How to Attract Others to Your Purpose with a Significance Story (by John C. Maxwell)

Most people want to live a success story, and that’s a good thing. Success can bring you money, accomplishment, power and invaluable experiences. But success still falls short. Success alone cannot bring lasting happiness or deep fulfillment. Success, by itself, does not inspire others to remember and share your story long after you are gone.

If you want success, and you want happiness, a legacy, and the certainty that you have made the world better for having lived, then what you want is more than a successful life; it is a life of significance.

What’s the secret to living a story of significance?

Living each day with intentionality.

When you live each day with intentionality, there’s almost no limit to what you can do. You can transform yourself, your family, your community, and your nation. When enough people do that, they can change the world.

When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters.

Intentional living is about living your best story.

Your story still has many blank pages. Write them in with a life well lived.

4 Ways to Start Creating Your Significance Story

If you want to make a difference and have a significance story to tell by the end of your life, I believe I can help. But first, you need to be willing to take an important step forward. And that comes from a change in mindset, from a willingness to start living your story by approaching your life differently.

1.  Put Yourself in the Story

No one stumbles upon significance.

We have to be intentional about making our lives matter. That calls for action—not excuses. Most people don’t know this, but it’s easier to go from failure to success than from excuses to success.

In a famous study by Victor and Mildred Goertzel published in a book titled Cradles of Eminence, the home backgrounds of three hundred highly successful people were investigated. These three hundred people had made it to the top. They were men and women who would be recognized as brilliant in their fields. The list included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, Clara Barton, Gandhi, Albert Einstein, and Sigmund Freud. The intensive investigation into their early home lives yielded some surprising findings:

  • Three-fourths of them as children were troubled by poverty, a broken home, or difficult parents who were rejecting, over-possessive, or domineering.
  • Seventy-four of the eighty-five writers of fiction or drama and sixteen of the twenty poets came from homes where, as children, they saw tense psychological drama played out by their parents.
  • Over one-fourth of the sample suffered physical handicaps such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs.


Adversity tried to knock these people out of their stories, but they wouldn’t have any of it. Why? They were highly intentional. They had a strong why—a purpose—which drew them forward even if the road wasn’t wide and smooth.

2.  Put Significance in Your Story

A well-lived story of significance is built when we focus on adding value to others and making a difference in their lives. When we live for significance, we are telling people around us that it is important to us. Almost everyone wants to live a life of meaning and significance, whether or not they express the desire.

To put significance in our stories, we must do things out of our comfort zone. And we must make changes that we may find difficult. We often avoid trying to make those changes. But know this: though not everything that we face can be changed, nothing can be changed until we face it.

Your story won’t be perfect. Many things will change. But your heart will sing. It will sing the song of significance. It will sing, “I am making a difference!” And that will give you satisfaction down to the soul level.

Put Your Strengths in Your Story

Recently I had an enlightening lunch with Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. “Jim,” I asked, “What is required to bring about positive life-change to a community?” I knew he had done a lot of research on the subject of transformational movements, and I was very interested to hear his answer.

“There are three questions you need to ask,” Jim replied. “They are:

Can you be the best in the world at what you do?

Are you passionate about what you are doing?

Do you have the resources to change your world?”

Since our conversation that day, I have spent a lot of time thinking about those questions. Here is what I discovered. The first question is about talent. You have skills and abilities that can help others. Can you be the best in the world using them? Maybe, maybe not. Can you be the best you in the world using them? Absolutely! You are unique, and have a unique chance to make a difference only you can make—if you’re willing to get into your story.

The second question is about heart. Significance begins in the heart when we desire to make a difference. We see a need. We feel a hurt. We want to help. We act on it. Passion is the soul of significance. It’s the fuel. It’s the core.

The third question is about tools. No doubt you already have many resources at your disposal. My desire is that my book Intentional Living will be another one. It will show you the way so that you can become highly intentional and live a life that matters according to your heart and values.

