Category Archives for "vacation"

I’m Not Ignoring You


Every moment in our lives is a miracle we should enjoy instead of ignoring.

Yoko Ono

I’m not ignoring you.  I promise.

I’ve just been doing my best to pay attention to my wife this week.  We were in Vermont for the past week celebrating our 20th Anniversary (a few weeks early).

mt snow lift

It was a great week, and I did my best to unplug as much as possible and to practice the discipline of being present.

I’ll have some new posts this week.

Hope you are doing well!

What was one of your highlights from this past week?  Share your highlight in the comments.

Ice Breaker – Ideal Vacation / Holiday

ICE BREAKER vacation holiday

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  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

Question:  What would be your ideal holiday or vacation?  Why?

My Answer:  I wish there was a way to be multiple locations at the same time, but I don’t think that is possible – yet.  Therefore, I would invite my family and friends to join me in Santo Domingo Xenacoj in Guatemala.  We would all visit the week before Christmas, so we could be part of Christmas for Thousands – an opportunity to give Christmas gifts to thousands of children in and around the village of Xenacoj.

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!

Lessons Learned On My Vacation

vacation lessons

I’m still here!

Last week, I took a vacation with my wife’s family to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The vacation gave me the opportunity to enjoy time with my family, to enjoy relaxing on the beach and at the pool, and to enjoy being unplugged.

The WiFi where we were staying was terrible.  At first, I was kind of bummed.  I had hoped to do some writing while we were on vacation, and I planned to post on the blog (at least a few times) during the week.  Instead, I went an entire week without posting a thing on my blog.  I checked Facebook a few times, and I read a few of the blogs I follow.  Besides this, I took a vacation from the blog world.

Some would say this isn’t a smart idea.  In the past, I’ve scheduled posts or had people guest post in my absence.  This was an option I decided not to pursue this time around.  I’m not sure how it will impact my traffic.  In the short term, I’m sure it will have a negative impact.  In the long term, I think it may actually make a positive difference.

Without question, I believe it will improve the quality of my posts.  Blog experts say consistency is queen – meaning I should have posted through my vacation.  And they also say content is king.  If this is true, I’m excited to see how my week away will impact my blog.

We live in a day and age when most people struggle to disconnect from the world.  We have smart phones at our finger tips.  With a WiFi connection, we can connect with our laptops and tablets to the rest of the world.  All this connectivity has some positive perks:

  1. I can connect with almost anyone from around the world.  This means I have friends in Tennessee, Washington, Ukraine, Canada, Guatemala, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and many other places.  From this standpoint, the world has decreased in size.  I’m thankful for these friends.
  2. I can access information within seconds.  Google is a company, and it is also a verb.  If I want to know who won the Tour de France, I can google it, and I’ll have the information in seconds.  This provides a powerful learning tool for the curious.
  3. I can build my own platform.  Last year, I wrote and published my first book.  I hired an editor on-line.  I received help with my cover design.  And I launched the book following instructions I found on-line.  This time of connectivity provides all kinds of opportunities we probably couldn’t experience before the birth of the Internet (thanks Al Gore).

Unfortunately, it’s not all positive.  In this world of instant information access, we are faced with some major challenges:

  1. Our attention span is decreasing.  If you made it to this point in the post, you’ve already defied the odds.  I’ve heard on many podcasts that we are losing our ability to focus on things for a significant length of time.  Books are becoming shorter in an effort to keep the attention of readers.  Newspaper articles and on-line magazine articles are shrinking their average word count to keep up with popular blogs with average 300-600 words per post.  Headlines are not considered to be successful unless they can nicely fit into the 140 character Twitter limitation.
  2. Our ability to verbally connect face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) is being challenged.  My kids haven’t had to answer the “house phone”, because we don’t have a land line phone.  Kids are getting used to communicating through text messages, Instagram, and Snap Chat.  I interviewed several engineering candidates over the last year, and I am amazed by how few of these candidates are comfortable looking me in the eye and having a conversation.
  3. Our immediate relationships are being put on the back burner in exchange for face time with our cell phones and other technological gadgets.  We have a “No Phone At The Table” Rule to combat this problem in our house.  If you are talking to someone or spending time with someone, put your phone away and engage with the other people in your presence.

Vacation provided many great reminders for me.  I’m thankful for the chance to take a break.  I’m thankful for my family.  And I’m thankful for my friends (off-line and on-line).  As I head back into my “normal” routine this morning, I look forward to capitalizing on the connection I experienced while I was away, and I look forward to connecting with those I know on-line.

