Why do we struggle?

There are three reasons we go through trials and struggles:

1.  to make us stronger
2.  to make us more dependent on the Lord
3.  to help others down the road.

From Pansy Kennedy via Zig Ziglar and Julie Ziglar Noran in their book:  Embrace the Struggle – Living Life on Life’s Terms.

From my own personal struggle to find my path in life, I can attest to all three of these reasons.

My search has definitely made me stronger in many ways.  I now feel comfortable doing some things that I would not have been able to do when I was first laid off over two years ago.  I have a different outlook on life and a new perspective.

I am more dependent on the Lord for support and guidance and the Lord definitely has put me in a place of thankfulness and gratitude to many people who have become a part of my life’s path and journey.  Interesting how the Lord knows what people we need in our lives even when we don’t.  At times, the reasons for events and experiences in our lives may be unclear, however, time gives us clarity, perspective, and a new way to think.  I have learned that I am truly blessed in many ways.

I hope that I have already helped some others by sharing with them a part of my life’s journey by strengthening their spirit, offering a kind word of encouragement, or simply listened when they needed someone to listen to them.  I try to offer encouragment and gratitude to others, listen to their struggles, and become a positive influence in their lives.  I had a discussion with a man at one of the networking groups I attend.  We agreed that the scorecard in life is not by how much money you have in the bank, but by how many people you touch in an effort to make a positive difference in the world.

What struggles and trials have you experienced in your life? 


How do You Respond?

I went to a networking event tonight. I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their goals, aspirations, ideas, and thoughts.  Sometimes I am able to help them and offer them encouragement and advice.  Sometimes in the course of a conversation they are able to help me see my own life situation in a different way.  I strive to have a positive attitude and offer helpful advice or support to people when I can.

However, I met a person who shocked me tonight.  When I am at a networking event I frequently ask people about their business or about what type of  employment opportunity they are seeking.  One of the faciliators of the networking event asked me to share some information with a new person to the event because it was his first time.  So I shared information about the format of the program and what normally happens.  Networking, a speaker, round table discussions about various job search topics, and more networking.   The man I met tonight shared some information with me about himself that surprised me.  Among other parts of his life, he told me he was recently diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).  When someone shares with you that they were diagnosed with a devestating disease, how do you respond?  What can you say to them to make them feel better about their life situation?  When tears are flowing down their face because they are scared, upset, or freightened, what words or actions can you perform to comfort a person in this situation?

The best I could do was to talk to him about other people at the event I have met who have given me support in some way.  However, I realized that the type of support and understanding this man was looking for was not for help on his resume but something which may help him understand his current life situation.

Listening to this man share his current life situation with me was a very humbling experience and made me extremely greatful and thankful for my current good state of health.

So my question to you is, what words of encouragement or actions can you take to support this person? 


A Call to Save the Life of a Child‏

I went for a walk today to get some exercise.  Shortly after I returned home, I checked the answering machine for messages.  One of the messages was from a career and staffing company.  They had a position helping to load and unload a truck.  The product to be transported was baby furniture and cribs.
When I called to learn more of the details, I was told the hours would be 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. and there would be quite a bit of lifting involved.  The woman I spoke to thought that I would not be interested because my skills and interests were more suited to other types of work.
However, much to her surprise, I took the job.  After I hung up the phone, I began to think a little bit more about the purpose of this opportunity.  Recently in the news, I heard stories of babies being smothered to death by their parents or other loved ones because they were sleeping in the same bed.  The death of a child for any reason is a tragedy.
Initially I thought of this opportunity as simply a job where I can earn some money.  However, as I began to think differently about this position, I realize that assisting in the process of delivering cribs to the store and making these pieces of furniture available for the families and children that need them is a positive and rewarding experience and although on the surface it may seem like a menial labor job, in reality, it may help save the life of a child.  So what started out as a simple phone call, turned out to be what I consider to be a call to save the life of a child.


Amazing Sky

On Tuesday, January 5th, I took my son, Matthew to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  Matthew has numerous medical issues so a visit to the #3 children’s Hospital in the country is not uncommon.  The appointment went well and we were able to leave for home.

