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    Stretched Men Group – Fall 2018 Mastermind – Forming NOW

    The next semester of the Stretched Men Group is getting ready to start, and men are getting ready to STRETCH their marriages, their parenting, their careers, their faith, and their lives.

    You don’t want to miss the opportunity to be part of the Stretched Men Group!

    The Stretched Men Group provides a safe, transforming environment to help men like you take steps forward.  Here are some of the ways the group has helped other men:

    One man started praying for his ex-wife.

    One man started taking his family back to church.

    One man changed jobs.

    One man had a tough conversation with his wife that transformed his relationship.

    One man had a difficult conversation with his co-worker that led to a job change.

    One man tackled a pornography addiction.

    One man started reading his Bible on a daily basis.

    One man reached out to his estranged sons.

    One man took his marriage and sex-life to a whole new level.

    If you’re looking to STRETCH and experience this kind of change in your life, you should join the next semester of the Stretched Men Group.  For more information, go to www.stretchedmengroup.com.  Once you are there, you can request a FREE, no pressure informational call with me to see if the Stretched Men Group is right for you.

    Don’t wait too long, the spots will fill up fast.

    What are you waiting for?  It’s time to STRETCH now!

    Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
    Napoleon Hill

    6 Things You Need to Do Today to Prepare for the Empty Nest

    Later today, I’ll be dropping my daughter off for the start of her junior year of college, and my wife and I will be entering the empty nest.  (Last week, we dropped our son off for his freshman year of college.)  While I’m sad to say goodbye to my kids knowing their return home will never quite be the same, I’m extremely excited by this next step in our journey together.

    Many people talk about the empty nest with negativity.  People imply that life is almost over when the kids leave the house.  Or people wonder out loud about how spouses will handle each other without the barrier and distraction of children.

    The empty nest doesn’t have to be a scary thing.  In fact, there are things you can do today to better prepare yourself for the empty nest.

    6 Things You Need to Do Today to Prepare for the Empty Nest

    1. Date your spouse while your kids are under your roof.  Many parents fall into the trap of making their parenting more important than their marriage.  This is a big mistake.  When we get married, we commit – we promise – to live life together for the rest of our lives.  When your kids leave the house (as they should at some point), you don’t want to find yourself living with a stranger.  Continue to get to know your wife.  Continue to have fun together.  Continue to grow closer.  Leanne and I have a weekly date night.  This has been a great way to help prepare us for the empty nest.
    2. Parent your children with purpose.  Too many parents make the mistake of trying to be their child’s best friend instead of people their mom or dad.  Also, many parents miss out on the importance of preparing their kids to leave the nest.  Talking to your kids about life after high school or college is important.  Kids need to understand the expectations you have for them as they get older.  Talking about these expectations, modeling expected behaviors, and establishing appropriate boundaries are all critical parts of parenting with purpose and of preparing for the empty nest.  Leanne and I have intentionally approached our parenting aiming our kids at the target and launching them well-equipped to leave the nest and contribute to this world.
    3. Invest in your marriage.  Beyond dating your spouse, you need to make regular investments in your marriage.  Find a mentor couple or two who are ahead of you in their married lives and take time to learn from them.  Spend money and take time to get away on a regular basis to connect with each other, to discuss goals, and to assess progress.  Go to a marriage retreat or conference (ie. Family Life Weekend to Remember) to learn from marriage experts.  Sign up in a marriage class like Dynamic Marriage (Leanne and I are getting ready to lead our next Dynamic Marriage class, and spots are still available).  Leanne and I have done a lot of things to invest in our marriage, and we will continue to do these things as we enter the empty nest.  Our marriage is worth it!
    4. Invest in yourself.  I’m a father, and I’m a husband.  I’m also me.  Our identities are complex.  While you will always be a father if you have kids, that part of your identity will change as the kids leave the nest.  It’s important to learn and grow (to STRETCH) as an individual.  I’m doing this through reading, through podcasts, and through mastermind groups.  In a few weeks, I’ll be launching the next semester of the Stretched Men Group – a mastermind group for men.  If you are a man, consider signing up.  This is a great way to invest in yourself and to help you prepare for the empty nest.
    5. Plan ahead.  Don’t get to the empty nest without plans for the future.  Leanne and I have been making plans for doing things together to have fun, to contribute to our church and community, and to position ourselves for further steps in our married lives.  We’ve created a “Dream Board” to document some of our bigger goals for the future.  If you want to prepare for the empty nest, plan ahead for what you will do once the kids leave the nest.
    6. Pray.  Don’t underestimate the importance of praying together about the future.  Pray for your kids.  Pray for their future spouses.  Pray for your spouse.  Pray for your future together.  God wants to be part of your marriage.  Pray that God would prepare you for the empty nest.

