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Companies have boards. The board members serve as advisories for the company. They hold the company leaders accountable, and they look out for the best interest of the stock holders. They give advise to the leaders of the company, and they encourage the leaders to lead well.

Have you ever thought about the possibility of having your own board of directors?

Seriously, I believe board of directors aren’t just for companies. They for organizations and individuals who want wisdom, accountability, and encouragement.

This week, Leanne and I began the process of creating a Strategic Advisory Board for us. That’s right. We are in the process of rounding up individuals and couples who will give us wisdom, accountability, and encouragement.

What’s the purpose of our board?

In my recently released book, Rooftop Reflections, I share my vision for building one hundred houses in Guatemala before I die. As Leanne and I have discussed this goal, we’ve come to realize a few things:

  1. Building one hundred houses is my dream. Leanne’s not against this, but she has other passions that need to be merged into my dream to help us be on the same page. Leanne has a passion for the children in Guatemala. We believe we can build homes for families and minister directly to children in Guatemala.
  2. Building one hundred houses in Guatemala is not a minor undertaking. It takes money, planning, support, and a lot of prayer.
  3. In order to effectively serve in Guatemala over the long-term, we need to set systems in place. We need to solidify the “organization” associated with these plans. This will further legitimize and confirm our thoughts moving forward.
  4. We need help! We don’t know everything we need to know about building a sustainable ministry in Guatemala. But we know God has placed incredible people around us who can help.

Over the next few weeks, we will be speaking with key people and building our Strategic Advisory Board. They will help us clarify our vision, build the structure we need to have for long-term success and legitimacy, hold us accountable to move forward (and to follow God’s direction). In addition, our board of advisors will pray for us and for God’s wisdom.

I don’t know what you are doing, but you need a Strategic Advisory Board, too.

You need people who will support you and lift you up. You need people in your life who will redirect you when necessary and confirm your direction. You need people who have your back when it seems like the rest of the world is either against you or completely absent.

Who’’s on your board? Who do you go for when you need advice? What’s stopping you from creating your own Strategic Advisory Board? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Why Me!

December 8, 2017 — Leave a comment

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.

William Barclay

Today, I celebrated the 23rd anniversary of my 23rd birthday!

It was a fantastic day.

I woke up at 5AM, so I could make it over to my men’s group (DIBs – Dudes in the Basement) where we had the opportunity to catch up on some of life’s happenings over the past several days before diving into a discussion about the Bible, it’s relevance, and it’s validity. We are using The Problem of God by Mark Clark as a starting point for our weekly discussions.

I took the day off of work, so I came home to a warm pot of rice pudding (one of my favorites) and an empty house. It’s rare that I am home alone, so I took a few minutes to enjoy a bowl of pudding and listen to the quiet of the house.

Then I dove into a project – the making of the Korv. Korv is a traditional Swedish sausage served at Christmas time. My Grandpa Stolpe, who shared the same birthday with me, used to make the Korv. As I made this year’s batch of sausage, I thought of my Grandpa. I’m so thankful for the heritage he passed down – not just in food, but in faith, work ethic, and humor. The Korv project took all morning.

For lunch, I drove over the California Tortilla to enjoy a free birthday burrito. It’s nice when restaurants send a little gift your way.

After lunch, I had the honor and privilege of being interviewed for Amy Robles’ podcast. Amy is a friend from Ellory Wells’ Catalyst Mastermind, and it was a fun to catch up as I shared about the Stretched Men Group and Rooftop Reflections with her audience.

As we were talking, she said something that made me think. She said something about me having a purpose to everything I did – an intentional focus to how I lived my life. I don’t always think about it that way, but I think she’s right. I want to live my life in a way that honors God and represents Christ well. I want to treat people the way I want to be treated. And I want to leave a legacy. I don’t want my life to be a waste.

After my interview, Isaac and Leanne came home from school and work.

We went out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants (Craft Ale House), and we enjoyed time together. Here Leanne gave me a gift I will always treasure – a painted picture of the same photo used for my book cover. The painting was created by Brittany Brubaker who was on our 2017 Guatemala trip. My plan is to hang the painting in my office. It’s a reminder of a place that is special to me, and it’s also a reminder of the purpose and dream I have to have an impact in Guatemala.

Having reminders like this can be important for keeping our eye on the prize – for keeping our purpose in focus.

I am made on purpose and for a purpose, and you are too!

What’s your purpose? How are you living out your purpose in your daily life? Share your thoughts in the comments.

