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Top Stretched Commenters of the Month

    Top Stretched Posts of the Month

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      A Chance To Promote My Wife

      LeanneCan you do me a big favor?

      Can you head over to my wife’s site (leannestolpe.com), and say hello?  (Click here.)

      Leanne is a Life Purpose Coach, and she is passionate about helping moms discover and embrace their purpose.

      If you are a mom or you know a mom, you should check out her blog on the site.  She writes a new post every week.  Her post this week is 5 Keys To Keeping Your Identity When You Become A Mom.  (Click here to get right to the post.)

      If you sign up for her list, she will send you a FREE resource to help you confirm your purpose – 5 Signs You Found Your Purpose.

      LEANNE web header-updated

      Leanne has a lot to offer moms who are struggling to find their purpose or who are struggling to make room for living out their purpose.

      One more thing, could you send a message to some of the moms you know who might benefit from reading Leanne’s blog or talking to Leanne?

      Thanks!!!

      Redefine Rich

      What does it mean to be rich?

      Matt Ham is on a quest to redefine rich.  He writes about it on his blog.  He talks about it on his podcast.  And he’s getting ready to release a book designed to help you think differently about what it means to be rich.

      I’m excited to share some special news from Matt Ham’s world.  He recently released a podcast interview with me.

      I’m so thankful for the opportunity to speak with Matt.  I think our conversation will challenge listeners.  And I think you’ll like it.

      I’d really appreciate it if you would give the interview a listen.  (It’s available on iTunes on directly on his website.)

      Once you’ve listened, let me know what you think.  Then tell your friends about the interview, so they can listen as well.

      Thanks!

      What does it mean to be rich?

      Blogging All-Stars

      Yesterday, Major League Baseball celebrated its best players with the annual All-Star Game.

      As a fan of the game, I have always enjoyed the All-Star Game.  It’s an opportunity to recognize the outstanding players and the fan-favorite players of the league.  This year’s game only featured one player from my team – Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies.  It was also the last All-Star Game for New York Yankees shortstop, Derek Jeter.

      The players in this game are well-loved and recognized throughout the sport and its fan base.

      Don’t you think it’s time we recognize the all-starts of the blogging world?

      If I were going to choose a Blogging All-Star Team, it would include the following bloggers:

      • Joe Lalonde – Joe writes a great blog designed to encourage leaders.  I love Joe’s insights and encouragement.  If you are looking to learn and be inspired in your leadership, go check out Joe’s blog.
      • Matt McWilliams – Matt writes about life and leadership.  He is an entrepreneur who passes along excellent advice.  Matt is also the founder of the Thank You Revolution.
      • Larry Carter – Larry “The Deuce” is one of the most consistent bloggers I know.  His blog is a great mix of humor and faith.  He will get you thinking twice about things in your everyday life.
      • Dan Erickson – Dan is one of the most creative bloggers I know.  He blogs about communication, social media, and a variety of other topics.  Dan doesn’t follow the trends followed my many other bloggers.  I like the way he goes against the flow.
      • Jeff Goins – Jeff is one of the premier bloggers in the blog world.  He blogs about writing, and he shares practical advice and stories about being a writer.
      • Rob Shepherd – Rob is a pastor, a father, a husband, and a comedian.  He’s also a Lakers fan, but I try not to hold that against him.  I love the way Rob makes you laugh and think.  He is also a movie buff, so I appreciate the movie reviews he occasionally brings to his blog.
      • Shawn Smucker – After an absence from the blogging world, Shawn is back at it.  This guy can write.  He will inspire you.  He will stretch you.  And he will make you smile.
      • Seth Barnes – Seth is the leader behind Adventures in Missions.  His blog challenges readers to live radical in a comfortable world.
      • Dee Riggs – Dee is a friend from years ago, and she is one of the most gifted writers I have ever read.  Her blog takes life from many different angles.
      • Dustin W. Stout – Dustin is a social media and blogging guru.  He is also a creative designer.  He provides practical tips for improving your blog and your social media presence.
      • Michael Hyatt – Michael is the Babe Ruth of the team.  His blog is one of the most followed blogs in the whole blog world.  He blogs about intentional living and leadership, and he also shares a lot about building your platform.  I have learned a lot over the years from Michael, his community, and his guest bloggers.
      • Carlos Whittaker – Carlos is a worship leader, songwriter, author, and creative family guy.  He also approaches life with creativity, intentionality, and passion.
      • Eileen Knowles – Eileen writes about the “scenic route” of life.  She is an amazing writer who writes on a variety of topics.

