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    All posts in "thoughts"

    Busyness – Are We Aiming at the Wrong Target

    Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

    Socrates

    How are you doing?

    Busy?

    Unfortunately, busyness has become the badge the many people chose to wear. We think people will think we are important when they hear we are busy. Perhaps, we are too afraid to face the things we really need to face, so we get busy doing things that don’t really matter in the end.

    If your goal is to be busy, you just might be aiming at the wrong target.

    Tonight, I had a fantastic conversation with a group of men who are serious about becoming better husbands, better fathers, better leaders, and better men. We talked a lot about busyness.

    I shared with them the experience I had last week when I realized I was overwhelmed. (If you read my blog posts over the past two weeks, you’ll get a feel for what I shared.)

    I thrive on being busy. That’s what I keep telling myself.

    In reality, I need a break from time to time, and I must learn to slow things down.

    I was perusing an article on Lifehack in preparation for my conversation with these men tonight, and the article said “When you’re busy, your aren’t present.”

    And one of the men said, “Busyness is the enemy of intimacy.”

    Last week along with tonight’s conversation confirmed that I’m not alone.

    I don’t want to be known as the guy who was always busy.

    I want to be known as the man who was there – for my wife, for my family, for my friends.

    I want to make sure I’m aiming at the right target.

    If you’re interested in jumping into conversations like this one with other men, consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group. You can learn more at www.stretchedmengroup.com. Once you’re on the website, signup to schedule a free (no obligation) phone call with me. I’d love to talk with you!

    Are you too busy? What do you do to slow down? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Technology and Personal Stewardship

    Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.

    Christian Lous Lange

    Technology and the introduction of social media has pushed the world into a different place than it was 10-15 years ago.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m an engineer, and I love technology.  I’m also someone who has enjoyed the connections social media and especially the blogging world have afforded me.  I appreciate the fact that I can quickly find the score of the game from where ever I am whenever.  I love that I can say “Call Leanne Stolpe” in my car and find myself on the phone with my bride in a matter of seconds talking hands-free as if she were sitting right next to me in the car.  I’m thankful I can video call my daughter every week while she is studying in Chile for the semester.

    But I’ve had to learn the balance.

    I love my kids, and I naturally like to “show them off” to the world.  In my mind, they are incredible, and they both are amazingly gifted.  With today’s live streaming capabilities, it’s easy to catch a few minutes of my son’s piano practice sessions and broadcast for the world to see. (He really is an amazing piano player.)  But he didn’t appreciate this, and he let me know.  I quickly took down the post, and I took time to apologize to him later in the evening.

    As an author and entrepreneur, there is a battle I fight between self-promotion and genuinely wanting to get the word out about my products and services.  Today’s social media world gives me the opportunity to share about my books, my mastermind group for men, and my speaking opportunities.  (I hesitate to link to these products and services given the conversation in this post.)  I want me to know about these things, so I can help others.  Honestly, I also like to share about these things, because I think it makes me sound like I know what I’m doing.  As a product creator and service provider, I walk the line between battling imposter syndrome (which keeps me from promoting my stuff) and an amplified desire to self promote.  I’m guessing other authors and entrepreneurs may understand this tension.  Technology is a blessing and a curse.  Technology has paved the way for “ordinary” people like me to write and publish books about becoming “extraordinary.”

    Here’s another problem:  The social media technology (and much of the technology in general) is very addicting.  I find myself waking up in the morning and immediately checking my phone – any text messages? – any Facebook notifications? – check into myFitnessPal to keep my streak alive – quickly check on my Boom Beach and Clash of Clans games – download the latest podcasts to which I subscribe – and check my email (GMail and work email).  Before I know it, I’ve wasted 30 or more minutes.  I know I’m not alone in this addiction.

    I’m also turned off by the growing disharmony that seems to be populating itself all over my Facebook feed.  I get people’s opinions about politics, gun control, school violence, President Trump’s latest missteps or Twitter trash.  I watch as friends and family members call each other bigots, incompetent, scumbags, and the like.  And most of this is done in a very, very disrespectful manner.

    I find myself posting less and reading less on Facebook and on my blog.  I find myself hiding posts of friends and family who litter my feed with hatred and disrespect for the section of mankind who doesn’t align with their opinions.  Some would say I’m not being a good citizen by ignoring these issues on Facebook and other platforms.  And some would assume I hold one opinion or other without really taking the time to stop and talk with me in a civil dialogue.

    Am I rambling?

    Maybe.

    Is it even okay that I share these thoughts?  Or am I simply hoping someone will give me a pat on the back?

    Again I appreciate technology, but I want to be a good steward of my time, my life, my resources, my talents and skills, and technology.

