Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Archive

Six Days…

Posted November 6, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I bet you’ve been wondering where I’ve been this last week. Well, I slept for forty-eight straight hours. Why? Because I was up and traveling across the country for six days without any sleep.

Me on a Mission

Me on a Mission

I left Florida, crossed two states and did something I had not done since 1971. I boarded a bus heading west. I had to go to Salt Lake City on very important business and I decided to meet women on the way. So I went Greyhound and left the driving to them. I was not prepared for what I encountered.

During my six days (that’s 144 continuous hours of consciousness), I met 128 women who were on the run from their significant other. One by one I sat next to them, or they sat next to me on a bus. They told their stories of abuse. The were literally running for their lives in the cheapest way they could find.

Wyoming. That White Stuff is Snow

Wyoming. That White Stuff is Snow

One women, Sabrina, had just been discharged from the hospital after a three month stay. Her husband had run her down with the family car, breaking both legs, several vertebrae and leaving her in a coma for weeks. The surgical wounds still had staples in them. She was in tremendous pain and riding a bus was the worst thing she could have done… except staying with her spouse.

She was such a trooper. My heart went out to her, particularly at 3am when the agony was so great, she called out for anyone to help her. I went back and prayed for God to ease her pain. Thankfully, He did.

I Discovered in Wyoming Why People Wear Coats!

I Discovered in Wyoming Why People Wear Coats!

I met Henrietta in St. Louis. She boarded the bus with two children in tow. I couldn’t help but hear them asking mommy why daddy couldn’t come. She had no answer. Not wanting to say anything negative about their father, she opted for a vague answer and quickly changed the subject. 

Two hours later, the bus made a meal stop at a local McDonald’s. Who knew they did that?! Fortunately, a convenience store was right next door. I ran over there and found a coloring book. I grabbed it and ran back to the bus and took out a pack of  colored highlighters from my backpack.

Mountains in Utah

Mountains in Utah

 

When Henrietta and kids returned to the bus, I gave them to her. She and I talked while the children colored in their book. 

During my six days aboard public transportation, I saw country I’d never seen before as we made our way through Wyoming and finally Utah. I also saw a part of society that is hurting in a way I’d never witnessed.

Sure, I’ve seen people running in airports, at rest stops along the interstate, at hotels and in restaurants. But never before had I been so close to hurting women who did not have the means to flee in style. They didn’t have money for meals, even the value menu under the golden arches. Their eyes mirrored hearts that were empty and without belonging. I ached for them.

Me After Five Days and 120 Women's Stories

Me After Five Days and 120 Women’s Stories

 

I prayed for them and thanked God that I saw this underworld of women who are more courageous than the brave souls who pushed west to settle the once wild land we rode though on a smelly bus.

If I ever am tempted to complain about sitting in a plush airport waiting for a late airplane that will take me from one end of the country to the other in a matter of hours, I’ll remember my six days on a Greyhound. I’ll remember Atlanta’s bus station that was locked down while all passengers were searched and guns, knives, blades and brass nuckles confiscated.

I’ll remember cries in the night as wounds tried to heal, and children who didn’t understand abuse. They only missed their daddy.

Six days…

 

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13,300,560 Minutes Ago Today

Posted November 5, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

It was a cold November night in Northern Florida twenty-nine years ago today that my life changed forever. I was abducted from a parking lot by a total stranger and beaten, raped and humiliated. 

Northern Florida

Northern Florida

Today, though I still have scars, the pain no longer remains. Today, I reach out to other women who suffered through horrific attack, or to those who endure it on a daily basis.

348 months after that cold, dark night in an abandoned building in the middle of the woods, my spirit soars and my life has never been more full. 

During the 1,508 weeks that have come and gone since then,

 

  • I’ve traveled over 6,000 miles on the Road to Freedom Tour.
  • I have reached thousands with a message of hope. I’ve pointed them toward help and a way out of their circumstance. 
  • I’ve published 2 books and have been asked for the one I’m writing about the Tour.
  • I’ve served thousands of high risk college students to overcome insurmountable odds to live their dream.
  • I’ve preached the gospel both in my great nation and on foreign soil.
  • I’ve owned 3 businesses.
  • I’ve traveled to 38 states and met people on the back roads that most would never meet.
  • I’ve slept under the stars and seen the sunrise and moon set at the same time from a mountaintop in Appalachia.