4.  Stop Trying and Start Doing

There is enormous magic in the tiny word do. When we tell ourselves, “I’ll do it,” we unleash tremendous power. That act forges in us a chain of personal responsibility that ups our game: a desire to excel plus a sense of duty plus complete aliveness plus total dedication to getting done what has to be done. That equals commitment.

An attitude of doing also helps us to become who we were meant to be. It is this doing attitude that often leads to the things we were meant to do. While trying is filled with good intentions, doing is the result of intentional living.

As you read this article, you may be thinking, I’m not sure if I’m ready to make a commitment to creating such a significance story. It’s an understandable reservation. But what if it is the one thing holding you back from a remarkable life?

Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, identifies this reluctance. He calls it resistance. He writes, “There is a force resisting the beautiful things in the world, and too many of us are giving in.”

Choosing to live each day with intentionality and purpose helps us break through that resisting force, and the world needs that.

It needs for us to live our stories and contribute to the greater story that’s happening around us.

What story will you create?

~ Adapted from John C. Maxwell’s new book Intentional Living

I am thrilled to be able to publish the above from my mentor, John C. Maxwell.  If you’d like to find out more about Intentional Living, click below to order the book and participate in a 30-Day Journey to Transformational Living.  

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All things new…

Katrina Volunteers

This has been a week of remembrance.  For most, those memories are of Hurricane Katrina.  For others, those memories are of Hurricane Isaac.  For some, those memories are of both life-changing storms.  Some suffered great physical and emotional loss during both events.  For my family, Katrina’s effects were minimal, at least in the physical sense.  There was no damage to our home.  We lost a refrigerator and its contents and were displaced for roughly three weeks.  I lost my job with a consulting firm, but received three months of my salary as “bench” pay while I sat simply waiting for a callback.  Those three months had no sooner ended and I was blessed to receive another job offer, but that unexpected “paid vacation” allowed me to help my parents and brothers and other family members and friends who had lost everything and were living in trailers while they were in the process of rebuilding.  I was able to start a website,, where we told the stories of the victims (vetted for legitimacy) and posted links to their wish lists with Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  This gave donors an opportunity to directly help families who were affected by the storm without any concern that a portion of their donations would be eaten up in organization fees.

Five years later, life was fresh and new again for most.  All of our friends and family members had started over and were thriving.  After helping my parents rebuild, we had purchased a gutted home in Braithwaite, Louisiana and were excited at the sweat equity we’d earned.  The likelihood of the area ever flooding again seemed minimal.  Then came the “Great Wall.”  With the 26-foot high Caernarvon Floodwall to the north and the 17-foot high federal levee to the south, Braithwaite became the bull’s eye for any strong storm surge.  Our home owner’s and flood insurance immediately shot up from a combined total of roughly $3,500 per year to a whopping $10-12,000 per year depending upon our deductible and our coverage.  We elected to remove our contents coverage and drastically raise our deductible to get our costs down to a barely affordable amount.  What could we do?  We had a mortgage and had to carry insurance, but we could barely afford to live.

Isaac Workers and MeTwo years after that, on August 29, 2012, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Isaac brought a beating to our small community and pushed fourteen feet of water into our beautiful home.  We will never underestimate the devastation and level of suffering those in our neighborhood and other affected areas endured.  Lives were lost, lives were saved, and lives were dramatically changed.  It was Katrina all over again for some.  For our family, what we salvaged from both floors of our home fit into the bed of one pick-up truck.  What we lost was stuff.  That’s it, just stuff.   We had learned a valuable lesson in January of the same year, when our son was burned over the majority of his body in a tragic accident and nearly died.  But at the time of Hurricane Isaac, he was still recuperating safely in the burn unit at a Baton Rouge hospital, and my husband and youngest son and I were safely waiting out the storm at my mother’s home.  We had been through so much during the previous eight months of P.J.’s recovery (read more under P.J.’s Journey), that this seemed like small potatoes (at least after the initial shock wore off).  Some felt it would be the nail in the coffin for us, but we took it for what it was… another new beginning.