    I want to be a good steward and make sure what’s in my heart is what God wants, and then once it’s done and released, at that point it’s up to God and what he does on the back end.

    Lauren Daigle

    My prayer is that I would represent my wife, my kids, and my faith well in my words, in my thoughts, and in my actions.  And my prayer is that I would do so with a level of respect and clarity that builds up people and builds community.

    I certainly don’t have the answers, but I think it starts with an intentional mindset.  Does this Facebook post – this bog post – this Twitter post – this comment or reply – add positively to the overall conversation and to the betterment of those around me and to me, or am I simply adding to the noise and disunity that seems to be expanding?  If I can ask this question before I press the ‘Post’ or ‘Send’ button, I think it will help.

     

    Moving Beyond The Melancholy

    Melancholy is no bad thing.

    Sting

    For some reason, I had a sense of melancholy yesterday, and I’m not sure why.

    When I looked up the word melancholy in Google, here’s what it said:

    a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.

    Yep.  That seems to define my feeling for part of the day yesterday.

    I didn’t realize it until Leanne asked me around lunch time, “Are you okay?”

    (I’m thankful to have people around me who can ask me these simple yet important questions.)

    Now, I could speculate on what may have caused this feeling.  I was up late watching my NCAA bracket fall apart after a very busy work week, so I was probably tired.  Things are changing in our family as Isaac prepares to head to college in the fall and Leanne considers the next steps in her career path.  I have a lot of things on my “To Do List”, and I sometimes feel like I am not making the progress I’d like towards crossing things off this list.  A couple of my team members at work are going through some challenges, and it makes me sad to helplessly watch from the sideline.  I could go on with other ideas as to what brought on the melancholy, but I won’t for now.

    I think feelings of melancholy are a normal part of the human experience.

    King David shared feelings of melancholy throughout the Psalms, and you can read about it in other places in the Old Testament.

    Then David tore his clothes. And all his men tore their clothes.  All of them were filled with sadness. They mourned over the whole nation of Israel. They didn’t eat anything until evening. That’s because Saul and Jonathan and the Lord’s army had been killed by swords.  2 Samuel 1:11-12

    We all go through ups and downs, and our sleep and eating patterns probably contribute to our mental condition.  In some cases when the sense of melancholy lasts for a while, I think it’s important to get some professional help – a therapist, a counselor, and possibly more intense psychiatric help.

    To set your mind at ease, this is not where I’m at.  In fact, I’m doing quite well today.

    Sometimes, we simply need to stop, to think, to pray, to get away by ourselves, or to change something small.

    In the midst of my melancholy yesterday, I decided to take a hike by myself.  Leanne was out with her girlfriends, and Isaac was busy working on other things, so I headed off to the Audubon Sanctuary not far from our house where I was able to take a three-mile hike.  I saw two other people the whole time, so most of the time it was just me, nature, and God.  The time alone gave me the opportunity to listen, to breathe, and to re-calibrate myself.

    I don’t want to live in the melancholy, but I want to experience it every once in a while.

    The melancholy reminds me I’m human.  It teaches me to be thankful.  It reminds me that I’m blessed.  It forces me to slow down and to make adjustments (even minor adjustments) to my schedule, to my perspective, and to my approach to life.

    Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Psalm 62:5

     

    Inertia Might Be Messing Me Up

    “The focus of Lesson 1 is Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia. Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

    http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/Lesson-1/Newton-s-First-Law

    Does it ever feel like you can’t stop moving?

    Even when you lie down to sleep your brain keeps going.

    We’ve conditioned ourselves to go, go, go, and the more I experience life it seems like inertia might just be our enemy sometimes.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a person of action. I want to be busy getting things done – things that matter.

    Here’s the problem: We are also directed to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

    How can we be still when everything in us seems to be leaching forward?

    The discipline of stillness takes intentionality. It takes purpose. It takes an all out resistance to our natural tendency to move.

    According to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, we actually need an unbalanced force to stop us or to change our direction.

    I’ve experienced these kinds of unbalanced forces before. Like the time my wife was hospitalized leaving me with two young kids to care for while running around between home, the hospital, and work. Or like the time when I received a call from my Dad telling me my Mom had been diagnosed with “Early Onset Alzheimer’s Progression.”

    Sometimes these unbalanced forces can seem catastrophic at the time. When we step back, these might actually be the things we need to re-calibrate us – to cause us to stop, to think, to be still.

    Recently, I have felt inertia taking over in my life. Some of it is fantastic. But some things in my life require that unbalanced force to force me into a better pattern or position.

    I’m not waiting for something catastrophic; I want to take the right next to step starting now. I want to slow down and even stop to take in life, to connect with my Creator, and to make sure I’m on the right path.