      There are many people who I could add to the list.  If you are a blogger and you are not on the list, don’t take it personally.  I follow so many blogs, and it is a challenge to narrow it down to the very best.  Having said this, I hope you will check out the blogs mentioned above.

      Who would you add to the list?  Who would be on your Blogging All-Star Team?

      June 2014 – Top Posts and Commenters PLUS BOOK GIVEAWAY

      jonstolpe 300x200

      Here are the highlights from June 2014.  Thanks to everyone who read along and commented.  Your readership and participation in the daily discussions are what make The Stretched Community.  Thank you!

      Overall, traffic was up from May (16.14%).  Traffic was down 16.07% compared to a year ago.  The top 10 posts included one post from 2012 and one post from 2013.  If you missed any of these posts, I hope you’ll go and check them out now by clicking below.  The post with the most engagement was a post related to my book project from June 6, 2014 – Ice Breaker – Last 5 Songs You Listened To.

      Top 10 Posts:

        1. Ten Things Every Aspiring Book Author Should Know  June 9, 2014 (94)
        2. I’m Losing My Patients – 6 Ways To Rediscover Patience  April 2, 2013 (76)
        3. Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know  March 7, 2012 (69)
        4. Milestones  June 19, 2014 (41)
        5. Ice Breaker – Last 5 Books You Read  June 20, 2012 (40)
        6. Honor Older People  June 3, 2014 (39)
        7. 3 Ways To Respond When Someone Is Unkind To You  June 18, 2014 (39)
        8. Ice Breaker – Last 5 Songs You Listened To  June 6, 2014 (38)
        9. Summertime Blogging – Request For Guest Bloggers  June 24, 2014 (38)
        10. Ice Breaker – Last 5 Movies You Watched  June 13, 2013 (36)

      Top 10 Commenters:

      As promised at the beginning of the month, I have randomly chosen someone from the top commenters list to receive a copy of A Train Called Forgiveness by Dan Erickson.  The winner of this book is…(drum roll)…Ryan Biddulph.  Congrats to Ryan!

      For the month of July, I’ll be giving away a copy of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John G. Miller. This month, the winner will be chosen randomly from the top 10 commenters.

      Thanks to each and everyone for reading and for commenting.  I’m looking forward to July with The Stretched Community!  The month of July will include more STRETCHING posts and will feature several guest posts while I am in Guatemala.  If you’re interested in guest posting here, leave a comment to connect with me.  July should be a spectacular month!

      How was your month?  If you’re a blogger share a link to your top post in the comments?  What was your favorite Stretched post this month?  How were you STRETCHED in June?

      In case you’re interested, here are a few other interesting stats about June (based on Google Analytics):

      • Users – Increased 4.74%
      • Sessions – Increased 12.76%
      • Pageviews – Increased 14.61%
      • Pages Per Session – Increased 1.37%
      • Average Session Duration – Increased 39.58%
      • Bounce Rate – Decreased 0.83%
      • New Sessions – Decreased 5.85%

      On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field is now available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.  Click the link below to get your copy today.

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

      Summertime Blogging – Request For Guest Bloggers

      The summer months are a time for vacations and day trips.  I am thankful for this season when things relax a little.

      I have seen fellow bloggers handle their vacations in different ways:

      • Some bloggers take off the whole summer.  Summer blog reader traffic is typically lower, and many bloggers use this time to be refreshed and to accumulate new ideas for the fall.
      • Some bloggers take off for a week or two while they are on vacation.  Michael Hyatt takes off for a month each summer.  He generally does not post during this time with the exception of a few guest posts.  Again, this in an opportunity to recharge.
      • Some bloggers write in advance and schedule posts to go live while they are away.  This can lead to a little craziness trying to write and schedule content ahead of time, but it helps keep the blog community active even when the blogger is away.
      • Some bloggers simply become more inconsistent with their posting schedule during the summer.  When the fall comes, they become motivated again to be more consistent, and they resume a normal writing/posting routine.

      I try to keep the blog going, even while I am away.  Sometimes a re-post popular blog posts from the past.  This provides newer readers the opportunity to catch up on some of my older content.  My preference though is to feature guest bloggers during my vacation time.  This gives me the opportunity to introduce my blogging community to others around the blog world.  It provides fresh perspectives on life’s stretching experiences.  And it keeps my readers engaged as guest bloggers participate in the dialogue that goes on in the comments.

      This summer, I am heading back to Guatemala, and I am looking for guest bloggers to help fill the gap while I am away.  Specifically, I need guest bloggers for July 21-25 and July 28th.  If you would be interested in helping out during this time (or at another time), please leave a comment or reach out to me at jon@jonstolpe.com, so we can connect.  (For more about guest posting, click here.)

