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“I think if someone gets kicked in the face it is their fault – they watched the foot come towards their face.”

– Kevin Hart

We have a wonderful 13-year-old black Labrador retriever named Iso.  Today, he bit me, and it was all my fault.

Let me explain before you go calling for his disposal.

Iso celebrated New Year’s by getting sick.  Sunday, I woke up to a mess in the mud room.  Thankfully, it could easily be cleaned up.  Unfortunately, this was repeated several times Sunday and Monday while our family was either sleeping or away from the house unable to let him outside to take care of himself.

Finally on Monday morning, Leanne called the veterinarian who provided us with a week’s worth of two oral medications and some sort of canine probiotic for his food.  In order to give Iso his oral medication, I have to physically open his jaw, insert the pills down his throat, and quickly close his mouth to make sure the pills go down.

This morning while I was giving him his medication, Iso clamped down on my left thumb while I was giving him his medication.  I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt me.  (If you’ve ever met Iso, you know he wouldn’t hurt anyone.)  He just didn’t like the presence of my hand down his throat.

I quickly realized he had punctured my skin in two places, so I washed up the wound, put on a couple of band-aids, and headed out the door to work.

The who incident made me think of this video that went viral a few years ago.

Charlie’s brother put his own finger in his brother’s mouth and then wondered why Charlie bit his finger.

We live in a culture of blame – of passing the buck.  We find ourselves in a troubling situation, and we look for someone besides ourselves to take responsibility for the problems we face.

Iso bit my finger, because I had my hand in his mouth.  It was all my fault.

As a husband and a father, it’s time for us to take responsibility for our failures.  Believe me, I fail all the time.  It’s time to put an end to passing the buck to our spouses, our children, our pets, and others around us.

It’s time to recognize our failings and find ways to overcome them in the future by taking responsibility for our actions, by learning, and by making the necessary changes in our lives.

The next time I give Iso his medication, I’ll find another way to make sure I don’t leave my hands in his mouth.

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

– Henry Ford

Do you struggle with personal responsibility?  Share your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.

Time to Man Up

December 19, 2016 — Leave a comment

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“A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.”

– Frank Abagnale

As men, we chase so many pursuits.  We want to climb the ladder at work as fast as possible.  We want to be the best athlete we can be.  We want to have the best things – the nicest car, the biggest house, the greenest lawn.  We over-involve ourselves in a variety of hobbies.  And we put so much attention on our favorite sports teams.

I’m not saying that any of these things are wrong, but I think our focus is often misguided.

If you were to create a list of your priorities and the way you spend your time, where would your wife and kids fit into the list?

If your marriage and your kids aren’t near the top of your list, it’s time for you reconsider your schedule and your priorities.

Last week, I announced the new Stretched Men Group website (www.stretchedmengroup.com), and I opened up sign-ups for first three-month mastermind in 2017.  For more information about the group, click here.

The Stretched Men Group is designed to help you understand your current list of priorities, to help you establish your desired list of priorities, and to help you create action steps required to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

The Stretched Men Group is also designed to help you find the accountability you need to make sure your good intentions become a reality.

Your wife and kids need this from you!

It’s time to man up!

If you are curious and want to learn more, I’d love to talk with you.  Sign up below, so we can set up a time to talk.

 

Men – It’s Not Too Late!

December 12, 2016 — 2 Comments

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“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

– George Eliot

Do you feel as though life is rushing by and your opportunities for influence are slipping away?

Does it seems like your parenting journey, your marriage, and your life is a blur as the calendar pages change at rapid pace?

Do you think it’s too late to be the dad, the husband, the leader, or the man you want to be?

You are not alone!

“THE MASS OF MEN LEAD LIVES OF QUIET DESPERATION”

– Henry David Thoreau

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of the Stretched Men Group and the new website that goes with this paid mastermind.

www.stretchedmengroup.com

The Stretched Men Group is designed to help you take the next step in your journey to becoming the man you were meant to be.  Through valuable teaching, customized coaching, and essential conversation with other men, you will be challenged and held accountable to take the next step as you go through the next three months with the men in this group and me.

For more information on the Stretched Men Group, click here.

Also, if you know a man who needs to take the next step, I’d love to connect with him.  Let him know about the group and send him to the site, so he can sign up.

