The Importance Of Solid Friendships

The best kind of friends are the ones that jump in and help without asking any questions. They are the ones that will do anything for you and they add so much richness to your life. These are the people you would help move mountains and recommend to anyone.  If we want to surround ourselves with these types of rich relationships, we need to start looking at interactions with others not as opportunities for ourselves, but instead as moments to help and serve others.

Recently I got to experience this more fully as I was put in charge of helping put on the pre-service event for my churches Christmas Eve service. As I got to the church with a car full of goodies and treats, I was still unsure how me and the other lady helping with the pre-service were going to pull it off. We were told there would be a few volunteers that would be able to help, but what we didn’t know was how much they would crush it. As me and the other lady unloaded our cars, a few volunteers, some of the guys I have become great friends with at church, showed up to help.

In an instant, tables were set, treats were out, cakes were cut, and everything was ready to roll as the first guests started to show up. Not only did these guys set up, but they manned the tables, greeted guests, and made it one epic start to a great service. They offered so much helpful insights and made this Christmas Eve experience something for everyone to remember. They were a giant help and I couldn’t have asked for more. In fact, I honestly asked for none of it but they went above and beyond with helping.

Knowing these guys for a couple years now, this was not out of the ordinary for them. They are constantly serving at the church and freely give their time to help those around them. I am honored to call them friends and they encourage me to be the best version of myself. They are the friends that I am glad are surrounding me for all seasons of life. These are the friends we all need in our life.

Do you have these friends in your life? Better yet, are you this type of friend for someone else?


Love Does: How A Book Has Altered My Life

A few months back I read Love Does by Bob Goff, and I have never wrestled with a book so much in all my life.  It has been months since I have finished it, but it has so permanently shifted my thinking that everything I do seems to pass through a new filter that the book created. The filter that was created is one where I am truly seeing others as worthwhile folks, as a a son or daughter of someone, and that they have value regardless of position, title, or circumstance.

I recently experienced this filter kicking in when I went to the post office.  It was early morning and as I parked outside, I noticed there was a man sleeping in the lobby trying to stay warm from the frigid outdoors.  When I went inside to drop off my mail, he woke up and started mumbling something and I just walked out, got in my car and left.  As I was leaving, I was reminded of the truth that this man is important, regardless of his looks or circumstance.  I pulled back into the parking lot, went back inside and started a small conversation.  What I did wasn’t anything exceptional. I didn’t give him money or offer to buy a meal, but I asked him his name, wished him luck and I went on my way to work.

This interaction didn’t change his life and he probably forgot about me as soon as I stepped outside the doors.  This interaction wasn’t for him though, it was for me.  It was so that I could take one small step in this new direction and have this new way of thinking would further take root.

Over this next week, what if we all looked at those around us as someones son or daughter and realized that they have value regardless of position, title, or circumstance?  How different would our lives and the world around us look if we used this filter and actually started loving those around us?


Be Available: Don’t Miss The Small Moments To Make An Impact

Every time my son gets another year older I enjoy looking back over our relationship and doing a self evaluation.  Typically, as I look back over the year, I have no regrets and I’m encouraged by everything.  Sadly, this happens to be one of the years that I could have done some things a little different.

As insane as this year has been for me professionally, I have managed to spend a large quantity of time with my son and have shared many adventures with him at the in-laws cabin.  Even with all of this time spent with Sam, I realize that there are moments, moments of impact, that I still don’t do a very good job of making myself available to him.  This became abundantly clear one weekend when we were washing cars together and I was in full get stuff done mode.  While I was trying to quickly finish up the last car,  Sam had taken out his old water pistol and started to try and fill it up.  After about ten minutes of him trying to fill it up, spraying me with chilly water, and asking for help about every minute, I had had enough.  I snapped and asked him to stop trying to fill up his water pistol and said that I would help in just a minute.  In response, Sam threw down the hose, dropped the pistol and quickly scooted inside.   

After I finished washing the car I went inside to get Sam so that I could help him fill up his water pistol.  Sadly, he no longer wanted to be outside with daddy, and he didn’t want my help with the pistol.  As I was left to go back outside by myself, I realized that I had missed a simple opportunity to connect and have fun with my son.  

It’s in the simple moments like these when we need to pause what we are doing, and focus on what is happening right in front of us.  I mean how stupid is it that I got frustrated because I got squirted with chilly water as I was washing a car?  What an idiot.  