    When you take these steps, you too can enter the empty nest with enthusiasm, hope, and excitement.  Don’t wait for the kids to say goodbye, take action today to get ready for the empty nest!

    What action do you need to take to prepare for the empty nest?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    It’s Time To Join My Mastermind

    “If you find you are weak in persistence, surround yourself with a Mastermind Group.”
    Napolean Hill (Think and Grow Rich)

    A few years ago, I joined a mastermind group for entrepreneurs.  This group gives me a place to share my ideas and to get the feedback I need to keep moving forward.  It’s also a place where I can help other entrepreneurs as they process their next steps.  I haven’t been disappointed with the experience so far.

    Last year, I launched my own mastermind group.  After wise advice and consistent encouragement, I started the Stretched Men Group.  This mastermind group is all about encouraging guys to become better men, better husbands, and better fathers.  The group runs for three-month semesters.  After each semester, mastermind members have the opportunity to continue on with the group (or not), and new members have the opportunity to jump into the group.

    The next semester is getting ready to kick off in the middle of this month, and there are still a few open spots.  I’d love to fill the spots with guys who want to take the next steps in their journey.  If you’d like to find out more information about the group, I’d encourage you to go over to the groups website (click here) and sign up for a FREE informational (no pressure) phone call from me.

    In the meantime, I’d encourage you to check out this video from my friend, Ray Edwards.  In the video, Ray offers some fantastic tips about what to look for in a GREAT mastermind group.

    If you’re looking to experience these five essentials and your path to becoming the man you were meant to be, I’d encourage you to check out the Stretched Men Group.

    Don’t wait.  The next semester will be starting soon!

    Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition – Thursday 2016

    thanksgiving-tablecloth-tradition-4

    Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.

    Amy Grant

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Sunday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year.  To read more about the tradition, click here.

    This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.  (Monday, I shared the first thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.  Tuesday, I shared the second thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.  And yesterday, I shared the third thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.)

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    Today, I’m thankful for my kids.  They have kept me busy and proud this year.

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    I’m thankful for Hannah, our oldest.  She kept us busy this year graduating from high school and starting college.  We’re excited to have her home this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

    And I’m thankful for Isaac.  He has also had a year of milestones – his first job, driving, and working on his music and scouting programs.

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    Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.  Psalm 127:3-5

    Who are you thankful for this year?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition

    thanksgiving-tablecloth-tradition

    I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.

    Henry David Thoreau

    Across America, people will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week.

    Some people will be watching one of the NFL football games televised throughout the day.  Others will watch a Thanksgiving parade.  Many Americans will be gathering with family and friends to eat a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  A few of you may lace up your running shoes or your football cleats for a Thanksgiving 5K or a community Turkey Bowl game.

    These are all great traditions.  I know I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and eating the delicious Thanksgiving feast.

    Thanksgiving is more than family, food, and football.  Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful.  While we should be thankful all year, Thanksgiving gives us all the opportunity to more intentional in our gratitude.

    For the past 15 years, our family has celebrated Thanksgiving with our Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.

    Here’s how it works:

    We have a white tablecloth for our Thanksgiving table.  We purchased fabric markers.  Each guest at our Thanksgiving feast traces their hand print on the tablecloth using one of the fabric markers (make sure you put a piece of cardboard under the tablecloth while you are doing this part).  They write their name and the year in the palm of the hand print.  Then each guest writes five things for which they are thankful (one in each finger).  You may want to put a piece of clear plastic over the tablecloth after everyone has finished their hand print.

    Each year we pull out the tablecloth, and we read over the hand prints from previous years.  It’s amazing to see God’s provision in our lives over the years.

    We are on our 2nd tablecloth.  The tablecloths include names of family members who are no longer with us.  They include the colorful and sloppy handwriting of our youngest family members, and they include the beautiful hand prints from friends who joined us for the Thanksgiving meal.

    Over the next week, I’ll be sharing the five things I’ll be writing on my hand print this year.

    Start a new tradition this year – The Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  Go pickup a tablecloth and some fabric markers.  It’s good to give thanks.

    Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  Psalm 100:4

    What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?  Why are you thankful this year?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Friday Night Free For All

    It’s Friday night, and our whole family is home.

    (Hannah is home from Messiah College for a short break.)