I’m accepting new sign-ups for a group launching in January until December 31, 2016.  Don’t wait.  Sign up TODAY!

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Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.

Amy Grant

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year.  To read more about the tradition, click here.

This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.  (Monday, I shared the first thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.  Tuesday, I shared the second thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.  And yesterday, I shared the third thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.)

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Today, I’m thankful for my kids.  They have kept me busy and proud this year.

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I’m thankful for Hannah, our oldest.  She kept us busy this year graduating from high school and starting college.  We’re excited to have her home this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

And I’m thankful for Isaac.  He has also had a year of milestones – his first job, driving, and working on his music and scouting programs.

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Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.  Psalm 127:3-5

Who are you thankful for this year?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

IT'S TIME TO ASK FOR HELP

I don’t like asking for help.

I came back from Guatemala almost six weeks ago with a cough I picked up at the end of our trip.  A week after our trip, I figured the cough would go away as I began to feel better.  Unfortunately, my cough has persisted.

Finally, I made a visit to the doctor’s office on Monday evening.  The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and an over-the-counter cough medication.  Next week, I’ll return to the doctor’s office for a follow-up checkup to make sure the cough goes away.

I don’t go to the doctor’s office very often.  Thankfully, I’m generally very healthy.  But honestly, I tend to try to beat whatever illness I’m fighting with rest, time, and home remedies.

In this case, it was time to get some help.

Men often do a terrible job when it comes to asking for help.  We don’t like to ask for directions, and we typically don’t want to appear weak by asking for anyone’s help.

We’ll drive around lost for an hour if it means we don’t have to stop to ask for directions.

Does this sound like you?

Do you struggle to ask for help?

It’s great to be independent, but we need people in our lives who will push us forward, who will give us a hand when we need help, and who will hold us accountable to take action on things we’ve been avoiding.

Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Next week, I’m launching the Stretch Man Mastermind.  This is an opportunity to get the help you need.

The idea for a mastermind group was developed in part based on a conversations I’ve had with men who have approached me about mentoring them.

“No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.”
Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

This is humbling – to say the least.  It’s also a bit overwhelming.  (How do I find time to meet with these guys who want my attention?)

After a lot of prayer, thought, and conversations with other men and my family, I’ve decided to launch a three-month, on-line paid mastermind group for men starting next week.

The group is made of men who want to intentionally “stretch” their marriages, their parenting, and their manhood.  The group is meeting on-line (via Zoom) every other week.  After our initial kick-off/get-to-know you meeting, the bi-weekly meetings will consist of a 15-20 minute teaching time where I will share with the group.  After that, we will rotate a hot seat from week to week.  On the hot seat, one guy will bring up an issue or question in which he needs help, and the group will discus the issue/question/topic with the purpose of helping each man STRETCH.  (The hot seat time will typically last 30-45 minutes each week.)

The group will have a private Facebook group for communication in-between our bi-weekly meetings.

And I will be reaching out to each man in the group two or three times throughout the session for one-on-one coaching/conversation and for feedback.

I’m looking forward to the community and accountability that will come out of this group.

Most men are missing this kind of man-to-man interaction in their lives.  And I believe this mastermind will raise the bar for each of the men in the group.  I still have a couple of open spots in the group, and I’d love to fill them before next week.

Is it time for you to ask for help?

If this sounds like something you need in your life or if you simply want to learn more, please contact me so we can schedule a phone conversation.  Leave a comment below or fill out the form below.  Let’s connect.  I’d love to talk with you!

(Please pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested in the Stretch Man Mastermind.  Thanks!)

SENDING YOUR CHILD TO COLLEGE-1

Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.

Garrison Keillor

IMG_5087One week from yesterday, we will be delivering Hannah, our oldest child, to Messiah College for the start of cross-country season and her freshman year.

Hannah will be spending this week working, finalizing her packing, and saying her goodbyes to her friends.  Hopefully, she’ll have a few minutes for her family.

Hannah is ready to go.  And as hard as it will be for Leanne and me, I think we will be ready as well.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t want to rush things.  We will miss Hannah dearly and we will look forward to seeing her whenever possible, but we would fail as parents if we didn’t launch her onto this next stage of her life.

