Knock and It Shall Be Opened

Posted February 28, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I had just settled into my bunk to relax with a movie when there was a knock on my door. Thinking it could be a fellow driver in need, I pulled back my curtains only to find a pregnant woman, her husband and their dog. The young lady looked very surprised to see a woman in the truck.

I lowered my window to hear what she said.

“Ma’am, is was wondering you could spare some change so we can get something to eat. We haven’t eaten in a couple of days and we’re really hungry.”

I studied them both for a moment, then offered, “I won’t give you any money but if you’re really hungry as you say you are, I’ll be glad to take you both inside and buy you food.”

Relief washed over her face and she quickly accepted. 

I got out and as we walked into the Walmart where I was parked, she explained that they’d come here hoping for a new start on the advice of a friend. Once they got here, their friend abandoned them and they had no place to go, no job, no money.

I bought them sandwiches at the Subway and some meat for their dog. I also told them they could get out of their circumstances. There really was hope and I did my best to convey it to them. When I left, I prayed that I had gotten through to them and that our encounter had given them the courage to try.

The next morning I heard a commotion outside and pulled back my curtains. The same couple stood outside the truck next to me. I instantly thought they were begging again. Perhaps that was all they did and I’d been duped the night before. But when the young woman saw me poke my head out, here eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. 

“I’m so glad to see you! I wanted to let you know I took your advice yesterday. I went out and applied for a job and they hired me right then and there. I start today!”

Hooray! Congratulations!”

“There’s just one thing…”

“What’s that?” 

“I need bus money. Do you think you could spare some change so I can ride the bus to work? If you’re going to be here when I get paid, I promise I’ll pay you back.”

I reached into my pocket and pulled out all the change I had. It was enough to get her to and from work for a couple of days.

“Don’t bother paying it back. Pay it forward, first by excelling at this new job, then by giving to others in need. Don’t ever forget where you came from. If you do that, it will be payment enough.”

She erupted into tearful laughter, took the money and off she went to begin her new life.

As she disappeared around the corner, I offered thanks that God had provided a job for her. I believe she will do well. She’s not a deadbeat. Truly, she was just down and out… and six months pregnant. It proves that a person can get back up again each time they fall. 

In the day and time we live in, anyone can fall on hard times. Intelligent, well-meaning, hard working folks can find themselves out of a job. I know it was demeaning for her to ask for money but hungry people do desperate things. 

No matter where we think we are in life, status or accomplishment, we are just one withholding of God’s extended grace away from being right where this woman was. Except for God’s grace, I could have been looking in the mirror. 

I’m so thankful that I opened the curtain and answered the knock on the door. I’m so glad that God never leaves us or forsakes us, even when we’re down. He’s always working on our behalf and He will make a way where there seems to be no way. 

Knock on doors. They will open. Seek and you will find. It’s not over until God says it is.

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Driven by What’s Inside

Posted February 19, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Those who follow my blog know I write stories of amazing people who do extraordinary things as part of their daily life. Today is not different. That being said, I feel I must set this story up just a bit. 

A friend, mentor and fellow trucker, Dee Sova, recently posted a picture on Facebook of a sign at a Walmart that read, “No Semis allowed.” This was a new occurrence since, if space permits, Walmart is very truck friendly. They allow truckers to park their rigs in their lots, get rest, replenish their supplies and head on down the road. 

When asked, the management of this Walmart said their customers were very frightened by all the trucker characters who filled the parking lots. Having met now thousands of truck drivers, this saddens me because my experience is that the majority of truck drivers are kind, courteous, hard working Americans.

And, in the year 2015, you’d be surprised at who is behind the wheel.

Take me for example. I have a PhD, have been very successful in corporate America and have long since earned the respect of my peers in my previous industry. I’m doing this because it’s an adventure and because I can. Sound dangerous to you?

Then there’s Dr. Randy (not his real name). He possesses a PhD and worked for decades as a aerospace engineer for NASA. When the space shuttle program was grounded, he was… ummm, outsourced. He had a family to provide for and the only job he could find to pay the bills was trucking. No welfare for him. He’s driving (and parking in Walmart parking lots) to be the head of his household. He probably won’t kill anyone as they walk through the lot.

And what about Dee? Well, when she’s not driving or endangering those customers’ lives by parking in the lot, she’s speaking to groups of people all over the country, telling them the importance of not drinking and driving. Her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Oh yeah, Dee’s a real scary person!

