Have you ever wanted to start over?
Have you ever made a mistake and wanted to erase that mistake?
Have you ever gotten out of the habit of doing something good and wanted to get back on the right track?
I feel this way about blogging. I’ve been writing here on my blog for over eleven years, and I have fallen out of my blogging grove over the past several months.
Yesterday, my wife told me she missed my blog posts, and I’ve had a few people check in with me to make sure I was okay after they hadn’t heard from me for a while. (Thanks for checking in on me!)
I don’t want to erase everything I’ve written in the past, but I sometimes wish I could start over with the same energy and time commitment to writing. Some of this is in my control, but I also recognize that many things have changed for me over the past eleven years – especially over the past two years since I took on more responsibility at work.
And so I come back to my blog and to you, my readers, asking for a “Do Over.”
I want to get back on the right track, and I’m hoping you’ll join me on the journey.
See you tomorrow!
Do you need a Do Over?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
For ideas on how to get a fresh start, click here.
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.
I realize it’s been a while (almost a month) since my last post. I’m not ignoring you. I’ve just had a lot going on in my life.
I’ve officially been in my new job for one month as the Branch Solutions Operations Manager. Have you ever tried to drink water from a fire hose? Me neither. But I get the impression that it’s like being in a new job like this. Every day is non-stop. By Thursday, I’m exhausted. And by Friday, I’m definitely ready for the weekend. Despite these feelings of exhaustion, I am loving what I get to do on a daily basis. My department finished June with a record month. I’m so thankful for my team!
A couple of weekends ago, Leanne and I attended facilitator training for Dynamic Marriage. We will be facilitating our first class in the fall at Christ’s Church of the Valley. The weekend did so much to reaffirm our marriage and to confirm our calling to help other couples strengthen their marriages. The 9-week class we will be leading is based on Willard Harley’s book, His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. If you have a great marriage, a good marriage, or a just okay marriage, this class is for you!
I’ve been diligently working on my next book, Rooftop Reflections: Missional Thoughts of an Ordinary Guy in an Extraordinary Place. I finished the manuscript last week, and I’m working to finalize the cover with a graphic designer. I hope to release the book this summer. The book has already received several glowing endorsements. Here is one of them:
“Jon’s stories from Guatemala will inspire, move, and motivate you to consider how you can expand your horizons and serve others more deeply. I loved this heartfelt book and know you’ll love it as well. If you’re not careful, it just might change your life!”
Kent Sanders, writer, musician, creative coach, and professor. Author of The Artist’s Suitcase (kentsanders.net)
Finally, my blog, Jon Stolpe Stretched, celebrated a significant milestone this week. 10 years ago this week, the blog started. The blog experience has STRETCHED me in more ways than I can imagine. I’ve learned a lot of incredible things through my blog, and I’ve met some unbelievable people. 10 years is a start. I look forward to the years ahead as I continue to share life’s STRETCH marks and as I hopefully STRETCH you. Thanks for joining me on this journey.
2016 is nearly over. At this time of the year, I like to look back on the past, plan for the future, and enjoy the present. Here’s a look back at the top posts on Jon Stolpe Stretched in 2016:
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, they marked the occasion by setting up twelve stones as a reminder of the journey they had endured and as a reminder of their heritage.
Today, I write this post as a way of setting up a pile of stones to remind me of my journey and to mark a significant milestone on this journey.
I’m a numbers guy. I count things and people and other crazy things all the time. I even count blog posts.
When I started blogging over nine years ago, I didn’t have plans or of intentions of reaching this target. I simply planned to write one day at a time, and this remains my plan.
And yet, I think it’s important to stop to celebrate, reflect, and recognize this milestone in my own writing “career.”
When I graduated from high school, I specifically pursued a career in engineering to get me away from writing. I did okay in high school English class, but it was a lot of work. Math and science always came easier for me. When I arrived at Grove City College, I soon learned that my high school English was necessary and important to help me survive and thrive in the collegiate environment.
When I graduated from college and pursued an engineering job, I figured my writing was finally behind me. I was wrong. I used my writing skills on a daily basis to write letters, memos, and emails to customers, clients, and coworkers. I wrote technical documents on a regular basis to describe my engineering documents.
I couldn’t get away from writing.
And then, my friend introduced me to the blogging world. And something changed.
I developed a new-found love for writing. I enjoy the discipline of writing on a regular basis. I appreciate the effort required to articulate the “stretchy” thoughts running around in my head. And I like the process of putting something together for others to read.
Writing has provided an amazing opportunity for me to tap into the creative side of my brain. And it has pushed me to new heights and helped to forge new friendships.
2,000 blog posts is a milestone, but it’s just a start.
I have more to say. I have more to write.
Here’s to the next 2,000 blog posts.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting. And thanks for being part of the Stretched Community.
9 years ago yesterday, I published the very first post on my blog. In a couple of weeks, I will be pressing ‘Publish’ on my 2,000th blog post.
It all started when my friend, Frank, encouraged me and challenged me to start a blog.
When I started, I’m quite sure I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
Blogging has been an incredible discipline in my life. I’ve explored many areas of my thoughts on the “pages” of my blog. I’ve stretched out loud, and I’ve challenged others to stretch on a variety of topics including: marriage, family, parenting, faith, leadership, and missions.
Blogging has also been the springboard for my connection with people from around the world. I’ve connected with people in Australia, Germany, England, and Canada (and many other countries). I’ve connected with people in California, Texas, Georgia, Washington, and Hawaii. I’ve even met people around my own community as a result of my blog.
Blogging has forced me to learn about SEO, affiliate marketing, guest posting, self-publishing, and list building. And it’s made me realize how little I really know.
In many respects, I feel like I’m just getting started. I have more ideas to share. I have more stretching to do. And I have more to learn.
What will the next 9 years bring? I sometimes wonder. I’m hoping to write and publish more books. I’m hoping to find a way to couple my love for writing and stretching others to support my love for building houses in Guatemala for widows. I’m hoping to start a mastermind group for dads and husbands as a result of my blog. I’m hoping to build a legacy for my family, my friends, and my followers. And I’m hoping to keep stretching.
How does somebody blog for 9 years? I sometimes get this question. It starts with one idea – one blog post – at a time. It starts with a willingness to be transparent and vulnerable and an understanding that everyone won’t like what you have to say. It starts with an acceptance of imperfection. And it starts with a decision to repeat it all again the next day or the next post.
I’m so glad I started down this journey 9 years ago, and I can’t wait to post again tomorrow!
When you’re in the day-to-day grind, it just seems like it’s another step along the way. But I find joy in the actual process, the journey, the work. It’s not the end. It’s not the end event.
Cal Ripken, Jr.
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).
I’ll have some new posts this week.
Hope you are doing well!
I’ve been contemplating doing the blog thing for some time. You might be wondering where the “Stretched” thing comes from. For starters, when I was in high school at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, I was short – 5’6″ to start my junior year. Since then, I’ve grown to almost 6’6″. Many of my friends started calling me Stretch.
On a more recent basis, I often feel “stretched” by all the things going on around me – career, marriage, parenting, church, running, reading, friendships, extended family, relationship with God, etc. (in no particular order). My hope is that this blog will provide an opportunity to express some of my “stretch marks” and to possibly hear your thoughts as well.
So here we go….
Until the next posting….