Advice for my boys- Justin Holder

Strangers that I meet along the way, offering insight & lessons my boys may find valuable one day.







Jonathan, whom I met working with Eric, featured earlier in the week.  He’s at the Edgewater in Destin, in charge of the chairs and umbrellas.   

Happiest time of your life?  “Probably this year, actually.  I was in a motorcycle accident last year, in September, shattered my whole shoulder, collarbone and shoulder blade and recovered from that by myself. I didn’t do any physical therapy with any of the doctors.  Did it all on my own.  After that, I changed in life and looked at things differently.  Now I look at it as a big happy place.”
How did you change the most?  “Probably my maturity level.  I didn’t take anything for granted after that.  Pretty much took it for what it was and how it is.” 
Toughest time of your life?  “Probably during the wreck.  I couldn’t move my arm for three months.  My mom had to bathe me, feed me, shower me and everything.  Working with that was pretty difficult, because she’s a little stubborn sometimes.”
So, in a lot ways, it was like being a child again…that dependance on your mom.  “Yeah, it was very hard because I’m very independent and I do everything on my own.  Having someone else take care of me was pretty challenging…and frustrating at some points.  But, it made me realize I don’t need to be so tough on people when they try to help me.”
Do you feel like this situation made you and your mom closer?  “Oh, yeah, definitely.  When I say she’s stubborn a little bit, it’s just we have different mind thinking- we think differently.  She thought she was helping me at some points and it was actually the opposite.  It helped me with my communication skills as well, cause I had to be able to tell her what I needed.  She didn’t always know what I needed.”
During that time, what did you find you appreciated most about your mom?  “That she was so caring and generous.”
Advice for my boys? “Don’t quit and never give up.  Always fight your battles and stay strong to who you are.”
Does living at the beach ever get old?  “It does, sometimes.  When you work on the beach, it’s a love or hate job.  It takes a certain breed to come out here at 7am and throw chairs out everyday for somebody.  I love it.  It’s paradise to me.”
Some people would say this job is monotonous, while others would say it’s the dream!  Which is it?  “I say it’s the dream, man.  I can’t give it up.  It’s my sixth season doing it and I plan on having my own business doing it in the next couple years.  Yeah, I’m pretty excited.” 
Jonathan, whom I met working with Eric, featured earlier in the week.  He’s at the Edgewater in Destin, in charge of the chairs and umbrellas.  
Happiest time of your life?  “Probably this year, actually.  I was in a motorcycle accident last year, in September, shattered my whole shoulder, collarbone and shoulder blade and recovered from that by myself. I didn’t do any physical therapy with any of the doctors.  Did it all on my own.  After that, I changed in life and looked at things differently.  Now I look at it as a big happy place.”

How did you change the most?  “Probably my maturity level.  I didn’t take anything for granted after that.  Pretty much took it for what it was and how it is.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Probably during the wreck.  I couldn’t move my arm for three months.  My mom had to bathe me, feed me, shower me and everything.  Working with that was pretty difficult, because she’s a little stubborn sometimes.”

So, in a lot ways, it was like being a child again…that dependance on your mom.  “Yeah, it was very hard because I’m very independent and I do everything on my own.  Having someone else take care of me was pretty challenging…and frustrating at some points.  But, it made me realize I don’t need to be so tough on people when they try to help me.”

Do you feel like this situation made you and your mom closer?  “Oh, yeah, definitely.  When I say she’s stubborn a little bit, it’s just we have different mind thinking- we think differently.  She thought she was helping me at some points and it was actually the opposite.  It helped me with my communication skills as well, cause I had to be able to tell her what I needed.  She didn’t always know what I needed.”

During that time, what did you find you appreciated most about your mom?  “That she was so caring and generous.”

Advice for my boys? “Don’t quit and never give up.  Always fight your battles and stay strong to who you are.”

Does living at the beach ever get old?  “It does, sometimes.  When you work on the beach, it’s a love or hate job.  It takes a certain breed to come out here at 7am and throw chairs out everyday for somebody.  I love it.  It’s paradise to me.”

Some people would say this job is monotonous, while others would say it’s the dream!  Which is it?  “I say it’s the dream, man.  I can’t give it up.  It’s my sixth season doing it and I plan on having my own business doing it in the next couple years.  Yeah, I’m pretty excited.” 









