Category Archives for "remember"

Take Time To Review

Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good.

Friday night, my DIBs (Dudes In the Basement) men’s group got together for an evening of pizza and conversation.  After an extremely busy week at work, this time together was a welcome respite.  DIBs started a little over four years ago, and we committed to meeting together for twenty years.  Each year at the beginning of a new year, we take time to chose a word to mark our year ahead.  (This year, my word was “Long-Term”.)

As we were sitting around talking, one of the guys (thanks Matt!) suggested we take time to  review around words for the past year.  It was a fantastic opportunity to review and reflect on our words and how they played out throughout the year.

I shared about our long-term planning related to Guatemala.  I shared about our transition to the empty nest (which has gone well thanks to our long-term investment in our marriage).  I shared about working towards building my department at Siemens for the long-term through key hiring decisions and strategic organizational structure adjustments.  I shared about the “Year of Discipleship” with Isaac and our “Father-Son Rite of Passage Trip” (with Family Lines) to the Cascade Mountains in June.

As we rapidly move towards the close of 2018, I encourage you to take time to review your year.  What went well?  What didn’t go so well?  What did you learn in 2018?  What changes do you want to make in 2019?

Take time to write down what you’ve observed through your review.  I’d also encourage you to plug into community by sharing with someone else something you learned as a result of your review.  Start by sharing in the comments below.

How was your 2018?

Rooftop Reflections – Guatemala 2016 – Monday, July 11, 2016


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

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

Here is the first installment:

Guatemala 2016 on the rooftop in Santo Domingo Xenacoj. My thoughts on Monday morning, July 11, 2016.

Posted by Jon Stolpe on Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Best of 2015

BEST OF 2015

What is the good of experience if you do not reflect?

Frederick the Great

Before we close the doors on 2015 and move onto 2016, let’s take a few minutes to look at the top posts from 2015 at Jon Stolpe Stretched:

  1. Experience The Supernatural

    When I was a child, I watched cartoons.  One of my favorite cartoons was Super Friends.  I liked watching the superheroes from the Hall of Justice work together with their different superpowers to fight evil.  My favorite character was Superman.  He was the leader of the Justice League, and his supernatural powers were pretty cool to a young kid.

    Of all Superman’s superpowers, I always wanted to fly.  I can remember running down the hallway of my parents house from my bedroom into the living room.  Several feet from the couch, I would leap into the air towards the couch.  While I’m sure this wasn’t the greatest things for the springs on the couch, it was a fantastic experience for me.  For a very brief second, it felt like I was flying.

    Today, the television and movie screens are filled with stories of the supernatural.  People are attracted to the supernatural.  They find ways to experience the supernatural through these movies and television shows.

    What if I told you there was another way to experience the supernatural?  (Click here to read the rest.)

  2. 5 Things To Remember When We Say Or Do Something Stupid

    This post is stupid.


    What I mean, this post is all about how to respond when our words or actions are stupid.

    We all do stupid things.

    We do things we regret – things we’d like to take back.

    We have all said something dumb.  Once we say it, we want to catch our words and stuff them back into our mouths.

    We’ve even done something really ugly.  We’d like to go back in time and delete a scene from our life reel.  But it’s not that easy.  (Click here to read the rest.)

  3. In Response To The SCOTUS Decision On Same-Sex Marriage

    Stretch.  This is what I’ve been doing lately.

    I told Leanne on Friday night that I might be done with Facebook for a while.

    After Friday’s Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, Facebook blew up.  I have friends and family on both sides of the issue.  Some of the comments and headlines I read were well thought out and constructive, but generally speaking the tone seemed disrespectful and hopeless.  The name calling nearly put me over the edge.  In one of the comment threads someone referred to someone as a “F@#$ing Idiot.”

    Many comments were made by people who would call themselves Christians.  This is what pains me.  (Click here to read the rest.)

  4. September 2014 – Top Posts & Commenters PLUS BOOK GIVEAWAY(Click here to read the post.)
  5. 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.  (Click here to read the rest.)

  6. 3 Steps To Take Before You Can Serve Effectively

    In order to serve effectively, we must first seek out reconciliation.

    A mission mindset cannot be fully realized without our initial conviction and action toward reconciliation.

