Challenges Archive

Johnny the Hotdog Vendor

Posted April 25, 2016 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

If you spend much time in Memphis, you’ll find him standing by his little hot dog cart. You’ll recognize him by the infectious smile and gregarious demeanor. He plays with the kids and strikes up intelligent conversations with the adults. And he provides the most excellent customer service I’ve ever seen. Johnny the hotdog vendor looks as though he doesn’t have a care in the world.

“I just LOVE what I do!” He is emphatic about how much he enjoys selling hotdogs on the street. Five bucks will get you a dog, chips and ice cold canned soda. Not a bad deal. He doesn’t skimp on the products. Only the best, Nathan’s all-natural hotdogs will do for his customers. People wait in long lines for his combo and he sells out at every event. Last Saturday at an event at the downtown public library, I bought the last one for a homeless deaf man.

A closer look at Johnny’s life revealed he is happy by choice. A very bright man, he worked twenty years for the same company servicing and repairing x-ray equipment. One day his boss in this family owned business told him he would have to let him go to make room for a family member. Family came first, even in business. Johnny was left high and dry with a family to care for.

As was with many Americans during that time, he could not find a job that would keep him home with his family. So Johnny decided to create one. He took money out of their savings, bought a hotdog stand, licenses and supplies and set up on the street corners of Memphis. He’s been there ever since.

“I have the best job in the world! I get to meet all kinds of people every day. I deliver what people want. It makes them happy and that makes me happy. I work and take time off whenever I want. And, at a big event, I make two weeks salary at my old job in a single day.”

Johnny’s zest for life is infectious. He prepares each hotdog to order and, unlike the workers at the national chain fast food places who slop the ingredients on haphazardly, he places the condiments on the dogs with precision. No mess. No worry about dripping when you try to eat one. He really cares for his customers, the tie they’re wearing and makes sure they don’t spill mustard anywhere.

Five years ago, thousands of Americans were faced with suddenly being out of jobs. Many of them lost their homes, cars, families, health and wound up in desperate circumstances. Some did not survive. But Johnny is a shining example of the American spirit, that tenacity that finds a way where there seems to be none. When times were hard, he picked himself up by the bootstraps and instead of trying to follow the same road that got him in dire straits hoping it would change, he blazed his own trail.

Saturday as I stood in the distance devouring the best hotdog I’ve ever eaten—and normally I don’t eat them at all—my heart was filled with pride, and joy as I watched Johnny the hotdog vendor joyfully dispense fun and food. My heart was filled with peace knowing that as long as there are citizens like him, the heartbeat of America will continue to be alive and well.

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How the Strong Survive

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

I sat in the restaurant at a truck stop in Wyoming and as usual, I was gazing around the room seeing who I could pounce on and find out their life story. In the back corner, a middle aged man sat all to himself. He seemed genuinely happy, yet there was a look in his eye that told a sad story.

So, I struck up a conversation with Milton.

He and his wife had only been married two years when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Louisiana coast. Milton lost his home and every belonging they had. Their dog drowned saving their new born baby. They were taken by bus to Texas.

This husband and father had two choices. He could steal or he could drive a truck. He decided to take to the open road. He went from being a white collar office executive for a Fortune 500 company to driving a tractor trailer.

When I asked him how he felt about that, I was amazed by his response.

“My wife and my baby are alive and well. I am blessed. Driving a truck is honest work. Hurricanes won’t stop them. It doesn’t really matter what a man does as far as his vocation. I did what I had to do to feed my loved ones. There’s no shame in that.”

I asked how he dealt with being away from his family for weeks at a time.

“I miss them… but not as much as I would have if Katrina had snatched them away from me. At least I can go home to them. We got another dog to replace Buddy who died. We also had two more kids since then but there’s no way we could have replaced Shamika if Buddy hadn’t saved her.”

I was so curious how the baby wound up being saved by the dog so unashamedly I asked him that, too.

“The wall of the house caved in from all the water. My wife had been sitting there just holding the baby but was knocked down by the rush of water. She hit her head and was unconscious. It was almost dark and I didn’t see where the baby had gone. I was trying to save my wife. The baby was swept up and away from us. Buddy jumped in, swam to the baby and held her head above water until we could get to her. He swam and then drug the baby to a high place. Then he got swept away and drawn under by the strong current. By the time we got to the baby, Buddy had taken in too much water and died.”

I wanted to feel sorry for this man but somehow, I could not. He had a resiliency like few I’ve ever seen. He was happy, grateful, proud and prosperous, despite being caught right in the crosshairs of the biggest storm of the century. Milton and his family has built a new, albeit very different life than he ever imagined. They endured danger, destruction and death, but insist on continuing to live life, and living it to its fullest.

