Category Archives for "transformed"

One Word For 2012: Transformed – Part 2


At the beginning of the year, I selected a word to represent my year.  The word I chose as part of the One Word 365 Community was transformed.  Back in that post, I stated, “I want my life to be transformed by my relationship with God.”  I also explained that I expected transformation or growth in other areas of my life as well.

As I reflect on the past year, it’s interesting to see how I experienced transformation.  Yesterday, I posted highlights from the first half of 2012.  Here are some of the highlights from the second half of 2012:

At the end of June, I gave up caffeine.  After five months of nearly constant migraine headaches (Migraine Madness from February through June), one of my doctors suggested giving up caffeine.  After depending on it for so long as part of my morning ritual, I wasn’t sure how that would go over.  But I tried it anyhow.  To my amazement, the frequency of my migraines significantly decreased.  Since June, I’ve only had a few migraines compared to the countless migraines I had experienced up until that point.  Believe it or not, giving up caffeine was transformational for me this year.

In July, I found myself on the launch team for a new book by Jeff Goins.  Jeff’s book, Wrecked, was about what happens when a broken world slams into your comfortable life.  Being part of the launch team was a huge learning experience as I consider the possibility of one day writing and launching my own book.  And the book came at a perfect time as I prepared for my trip to Guatemala.  Wrecked helped to transform my mind as I prepared for my own wrecked experience.

At the end of July into August, I traveled to Guatemala with the high school youth group from our church.  I learned so many things through this experience.  And I posted so many thoughts and emotions as I processed this trip and as I returned to my realities at home.  I was reminded by this trip that I Am A Missionary.  And I was reassured that Community Can Change The World.  Since returning home on August 3rd, my heart still beats for the people of Xenacoj.  When I hear news of volcanoes and earthquakes in the country of Guatemala, my ears perk up.  I want to know how our friends are doing.  And I long to return to the town that is permanently etched on my heart.  With that in mind, my family is planning a return visit to Xenacoj, Guatemala this coming summer.  Details are still coming together, but I would covet your prayers and potentially your support as we pursue further transformation and STRETCHING in Xenacoj.

September brought further transformation to my life as I saw my oldest child start high school.  I’m not sure how that happened so fast, but I’m thankful for the transition Hannah has made.  She has taught us many things and allowed us to experience many new adventures through her advancement to this level.  In particular, her involvement with the cross-country team and the high school youth group have been transformational in my life.  Her cross-country experience renewed my love for running.  After a challenging year with migraines and general busyness, my running consistency had dropped off significantly.  Seeing Hannah run and enjoy the experience reminded me of the importance of running in my own life.  I’m not sure what the new year brings, but I’m going in with several weeks of consistency and an excitement for what is ahead.  The high school youth group (RIOT) is also a place where I’ve experienced transformation this year.  Since returning from Guatemala, I’ve missed very few Sunday nights of RIOT.  These students continue to STRETCH me.  Youth ministry has provided an opportunity for me to Pay It Forward.

In late October, I experienced a transformational week when my family helped to clean out a woman’s home in our area.  The woman would be considered a hoarder, and cleaning out her home was no small task.  Working at her home four out of seven days including the first and last day gave me a much clearer picture of what transformation looks like.  We started with a house that was literally filled with stuff – two to four feet high across the entire floor – and a woman who was obviously broken.  At the end of the week, we had the entire main floor clean, we put a significant dent in her front yard which had been unkept for years, and we began to see a new person emerging.  Now, this woman has become part of our H.O.P.E. group that meets twice a month.  She has a new excitement for living, and she’s even been inviting people into her home for coffee.  While this week was clearly life changing for this woman, it was also transformational for every person who stepped foot in and around her home that week.  Through this week of Servefest, I was reminded to Store Up Things That Matter.

November and December have brought smaller transformational experiences for which I am thankful.  And as we head into the last two weeks of the year, I am aware of continued opportunities to be transformed.  TRANSFORMED was a good word for this year.  I don’t know what 2013 brings, but I’m sure transformation will continue.

How have you been transformed by 2012?  Did you have a word for 2012?  If you had to choose a word for 2013, what would it be?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

One Word For 2012: Tranformed – Reflection Part 1

At the beginning of the year, I selected a word to represent my year.  The word I chose as part of the One Word 365 Community was transformed.  Back in that post, I stated, “I want my life to be transformed by my relationship with God.”  I also explained that I expected transformation or growth in other areas of my life as well.

As I reflect on the past year, it’s interesting to see how I experienced transformation.  Here are some of the highlights:

In January, I had the blessing of going out to Buffalo Grove, IL for a company meeting.  This meeting and trip was transformational for a couple of reasons.  For one, it was the first long distance, multiple-night trip I had taken alone since my wife’s illness in 2010.  This was a big step of faith that led to other bigger leaps of faith later in the year.  The trip also gave me an opportunity to see my Grandma.  My post, Say What You Need To Say, captures the transformation thoughts of this visit.