Eric, who runs a chair & umbrella business on the beach.  Happiest time of your life?  “Oh, gosh…now man, heck…mid-30’s and I’m starting to get it figured out.”
What have you figured out?  “You know, just got a good routine.  I’ve been on the beach, here at Edgewater, for 12 summers and it’s only for 8 months that I work here.  So, the other 4 months I started going out west, a couple years back, for about 5 years now.  Out in Utah.  I did a season in Utah and then the last four I went out to Colorado…then I come back here in March.  It’s just a nice routine.”
Most people dream of being at the beach…does it ever get old?  “Yeah, man…but if I’d been in an office for 12 years, I think I’d be more tired of it.”
That’s a ton of work to start over every day, with all these chairs and umbrellas, then packing every night.  How many do you set up?  “Right now we do a hundred.”
I guess you’ve got the process down to be pretty efficient?  “Yeah, lots of practice.”
What do you like best about being here on the beach?  “I like all the people I meet.  I get to meet lots of cool people.  I like the lifestyle that it affords me, like the whole working 8 months thing is nice.  I like the ability go to do other stuff.”
What have you learned the most about people?  “I don’t know…I guess that we’re all the same.  Rich, poor, in the end…we’re all the same.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Without going into too much detail, I went through a really nasty breakup about 5 or 6 years ago.”
How did you deal with that?  “Started going out to Colorado.  Found something fun to do, rather than sitting around here in the winter being depressed.”
Advice for my boys?  “Find something you love doing and makes you happy.  Do a lot of jobs that give you experience, but then pick one that you can picture yourself doing everyday.  I think that’s the key to happiness.”
Eric, who runs a chair & umbrella business on the beach.  Happiest time of your life?  “Oh, gosh…now man, heck…mid-30’s and I’m starting to get it figured out.”

What have you figured out?  “You know, just got a good routine.  I’ve been on the beach, here at Edgewater, for 12 summers and it’s only for 8 months that I work here.  So, the other 4 months I started going out west, a couple years back, for about 5 years now.  Out in Utah.  I did a season in Utah and then the last four I went out to Colorado…then I come back here in March.  It’s just a nice routine.”

Most people dream of being at the beach…does it ever get old?  “Yeah, man…but if I’d been in an office for 12 years, I think I’d be more tired of it.”

That’s a ton of work to start over every day, with all these chairs and umbrellas, then packing every night.  How many do you set up?  “Right now we do a hundred.”

I guess you’ve got the process down to be pretty efficient?  “Yeah, lots of practice.”

What do you like best about being here on the beach?  “I like all the people I meet.  I get to meet lots of cool people.  I like the lifestyle that it affords me, like the whole working 8 months thing is nice.  I like the ability go to do other stuff.”

What have you learned the most about people?  “I don’t know…I guess that we’re all the same.  Rich, poor, in the end…we’re all the same.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Without going into too much detail, I went through a really nasty breakup about 5 or 6 years ago.”

How did you deal with that?  “Started going out to Colorado.  Found something fun to do, rather than sitting around here in the winter being depressed.”

Advice for my boys?  “Find something you love doing and makes you happy.  Do a lot of jobs that give you experience, but then pick one that you can picture yourself doing everyday.  I think that’s the key to happiness.”









Jonathan, who was driving a taxi on Broadway in downtown Nashville.  
What’s your name?  “Jonathan, but everyone calls me Finn.”Cool look!  “Thanks.  Usually, I’m in a bow tie.  But, it’s hot!”
Happiest time of your life?  “When my son was born.”
How old is he?  “He’s 9.”
How did you change when you became a dad?  “I don’t know.  You know, I settled down.  I used to play music full time and I settled down and quit going out as much. Became an adult, instead of being a man-child.”
Are you proud of the dad you are?  “I am, I’m a good dad.  I see my son regularly, I pay child support, his mom and I are close…so, I think so.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Don’t really know.  Growing up, not having a father.  Not really knowing most of my family.  So, I guess that’s been pretty hard.  Before my son was born, I drank too much, went out too much…when I was playing music.  I was at a dark place at one time in my life, but after he was born a lot of that changed.”
So, you’d say being a dad has been a blessing in more ways that one?  “It has…it has.”  
You mentioned you drove a taxi in Louisville for how long?  “14 years, minus being on tour and playing music.  I owned a cab there so I could make money when I wasn’t making money.  That’s what I’m doing here.”
In all these years, what have you learned about people?  “It’s hard to say, you know?  People change from…people are different from all over.  You just kind of respect the nationalities of who people are and what they’re about and that kind of thing.  But, I’ve met people from all over the world, so that’s kind of what my books about…from hanging out with Malcolm X’s daughter and driving her as a professor, to hanging out for a whole summer with a guy who was in Auschwitz…man, take your pick…I’ve driven a lot of people.  I had 4 hotels that only called me, so I got really lucky in that aspect.”
Advice for my boys?  “Be good and do good.”
Jonathan, who was driving a taxi on Broadway in downtown Nashville. 

What’s your name?  “Jonathan, but everyone calls me Finn.”

Cool look!  “Thanks.  Usually, I’m in a bow tie.  But, it’s hot!”

Happiest time of your life?  “When my son was born.”

How old is he?  “He’s 9.”

How did you change when you became a dad?  “I don’t know.  You know, I settled down.  I used to play music full time and I settled down and quit going out as much. Became an adult, instead of being a man-child.”

Are you proud of the dad you are?  “I am, I’m a good dad.  I see my son regularly, I pay child support, his mom and I are close…so, I think so.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Don’t really know.  Growing up, not having a father.  Not really knowing most of my family.  So, I guess that’s been pretty hard.  Before my son was born, I drank too much, went out too much…when I was playing music.  I was at a dark place at one time in my life, but after he was born a lot of that changed.”

So, you’d say being a dad has been a blessing in more ways that one?  “It has…it has.” 

You mentioned you drove a taxi in Louisville for how long?  “14 years, minus being on tour and playing music.  I owned a cab there so I could make money when I wasn’t making money.  That’s what I’m doing here.”

In all these years, what have you learned about people?  “It’s hard to say, you know?  People change from…people are different from all over.  You just kind of respect the nationalities of who people are and what they’re about and that kind of thing.  But, I’ve met people from all over the world, so that’s kind of what my books about…from hanging out with Malcolm X’s daughter and driving her as a professor, to hanging out for a whole summer with a guy who was in Auschwitz…man, take your pick…I’ve driven a lot of people.  I had 4 hotels that only called me, so I got really lucky in that aspect.”

Advice for my boys?  “Be good and do good.”












Legend, whom I met this week out at Webb School.  Legend is a boarding student at Webb from China.  You’ve been here how long?  “This is my third year.  I came here my freshman year.”
What made you decide to come here?  “Actually, in China, our education system is completely different from here.  We start school at 7:30 and we usually finish school at like 6pm.  By high school, we usually finish at 9pm.  So, it’s a long day period of just studying.  Look at it like this—the way I see the Chinese education system, if you want to study well you’ve got to give up other things, like social life.  You can be social, of course, but you’ve got to give up time you hang out with your friends.  Obviously, you’ve got to give up time from sports and stuff.  So, I really want to play sports and do a lot of things in my life.  I heard, before I came here, that at the high schools in America, you go to school at like 8am and got out at like 3pm…and then have like two hours to do homework and that’s it.  I was like ‘Oh, that’s easy!’  I could do a lot of other things than just study, that’s the original thought I had.  But, actually after I came here, I realized that was wrong.  The academics here are really strong.  Everybody’s actually studying really hard.”
That’s surprising to hear you say.  So often, it seems the perception is that the Chinese culture has the stronger focus?   “That’s what I thought- that the Chinese are just focused on studying like on the knowledge and the textbook.  I found the American system focuses on the knowledge and the textbook, but also the way you actually do your life…really practical things.”
I understand when you came to Webb, you selected a more Americanized name.  You picked Legend.  Tell me about that.  “Yeah, I was actually thinking about it over weeks and weeks.”
So you put a lot of thought into it!  “Yeah, I watched the movie I Am Legend, so every single time people asked me ‘what’s your name,’ so I can be like ‘I am Legend.’  I found a cool way to say it!  After I found out I was coming here for sure, I thought ‘If I actually say that I am Legend, but I’m actually not’…I don’t know, I thought about it for a long time.  Then, I realized it’s just a name and doesn’t mean anything and I would try it out.”
One of the ladies in Admissions said you’re dedicated to being a legend?  “Oh, yes.  (laughs)  I think a lot of people are dedicated to being a legend in their lives, I do believe.”
What do you want to be known for?  “My life, the way I see, is I want to live a life happily.  My dream is to go around the world.  I’m trying to major in international business.  I’m learning all kinds of languages, like I’m taking French right now, as my third language.  Then, I will start Spanish or German.  Then, I will be able to go all over the world and learn more things.”  
You say you want to seek happiness.  What do you think is the source of happiness?  “As a 17 year old boy, I think happiness comes from yourself.  No matter how good your life is, or how good you think your life is, the happiness just comes from yourself.  Saying like ‘Right now, I’m poor, but I’m happy.’  Like right now, I have to stay up until about 3am to finish my work and I practice until really late to accomplish myself, but I’m saying I’m happy.  I’m happy to do it.  That’s the life I want.”
Has it been tough being away from your family?  “I will say yes.  The first year, ok I’ve gotta be honest, I’m the guy that really wants to see the world!  I wanted to see how life in America is.  I was just really excited, happy and really curious.  So, at first, I didn’t feel anything.  But the second year, most of us in China are the only child.  So, if you were gone, it’s basically just your parents left.  I’m pretty sure they’re feeling very lonely right now.  I kind of miss my home right now and miss my parents.”
Sometimes we have to be away from some people to fully appreciate them.  Since you’ve been away, what have you found you appreciate most about your mom and dad?  “When you got sick, you’re not feeling good, or you’ve had a bad day, you can go home and be like ‘mom, I had a bad day,’ and mom would bring cookies and ice cream.  That’s a really nice thing to have.  After I got away from my home, I realized how treasured the home is.”  
Do you think your parents are proud of the man you’re becoming?  “My dad is like ‘just go out there and have your own life.’  He doesn’t really expect anything out of me.  But, my mom, having to send me over here, she thinks you’ve got to go to the top colleges in the world and then earn a really high salary.  That’s what my mom expects.  But, I think they’d be proud of me.”
Advice for my boys?  “When we grow, we’re building up our perspective of life.  Different people want their lives different.  The way I see it is just go with your heart.  You’ve got to feel satisfied about what you’re doing right now.  If you say ‘I’m happy with my life,’ that means you have a good life.”  
I appreciate the warm welcome as I visited with several of the students this week at Webb.  In each classroom I entered, each student stood immediately, as a refreshing old school sign of respect.  Great to see old school manners in the midst of such new progress. 
Legend, whom I met this week out at Webb School.  Legend is a boarding student at Webb from China.  You’ve been here how long?  “This is my third year.  I came here my freshman year.”

