Tour America Archive

Farm Fresh Indeed!

Posted January 31, 2017 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I clicked off mile after mile up the familiar I-44. Before I would arrive at our terminal, I just had to make one stop. My fleet manager landed me a load to bring in to put my truck in the shop. Rather than deadheading from Oklahoma, I would now be paid for the miles.

I called ahead to the shipper because my loading appointment was not until five in the afternoon. I would need a place to park my truck for eight hours before I would have enough drive time to get into the terminal. The shipper said they were a farm so parking would be no problem. I could stay as long as I needed to.

Sweet.

I left the modern road behind and climbed the roller coaster hills into the farm country of southern Missouri. Two turns and I arrived at—a FARMHOUSE? Surely, the GPS was incorrect.

Just as I was about to keep going, three men began waving happily at me so I pulled into the driveway. Within seconds Abraham, Isaac and Jacob greeted me as if I was their long lost friend. Unlike the two younger men, Abraham wore a long beard. All three donned leather hats and old fashioned button-down breeches.

I had just stepped back in time!

Abraham told me they would not be able to load me before my appointment because, well, they had not picked the kale yet. He asked me to turn my truck around and I could just stay right there until they were ready to load.

Hours went by but I didn’t notice. I was fascinated by this incredible Mennonite family in Missouri. They were quiet, respectful, and very hard workers. Men, women and children began to arrive in cars. Before long there was an army of workers ready for work in the fields.

All the men wore button down breeches and leather hats. The women wore skirts to their ankles, jackets and bonnets. The children were miniature versions of their parents. Each of them waved at me as they pulled in. Their smiles were infectious!

Within moments, the troop entered the fields and began to pick the valuable commodity. The little ones carried the kale in cloth shoulder bags to a washing station just outside the house. The women washed the greens and placed the clean product in boxes. Other children took box after box to a trailer. The young men prepared the boxes onto pallets inside that trailer and slid the pallets by hand to one side of the trailer. No one broke a speed record. It was slow and methodical and yet, strangely effective. I watched in awe at this completely manual process was getting the job done.

About four in the afternoon, Isaac asked me to open the doors of my precooled trailer so they could load. The only modern part of this entire process was a fork life. Interestingly, it never went into the back of my truck. It stayed on the rocky ground of the farm. They had no dock for me to back up to. Getting the machine into my truck was an impossibility.

Loading my truck was a two-man job. One slid a pallet to the edge of the preparation trailer to be picked up by the fork lift. He then jumped out of the trailer, and climbed into mine. The forklift carried the pallets to my truck and lifted them inside. The other worker then slid the pallets by hand to the front of my trailer. This process was repeated fifteen times until all the pallets were loaded. Kale is super light and even a pallet full, it can easily be moved without the use of lifting equipment.

As Abraham prepared the paperwork for me, I marveled that my truck could be loaded by hand in a completely manual process more quickly than most modern shippers can load it with all the best equipment.

Abraham shook my hand and asked if there was any way I would be the one to come back for future loads. I would have loved that but I had a feeling it might not happen. He assured me that I would not be disturbed in their driveway and again told me to stay as long as I wished.

Cars loaded with Mennonite workers disappeared the same way they had arrived, waving and smiling at me like we were BFF’s. My heart soared at this part of America and this family who remains untouched by our ultra-modern, super-techno charged way of life.

I stayed another three hours to get time back then left the Mennonite farm behind, my life enriched by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their families and a culture that, despite all the modern conveniences available, choose to live a simple lifestyle.

The heartbeat of yesterday’s America is still alive in southern Missouri!

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Walking in Memphis

Posted February 8, 2016 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I sat with anticipation staring out the window as we thundered toward metropolitan Memphis. We passed old stone and brick houses that I desperately wished could talk and tell me their amazing history.

At long last we turned into the ornate grounds of the Pink Palace. The enormous home and thousands of pink field stones stood tall among the winter bare branched trees. Its lavish décor makes it every bit the coveted location as when it was built in the 1920’s.