In the last 10556 days since that fateful night, I’ve lived life to its fullest, grabbed for the gusto, and gotten all the goodie out of every one of those days. Because of that one day that changed my life forever, I vowed to live each day as if it was my last, because I know all to well it really could be.

At the Top of the World

At the Top of the World

During these last 221,676 hours, I went to the depths of emotional pain like I never knew existed. I wrestled the demon of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and won. I drew closer to God than I ever thought possible and soared to the heights of Heaven to touch the face of Abba Father.

Yes, I was attacked. But I assure you I didn’t spend any of the last 13,300, 560 minutes being a victim. I couldn’t change what happened that night. I did all I could to stop him. He was too strong and I paid the price. 

On the Road to Freedom in Tennessee

On the Road to Freedom in Tennessee

But, just as assuredly as the sun rose over the eastern horizon on November 6th, so did I. I rode on the wings of hope and the prayers of faithful saints.

Today I celebrate. I recently sat over bagels with my dear friend, Jane Young Hill. She worked tirelessly as my therapist after my assault. We basked in the glory of winning the battle over violent assault and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’m writing about it in my current manuscript. I told her I remember each moment of my attack as if it was last night. But, I do not feel any of the pain.

LCSW Jane Young Hill and Me. What a Joyful Reunion

LCSW Jane Young Hill and Me. What a Joyful Reunion

You see, in these last 13,300,560 minutes I’ve been embracing healing. I’ve been walking away from that moment in time when a drug-crazed lunatic rocked my world. And, once I found my way to freedom, I’ve been busy showing others the way. 

It’s the Road to Freedom. 

The Road to Freedom

The Road to Freedom

Today’s my anniversary of sorts. I celebrate life. I’m grateful for that moment in time so long ago. It helps me remember the important things and treasure each breath I take. 

No matter what you are facing in your life, there is hope. There is life beyond survival and the journey down the Road to Freedom is worth the trip. 

Thank you for following and supporting the Road to Freedom Tour. If you want to take steps forward but are afraid, I urge you to seek help. Get my book: Facing Fear and Finding Freedom

Can't Life Your Dream Because of Fear? Get my book on Amazon!

Can’t Life Your Dream Because of Fear? Get my book on Amazon!

Put one foot in front of the other and one day you’ll be able to look back and say, “13,300,560 minutes ago today…”

 

 

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Quest for Freedom

Posted October 14, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

On Saturday, I rode Dakota to a nearby eatery and met one of my favorite people in the world: Jane Young Hill. We embraced in a long awaited reunion and grabbed a table outside. Not only was the weather breathtaking, but it was much more quiet than inside the restaurant.

We caught up on each other’s lives over pumpkin bagels and regaled each other of our adventures, Jane with her family that is growing up too fast and me with the Road to Freedom Tour that has taken on a life of its own. 

LCSW Jane Young Hill and Me. What a Joyful Reunion

LCSW Jane Young Hill and Me. What a Joyful Reunion

The conversation naturally turned to the reason Jane and I met. She is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Jane and I worked together for a couple of weeks but she soon realized I needed intense help. She arranged for me to be admitted to Focus by the Sea, in St. Simons Island, Georgia. 

Once stabilized, Jane continued to work tirelessly with me to overcome the terror I faced. I found my way to freedom thanks to her expertise and willingness to see me through my quest… the quest for freedom.

We sat in the morning sun reminiscing about those weeks together and I admitted I know full well I would not be where I am today if God had not placed Jane in my path. I’d been to another therapist who, even through she was young and vibrant, fell asleep during our first session together. It was also our last.

I am happy, emotionally healthy and whole today because of Jane and Saturday morning, I wanted her to bask in the sweetness of the fruits of her labor. 

Dakota and my new Bob Trailer. The men in my life!

Dakota and my new Bob Trailer. The men in my life!

I asked her if she ever got discouraged or felt she was not making a difference. Of course she does. We all do. I told her the next time she felt that way, to think of me and know she’s doing a good work.

Two hours passed like a flash of lightening and all too soon, she went back to her therapy world and I mounted Dakota and pedaled west. The memories of our days together and the gravity of Jane’s efforts tugged at my heart. She gave all she had to contribute to my personal quest for freedom. Now it’s my turn. 

Can't Life Your Dream Because of Fear? Get my book on Amazon!

Can’t Live Your Dream Because of Fear? Get my book on Amazon!