IMG_0548We were incredibly blessed that those who had “been there, done that” with Katrina were quick to offer advice on everything from how to argue your claim with the insurance companies to where to go to get family photos restored.  They were filled with empathy and caring.  As random people handed us household items, gift cards, and checks, some of them reminded us that we had been there for them following Katrina.  People from all over the country offered their support.  We couldn’t have had more or wanted less.  I likened our rental property to Joseph’s coat of many colors.  It was filled with mismatched furniture from multiple sources, but it was the nicest, most comfortable furniture you could imagine because it was donated with love.  The opportunity to finance another house at a low interest rate through the Small Business Association was a huge blessing, and by May 2013 we were the proud owners of another beautiful home, different from our Braithwaite home, but with it’s own certain benefits.

I will always pray for our friends who have been through Katrina, Isaac and other similar events.  My heart goes out to each and every one of you.  We each have a story of our own.  But while there are glimpses of sadness, there is hope for the future.  Katrina and Isaac may have taken our memorabilia, but we still have our memories. While our spirits were wounded, we are one in the spirit of the Lord and NOTHING can separate us from His love!  Revelation 21:5 reads, “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’”  All things are new.  God is true.  God is faithful.

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The Season of Seasons and Senses

Halloween CandyBlack and orange, ghosts and goblins, and brightly lit jack-o-lanterns… Candy corn, candied apples, candy, candy, and more candy everywhere you look.

Not only is it the season that wreaks havoc on our diets, Halloween is the start of the season of seasons! It is like the first chapter in a book of seasons that takes us from October to April (or from witches on brooms to little yellow, melt-in-your-mouth, marshmallow chickens).

I get so excited about Halloween… not because of anything it represents, but more so because of what it introduces. It introduces us to the seasons of senses… Beginning with Halloween, our senses are almost on overload with everything we see, smell, hear, touch, and (my personal favorite) taste!

Each season touches each of the senses in a different way. For Halloween we see black cats, yellow moons, and orange jack-o-lanterns, and we see beautiful costumes on adorable children.  We smell pumpkin spice and we hear the laughter of the young and tiny voices yelling “Trick or treat! Smell my feet!”  We touch the guts of a pumpkin and sticky little hands that have been tasting chewy, chocolate chunks.

For Thanksgiving we see a cornucopia of color in oranges, browns, and greens. We smell the traditional turkey baking.  We hear the laughter of our families enjoying the Macy’s parade and bowl games on TV.  We touch the warm bread fresh from the oven, and we taste it all.  We taste the turkey, we taste the bread, and we taste the sweet potatoes.  We taste the cookies, we taste the fudge, and we taste the pumpkin pie.  (I told you “taste” was my favorite sense!)

I must admit, Christmas is my favorite time of year. It’s appropriate for me that it falls almost in the middle of this season of seasons and senses.  It’s like the mountain peak of holidays!  As Christmas approaches we see lights, tinsel, beautiful ornaments on the tree.  We smell evergreen and spruce, holly berries, and cinnamon.  We hear church bells, jingle bells and beautiful holiday carols.  We feel the softness of winter gloves and the crispness of stiff foil wrapping paper, and we taste… oh, we taste so many wonderful things that it’s hard for one to imagine.  There’s a reason that Weight Watchers offers free enrollment on January 2nd.

Right on the heels of Christmas, only a week behind, is New Year ’s Day. Upon the arrival of the new year we see the ball drop in Time Square, we smell freshly popped firecrackers, and we hear voices asking “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”  We touch our lips to the lips of others at stroke of midnight, and we eat black-eyed peas and cabbage to bring good fortune in the days ahead.

At Valentines we see hearts and cupids, we smell red roses, and we hear lots of love songs on the radio. We touch fuzzy stuffed animals, elegant jewelry, and other gifts from our loved ones, and we taste Russell Stover’s and Whitman’s chocolates.

At Mardi Gras we see purple, green and gold decorations and people masquerading in costumes of all types. We smell the beer on tap and the diesel fuel from truck floats.  We hear crowds of people roaring almost in unison “Throw me something mister!” We touch beads and trinkets and toys tossed from the floats, and we taste Randazzo’s king cakes with cream cheese filling.

