To Serve and to Protect

Chet patrol car_Snapseed

I am posting this today to stand with my fellow police wives. Most of us give up Christmas mornings so our husbands can be on their patrols. Did you know that? It’s OK, most people go about their holidays and don’t think about it. But we do. We get our children in their pajamas Christmas Eve and say a prayer that some kind guy on our husband’s shift will bow out of his day off and let our children’s daddy come home so he can see them open their presents. Most Christmases my husband stood by in full uniform, radio squawking, gun belt creaking, watching our little girls tear into packages and have the thirty minutes of his break that we could with him. Then he was off, to take care of someone’s domestic problems, or work a wreck, or a business break-in, or I always prayed not, a shooting.We don’t want your sympathy. We like it that we are married to super-heroes. That’s what drew us to them in the first place. What we do want is for you to let us live our lives. Stop the ambushes and executions. Our husbands give the same protection to someone who could turn around thirty minutes later and shoot them. That’s just the way they are. So please stop with all the “bad cop” talk. Movie portrayals of crooked cops make great drama, but have little truth.Who wants to go see a movie about a great guy who is there when your dad draws his last breath? Where is the drama in a cop who administers CPR to an already cold little body, just so the parents can be assured that every means was tried?(My husband did that, by the way.) If you want to really see what police do every day, sign up for a ride-along. Most cities have them. For the price of a signature waiver you get a front row seat to what reality is like. Then say a prayer for the police officer you are riding with. His name could be in the paper one day as another casualty of the job, and he knows it, and he goes out every day and does his job anyway. Why? Because he believes in the promise that is on the side of his patrol car.

Candy Canes, Paws, and Socks

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We picked Brandy out from a litter of squirming black Lab pups, battling over a dented metal pan of dog food. Right away she was different from the others. Instead of fighting over kibble, she wandered to the enclosure to see my husband, and I knew she was the one for us. Lyrics from the song “Brandy” went through my mind.

The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl”
“What a good wife you would be”
“Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”
Brandy had Ghirardelli Chocolate eyes filled with trust. Indeed, she was a fine girl.
Early on we discovered Christmas was Brandy’s favorite time of year. Every year we hung unwrapped candy canes on our tree as part of our decorations. One evening we found Brandy circling the tree, alert, nose snuffling loudly. She searched the branches until she spotted a candy cane, gently pulled it off the tree and crunched away with pleasure. It became our Christmas ritual. The first day we decorated the tree we hid Brandy in another room. When the candy was hung on the tree we’d spring the door open and Brandy would bound joyfully into the room and head straight to the tree. She knew where we hid the good stuff.
Last Christmas there was no candy cane hunting. Brandy passed away from cancer the day after Thanksgiving. She hunted canes for fourteen years.
The day she died my husband and I wandered the aisles of our local Target store.Bright Christmas lights seemed out of place. The aisles were clogged with happy shoppers and Christmas tunes played over the speakers, but in my heart I was looking for that black wagging tail and goofy Lab grin. What I spotted instead was a box of candy canes. My chest tightened and sobs burned their way up my throat. I had to do something, anything to make something good come from the loss of our sweet puppy.
That was when I remembered a conversation I’d had with my sister. She’s a nurse for a juvenile detention center. She loves those girls like they are her own. We had been discussing how many of “her” girls had never experienced Christmas. Their holiday memories were full of physical and emotional abuse. What better way to give meaning to Brandy’s death than to honor her on her favorite holiday?
I got on the phone with my sister and between the two of us figured out one gift the girls would be permitted by the institution would be socks. My husband and I immediately headed to a Christmas bin overflowing with multicolored socks. Sadness turned to joy as we dug through piles of socks, trying to find the prettiest patterns, wondering if the girls would like them. Thirty pair of reindeer socks, dotted socks and red and green ornament socks later, our shopping cart was filled.
By this time the cloud lifted. I could almost feel Brandy’s slobbery kiss of approval.
Along with her pair of socks, each girl received a card stamped with the message: “You are Inscribed on the palm of his hand… Isaiah 49:16”
Brandy signed each card with a paw-print stamp.
When the socks arrived my sister gathered the girls together and told them Brandy’s story.
She said when something bad happened in your life, one way to defeat sad thoughts was to go out and do something good.
Weeks later we received many thank you cards from the girls.
The first card said: “Thank you for the socks. I’m gonna start doing what you do when I do something wrong I do something good. I did something wrong so when I get out I like to do something good so thank you for teaching me a good way to help people and get the guilt away. Samantha”
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The second card I opened said “Thank you for the sock and I hope you feel good and I’m sorry about your dog. Love Alexis”
When I was reading the thank you cards my sister called. Before she distributed the packages that day, she told a short story about Christ and how He was the ultimate gift. One girl in particular hung back, did not want to participate. When the gifts were finally  handed out, she waited until the crowd thinned, then handed her socks to my sister. “I don’t need socks, but can I keep this card?”
The message in the card meant more to her than a new pair of socks.
You see, these girls have experienced the most raw parts of life, they have seen and heard things that no young woman should see or experience. Some of them are cutters, mutilating themselves to try to get some relief from the pain of their lives. That is why when the greatest gift ever given, God who came down as a baby, says He has them inscribed on the palms of His hands, well, they know exactly how that could be. They know He took their pain upon Himself.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” Isaiah 49:15-16
This Advent Season let’s celebrate the greatest Gift of all, from the One who knows us, even from the womb.