Helping women along the Road to Freedom Tour is just my reasonable service. It’s my way of paying it forward. To show others the way to the freedom I enjoy and have had for several years.

Thank you, Jane and so many therapists, social workers, doctors, nurses and others who dedicate their lives to helping others find the way to freedom. May God multiply blessings back to you for your labor of love for humanity. 

 

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It’s a Good Morning!

Posted September 24, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

As you read this I’m most likely flexing my knee and loving being reunited with Dakota. Yesterday I road from south Jacksonville to Orange Park and connected with BiknJeanne one more time for some fine tuning on Dakota. Too bad Jeanne didn’t have a tool to fine tune my knee.

Jacksonville, Florida Skyline from the River Walk Trail

Jacksonville, Florida Skyline from the River Walk Trail

After lunch, she showed me the way to get past Interstate 295 without getting on horribly congested roads. I really enjoyed the artistic abilities of locals in graffitti as I walked my bike past the underpass along the CSX railroad line. Fortunately, there where no homeless people there, and not a drug deal took place for the half mile I walked.

Back on the road again, I snaked through the south part of Jacksonville again and finally to downtown. They really have tried to spruce up the area so it was nice to see the improvements. It was even nicer to be back on the bike. The Jacksonville Landing never looks better than from the seat of a bicycle while riding along the River Walk. 

Yeah, happy to be on the bike again!

Yeah, happy to be on the bike again!

You really can’t get anywhere in Jacksonville without going over a bridge. The St. Johns River snakes through the River City. Only two bridges are open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. I could take the Acosta Bridge, the newest of all the downtown bridges and built high enough that ships could go underneath without having to raise it.

Or I could take the oldest bridge, The Main Street Bridge. It’s typical old Florida. Drawbridge. Steel grading across the top. Narrow sidewalks but constructed at the most narrow part of the river in downtown. I opted for the Baby Blue Main Street Bridge but not before stopping at the Jacksonville Landing just to look around.

Dakota at the Jacksonville Landing

Dakota at the Jacksonville Landing

All in all, Dakota and I traveled forty miles together and road in and out of misty rain. He performed admirably even after being shipped all the way from Indiana. It really was a GOOD morning!

I know you’re wondering about how the knee feels after riding forty miles. Well, Jacksonville is primarily flat, except for the bridges so it was a pretty easy ride. And my knee is doing just fine. A little sore after the ride but other than that, perfect!

I’m so grateful for God’s continued healing. I won’t ride tomorrow. It’s supposed to rain anyway so I’ll get some writing done!

As it looks right now, I may be looking at a departure from the east coast of Florida somewhere around October 8th. BiknJeanne and I discussed the possibility of her riding the first 75 miles or so together. That would be such a thrill. 

Thank you all for your continued support, prayers, encouragement and for helping me spread the word about Road to Freedom. There is always a way. It continues! Who knows, I could be pedaling to YOUR town!

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“It Happened to Me…”

Posted September 17, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

 

I just completed an awesome five days with My Book Therapy (MBT) at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Annual Conference in Indianapolis. It was an amazing whirlwind of a time. I’m the Member Care Coach at MBT and spend the entire conference each year at the MBT booth.

 

My dear friend, award winning author, Lisa Jordan and me.

My dear friend, award winning author, Lisa Jordan and me.

I have the privilege of meeting hundreds of writers at different places on their writing journeys. I encourage, celebrate and pray with writers. I help them find their way. It’s such a rewarding time, I hate to see it come to an end. 

This year was different in two regards. First, I had dozens of women approach me. They would wait until no one else was around and muster the courage to utter these words that I’ll never forget, “It happened to me.” One by one, they told their stories.  They have survived insurmountable odds and were trying to move on with their lives. We shared, cried, hugged, prayed.  I lost count but the last I can remember, over 40 women shared their stories with me. They are heroes, each and every one of them. 

I know that Road to Freedom Tour has only begun. I also believe it must be done on a much larger scale than I ever imagined. My plan was to fly back to Florida where I’m connected and plan my next steps. On Saturday, I was approached by an agent who wanted to know about my bicycle trip. When they heard the adventures of “The Bicycle Lady”, they asked me to send them a proposal for the book I’m writing. On Sunday I was approached by an executive editor for a major publishing company who asked for a proposal as well.