As we said our farewells and headed off in separate directions, I felt honored to have met this man, if not a bit guilty for complaining about anything that happens in my life. If I listened closely, I’d hear the heartbeat of America within him that, despite the hurricane force winds of adversity, is alive and well. 

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Whatever It Takes

Posted March 5, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I crowded around the counter with a dozen other drivers at a local hangout. After ordering my dinner, Melanie the server told me she was leaving. My momentary sadness that she’d no longer bring me my Diet Pepsi without my asking for it was replaced by my natural curiosity about what her next adventure would be.

Between customers she explained that she has a masters degree but when her job was eliminated and she had little ones at home to feed, she began waiting tables and pouring up beer on tap for tips.

Her temporary measure lasted for two years but she’d finally landed a job back in her field: Education. Had she not told me, I would have never known she’d fallen on hard times. It never showed. Not once. She just brought my chips and salsa, laughed at my goofy jokes and was an all- around pleasant gal. 

Last year, between the Road to Freedom Tour and my trucking adventure, I spent a few months helping out at a Lifeway Christian Store. One of my coworkers also has a masters degree. And two children. And, because of some sort of strange illness, a suddenly legally blind husband. She’s a social worker licensed in another state. Unfortunately, she had to wait to get her license in her current state so she had to take a job earning minimum wage in a bookstore. It had to be agonizing, yet it never once showed. She was always pleasant, upbeat, and could always be found encouraging others. She decided that, whatever it takes, I’ll take care of my family.

America is full of individuals just like these two ladies. They are working at jobs they are grossly overqualified for, earning far less than they should be just to care for their families. America is like that right now but the spirit of our great nation is persevering. They don’t complain. They don’t put on a sad face. Americans just get up, walk to work if need be, sling hash or flip the burgers because the are doing whatever it takes to keep their lives afloat.

That’s the American spirit. We do whatever it takes to keep going. We dream. We pursue. Life happens. We do whatever it takes to meet the needs while keeping the dream alive. Melanie made drinks and served jalapeno poppers to unappreciative people. The social worker arranged trinkets on glass shelves and scanned items for purchase. The law school graduate who’s father broke his leg came back home and took a job driving a septic tank evacuation truck. The engineer climbed up in the cab of an eighteen wheeler, leaving his family for weeks at a time.

It’s the American way. We’ll do whatever it takes to not only survive, but to thrive. As long as there is a heartbeat, there is hope and the heartbeat of America is alive and well. 

 

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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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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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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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Larger Than Life!

Posted January 12, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Last Thursday as I drove  up and down the endless hills of Appalachia, I listened to satellite radio as the Grand Ole Oprey paused and paid tribute at the passing of a legend. At 4’11”, Little Jimmy Dickens was an icon around the Oprey, and all of country music. As a little girl, I watched the old black and white TV as he sang his funny songs. I remember thinking his guitar was bigger than he was… until I looked in the mirror.

This incredible Christian man played a huge role in my life that most of you are completely unaware of. Most of you know me as a normal size person but the truth is, just like Jimmy, I was 4’11” when I graduated high school. With very small features, I’ve had to live as a little person in a great big world all my life. I endured ruthless teasing and chiding from schoolmates and neighborhood kids.

When I started playing the guitar, one look in the mirror revealed that I was as abnormal as the great Little Jimmy Dickens. But I noticed he was always so happy. So jovial, he never seemed to let his size bother him. Truly, he was larger than life. One day I figured if he could do it, so could I. From that day on, I decided to not let my physical stature have any impact on what I wanted to accomplish in life. I charged forward with fervor and a new commit.

I played sports that all the experts say I was too small for. Although I never scored a single point in three years of high school basketball, I held county records for steals. I was so short I could easily sneak up on the taller players and snatch the ball right away from them.  I landed a tennis scholarship and went to college even though I only stood twenty inches taller than the net. 

To this day I have to buy my gloves and hats in the children’s section of stores, as well as glasses and sunglasses. My bone structure remains tiny. One day while my dentist was trying his best to do the necessary work on my teeth, he sighed and said, “Reba, if anyone tries to tell you that you have a big mouth, you tell them you dentist said NO YOU DON’T!”

Country music lost the last remaining original member of the Grand Ole Oprey. It will never be the same. No one will be able to fill his void. What he did for the genre is unequaled. I never knew I’d be stand so tall and reach so far by standing on the shoulders of such a tiny little man. I am what I am today because of a little man who played guitar and sang funny little songs. 

I would say, “rest in peace” Jimmy, but I know you’re up in Heaven wearing one of those glittery suits, strumming a guitar and singing your heart out. Thank you for being big. Thank you for teaching me to be BIG. I once said that when I grew up I wanted to be like you. Today, I realize it came true.

Here’s to the not-so-Little Jimmy Dickens, the man who demanded to live LARGER THAN LIFE!