A Swirly Peanut Butter and Jelly Christmas

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When my girls were young my husband ( a police officer) was involved in a very serious wreck. He received neck injuries which required surgery, and was home recovering. During that time we were receiving workman’s comp payments, thank goodness, which made up for his loss of a paycheck. The comp payments arrived at a different time than our normal paycheck which was why, at Christmas, I found we would not have presents for the girls until after the holiday. I would be able to stuff stockings for them and we had a very tight budget for groceries, but still, I knew we would be all right. I knew many families would have no Christmas at all that year, and our girls would just be a little late in getting their presents.

That is why, when a dear friend from church called and asked “Do you have Christmas for the girls?” I didn’t hesitate to say yes. In my mind, God would provide the gifts after the holidays.

My friend seemed unconvinced, but she expressed her affection for our family and said she was praying for my husband’s healing and hung up the phone.

Later that week I was grocery shopping with my three little ones. I had a tight budget, but like I said, we would make it. My oldest daughter, age 8, eyes glittered when she saw a jar of peanut butter and jelly swirled together. I had to admit it was very pretty. “Mom, can I have this?” She handed me the jar. I shook my head. “Honey, we already have a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly at home.” My budget would not allow buying unnecessary items. “Mom, it’s so pretty! Please?” My heart hurt to say no a second time, but it just wasn’t in my budget.

A few days later my phone rang again. It was the church friend. “Are you sure you have Christmas for the girls?” I hesitated this time. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew we would have the money after Christmas, God would take care of us, and I would get them stockings. “Yes, we’re fine.”

My friend blew out an exasperated sigh. “Either you’re not telling me the truth or I am missing God.” My heart sank. “What?”

“Either you’re not telling the truth or I am missing what God is saying. Every time I pray for your family God tells me you don’t have Christmas presents for your daughters.”

I was silent for a moment. Then I explained the time frame to her.

“I knew it!” She said. “I knew I was hearing correctly. Well, I have some gifts that I bought my nieces that they don’t need. I want you to come by my house and pick them up.”


“I said come by my house and pick them up. I have them in the living room.”

Now, I knew she had gone out and bought gifts for my daughters, as there were three piles of gifts. Also, when I arrived at her house she showed me into the kitchen and there were three grocery bags full of food. I was so humbled by her actions, and so humbled that God thought enough about my family that He would trouble this woman until she obeyed.

When I arrived home with the gifts and the groceries, my oldest daughter was helping me empty the bags. She handed each item up to me from the bag and her hand stopped in mid-air.

“Look!” She said.

In her hand was a jar of swirly peanut butter and jelly. I caught my breath.

“I prayed and asked God for it!” My daughter exclaimed.

In honor of that dear friend’s faithfulness, our family is sponsoring a wounded warrior family for Christmas this year. My daughters, now grown and with babies of their own, will buy gifts for the children of this family and my husband and I will provide a gift card for their meal.