After memorializing it with snapshots from every side, wwee wound our way through surface streets, past the airport where hundreds of FedEx jets sat on the tarmac. The tails towered over the small row houses nearby. The old. The new. The historical. The technological, all dwelling together on a street in Memphis.

We turned onto US 51 and parked in what appeared to be a strip mall. It turned out to be the mecca for The King. People from near and far flock here to see and purchase all things Elvis. One of my friends went to the café to buy Elvis’ favorite sandwich—peanut butter and banana—while I inspected his bell bottomed sequined costumes and autographed guitars.

As I stood in the shops completely surrounded by Elvis, his music and his fans screaming on the video loop playing on large screen TV’s, I pondered how difficult it had to have been for him to live a normal life. Though he clearly loved entertaining audiences, he had to come to a point when he just wanted to be normal… perhaps even anonymous.

After getting all shook up by the memorabilia, we drove another block and found the place where Elvis lived… and died. I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought about when he walked the grounds after flying home from a concert in Lisa Marie, one of two private jets he owned. She sat on display across the street from the home.

Graceland stands as a shrine in Memphis, the only thing in the neighborhood that remained untouched by time. People walk the nearby streets, weighted down by the burdens of life, while streets, curbs and buildings are worn down by years of hard labor. Yet the home of Elvis, like the King himself, lives on seemingly unscathed and unforgotten.

I still had questions for Graceland but they would have to wait. It wasn’t talking and I had other places to see. A short drive to downtown and THE River brought us right to the entrance of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Unlike Graceland, the patients who come here are very much alive. And the professionals here are using every ounce of their energy, skill and knowledge to keep them that way. Just miles away from where people make the pilgrimage to honor and remember someone who died four decades before, people here make a different sort of trip. No private jet. No fans or fanfare. Just a quiet arrival with hope against hope that a cure will be found and they will grow up, go to the prom, have their first kiss, graduate high school, get married, have a family and live happily ever after. Some of them would settle for living just another day.

We wound our way past the tall buildings down to The River… the Mighty Mississippi. How I desperately longed for it to talk. To tell me its stories that wrote history in our great nation. The streets were as old as the buildings, each one luring me into their moments of old. None of them telling the stories.

Memphis is a magical place where history and modern times walk arm in arm. The soul of the city runs deep in the hearts of those who live here. She sings the blues and people listen with open hearts that change moment by moment as the music of the city permeates their being.

I never thought my life would change by a city I avoided for decades but I now understand what the songwriter meant when he wrote:

 

     Walking in Memphis

     I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale (Street)

     Walking in Memphis

     But do I really feel the way I feel?

I’ve been asking myself that same question since Saturday. Memphis, you’ve changed me. Lured me into your embrace. Accepted me as one of your own. My heart beats with a different song, one I haven’t quite named yet. The melody is still evolving. The harmony is yet to be heard. One day it will be set to music and I will have my own song… one that was written upon the tables of my heart while walking in Memphis.

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Henry the Liar

Posted January 12, 2016 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I walked across a deserted parking lot to an old country store. I couldn’t miss the old man sitting on a bench in front. His dog-a gangly mutt that looked older than his master—slept lazily at his feet.

 

Coffee. I needed coffee.

 

I mixed my concoction of go-juice and made my way through the maze of stacked boxes to the cash register just as the middle aged cashier glanced out the door. I followed her gaze.

 

“Do you know that man?” I asked, thinking perhaps he was homeless. I wanted to help.

 

“Oh him?” She asked, waving her hand dismissively. “That’s just Henry the liar.”

 

Satisfied that he was a harmless local, I asked, “Does he drink coffee?”

 

She confirmed his habit was the same as mine and I grabbed him a cup of java and, exited the store, and offered it to him as I sat on the bench beside him.

 

He looked up in amazement. Apparently not many folks paid much attention to him, let alone buy him coffee. I’m not very good at small talk so I climbed right to the pinnacle of my curiosity and jumped off.