 

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For My Girls

Posted January 7, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

On Sunday I wheeled my big rig into a very tight parking lot, backed into door fifteen and returned to the guard shack to check in. A very handsome and well built young man sat behind one of the desks. He obviously worked out on a regular basis.

John looked at my paperwork and said, “That will be $90 to unload your truck and would you like to buy some candy for a dollar?” I followed  his hands as he pointed to the boxes of assorted candy bars that lined the wall next to his desk. I figured he was selling the sweets to earn his way to the Olympics or something but when I asked, he pointed to the photo of two beautiful little girls he’d tacked to the wall above the candy.

“It’s for them.”

“Oh they’re doing a fundraiser?”

“No, I’m doing the fundraiser so I can provide them the life they deserve.”

That got my attention so, much to the man’s surprise, I pulled up a chair and said, “Tell me all about it.”

For the next twenty minutes, I listened as this man described his life over the last four years. His master’s degree had landed him a high level position with a prestigious company in central Florida. He quickly rose to become very successful but then the unthinkable happened. The company was shut down for unscrupulous practices and with no warning, John was out of a job. 

They quickly ran through their savings when he was unable to land another job. He was in the same boat so many Floridians–and Americans–were in at that time… overqualified and unemployed. He had no way to support his wife and two young daughters. But John had his brain. He discovered that most companies were outsourcing their work to third parties so rather than trying hopelessly to get a job with those companies, he went to the third parties.

He landed a job working for a “lumper” company–folks who unload trucks at the big warehouses. Contrary to what you may think, most companies do NOT unload trucks that deliver to their warehouses. It’s outsourced.

With his skills, John quickly rose to managing a team and runs a very tight ship. But, he still could not make enough money to provide the life he wanted for his daughters. But rather than becoming discouraged, he put his brain power to work. He realized that he was dealing with truckers who would sit at his dock for hours. Many of them did not have food and wanted to munch on something. So he went to Sam’s Club, bought candy bars at wholesale and made them available to truck drivers for a buck.

He’s sold enough candy to take his daughters on vacation every year, buy braces for both of them, pay for them to enjoy the activities they had been used to. 

John was a victim of our economy. He could have thrown in the towel. He could have given up. After all, it doesn’t get much worse than what he endured. But John used what he had… his brain. He found a way to make it work. Now, he unashamedly asks drivers “Would you like a candy bar for a dollar?” And John doesn’t bat an eye when telling them it’s to provide the life his daughters should have. 

There is no remorse in John’s eyes. They sparkle and glimmer with satisfaction that in the midst of trial, he figured out a way to provide for his family. He is a gutsy man. He said no to defeat. That’s the American way and thanks to John, the Heartbeat of America is alive and well!

 

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Through the Storms

Posted January 5, 2015 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Because I am so mobile and always on the move, it’s not uncommon to wear flannel shirts in the morning and shorts by the time I arrive at my destination. I experience all sorts of weather extremes, many times all in the same day.

Since Christmas I drove through over four thousand miles of snow, got hit by a 100mph micro burst, slid on black ice before being shut down outside Abilene, Texas. And, as I write this, I’m in shorts and t-shirt in Florida after enduring overnight thunderstorms with tornadic activity. It seems no matter where I go, I run into some sort of storm.

Such it is with the very life we live. No matter where we find ourselves while on our journey, a storm surely arises. And when it does, we sometimes want to be someplace else… any place the storms aren’t raging. But as I high-tailed it out of Abilene heading back east thinking I’d drive out of the ice storm, a weather watcher friend told me the entire country was under some sort of storm. There was no way I would enjoy clear weather that day or the next.

I could have gotten upset about it but that wouldn’t have changed the weather. I could have stopped but then I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. No, I just needed to use the resources I have to go through the storms. I could navigate through the ice, dodge the puddles from the thunderstorms and steer clear of the tornadoes. Because I made the decision to keep moving forward, I’m sitting in eighty degree sunny weather in central Florida. 

I’ve learned a lot about storms since Christmas, both the ones I endured on the road, and those we face in life. Here are just a few insights:

The storm is going to come. You may be able to navigate around some but eventually, you’ll be faced with one head on. Face it.

No two storms are alike but everything you learned in previous storms will help you navigate the present one. Trust it.

While there are times when storms will stop you dead in your tracks, most times you can maneuver through them and safely to the other side. Navigate it.

The storm always passes. When all else fails, stop, regroup and wait it out. Endure it.

I’m so grateful for the storms. Don’t like them but I’m grateful for them nonetheless. Because of them, I’m confident I have within me the inner strength needed to weather whatever life throws at me.  So do you. 

Storms are good but the object is to navigate through them. Trust in your own God-given ability, skill and wisdom and you’ll get through every storm that comes your way. You’ll get through it and be a better person for having done it.

After all, it’s only a storm… right?

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