    Our service for God and for others is misaligned if we have unresolved conviction in our path.

    Before stepping into the mission field, we must look inside ourselves.  We must have a desire for a clean heart.  (Click here to read the rest.)

  7. 5 Ways To Represent Well

    Our office received a phone call yesterday from an upset woman.  She was calling to complain about the behavior of one of our employees who was driving one of our company vans.  She wrote down the phone number and van number, and she called in to voice her complaint.

    When I received the news, I naturally called my employee to get his side of the story.  After listening to his story, I spoke with him about the importance of representing our company well.  After all, he was driving around in a mobile billboard – a van with our company’s logo plastered in huge letters across the side of his van.

    We all are representing something or someone.  (Click here to read the rest.)

  8. No Excuses!

    If God is calling you, you must go.

    We make up so many excuses.  “I have this activity planned.”  “I can’t miss this or that.”  The reality is this:  our priorities are out of whack!  (Yes, “out of whack” is a theological term.)

    Having a mission mindset requires us to respond to the urgency of God’s call.  We must learn to deal with our perceived “inconvenience.”  And we must understand that following through with a mission mindset requires sacrifice.  (Click here to read the rest.)

  9. Ice Breaker – Homecoming

    When was the last time you celebrated a homecoming? (Click here to read the rest.)

  10. How To Explain Death To Your Children

    Sunday morning, we received the unexpected news that one of Leanne’s good high school friends had passed away following her battle with breast cancer.  Tuesday afternoon, we drove to Latrobe, PA for the viewing, and we drove home Wednesday afternoon after the funeral service and some time with friends.

    Leanne’s friend was only 41 years old, and she left behind her husband and three elementary aged children.

    It seems like such a young ago to die.

    As we were leaving the viewing on Tuesday evening, we ran into some old friends.  As we stood outside the funeral home catching up, someone asked “If you were her husband, how would you explain this death to your kids?” (Click here to read the rest.)

What was your favorite post from 2015 at Jon Stolpe Stretched?

What Will Your Verse Be? (In Remembrance of Robin Williams)

Yesterday, the world said goodbye to Robin Williams.  I wasn’t going to add to the chaotic rumble that is sweeping through social media, the news media, and various blogs following the news of his suicide.  The mental health aspect of Mr. Williams’ departure hits far too close to home for me to comment further.  I know he will be missed.  He was a favorite in our house.  In fact, my wife posted on Facebook yesterday that Robin Williams was by far her favorite actor.  It’s so sad to see him gone.

Last night, we took some time to watch some clips from one of our favorite Robin Williams’ movies, Dead Poets Society.  In this movie, Williams plays the part of prep school English teacher John Keating.  He teaches his students to be true to themselves and to avoid the tendencies of conformity.  There is much to ponder in re-watching these clips.  And there is much to appreciate about the legacy left by Williams throughout his entire acting career.  Movies like Dead Poets Society, Patch Adams, Awakenings, Mrs. Doubtfire, and so many others represent a career well spent.  I’m sure Williams had a few duds, but we will remember the solid performances far more than the not-so-great performances.

There is one scene in Dead Poets Society that really hit me last night as we were watching the clips.  Here it is:

The scene is a great challenge for all of us.  Don’t waste your life.  Don’t sit back and let it happen.  Stand up and contribute.  You have something worth adding to the play of life – a verse that needs to be heard.  What is your verse?  How will you contribute to this world?

This is something worth thinking about today.

What is your favorite Robin Williams movie?

I Remember When…Urbana ’90

I remember when I went to Urbana ’90.

What’s Urbana?  I can hear you asking.

Urbana is a missions conference sponsored by Intervarsity.  The conference takes place every three years between Christmas and New Years on the campus of the University of Illionois in Urbana/Champagne, Illinois.  The conference is specifically geared towards college students, and the conference is designed to challenge students to consider missions.

I actually had the opportunity to go to this conference twice – once in 1990 during my freshmen year in college and once in 1993 during my senior year in college.  I have great memories of both times.  In a way, Urbana ’93 came at a more critical time in my life as I was processing what to do after graduation.  Maybe I’ll share more about that in another post.