Let’s not forget Dave, who risked his own life on the infamous Cabbage Patch in the middle of the night when another driver’s brakes caught on fire. First, he stopped the driver who did not see his own flames. Then he pulled over and helped him put out the fire. Yeah, the world is a better place by keeping him out of that parking lot.

Here’s my point. Truck drivers are some of the most incredible, responsible, patriotic, hard working Americans I’ve met. They drive night or day, cross country or through LA to get the goods into the stores. When the storms rage, they drive through them and more times than not, they deliver on time. They are seldom thanked, often discriminated against, treated unjustly and yet you rarely hear them complain. They just take all in stride and keep on trucking.

People are people and what makes them good or bad is not whether or not they sit behind the wheel of a big rig. Driving an eighteen wheeler doesn’t make them a criminal any more than wearing black leathers and driving a Harley makes someone an Outlaw gang member. 

We are Americans and true Americans do whatever they must in order to care for their families. Americans are driven by what’s inside- a compelling to earn an honest living. Driving a truck is an honorable and noble profession that I am proud to be a part of. When I’m out on the open road hauling goods from one place to the other, I feel so patriotic. I’m doing my part at keeping the heartbeat of America alive and well. 

I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to be a trucker. I’m proud to live in a country where I have the freedom to live a life of adventure. Judge me if they must. Drive me out of their parking lots if they can but I’ll still have the satisfaction knowing that when they get inside, everything they buy was delivered by one of my brothers or sisters who took to the open road to keep this great nation going.

The Heartbeat of America remains alive and well. 

 

 

 

 

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Unexpected Blessings

Posted February 13, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I mumbled and grumbled as I broke through the ice at our terminal while hooking up my trailer. Not only was I going to have to run overnight (which I HATE), but now I was going to have to do it with cold, wet feet. And my entire run was less than a hundred miles. To a trucker who gets paid by the mile… well, you get the picture.

I headed out and began my trek up the mountain. The freezing rain and sleet from the day was evident on the roads but they were passable. Then it began to snow. I was trying as hard as I could to maintain a positive attitude. I tuned my satellite radio to Joel Osteen. I sang joyful songs. I thought happy thoughts. 

Then my trainer called. He was driving the late shift and was either calling to check on me or to gloat the fact that he was in sixty degree weather in Texas. As we talked about things I can’t even remember, the snowfall became worse. In fact, it was the heaviest I’d ever been in. And, it was quickly accumulating on the road surface. The only way I could tell where my truck was positioned was by riding the rumble strip.

As snowflakes the size of Susan B. Anthony dollars rapidly rained down, I descended a hill to a bridge. At that moment, Mr. Super Trucker decided to fly down that same hill and pass me at 77 MPH. He couldn’t tell where the lanes were either. He hit the bridge. Fortunately, he did not hit me.

A mile up the road, another trucker had spun out and sat jackknifed on the entrance ramp. Just then, out of the darkness appeared a Sunoco sign. Even though I couldn’t see it, I knew I’d made it to a Service Plaza. Now if I could just find the exit ramp. 

There were no tire tracks to follow. I crept my way through five inches of virgin snow around a sharp curve and into the truck parking lot. There was one space available and it happened to be right in front of me. I pulled in and shut down.

After notifying the night dispatcher where I was shutting down and why, I realized that the severe snowfall was actually a blessing in disguise. I drove only twenty-eight miles. Since I had to shut down, I would no longer be running through the night. I could hop in my sleeper berth and get a good night’s sleep.

It had been snowing when I left our terminal but just flurries. The fog had rolled in but I had fog lights on my truck. And my Ariat boots would eventually dry out… wouldn’t they? I was willing to do the thing I hate just because it was my job. Take one for the Gipper. But God had other plans.

The next morning as I slushed through the eight total inches of snow in the parking lot of the service plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I was grateful to be well rested and ready to face whatever the day had to bring. I felt the weight of how much God cares about the little things in our lives, even not wanting to drive through the night.

Even on a cold, dark night in the mountains of Pennsylvania, God sent an unexpected blessing disguised as whiteout snow conditions. It brought to the forefront of my mind that blessings sometimes appear in our lives as the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m so glad I had eyes to see God’s hand working in my situation.