What made you decide to come here?  “Actually, in China, our education system is completely different from here.  We start school at 7:30 and we usually finish school at like 6pm.  By high school, we usually finish at 9pm.  So, it’s a long day period of just studying.  Look at it like this—the way I see the Chinese education system, if you want to study well you’ve got to give up other things, like social life.  You can be social, of course, but you’ve got to give up time you hang out with your friends.  Obviously, you’ve got to give up time from sports and stuff.  So, I really want to play sports and do a lot of things in my life.  I heard, before I came here, that at the high schools in America, you go to school at like 8am and got out at like 3pm…and then have like two hours to do homework and that’s it.  I was like ‘Oh, that’s easy!’  I could do a lot of other things than just study, that’s the original thought I had.  But, actually after I came here, I realized that was wrong.  The academics here are really strong.  Everybody’s actually studying really hard.”

That’s surprising to hear you say.  So often, it seems the perception is that the Chinese culture has the stronger focus?   “That’s what I thought- that the Chinese are just focused on studying like on the knowledge and the textbook.  I found the American system focuses on the knowledge and the textbook, but also the way you actually do your life…really practical things.”

I understand when you came to Webb, you selected a more Americanized name.  You picked Legend.  Tell me about that.  “Yeah, I was actually thinking about it over weeks and weeks.”

So you put a lot of thought into it!  “Yeah, I watched the movie I Am Legend, so every single time people asked me ‘what’s your name,’ so I can be like ‘I am Legend.’  I found a cool way to say it!  After I found out I was coming here for sure, I thought ‘If I actually say that I am Legend, but I’m actually not’…I don’t know, I thought about it for a long time.  Then, I realized it’s just a name and doesn’t mean anything and I would try it out.”

One of the ladies in Admissions said you’re dedicated to being a legend?  “Oh, yes.  (laughs)  I think a lot of people are dedicated to being a legend in their lives, I do believe.”

What do you want to be known for?  “My life, the way I see, is I want to live a life happily.  My dream is to go around the world.  I’m trying to major in international business.  I’m learning all kinds of languages, like I’m taking French right now, as my third language.  Then, I will start Spanish or German.  Then, I will be able to go all over the world and learn more things.” 

You say you want to seek happiness.  What do you think is the source of happiness?  “As a 17 year old boy, I think happiness comes from yourself.  No matter how good your life is, or how good you think your life is, the happiness just comes from yourself.  Saying like ‘Right now, I’m poor, but I’m happy.’  Like right now, I have to stay up until about 3am to finish my work and I practice until really late to accomplish myself, but I’m saying I’m happy.  I’m happy to do it.  That’s the life I want.”

Has it been tough being away from your family?  “I will say yes.  The first year, ok I’ve gotta be honest, I’m the guy that really wants to see the world!  I wanted to see how life in America is.  I was just really excited, happy and really curious.  So, at first, I didn’t feel anything.  But the second year, most of us in China are the only child.  So, if you were gone, it’s basically just your parents left.  I’m pretty sure they’re feeling very lonely right now.  I kind of miss my home right now and miss my parents.”

Sometimes we have to be away from some people to fully appreciate them.  Since you’ve been away, what have you found you appreciate most about your mom and dad?  “When you got sick, you’re not feeling good, or you’ve had a bad day, you can go home and be like ‘mom, I had a bad day,’ and mom would bring cookies and ice cream.  That’s a really nice thing to have.  After I got away from my home, I realized how treasured the home is.” 