 

“So why do they call you ‘Henry the liar’”?

 

“It’s a long story about a long time ago.”

 

“Well, I love history and I’ve got time.”

 

He smiled and gazed out in the distance, as if trying to locate a place in his past. Then he took a deep breath and words began to spill out.

 

It was the Great Depression and he was just a teenager when their small town was hit so hard, it was about to disappear. Folks were leaving in droves, having no choice but to follow the bread. Henry grew up in this town and it broke his heart, particularly when his girlfriend’s family fell among those who left.

 

As he walked through the woods one day feeling completely helpless, he imagined how things would look in a profitable town where everyone had work. Life would be righted again. He went home and told his parents he heard a big company was coming to town to open up a new factory. He went on to say he met the men in charge of bringing the factory to their town. They were astounded.

 

The news spread quickly and the story took on a life of its own. Henry suddenly found himself headlong in a whopper of a lie. Many times he thought about owning up to his fantasy but the positive impact on his little town was unmistakable.

 

So, he kept it going. In fact, he became the liaison between this company and the town. He’d go on trips to meet with the company to “iron out the particulars”. While the mayor and other city officials prodded for information and coached him on what the town needed, Henry the Liar would camp out in the woods until the day he was scheduled to return.

 

Hope filled the streets. Townspeople was smiling again. Laughing. Singing.

 

When things got bad, they would say, “It will all be better when the factory comes. We have to hang on.”

 

For two years the façade continued as Henry kept up his work of fiction. Finally, he asked for a meeting with the townspeople on behalf of “the factory”. That night everyone was there. There was the buzz of electricity throughout the place as they eagerly awaited the good news.

 

Henry faced the crowd, cleared his throat and spilled the beans. “The factory” had produced hope in the lives and families of those people. They’d held on, helped each other and that hope propelled them to not only survive, but to thrive in the midst of the Great Depression.

 

There was silence. Utter stunned silence. The longest pregnant pause in history. Then one by one, as reality dawned on them, the townspeople stood and clapped. Finally, the room erupted into applause. Indeed, Henry the Liar had saved their town.

 

From that moment on, he was known as Henry the liar… the one who singlehandedly saved the town. Today, when he’s called the name, he smiles because he knows it is a term of endearment. His heart swells with pride.

 

He’s old and sick. He won’t be with us much longer but he will pass from this world to the next in the same town he grew up in and lied to save. His heartbeat will continue to pulse strongly long after he draws his last breath. It’s the Heartbeat of America. It will never fade.

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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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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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When Trip Doesn’t Go According to Plan

Posted August 7, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Yesterday I was supposed to continue my journey into Tennessee and northward but a line of severe thunderstorms was rapidly moving my way. I would have ridden for less than two hours before getting caught in dangerous electrical storms.

So instead, I’m sitting in a Lay-Z-Boy recliner writing this post. I’m working on producing a video and thought I’d share some of my most memorable moments of my trip with you:

BIKE TOUR 2013 017

Yeah, I was crying now.

Preparing for Departure in Greenville, SC 7-13-3

Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC on departure.

Most heart pumping moment: preparing to leave downtown Greenville, SC. Thousands of miles were ahead of me. My old life was already a fading memory. I didn’t know what lay ahead or how I would make it from that bridge to the west coast. My heart was filled with excitement, anxiety and humility that God was send me on this journey.

My Most Emotional Moment: Crossing the state line into Georgia after two days of very hard climbing without
a granny gear. I was so tired, sore, and every time I saw a large hill, I wanted to cry. Sometimes I did. The mountains were bigger than me, but not bigger than God.

 

2013 Bicycle Tour 008

Elijah and his lovely family.

My Most Surprising Moment: being approached in McDonald’s in Toccoa, GA by a young man who proved to be my hero. Elijah just returned from his own cross country bicycle tour and invited me to spend the night with his wonderful family.