What have you been faced with lately? Does it seem overwhelming? Could it be that God is orchestrating it so you can receive a greater blessing? Share your story here!

 

 

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Stuck in the Mud

Posted February 11, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Those of you who follow me in social media know that last week I got stuck in the middle of nowhere in Illinois. No, I didn’t get a layover without a load. I literally got my eighteen wheeler riveted and rutted in six inches of mud that lurked just beneath the nice, neat gravel in a truck turnaround. 

It was dark, snowy and literally in the middle of nowhere, precisely where two roads intersect. I was twenty miles from the nearest town. I missed said intersection, something that apparently was a common occurrence because instead of erecting signs, someone decided to build a turnaround for all the trucks that would miss the turn off. 

It would have been bad enough if I’d been pulling one of my company’s trailers. But for the first time during my short yet adventurous career as a truck driver, I was pulling a big box store trailer. It was older than our trailers and much, much heavier. I’d felt all day like I was dragging a dinasour around and now it was on the side of the road behind my truck that was definitely not going anywhere.

So there I sat. It was dark. It was cold. I was alone. After surveying how “stuck” I was and making arrangements for a tow truck to come and pull me two feet back onto the hard surface, I settled into my suspense novel to pass the time. There is something being alone in the darkness that adds tension to the suspense novel. haha.

I was so into the novel I did not notice the vehicle approaching until blue and red lights flicked on. Oh no! The cops! No use trying to make a quick getaway. I was caught red handed with my truck in the mud.

A nice young deputy sheriff emerged and made an amazing observation. “You’re stuck.”

I resisted the urge to shout “DUHHHHHHH” from the top of my lungs. After all, what’s the young man to say when he gets a call from a concerned citizen and responds to a middle aged woman who’s truck is six inches deep in frozen slime and is sitting there reading a book?!

“Yeah, I couldn’t see the mud under the gravel in the dark. I have the tow truck on the way. They said it would be about an hour.”

“Well, do you need anything?”

“You wouldn’t happen to have a crane in the back of your car would you?”

With that the young officer who’d sworn to protect and serve rode off into the darkness and I was once again left to wait out my rescue in darkness. True to their word, the tow truck showed up in an hour and five minutes later, I was out of the slush and on my way again.

People were afraid for me. I found that odd but they could not see where I was. The only things around were the cows and deer. Not much chance of them climbing into my truck. It was peaceful. Quiet. Snow has that effect. 

I learned not to fight it when I get stuck. Fighting it digs the ruts deeper. I just figured out a way to get pulled from my “Stuck-ness”. It’s easier and much more effective. I also didn’t let it rob me of my peace. It was what it was and all my worrying would not have changed it. I was stuck and had to get un-stuck. Plain and simple.

All in all, I was sidelined for about two hours. Not bad considering I was really stuck. In the middle of nowhere. In the snow. In the dark. All in a day’s work for a trucker. And with well capable, highly trained professionals standing at the ready, I am happy to report that, no matter what the dilemma or where it occurs, thankfully the Heartbeat of America is still alive and well!

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Hussain’s Heartbreak

Posted February 9, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I hurried into a truck stop to grab some fruit. My intent was to get back on the road with lightning speed. I had a full driving day and I couldn’t afford to take time out to play. I passed a man wearing a turban, obviously another trucker so I spoke. 

He stopped dead in his tracks, spun around and demanded, “What did you say?”

“I said, ‘hi, how are you?’”

“Is that what you really said to me?”

“Well, yes it is.” I replied, trying to ignore the most unusual course this conversation was headed.

He squared off against me and said, “May I ask you why you said that to me?”

I did not hesitate with my response, “Sir, I’m from the south and we show respect to our fellow human being by swappin’ howdies with them when our paths cross.”

The man literally stumbled back a couple of steps, put his hand to his forehead and mumbled as if I’d just slapped him between the eyes. I was confused.

“Sir, I hope I didn’t offend you. I was just being sociable.”

“Offend me? Oh my, NO! It’s just been so long since anyone did that. I had forgotten what it sounded like. What it felt like. And you called me Sir. Thank you very much.”

Now I was really confused and had to ask him what he meant. For the next few minutes, Hussain stood in the snow telling me about his life. He is as American as I am. Born in New York to middle eastern immigrants who came to America to escape the horrible violence in their homeland.