As I turned on to Interstate 94 West to head for home, I noticed the sun setting just over the horizon.  Just above the sun, I saw a huge column of bright orange light.  I was so overwhelmed by the beauty nature had on display that I shared it with my son.  Matthew must have also been impressed by what he was seeing and said, “That’s different!”

With life pushing us a mile a minute from the time we rise to the time we close our eyes, it is no wonder that we miss out on some truly beautiful moments.  It is important sometimes to slow ourselves down or we miss out on the beauty of life.  Finding beauty in our world, like a sunset, is finding beauty in our life.  My perspective is that joy and happiness come to people who are not too busy to see it when it is right in front of them.


A Different Kind of Christmas Card

Children have a way of changing our perspectives on life and the world around us.  They have a way of creating special events or experiences which alter the way we think and feel about our lives.  Our son, Matthew is the person who has the ability to change my viewpoint of life in an instant.  A hug, a laugh, or a simple smile from a child is all it takes to brighten the most dreary or darkest of days.

Matt often likes to play games and tricks on us.  I had a small stack of business cards I had collected over the past months on the table.  When I wasn’t looking, Matt took the cards and hid them from me.

As you might imagine, I was a little puzzled when Matt decided to play a game of hide and seek.  Thinking I would notice the cards were missing, Matt walks up to me and says, “Dad do you notice anything different?”

I expected him to be doing something silly like wearing his shirt inside out.  However, that wasn’t the case.  He then gives me a clue.  “Dad, look at the table.”  There were many objects on the table so it was difficult for me to notice anything different.  I am still baffled.  “Dad, look at the tree,” he says.  I look at the Christmas tree with its eight bulb ornaments on it and again I am stumped.  I still don’t see anything different, I reply.

With a smile on his face, he walks up to the Christmas tree and grabs the small pile of business cards I had collected.  “Dad, do you need these?” he says.  We both laugh as he hands me the cards.

The cards Matthew put on the tree represented a small number of people who have entered my life over the past year.  The simple gesture of finding those cards on the Christmas tree made me think about how blessed I am.  I would estimate I probably have about 100 cards.  Each card was from a person who spent some time with me this past year and contributed to my life and who I have become in some way.  Some I only spoke to for a few minutes.  Others, a few hours.  I believe everybody has the potential to effect the life of another in a positive direction.

After Matt put the business cards on the Christmas tree, I considered adding the other cards I had.  The tree would then have become a tribute to the people I met over the past year who made a difference in my life.  In retrospect, they would have become a different kind of Christmas card.

As 2009 fades into the rearview mirror and 2010 arises, I ask you to think about the people, places and events in your life.  What changes in your life will cause you to become a different person?  Who will you become in 2010?  Who will you help?  Who will you meet that will make an impact on your life?

I am excited about the changes taking place in my life.  As 2010 starts, I embrace it with open arms and positive thoughts. 

I wish you all a happy, prosperous, and life changing 2010!



  1. Jim – What a great way to put things in perspective. You are right that business cards end up in a stack and probably are not utilized for much after they are received. Your son’s gesture is very cool because it re-individualized all those people in your new network. I like that idea. Thanks for sharing this one . . .

  2. Great article Jim, and what a joy it is to see someone else have their perspective changed by the brilliant innocence of a child.

    I am the father of 11 children and they are the inspiration of my life, work and stories I tell to youth.

    Thank you for sharing that with us =).

    God Bless.
    Jaime Buckley

    • Hi Jamie,

      Thank you for your kind words. Our son has some significant special needs. He has had 5 heart surgeries as well as several other non-cardiac operations. He also has ADHD and allergies. I can remember when he was younger spending some very frightening nights on the couch trying to sleep while holding him, worried that his heart would stop, or he would stop breathing. He has been a great teacher to me in many ways. Because we were blessed with this special child, I try to view each day as a gift, cherish even the smallest of accomplishments, and count the blessings I have received in life.

  3. Jim, thanks for sharing these great stories with us. I consider myself lucky to have met you and call you a friend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: