Tag Archives for " parenting "

Passing The Torch

“I don’t need a successor, only willing hands to accept the torch for a new generation.” Billy Graham

For the longest time, I felt like the young guy waiting in the wings for the chance to lead, the chance to be the “smart one”, the chance to be the champion.

I’m not saying I’m old by any stretch of the means. In fact, I still feel quite young in many respects; however, I’m beginning to realize that I am the one who is now in the leadership role. I’m the one who is somehow recognized as the “smart one” who must weigh in on all bigger decisions. I’m the champion for many who are now in my care.

In other words, the torch has definitely been passed to me. It’s my turn to run the race. It’s my turn to carry the burden. It’s my turn to bridge the gap between my predecessors and my successors.

This opportunity to carry the torch comes with excitement and trepidation, confidence and fear, joy and a fair amount of stress.

I want to do my best while I’m running my leg of this relay race of life. I want to move ahead in a way that leaves my team, my family, my followers in a much better place than before I took the torch.

This week, I had the blessing of driving out to Grove City College to deposit my son, Isaac, for his second year. He drove his own car out this year. This will make it easier for him to come home at break time and will give him a little more freedom to get away from campus when necessary.

For much of our drive from eastern Pennsylvania to western Pennsylvania, I took the lead. My car set the pace. I decided the direction. With two hours to go on our trip, Isaac took the lead. He navigated our path and set the speed for much of the remainder of our trip.

As Isaac’s car passed my car, I realized I was passing the torch to him. I was once a student at Grove City College. Now, my son is the one making the memories and leaving his mark on this beautiful campus. Over the past two years, I have begun to see places where my children are outpacing me. They are beginning to take the torch, and they are carrying it forward for their leg of the race.

As parents, we have the distinct honor and responsibility of passing the torch to our children. We set the pace for much of their early years. We would be doing a disservice to our children and to the future if we didn’t look for opportunities to pass the torch we have carried so long.

Passing the torch is an important aspect of life. I’m currently carrying a torch at my job, but I’m constantly looking for those who will take the torch from me and run the next leg of the race.

Who passed you the torch? Who will take the torch from you? What are you doing to prepare for the torch exchange?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Stretched Men Group – Fall 2018 Mastermind – Forming NOW

The next semester of the Stretched Men Group is getting ready to start, and men are getting ready to STRETCH their marriages, their parenting, their careers, their faith, and their lives.

You don’t want to miss the opportunity to be part of the Stretched Men Group!

The Stretched Men Group provides a safe, transforming environment to help men like you take steps forward.  Here are some of the ways the group has helped other men:

One man started praying for his ex-wife.

One man started taking his family back to church.

One man changed jobs.

One man had a tough conversation with his wife that transformed his relationship.

One man had a difficult conversation with his co-worker that led to a job change.

One man tackled a pornography addiction.

One man started reading his Bible on a daily basis.

One man reached out to his estranged sons.

One man took his marriage and sex-life to a whole new level.

If you’re looking to STRETCH and experience this kind of change in your life, you should join the next semester of the Stretched Men Group.  For more information, go to www.stretchedmengroup.com.  Once you are there, you can request a FREE, no pressure informational call with me to see if the Stretched Men Group is right for you.

Don’t wait too long, the spots will fill up fast.

What are you waiting for?  It’s time to STRETCH now!

Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
Napoleon Hill

6 Things You Need to Do Today to Prepare for the Empty Nest

Later today, I’ll be dropping my daughter off for the start of her junior year of college, and my wife and I will be entering the empty nest.  (Last week, we dropped our son off for his freshman year of college.)  While I’m sad to say goodbye to my kids knowing their return home will never quite be the same, I’m extremely excited by this next step in our journey together.

Many people talk about the empty nest with negativity.  People imply that life is almost over when the kids leave the house.  Or people wonder out loud about how spouses will handle each other without the barrier and distraction of children.