For those of you who are not in or around the publishing industry, please let me assure you this rarely happens. This was confirmation to me that God wants Road to Freedom to have a broader scope so that hurting women all over the country can face their fear and find the freedom to abundantly live the life they have only been existing through since they were assaulted or abused.

I left the hotel and headed to the airport to fly back to Florida. I was wearing an ACFW shirt that a woman in line at Starbucks recognized. She discovered that I was the Bicycle Lady and insisted that I accompany her to her gate to meet her friends. We stood around as I recounted story after story of God’s power to heal wounded women. 

 

My brand new friends at the airport

My brand new friends at the airport

We laughed and cried together. They prayed for me right there at the gate. I had to rush back to catch my own flight so I took off down the concourse at break neck speed. Suddenly, I felt a firm hand on my shoulder. I turned to find a female police officer stopping me. My first instinct was that I was speeding. Okay, I know there is no speed limit for pedestrians in the airport, but she caught me off guard. Then I wondered if it was illegal to pray in the airport in Indianapolis. 

Then the words came… you know, those four immortal words that I’ve heard over and over on the Road to Freedom. She said, “I overheard your stories back there. I just felt I needed to tell you, ‘it happened to me.'” 

I completely abandoned any attempts to catch my flight. We stepped over to the corner and I listened while she told me about enduring sexual abuse at the hands of a family member while growing up. As an adult she knew she had to become a cop to fight back for those who, like she’d once been, were unable to fight back.

Tears flowed down her cheeks as she told me how she fights for others now. Officer “She has a heart” is a champion for all those who the Road to Freedom serves. She is a hero!

In the days, weeks and months to come, Road to Freedom will be expanding to bring this liberating message to a much larger number of women at a time. I’ll be working with partners to bring encouragement, teaching, speaking, books, and other media to the masses. RtF has garnered so much media attention and the momentum is high. 

We must get this message out to hurting women. Would you be willing to partner with me? Here’s how:

1) Help me get the word out about my blog. Invite others to follow it. Whether they are hurting or not (don’t assume they’re not hurting. These women suffer in silence), ask them to follow and to share my blog with others. They can sign up right on my website and have my blog delivered to their email address daily.

2) Consider purchasing my e-book, “Facing Fear and Finding Freedom” available on Amazon for $2.99. All the proceeds go to the advancement of the Road to Freedom Tour. Also, if you read it, I’d be honored if you’d give it a review on Amazon. That helps others who are deciding whether to buy it.

3) Pray about Road to Freedom. I’ll be hitting the road again before long (Although probably not on the bike… maybe in an RV?) to continue the message and helping others heal.

Facing Fear book cover CORRECTED rjh

Click on Picture to purchase

Now that ACFW is in the history books, the blogging adventures will resume on a daily basis again. 

Thank you all for your support, love, prayers and encouragement. As I reach out to others, I am your arms extended!

 

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It’s Not About the Bike

Posted August 28, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Heading Out at Sunrise

Setting out at sunrise

Since I began this Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour across America, I’ve said that it’s not about the bike. It’s about getting into the lives and hearts of the women who I come in contact with day after day whose lives are changed.

They have been liberated, healed and have gained courage to face their fear and find the freedom they were meant to enjoy. I’ve met such incredible people on this trip. It’s been amazing and I’m so grateful to God that He chose me to ride my bicycle for women who don’t have a voice.

While the Road to Freedom will not end, it appears the bicycle portion is completing its course. I injured my shoulder on day four of the tour. It’s been up and down but I’ve been nursing it back to health. While pushing my bike last week through ten miles of soft gravel, I apparently completed tearing what was only a partial tear to the rotator cuff. I received a diagnosis of a full thickness tear.

My original  plan was to ride back to Evansville, Indiana Monday, stay for a couple of days and slowly meander northeast to arrive in

Farm Road in Illinois

Farm Road in Illinois

Indianapolis on September 11th for the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference. That would give it a chance to calm down and begin the healing process. Five more days there would be just what I would need to complete the rest of the tour. 

I set out on Monday morning at sunrise heading back east, careful to avoid the soft gravel road. I’d covered about 55 miles of a 70 mile ride when I tore the medial collateral  ligament in my knee. I was on the side of the road for about an hour sitting and praying. Every time I stood up, I would get dizzy and nauseous, a clear indication it was more than just a tweak. I had a serious injury.

Thankfully, I was close enough to my destination that my two new friends, Clydean and Melody, were able to come pick me up. I rode safe and sound in the comfort of a vehicle for the remainder of my journey.