Urbana ’90 was an eye-opening experience.  In a way, it felt like I was being thrust into a more adult existence during this conference as I faced big issues and wrestled through challenging topics with other students.  My dad was there, but I didn’t seem him often as he stayed in a different dorm and participated in different activities geared towards pastors.  At Urbana ’90, I stayed with three other friends from my home town in Mt. Holly, NJ – Andy Travis, Paul Braun, and James Harton (pictured above).

Together, the four of us spent the conference listening to great speakers, worshiping with 20,000 other college students, talking to missionaries in the exhibit hall, and debriefing in a small group in the dorm (with the guy standing behind us in the picture).  In between all these activities, we walked around the snowy University of Illinois campus.

One of my favorite speakers from Urbana ’90 was Isaac Canales (funny that my son is named Isaac).  His message was hilarious, but it was also powerful in challenging my heart.  I can’t find a video feed of the message, but I found another video of Pastor Canales that features some of the same elements of his message at Urbana.  If you have a few minutes, you’ll enjoy listening to Isaac Canales:

It’s kind of interesting that none of us became full-time missionaries.  Andy is a scientist, Paul is a professor at the University of Illinois, James is a musician, and I’m an engineer/manager.  I think the term missionary carries a certain expectation that can miss the mark.  When we hear the word missionary, we expect to hear about someone who has gone overseas and who works full-time for a missions organization serving others and spreading the Word of God.  God can still use us right where we are.  We can be missionaries in our neighborhoods, in our places of employment, and in our other activities.  I think this must be one of the messages that I came away with when I left Urbana.

As I remember this conference which took place over 20 years ago, I’m thankful for the springboard towards missions that took place.  I still have an interest in missions overseas, but I’ve also realized that God calls us to be missionaries right where we live and work.  You can read some of my thoughts on this in my post:  Where Is Your Xenacoj?  Missions has definitely become a focus in our family, and I’m looking forward to seeing where God takes us as we continue to serve Him.

If you are a college student, I would highly recommend that you check out Urbana.  The next one is coming up this year – Urbana 12!  For more information, click here.  (I just discovered that the conference is now held in St. Louis, Missouri – still worth the drive!)

Have you ever been to a conference that changed your world?  Tell us about it.

I Remember When…My First Kiss

I remember when I kissed a girl for the first time.

No, I won’t go into all the details here.  That’s between her and me.

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of my first kiss.  If you do the math that’s not long after I met my wife, Leanne.  Yep!  I’ve only kissed one girl, and it’s my wife.

19 years ago, we stopped at Subway in Grove City, PA after church and picked up lunch for a picnic at McConnell’s Mills.  After parking our car at the park, we walked down toward the river and found a nice spot on a rock right on the river.  It was here that we spent some time eating lunch and talking.  And eventually, it happened – the first kiss.

Like I said earlier, the details are for Leanne and me.  But let me just say, it was great!  And yes, it was worth the wait.  I’ll leave it at that.

I recall coming back to campus at Grove City College after dropping Leanne off at her dorm.  I felt like I was floating.  I came back to my dorm room which was filled with guys from my hall watching Sunday afternoon football.  One of my buddies figured it out – must have been the smile on my face.  Later that night, I was in the Hicks Dining Hall for dinner, and I was still floating.  At one point, I was obviously not paying attention to what I was doing.  I dropped my tray as I was interacting with one of Leanne’s friends.  Embarrassing, but it didn’t matter.  I had still had one of the best days of my life.

And that’s how I remember when I had my first kiss.

Do you remember your first kiss?  Who did you kiss?  Where did you share your first kiss?

I Remember When…I Met My Friend Brian

I remember when I met my friend, Brian.

When I was a freshman in high school, one of my classes was AP English with Mrs. Roszek.  This class was 8th period every day with some of the brightest students from my class.  My high school was made up of students from five different sending districts, so the first year of high school was a lot about meeting new classmates and about getting used to being in a much bigger environment.

The first week of English class, there was one kid in English class who stuck out.  He was not from one of the sending district schools.  Apparently, he was moving into the area to start his freshmen year of high school.  One thing that sticks out in my mind (and we still joke about this) is that Brian alternated between his ROTC uniform and coordinated JAMS shorts and shirts.  I don’t remember Brian being shy in class as he jumped right in on discussions about whatever topic we were covering in class.