Hussain grew up in New York and the midwest. His father drove a truck and so Hussain followed in his footsteps. Unfortunately, throughout Hussain’s life, he has been ridiculed, discriminated against, even abused because of his ethnicity. 

“People assume I carry bombs under my clothes. DOT stops me. They search my truck so many times I can’t remember. I can’t even go into my own city driving a truck. They think I will use it as a weapon.” A tear appeared in the corner of his eye. “I’m American!”

My heart ached for Hussain. He is caught in the battle between good and evil. He is an innocent victim just like those who have been killed by airplanes flying into buildings. He endures daily profiling. He’s even had companies refuse to receive his loads because of the color of his skin. 

Yet, I can understand that in the time in which we live as Americans, we must also be diligent. So we are all trapped in the vice that grips us when we battle against an unpredictable foe that does not play by the book. Hussain suffers because of ruthless deeds of those he has never even met. 

I don’t know the solution to this dilemma. I’ll admit that in a crowded subway, I would use discretion before boarding a train with someone who I think looks like they could be a terrorist. Self preservation would overlook the fact that I don’t know what a terrorist looks like. I’d be profiling. That’s the world in which I live today. That’s the world that Hussain endures.

I shook his hand and told him I was sorry we lived in the day we do. He was grateful that someone spoke to him, swappin howdies in a congenial way. We parted not as friends, but fellow Americans who were as different as two people could be, yet held together by the one thread that is stronger than any bias or discrimination. We are Americans, pure and simple, and that’s enough for me.

 

 

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Small Beginnings, Huge Success

Posted February 2, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I walked into the local Applebee’s, eager to meet new people, citizens of Missouri. As is my custom, I went to the bar. It always provides an open atmosphere with a family feel. And it’s guaranteed to provide lots of fodder.

Shortly after Melanie took my order, a couple entered and sat next to me. They were about my age and we instantly  struck up a conversation. Since Elise is the shipping and receiving manager for a very large retailer, we had a lot to talk about.

She’s been with this company for over thirty years. I marveled at that since with my sense of adventure, I can’t imagine being in any one place that long. But I became completely captivated when she told how this company got started.

Over forty years ago, a guy named John loved fishing and made his own lures. People who fished with him noticed he always got the catch and encouraged him to sell them. So, he made up a batch and put some in the only “store” he knew of, his uncle’s bar. They sold more lures than drinks and the bar finally had no more room to increase the inventory.

John decided to start his own business. He worked at it, not because it was a business but because he loved it. People flocked to his store because it was one place in town they could get a really great experience, quality products that worked, and be waited on by someone who loved what they did. 

Apparently, that is what people were looking for back then because John’s business literally boomed. He took a few lures he made in his garage and sold in bars, and turned them into a multi-million dollar industry.

Elise beamed with pride as she told me the story of how her boss, John L. Morris, turned his modest beginnings into the overwhelmingly successful Bass Pro Shops. She’s been a part of growing that company for three decades. Throughout the conversation, she never once referred to the company by it’s name. Instead, she said, “we…”, “our”, “us”. Their entire supervisory staff has a minimum of fifteen years of service and most of them well over two decades.

As I walked back to my truck, I was struck by the fact that John did not set out to be a successful business man. He didn’t have a business plan and didn’t have a business degree from Harvard. He didn’t have a five or ten year plan. Instead, he literally took what he loved to do- fish- and found a way to make a living at it… and a handsome living if I do say so.

I’ve heard hundreds of people who say things like this can’t happen to them. They say success comes only to those who were born into certain families and dwell among the elite. I disagree and I’m sure John would as well. 

Any one of us can be wildly successful if we find what we love to do and figure out a way to make a living at it. Don’t you remember the last time you went to a business and the person genuinely loves what they do? Sure you do because it’s that memorable. 

What do you love to do? I love adventure. That’s why I can’t be tied down to one place. An office–even the corner office–feels like a prison to me. So I live on the open road. I’m at home. Like me, there is something that you LOVE to do. A place in this world where you feel at home. It’s where you fit into the puzzle called life. 

Find that place. Your place. Pursue it with gusto and passion. You may just find that that small beginning might just become a huge success.

 

 

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Still Believing

Posted January 26, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Last night, despite my truck having been in the shop for a week and my wariness about it’s drive-worthiness, Austin and I made it to Idaho. After snagging a parking spot with easy exit so I could make it to my morning delivery, I entered the mom and pop truck stop to have a look around. 