    While Leanne and Isaac were at piano and Hannah was out for a run, I cut the grass ahead of the rainy weather coming tomorrow.  My wife reminded me that working outside is one of the things that refreshes me, so I decided to cut the grass when I arrived home from work.  There something therapeutic about riding the tractor back and forth across my lawn.  I love creating straight lines and cool patterns in my grass, and I always appreciate the way the yard looks after a good mowing.  Tonight, I had to finish cutting the grass with the tractor headlights on so I could see where I was going.  Fall is here and the days are getting shorter.  I don’t exactly like the shorter days, but I do appreciate the different seasons we get to experience here in Pennsylvania.

    For dinner tonight, Isaac made crepes.  We first enjoyed dinner crepes with ham and cheese.  Then we pigged out on dessert crepes.  Mine were filled with strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream.  Everyone else in the family put Nutella in their crepes.  This was our first meal together at home in two months since Hannah departed for college.

    After a busy day and busy week, it is nice to be home.

    If you read my post from yesterday, you’ll know I’m struggling with exhaustion and overcommitment.  In my post, I started to ponder this question:  “What refreshes me?”

    After I road the post, Leanne came and sat down on the couch next to me, and she said I looked more relaxed.

    One of the things that refreshes me is writing.

    I think I forgot this.  Or maybe I have simply allowed other things to crowd out my time for writing.  It’s crazy how we let this happen.  We find something we’re passionate about (like writing).  We go after it for a while, but then other things wedge themselves into our schedules and we forget to keep doing the thing that brings us the most joy and fulfillment.

    For me, I haven’t been very consistent lately when it comes to writing.  I’ve been too busy doing other things.  I’ve been too tired to carve out the time to focus on writing.  And I think it’s had an impact on me.

    Writing is cathartic.  It restores my soul.  It fills me up.  It helps me process the challenges of life.  And it simultaneously gives me the opportunity to encourage others.

    And I’m back at it again tonight – two nights in a row.  Hannah is cleaning up after dinner.  Leanne is working on breakfast for tomorrow morning.  Isaac is practicing the piano for church on Sunday.  And I’m sitting here in my easy chair – writing, listening, and slowly filling up my tank.

    This is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning.  I’m thankful for an evening to sit, to reflect, and to relax.

    It’s Friday night, and I’m thankful for the weekend.

    How do you unwind after a busy week?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    4 Things I Learned When Grandpa Called Me

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    I don’t understand this whole Twitter, Facebook stuff. I don’t get it. Make a phone call. Talk to somebody.

    James Avery

    Friday afternoon at the end of my workday, I received a phone call from my Grandpa.  Grandpa Miller lives in Minneapolis, MN, and I live outside of Philadelphia, PA which means we don’t see each other very often.  And I’m embarrassed to admit we don’t talk nearly as often as we should.  I think we both share the guilt for our infrequent conversations.

    One of the things that keeps us connected is my blog.  Every time I publish a new blog post, Grandpa gets an email from me.  He keeps tabs on me in part by reading my blog posts.

    I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I didn’t publish a single blog post last week.  One person did notice – Grandpa.  His phone call on Friday afternoon was a call of concern for me.  Was a sick?  Was I busy?  Was I okay?  Grandpa called to check-up on me.

    Grandpa’s phone call reminded me of several important things.

    Grandpa and My Niece

    Grandpa and My Niece

    4 Things I Learned When Grandpa Called Me

    1. I am loved.  Grandpa’s phone calls always remind me that I am loved.  We may not talk as regularly as we should, but I know we are thinking of each other.  In fact, Grandpa regularly prays for my family and me.  You are loved, too!
    2. I am missed when I don’t show up.  For over nine years, I’ve been writing blog posts here.  I don’t often realize the impact of my writing discipline.  The last couple of weeks have been particularly busy for me, so I decided to put attention to other things besides writing blog posts.  I guess I didn’t realize the impact of my decision.  It’s nice to know I was missed.  And I am reminded to practice the discipline of showing up – even here on my blog.  You are missed when you don’t show up!
    3. My words and actions matter to others.  It is my prayer that my words (and actions) will encourage others and will bring glory to God.  Grandpa’s phone call reminded me that my words do matter.  They keep people informed, and they stretch people to live life with more intention.  Your words and actions matter to others!
    4. I am meant to live in community.  When life gets overwhelming, I sometimes have a tendency to close up.  I’m an extrovert, but I also have a strong desire to be in control.  When I get too busy, it’s easy for me to put on blinders.  I focus so intently on the things on my schedule and my to-do list that I forget to latch into the people around me – my community.  If you’re reading this, you are part of my community.  I need you, and I think you may need me.  We need each other.  I can’t physically be with Grandpa thanks to the challenges of geography and responsibilities, but I can be present with Grandpa by connecting with him more intentionally.  You are meant to live in community!

