:

Don’t go at life alone.  Decide TODAY to do life TOGETHER with others.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

Mary Pickford

Have you ever wanted a “Do Over?”

I remember playing games as a kid, and asking for a “Do Over” when things didn’t go the way I wanted the to go.  One of my friends or I would yell, “Do Over!”  And if our friends were feeling generous they would let us start over again.

Sometimes in life, it feels like we could use a “Do Over.”  Maybe you a fresh start in a relationship.  Maybe you need a new beginning along your career path.  Maybe you to hit the restart button on fitness or nutrition.

You are not alone!

We are officially 1/3rd of the way through 2017.

How did you start the year?  Are you on track to meet the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

Or have you given up?

Life keeps us busy.  And too often, we find ourselves simply busy being busy.  We aren’t making the progress in life we’d really like to make, and we don’t even know it.  We give up being intentional, so we can keep up with the mundane every day tasks that distract us from reaching our real potential.  We feel stuck.  We feel stalled.  And we even feel lost.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Now is the time for a fresh start!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24 ESV

This week I’ll be sending out emails to those on my email list on the topic of RESTART.  The emails will help you get the fresh start you need to make the rest of 2017 all that it can be.  To make sure you get these emails, simply fill out the form below.

“I know people who grow old and bitter. I want to keep making a fresh start. I don’t want them to defeat me. That would be suicidal.”

Robert Wyatt

 

In what area of your life do you need a “Do Over”?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

When our kids were little, they were terrified of dogs.  I remember visiting my parents in Dallas, TX one time, and my parents’ golden mix, Amber, had to be quarantined to her crate most of the time we were there, because our daughter, Hannah, was absolutely sure Amber was going to bite her head off.  Amber might give her a good lick, but she wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Whenever we visited someone who had a dog, our kids would crawl up our legs into our protective arms to make sure they were safe from the crazy four-legged creatures who were wagging their tails at them.

My wife and I were determined to do something about this phobia.  After all, our kids couldn’t live in our protective arms forever.  They were growing quickly, and my arms wouldn’t hold them forever.  Also, dogs can smell fear.  Many times a dog will go after people who are afraid of them.  Our kids had to learn how to stand up to the furry four-legged beasts that would cross their paths in the future.

So my wife and I signed up to foster a Seeing Eye puppy.  A few weeks after signing up, we received a phone call indicating there was a 8 week old black Labrador puppy waiting just for us.  We said yes, and we soon opened our home and our hearts to a square-headed black fur-ball named Iso.

When Iso joined our family, it didn’t take long for our kids to get over their fear of dogs.  Soon they were playing with Iso and commanding him not to chew on the furniture, the walls, and their toys.

Iso grew and grew, and our hearts grew fond of the dog despite his early destructive forces.  He chewed the paint right off our metal hot water baseboard radiators.  He chewed a hole or two in our kitchen cabinets.  And he kept us up many nights unhappy that he was chained to our bed.  (Seeing Eye puppies are taught to stay close to their “person” at all times, and the training begins with the puppy raisers.)

Iso went with us everywhere.  He visited the mall with us.  He went camping, and he even went fishing.  Actually, we caught him once.  This was a terrifying experience for all of us.  Somehow his tongue collided with a fishing hook.  The squeal he let out was unforgettable.  Thankfully, a real fisherman came along with his fishing tools, and we were able to pull the hook out of his tongue.

My wife and I often questioned whether or not he would make it as a Seeing Eye guide dog.

When he was a year and a half, we received a call from the Seeing Eye (in Morristown, NJ).  They were ready for Iso, and they were confident that Iso was ready for his official training to become a guide dog.  With many tears, we released Iso back to the Seeing Eye where he was matched with a trainer who worked with him for 9 months to prepare his for his purpose – to guide a blind person.

Our family visited the Seeing Eye for Iso’s Town Walk – his final exam.  His performance was amazing as he guided his blindfolded trainer through the streets of Morristown.  We were sure we would receive word that Iso was matched with a blind person.  We waited, and we waited.