As word began to spread of my injuries, I have received an incredible outpouring of well wishes, concerns about how disappointed I must be not being able to continue my ride. Although I am so grateful for the outpouring of love and support,  this recent turn of events has done nothing to deter me from my mission. The Road to Freedom is alive and well, and soon to be well traveled.

Though I can’t get on the bike right now, it’s not about the bike. Every mile I’ve ridden has been filled with challenge, ministry, hardship, fulfillment, excitement, fatigue. God has always led me to minister to others. That’s who I am. That’s who He’s called me to be.

My friend Melody said it perfectly, “well, if you can’t go to them, we’ll just have to bring them to you!” We already have ministry scheduled in her home for tonight!

 

The Ride back east to Indiana and Kentucky

The Ride back east to Indiana and Kentucky

The Lord is showing me that the Road to Freedom began on the bike, and will continue as a foundation to help women who have been the victims of violent assault and sexual abuse. That will be the direction Road to Freedom takes. What began on an bike in the vast wilderness of country roads in America will reach more people than I ever thought possible.

The bike gave birth to something that the country has hooked on to and will be used for years to come to minister to women who have suffered in silence far too long.

I will remain in the Henderson, Kentucky area until September 11th writing, planning and preparing to take Road to Freedom to a greater level. 

I will continue to blog about the experiences, adventures and truth God reveals to me through this amazing journey. I need you more than ever to help me spread the word about Road to Freedom. Though it began on two wheels, it was never about the bike, but rather about the 1 in 3 women in our country who will be violently attacked or suffer sexual abuse in their lifetime.

I will also work on the book that is coming out of this amazing adventure. I now have the time to do it!

Through your help, encouragement and prayer support,  I’ve been able to reach thousands of women, some–like Kayledean–we’ve met and shared the celebration of

Oh, that hurts!

Oh, that hurts!

triumph. Some we’ve wept with as they poured out the stories, finally having someone who would listen and understand. Others we may never meet but they are being touched nonetheless.

We have momentum and it didn’t come from the bike. It came from you helping me get the word out. And the word continues to spread. We have to keep it going. I may be shipping Dakota home but the Road to Freedom will continue to be the path I take. Please continue to take the journey with me. I’d miss you terribly if you didn’t.

Women need us. We need to bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free.

 

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Across the Table

Posted August 23, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

BibleYesterday morning I was invited to a Bible study in the home of a retired female pastor. I eagerly accepted the invitation and before I knew it, I found myself sitting around a long table with other women.

I was asked to share about the Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour and as I did, the lady directly across the table began to tear up. She went on to share a story of pain and ultimate forgiveness.

She’d had been treated inappropriately as a child by her half brother. As they grew into adulthood, they parted ways. Her brother repeated these acts and landed in prison with a twenty year sentence.

I was released from prison and recently this dear lady got word that he had died. She was at a loss as to what to do. She John Audobon Lake 2allowed God to heal her childhood wounds but she’d also build a mighty protective fortress around her emotions and didn’t want to open that gate again.

At God’s prompting, she finally met with her brother’s children and experienced a grand and glorious healing.

The Bible study continued for several moments. Suddenly the lady next to the one who’d shared began to cry and said she was having a very difficult time trying to forgive the drunk driver who struck and killed her son back in May. This mother’s heart bled for her son.

I opened my mouth and love mixed with grace flowed out. There is a difference between grief and forgiveness. A grieving mother must first grieve, then the forgiveness is possible. For a long while I poured out God’s love to her. It  is incomprehensible what this mother was facing. It’s unnatural for a mother to bury their child.

Southern IllinoisIn my finite mind, I planned on sitting in on a neighborhood Bible study while sipping Thursday morning coffee. But, as God would have it, women were there who needed ministry… to share their stories… to receive a word of encouragement from a stranger to their town, albeit one who blew into their community wearing spandex and helmet hair.

As I hugged them goodbye and headed to my temporary home, I was struck by the reality that we never know who’s sitting across the table. They may appear happy, healthy and whole but they could be suffering in silence.

I’ve faced that during this trip more often than I have words to express. Women–and some men–who put on a brave face but in private relive the same nightmare over and over again. 

I urge each of you to take note of the person sitting across the table from you. Whether you know them or not, you really don’t know what they may be experiencing… the pain they endure… the silent suffering that fills their day.

