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      All posts in "thankful"

      Count Your Blessings

      On the way home from work tonight, I talked to my brother. He is going through a rather challenging time. I won’t get into details here, but towards the end of the conversation he commented how he and his wife were seeing the Holy Spirit in their lives in the midst of their challenges. He said he particularly saw this in the people God had put in their lives.

      As we talked, we were reminded of the song our Mom often sang at home as we were children growing up – Count Your Blessings (by Johnson Oatman, Jr.,). It goes like this:

      1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
        When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
        Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
        And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
        • Refrain:
          Count your blessings, name them one by one,
          Count your blessings, see what God has done!
          Count your blessings, name them one by one,

          Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
      2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
        Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
        Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
        And you will keep singing as the days go by.
      3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
        Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
        Count your many blessings—money cannot buy
        Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
      4. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
        Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
        Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
        Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

      In the midst of our darkness hours, our deepest discouragements, and our crushing challenges, we can discover renewed hope and purpose when we take time to count our blessings.

      I don’t know what challenges you are facing, but I’m sure there are blessings in your life worth counting.

      For me it starts with a wonderful, loving wife, a fantastic family, my health, my job, my church family, my friends. And this is just the beginning. God has blessed me in ways that far outshine my challenges.

      How have you been blessed? Take time to count some of your blessings today.

      Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5

      Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition – Thursday 2016

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      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 – Wednesday 2016

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      Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.

      Lawrence Welk

      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.  Yesterday, I shared the second thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.)

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      I’m thankful for the people God has put around me this year.  And I’m grateful for the mastermind concept that seems to be part of my life.  Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most with.”  And there are some great people around me these days.

       

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      I’m thankful for the Catalyst Mastermind.  This is a group led by my friend, Ellory Wells.  This group of individuals has pushed me to try new things.

      I’m thankful for the Stretch Man Mastermind.  This is a group I started in September to help men stretch to become better husbands, better fathers, and better men.  (I’m planning to open up new spots for this group in January.  Let me know if you are interested in talking to me about it.)

      I’m thankful for DIBs.  This is a group of men I meet with every Friday morning at 6AM.  We call our self Dudes In the Basement (DIBs), because we meet in the basement at one of the member’s homes.  This group is committed to meeting for the next 20 years, and it’s a place where I am challenged spiritually.

      I’m thankful for the Siemens Foundation Leadership Program I attended in April.  Specifically, I’m thankful for a group of Siemens leaders from North and South America who meet with me every other month to help each other become better leaders for Siemens.

      And I’m thankful for Toastmasters.  This is a mastermind type of group which has helped me become a better leader and communicator.  Because of my involvement in Toastmasters, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to speak and interact with many people from around the area.

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      I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1:3

      What have you been involved with this year that merits your gratitude?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

      Happy Thanksgiving

      HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2015

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

      Amy Grant

      Happy Thanksgiving from my family to you and your family.

      If you are reading this on Thanksgiving Day, know that I’m thankful for you and go spend time with your family and friends.

      What’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?

      Ice Breaker – Thanks

      ICE BREAKER Thanks

      Each week on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

      (I’m always looking for Ice Breaker question ideas.  If you have an idea, send me an email at jon@jonstolpe.com.  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

      This week’s question is inspired by a Thanksgiving tradition in our house.  Each year, we put a tablecloth on the Thanksgiving table.  Each person in attendance traces their hand-print onto the tablecloth.  Then they write down five things for which they are thankful – one for each finger.

      Over the years, our tablecloth has filled up with hand-prints of many sizes and shapes.  There are hand-prints for loved ones who have passed away.  Each hand-print represents a year of thanksgiving.  We’re on our second tablecloth as we’ve been doing this for many years.  I’m looking forward to reading your responses to today’s Thanksgiving Ice Breaker!

      Question:  Name five things for which you are thankful this year.

      My Answer:

      1. My family – I’m thankful for my wife.  I’m thankful for my kids.  I’m thankful for my extended family.
      2. My job – I’m thankful for my co-workers.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead.  I’m thankful for the recent opportunity to present an idea at the annual management meeting.  I’m thankful for new opportunities ahead.  I’m thankful for the support I’ve been given to be involved in Toastmasters.
      3. DIBs – Every Friday morning at 6 AM, I meet with 13 other men in someone’s basement.  DIBs stands for Dudes In the Basement.  We recently celebrated our one year anniversary.  It’s our goal to meet together for 20 years.  This group of men has become a place to encourage and to be encouraged.  And it has become a place to solidify my foundation.
      4. Catalyst Mastermind – I joined a mastermind group in September, and this has become a significant part of my life.  Every two weeks, I meet via Zoom with a few people from Texas, Georgia, and Washington.  Together, the four of us work together to push us each forward in our own pursuits.  This group has personally helped me with some of my writing and speaking endeavors, and it has helped me as I’ve worked with Leanne on her life coaching business.  I treasure our bi-weekly video calls.
      5. Stretched – My blog and The Stretched Community continue to be major sources of encouragement and growth for me.  I’m so thankful for you!

      Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.) And keep Stretching!

      The Blessing Of Friendship

      friendship

      Dear George,

      Remember no man is a failure who has friends.

      Thanks for the wings.

      Clarence

      (From one of my favorite movies – It’s A Wonderful Life)

      Thursday night, I once again experienced the blessing of friendship after I received a call from my wife as I was leaving work:

      “You’re not going to like this news, but the basement is full of water.”

      While I was driving home, I quickly called a friend who drove over with a Shop Vac, a flash light, and his son.  When I arrived home, my friend was already running the Shop Vac, and I sent out a text message to the men I meet with on Friday mornings. Soon two other friends arrived with more Shop Vacs and more helping hands. Then another friend dropped off several fans. Several other guys from my group offered to come over late Thursday night to help out as well.

      I missed out on Meet the Teacher Night at the high school (which was scheduled for Thursday night), but I had the blessing of experiencing the unbelievable sacrifice of friends.

      I am blessed. Stuff is temporary, but friendship is forever. (Meanwhile, my basement is drying out.)

      How have you experienced the blessing of friendship?  Tell me about it in the comments.

       

      The Discipline Of Gratitude

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      Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

      William Arthur Ward

      Be honest with me for a moment.  Do you struggle with gratitude?

      Seriously, when was the last time you expressed your appreciation to someone (and really meant it)?

      You would think that gratitude would come naturally to all of us.  After all, we have a lot for which to be thankful.  We woke up this morning.  We probably ate three meals yesterday.  We are so blessed, and yet, we too often forget to say thank you.

      The past several days, we have been discussing stretch disciplines.  These are disciplines that will stretch you and make you a better person.

      We would all miss out if we left out the discipline of gratitude.

      Yes.  I believe gratitude requires discipline.  I believe it’s an attitude and a skill we can develop with practice.

      Here are three simple ways to develop the discipline of daily gratitude in your life:

      3 Ways To Develop The Discipline Of Daily Gratitude

      1. Keep a thankful journal.  Thanks to my wife, we have a journal on our kitchen table.  Each night when we sit down for dinner, each of us takes turns writing down one thing for which we are grateful.
      2. Say “Thank you” at least once a day.  It helps to actually tell someone you appreciate them or something they did.
      3. Join the “Thank You Revolution.”  I’ve talked about this before.  Matt McWilliams started the Thank You Revolution a couple of years ago.  As part of the revolution, he encourages others to write at least once thank you note every week (typically on Thursday).  For more information on how to join the TYR (Thank You Revolution), click here.

      How would your world be different if you made the decision to practice the discipline of gratitude?  How has gratitude made a difference in your life?

      Your Best Year Ever – 3 Ways To Practice Everyday Gratitude

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      If you’ve been following the blog world the past several weeks, there have been countless posts about setting goals and making plans for a great year.  Michael Hyatt launched a goal-setting campaign called Best Year Ever.  I think there is a lot of merit to setting goals, and I’m certain Hyatt’s curriculum is excellent and effective for helping subscribers to take action which will lead to a better year.

      Today, I’d like to offer one simple mindset shift which will greatly improve your chances of having the “best year ever.”  It starts with two words:  THANK YOU!

      Yes.  Your best year ever starts with gratitude.

      I’m not talking about an occasional “thanks.”

      I’m talking about developing a discipline of everyday gratitude.

      Learning to be thankful and to express it regularly will lead to a much better year – perhaps, your best year ever.  Here are a few simple steps you can take to practice everyday gratitude:

      3 Ways To Practice Everyday Gratitude

      1. Keep a thankful journal.  Thanks to my wife, we have a journal on our kitchen table.  Each night when we sit down for dinner, each of us takes turns writing down one thing for which we are grateful.
      2. Say “Thank you” at least once a day.  It helps to actually tell someone you appreciate them or something they did.
      3. Join the “Thank You Revolution.”  I’ve talked about this before.  Matt McWilliams started the Thank You Revolution a couple of years ago.  As part of the revolution, he encourages others to write at least once thank you note every week (typically on Thursday).  For more information on how to join the TYR (Thank You Revolution), click here.