Do you think your parents are proud of the man you’re becoming?  “My dad is like ‘just go out there and have your own life.’  He doesn’t really expect anything out of me.  But, my mom, having to send me over here, she thinks you’ve got to go to the top colleges in the world and then earn a really high salary.  That’s what my mom expects.  But, I think they’d be proud of me.”

Advice for my boys?  “When we grow, we’re building up our perspective of life.  Different people want their lives different.  The way I see it is just go with your heart.  You’ve got to feel satisfied about what you’re doing right now.  If you say ‘I’m happy with my life,’ that means you have a good life.” 

I appreciate the warm welcome as I visited with several of the students this week at Webb.  In each classroom I entered, each student stood immediately, as a refreshing old school sign of respect.  Great to see old school manners in the midst of such new progress. 

















Stephen, who has an incredible Long Island accent, almost Tony Soprano like, that makes his stories so captivating.  Happiest time of your life?  “Probably getting married.”
How long ago was that?  “Almost 30 years…December 16th.”
Many marriages don’t last that long anymore. “Yes, I understand that.  Generally speaking, if we have a disagreement, we just go our separate ways and we just meet back…when we’re cooled down and then things go on.  That’s all there is to it.”
So, you’re saying instead of an argument, you just get some space for a bit?  “Oh, yeah, yeah.  Space.”
How long does that usually take?  “Uh, not long.  It’s a short period of time.  And also another thing- if she wants to go out with the girls, there’s no restrictions.  She doesn’t put any restrictions on me.  And we trust each other.  Probably the most important thing…trust.”
Over these 30 years, what have you found you appreciate most about her?  “Ah.  Probably, again, her trustworthy character, as well as her ability to crochet, stitch, ceramics…you know, all these little things that help decorate the house and things to wear, too.  Sweaters, scarfs, hats…she’s very good at the whatchamacallit…her arts there…very, very good.”
So do you wear a lot of things she makes?  “Sure, yeah, yeah.  I got the hats you wear in winter (motions to his head).”
Toboggans?  “There you go…yeah, yeah.”
I’m sure it makes it extra special with the time she’s put into it.  “It sure does!  And, I got my two afghans too…you put those over you in a chair, open a book and you’re set to go.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Probably Nam…Vietnam.  I’d really rather not deal with any of that situation.  I’ll just say that I was a medic on a helicopter..it was….just something I never expected…and I will leave it at that.  Fair enough?”
I’ve interviewed several Vietnam vets through this project.   I really appreciate your service and what you went through.  “Oh, yeah, yeah.  No problem.  It’s a…it was an experience.  You move on…like they did or like everyone else did.”
When I was in here earlier, you were so nice to me.  What gives you such a positive spirit with people?  “I don’t know…over the years, I’ve become, hopefully, more of a Christian.  I try to treat people the way I’d like to be treated…let’s put it that way.”
What made you make that change?  “Getting married I guess!  Both of us were not church people and certainly no interest in the Bible or anything.  After the first 4 or 5 years of marriage, she talked to somebody down in Sweetwater…a friend who sort of convinced her…and I picked it up from her.  But, I read the good book on a daily basis.”
How do you feel that’s changed your life?  “Hopefully for the better, I mean I…believe you me, I don’t go out of my way looking for trouble or anything.  I certainly have a fear of Him, let’s put it that way.  But, in return, He’s been very good to us.  We didn’t exactly get the best jobs in the world, but He’s gotten us through.”
Do you feel like that spiritual life has made you a better person?  “Yeah, yeah.”
Advice for my boys?  “Oh, the Golden Rule probably.  I suppose that’s about the best way to go.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t follow that, but a lot of people do. “
Seems like you do?  (laughs and says with his fast Jersey accent) “I try, I do.  But…uhhh…once in a while I get a little bent out of shape, but again I try to back off.  Again, I don’t look for confrontations, that’s for sure.  Also, do what you want to do in this life.  If you want to travel, go for it!  If you have an adventurous bucket list, go for it!   I certainly don’t recommend being a couch potato or anything…that’s for darn sure!”
What’s this great accent?  “Born in New York City, raised in Long Island.”
Stephen, who has an incredible Long Island accent, almost Tony Soprano like, that makes his stories so captivating.  Happiest time of your life?  “Probably getting married.”

How long ago was that?  “Almost 30 years…December 16th.”

Many marriages don’t last that long anymore. “Yes, I understand that.  Generally speaking, if we have a disagreement, we just go our separate ways and we just meet back…when we’re cooled down and then things go on.  That’s all there is to it.”