The part that touched my heart the most? God cared enough about a little girls prayer to give her swirly peanut butter and jelly for Christmas!

Traveler brings attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Traveler brings attention to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Imageby Steve Beavers (Sunday, July 28, 2013) 

Reba J. Hoffman is making her way across the country to help women make a positive change in their lives.

Reba J. Hoffman doesn’t know the route her bicycle is taking her as she heads to the West Coast.

The life coach does know there is a purpose behind the pedaling.

Huffman is traveling the Road to Freedom as part of her “Pedaling with Purpose” ride to help those who suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her tour took her to Corinth on Friday night to stay with friend Pat Trainum.

“I had no intention of coming to Corinth,” she’s said of her planned trip which started July 13 in Greenville, S.C. “The Lord just diverted my path.”

Loaded with 50 pounds of gear on a custom-built bicycle, the 56- year-old searches for those crying out for help of a violent attack.

“My main objective to is to talk to people,” said the founder and

president of Magellan Life Coaching. “I don’t know where I will be from day-to-day, but every single day I have come across someone I was meant to talk with.”

A person such as a woman who hadn’t been out of her house in 17 years or a former abusive husband who was brought to tears with remorse after speaking with Hoffman.

“Traveling on a bicycle is an icebreaker,” she said. “People naturally start talking and asking questions when someone comes to town on a bike … I haven’t met one person who isn’t receptive to what I have to say.”

When it comes to helping victims of violent assaults, Hoffman leans on her own experience. On November 5, 1984, she was abducted in broad daylight by a drug-crazed criminal who had been out of jail less than 24 hours. Hoffman was beaten, raped and left for dead in a remote area of Florida.

“I know what it’s like and can relate to those women who are suffering in silence,” said the life coach. “Women who have been through this feel they were deserving of this horrible thing.”

Hoffman is out to help those suffering from PTSD to face their fear and find the courage to seek help.

“I want them to stop looking down and to look up because they have done nothing wrong,” said the PhD in clinical counseling. “Each of them are a value of worth.”

Hoffman was able to overcome her pain and anxiety through the help of others.

“I was very fortunate to have a great medical and mental health team,” said the Sanford, Fla. resident. “They really worked hard to get me over it.”

According to Hoffman, it takes a good team to move past the violent situation.

“There comes a time when you have to face the fear,” she said. “When I first went out after the attack, I was never comfortable … it’s not as simple as just get over it. Women need someone to talk with because it they don’t, it keeps it inside and they feel more ashamed.”

As she pedals her way across the country, the author of “Dare to Dream” and “Facing Fear and Finding Freedom” has ways for others to get involved with the cause. Individuals can help by:

• Following her blog and invite others to do the same.

“They can spread it on social media,” she noted.

• Purchase her book, “Facing Fear and Finding Freedom,” available for $2.99 on Amazon.

“Give it as a gift to any woman needing to overcome fear that holds her back from accomplishing her dreams,” said the author.

• Donate via PayPal (

Groups in the area who would like to have Hoffman speak while in the area, can contact Trainum at 662-415- 1149.

What do you get when you combine a bicycle, a wiry woman of God and miles of open road with no compass?

Reba with Dylan the dog.The answer? Reckless abandonment.
Reba J. Hoffman set out on a journey of reckless abandonment to God. She has cast all her hopes and cares into the lap of the one she calls Savior. It is disconcerting to some and downright fear provoking to others that she has set out on this trek using only the compass of “Where He wants me to go next.” Already her route has been changed (twice?).She hears questions like “Where will you stay?” and “How do you get food and water?” and “Aren’t you afraid to be out there alone as a woman?”
This third question reveals the  true calling behind Reba’s trek. She is reaching out to women touched by PTSD and sharing her life story with them to strengthen them and help them find the same peace she has. And yes, as one who has survived a horrific attack, Reba by all accounts would be expected to be afraid to be out on the road by herself. What she is doing flies in the face of fear. What she is doing is kicking fear in the face and in that very act, she is giving hope to women she meets along the way, hope that they can beat the fears of their past.During a late night chat Reba reveals her personal mantra.
“True wisdom is forged on the anvil of suffering.”
I am reminded of a scripture.