Even though I’d stocked up on food before leaving Salt Lake City, I was in the mood to be around people so I headed for the all night restaurant and grabbed a booth. The place was nothing special. Looked like it was built in the 1950′s. So did most of the people, both customers and workers. They even piped in country songs that were popular when I was born.

Halfway through my chicken fingers and tator tots, two young men sauntered in and took the booth directly in front of me. They were as conspicuous as the Gerber baby at a dentures convention. Apparently, I was not the only one who noticed. After a sudden crash of ceramic plates to the floor and a deafening shrill from behind the counter, my waitress came running over to them and hugged the big member of this Mutt and Jeff duo.

“I knew you’d come back,” she uttered between tears and gasps. “While everybody else didn’t think so, I was still believing. And here you are.” “Here I am, mama.” He finally managed.  The brute swiped a tear away from his eye as he stood and embraced his mother.

I allowed them their moments of bonding but after what seemed life forever to me, the curiosity in me escaped and I did what I’m so famous at doing. I began bombarding them with questions. I just had to get the scoop in this joyful mother and son reunion. When Chipper was a boy, his estranged father took him and fled. That’s kidnapping in the state of Idaho, but although a manhunt ensued, they never tracked them down. All of Evie’s friends and relatives eventually gave up hope that Chipper would ever return. After all, he was only eight and even if he could get away, he wouldn’t remember where to come back to.  But not Evie. “No matter what they said, I told them I was still believing that Chipper would come back. I just knew I’d see him again.”

I asked Chipper how he was able to pull it off. 

“Well, first of all, I turned eighteen last week and as of that day, he couldn’t stop me. For for ten years, I saved every penny I got. I worked mowing grass, washing cars and anything else that would pay me. I stashed the money away where he couldn’t find it so that whenever I could, I’d be able to fly back to here. I waited until I was legally an adult so I could be on my own and not be taken by DCF.

“Last week on my birthday, I called the police while he was passed out drunk and when they came to our house in Minnesota, I told them what had happened. They checked it out and he still had an outstanding warrant. So they arrested my dad. I took his truck since I knew he wouldn’t be needing it and drove back as fast as I could.” Chipper then turned to his mother and said, “I told you I’d come back.” Evie hugged him again and said,”That was the last thing you said and I never stopped believing that.” 

Before the moment Chipper and his still nameless friend entered the lazy diner as the Idaho sun dropped below the horizon, it had been a normal day. Nothing special. Nothing noteworthy. Or so I thought. It made me realize nothing is ordinary. Nothing routine or mundane. God is forever orchestrating reunions, working miracles, and manipulating the entire universe to bring about His will.  As I walked back to my truck, I felt secure and blessed that through all the difficult circumstances I’ve faced in my life, like Evie, I’m still believing. I understood what a gift that truly is. 

I believe.

I believe in miracles. I believe in the goodness of others. I believe in the resiliency of the human spirit. No matter how tragic life becomes, I still believe. My hope and prayer is that you do, too.

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Matters of the Heart

Posted January 24, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Those of you who follow me in social media (if you aren’t, why not?), you know that week before last I injured my knee. I slipped in ice while performing my pretrip inspection on my truck at 4am in Alabama. I endured several days of serious pain. It was my clutch knee.

Last Friday night, I took Austin (my brand new Freightliner Cascadia Lightweight truck) in for his very first oil change in Amarillo, Texas. On Sunday afternoon, Austin broke down in the middle of Wild West-and wild wind-Wyoming. God always provides. If you’ve ever driven on Interstate 80 across Wyoming, you know there is nothing there but it just so happened that when my truck broke down, it was at one of very few exits. Literally.  AND, there was one thing at that exit: a TA truck stop.

I coasted down the ramp, to the right into the truck stop (I didn’t stop for the stop sign. Nothing was coming), and into a parking space at the truck stop. I remained there for two days until the folks at my company had Austin towed 100+ miles into Salt Lake City to the Freightliner dealership.

Today is day seven of this adventure and I’m still in a hotel. The week has been a rollercoaster of events. My emotions have run the gammit from patient to furious, positive to hopeless, determined to wanting to chuck it all and pull Dakota (my bicycle) out of storage and take to the open road on him again.