One topic where he was more quiet and I was certainly more vocal was the week or so that we covered Biblical literature.  I’m not sure if this is still covered in the public high school setting or not, but our class spent a couple of weeks reading and discussing the Bible.  As a pastor’s kid, this was my place to shine.  I was the one who knew all the answers to the questions that came up during this week.

Not too long after school started, a family moved in across the street from my house.  I’m not sure what I was up to that day, but I wasn’t at home.  My out-going brother, David, was home though when this new family moved in, and he made sure to go over and introduce himself.  The family had an older son who had just started high school.  David told him that he had a brother who just started high school.  David invited the new guy over to our house for a drink and to show him a picture of me.  And it soon became apparent that this new boy knew who I was.

We still laugh today at the reaction we each had to this initial meeting.  It was Brian’s family who moved in across the street.  He thought, “Oh no, the Bible geek lives across the street from me.”  And my reaction was probably just as amusing, “Oh no, the ROTC/JAMS nerd from English class lives across the street from me.”

It wasn’t long before those thoughts were forgotten.  Brian and I became fast friends as we walked to the bus stop together everyday for four years.  Soon we were playing catch and running around the neighborhood together in preparation for cross-country season.  Brian was always much faster than me, but he allowed me to tag along none the less.  We would wear ourselves out on hot summer days and end up in his swimming pool practicing our “dives” and talking about the ups and downs of high school life.

Somewhere along the line, I invited Brian to youth group at my church.  He couldn’t make it to Sunday morning church as he was typically working at McDonald’s, but he became a regular and active part of the youth group (we called it SYNC – Senior Youth Nurturing in Christ).  We had a blast doing all kinds of fun things together over these four years, and I could barely scratch the surface on everything we did.

One thing that will always stick out in my memory is the note that Brian wrote to me at the end of our last missions trip together the summer before we went to college.  I don’t have the wording exactly right, but Brian’s note said something like “Jon, I want to thank you for your friendship over the years, but mostly I want to thank you for introducing me to Christ.”  Whoa!  I still tear up when I think about it.

Over the years, we have remained good friends.  We don’t see each other often enough as he lives in North Jersey a couple of hours away from my home.  But we still go camping together every Memorial Day weekend with a couple other guys, and our families still get together every August for another family camping trip.  It’s been fun to see him grow and to see our friendship continue as our families have grown and as we faced the challenges of life.

This summer during our family camping trip, Brian’s standing in the back on the right side.

Last night, I had the blessing of meeting up with Brian for dinner.  I’m up in the North Jersey area for a few days of meetings, and it worked out perfect.  We talked and talked for what seemed like minutes but was actually a few hours.  We remembered old times, but we mostly caught up on our families, and we wrestled out loud about some of the things we were dealing with recently.  And our get together made me remember when…I met my friend Brian.

How has friendship changed your life?  How did you meet one of your good friends?  Do you still keep in touch with any of your friends from high school?


I Remember When…I Dunked In A Game

I remember when I dunked in a basketball game.

When I was in junior high, I developed a love for the game of basketball.  I wasn’t even close to being one of the taller kids in the class at the time, and I hadn’t played organized basketball before.  But I signed up for the team anyway, and I made my way onto the “B” team my sixth grade year.  That year along with the other two years in junior high, I played guard.  My seventh grade year, I actually made the “A” team.  And I saw limited playing time for a team that eventually won the league championship.  In eighth grade, I started for the team as one of the guards although I may have also had playing time as a forward.

In high school, I didn’t go out for the team.  I was intimidated by the size of the upperclassmen and other taller kids in my class.  If I’m honest, I was also afraid of getting cut from the team.  I still loved the game.  I followed the Philadelphia 76ers fairly closely, and I started to follow the playing career of Michael Jordan.  I dreamed of being able to dunk the basketball someday especially late in high school as I finally began to grow.  Throughout high school, I continued to play pick up games whenever I had the chance.