While we waited, we moved into a brand new house.  Gone were the chew marks that reminded us of our puppy friend.

Shortly after our move, we received a phone call from the Seeing Eye.  Due to a large crop of puppies, the Seeing Eye was being more selective, and Iso was being dropped out of the program due to his extreme friendliness.  As a puppy raiser, we had the first opportunity to take him back to become our Forever Friend.

I was not so sure this was a good idea.  After all, we had just moved into a brand new house, and I was not thrilled about the possibility of having him back in the house where I was sure he would cause havoc.  I was not the only one in the family, and I was outvoted three to one.

I made the journey up to Morristown to pick him up.  On the way home, we established some ground rules.

When I walked him through the door at our new house, he was quickly embraced and welcomed back into the family.

And honestly despite my initial apprehension, I soon let him into my heart as well.

Iso quickly adjusted to his new digs.

He chased the neighbors cat up a tree one time.  I remember chuckling inside as we leaned a ladder up against the tree to rescue the cat.  “This dog is crazy!”

One time, I woke up early one morning to find that he had eaten the braided rug that welcomed guests into our front door.  This was not a happy moment.  It took a few days, but Iso eventually passed the carpet.  It’s a little gross but the carpet came out his rear just the same way it went into his mouth.  Like I said before, “This dog is crazy!”

We liked having Iso around the house.  He always provided the initial rinse of our dishes while I was putting them in the dishwasher.  He greeted us with his tail wagging whenever we returned home after trip to church, the grocery store, work, or anywhere else.  He was always glad to see us.  And he was especially always happy when it was time to eat.  One cup of food in the morning, and one cup of food at dinner time.  We really didn’t have to have a clock.  Iso knew when it was time to eat.

When he was 9 years old, I thought we were going to lose him.  I came home from work one night to find out that he had eaten one of my dress shirts I wore to the office.  What in the world would make a dress shirt appetizing?  I’ll never know.  We waited a few days to see if he would pass it, but we soon discovered that Iso was not feeling well.  In fact, he seemed to be quite ill.  When Leanne took him to the vet, the vet quickly ran an X-ray and discovered a football-sized lump of fabric and other material lodged in his stomach.  The vet explained that she had to perform emergency surgery before Iso died.  We weren’t given the option of putting him to sleep, and before we knew it, Iso was wearing the cone of shame and our bank account was $3,000 smaller.

Labs are crazy dogs, but they are also loyal and true.  Iso loved to be with us when we were home – especially when we were eating popcorn.  He hovered around us to make sure we threw several pieces of popcorn his way.

He had a few visits to the vet for various intestinal issues.  With a few pills, a bland diet, and some time, he always seemed to bounce back.

The last few years, he became more sedentary.  He slept way more than he was awake.  He also seemed to be growing some cysts and fatty non-cancerous growths and tumors.  The vet didn’t seem to worried about these.  As the days and years went on, he slowed down even more.  He took his time getting up and lying down.  And his hearing seemed to diminish too.  But Iso always responded to the word “Treat”.  He loved his Milkbones.

Friday afternoon while I was out in the garden and in the shed, Iso seemed to have some type of seizure or stroke, and he couldn’t move or stand without assistance.  Our family had some big decisions to make, and the main decision seemed obvious.  It wasn’t fair to let Iso suffer any more.  He couldn’t stand.  He wasn’t interested in eating.  His head even moved to his right as he tried to find his equilibrium.

After much thought and discussion, we decided it was Iso’s time.  Isaac retreated to his room to let out his emotions.  Hannah seemed to be rather understanding and non-emotional about this situation.  And Leanne and I struggled to say our goodbyes.

I loaded Iso in the family car, and we journeyed to the 24-hour animal hospital (HOPE) in Malvern, PA.  We knew what we had to do, but we know it was going to be hard.  The people at HOPE were amazing.  They gave us time to be with Iso, and they explained what would happen when they injected him with the chemicals that would end his life.