      You have a stretching story worth sharing.  Your stretch story could be the catalyst for significant encouragement for the Stretched Community.  And I’d love to share it here!

      If you are a blogger, how do you handle your blog when you are away?

      Do you have any vacation plans this summer?

      To Forgive, Or Not To Forgive – That Is The Question

      We all face times in our lives when we have to make a choice:  Will we forgive, or will we not forgive?

      My friend, Matt McWilliams, wrote a post about forgiveness over on his blog today, and he asked me to share it with The Stretched Community.

      I’d held on to unforgiveness for too long. It was time to finally forgive my father.

      Time to move past the hurt, the rejection, the anger. It was time.

      Forgiving my dad set me free
      It is impossible for joy and unforgiveness to coexist. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

      I can’t tell you how many times I said that to myself. And it never happened.

      Days wrestling with my feelings turned into weeks, which turned into months, and eventually years. Layers of failed attempts or flat out refusals to do so had hardened my heart. Would I ever be able to forgive him?

      Or had those years actually softened my heart? Had they actually prepared me for that night recently when I would read about breaking generational chains and forgiving my dad?

      As I stood brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed on the night before Easter, a voice said:

      Write to him.

      Write to him? Write what?

      Read the rest of Matt’s powerful post on forgiveness here: Matt McWilliams on Forgiveness.

      ADVENTure Day 11

      vintage christmas: 1975

      Today’s ADVENTure post comes from Bill Grandi.  Bill is a pastor in the great state of Indiana.  He blogs regularly at CycleGuy’s Spin, and he has become a friend over the past couple of years thanks to the wonders of the blogosphere.  Today, he offers a post to get you thinking about your ADVENTure from a different angle.

      (If you’re interesting in guest posting as part of the ADVENTure series or in general, please leave me a comment.  I’d love to connect with you.  Thanks!)

      It is said everyone has a story. Here is part of my Christmas one.

      I grew up in what was commonly known as the projects in West Mifflin, PA. They were nothing more than glorified low income housing units built for the steel workers during the war. My father grew up in Fort Wayne, IN, was the product of an abusive home, and joined the Navy.  After his discharge he attended Findlay College for a year or two for journalism, but dropped out in order to marry my mother. My mother was raised by godly parents and her desire was to be a missionary. We always joked because her mission field wound up being 4 sons (all of whom are serving the Lord today). They moved back to her hometown and found housing in the projects. We moved to the one I remember most because it was while living there that my father lost his job as a yard clerk on the railroad. Times were lean…no make that very lean. Mom went to work in a mom & pop grocery store. Dad was jobless for several years, until my aunt eventually paid for him to go to computer school to learn the growing field of computers. That was the time computers were as big as a house and took huge rooms kept almost frigid to house them.

      Through it all my mom’s faith upheld her. My dad was nominal at best, but my mother’s faith was real and deep. She made sure Christmas was special in more ways than one. While they were both conscious of the “material” aspect of Christmas, mom made sure we knew the deeper story of Christmas. Yes, we had Santa Claus. Yes, we had lights and a tree and trains (those was my father’s responsibilities). But I had a mother (and grandparents) who made sure we knew what Christmas was all about. I learned early on that it did not depend on what you did/did not receive, or what others got that you didn’t. I learned how important it was to be grateful for whatever it was I received, whether I asked for it or not. Even after my father found a computer job, that focus never changed.

      I have a lot of good memories from Christmas morning-of games being played; of breakfast being eaten before we could even open a gift; of staring in amazement at the sight that greeted my eyes (when we went to bed there was N-O-T-H-I-N-G); but most importantly of loving parents who sacrificed so their children could have a “nice” Christmas.

      ADVENTURE Question:  What do you remember from your early years which shaped your impression of Christmas, and is still affecting you today?

      ADVENTure Activity: Do you know a family you can reach out to who may have run into some tough times lately? Do they have children whom you can help them with? Can you help them anonymously? Do something.

      The Stretched Blog Visits DanErickson.net

      You may have noticed that this week’s Ice Breaker was moved to Thursday.  Today, I have the honor of guest posting for my friend Dan Erickson.  Dan lives in the state of Washington, and we had the blessing of meeting each other this summer when he traveled to the east coast with his daughter to visit family and to visit NYC.  In my post titled Connecting Through Writing, I share about the connection I’ve found through my writing.  Here’s a glimpse of my post:

      Connecting Through Writing

      I never thought I would have a passion for writing.