My most painful moment: No photo is available but I was blown off the road by a semi and flipped down a

Donald in Gillsville. Isn't he just PRECIOUS?!

Donald in Gillsville. Isn’t he just PRECIOUS?!

ravine. I’d already sprained my shoulder. It got worse, and I also cracked a rib. A touch from the Healer and a few days later, I was good as new… well, almost. I am 56, you know. 🙂 Wound up spending the night camping in the front yard of an 89 year old Korean War veteran, Donald.

 

At the Silver Comet Rail Trail head.

At the Silver Comet Rail Trail head.

My Easiest Day: I was put on the Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna, GA, by a new friend, Myron Skott who, along with his wife, Cathy, opened their home to me. He made some adjustments to my bike to get back my granny gear and drove me to the trail head. Two glorious days of easy riding and no traffic was just what I needed to recover.

My Family Moment: While in my hometown of Huntsville, AL, my friend and writer, Suzy Parish, drove me north

Dad and "Scoop", the nickname I gave to my mom

Dad and “Scoop”, the nickname I gave to my mom

of town to visit my parents’ grave. They were laid to rest in the Tennessee Valley in Hazel Green, AL, surrounded by mountains. It was an emotional time. I’d not been back since 1996.

 

Reporter Steve Beavers and me.

Reporter Steve Beavers and me.

My Most Famous Moment: I had the privilege of being interviewed by reporter, Steve Beavers, of the Daily Corinthian Newspaper. It’s a small paper but I gained instant celebrity in the small town of Corinth, MS. Everywhere we went, someone would inevitably say, “OH! You’re the bicycle lady!” It really opened a lot of doors for me to minister to others.

 

My Most Unusual Day: With friends, Patricia Bradley and Cheryl Meints, I visited Coon Dog Cemetery

Yes, there really is a Coon Dog Cemetery!

Yes, there really is a Coon Dog Cemetery!

and the Rattlesnake Saloon. The saloon didn’t surprise me but I never realized there is an official graveyard for Old Yeller when he can’t hunt any more. Who knew?!

"It's the Blue House on the Left after the fork"

“It’s the Blue House on the Left after the fork”

My Most Hospitable Moment: Without notice while in Chewalla, TN, my great friend, Mary, guided me by phone to the best place to eat in town: her Daddy’s house. “See the fork in the road? Take it to the left and it’ll be the blue house on the left right before you get to the barn.” Fresh vegetables from the garden, wonderful company and stories about World War II. Doesn’t get any better than that!

 

 

My Most Humbling Moment: Walking around Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller. To walk the

Ivy Green

Ivy Green

 

grounds where her world came alive for the first time, and knowing it was made possible by one women (Anne Sullivan) who dared to commit to teaching a deaf and blind girl about the world made my bicycle tour fade into insignificance.

 

Shiloh

Shiloh

My Most Transformational Moment: Walking through Shiloh National Battlefield, knowing the peaceful rolling hills were once covered with the blood of over 23,000 men who fought and died for what they believed in during the most deadly battle of the Civil war. It was a perfect example how freedom comes at a very high price.

As I wrote this yesterday, the thunderstorms seem to have been pushing east so I’m pretty certain that while you’re reading this now, I’m pedaling somewhere in Tennessee. So when trip doesn’t go according to plan, I take a pedal down memory lane. Such a grand time I’ve had so far.

I so appreciate your support, your encouragement, emails, voicemails, text messages and social media mentions. You help me spread the word to hurting women.

If you know someone who would benefit by this journey, please share it with them. It would mean so much to them… and to me. I pedal but I can’t spread the word alone. Thank you for partnering with me. Ride on… I’m riding on…

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On the Road Again…

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

Tennessee State LineWhile you’re reading this, I’m back on the road, leaving Mississippi for the last time on this trip. I’m pushing north, through Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana to arrive in Indianapolis on September 11th, just 35 days from now.

I will never forget my trip through Corinth. To me personally, it is as history-making as it was to America during the Civil War. While I will miss the genteel nature of the people here, the culture and the beautiful countryside, I am also glad to climb on Dakota and head out for places unknown.