At Easter we see bonnets and dresses in beautiful pastel colors. We smell lilies lining the altar at church.  We hear the sounds of children yelling “I’ve got one” as they pick up and touch construction-paper eggs that have been hidden in the gardens.  We taste solid chocolate rabbits and jelly beans of all flavors.

October to April… Halloween to Easter… It’s the season of seasons and senses. Throughout the season of seasons, we see striking smiles, we smell fragrant flowers and food, we hear lots of laughter filled with love, we touch hands and hearts, and we taste delicious dishes and decadent desserts.

Friends, this is only the beginning. Welcome to the season of seasons and senses!

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P.J.’s Journey: Good Dads Versus Great Dads

A.J. and P.J.My emotions overwhelm me tonight as I write this post.  I am watching my husband go through one of the most difficult experiences a person faces, the loss of his mother, yet I see him continuing to care for his family and offer the same service he has continued to provide throughout P.J.’s journey (See P.J.’s Journey:  My Copilot).

To say A.J. is a good dad is like saying Mother Teresa was a nice lady.  A good father takes his kids out for pizza and tucks them in at night.  A great father, one like A.J., gets up three or four times in the middle of the night to cook for his son because he knows that weight gain is critical to wound care and it’s important to feed him when he’s hungry.  A good father helps his kids get dressed and encourages them to work hard at school.  A great father, one like A.J., changes sheets and pillowcases regularly because he knows infections can be deadly, and encourages his son to struggle through physical therapy, no matter how painful, because the end result will be worth it.  A good father pushes his child on a swing and holds his hand while he climbs stairs.  A great father, like A.J., pushes his son in his wheelchair and holds his hand while he is going through torturous treatments.

With my father and father-in-law both having gone home to be with the Lord, for the past few years, Father’s Day has been about helping my children to appreciate their dad.   I don’t know if they will ever be able to fully appreciate all he has done for them, but I can truly say that I do.

A.J., you are an amazing father… never doubt that for a moment.  I love you with all my heart.  Happy Father’s Day.


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P.J.’s Journey: An Anniversary to Celebrate

This past Friday, January 11th, marked one year since P.J.’s accident.  In some ways, that seems so long ago, and in others, it seems like just yesterday.  I am one who encourages others to forget anniversary dates unless they are of fond occasions, such as an engagement, wedding, lottery win (smile) or other happy moment.  I think remembering the date someone we loved died is pointless… what’s more important is remembering the date they were born, the date they were baptizied, the date they graduated from high school, etc.  Too often we dwell on the negative things that happen to us.  But because we wanted to continuously show P.J. how far he had come in “x” number of days, we kept looking at the calendar and counting back.  We had a positive purpose in mind, and I’m glad we did it, but the negative side of it all is that it made that date stick in our minds, and my friends, that is a date that I have often wanted to forget.

With the passing of one year, I was contacted by my Human Resources Department at work a few weeks ago and questioned about P.J.’s status.  The representative encouraged me to complete a request for an extension on my Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage.  For those of you who are not familiar with that, larger companies are mandated to offer this type of protection to employees who are themselves ill or injured or have an immediate family member who needs long term care.  It allowed me to take off, without question or concern, up to twelve weeks (non-consecutively) during the past year while P.J. has been recovering.  When HR first contacted me, it forced me to dig through some of the original emails I’d sent in the hours/days just after the fire.  This was not a pleasant experience.  I found myself in tears as I was glancing over some of them.  It was a flashback of where I had been emotionally at that time, and that was not a good place to be.

I had a similar experience when I tried to write thank you cards after my dad’s funeral.  I offered to do this for my mom and family, and I very much regret that it never got done.  Every time I started writing, I found myself crying all over the cards and missing my dad more than ever.  I finally gave up.  So, if you’re one of the people who was owed a thank you card back then, my apologies and my belated thanks for your care and concern for our family.

My point is, that bringing yourself back to a place or a date that reminds you of a negative event is not a good thing, and you should do everything you can to avoid that!  It’s like the guy who said to the doctor “It hurts when I do this.”  The doctor’s reply?  “Then don’t do that!”  LOL.  All too often, a young girl has a tendency to cry herself to sleep listening to the song that reminds her of the boy who just broke her heart.  (Yes, I speak from experience!)  I say “DON’T!!!”  If it hurts when you do that, then don’t do that!