So, you’re saying instead of an argument, you just get some space for a bit?  “Oh, yeah, yeah.  Space.”

How long does that usually take?  “Uh, not long.  It’s a short period of time.  And also another thing- if she wants to go out with the girls, there’s no restrictions.  She doesn’t put any restrictions on me.  And we trust each other.  Probably the most important thing…trust.”

Over these 30 years, what have you found you appreciate most about her?  “Ah.  Probably, again, her trustworthy character, as well as her ability to crochet, stitch, ceramics…you know, all these little things that help decorate the house and things to wear, too.  Sweaters, scarfs, hats…she’s very good at the whatchamacallit…her arts there…very, very good.”

So do you wear a lot of things she makes?  “Sure, yeah, yeah.  I got the hats you wear in winter (motions to his head).”

Toboggans?  “There you go…yeah, yeah.”

I’m sure it makes it extra special with the time she’s put into it.  “It sure does!  And, I got my two afghans too…you put those over you in a chair, open a book and you’re set to go.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Probably Nam…Vietnam.  I’d really rather not deal with any of that situation.  I’ll just say that I was a medic on a helicopter..it was….just something I never expected…and I will leave it at that.  Fair enough?”

I’ve interviewed several Vietnam vets through this project.   I really appreciate your service and what you went through.  “Oh, yeah, yeah.  No problem.  It’s a…it was an experience.  You move on…like they did or like everyone else did.”

When I was in here earlier, you were so nice to me.  What gives you such a positive spirit with people?  “I don’t know…over the years, I’ve become, hopefully, more of a Christian.  I try to treat people the way I’d like to be treated…let’s put it that way.”

What made you make that change?  “Getting married I guess!  Both of us were not church people and certainly no interest in the Bible or anything.  After the first 4 or 5 years of marriage, she talked to somebody down in Sweetwater…a friend who sort of convinced her…and I picked it up from her.  But, I read the good book on a daily basis.”

How do you feel that’s changed your life?  “Hopefully for the better, I mean I…believe you me, I don’t go out of my way looking for trouble or anything.  I certainly have a fear of Him, let’s put it that way.  But, in return, He’s been very good to us.  We didn’t exactly get the best jobs in the world, but He’s gotten us through.”

Do you feel like that spiritual life has made you a better person?  “Yeah, yeah.”

Advice for my boys?  “Oh, the Golden Rule probably.  I suppose that’s about the best way to go.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t follow that, but a lot of people do. “

Seems like you do?  (laughs and says with his fast Jersey accent) “I try, I do.  But…uhhh…once in a while I get a little bent out of shape, but again I try to back off.  Again, I don’t look for confrontations, that’s for sure.  Also, do what you want to do in this life.  If you want to travel, go for it!  If you have an adventurous bucket list, go for it!   I certainly don’t recommend being a couch potato or anything…that’s for darn sure!”

What’s this great accent?  “Born in New York City, raised in Long Island.”