The empty nest doesn’t have to be a scary thing.  In fact, there are things you can do today to better prepare yourself for the empty nest.

6 Things You Need to Do Today to Prepare for the Empty Nest

  1. Date your spouse while your kids are under your roof.  Many parents fall into the trap of making their parenting more important than their marriage.  This is a big mistake.  When we get married, we commit – we promise – to live life together for the rest of our lives.  When your kids leave the house (as they should at some point), you don’t want to find yourself living with a stranger.  Continue to get to know your wife.  Continue to have fun together.  Continue to grow closer.  Leanne and I have a weekly date night.  This has been a great way to help prepare us for the empty nest.
  2. Parent your children with purpose.  Too many parents make the mistake of trying to be their child’s best friend instead of people their mom or dad.  Also, many parents miss out on the importance of preparing their kids to leave the nest.  Talking to your kids about life after high school or college is important.  Kids need to understand the expectations you have for them as they get older.  Talking about these expectations, modeling expected behaviors, and establishing appropriate boundaries are all critical parts of parenting with purpose and of preparing for the empty nest.  Leanne and I have intentionally approached our parenting aiming our kids at the target and launching them well-equipped to leave the nest and contribute to this world.
  3. Invest in your marriage.  Beyond dating your spouse, you need to make regular investments in your marriage.  Find a mentor couple or two who are ahead of you in their married lives and take time to learn from them.  Spend money and take time to get away on a regular basis to connect with each other, to discuss goals, and to assess progress.  Go to a marriage retreat or conference (ie. Family Life Weekend to Remember) to learn from marriage experts.  Sign up in a marriage class like Dynamic Marriage (Leanne and I are getting ready to lead our next Dynamic Marriage class, and spots are still available).  Leanne and I have done a lot of things to invest in our marriage, and we will continue to do these things as we enter the empty nest.  Our marriage is worth it!
  4. Invest in yourself.  I’m a father, and I’m a husband.  I’m also me.  Our identities are complex.  While you will always be a father if you have kids, that part of your identity will change as the kids leave the nest.  It’s important to learn and grow (to STRETCH) as an individual.  I’m doing this through reading, through podcasts, and through mastermind groups.  In a few weeks, I’ll be launching the next semester of the Stretched Men Group – a mastermind group for men.  If you are a man, consider signing up.  This is a great way to invest in yourself and to help you prepare for the empty nest.
  5. Plan ahead.  Don’t get to the empty nest without plans for the future.  Leanne and I have been making plans for doing things together to have fun, to contribute to our church and community, and to position ourselves for further steps in our married lives.  We’ve created a “Dream Board” to document some of our bigger goals for the future.  If you want to prepare for the empty nest, plan ahead for what you will do once the kids leave the nest.
  6. Pray.  Don’t underestimate the importance of praying together about the future.  Pray for your kids.  Pray for their future spouses.  Pray for your spouse.  Pray for your future together.  God wants to be part of your marriage.  Pray that God would prepare you for the empty nest.

When you take these steps, you too can enter the empty nest with enthusiasm, hope, and excitement.  Don’t wait for the kids to say goodbye, take action today to get ready for the empty nest!

What action do you need to take to prepare for the empty nest?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

In Response to Parkland

Disturb us enough to take action and demand action.
Comfort us to be able to move forward despite hardship.
Inspire us to seek unity in times that divide us.
Show us how to lend a helping hand to those who need a lift.
Strengthen us. We need it.

– My Facebook status update at 4:33AM on February 15, 2018

It’s been nearly two weeks since the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were gunned down by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

Since then, I’ve watched as my Facebook feed along with the news headlines have been jammed with viewpoints on either side of the gun control debate.  People want tougher gun laws.  Others want to put guns in the hands of educators to defend against possible shooters.  Some people are blaming politicians who take money from the NRA who seem resistant to toughen up on gun laws.  Others are pointing fingers at the FBI who failed to respond to tips that Nikolas Cruz may be dangerous.  And some would agree there’s plenty of blame to go around.