In February, Leanne and I attended a FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Conference in Hershey, PA.  This conference was a great opportunity to recharge, refocus, and reconnect our marriage.  I think we both experienced transformation through this time together.  My post, Ten Reasons To Attend FamilyLife Weekend To Remember, provides additional thoughts on this wonderful growth experience.  If you’re interested in going to one of these conferences this coming year, you can get a special discount through The Stretched Blog.  Click here for details.

In March, I was transformed through a big decision that required a leap of faith.  The decision was whether or not to go to Guatemala or not.  I wrestled a lot with fear as I made this decision.  I’m so thankful for family, friends, and God’s Word that encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone to later experience a life on a whole different level.

The Guatemala trip was a huge part of my transformation in 2012.  In April, I was transformed by the generosity of The Stretched Community and the amazing provision of a God who loves us and wants the best for us.  Early in April, I made a Big Ask as I asked The Stretched Community to join me in helping to raise funds for the trip and to Build Something Bigger as a blogging community.  Within hours, I found out part of the answer to this question:  How Big Is Your God?  God provided for my trip and much of the money for a house we build in Guatemala within six hours of asking the question.  (Later, the blogging community closed the gap and completely paid for a new house in Guatemala!)

In May and June, I started teaching my first Foundations Class at our church.  This class stretched and transformed me as I led a group of people through the Five Gs.  We talked about Grace, Growth, Groups, Gifts, and Giving.  While the experience was meant to help the students, I think it  also played a big role in my own growth this year.  I just finished up teaching my second round of this class.  While the class and the experience was different this time, I can still say that I was transformed through the experience to facilitate.

This was just some of the transformation I experienced during the first six months of 2012.  Come back tomorrow as I recap the growth I experienced in the second half of 2012.

How have you been transformed by 2012?  Did you have a word for 2012?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Foundations Class – Week 3 – Groups

This past Sunday, I led our third Foundations Class based on Fully Devoted by John Ortberg. Our first class was on Grace. Our second class was about Growth. And our third class focused on Groups. As you may imagine, I was pretty excited about this week. I’m a huge grouplife fan, and I have a passion for seeing people connected in community through groups.

The lesson for this week reminded me that being in a group is more than just about connection. Being in a group is about experiencing the life transforming power of truth and grace. You see, we all need truth and grace in our lives. If we have too much grace and not enough truth, we will miss out on growth. We will fail to face up to things in our lives that need change and transformation. On the other hand, if we have too much truth in our lives and not enough grace, we will get bogged down in the sin that entangles all of us. We need both truth and grace in equal amounts.

When it comes to dispensing truth and grace to those around us, we also need to be balanced. We need to speak both truth and grace into those around us. When we fail to do this, we miss out on showing love. My friend, Diane, showed me a great chart that helps to demonstrate this principle. I’ll do my best to explain it.

Looking at the chart above, Grace is plotted along the x or horizontal axis and Truth is plotted along the y or vertical axis (I love this kind of talk!).  If we fail to show grace and we fail to show truth, it shows are lack of involvement in the lives of others (this is the RED area of the chart). When we show truth and we fail to show grace, we are graceless (the YELLOW area of the chart). On the other side of the spectrum, when we show grace and we fail to show truth, we are lying (the GREEN area of the chart). Where we hit our sweet spot, we show both truth and grace (the BLUE area of the chart). This is how we truly exhibit love towards one another.

Christian community isn’t always perfect. Over the years, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly that can sometimes happen even amongst groups that call themselves Christian. We need to strive for the best. We need to be marked as people who love. Love happens when truth and grace coexist. And I believe that small groups are a perfect place to flesh this out.

Do you have a relationship where grace and truth exist? Are you in a small group? Why or why not?

Foundations Class Week 2: Growth

Yesterday morning, I led week two of a Foundations Class at my church. If you remember from my post last week, we talked about grace during the first class.  This week, we continued along with the five Gs outlined in Fully Devoted, a study guide by John Ortberg, with the topic of growth.

Growth is an interesting topic.  When I think of growth these days, I think about growth in my running, in my writing, and in my engineering management career path.  In each of these areas, growth doesn’t just happens.  It takes work.  If I want to run a marathon, I have to go into strict training.  If I want to become a better writer and maybe someday write a book, I have to keep practicing and learning.  If I want to keep up with the ever-changing engineering and leadership fields, I have to stay in training so I can learn about new technologies and about new leadership techniques.

Spiritual growth is somewhat similar.  It doesn’t just happen.  It takes time, experience, and some effort on our parts if we’re serious about growing spiritually.  Sure, God could just zap us with spiritual maturity, but we would then miss out on all the experience and training.