As parents, we do our best to point our children at the right target.  Like an archer holds an arrow on the bowstring keeping his sights on the target, we’ve kept Hannah on the bowstring of our family.  We’ve done our best to point her to the right target – spiritually, financially, socially, and in other areas of life.

But an arrow is not meant to stay on the bowstring forever.  An arrow is meant to fly towards the target and ultimately to hit the target, and this only happens when the archer releases the arrow from his grip.  And our children aren’t meant to stay on our “bowstring.”  They are meant to fly toward the target and to find their way.  This week represents a major step in our parenting journey.  Next Sunday, we will release Hannah to fly.  We pray that she flies straight and free of obstacles, and we trust that our parenting efforts – our intentional efforts to point her to the right target – will pay off for Hannah and her future.

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was a little sad to be at this point in our parenting journey.  But my sadness is overshadowed by my happiness, joy, and excitement for Hannah.  I’m excited for what this means for our family in the coming years.  Leanne and I will get to spend some more focused time with our son, Isaac, as he heads into a big year.  I’m also looking forward to what this means in our marriage as we draw closer to the “empty nest” stage of our life.

Parenting takes us on all kinds of fun, interesting, and crazy adventures.  It’s important to stop and enjoy the moments and milestones along the way.  And it’s important to be intentional along the way.  The time with our kids goes by far more quickly than anyone can describe.  Make the most of the moments with your kids.  Take time each day to show them your love.  And do your best to point them at the right target.

If you want to connect with other fathers who want to be intentional in their parenting, their marriage, and their manhood, consider joining my new mastermind group just for men.  The Stretch Man Mastermind is all about creating a community of men who want to hit the right target.  If this sounds interesting to you, I’d love to talk.  Fill out the simple form below, and I’ll get back to you.  Spots are filling up quickly in my September – November group.  Don’t miss out!

INTRODUCING THE STRETCH MAN MASTERMIND GROUP

You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional.

Mark Udall

Life is way too short to let it pass you by without a plan and without a support team.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life only to realize I had wasted my time here on earth.

I want to be intentional.  And I want to know I gave it my all.

Being a man – and specifically being a father and a husband – can be pretty challenging.  We have careers, family, friends, hobbies, and finances to balance.

I believe many men want to have deeper, more fulfilled lives, but they don’t know where to start.  Guys wander around through life afraid to ask for directions, and they miss out on living their best life ever.

Over the past several months, I’ve had multiple guys approach me in search of a mentor or a guide.  While I’m not a perfect parent or perfect spouse, they have seen something in my family and in me that makes them want to learn more.

These conversations are humbling, and I want to help.

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of the Stretch Man Mastermind Group.  (To learn more about the mastermind group concept, click here.)

What is the Stretch Man Mastermind Group?

The Stretch Man Mastermind Group is a group of men committed to meeting together for three months.  The group will meet every other week in September, October, and November.  The meetings will be held over video conferencing software, so an internet connection, a webcam, and a decent microphone will be important.

Meetings will last 60-90 minutes.

Most meetings will start with a 20 minutes teaching time where I will share on a topic designed to help guys stretch themselves.  These topics will focus on helping us become better fathers, better husbands, and better men.  Then we will have a rotating “hot seat”.  Each meeting, we will focus on a challenge or question brought to the group by one of the mastermind members.  The “hot seat” will rotate from meeting to meeting, so everyone has the opportunity to be on the “hot seat” and to focus on their challenge/question.

The first meeting will provide an opportunity for the group to get to know each other.  And we’ll jump into our normal format for the second meeting.

In between the bi-weekly meetings, the group will correspond with each other in the group’s private Facebook group.

During this inaugural three months, I will also offer two one-on-one calls with each participant to tackle your additional questions and challenges.

This paid mastermind is designed to provide the support, community and accountability you need to intentionally STRETCH your parenting, marriage, and manhood to the next level.

Spots in the Stretch Man Mastermind Group are filling up fast, and I don’t want you to miss out.

If this excites you or you want to learn more, connect with me in the comments or by leaving your information below:


CELEBRATING PARENTING MILESTONES

Parenting takes you down all kinds of roads.

Some of the roads are bumpy.  Some of the roads are smooth.