So what was my point?  Oh yeah… What I was trying to say is that with P.J., we were purposely remembering the date of his accident so we could point out to him his progress.  That turned out to be a very positive thing, because we have been able to show him pictures and videos of all of the early days and then intermittent ones thereafter.  Whenever he says “I’m not healing,” we have evidence to say “Oh yes you are!!”  Before and after pictures of his wounds show incredible progress.  We used the pictures of his face (which healed the best and fastest for several reasons) to comfort many family members of other victims who’d come to the burn unit.  Everyone who entered and left Baton Rouge General’s Burn Unit from January to September 2012 knew P.J.’s story and became a friend and supporter and we did our best to encourage and support them in return.  But while remembering the date was a good thing in a way, I did find myself becoming a bit emtional at times on Friday, and having my own little pity party about what a rough year it has been… not even counting the other difficulties we faced.

I’ve decided, however, that January 11, 2012 will be a date that we will celebrate and remember forever as a good one.  It is the date that God spared our child from what should have been a fatal accident.  It was the first day of a journey that has brought out the good in all of us as we’ve supported one another through the tough times, a journey that has made us closer to each other, and a journey that has given us such a workout that we are stronger than we could ever imagine.

P.J. is doing very well.  He is getting stronger every day and his wounds are progressing.  We are hoping that he will only need one additional surgery in the near term.  As we continue with P.J.’s Journey, I look forward to some new dates for celebration, like the day he walks with no assistance, the day of his wedding, and the day his first child is born.  As always, we thank you for the prayers that have kept us going and have helped to make each day a better one!


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With sincerest gratitude…

Our dear family members and friends (new and old), what a year this has been for the Guillot family!  As I was recovering from my October 2011 ankle surgery in early January, I remember saying to my physical therapist, “I can’t wait for life to get back to normal!”  I quickly learned that those days of swelling and pain were minor inconveniences compared to what was in store for us.  If you are reading this, I am sure you are aware of the circumstances that followed…  The fire that almost took P.J.’s life in January and the flooding of our family home by Hurricane Isaac in August.  Although we all often wish that we could turn back time and change the outcome of both those events, we can’t help but be thankful to God for His glory that has shone through in both tragedies. 

This letter is to thank you all for the love and support that you have shown us already and continue to pour on us each day.  During the first few weeks after P.J.’s accident, we were told to be prepared for the worst.  Your prayers and ours were heard and God woke him from his sleep and brought him back to us.  His days continue to include pain and suffering that most of us could never comprehend, but he is alive and fighting the battle courageously.  We thank you all for the prayers, calls, emails, Facebook posts, contributions to P.J.’s video, “Get Well” cards, and the hundreds of cards, letters, and gifts he received on his 20th birthday.  Your thoughtfulness has truly made a difference in our child’s life. 

After Isaac destroyed our home, we were reminded once again of the great support network that we have in all of you.  I do believe we have more clothes, sheets, and towels than we had before the storm!  Our rental home is filled with furniture and household items and appliances from countless sources.  I tell everyone that it has the value of Joseph’s coat of many colors.  As my mother always says, “We couldn’t have more or want less.” 

The friends and volunteers (from four different organizations so far) who have come to help with the emptying, cleaning, and gutting of our home, have shown us what selfless giving is all about.  We are inspired by their sacrifices and hope to “pay it forward” someday. 

Many of you have shared our story with your friends who have shared it with their friends and so on… (just like the hair commercial)!  We need your help now in sharing our thanks with these individuals, who in some cases remain anonymous to us.  We apologize that we were not able to send individual thank you cards to each one of you, but we ask your help in passing this message along to everyone.  Please feel free to email it, share it on Facebook, or photocopy and distribute it.  There is no way to adequately portray what we feel.