Take a moment to encourage them, to pray with them or to discover how you can help them. If we all do that, the world will be a better place.

 

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Three States, Three Deaths, Three Blessings

Posted August 21, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Twin Bridges over the Ohio River

Twin Bridges over the Ohio River

Yesterday I started in Kentucky. Because the twin bridges over the Ohio River into Indiana is treacherous, my new friends, Danny and Clydean offered to drive me across. I eagerly accepted!

So, as much as I would have like to have pedaled over the state line, I was grateful to have the safety of doors of a pickup truck. After a quick breakfast, they put me off in a beautiful riverfront park in Indiana. 

Before I could get out of the park, three deaths occurred. The first was my front tire. The inner tube died and I had my first full flat tire of the tour. Then my heart rate monitor died, immediately followed by my bike computer that calculates my speed and distance. 

I felt like a blind woman riding a wheelchair on an interstate highway. I patched the tire, fiddled Indiana State Lineunsuccessfully with the computer and didn’t bother to dig out batteries out of the bottom of one of my panniers (saddle bags) for the heart rate monitor. 

The ride west was pleasant through the rest of Indiana. Once I crossed over the bridge spanning the Wabash River, things began to change. 

Google maps said to “take a right toward Country Road 500 N”. What it didn’t tell me was that the road was really a path and was not marked or even named. I missed the turn off and overshot it by 2 miles. I had to ride back to it. No big deal. It was only 90 degrees and I had used half my water supply.

Wabash River Bridge

Wabash River Bridge

I rode and rode through amazing farm land over black tar asphalt rough roads. But it really was amazingly peaceful. I really didn’t notice the heat. But, I had to begin rationing my water because I was still about fifteen miles from the nearest town. And it had been miles since I passed a house.

Suddenly, a building appeared, literally smack dab in the middle of absolutely nowhere. And there was a Coke Machine out front. I’d been out in the sun long enough that I could be hallucinating, but as I approached, I discovered it was real. I deposited my coin and pulled out an icy cold Diet Coke. Just the blessing I needed!

As I rode on, the river bottom farmland gave way to steep hills. I could have done without those Illinois State Linebut I was about to learn hills were the least of my worries. Moments later the pavement turned into soft gravel. Riding a bike fully loaded with gear with my tires is a very tricky maneuver. 

I walked my bike up hills, down hills, through deep gravel and thin gravel. My cell phone had no reception so I could not check my location. I had no idea how far I’d come because I had no odometer. I had to guess. 

I hoped I was still headed toward Norris City but I couldn’t be sure. Once I pushed Dakota to the top of one hill, I saw a house off the road. I wheeled in and struggled through even deeper gravel in the driveway. I leaned my bike up against a tree and approached the house. I knocked on the front door was grateful when a woman finally answered.

Oasis in the DesertShe gave me directions to Norris City and as I turned to leave, she said, “Can I ask you what you’re doing?”

I told her about the Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour and she began to cry… that all familiar tell tale sign she’s fighting fear.

She said, “You’re the Bicycle Lady? I heard about you from a friend and I can’t believe you’re standing on my porch. I’ve been following your blog!”

She went on to tell me her story of spousal abuse and how she had just successfully obtained a restraining order. She had been afraid to answer the door but felt compelled to. She now knew why.

After I prayed with her and said goodbye, I now understood why Google maps directed me down a soft gravel road. I’m so grateful to have met Kayleedean on a soft gravel road in the middle of nowhere, USA.  Blessing number two.

Soft gravel road in Illinois

Soft gravel road in Illinois

With her directions I made it into Norris City, Illinois, a mere 18 miles from my destination for the night. I called my host and she said her daughter was coming to pick me up and would be there in less than a half hour. Blessing number three.

From pushing my bike 10 miles in gravel in the heat of the day, a ride was just what I needed.

Three states: Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois. 

Three deaths: my tire, my bike computer and my heart rate monitor

Three blessings: a ride over the the twin bridges, a Coke machine miles from anywhere, meeting Kayleedean… and the bonus blessing of a ride the last 18 miles. 

It just doesn’t get better than the adventurous day I spent on the Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour Across America.

 

 

 

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Climb the Next Hill

Posted August 15, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Barn in Western KYAfter a very restful night in a hotel room, I set out on the next leg of my journey, a 40 mile trip from Madisonville to Owensboro, KY. There were hills. One was so steep I thought I was going flip over backwards. 