I certainly don’t have all the answers.  A week and a half later, my Facebook status is still my prayer and my struggle.

For the record, I don’t own any guns (unless you count my caulk gun, my staple gun, my wife’s hot glue gun, and a few squirt guns).  I’ve only shot a real gun twice (I went clay pigeon shooting on a men’s retreat at my old church, and I shot a pistol once behind my in-laws hunting cabin).  You may not like me for this, but I also once shot a chipmunk with a BB gun.  Afterwards, I felt completely awful.  I wasn’t hunting for food.  I was shooting for entertainment.  20+ years later, I still regret this pointless event.

I don’t understand the need for civilians to have large capacity automatic weapons.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  (Now, I probably angered my gun collecting friends.)  So, I’m okay with tougher gun laws limiting the types of weapons that can be purchased/owned and requiring background checks and waiting periods.

But I honestly don’t think tougher gun laws are the one and only answer.  (And now, my friends who are leaning hard on tougher gun laws are probably upset with me.)

I also read about people who believe tighter security in schools is necessary to prevent or limit the damage from school shooters.  Tighter security may unfortunately be required in this day and age, but I would never suggest putting guns in the hands of our teachers.  Who says teachers won’t flip out and use their gun or that students might overpower a gun-toting teacher?

(I hate the fact that our kids and teachers have to be afraid and prepared for this kind of violence in their schools which should be the safest places in the world.  My wife is teaching in a public school, and it’s not exactly “fun” for her to go through the training now required of teachers so they are prepared to face school shooters.)

As I research the shooters who have committed these school shootings over the past 20+ years, I read stories of individuals who were lonely, outcast, bullied, misunderstood, and ill.  Many shooters suffer from depression, anger, and rage.  And some of the shooters were missing a key parent relationship.  In many of the stories, the shooters expressed a desire to be heard.

“When does it turn to where the student gets to a point where they are actually going to commit violence?” Gomez said. “It’s almost like a seed that gets planted into the individual, and unless somebody is there to intervene, to conduct some type of informal intervention over the course of that person’s life, whether it’s a parent or teacher or coach, that kid continues to move towards what could ultimately be an act of violence.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/dissecting-distinctive-profile-school-shooters-trail/story?id=53197511

People aren’t listening until it’s too late.

People aren’t intervening.

If we really want to make a difference, we must learn to listen to those who are different, to those on the fringes, to those who are hurting, to those who are broken.  We must learn to speak up, and we must learn to intervene when necessary.

Each of us bears a responsibility to listen, to speak up, and to intervene.

But this responsibility is especially greatest at home.

Too many homes are broken.  One or both parents are absent – physically and/or emotionally.  Too many parents are trying to be their kids best friend instead of their parent.  And too many parents think their kids are perfect.  We feed into the entitlement culture by giving our kids access to way more things than they should ever see or do, by failing to say “No!”, and by making sure they keep up with the “Joneses”.

If we want to change the world, we have to start at home.

Commit to work on your marriage and to make your marriage work.

Commit to be present for your children.

Commit to having those tough conversations with your family.

Commit to saying “No” when necessary.

Commit to knowing your family values and commit to holding yourself and your family members to these values.

Commit to listen.

Commit to speak up – firmly and lovingly.

Commit to intervene – even when it’s not easy.

Commit to get help when you can’t do it on your own.

Commit to get back up and do the right thing after you mess up.

Do we need to hold politicians accountable?  Yes.

Do we need to hold gun owners responsible?  Yes.

Do we need to hold teachers and educators accountable?  Yes.

Do we need to hold councilors, therapists, and doctors accountable?  Sure.

But it starts at home.  We must hold ourselves accountable to laying the foundation for our kids.

I don’t enter this conversation lightly.  In fact, I often stay away from controversial topics like this.  You may not agree with me on everything in this post.  I hope we can have a productive and civil dialogue instead of the “conversation” I see right now in the news and on social media.