      It’s not that I was terrible at it.  I survived four years of Honors English in high school (I actually did okay).  But my interest was always more towards math and science.  My love for these two subjects led me to a college degree in mechanical engineering and a career in the engineering and construction field.

      I had no idea that writing would become such an important part of my life.  Writing has actually become a discipline that I look forward to each day.

      I’ve been blogging for over six years.  And I’ve started dreaming and planning to write a book (or two or three someday).

      What has amazed me the most about writing is its ability to connect people.  (Click here to read the rest.)

      How has writing changed your world?  How has writing resulted in new connections for you?

      Want To Be Happier? Me too! (@DBartosik)

      Today, I’m honored to present guest blogger, David Bartosik.  David recently connected with me through the Team Faith Builder Facebook Group.  He is Pastor to Students at Richfield Community Church, and he blogs at dbartosik.com about awakening affections for God.  You can link up with him on Facebook and Twitter.

      David reached out to me on this guest post following my post last week about A Different Twist on Happiness.  If you want to add to the conversation through a guest post on happiness (or any other stretching topic), leave me a comment so we can connect.  Thanks!

      Want to be happier? Me too!

      Jon recently wrote a post that directed us to think about the concept of happiness.

      7 years ago I was pushed to contemplate the same thing and it changed my life and I can never go back.

      Pursuing our happiness and pursuing God are not contrary ideas.

      The more you pursue your own happiness it should lead you to God and lead to a deeper, more profound happiness that is contagious and limitless.

      1. God designed us to Pursue Happiness.

      In every person is a desire to be happy.  We buy stuff.  We marry people.  We do stuff.  Every motive of every decision of every person is rooted in their desire to be Happy.  This desire was God-given.

      2. He is the ultimate source of Happiness.

      So if so many people are pursuing happiness, why aren’t their more happy people?  Suicide rates are up.  Anti depressant medications top the chart of most filled prescriptions.  Monogamous relationships are a thing of the past. If that statement is true why aren’t people who believe in God happier? If God is the ultimate source of happiness shouldn’t those that believe in him be the happiest people? Reason-Christians often get wrapped up in the gifts instead of the giver of the gifts.  On Christmas are you happy for the new bike, the lawnmower, the Christmas feast, or are you happy in the person who gave it to you?  It is a subtle idea that creates a world of difference.  God says, pursue your happiness in the giver and the gifts will be even that much more special in view of who gave it.  He himself is the ultimate gift.  Ultimate happiness is found in HIM.

      3. Pursue Him for the rest of your life.

      This is the hard part.  The first one is a picture of reality.  It’s just how it is.  The second idea is an awakening to that reality.  This third point is a battle.  It is one thing to recognize a reality but it is a completely different thing all together to want to and continually pursue that reality.  It is a fight, but rather than an obligatory fight that is filled with sacrifice, it is actually a fight for a deeper happiness than I am experiencing.

      No one would argue that this idea doesn’t exist in the foundation of our country.

      LIFE. Guaranteed.

      LIBERTY. Guaranteed.

      PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS? Well, good luck it’s a pursuit because this is not a guarantee.  But what is guaranteed is you can pursue it.

      As I observe our culture, it seems as if we’ve missed it.  As Jon asked last week I don’t think the question “What makes you happy?” is illegitimate, but I would twist it a little further.

      Is this an accurate view of how life should be lived?  Why aren’t more people living it?

      The Stretched Blog Visits I’m Just Thinkin’ (@ChrisVonada)

      Proverbs151

      Today, I’m guest posting as part of The Network for Chris Vonada at his blog, I’m Just Thinkin’.  In my post (When Words Sting), I share 5 suggestions for responding to insults.  Here’s an excerpt to get you started.

      When Words Sting

      “If I get a 1,000 compliments and one insult, guess which one I listen to?

      The insult, of course.

      I have an unbelievable ability to ignore a swarm of positive words and camp out on the one negative.”  Jon Acuff (http://www.jonacuff.com/blog/quit-giving-the-haters-phds/)

      It’s probably happened to all of us at one time or another – someone says something to us that absolutely stings.

      Maybe they call you names.  Maybe they are just rude.  Maybe they insult you.

      Words can hurt!

      Words can sting!

      Words can leave a gash on our hearts!

      So how can we respond when this happens?  How can we move past the pain of words?

      If you’re visiting from Chris’s blog, I’m glad you stopped by.  I hope you’ll check things out and become a regular part of The Stretched Community.  You can sign up to receive daily blog updates by adding your e-mail on the main page (I promise not to send you spam).  To help you get a taste of my other writing, here are a few of my favorite posts:

      How do you deal with words that sting?  What step do you need to take today to get past wounds that have been caused by words?

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