Those who know me know I don’t have family. I can’t go cry on sis’s shoulder, get a hug from dad or have big bro punch someone’s lights out. But, I have you and so many of you have reached out in support. Emails, phone calls, texts, FB posts. The outpouring has been amazing! Thank you, by the way. I wouldn’t have been able to endure this week without you. But even with that, I have to admit there have been moments where I looked out to the surrounding snow capped mountains and felt all alone in a great big world.

Then it hit me. I feel and sense emotion on a very deep level. God gave me that gift so that I can understand what others go through on an experiential level. That way I can help them. He showed me decades ago that I cannot show others the way unless I’ve traveled that road. Remembering that took my attention off my troubles- and my broken down brand new truck- and to those I serve… and those whom I’ve never met who need to be encouraged.

I wanted to quit. I admit it. I wanted to tell the wonderful company I work for and the dealership who built Austin to take their broken down truck and shove it. But one thing stopped me. I’m not a quitter. I wonder how many people have been driven to the brink of their emotional cliff and jumped. I know some. I’m sure you do, too. I also know most of them regretted having made that decision.

I’m writing this in the lobby of the hotel in a nice comfy chair in front of the fireplace with a view of the rocky mountains. The ambiance is wonderful but the main reason I do it is when I’m all alone up in my room, my thoughts turn negative and my positive attitude that keeps me strong begins to crumble. I begin to suffer all alone in the silence of my room.

I know there are thousands of people out there who are doing just that. They don’t tell anyone they are suffering. Their tears are not seen. Their hearts cry at moments when others are not around. Their sad and painful matters of the heart are not shared with anyone. One day, they just disappear… or die a lonely death.

What I’ve been going through this last week has nothing to do with trucks, oil changes, my company or Freightliner. It has everything to do with my purpose to help others overcome… and to become. Someone has to know how they feel. They need to find the way through the emotional quagmire to freedom and then go back to show others the way.

I’m an encourager. I know that. It’s my God-given purpose. The Heartbeat of America blog will continue and I’ll continue to bring you stories from the amazing people I meet. In addition to that, I’m also going to share insights with you on matters of the heart. I’ve been working for a while on a new podcast that will be uplifting, encouraging and hopefully will help you see life’s events in a different light. I’m also considering BlogTalk radio.

I really need your help. You have all been so faithful and supportive both during my Road to Freedom Tour, and with my trucking adventure which I unwittingly termed Road to Freedom 2.0. Little did I know at the time that title would be so profound.

In the weeks and months to come, I will be sharing some deep things of the heart. Those things that pluck at your heart strings. I’ll share hope in the midst of what appears to be hopelessness. I’ll share stories of those who have overcome… stories of triumph, my own and those of others I meet along my journey.

If this resonates with you, I would like to ask you to help me in the following ways:

Please pray that God will lead those who need to hear this message to the blog, the podcast and any other media outlet that opens up.

Please share the blog with others in your social circles and ask them to pray about doing the same.

Please comment on the blog. I will do my best to respond to each comment as my life on the road allows. I utilize a service called LiveFyre to filter out spam from my comments so you’ll have to sign up once and be approved by me to leave comments. It’s not an email capture and sell scam. LifeFyre is my spam filter service. It’s completely safe for you to give your information to.

That would mean so much to me as I ratchet up my blog a notch or two and include matters of the heart. So many of you have asked for this. God is showing me it’s time to do it.

Thank you all for being such faithful supporters during the Road to Freedom Tours. Your encouragement has kept me going forward, helping to heal the wounded, encourage the discouraged and bring the truth of God’s joy to a hurting nation. You honor me.

This blog post is long today but for some reason, I cannot bring myself to apologize for its length. God bless you, my friends.

 

 

 

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When the Unexpected Happens

Posted January 19, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I spent last Friday night in a truck stop getting my brand new truck’s first oil change. On Sunday, after enduring extremely high winds in Wild West Wyoming, a “check engine” light came on. Immediately afterward, my “stop engine” light came on. Since I was driving right into the evening sun, I could not read any of my gauges.

As God would have it, I was right at one of the very few exits in the middle of nowhere. And, there was one of a handful of truck stops right there. I coasted off the exit ramp, into the truck stop and pulled my truck away from the sun. A quick inspection of my gauges revealed a serious loss of oil pressure. It was almost at zero.

I was stranded inthe middle of nowhere with a delivery appointment in six hours and I was a hundred miles from my destination. And, as luck would have it, my Auxillary Power Unit (APU) also died, meaning I would have no heat in my truck. It was cold out. After all, it is January and I was in the mountains of Wyoming.