Lauren.  Happiest time of your life?  “There have been a couple of weekends, where I took trips with just my husband, that have been perfect.  It was just us and we got time to do the things we love together— riding our bikes, going to museums, going to the zoo and just not really worrying about anything. Those were really wonderful times. Then, a couple of the hiking and camping trips that we’ve taken, all three of us.  Really, just any time that I’ve spent away in an interesting place with my family, whether it be when I was kid, with my parents, or now that I’m grown and have kids.  Those times that you get to spend and kind of get away from everything and explore someplace new.”
Toughest time of your life?  “There was one summer when I kind of unexpectedly lost a job.  Then, the man who became my husband, toward the end of the summer decided we should take a break. I felt like I hit bottom and kind of lost everything.  I wasn’t sure where to go and felt like I had to make some really difficult decisions.  Everything started turning around after that, but that was probably the toughest time.”
What got you through that time?  “Support from my family, from my parents really helped me through…knowing that I had them to fall back on.  The advice of friends was very helpful.  Being able to just sit sometimes and be quiet…and not be talking, but be receptive.”
How have you changed since becoming a mom?  “Everything.  Everything has changed.  It was really difficult for a while.  In the first several months of his life, I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore.  I felt like I had to totally rebuild it.  But, now that I see that I can still be a lot of the things that I was before, but now with so many new things that I’m learning…that’s just amazing to me.  I’ve had to learn how to not be a kid myself sometimes…which is hard.  So, I think that’s the biggest change is learning that waht really defines adulthood is learning how to selflessly care for another being.  That can be hard for some people.  And, it is still hard.  It’s always hard, but it’s a challenge that you want to take on.”
Are you proud of the mom you are?  “Not always.  Not always.  I tend to be pretty controlling.  I like to make sure everything is going the way that I need it to go…it’s just kind of my personality type.  I always feel like I’m the best version of mom when I am just letting go and letting things roll…and being attentive, instead of thinking everything needs to go the structured way that I want it to go.”
Advice for my boys?  “You’ll get to some really hard decisions.  But, the decisions are very seldom as weighty as you think they are.  And, whatever you decide, it’s probably going to be ok.  And, whatever happens, it’s probably going to be ok.  Being able to laugh about things is one of the most important things that I know.  And then making sure you’re always giving to the people around you, so that whenever you get to a place where you can’t handle stuff, you’ve got people around you who know that they can rely on you, so that you can rely on them.  Really put effort into cultivating those relationships.”
Lauren.  Happiest time of your life?  “There have been a couple of weekends, where I took trips with just my husband, that have been perfect.  It was just us and we got time to do the things we love together— riding our bikes, going to museums, going to the zoo and just not really worrying about anything. Those were really wonderful times. Then, a couple of the hiking and camping trips that we’ve taken, all three of us.  Really, just any time that I’ve spent away in an interesting place with my family, whether it be when I was kid, with my parents, or now that I’m grown and have kids.  Those times that you get to spend and kind of get away from everything and explore someplace new.”
Toughest time of your life?  “There was one summer when I kind of unexpectedly lost a job.  Then, the man who became my husband, toward the end of the summer decided we should take a break. I felt like I hit bottom and kind of lost everything.  I wasn’t sure where to go and felt like I had to make some really difficult decisions.  Everything started turning around after that, but that was probably the toughest time.”
What got you through that time?  “Support from my family, from my parents really helped me through…knowing that I had them to fall back on.  The advice of friends was very helpful.  Being able to just sit sometimes and be quiet…and not be talking, but be receptive.”
How have you changed since becoming a mom?  “Everything.  Everything has changed.  It was really difficult for a while.  In the first several months of his life, I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore.  I felt like I had to totally rebuild it.  But, now that I see that I can still be a lot of the things that I was before, but now with so many new things that I’m learning…that’s just amazing to me.  I’ve had to learn how to not be a kid myself sometimes…which is hard.  So, I think that’s the biggest change is learning that waht really defines adulthood is learning how to selflessly care for another being.  That can be hard for some people.  And, it is still hard.  It’s always hard, but it’s a challenge that you want to take on.”
Are you proud of the mom you are?  “Not always.  Not always.  I tend to be pretty controlling.  I like to make sure everything is going the way that I need it to go…it’s just kind of my personality type.  I always feel like I’m the best version of mom when I am just letting go and letting things roll…and being attentive, instead of thinking everything needs to go the structured way that I want it to go.”

Advice for my boys?  “You’ll get to some really hard decisions.  But, the decisions are very seldom as weighty as you think they are.  And, whatever you decide, it’s probably going to be ok.  And, whatever happens, it’s probably going to be ok.  Being able to laugh about things is one of the most important things that I know.  And then making sure you’re always giving to the people around you, so that whenever you get to a place where you can’t handle stuff, you’ve got people around you who know that they can rely on you, so that you can rely on them.  Really put effort into cultivating those relationships.”








Adam.  Happiest time of your life?  “Wow.  Good grief, I’m 31, so that’s a lot of life to go over.  Pretty happy right now.  I’ve got everything I need.  I’m just happy to be with my family and don’t require a whole lot.”  (looking at his two little girls running around)
How did you change when you became a dad?  “Goodness.  I learned how selfish I was.”
How so?  “Well, when you have to take care of other people, you realize how much you were only taking care of yourself beforehand.”
What other ways?  “Lots of ways.  As far as being selfish goes, how you use your time, your use of resources.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Well, to be honest with you, probably the same time.”
Becoming a dad?  “Being a father and a husband—it’s the best time, but it’s the hardest.”
Hardest part?  “Learning to give up yourself and do what other people need you to do.”
Are you proud of the dad you are?  “Not particularly….I just am the dad I am.  I do the best I can.”
Advice for my boys?  “Submit to the Lord and submit to your parents.” 
Adam.  Happiest time of your life?  “Wow.  Good grief, I’m 31, so that’s a lot of life to go over.  Pretty happy right now.  I’ve got everything I need.  I’m just happy to be with my family and don’t require a whole lot.”  (looking at his two little girls running around)
How did you change when you became a dad?  “Goodness.  I learned how selfish I was.”

How so?  “Well, when you have to take care of other people, you realize how much you were only taking care of yourself beforehand.”
What other ways?  “Lots of ways.  As far as being selfish goes, how you use your time, your use of resources.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Well, to be honest with you, probably the same time.”
Becoming a dad?  “Being a father and a husband—it’s the best time, but it’s the hardest.”