 

Amazingly, there are things I have missed about being on the road:

1) The feel of the road beneath me. Well, except for the bumps. 🙂

2) The astonished look on people’s faces as I pull up fully loaded. It immediately opens doors to talk to people. 

3) The simplicity of riding a bike. You pedal and gaze at the world around you. 

4) Figuring out where I’ll sleep. Sounds crazy, I know.

Things in Life I’ve missed:Downtown

1) My books… especially my Brandilyn Collins collection. Love my Kindle but it ain’t a real book.

2) Netflix. I really got attached to the Australian TV Series McLeod’s Daughters before I left.

3) Dairy Queen around the corner. Right now, I would kill for a chocolate dipped twist cone. Haven’t had one on my trip.

4) Sharing chips and salsa at a TexMex place with friends. I just have to make new ones on the spot! 🙂

2013 Bike Tour 021

 

Things I don’t miss:

1) Having my own roof over my head. I found it’s severely overrated. 

2) Paying big bucks for 200+ TV channels I don’t want to watch.

3) Traffic. 

4) Being busy. This, too, is seriously overrated. 

5) My car. Dakota gets much better gas mileage! 🙂

6) Florida. After living there over 40 years, I haven’t missed the sand and palm trees a single moment. 

My blog posts for the next 35 days may be a bit sporatic since I don’t know when or where I’ll have internet service. But I will post withFacing Fear Cover FINAL 6-9-13 every opportunity. If you don’t want to miss any of my adventures, I do suggest you join my mailing list at www.RebaJHoffman.com.  

Don’t worry, I don’t sell or give away any of your information. Nor will I ever send you any unwanted email. I just have a mailing list so you can get my blog posts delivered to your email inbox every time I post.

Thank you all for the encouragement, kudos, support, prayers and friendship as we take this journey together… the Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour Across America. May my legs not wear out until women across the country with PTSD find the courage to face their fear and find the freedom to take their life back!

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Blessings Out of Nowhere, USA

Posted July 23, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Camping in the Pavilion of  North Glencoe Baptist Church

Camping in the Pavilion of North Glencoe Baptist Church

Sunday night was quite an exciting adventure. I got caught in a very large and powerful thunderstorm. The good news was that I found refuge in McDonald’s. The bad news was that would close at 11pm. 

In the middle of nowhere. In the middle of the night. In the middle of a blinding rainstorm. I think that sums up the three strike rule. 

A call to the police department just confirmed they would not allow me to pitch my tent anywhere. So, I did what any female traveling alone in a strange town on a bicycle on a stormy Sunday night would do. I prayed.

I finally saw a nice looking elderly lady come in with what appeared to be her great grandson. I asked her if she was coming from church. She proudly said she was. I explained my dilemma and she referred me to a Baptist church a half mile up the hill. I packed my stuff back onto my bike, put on my rain gear and turned on my lights. 

I prayed my way to the church. Thank God there were still people there. The pastor said I could pitch my tent but suggested I walk my

Something will always get in your way. Relax and enjoy it!

Something will always get in your way. Relax and enjoy it!

bike about a half mile up a trail to their recreation facility where they had pavilions. I could pitch my ten under one of those and stay dry for the night.

The Lord faithfully provided!

The next morning, I packed up my gear and was on my way. My next destination was Huntsville, AL. Though I had no plans to go to Huntsville at the beginning of the trip, for whatever reason, the Lord was sending me back to my roots. I was born in Huntsville. That’s where my parents were laid to rest. I haven’t been back to Huntsville since 1996. 

And, no worries. The only thing standing in my way was 75 miles and two mountains: Sand Mountain and Montosano. No big deal, right? After getting a stern warning about hit and run drivers in Boaz from a police Leutinant in Atalla, I headed north, toward the brick wall that awaited. 