What are your vacation plans for the rest of the year?  How will you connect while you are away?  How has your connectivity positively and negatively impacted your life?

Summertime Blogging – Request For Guest Bloggers

The summer months are a time for vacations and day trips.  I am thankful for this season when things relax a little.

I have seen fellow bloggers handle their vacations in different ways:

  • Some bloggers take off the whole summer.  Summer blog reader traffic is typically lower, and many bloggers use this time to be refreshed and to accumulate new ideas for the fall.
  • Some bloggers take off for a week or two while they are on vacation.  Michael Hyatt takes off for a month each summer.  He generally does not post during this time with the exception of a few guest posts.  Again, this in an opportunity to recharge.
  • Some bloggers write in advance and schedule posts to go live while they are away.  This can lead to a little craziness trying to write and schedule content ahead of time, but it helps keep the blog community active even when the blogger is away.
  • Some bloggers simply become more inconsistent with their posting schedule during the summer.  When the fall comes, they become motivated again to be more consistent, and they resume a normal writing/posting routine.

I try to keep the blog going, even while I am away.  Sometimes a re-post popular blog posts from the past.  This provides newer readers the opportunity to catch up on some of my older content.  My preference though is to feature guest bloggers during my vacation time.  This gives me the opportunity to introduce my blogging community to others around the blog world.  It provides fresh perspectives on life’s stretching experiences.  And it keeps my readers engaged as guest bloggers participate in the dialogue that goes on in the comments.

This summer, I am heading back to Guatemala, and I am looking for guest bloggers to help fill the gap while I am away.  Specifically, I need guest bloggers for July 21-25 and July 28th.  If you would be interested in helping out during this time (or at another time), please leave a comment or reach out to me at, so we can connect.  (For more about guest posting, click here.)

You have a stretching story worth sharing.  Your stretch story could be the catalyst for significant encouragement for the Stretched Community.  And I’d love to share it here!

If you are a blogger, how do you handle your blog when you are away?

Do you have any vacation plans this summer?


I unplugged this weekend, and it felt great!

I’ll be back with more great content tomorrow.

How was your weekend?

When was the last time you unplugged?

Ice Breaker – Alaska, Hawaii, or Home

Ice Breaker

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.

Like most of the northern and eastern parts of the country, we’ve been dealing with extremely cold temperatures this week.  Our furnace stopped working on the coldest day when the our condensate line froze and our condensate trap cracked.  We’ve found a way to stay warm while we wait for a new part to fix the furnace.  In the meantime, our family has been thinking about warm places.  These thoughts are the inspiration for this week’s Stretched Ice Breaker.

Hawaii 02-20030026

Question:  Would you rather visit Alaska or Hawaii?  Or would you prefer to stay at home?

My Answer:  I’ve never been to Alaska, and I think it would be great to visit there at least once.  I’ve been to Hawaii a couple of times, and it is truly a paradise.  I’d visit Hawaii again any time.  I remember enjoying the sunshine, the beautiful beaches, the tropical jungles, and the amazing mountains.  It’s too bad Hawaii is so far away from the east coast.

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!

Also don’t forget to sign up for the Stretched newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.

Thank You – #26

Guatemala 2013 507

Thank You No. 26

Today, I’m thankful for vacation.

I’m taking the next few days off to celebrate Thanksgiving and to be with family.  As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago (Pause), it’s important to take a break from time to time.  I’m looking forward to a break.

Why are you thankful today?

Don’t forget to sign up for the weekly Stretched newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.

Visiting Church on Vacation – 5 Reasons To Visit A Different Church This Summer

We were gone for two Sundays while we were away on vacation which meant we missed church at our home church two weeks in a row.  It would have been easy to skip church all together and simply enjoy the time to relax.  But we didn’t exactly do this.

The first Sunday we were away, we visited my brother’s church, Milwaukee Mennonite Church, in Wisconsin.  The church meets at 4 PM on Sunday afternoons in the building of a local Lutheran church.  It’s a small family oriented congregation where we felt very welcome.  It was definitely a different experience than we are used to at our church, but the change was okay.  It was exciting to see how God was working in this community of believers.  The singing part of worship included a couple of songs in a capella followed  by a couple with piano accompaniment.  They do not have a paid pastor, so the preaching duty is shared by the congregation.  Following the sermon, there is a time of open reflection by those in a church.  It was a little uncomfortable at first, but it was interesting especially once I understood what was going on.  Leanne and I both commented that it felt like a small group.