Iso wouldn’t let the doctor get to his arm where the catheter had been placed, so I had to hold his head while the vet injected the potions.  Tears rolled down my face.  Leanne and even Hannah were crying, too.  (Isaac stayed at home to avoid the trauma of the whole situation.)  Iso peacefully left us.  After a few minutes with him, we left the hospital in silence.

It’s so hard to say goodbye to those who attach themselves to your heart.

That was Friday.

Today is Tuesday.

We miss Iso.  We miss him when we arrive at home to a quiet house.  We miss him when we wake up in the morning.  And we miss him when we put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

Our pets become part of our lives.  They can provide some incredible challenges, and they can provide amazing companionship.

Someone on Sunday commented that Iso would be in doggy heaven.  I don’t really know if that’s true or not.  What I know is that our lives were greatly impacted by the black Labrador who invaded our house over 13 years ago.  We will remember him with a smile and perhaps some more tears.  We are thankful for the opportunity to have had this furry friend in our family.

And if you are wondering, our kids aren’t afraid of dogs anymore.

I don’t know about you, but I want to make the best use of my time.  Unfortunately, I sometimes struggle with procrastination.  Today, Brian Tracy is releasing the third edition of Eat That Frog.  The book is all about overcoming procrastination.  As part of the launch team for the release of the book, I have the privilege of sharing part of the book with you today.  I have absolutely enjoyed this book!

Don’t wait another minute, read Brian’s thoughts below:

The following post is an excerpt from chapter 4 of Eat That Frog.

A word about frogs… It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.

Make Better Decisions about Time

In your work, having a clear idea of what is really important to you in the long term makes it much easier for you to make better decisions about your priorities in the short term.

By definition, something that is important has long-term potential consequences. Something that is unimportant has few or no long-term potential consequences. Before starting on anything, you should always ask yourself, “What are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?”

Rule: Future intent influences and often determines present actions.

The clearer you are about your future intentions, the greater influence that clarity will have on what you do in the moment. With a clear long-term vision, you are much more capable of evaluating an activity in the present to ensure that it is consistent with where you truly want to end up.

Successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and make sacrifices in the short term so that they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long term. Unsuccessful people, on the other hand, think more about short-term pleasure and immediate gratification while giving little thought to the long-term future.

Denis Waitley, a motivational speaker, says, “Losers try to escape from their fears and drudgery with activities that are tension-relieving. Winners are motivated by their desires toward activities that are goal-achieving.”

For example, coming into work earlier, reading regularly in your field, taking courses to improve your skills, and focusing on high-value tasks in your work will all combine to have an enormous positive impact on your future. On the other hand, coming into work at the last moment, reading the newspaper, drinking coffee, and socializing with your coworkers may seem fun and enjoyable in the short term but inevitably leads to lack of promotion, underachievement, and frustration in the long term.

If a task or activity has large potential positive consequences, make it a top priority and get started on it immediately. If something can have large potential negative consequences if it is not done quickly and well, that becomes a top priority as well. Whatever your frog is, resolve to gulp it down first thing.

Motivation requires motive. The greater the potential positive impact that an action or behavior of yours can have on your life, once you define it clearly, the more motivated you will be to overcome procrastination and get it done quickly.

Keep yourself focused and forward moving by continually starting and completing those tasks that can make a major difference to your company and to your future.

The time is going to pass anyway. The only question is how you use it and where you are going to end up at the end of the weeks and months that pass. And where you end up is largely a matter of the amount of consideration you give to the likely consequences of your actions in the short term.

Thinking continually about the potential consequences of your choices, decisions, and behaviors is one of the very best ways to determine your true priorities in your work and personal life.

Brian Tracy is one of the top business speakers in the world today. He has designed and presented seminars for more than 1,000 large companies and more than 10,000 small and medium sized enterprises in 75 countries on the subjects of Leadership, Management, Professional Selling, Business Model Reinvention, and Profit Improvement. He has addressed more than 5,000,000 people in more than 5,000 talks and presentations worldwide. He currently speaks to 250,000 people per year. His fast-moving, entertaining video-based training programs are taught in 38 countries.