Right before the ascent of Sand Mountain, I stopped to pray and mentally prepare for the hardest ride of my trip, a car pulled over in front of me. A man got out, walked back to my car and said, “D0 you know what’s up ahead, lady?”

Unfortunately, I did.

At first he offered to take me over the mountain. I was grateful. We loaded my gear in his car and Dakota onto his bike rack. When he found out I was headed to Huntsville, he insisted on taking me the entire way: 60 miles one way. Apparently, the storms were moving in rapidly from the northwest, right where I was headed.

Author Suzy Parish and family at Rosie's Cantina. Pure Heaven!

Author Suzy Parish and family at Rosie’s Cantina. Pure Heaven!

He preached to me the entire trip, except for the few moments it took to buy my lunch. He gave me a can of maze to protect myself. I accidentally left it in his car, along with my cycling gloves but it didn’t matter. I have warring angels surrounding me anyway.

Right in the middle of nowhere when I least expected for anyone to reach out and help, God brought them right to me. As I write this, I’m sitting comfortably in the home of a writer friend in Huntsville. We had dinner at Rosie’s Cantina, an amazing Mexican restaurant. Tomorrow, we will visit my parent’s graves. 

I never thought I’d head this way. It started in Atlanta, where I started elementary school and continues now in my hometown of Huntsville, AL. Right in the middle of nowhere, every bit of help I could ever ask for just showed up on a US highway. It showed up on a dark, stormy Sunday night and pointed the way to a dry pavilion. 

If you’re in the middle of nowhere right now, look around. God’s blessings are there. And, they are more than you can ever think, hope or imagine. 

I’ve learned to trust God to a greater degree than I have ever trusted before. God is great and mighty… even in Nowhere, USA.

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A Cry in the Night: My Story of Violent Attack and Overcoming PTSD

Posted July 19, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

cropped-Toccoa-Falls-GA-7-15-2013.jpgNovember 5, 1984 was just like any other late fall day in North Florida but for me, it changed my life forever. I’d just been out of the hospital or four months from being seriously injured in the car accident that ended my law enforcement career.

I was on my way to a sign language class because, among other injuries, I’d lost my hearing. Eight ear operations had netted me partial hearing in one ear and that wasn’t’ consistent.

Stopping at a convenience store for a soda turned out to be one of the worst decisions of my life, but how could I have known? Before I could do anything to defend myself, I was abducted from the parking lot in broad daylight by a drug-crazed criminal who’d been out of jail less than 24 hours.

He held a knife to my throat and forced me to drive to a remote wooded area of north Florida. Every time I tried to mention God hePreparing for Departure in Greenville, SC 7-13-3 became enraged and shouted, “There is no God. Just the devil.”

During the six hour ordeal that followed, I was beaten, raped, and left for dead. And, to add insult to injury, he’d committed this violence in an abandoned Fraternal Order of Police clubhouse.

Hell hath no mercy.

By God’s grace, I found the way out of the woods to the only convenience store within ten square miles and was able to get help. Broken bones heal but emotions are infinitely more difficult.

No matter where I was, I’d look behind me. I knew he would be there but he never was. I could not sleep, but it didn’t matter. Everything within me screamed to remain vigilant.

I finally faced the fact that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Me. PTSD.

I had no courage but the will to live somehow outweighed my fear. I went to the phone directory and asked God to lead me to someone that could help me. The appointment was made with a total stranger and I somehow shuffled to the therapist’s office.

Jane assessed my condition and felt the best treatment was what was then a revolutionary treatment: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR) therapy.

Facing Fear Cover FINAL 6-9-13Through EMDR therapy and eight days in a psychiatric hospital, I was able to begin moving back to emotional health. It was demoralizing, but life giving. Though it was terrifying, it also empowered me to work on my own emotional healing.

Today my attacker has no hold on my. He may have taken away a part of my life, but God has returned it to me a hundred fold. I pray for James and know that when I get to Heaven, if he is there, all I suffered will be worth it.