    How about you? What helps you slow down when it seems like life is moving at a breakneck speed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Don’t Forget About Maintenance

    “Maintenance is terribly important.”

    Manolo Blahnik

    I went to the dentist this morning for a cleaning.  When the dental hygienist told me it was time for a periodontal exam, I cringed.  I have done a terrible job flossing since my last appointment, and I knew it would show in the exam.  Sure enough, there were a few areas in my mouth that showed my lack of daily dental maintenance.  My teeth were fine, but my gums need some work.  Thankfully, it’s not too late.  I have time to turn things around and to improve the health of my mouth.

    If we don’t maintain our oral health, we will lose our teeth.

    If we don’t maintain our automobiles, our cars will eventually need a significant repair.

    If we don’t maintain our fitness by exercising and eating well, we will likely face an early death along with other health challenges.

    Maintenance is really, really important – in every area of our lives.

    What’s the condition of your heart?  I’m not talking about the organ in your chest.  I’m talking about your soul.

    What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Mark 8:36

    What are you doing to maintain your soul?

    Don’t forget to take care of your soul.

     Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

    When it comes to your soul, what does your maintenance look like?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    The Choice to GO!

    “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

    Confucius

     

    Stop or Go?

     

    It’s Monday morning, and you have a choice.

    You can stay in bed or wallow in the memories of the weekend.

    Or you can embrace the opportunity that awaits you in the week ahead.

    I choose to embrace what is waiting for me today and in the week ahead.  I choose to look for the green light in my path.

    A good way to get started is to get some exercise, spend some time in God’s Word, and eat some breakfast.

    Choose to start the week with a positive attitude no matter what you are about to face.

    What’s on my agenda for this week?  Dynamic Marriage tonight, H.O.P.E. tomorrow night, dentist appointment tomorrow morning, Stretched Men Group on Thursday night, continuing the performance evaluation process at work, and working on my book launch.  These things and more are the opportunities I am embracing as I head into a new week.

    The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.  Psalm 118:24

    What’s on your agenda this week?  Where do you see a GREEN LIGHT in your path?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Sabbath – Made for Me (and You)

    “If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.”

    Eugene H. Peterson

    This morning, I’m sitting in Starbucks.  I often use this time before church to write, to read, and to observe.  I treasure this time as it gives me an opportunity to pause – to collect myself for an hour or two.

    Life has been moving at a blistering pace lately.  Leanne and I are leading an incredible marriage class at our church.  My mastermind group for men is gaining momentum as we get further into the semester.  Work has been consuming as we navigate through the performance evaluation process.  Last weekend, we visited Grove City College as Isaac moves closer to college.  This weekend, Hannah is home for fall break.  And I’m in the middle of getting my book ready for release.

    In my reading time this morning, I read an article about hustle and balance by my friend, Ellory Wells.  In the article, Ellory explains why he is choosing hustle right now.  I get it!  I’m a hustler for sure.  BUT… I’m also convinced we need SABBATH.  We need rest from time to time.  We need the intentional moments and opportunities to connect with our God, our family, our friends, and even ourselves.

    “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  Exodus 20:8-11

    My Sunday morning Starbucks time is part of my SABBATH experience.

    Today, I’ll go to church; I’ll have lunch with my family before Hannah heads back to Messiah College; I’ll probably take a nap in front of a football game; and I’ll catch my breath.

    “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:27

    Do you make time for SABBATH?  What does SABBATH mean to you?  How would your life be different if you really incorporated SABBATH into your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Are You Intentionally Busy?

    “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

    Thomas A. Edison

    Being busy has become a status symbol in our culture.  If you’re not busy, you’re not accomplishing anything.  That’s what society is telling us.

    What do you want to accomplish today?

    I want to work on my book.  I want to schedule several blog posts and emails to the people on my email list.  I would like to talk to my daughter (who is away at college) on Facetime.  I’d like to take at least 10,000 steps.

    What do you want to accomplish this week?

    I want to write and give my next Toastmasters speech.  I want to schedule an appointment with my tax accountant.  I would like to clean up the house to make sure we are ready for any showings that might happen this week.  I’d like to meet one-on-one with my team members.

    What do you want to accomplish this year?

    I want to publish my next book (Rooftop Reflections).  I plan to go to Guatemala and build more houses.  I’d like to complete my Advanced Communicator Silver and my Advanced Leader Silver for Toastmasters.  I would like to move up at my company.  I plan to complete Dynamic Marriage Facilitator Training with my wife.  I hope to sell my house and downsize.

    It’s not a bad idea to have plans for our days weeks, months, and years.  After all, “if we fail to plan, we should plan to fail.”  But what if our short-term goals and accomplishments don’t match up with our long-term objectives?