 

Brian is a bestselling author. In addition to Eat That Frog, Brian has written more than 80 books that have been translated into 42 languages, including Kiss That Frog!, Find Your Balance Point, Goals!, Flight Plan, Maximum Achievement, No Excuses!, Advanced Selling Strategies, and How the Best Leaders Lead. He is happily married, with four children and five grandchildren. He is the president of Brian Tracy International and lives in Solana Beach, California. He can be reached at briantracy@briantracy.com.

I’ve experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I think to really appreciate anything you have to be at both ends of the spectrum.
John Elway

Yesterday was full of highs and lows.

I got to spend the early morning with a group of men for our weekly get together.  This was a high.

I visited a friend in the hospital.

I made it to the gym for 4.5 miles on the treadmill.  For me, this was another high.

We received word that a friend was struggling and in need of healing.  This was a low.

Our family took a 5 mile hike and Evansburg State Park on a beautiful day.  Yes, this was a high.

We had to put our 13-year-old lab (Iso) down last night.  This was really tough.  We will greatly miss him.

Life is full of highs and lows.  The highs lift us up, and the lows force us to reflect.  There will be more highs and more lows in the days, weeks, and years ahead, and this is okay.

When it seems like life is all over the place, it’s important to remember that God is constant.  His love for us never changes.  And His mercies never come to an end.

As I reflect on an up and down day, I am thankful for the opportunity to experience life – even though it hurts sometimes.

Good Friday

April 14, 2017 — Leave a comment

“Christ has not only spoken to us by his life but has also spoken for us by his death.”

Soren Kierkegaard

Today Christians around the world will be taking time to remember the crucifiction of Jesus Christ.  Many people refer to this day as Good Friday.  Crucifiction doesn’t sound all that “Good” to me.  It involves being tied or nailed to a set of wooden timbers until you die.  Without going into a lot of detail here, it safe to say that crucifiction is horrific.

And yet, there is something amazingly “Good” about Jesus’ crucifiction over 2000 years ago.  His crucifiction paved the way for our atonement – our forgiveness of sins.  He sacrificed His life so we wouldn’t be subjects to the full penalty of our sin.

We sometimes forget that we are sin, and our sin separates us from God.  God is holy.  Our dirtiness (or sinfulness) must be cleansed in order for us to stand before our holy God.  Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross redeemed and restored us and allows us to stand before God.  That is truly “Good.”  And it’s the reason we should celebrate not just today but every day.

May you have a great Good Friday!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  Ephesians 1:7

“I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company”

The New Seekers

I want to have a BIG impact on the world!

I want to put a stop to bullying.

I want to see an end to all illnesses brought on as a result of poor water quality.

I want to build a house for every widow in need.

I want to provide homes, hopes, and father figures for all the orphans in the world.

And I want there to be peace on earth – all over the earth!

It seems like I want a lot of things.  And these things seem so overwhelming when I start thinking about them.  After all, how can one person fix all of this?

I was talking to my Dad the other day on the way home from work, and we started talking about the desire to make the world a better place.  We also talked about the GIGANTIC goals that some people seem to put down to solve the worlds problems.  I think it’s good to dream big, but I also think it’s important to think small.

I truly want to build one hundred houses (or more) for widows in Guatemala.  One hundred houses don’t happen all at once, and they certainly don’t happen my accident.

One hundred houses starts one house at a time.  And one house starts one nail at a time.

Deep down inside, I know you want to change the world.  You want to make a real lasting difference that will outlive you.  In order to make this kind of impact on the world, we must learn to take one step at a time.

Andy Stanley is known for saying “Do for one what you wish you could do for everything.”

Don’t let your big dreams overwhelm you.  Start small, and take one step at a time.

One more thing.  Don’t wait for the PERFECT time to start.  Get started right now!

What small step do you need to take RIGHT NOW to make the world a better place?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

A sounding board is a good listener, and either confirms what they hear or offers an opinion when the sound they hear is “off key”.