At one point that night when it seemed certain I would not survive, I looked through the battered roof of that building and saw the most amazing full moon. I knew if I could peel it back, I would see the Pearly Gates.

At that moment I cried out in the night to God as the friend He is, “God, if you’re ready to take me, I’m ready to go.” Since I’m here today writing this blog post, He wasn’t ready to take me. In fact, He is sending me on this solo journey across America on a bicycle to help other women who suffer from PTSD to overcome… and to become.

There really IS life beyond survival. There is healing in God. It really is possible to live without fear.

While on the road, I rely on the goodness of total strangers. I would NOT be able to do that if God had not healed me from PTSD. But you know that, don’t you? He’s no respector of persons. He wants to heal every woman who suffers from that paralyzing fear. There really IS help.

Asking why it happened only keeps healing farther away from you. Why doesn’t matter in the big picture. You can’t go back to thatCyclortouring moment in time even if you wanted to. What matters is what’s next and how you’re going to get there.

God’s power is greater than anything you can hope or imagine. You don’t have to be afraid. There is no power on the face of the planet that can stop His will from being completed in your life.

If someone you know suffers from PTSD, anxiety or panic, please forward this to them and encourage them to seek help from a counselor. If you experience that yourself, please know I’m no one special. What God did for me, He will do for you as well.

Make a decision today to live a life free from fear the DO IT! You CAN do it!

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There are Good Samaritans, and There are Angels

Posted July 16, 2013 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Tuguloo RiverYesterday I finally made it into Taccoa, GA after two days of very hard riding. Then I saw the gold. No, not the streets in Heaven. The golden arches of McDonald’s. It was there I thought I met a good samaritan, dressed in a McDonald’s uniform. 

Elijah and I spoke for quite a while. Turns out he just returned from a cross country trip from Jacksonville, Florida to the west coast to earn money for a non-profit organization.

He came back to my booth during his break and invited me to spend the night at his home. I knew he had to be a Christian. Wonderful young man. The type of young man I’d want to have as a son.

I left the golden arches and went into downtown to the library. Knowing he got off work at 3pm, I decided to start toward his house. There was just one problem. Uhh… I’d gotten so many directions to different places, I went in the opposite direction from his house.

About 3:15 I got a call from Elijah. I told him I was at the entrance to Toccoa Falls College. That was only in the opposite direction of his house. Not a big Toccoa Falls, GA -15-13deal by car but straight up a monstrous hill in any direction. He offered to come get me and drive me to his house. 

When my knight in shining auto arrived, we didn’t go straight home. He took me to Toccoa Falls, then all over downtown. He provided me the history of the college, the town, and of course, the famous Paul Anderson, a local who still holds the world’s record for lifting the most weight at one time. A statue stands in downtown.

We traveled several miles out of town-in the other direction- and finally turned down a non-paved driveway. After a few twists and turns and rabbits and other animals, the most beautiful multi-level log cabin came into view. To a country gal, I knew I must be in Heaven.

I met Mary Jo (mom), Jamie and Jess (sisters) and Noah (brother) who are the most amazing family. Mary Jo cooks everything from scratch with fresh fruit and vegetables. Surely, it was a meal directly from the throne room of Heaven.

Statue of Paul Anderson in Downtown Toccoa, GA 7-15-13Mary Jo washed my wet clothes from all the rain I’d ridden through between making home made chicken pot pies, playing card games with the kids and helping me plot out another course to take.

Don’t think this was a miracle? Well, I didn’t tell you Elijah wasn’t scheduled to work today (yesterday by the time this posts). He got up early and drove into town to the gym and stopped by to check his work schedule. They were desperate for someone to work, so he said yes. 

After two really bad days on the road, I went to Heaven… a log cabin in the middle of the woods with an incredible Christian family. They are such angels, it would not surprise me to wake up in the morning and see these angels have returned to beyond the Pearly Gates.

God provides at the most amazing times everything we need if we but trust Him.

Miracle in Toccoa, Georgia. Thank you God.

 

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