Luke 22:32

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

That was Christ, speaking to Peter. The part of the scripture that I can’t get out of my head is where Christ says, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…” and “…strengthen your brothers.” For this is what Reba is doing, her faith is strong, and she is strengthening  her sisters who have experienced PTSD using the wisdom forged in her life through her own suffering.

Suzy Parish and Reba J. Hoffman

Reba sits back, takes a sip of water and continues.

“People are looking for heroes. A hero is anyone that faces the same type of adversity that the average person does and is able to get over it.

Going on this trip strips away all that unnecessary clutter. You become so aware of things around you…”
“I hope and pray people will get a hunger for the simplicity of God, it’s not complicated.”
Amen Reba, amen.
Please help spread the word about Reba’s Road to Freedom Tour and feel free to contact her through her website:
Reba loading Dakota.
Reba leaving for Corinth, Mississippi.

Hello My Name is Hope

“Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King” Words from “Hello My Name Is.” by Matthew West

The main force behind one of the characters in my novel is the power of hope. Hope is an amazing thing, it never disappoints, not in Christ anyway.

Take the words of new believer Kirsten Powers. “I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid [accepting Christ]. If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.”…

(My thoughts) The part about everyone in the South is a Christian made me laugh out loud, obviously Ms. Powers is still functioning under stereotypical beliefs, but all the same, I love the part where she says she tried not to believe but couldn’t avoid accepting Christ. Yes Kirsten, He is unavoidable, He is merciful and redeeming and tracks us down with a ruthless love! Or, as one of my heroes Rich Mullins words it, “The reckless raging fury that they call the love of God…”

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God.”

May we ever be pursued by Him, may we always give in. Blessings on my friends today. Blessings on you, Kirsten Powers for making the biggest decision of your life, and no, it is not convenient to any of us. We all muddle through, we are all torn by it, sometimes we think we will die. But we emerge as the Velveteen Rabbit did, “real.”

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”(Quote from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.)

Let’s become real.

Why Do I Write?


It’s been said by so many that it’s cliche’. I write because I can’t not write. When circumstances prevent me from writing I literally feel like words are bottled up inside me, that I could explode any minute. In a good way of course!

One of my most poignant memories was the day my best friend Patty Ferguson went off to first grade and left me behind. I was a year younger than Patty and boy did I resent being left home with the “babies.” I sat down in the kitchen floor, by that old nicked bookcase that held our family’s books. I pulled down the big red Webster’s dictionary, opened it to a random page and ran my fingers across the black symbols, determined I would teach myself to read.

I strained my eyes but to no avail. No magic words jumped into my brain. That would have to wait a year, for my first grade teacher to tackle.

Third grade I had my first taste of public speaking in a speech I wrote myself. An impassioned plea to “save the wild horses” got a silver pin for my effort. Alas, years later no wild horses wrote to thank me for their deliverance.

Summers I hid out under the branches of a Forsythia bush at the corner of our house. I pulled an old bedspread under the fragrant yellow blooms, and that space became my personal hideaway to read. Black Beauty, Little Women, those were some of my favorites, but I read anything I could get my hands on.

High School I enjoyed the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck, but my writing went by the wayside. It was a casualty of homework and boys.

It wasn’t until the incessant prodding of my husband years later that I took my writing seriously. It had been too many years and I felt that I’d gotten rusty, that the magic was gone.

Imagine my surprise when I was picked to write as a Community Columnist for our local paper! Something happened that year, and the writer bottled up inside me emerged, unfurling my wrinkled wings like some Monarch Butterfly, wrapped too tightly for too long. It was a glorious flight.

And now fiction has become the wind beneath my wings. Each novel I work on changes me, grows me in ways I never anticipated. It’s a flight I never want to end.

And that my friends, is why I write.

Congratulations to Frasier Finalists!

Congratulations to Frasier Finalists on My Book Therapy; Amy Drown, Gabrielle Meyer, Connilyn Cossette, Kathleen Anderson and Jeanne Takenaka!

I’ve been eagerly waiting the release o

I’ve been eagerly waiting the release of Lizzie and the Guernsey Gang, by Author April Gardner! It’s a great historical adventure for kids to read.

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