Urban Dictionary

Yesterday was a busy day at the office.  I spent most of the day reviewing a project our sales team is trying to get.  In these cases, my job is to make sure the sales team has included the right amount of labor in their estimates, and I check to see if they’ve considered different aspects of the project that might come up as the project moves from start to finish.  In a way, I am a sounding board for our sales team to make sure they go into a project with our best feet forward.

After I finished reviewing the job, I made it back to my desk for a few minutes before heading over to the office of one of my co-workers.  I needed to touch base with him on a small issue, and we hadn’t had time to talk all day.  As we finished talking about my issue, he asked if he could run something by me.  Without going into details, he was wrestling with an issue, and he was trying to figure out how to address it.

We talked about the possible outcomes based on the different ways he could proceed.  I did some of the talking, but he did a lot of talking.  At the end of the conversation, he had settled on a path forward.  I think he knew the right answer all along, but he needed a sounding board.

You and I need people in our lives who will listen to us and give us feedback along the way.  We need sounding boards.

One of the things I love about being in mastermind groups is that I get to use the group as a sounding board and they get to use me as a sounding board.  The people in the group listen to my issues, and they give me feedback.  Ultimately, they help me get to an answer to move me forward.  I get the opportunity to do the same for the other members in the group.

If you are wrestling with questions about how to become a better husband, a better father, or a better man, you should consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group.  This is a mastermind group that I facilitate that helps men takes the next step or two in their journey.  If you need a sounding board, this might just be the group for you.

To find out more about the group, visit stretchedmengroup.com.  After looking at the site, sign up for a free (no obligation, no pressure) call with me to see if this group is right for you.

The Stretched Men Group has made a big difference for several men and their families, and I’m getting ready to launch the next semester (3 month commitment).

You need a sounding board!  Why not get one TODAY!

Who is your sounding board?  How has your sounding board helped you to move forward?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Life is Fragile

April 11, 2017 — 2 Comments

“Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow so give it everything you’ve got.”

Tim Cook

My typical weekend writing was interrupted by a variety of circumstances.

First, our house is for sale, and we had a showing at our house on Sunday night after church.   We had two piles of mulch and garden soil on the driveway that needed to be moved to our flower beds and garden.  Plus, we had to make our final trips around the house making sure everything was clean before we left for church.  I missed my normal Sunday morning writing time to move mulch and dirt and to clean up the house.

Second, our weekend was altered by the tragic news that a young teenage girl from our church group had taken her life.

This news has brought about a lot of questions, pondering, and conversation.  It also brought sadness.

There are many details surrounding her suicide, and I’m grappling with what I need to know as an adult volunteer in our youth program and as a parent of fellow students and what I simply don’t need to know about the situation.

Last night during our normal youth group programming, we had over 300 students (my estimation) pour into our auditorium to be together, to grieve, and to celebrate the life of their friend and classmate.  The time together was a mix of sadness and amazing beauty.

There was singing, stories, and plenty of tears.

My heart aches for the young students who are faced with the loss of a peer and the struggle to sort out their own thoughts and feelings.

I’m reminded of the importance of listening to those in pain.  I’m reminded of how essential it is to be a presence in the lives of others.  And I’m reminded to be aware of the silent cries of those who simply don’t know how to process the struggles of life.

The weekend also served as a reminder of the amazing volunteers in our youth program.  Many of the volunteers took off from work on Friday to be with students on Friday when the news spread of her passing.  Don’t underestimate the value of your role in the lives of those who are younger than you.

The weekend also reminded me that there are times when we won’t fully understand parts of this life we find ourselves in on this side of heaven.  Sometimes life simply doesn’t make sense.

Finally, the weekend reminded me that beauty can rise from the ashes that follows such tragedy.  Relationships can be repaired.  People can take steps toward reconciliation.  And ultimately, people can find God when events like this happen.

Pray for the family and friends of this young woman.

Be on the look out for those who are hurting around you.

If you are desperate, hurting, and lonely, find someone to lean on.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39