This is just a small attempt to let everyone know the enormous depth of our gratitude.  We are humbled, overwhelmed, and forever thankful for the generous gifts of all kinds that have been provided.  May God bless each of you twenty fold.  We love you.  We truly do.

Tina Guillot
(On behalf of A.J., Tina, P.J., Joshua, and Molly the Schnauzer)

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P.J.’s Journey: Glimpses of Past, Present, and Future

I rarely have time for TV these days, but the other night, I caught part of the movie “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner.  In this movie, just like in all of the versions of “A Christmas Carol,” the main character gets to see glimpses of past, present, and future.  Sometimes, these are scenes that the person was not actually a part of, so it answers questions for them about why things turned out the way they did and gives them insight into how their actions affect other people.

Today P.J. was readmitted to the hospital.  Over the past few weeks, we have watched him make a rapid decline, and have been powerless to help him.  I was so sad last night because I knew what today might bring.  At the same time, I was so tired… tired from the physical strain of busy schedules, numerous appointments, nights with interrupted sleep and from the emotional strain of being a parent not able to help my child, and the guilt of feeling like surely we must not be doing something right. 

Sometimes I wonder if I had the opportunity to glimpse past, present, or future, what would I see and how would it make me feel?  Would I have some anwers about what things had happened to take us to where we are today?  Would it matter?  Would it change anything?   

In the movies, Scrooge and Connor Mead (McConaughey’s character) both change into better people overnight.  McConaughey converts from a womanizing dog who believes that “love is magic comfort food for the weak and uneducated” to declaring his love for Jenny (Garner’s character) and coming to a new realization:  “Someone once told me that the power in all relationships lies with whoever cares less, and he was right. But power isn’t happiness, and I think that maybe happiness comes from caring more about people rather than less.”  Can I get an “Amen?” 

Who else can you care for more than your children?  So where is the happiness in that caring when you can’t give them what they need?  You can’t make them eat when they are starving themselves to death, you can’t make them heal when their bodies are just worn out.  What a frustrating situation for a control freak like me to have no control. 

As synical as the above may sound, I really do think that happiness comes more from caring more about people than less.  What would that glimpse into the future tell me about P.J.’s journey?  Would happiness come from that?  I have to trust in God that it would and believe Him for a miracle for my boy.  Prayers are always appreciated as we continue to fight this battle with P.J.  May God bless us, everyone!


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P.J.’s Journey: The Touching Story

I was recently at a Toastmasters meeting where one of the speakers presented an advanced project called “The Touching Story.”   The objective of the speech was to tell a story that would move the audience in some way.  He very much accomplished that objective and had me crying before the timer hit the 5 minute mark.   Afterward, I was thinking how P.J.’s journey will someday make for a very touching story, but it’s too fresh right now… too hard to talk about in front of a large audience.  Now there are two meanings of the word “touching,” though.   It could refer to something that elicits strong feelings or emotions from someone, or it could refer to the physical act of putting your hands on someone. 

For five months, we were not really able to touch P.J., at least not without gloves on, and then we had to be very gentle, of course.  It’s just been the last week or so that we’ve not been restricted to the gloves, but they’re still “recommended.”  Think about that for a minute…. that means no hugs, no kisses, no touching at all.  It’s sort of ironic in a way, because many people believe that human touch has great healing power.  Lack of touch can actually lead to “Failure to Thrive,” a potentially fatal syndrome, in newborns.

When I was emailing back and forth with a friend the other day, she closed with “Hug P.J. for me!”  I wrote back and said, “Well, hugs aren’t possible at the moment, but I’ll bank one for you.  After all, when I get word from him that he’s strong enough to handle it, I’m going to hug the lights out of him!”   Okay, not really.  But I can’t wait to make up for lost time with P.J.  I am sure I’ll have to stand in line behind his girlfriend, Britan, but that is okay.  I can wait my turn.  Besides, in the words of the iconic resident of the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh, “There’s no such thing as too much hug.” 

At some point down the road, I look forward to telling the touching story of P.J.’s full recovery, but for now, I’ll continue blogging when I am able.  I thank you for your comments on my posts, your prayers, and your support as we continue on P.J.’s journey.