The second weekend we were away, we actually went to church on Saturday night at Charter Oak Church (where we were married 17 years earlier).  This is a growing United Methodist congregation which is clearly trying to find ways to reach the community.  The singing part of worship featured several guitars, a drummer, a keyboard, and a few lead vocalists.  It was so cool to witness a couple of baptisms while we were there.  There was a watering trough on the stage filled with water on the stage or platform.  The pastor knelt beside the trough while those being baptized took turns getting into the tank to be immersed by the pastor.  I really enjoyed the sermon at this church which was themed based on the popular NBC TV show, The Voice.  The sermon started with a Francis Chan video clip that I’ve included in past blog posts.  I really appreciated the way the pastor used the YouVersion Live feature to go along with his sermon.  I was able to take notes and look up Bible passages from my iPhone.  We received a friendly reception at this church as well.

Visiting other churches can be a very healthy experience while you are on vacation.  Here are five reasons for visiting churches while on vacation:

  1. Observing church differences helps us to understand where other people are coming from.  Churches are different.  While we worship the same God, there are different styles.
  2. Churches have different creative ideas that could be the catalyst for change in your own church.  It can be very refreshing and encouraging to experience worship by other bodies of believers.  It provides new ideas that will stretch you.
  3. Sometimes you need to take a break from your normal church.  I wouldn’t recommend this for an extended period of time.  But visiting other churches can give you a break and a recharge especially if you are heavily involved with volunteering, serving, or leading in your own church.
  4. It’s healthy to bond with other believers.  There is so much that divides the church today.  There are so many different doctrines, theologies, and ideas that simply tear the greater church body apart.  Visiting other churches helps to bridge the divide that can be so divisive.  (Obviously, I think that theology is important, but we need to be cautious in how we let it divide the church.  To the outside world, we must look like a bunch of messed up hypocrites who don’t have any unity.)
  5. Visiting other churches helps you appreciate your own church.  Let’s face it; we all get our level of comfort.  There’s no place like home (or our home church).  Upon our return home, our daughter couldn’t wait to get home so she could make it to youth group at our church.

I don’t know what your vacation plans are this summer.  Maybe your sticking at home or maybe you’re traveling to far away lands.  I’d encourage you to take the opportunity to visit a different church this summer.  When you do this, let me know how it went.

Do you visit other churches when you travel?  Tell us about your last experience at a different church.  Why do you think it is (or isn’t) a good idea to visit other churches from time to time?

I’m Back…

I just arrived back from a week and a half of vacation.  Our family journeyed to the Midwest to visit with extended family.  It was a great trip in general, and it was especially refreshing to unplug (for the most part).  I’ll share more details in upcoming posts.  Before I get back into blogging, I want to send out a special thank you to those who guest posted for me while I was on vacation.  If you missed it, here are the four guest posts:

In three weeks, I’ll be heading out of the country for a missions trip to Guatemala.  I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to blog while I’m away, so I’m looking for more guest bloggers who would be interesting in sharing their STRETCHED stories and ideas here on the Stretched Blog.  The dates I’ll be away are August 3rd thru the 11th.  If you can help out, please drop me a line.

Stay tuned for a new post tomorrow.  Also, I wanted to mention that I’ve been considering the possibility of posting on my old blog (  to test out some new blogging ideas and material.  Some of the material may be a little “rougher” than my normal posts, and I can’t guarantee that it will be consistent in themes or in timing.  You are welcome to check it out.

Is your family taking any vacations this summer?  If so, where are you going?  Is there anything or anyone special you plan to see?  If you’re a blogger, how are you handling your blog and other social media outlets while you are away?

Ice Breaker – Vacation Plans

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.

For many, next weekend marks the beginning of summer.  People start traveling and taking time off from work to enjoy a break and to spend time with family and friends.  This week’s question will get you thinking about the summer ahead and will remind you of summer days of the past.

Question:  What are your vacation plans for this summer?  What’s one of the best vacations that you have ever experienced?

My Answer:  If you have been reading along for a little while, you’ll know our family is planning to go to Guatemala later this summer on a short-term missions trip to the village of Xenacoj.  Besides that, we are planning to take a swing through the Midwest (Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) to visit my family who live in that area.  In between visits with family, we’re also hoping to hit one of the water parks in the Wisconsin Dells.

France Trip 2006-020

As for best vacations experienced, I would say that I really enjoyed the trip that Leanne and I took to France to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  We stayed in Paris for two days, the Louvre Valley for two days, the Bordeaux region for two days, near Marseilles for two days, and Lyon for two days.  It was wonderful to see the various sites of this beautiful country, and it was refreshing to spend uninterrupted time together with my bride.

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.)

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