Sometimes is feels like you are moving along the road like a turtle – slow and steady.  Sometimes it feels like you are moving along on cruise control.  And sometimes it feels like you are navigating hairpin turns at breakneck speeds.

For me, it feels like the pace of my parenting journey is moving along at the speed of sound (that’s really fast for those of you wondering).

Sometimes it’s healthy to stop and reflect on what is actually happening.  That’s what this post is all about.  It’s a chance for me to stop (although it may be a brief stop), to reflect, and to rejoice in what God is doing in the lives of my children.

Family 2016 Mothers Day

Let’s start with my son.

Isaac Permit Test

Isaac just turned 16 last week.  He is turning into a man right before my eyes.  He is almost as tall as I am.  In fact, I would suspect I will no longer be the tallest person in the family by the end of the summer.

Isaac successfully passed the Pennsylvania Permit Test, and he is now eligible to drive under the instruction of a licensed driver.  I’ve been out with him twice so far.  Our initial “outings” have been limited to a couple of empty parking lots, but we will quickly be graduating to roads with other cars.  He’s doing a great job, and I’m excited for this step in his journey.

Isaac has been working outside of school to raise he level of his academics – specifically his reading.  I have been amazed to see the level of effort he is putting into this pursuit, and I can see that it is paying off.  Recently, he created a letter to send to a few music directors and teachers requesting some feedback to help him clarify his musical focus for the next few years.  Before he sent out the first letter, he let Leanne and me read it.  We were blown away by Isaac’s ability to clearly articulate his thoughts and questions into this letter.  Isaac is growing up.

At the end of April, Isaac had his last piano recital with the teacher he has had since he started playing the piano at age four or five.  His teacher is releasing him to pursue a higher level teacher.  She has taken him as far as she can, and she wants him to keep stretching.  Last week, he had his last lesson with her, and he will begin lessons with a new instructor this week.  I think we were all a little sad to say goodbye to Mrs. Clemmens, but we were honored and humbled by her wisdom in sending him on to an instructor who can advance him further.

Finally, Isaac is diligently working on his Eagle Scout project.  He is designing and building a disc golf course at our church.  At first, this sound easy.  If you think it’s easy, you would be wrong.  He has to fully document his proposal.  He has to get buy-in from several people in and out of scouts.  He has to raise funds to pay for the materials required to build the course.  And he has to coordinate manpower to actually build the course.  He is making steady progress, and I’m excited to watch him complete this project.  I know he his learning as a result of this experience.

Hannah Messiah

My daughter is keeping it interesting for Leanne and me.

Hannah PromHannah is on track to graduate from high school in June.  Last week, she completed her last official day of classroom time, and she moves into a three-week period of career study.  She will be working alongside a Spanish teacher at one of the area elementary schools.  I’m sure this will give her fantastic opportunities to see what it might be like to be a Spanish teacher.

Hannah had her last high school track meet this weekend.  She finished 8th in the 3200m and 3rd in the 4 x 800m relay at the conference championship meet.  Her team just missed winning the conference championship by a few points.  Running has brought Hannah a lot of opportunity to build her confidence, her running ability, and her leadership.  In addition, she has met some fantastic friends as a result her high school running career.  She is looking forward to running at the collegiate level.

Hannah finished up the academic side of her high school career by taking six AP (Advanced Placement) tests in a week.  Leanne and I are amazed by the intelligence and drive that comes out of our oldest child.  She is ready for college.  She’ll be attending Messiah College in the fall where she’ll be a Spanish Education major enrolled in the school’s Honors College.

Hannah TrackHannah’s moving into a period of time in which we celebrate the past and look ahead to the future.  She has received a few scholarships already, and we’re looking forward to celebrating the end of her high school career at several picnics and parties over the next few weeks.  It’s just hard to believe I have a child old enough to graduate from high school.  It seems like yesterday, Leanne and I were bringing Hannah home from the hospital for the first time.  We are proud of who she has become.

If you’re a parent of young children, don’t blink.  Don’t wish time would move faster.  Don’t rush through life to get to the next stage.  Life moves along fast enough by itself.  Learn to schedule margin into the busyness of life.  Learn to enjoy each moment.  Learn to celebrate along the way.  Learn to be content with the here and now.  Tomorrow will come sooner than you think.

Enjoy the journey!

What parenting milestones are you celebrating now?