“Increasing your highway cruising speed from 55mph (90km/h) to 75mph (120km/h) can raise fuel consumption as much as 20%. You can improve your gas mileage 10 – 15% by driving at 55mph rather than 65mph (104km/h). Note how quickly efficiency drops after 60 mph.”

http://eartheasy.com/move_fuel_efficient_driving.html

What is your optimal speed?

We live in a culture that promotes faster, quicker, speaker, busier. People seem to think multi-tasking is the way to go to get more things done. More is better.

Right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

What if we were designed for a specific speed? What if we were created to work a certain amount of time each day, play a certain amount of time each day, and rest a certain amount of time each day?

When people hear what I do for work and play, they often ask me when I sleep or how many hours of sleep I get per night.

I’ll confess I’m often proud to tell them I get 5-6 hours a night (sometimes less). I where my lack of sleep on my sleeve like a badge of honor.

What a loser!

Many studies indicate you need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to achieve peak or optimal performance.

God created us to work, and he also created us to rest. In fact, he gave us Sabbath as a reminder to take a break.

Finding your optimal speed requires these intentional actions:

  1. Practice regular Sabbaths. My Dad says you should take a break one minute every hour, one hour every day, and one day every week. The Sabbath was made for us. In order to achieve your peak performance, you must learn to take breaks.
  2. Just say no. This can be challenging especially if you are a people-pleaser like me. When you let too many things on your agenda, you are no longer able to focus on the things that truly fit you. For more about this, I’d encourage you to read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. His teaching about your Zone of Genius fits right in with this point.
  3. Experiment and take notes. Not everyone is exactly the same. My optimal speed may be a little different than your optimal speed. Test out things to see how they impact your overall performance. I’d encourage you to keep a journal to document your daily activities and to comment on your perceived performance in relationship to these activities.
  4. Look in the mirror. What does your face tell you? Do you have bags under your eyes? Are you wearing a smile? Or has the stresses and strains of your life etched your face. I can usually tell if I’m operating in my sweet spot or not simply by looking in the mirror.
  5. Get someone else’s opinion. You and I need people in our lives who can help us see beyond the blinders we where. I meet with a few different groups of people. These people call me on the carpet when I’m doing something stupid – like operating outside my optimal speed. Who is in your corner who will give you an honest assessment of your commitments and your priorities?

I’m still trying to figure out my optimal speed. I want to make sure I’m operating efficiently.

What’s your optimal speed? How do you find and stay at your right speed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

“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.

Heart Condition

November 18, 2017 — 2 Comments

What’s the condition of your heart?

Last Friday night, I met with my men’s group (DIBs – Dudes In the Basement) for our DIBs Fall Summit 2017. DIBs is a group of guys who have committed to meeting together for 20 years. We have 17 years left in our commitment. During the Summit, we focused on the condition of our hearts. After some food and ping-pong, we gathered to talk about our hearts.

When it was time for me to share, I confessed that I felt overly busy. I honestly left very little room for “being still and knowing that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). There are a lot of great things I am doing – Dynamic Marriage, Stretched Men Group, Rooftop Reflections book launch, new job in June at Siemens, H.O.P.E., etc. I shared that I had been having trouble sleeping over the course of the previous two or three weeks. I honestly believe I was dealing with the feeling of overwhelm.

In my sharing, I paraphrased Psalm 19:14 to fit my current condition and desire: May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart AND MY SCHEDULE AND MY TO DO LIST be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Does my schedule reflect a heart for God?

Do my thoughts reflect a heart for God?

Do my reactions and my actions reflect a heart for God?

Do my motives reflect a heart for God?

What am I doing to gain a better understanding of God’s heart?

How am I helping others see God’s heart?

These are all questions I believe are worth answering or at least pondering as I consider the condition of my own heart.

The men in the group challenged me to look at my schedule and consider what may need to go. Following the conversation, I realized I needed to start by giving up one activity that I was doing out of loyalty instead of out of passion.

In his book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks encourages readers to give up living in their Zones of Competence and Excellence so they can live in their Zone of Genius. In order to live in this place, we must constantly be looking at our activities and commitments. We must do the hard work of finding where we are passions lie and getting rid of the other stuff.

I think this also applies to our heart. In what we do, think, read, say, etc. are we drawing closer to God’s heart?

What’s the condition of your heart?

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Henry Ford

This month I failed.

At the end of July, I signed up for Ellory Wells’ 31 Day Writing Challenge with the intent of writing a new blog post every day during the month of August.  I started on the right foot with several new blog posts.  Then the wheels fell off my ride of best intentions during the second week of August, and I’ve struggled to regain momentum since then.  When it comes to the Writing Challenge, I am a failure.

Now, I could give you ten or twenty excuses as to why I failed.  Do those excuses really matter?  The facts are I did not even come close to writing every day in August.  As I look back on August and on my weak efforts during the challenge, I’ve learned a lot.