    Thank you, Grandpa, for calling!  It meant the world to me to hear your voice and to know you care.  I love you!

    Who do you need to call today?  What are you going to do about it?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Podcast Interview @ And Dad Makes 7 with Rocco DeLeo

    AND DAD MAKES 7 PODCAST INTERVIEW

    Yesterday, my friend, Rocco DeLeo, released the first part of our interview for his podcast – And Dad Makes 7.  In this part of the interview, we talk about being “On Track” in the various aspects of life.  Please stop by and give it a listen.  I had such a blast talking to Rocco, and I believe our conversation will encourage you.  Get to the interview by subscribing to his podcast or by clicking here.

    After you give it a listen, let me know what you think in the comments below.

    Made For A Purpose

    The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.

    Albert Schweitzer

    Saturday afternoon, we received the following message in the mail:

    Dear Isaac,

    I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you!  Cody has successfully completed his training at the Seeing Eye.  He has been placed with a man from Virgina.  The man travels extensively for his job and he came to the Seeing Eye for his fourth dog.  I did not have a chance to train them together but I was able to observe the team work and grow together.  The man was thrilled with Cody and was impressed with his calm demeanor, no-nonsense attitude, and his strong work ethic.  He was very thankful for the effort you put forth in raising him.

    Cody was a great dog to train and I enjoyed the four months we spent together.  From the moment I met Cody I knew there was something special about him.  He always wanted to do the right thing and enjoyed putting the harness on to go to work.  I remember the trips to NYC and how the city was no big deal for him.  He loved Times Square and riding the subways.  His laid back attitude and his cautious work ethic made him a great dog to train.  I will always remember Cody and how he used to wait for me every morning in the kennel.  I will miss him.

    I would like to thank you for the time and effort you put forth in raising Cody.  You did an excellent job.  It is your continued help and steadfast dedication that continue to make the Seeing Eye such a successful organization.  You have made a positive impact in someone’s life.  Cody is taking his first steps of an incredible journey with his new partner in travel.

    Sincere thanks,

    Jim Kessler

    Leanne and I had the privilege of going up to the Seeing Eye in October to observe Cody’s town walk.  This is kind of like a final exam for Cody.  We couldn’t get close to Cody, but we were able to watch him from across the street and a distance behind him as he navigated the sidewalks of Morristown, NJ.  When we spoke with Jim, Cody’s trainer, he commented on how much Cody likes to work.  He essentially said that Cody was made for this.  He relishes in his purpose.  We could see this as we watched Cody from afar.

    I know Cody is only a dog, but he provided great lessons for our family.  We learned patience and endurance as a result of having him in our house for his first year of life.  And we were reminded about the importance of pursuing our purpose for life.

    FB Header LS Life Coach

    My wife, Leanne, recently launched her life coaching business.  Her primary focus is helping women discover their purpose and to help them take the next steps in pursuing their purpose.  If you need helping discovering your purpose or you need some help discerning your next steps in pursuing this purpose, you should touch base with my wife.  For more information about Leanne and life coaching, visit her site by clicking here.

    What is your purpose?  What are you doing about it?

    Thanksgiving 2014 – Family & Friends

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    Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    This week I am celebrating a tradition in our house.  Our family Thanksgiving tradition includes tracing our hand prints onto a white tablecloth.  In each of our fingers, we write down something for which we are thankful.  This week, I’m taking time to share something I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.  I’m hoping you’ll contribute to the conversation by leaving something for which you are thankful for each day.

    Here is the fourth thing I’ll be writing down this year:

    Family & Friends

    I am so blessed to have a wonderful family and some great friends.  I’m especially thankful for my wife, Leanne, and for our two teenagers.  It’s been a busy year, but we have enjoyed growing together.  Leanne has ventured into life coaching this year, and the kids are busy with running, youth group, band, and scouts.  I’m extremely blessed.

    I am also thankful for my extended family.  This year, we said goodbye to my Grandma Stolpe, and it gave us the opportunity to spend time with parts of my family I haven’t seen in years.

    Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.
    Michael J. Fox

    I have so many friends for whom I am thankful.  There are way too many to list here.  I’m thankful for those who have cheered me on, listened to me, and just hung out with me.

    The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.
    Hubert H. Humphrey

    What is one thing you would put on your thankful list this year?  Why?

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