So, what does this kind of training look like?

That’s a good question.

I think it includes an attitude of learning – we need to learn God’s Word.  We need to develop a heart for prayer.  And we need to listen for God.  Listening to God can happen in a corporate setting of worship and small groups, but it also happens in solitude where the distractions of this world are put aside for a brief period of time. Honestly, this is the area where I struggle with now.  I feel so often that I’m running from one thing to the next.  I even wrote about this last week.  How can I hear God’s calling when I’m typically too busy even to hear myself think?

As we walked through our discussion, we talked about a few verses that encourage us to be intentional in our spiritual training.  I would encourage you to read these verses and see how they relate to the topic of growth and spiritual transformation.

I Corinthians 9:24-27, I Timothy 4:7-8, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 4:22-24

It’s funny how God hits you on the head with a message when you’re in the spotlight leading.  This is a message that I need to hear over and over again.  It should be a fun week.  Leanne and I are leading a discussion on discipline at the week’s MOPS meeting at our church. Sounds like another blog post and some more challenging lessons.

What does your spiritual training look like right now? What steps do you need to take to grow spiritually?

Don’t Hold A Press Conference

We all like to be noticed.  We all like to be recognized for doing something good.  We like to hear people say, “Good job.”  We want the praise of man.  I think this is a normal human desire.

The other day, I was reading in Matthew 6 which is part of the Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus.  In part of this sermon, Jesus talks about how we should give to the needy, how we should pray, and how we should go about fasting.  Three times in this passage Christ says, “Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  When we give to the needy, when we pray, and when we fast, we should do these acts so no one knows but God.  We want the recognition.  We want to hold a press conference when we do these things.  But Christ tells us to keep it between God and us.  Surely, God’s reward is far greater than any recognition we get from man.

As a blogger this is a huge topic to ponder.  I often blog about the activities of my family including the activities related to serving others.  I hope that my main motivation in sharing these things is to encourage others to find ways to serve with their families, but I confess that there may be a part of my motivation that wants to hear others say, “Your family is so good.  You are a great parent.  You and Leanne do such a great job.”  These compliments do mean a lot, but my suspicion is that these praises of people pale in comparison to the reward that God promises.

Ultimately, I want to glorify God.  Whether it’s giving to the needy, praying, fasting, working, running, blogging, or whatever, I want my thoughts and actions to bring glory to God.

And so I stretch!  (In a year of being transformed, transformation of my motives is a great place to start.)

What do you think?  Do you struggle with seeking the praise of people?  How do you fight this?

January 7, 2012 Week In Review…

It’s time for The Stretched Blog Week in Review – the first for 2012!   The traffic to the Stretched Blog is at an all-time high this week.  In fact, blog traffic on Wednesday was the highest ever on the blog (and Thursday’s traffic was right behind).  Thank you!

Here’s the rundown on the posts for the week:

Monday:  December 2011 Top Posts

Tuesday:  Meet Irwin

Wednesday:  One Word For 2012: Transformed

Thursday:  The Stretched Blog Visits The Analogous Truth

Friday (this actually posted Saturday do to a visit to me by the stomach flu):  Ice Breaker – My First Car

Your continued contribution to the blog through comments is greatly appreciated.  Your comments are what makes this Stretched Community!  Please remember to take the time to Subscribe to the blog, so you can have Stretched delivered daily to your e-mail inbox.  Also, don’t forget to stop by the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook fan page.  Become a fan to keep up with some additional Stretched stuff.  I have started to share more blog highlights from other blogs that I read regularly.  I think you’ll find some great stuff here.  Thanks!

Here are a few of my favorites from around the blog world this week:

It should be a fun week upcoming.  Brandon Gilliland will be guest posting on Wednesday.  We’ll have another fun Ice Breaker on Friday.  And there’s sure to be more Stretching the rest of the week.  Please stop back so you can see what’s going on here!

How about you?  How was your week?  If you’re a blogger what happened over your way this week?  Did you read any great blog posts this week?  Share with the rest of us!

One Word For 2012: Transformed

If you had to pick one word to focus on in 2012, what would it be?

For me, I’m choosing the word transformed.

Transformed means to be changed.  You might even say that transformed means to be stretched.

I want my life to be transformed by my relationship with God.

A lot of great things happened in 2011, but I felt like it was a year for recovery (not that this is a bad thing).  I want 2012 to be about moving forward and being transformed.  When I think of transformation, I think of growth.  I think of metamorphosis.  I want to grow closer to God in 2012.  I want to pray bigger and bolder prayers.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

So there you have it – my word for 2012.  You can check out what words other people are choosing as part of the One Word 365 Community.  What’s your word?