Here is what I’ve learned as a result of my failure.

4 Lessons From My Recent Failure

  1. Intentions do not automatically translate into success.  I have great intentions when it comes to a lot of things in my life.  Unfortunately, I fall short in many of these areas of intention.
  2. Our actual actions indicate the reality of our priorities.  My words in late July indicated that I wanted to make writing blog posts a priority; however, my writing output shows I may have let other things have a greater place in my priority pyramid.  My family went on vacation to the Jersey Shore during the second week of August, and this trip was a priority for me.  My job has required a lot of attention this month, and this was an important and necessary area of focus for me in August.  Finally, I noticed that my fitness and overall health had slipped a little bit over the past few months.  In the second half of August, I took steps to make my fitness and nutrition more of a priority.
  3. Accountability is essential to achieving the results we desire.  I’m independent and self-motivated, but I need people in my life who will give me an encouraging word or a swift kick in the butt from time to time.  I rely heavily on my wife, the guys in my small group, a few of my co-workers, and the people in my mastermind groups.  They remind me to stay on track.  They encourage me when I’m feeling discouraged.  And they won’t let me wander off course for very long.
  4. It’s never too late to start over.  When we experience failure in our lives, we have a couple of choices.  We can let our failure define us.  Or we can use our failures to motivate us.  I’m making the second choice.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston Churchill

How have you responded to failure in your life?  What lessons have you learned from your failures?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

The year, we build with Casas por Cristo.  Casas is a fantastic organization, and I learned a lot through our experience this year that will be helpful as I pursue building 100+ houses in Guatemala.

Today, I’ll give you a glimpse into the building process.  Our large team split into two smaller teams, and we both completed our houses in 2 1/2 days.  The actual construction may have gone fast, but there were other steps before our build that paved the way for our visit.

Applying to Get a Home

In order to get a house, the pastor of a family in need must complete an application.  Through this process, the pastor and associated church commit to coming around the family in an effort to disciple them and help them with their ongoing needs.  The families selected make an average of $60 per week, and they typically live in huts made of cardboard, cornstalks, or bamboo.

Preparing the Site

The job site is prepared in advance of our arrival.  In our case, the church community dug dirt out of the hill in an effort to level the site for the house, and they carried all the wood, stone, concrete, sand, and other building supplies down a huge hill to the job site.

Building the Forms and Leveling the Ground

When we arrived at the site, we gathered to meet the family and pray before the fun began.  It didn’t take long to set up the cutting station and build the forms for the concrete foundation.  Making sure the ground was as level as possible was critical to the next step.

Pouring the Concrete

Next we mixed the concrete with two mixers.  Each batch of concrete included just the right mixture of sand, stone, concrete, and water.  Before lunch on the first day, we had completed the concrete slab.  This was a critical step, and we were reminded of the importance of having a firm foundation in our own lives to withstand the storms of life.

Building the Walls

Wall construction started on Monday afternoon and rolled into Tuesday.  We build the walls on the ground before lifting them up onto the slab.  Once the walls were square and attached appropriately to the concrete floor, we began the process of installing the exterior tongue and groove panels.

Installing the Roof

While the exterior walls were being covered, a few members of our team climbed to the top of the house and began installing the roof.  The roof consisted of wooden beams which supported the metal roofing material.  By the end of the second day, the roof was installed and the exterior walls were mostly complete.

The Finishing Touches

Wednesday morning, we arrived on site, and we quickly worked on finishing the house.  The exterior panels were completed.  The front door and windows were installed.  The interior walls were covered.  The electrical was installed and tested, and the trim work was completed.

Dedicating the House

This was my favorite part!  After completing the house in the morning.  Lydia and other ladies from her community cooked us all lunch (chicken, rice, corn tortillas, and a delicious red sauce).  Our team sat down at a long makeshift table in front of the house, and we enjoyed the meal before a quick rainstorm interrupted things.  When the rain died down, we all gathered in front of the house.  Lydia received a Bible and a set of keys for her house.  And we nailed a “Casas por Cristo” plate above her front door.  After a time of sharing, we laid hands on Lydia’s house and prayed for Lydia, her new home, and her family.  Listening to her pastor pray was one of the most moving experiences of the trip.  He wept as he prayed aloud.

Missionaries from Casas por Cristo will head back over to Lydia’s house in a few months to see how she and the house are doing.  And the pastor will continue to keep an eye on her as well.

Today, our family (minus one) embarks on another journey to Guatemala.

We’re excited to be doing something a little different this year.  We are going with a group from our church (Christ’s Church of the Valley) to build two homes in San Raymundo with an organization called Casas Por Cristo.