I made the necessary calls and within four hours, they’d located another driver to come pick up my load. It was only a few hours late for delivery. Not bad considering where I was. In the meantime, I would babysit his trailer until he could get back to retrieve it and deliver his load which coincidentally was being delivered to the same place mine was.

I had very intermittent internet connection on all of my electronic devices which made communicating with anyone (including my dispatcher) quite a challenge. I did have phone service… most of the time. And, to top off the adventure, an unexpected two inches of snow fell overnight.

Lovely. Just lovely.

Some of my friends and fellow truckers thought I was taking things very lightly. After all, in the world of trucking, “if the truck ain’t rolling, you ain’t making money.” But I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t concerned. There was nothing more that I could do other than what I was doing. It was just one of those things.

If getting upset would have repaired my truck and gotten me back up and running, I’d have tried that. But “upset” is not a certified mechanic and therefore could not help. It would have been useless. So I went into the restaurant and had a nice, hot meal. I went to the trucker’s lounge to write blog posts. I caught up on reading and writing I’d not been able to do for days because I’d been running hard since coming off home time.

What am I saying? Two things really. Life happens. It rains on the just and the unjust and if I have a breath in me, life is going to happen. Secondly, getting upset about it only makes things worse. I become miserable and I make others that way as well. Why do that? It’s destructive.

When the unexpected happens–and it always does–I just make the best of it. Roll with the flow. Do what I can and put the rest in God’s hands. It’s life and it’s ALWAYS and adventure. 

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I Bend But I Don’t Break… Much

Posted January 16, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Last night I arrived at my fuel stop in Van, Texas eight minutes before I would turn into a pumpkin. I only had that many minutes I could legally drive for the day so I found a parking spot and decided to explore. Loves was wedged between a local Barbecue buffet and a family style restaurant. I checked them both out but finally opted for veggies.

While walking through the truck stop, I almost ran right into Ralph. Standing upright, he would have been almost seven feet tall but he was permanently bent at the waist. As a result, he stood less than four. He was busy grabbing a soda, snacks and whatever else he felt he needed to keep him going. 

I expected Ralph to exit to the auto parking lot after making his purchases but he did just the opposite. He lumbered out the back door to the fuel isle for trucks. 

Ahhh, a ride-along, I thought to myself… until he began to climb into his rig. I had to stop him. And with my typical fascination, I bombarded him with questions like, what happened to you? Is it difficult to drive? Are  you in pain? Do you have any limitations?

Ralph broke his back in a car accident almost twenty years ago. He was hit by a drunk driver at speeds over 100 miles per hour. His wife was killed and he was pronounced crippled for the remainder of his natural life. Ralph was not pleased with that prognosis and decided to reject it. 

He worked very hard to overcome. Enduring excruciating rehab, he was finally able to walk again. Unfortunately, the fusion in his back failed, leaving him permanently bent at the waist.  He has a really good sense of humor about it though. He says he has a birds eye view of the floor. He doesn’t miss many pennies that people drop.

Ralph also loves to be a trucker. His odd shape is perfect for driving. He is in the exact position his body needs to be in to sit at the wheel all day long. While most drivers get stiff and need to stretch, it doesn’t bother Ralph in the least. Others give him a wide berth because they are afraid they’re going to hurt him. 

“How much pain are you in?” I just had to know.

“No more than you are. I’m sure at your age you have aches and pains. Well, so do I. Hey, it’s nothing more than I would have had anyway. It’s just different. That’s all.”

Ralph is a shining example of overcoming adversity, sorrow and enormous loss. He lost his health, his mobility, the love of his life. As if to mock him, the cure made him worse. Yet today Ralph had a smile on his face, eagerly embraced the day and didn’t give it a second thought when he had to ask for my help to get his soda off the top shelf. 

On the driver’s side of Ralph’s truck, he’d placed the inscription: “I bend but I don’t break… much.” The truth is he’s been broken more than most of us will ever endure and yet he continues on his journey as if nothing bad ever happened to him. He embraces life and takes tragedy in stride. He is alive an well living life at 90 degrees. He cherishes each breath he takes and doesn’t take anything for granted. 

My life is greater because I bumped into Ralph last night. Hopefully, yours is as well. 

 

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