I stopped and got off my bike, looked at that hill and said, “You’re mine.” With that I pushed Dakota up the mountain. The summit of that hill revealed the most beautiful rolling countryside I’ve ever seen. It was breathtaking. The next three dozen miles were filled with rolling hills, corn fields and Amish farms.

I still had hills I had trouble getting over and my legs were still sore from two hard days but it was so worth it because of what was on the other side. With the images of the last summit, I found the strength to ride up or walk up… however I did it, I made sure to climb the next hill. 

The sun shone brightly and the sky was such a rich blue, with occasional white, puffy clouds. I hardly noticed the 30mph head wind. Dakota in the Cornfield of Western KY

We all have hills in front of us, no matter where we are or what we’re doing. When our emotional legs are burning and the wind is sucked out of your emotional lungs, it’s easy to decide to quit. To cancel your plans and head for the couch. But, as my ride yesterday showed, that’s when you must climb the next hill.

Beauty and joy awaits you. The troubles of the past fade when you see the view from the top of the next hill. And you’ll be further along your journey. So, please climb the next hill. And the next… and the next… well, you get the point. 

More tomorrow, my friends.

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More Than You’re Capable Of

Posted August 14, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

From the Farm in KYI did not post this as early as I normally would for two very important reasons:

1) I was exhausted from Monday’s 4 thunderstorm day and needed a really good night’s sleep before I wrote this.

2) I wanted to make sure I formulated this idea before putting it in print.

 

At the beginning of this adventure, I told you I’d not only share the good, but the bad as well. Monday was surely the worst “bad” of this journey… perhaps even in my life.

As I look back on that time, I realize I was accomplishing much more than I”m capable of doing in myself.

The rain was coming down so hard, I could not see more than a few feet in front of me. I’d picked up about fifteen additional pounds in Kentucky Countrysiderainwater on my tent and gear. Thankfully my panniers were waterproof.

If I lost my footing, slipped or got out of balance and dropped my bike, I would have not been able to pull it back upright. 

I pushed up Balls Hill in six inches of rain water rushing down the hill in the opposite direction. I have a shoulder injury. It was the end of a long day of climbing really tall hills. Each time I planted my foot, my leg wobbled unsteadily. I was at my limit.

I wanted to crawl into a ball like a rolly-polly bug.

Kentucky HillsideSuddenly the faces began a slide show in my mind. One by one, my heart replayed the encounters I’ve had along this journey. The lives God has touched through our paths crossing. I thought of how their lives will improve for them having faced their fear and found their freedom.

I realized that I would not be used of God to help more women overcome their fear if I rolled up in a ball and called it quits. A strength rose up from within me. Something more than I’m capable of in myself. With a new commit–for them–I defied the elements and pushed up that hill. 

Looking back on that moment, I realized a few things that I want to share with you:

1) God doesn’t usually take over until you reach the end of yourself. Had he done that before, I may have accidentally thought my strength was improving with the exercise I’m getting. What’s more, though I’d reached the end of my strength, God’s strength is limitless.

2) No matter how bad the conditions become, there is always–truly, ALWAYS–a way out. I was able to get to a home where Pat gave me sweet tea and her husband, Charlie, loaded my soaked bike in the back of his truck. He drove me the last three miles to my destination. 

3) The decisions I wanted to make in that desperate moment would have been the wrong one. Thankfully, God has shown me over Chief Latiga Campground, AL 4and over again that I should not make decisions in those heated moments, but rather get through the incident, then reassess. I’m so glad I did!

4) Never make a life altering decision before you’re rested. Now that I’ve had a couple of nights indoors in nice, soft, dry beds, I know I need to press onward. Without the rest, I may have hitched a ride with a southbound trucker. 

For women who are faced with fear after a violent assault, these principles apply to their lives as well. That’s why I’m writing this today. I want them to learn from my desire to quit and from my turning to God, relying on His strength.

No matter what you’re facing, through God’s unlimited and all-powerful strength, you can accomplish more than you’re capable of. You may reach the end of your own strength, but that’s where He takes over and continues to move you in the direction He wants you to go.

Rely on Him! He will get  you through whatever you’re facing. If God can empower a drenched and drained 56 year old woman in the middle of a blinding thunderstorm to push her bicycle up a mountain in six inches of rushing water, He can help you with whatever you’re facing!

Trust him today! You’ll be glad you did!

 

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