Here are a few of the things I am most looking forward to this year:

  • Working with Casas Por Cristo – Casas is an organization building homes in Mexico, Guatemala, and Dominican Republic for families in need.  The first house we build in Guatemala in 2012 was a Casas house.  After building hundreds of houses, Casas Por Cristo has their act together, and I’m looking forward to learning from them, so we can build more homes in Santo Domingo Xenacoj and elsewhere in Guatemala.  I will be taking a lot of notes and taking a lot of pictures with the intent of learning to bring better construction methods to Xenacoj.  If I’m going to build 100+ houses in Guatemala, it will be important to develop “quality” and cost effective processes and building methods.
  • Serving alongside others from my church – The past three trips to Guatemala have been a family effort.  I think that has served our family well, but I’m also looking forward to the fellowship and connections that will happen with others who attend our church in Royersford, PA.  I believe we were made for community, and my past experience has shown that incredible things happen when we serve with a community of people.
  • Seeing German and Suzy Espana – If all goes well, German and Suzy will be traveling from Xenacoj to San Raymundo to join us for part of the building process.  This will be a great chance for us to see friends who mean so much to us, and I hope it will be an encouraging visit for both of us.  More than likely, German will be a big part of building 100+ houses, and this will give us an opportunity to talk and make plans for the future.

Last night, Leanne and I watched Living on One Dollar.  The documentary tells the story of four young men who travel to a village in Guatemala where they live on one dollar a day in an effort to learn more about the challenges of people living in extreme poverty.  If you get a chance, I’d encourage you to check out the movie.  The movie was a reminder of the people we serve and the uphill battle they face every single day.

I’m glad we watched the movie last night as it helps to prepare my heart and mind for the week ahead.  This will be my fifth trip to Guatemala, and I don’t want it to be routine.  I don’t want it to feel too comfortable.  As I’ve prayed on my previous trips, I pray my heart will break for the things that break the heart of God.  I pray my eyes, heart, and mind will be open to the lessons I can learn as a result of the experiences we will have this year.

As we head out later today, you can pray for the following:

  • Safety and health for our entire team as we travel and work
  • Open hearts and minds for all our team members as we head to Guatemala
  • God’s provision for the two families who will be getting new homes this week 
  • A sweet reunion with German and Suzy Espana

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

Mary Pickford

Have you ever wanted a “Do Over?”

I remember playing games as a kid, and asking for a “Do Over” when things didn’t go the way I wanted the to go.  One of my friends or I would yell, “Do Over!”  And if our friends were feeling generous they would let us start over again.

Sometimes in life, it feels like we could use a “Do Over.”  Maybe you a fresh start in a relationship.  Maybe you need a new beginning along your career path.  Maybe you to hit the restart button on fitness or nutrition.

You are not alone!

We are officially 1/3rd of the way through 2017.

How did you start the year?  Are you on track to meet the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

Or have you given up?

Life keeps us busy.  And too often, we find ourselves simply busy being busy.  We aren’t making the progress in life we’d really like to make, and we don’t even know it.  We give up being intentional, so we can keep up with the mundane every day tasks that distract us from reaching our real potential.  We feel stuck.  We feel stalled.  And we even feel lost.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Now is the time for a fresh start!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24 ESV

This week I’ll be sending out emails to those on my email list on the topic of RESTART.  The emails will help you get the fresh start you need to make the rest of 2017 all that it can be.  To make sure you get these emails, simply fill out the form below.

“I know people who grow old and bitter. I want to keep making a fresh start. I don’t want them to defeat me. That would be suicidal.”

Robert Wyatt

 

In what area of your life do you need a “Do Over”?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’ve experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I think to really appreciate anything you have to be at both ends of the spectrum.
John Elway

Yesterday was full of highs and lows.

I got to spend the early morning with a group of men for our weekly get together.  This was a high.

I visited a friend in the hospital.

I made it to the gym for 4.5 miles on the treadmill.  For me, this was another high.

We received word that a friend was struggling and in need of healing.  This was a low.

Our family took a 5 mile hike and Evansburg State Park on a beautiful day.  Yes, this was a high.

We had to put our 13-year-old lab (Iso) down last night.  This was really tough.  We will greatly miss him.

Life is full of highs and lows.  The highs lift us up, and the lows force us to reflect.  There will be more highs and more lows in the days, weeks, and years ahead, and this is okay.

When it seems like life is all over the place, it’s important to remember that God is constant.  His love for us never changes.  And His mercies never come to an end.

As I reflect on an up and down day, I am thankful for the opportunity to experience life – even though it hurts sometimes.