      What step(s) are you taking to have your best year ever?  What action(s) can you take to practice everyday gratitude?

       

      The Blessing of Friends

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

      Hubert H. Humphrey
      My friend, Rob Shepherd, recently held a survey over at his blog.  In the survey, he asked readers to select their favorite Christmas movie.  My choice was easy.  My favorite Christmas movie is It’s A Wonderful Life.  If you haven’t seen the movie, what are you waiting for?  No, really.  Go see it!

      The movie tells the story of George Bailey.  After a series of events, he ends up staying in his hometown of Bedford Falls despite his desire to spread his wings and travel the world.  As the head of the Baily Building and Loan, George helps countless townspeople as they seek to own their own homes.

      SPOILER ALERT:

      About half way through the movie, George falls on tough times when his crazy uncle loses $8,000 of cash that was supposed to be deposited in the bank.  The loss sends George into a panic as he processes the potential prison sentence he may face for misappropriating funds.  At one point, George contemplates taking his own life.

      Things start to change when George’s guardian angel, Clarence, steps in to help.  Through a creative approach, he shows George what the world might look like if he had never been born.  George begins to realize how much he cherishes his life.

      When he finally comes to his senses, he returns home with a new attitude.  Upon arriving home, the townspeople flood his house with financial gifts to offset the lost $8,000.

      Clarence leaves George with a copy of Tom Sawyer with a note inside that reads:

      Dear George-:

      Remember no man is a failure who has friends.

      Thanks for the wings!

      Love,

      Clarence

      I love this movie!

      Yesterday, I was reminded of this truth in my own life.  I celebrated a birthday yesterday.  I’d like to say it was my 29th birthday (but it was really my 43rd birthday).

      You may recall that I am a huge numbers guy.  I love to count things.  For some reason, I started counting the number of birthday wishes I received yesterday.  When I went to bed last night, I counted over 150 different people who wished me Happy Birthday!

      I don’t state this to brag.  I mention it to reflect my appreciation for friends in my life.  I am blessed beyond measure by so many wonderful friendships.  Thank you!

      How have you been blessed by your friends?

       

      Thanksgiving 2014 – Voice

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      Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.
      Stephen Covey

      For those reading this in America, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day yesterday.  Our family enjoyed time with some friends.  It was fun to hang out together laughing and sharing.

      As I have shared throughout the week, 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 fifth thing I wrote down this year:

      Voice

      I’m not talking about the NBC television show, The Voice, although I do watch it from time to time.

      I’m talking about the opportunity to utilize my voice.

      This idea was initially sparked by my involvement in Toastmasters this year.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to practice using my voice in a way that enhances my communication and leadership skills.  I’m also thankful for the people I’ve met along the way as a result of my involvement with Toastmasters.

      Then I started thinking about other ways I get to use my voice.  My voice is heard every time someone reads one of my blog posts, reads one of my comments, or reads my book.  I get to use my voice at my job through my daily interactions with team members, co-workers, and customers.  I also get to use my voice at home.  I hope I am a voice for wisdom, for love, and for hope.

      The more I thought about being thankful for my voice, the more I kept coming back to the fact that many people in this world do not have a voice.  It’s not that they cannot speak.  It’s more that they are not heard.  This is sad.  People with do not have a voice often go unnoticed and forgotten.  They fall by the wayside and are steamrolled by those who are more powerful, more influential, and just plain louder.

      Each one of us has the opportunity to be the voice for others who do not have a voice.  It first involves us waking up and noticing those around us who don’t have a voice.  Then it involves utilizing our own voices and platforms to speak up for those who don’t have a voice.  By doing this, we be can be the catalyst to amplify the voice of those who have gone unheard.  You and I can do this!

      My experiences in Guatemala have certainly provided an opportunity to see those who don’t have a voice.  Part of the reason I share about my Guatemalan experiences is to help me remember.  I don’t want to forget what I’ve seen, what I’ve experienced, and who I’ve met.  Another reason for sharing my Guatemalan journey is to open others eyes to those in the little village of Xenacoj who might otherwise go unheard.  I want people to know about my friends in Xenacoj.  I want people here at home to understand what they are facing every day.  And I want readers to get involved to help change things in Xenacoj for my dear Guatemalan friends.

      With this in mind, I am very thankful for my voice.  I know I have an opportunity to help the unheard be heard.

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

      How are you using your voice to be the voice for others?

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