When I arrived at Grove City College, I was placed in the section of the freshmen dorms where most of the basketball players lived.  I’m not sure if that was meant to further intimidate me or to spur me on to play more basketball.  I played a lot of pickup basketball games in the school gym, and I eventually started playing on intramural teams for my housing group.  As college progressed, I kept trying to dunk.  I could throw a tennis ball down fairly easily, but I struggled to palm the basketball and get high enough to actually throw down a slam.

Through the encouragement of friends, I started lifting – doing toe raises whenever possible.  Meanwhile, I kept trying to dunk.  Eventually, I got to the point where I could inch the ball over the rim.  It wasn’t a solid slam, but it was close enough at the time.  As I kept practicing, I realized that I would have to work a lot harder if I was going to get high enough and coordinated enough to actually put one down in one of the intramural games.

And so I worked, and worked, and worked some more.  I kept practicing.  I persevered and persisted until I consistently could dunk in warm ups.  My teammates knew I was getting close, and they kept talking about trying to set me up for a slam in a game.

The game finally arrived in the middle of my senior year.  Leanne was at the game as a spectator and as my girlfriend.  Somewhere in the middle of the game, the moment arrived.  Our team stole the ball, and I jumped in front of the other team on a fast break.  My teammate fed me the ball.  A few more dribbles and I was near the hoop.  As I picked up the ball, I stretched towards the basket.  With two hands, I threw the ball through the hoop, and I grabbed on to the rim.  I hung on the rim for a second or two to make sure I didn’t get undercut my the chasing players and to enjoy the moment.  As I let go of the rim, I fell to the floor landing on my to feet as the crowd went wild.

The moment was surreal.  I remember feeling as though I was floating as I ran back down the court and prepared to play defense.  What a feeling!

And that’s how I remember when I first dunked in a game.

Do you have an athletic accomplishment that sticks in your head?  Tell us about it by leaving a comment.

[There’s still time to win a copy of Kingdom Journeys by Seth Barnes.  Check out my blog from yesterday to find out how you could win. ]

I Remember When…I Broke My Arm

I remember when I broke my arm.  It was just a couple of days into first grade, and my family was attending a church picnic at a local park in the Wheaton, Illinois area.  I have always enjoyed climbing trees, so it was no surprise that I would be climbing an apple tree during this picnic.  I was about four feet off the ground in this particular apple tree when I somehow slipped and fell to the ground.  I must have landed funny, because something in my right arm hurt.

After resting at one of the picnic tables for a little while, my parents showed my arm to someone at the picnic who was a nurse.  She thought it would be best if my parents took me to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, the X-rays showed a hairline fracture in my right wrist.  This meant a plaster cast all the way up to my shoulder.  I’m not sure why it had to go so high, but it was the late 70s.  What do you expect?

Initially, it was kind of cool to have a cast.  All my friends and classmates got to sign my cast.  My school pictures were taken with the cast (see above).  And I got special attention and help to complete my school work.  I think those cool things wore off quickly as I was forced to sit out of gym class.  Bath times were pretty awkward with one arm sitting out of the tub.  And as a right-hander, it wasn’t easy to write.

Six weeks after I broke my arm, I went back to the doctor where they sawed off the cast.  The saw was a little scary, but I quickly learned that it didn’t hurt.  When they took the cast off, my skin was pretty nasty.  What had been tanned from the summer sun was now pealing.

Besides a chip fracture to my ankle, I haven’t had a broken bone since.  And that’s okay!

Have you ever broken a bone?  Tell us about it!

Remembering 9/11

This has been a year for me to remember 9/11.

Last year at this time, I was running the 1st Ever Race to Remember Half Marathon.  It was a time to remember and pray for those directly impacted by the events of 9/11.  You can read about it here.  (I’m hoping to make this an annual event, but this year’s “race” will be held later this fall as I recover from tendonitis in my knee.)

This past fall, our family journeyed to New York City where we visited the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the Twin Towers.  This was certainly a moving experience.  You can read more about my experience here.

Finally this summer, Leanne and I stopped by the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA.  Again, it was an experience I won’t soon forget.

As I think about today, I remember.  I remember the race. I remember the visits to these two memorials.  I remember what I was doing eleven years ago on a clear September day.  I remember the families who lost loved ones this day.  And I remember that we still live in a broken world that needs to know the love of God.

What were you doing eleven years ago?  How are you spending the day?  Are you doing anything special?