Also, I don’t proclaim to know all the answers or to understand each and every situation.  I’m sure there are competent parents out there who are doing everything they possibly can to raise their kids best, and sometimes these very same parents’ lives are shattered when their kids commit unthinkable acts of violence.

I’m sorry if this is your case.

I don’t want to judge, but I’m pretty sure we can all do more.

We have to do more for our families, for our communities, and for this world.

And one more thing, our thoughts, our prayers, and our actions matter.  Don’t stop thinking about how we can make the world a better place.  Don’t stop praying for wisdom, for peace, for change.  And don’t stop taking intentional actions.


The Chickens and the Bees – Why You Need to Have That Uncomfortable Conversation with Your Child

Several years ago, I had the brilliant idea that our family should become chicken farmers.  We ordered baby chicks from a good friend, and I set out to build a chicken coop – actually a deluxe chicken palace.  Our chicken coup had two floors, a four-seater nesting box, and spectacular picture window.

When our baby chicks arrived via the U.S. Postal Service, our adventure began.  For the first several weeks, we kept the chickens in the shed under a heat lamp.  Over time, the small baby chicks grew feathers and became big enough to move to the chicken palace I had constructed earlier.

Our chicken raising experience brought us many amazing stories and delicious farm-fresh eggs.

When we were getting ready for the baby chicks to arrive,I had a couple of challenging conversations with my son, Isaac. Here’s how it went:

On my way to my saxophone lesson with both kids in the car on Saturday morning…
Isaac: “Dad, what happens if we crack an egg and there’s a chicken inside?”
Hannah: Snicker…
Me: “Well, we won’t have to worry about that, because we aren’t getting any roosters.”
Another pause.
Isaac: “What do roosters have to do with it?”
Hannah: Snicker, snicker…
A longer pause.
Me: “Well, you can’t have baby chickens without roosters.”
Isaac: “Oh…”
Me: “Maybe, we should talk about this later.”
That evening while I was washing the dishes, Isaac is hanging around me…
Me: “You remember that conversation we had this morning about the chickens and the roosters?”
Isaac: “Yes.”
Me: “Well, maybe we should talk about that some more.”
Brief pause.
Isaac: “I think that will be an uncomfortable conversation.”
Me: “No kidding.”
A few weeks later, Isaac and I were alone in the car on the way to the mall, and we had a chance to discuss the 30,000 foot view of the fact that roosters and chickens were needed to have baby chickens just like dads and moms were necessary to have babies. We didn’t get into all the details, but this laid the foundation for more conversations.
As I think about this topic, I’m extremely grateful for the model my own dad gave me for talking openly and frankly about an “Uncomfortable” topic.
As fathers, we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to talk with our kids about things that really matter in life.
If you are struggling when it comes to having the “uncomfortable” conversations with your children, remember these three things:
  1. Your kids will find out one way or the other.  Our kids are actually pretty smart.  They will find things out from friends, from the internet, or from other resources.
  2. Your kids deserve to hear the truth from someone they can trust – namely you.  You have a responsibility to talk with your kids and to teach them about life.  Too many parents shirk this responsibility.  They let their kids learn from others instead of from you.  You are both missing out when you rely on other sources.
  3. You don’t want your kids to get the wrong messages.  Let’s face it.  A lot of the sources outside of your house are simply unreliable.  Culture sends the wrong messages about sex, identity, and other things that really matter.

Have you been putting off an important conversation with your child?  Take time today to initiate that conversation.  If you are struggling with how to start, take time for yourself to plug into reliable resources and mentors to help you prepare for the conversations you should have with your kids.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass

How have you handled the “uncomfortable” conversations with your children?  How did your father handle these conversations with you?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

It’s All My Fault (A Lesson In Personal Responsibility)

“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


“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!


“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!


– 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.


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!

Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition – Thursday 2016


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.)


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


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.


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.

The Time To Ask For Help Is Now


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!)