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P.J.’s Journey: Some Presence for P.J.

For our 25th wedding anniversary celebration in 2008, my husband and I included a note on the invitation that read “Your presence is the only gift we desire.”  We didn’t want “stuff.”  We wanted our friends to just enjoy the party and spend time with us.  We wanted their presence… not their presents.  Ever since he was very little, P.J. has loved the gift of our presence.  He’s never, ever been a loner.  If he’s watching a movie, he wants someone to watch it with him.  If he’s going for a walk or a run, he wants someone to tag along.  He doesn’t like being alone. 

This journey has been a big challenge for him as he not only struggles to deal with the pain and suffering, but the time he has to spend alone.  Now that he’s back in the burn unit, we don’t have the freedom to stay in the room with him twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week as we did when he was in the therapy ward or for the short time when he came home for those ten days last month.  He is handling it well, but he anxiously awaits our arrival and becomes nervous when we don’t get there right at the start of visiting hours.  It’s not that he wants to talk to us or wants us to talk to him.  In fact, he often sleeps the majority of the time we are here.  But the point is, we are here.  We are sitting in the room with him, available if he needs us for anything from talking to wiping his nose.  Just knowing we are here is a great comfort to him.

In those rare moments when we wonder if our presence is really of any value, we remind ourselves of the extent of his condition, not only physically, but emotionally as well.  It is then that we regret the times when we aren’t able to be here with him, and we are thankful that in those moments, P.J. has the greatest gift of all — the presence of his Heavenly Father.   Just knowing He is with our boy is a great comfort to us.

Tomorrow is June 11th.  Five months have passed since that dreadful night when we were awakened by the delivery of horrifying news that our lives would never be the same.  But every day, regardless of whether we take a step forward or a step back, we are one day closer to P.J.’s full recovery, and every day, is one day that we are blessed with the gift of P.J.’s presence. 


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P.J.’s Journey: The Essentials

All along, in addition to dealing with the issue of P.J.’s survival and recovery, we’ve struggled with some other things affiliated with the accident, like the negative things that were reported in the news.  I remember Day 2 when we learned of  how the media were reporting the specifics of the accident.  I cried more hysterically at the point than I had the day before when I’d learned the extent of P.J.’s injuries.  It wasn’t that I was more worried about “what people thought” than I was my own child.  It was that I felt horrible that my baby was lying in a hospital bed with life-threatening injuries and people were talking about him in a bad way.  The negative reports, for the most part, have been cleared up.  Witnesses have come forward to correct false statements that were made and we’re hoping that’s all behind us.  Unfortunately, the newspapers don’t go back and print a follow-up saying “By the way, that statement was later corrected,” or “There was a misunderstanding.”  It surprises me, however, every time I talk to someone who shares another version of the rumors that were being spread, most of which do not even slightly resemble the truth or the news reports in any way.  I think to myself, “Where do people come up with this stuff?!?!?!”  I get angry and upset and I want to publish a website devoted solely to defending my boy’s honor and integrity.  And then I realize… it’s not essential. 

What is essential is that the people who know and love P.J. know his heart and they know what a great kid he is deep down.  They’ve seen his struggles not just over the past 4-1/2 months but over the past 7 years and have prayed for him every step of the way.  They’ve refrained from judging and they’ve admitted their own mistakes in an effort to let P.J. know that we all need help once in a while. 

P.J. came home from the hospital on May 10th and eleven days later (this past Monday), he was readmitted with a staph infection.   We’re thanking God that his body is already responding to the antibiotics.  That’s essential.  Prayers are being answered.  That’s essential.  P.J. has survived a tragedy that would have killed most people.  That’s essential.

A.J. and I were told early on that this would be a long journey, but I guess we thought the exhaustion and the stress would’ve been gone by now and things would have settled down for us, but they haven’t.  It is still very hard.  But we are so thankful to our Father in heaven for providing much needed joy and strength at the times we need it most.  It’s amazing how we continue to see God’s plan unfolding in P.J.’s life and in all our lives.  God is constant and faithful.  His mercy endures forever.  That’s essential.


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