    What does success look like to you?  When you reach the end of your life what do you want to have accomplished?

    I think these are two very important questions to ponder.  And we need to have the answers to these questions in mind as we plan out our short-term goals and our plans for the next days, weeks, and months.

    You will not succeed in meeting your long-term (life-time) goals by accident.  You must be intentional.  You must begin with the end in mind.

    Here are a few of my long-term goals:

    1. I’m going to build 100+ houses in Guatemala for widows and orphans.
    2. My wife and I are going to be known as marriage builders.
    3. I will have deep relationships with my wife, my kids, my future grandchildren, and a few close friends.
    4. I will be known as a good steward, a generous person, and a role model.
    5. I will mentor other leaders, couples, and men in order to leave a legacy that outlives me and my name.

    These are just some of my goals.  Knowing these, I’m in a much better position to answer the initial questions asked at the beginning of this post.

    Being busy is a complete waste of time when we are busy doing the wrong things.  Be intentional in your busyness!

    Over the next few days, I’ll be sending out additional information to those on my email list about living intentionally today.  If you want to get these emails, make sure you are on the list.  Sign up below!

    What are you doing today?  How do your actions today match up with your long-term plans for your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Blur

    “My life has been such a blur since I was 18, 19 years old. I haven’t even had time to contemplate my own life. By forcing yourself to write your life story you learn a great deal about yourself.”

    Grant Achatz

    Is it just me, or does life seem to be a blur for you at times?

    Life goes by so quickly.  And technology isn’t helping things.  Within a fraction of a second, I can be virtually anywhere via the internet.  News spreads quickly across the screens of our cell phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions.  Within seconds of a major world catastrophe, terrorist event, or celebrity death, the whole world knows about it.

    And people expect instant replies to their emails, text messages, and social media attempts to reach out.

    We are growing up in a world where people are developing additions to their cell phones.  They can’t go more than a few minutes or even a few seconds without looking at their “smart” phones.

    As a parent, it seems like life has passed me by in the matter of a few moments.  Yesterday, my daughter was born, and today she’s a freshman in college.  My son was born yesterday, and now he is driving his own car.

    And the day before yesterday, I married the woman of my dreams, and now we’ve been married for over twenty years.  (She looks the same, but I’m sure I’ve added some gray hairs, some wrinkles, and some pounds around my waistline.

    It all can become depressing is we let these thoughts consume us.

    For that reason, we must fight against the blur.

    • We must learn to stop and smell the roses.
    • We must learn to slow down and enjoy the beautiful moments of life.
    • We must learn to give thanks for the blessings of each moment, each day, and each relationship.
    • We must learn to prune our schedules, so we can spend our time on the things and with the people who matter most.
    • We must learn that in the frailty and brevity of life that we must be intentional in all things – in the words we share with others, in the actions we take, in the thoughts that run through our heads, and in the moments between the milestones of life.

    Are you going to let life be a blur?  Or are you going to do something about it?

    Make the most of every opportunity.

    Let your words be seasoned with salt.

    Embrace the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens of life.

    In fact, suck the very marrow out of life with each breath you breathe, each step you take, and each move you make.

    Don’t let your life be a blur.

    The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.  Isaiah 40:8 ESV

    What’s the speedometer of your life say right now?  Are you going 100+ miles per hour?  Or are you going slowly these days?  Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

    Life is Like a Box of Chocolates – Taking Time to Breathe in the Midst of Life’s Chaos


    “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”

    Forest Gump

    Life has been full of twists, turns, and surprises lately.

    I’m grateful for what I’ve been experiencing (for the most part), but I’m also a bit overwhelmed.  I think life has a way of doing this to us sometimes.  We have all kinds of brilliant ideas.  We somehow think we can do it all.  We make plans, and God laughs.

    I’ve been going 100 mph (miles per hour), and it feels as thought I need to find time to take a breath.  

    Not just a quick breath, but a deep breath.  One of those breaths you take when you walk outside on a crisp, sunny morning and you just want to take it all into your lungs and into your very being.  That’s the kind of breath I need.

    We’re eleven days into the new year.  I refuse to give up on my goals for 2017, but I must remember to pace myself.  I must remember to stop and smell the roses – to stop and enjoy the moment – to pause and breathe.

    I don’t know what you are experiencing right now, but I want to encourage you to take a few moments in your day to join me.

    My word for 2017 is PRESENT.

    In order for me to be truly present, I must learn to be still – to listen – to breathe.

    “Be still and know that I am God…”

    Psalm 46:10

    By the way, I can’t eat chocolate.  Oh well.

    How is life treating you these days?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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