As I look back over the past year I have seen hundreds of small opportunities like this with my family, and others, where I have put what I am doing over them.  This will be the year that I start being more available and generous with my time.  This will be the year where I will lift my nose up from my work, and actually look into the eyes of those asking for help and trying to connect.  In fact, lets all make this the year that we start becoming more available to those around us, and seize the small moments to make an impact in others lives. 


Patience: A Party 30 Years In The Making

Impatience doesn’t care about gender, race, or age and it reeks havoc on individuals, companies, and relationships.  My wife and I have had countless conversations and even arguments because one of us, usually me, is being impatient.  
It wasn’t until recently that we came to a realization about the word patience and how it relates to our lives.  A few months back we, along with so many others from Lindsay’s old neighborhood, were invited to a party to celebrate the marriage of the brother of one of Lindsay’s best friends from childhood.  As the day arrived, we packed up the family and went on the five minute drive to the neighborhood where my wife grew up. The home where the party was held was perfection.  It had gorgeous hardwood floors throughout and each room was perfectly furnished.  There was beer, wine, snacks, and desserts set up throughout the house and a local BBQ company had catered the event.  The backyard was beautifully landscaped and had a relaxing water feature and a stunning lake view to cap it all off.
As I mingled with the other guests, every single conversation would always turn towards fond memories from years gone by.  The memories would usually include how my mother-in-law taught their kids piano and stories about Lindsay and her parents.  This party, in every aspect, was perfection.
As we packed up the kids and started the five minute trek home, we talked about how beautiful the house was, how unbelievable it was to have refreshments all over, and how great the conversations were.  That was the type of party I wanted to throw.  I wanted to have the perfectly manicured landscape, food and refreshments flowing from all corners of the house, and conversations of moments long gone by.  As our tires hit our driveway, a different thought popped into my head.  That party, as perfect as it was, took over 30 years to execute.  It may have been a day of actual planning and follow through, but it took over 30 years for the whole thing to come together.
When the house was first purchased it wasn’t fully furnished with updated features throughout.  It took years to fully furnish, make updates and additions, to get the perfectly manicured landscape with that calming water feature. The conversations weren’t trivial because everyone had the base of 20 plus years of background.  About the only thing that didn’t take 30 years was the food and refreshments, but even having the ability to purchase them without blinking an eye takes years of putting money away so that you can have celebrations like these and not have to focus on the cost. 
In the weeks that have passed since attending this party, I have come to realize how I need to have the patience to see the small steps through.  When we look at the small steps taken over time, we get to see a big improvement. But in the midst of the shuffle, they don’t seem to matter at all. We all need to learn to deploy patience because it’s what helps give us perspective to see the impact we are making, and the legacy we are leaving.

Authentic Manhood

The First Thing High School Wrestling Taught Me:

popewrestlinglogoFor my entire high school career, 2001 – 2005, I was a wrestler.  Yes, I realize that was over a decade ago and even thinking about that is still wild to me, but the lessons I learned back then are still impacting me today.
In 2001 my friend and I joined the wrestling team because we wanted to do something after school and wrestling sounded fun.  Not sure how we thought sweating and grappling with other hot sweaty men sounded like a good time, but we signed up for the team.  A week or two later my friend ends up quitting, and honestly I am surprised that I didn’t do that as well since I had already tried the sport out in middle school and I hated it. I had mild success the first year, if I can really even call it that, and as the first season came to a close, I thought I would hang up my wrestling shoes and and never return.
My coach, Jim Haskin, had a different thought running through his mind.  As I came up to him and told him my thoughts on quitting, he took me for a lap around the halls of the school and said something that has forever stuck with me.  “Stippich,  this choice is the start of the rest of your life.  This choice of quitting or staying with the team will set you up for how you view commitment the rest of your life.  This will set up your future relationships, and even the type of commitment you hold in marriage.”  He told me to think about it over the weekend, and let him know on Monday what I decided.
I wrestled with what he said all weekend, pun intended.  It consumed my thoughts, and even though I was on a church retreat that weekend, all I could think about was commitment, and how it all started with small decisions like the one I was having to make.  Come Monday, I let coach know that I would stay with the team.  That lesson on sticking with your commitments, no matter what, has shaped how I view my word and the bond it creates when I agree to do something.  I don’t go half way on anything.  I am all-in and fully committed to what I say I will do. 
I never thought high school wrestling and what I would learn through that sport could be so integral to my life.  I am grateful Jim Haskin pushed me to stick with my commitments, because it has forever changed my life.  

I am dead center just behind the first row.  My big bobblehead is blocking my team mate. Wow… What a picture.