Hardest part?  “Learning to give up yourself and do what other people need you to do.”
Are you proud of the dad you are?  “Not particularly….I just am the dad I am.  I do the best I can.”

Advice for my boys?  “Submit to the Lord and submit to your parents.” 

Ryan.  Toughest time of your life?  “Dealing with an injured back and not being able to work for over a year.”How did you deal with that? “Focused on getting better and getting through it.”  Tell me about the tattoos.  “Wanted them since I was a little kid.  Just something I always liked, so decided to do it.” 

Ryan.  Toughest time of your life?  “Dealing with an injured back and not being able to work for over a year.”

How did you deal with that? “Focused on getting better and getting through it.” 

Tell me about the tattoos.  “Wanted them since I was a little kid.  Just something I always liked, so decided to do it.” 






Tim, whom I spotted fly fishing in Buffalo Valley, TN on the Caney Fork River.  Happiest time of your life?  “That’s kinda hard to pin down just one happiest time, you know.  Had a lot of happy times.  Being outside…hunting, fishing, hiking.  I like doing that kind of stuff.”
What do you like about it?  “Freedom…you know…no times, no clocks. You know, my job I’m required to watch a clock constantly.  So, out here, no clocks.  Freedom.  Do what you feel, be who you are.”
What are you thinking about when you’re out here…or, is that the thing, do you have to think?  “Well, when I’m fishing, I’m trying to outsmart this fish over here.  That’s one thing I like about it….it gives you a little bit of a….the background noise kind of goes away.  I can focus on one thing out here…trying to catch this fish.  You know, you look around and the fish aren’t biting, but at least I’m outside in this river, feels good.”
Toughest time of your life?  “Growing up.”
Why so?  “You know, wasn’t ideal.  Everybody’s got hard times.  Being a young man was hard…trying to figure things out.”  
How did you deal with that?  “I don’t really know.  Best way I could’ve I guess.  I just tried to consume myself with good habits and good things and good folks and hopefully it will turn out for the best.”
Advice for my boys?  “Stay with your family, remember who you are, try not to compromise who you are for anybody.  Be who you are, stay true to yourself.” 
Tim, whom I spotted fly fishing in Buffalo Valley, TN on the Caney Fork River.  Happiest time of your life?  “That’s kinda hard to pin down just one happiest time, you know.  Had a lot of happy times.  Being outside…hunting, fishing, hiking.  I like doing that kind of stuff.”

What do you like about it?  “Freedom…you know…no times, no clocks. You know, my job I’m required to watch a clock constantly.  So, out here, no clocks.  Freedom.  Do what you feel, be who you are.”

What are you thinking about when you’re out here…or, is that the thing, do you have to think?  “Well, when I’m fishing, I’m trying to outsmart this fish over here.  That’s one thing I like about it….it gives you a little bit of a….the background noise kind of goes away.  I can focus on one thing out here…trying to catch this fish.  You know, you look around and the fish aren’t biting, but at least I’m outside in this river, feels good.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Growing up.”

Why so?  “You know, wasn’t ideal.  Everybody’s got hard times.  Being a young man was hard…trying to figure things out.” 

How did you deal with that?  “I don’t really know.  Best way I could’ve I guess.  I just tried to consume myself with good habits and good things and good folks and hopefully it will turn out for the best.”

Advice for my boys?  “Stay with your family, remember who you are, try not to compromise who you are for anybody.  Be who you are, stay true to yourself.” 

An incredible update from my wife:
Had an emotional encounter this evening as we ran into one of Justin’s past strangers at Market Square in Knoxville. For those of you who remember Terry’s story, we met him selling the Amplifier (Knoxville’s homeless paper). In his interview for the stranger project, he explained that he and his wife had been on a waiting list for several months for an apartment with the housing authority. He was trying to come up with the final $25 for the deposit. That Saturday, Justin gave him $35 in good faith hoping he and his wife would be able to put it to good use. Fast forward several months later and we ran into him tonight selling papers on the same corner. He immediately recognized us and our first question was, “Were you able to get the apartment?” Terry explained that the following Monday, he and his wife took the money and paid the deposit, got their apartment, and they’ve been able keep it all this time! Truly a happy ending…a testament to hard work and being able to turn things around for the better…and perhaps most importantly a lesson in how an act of kindness that was so seemingly small can make such a huge impact in someone’s life.— Rachel 
I couldn’t be prouder of Terry.  We’re now 140-something deep in this project and I’ve met just he most incredible people…and true over-comers.  There are good people and there are bad people.  But, when you help, you just have to do it with the best intentions and then it’s up to them how they receive it or what they do with the gift. I just knew Terry was the exception and he’s proved that over and over.  I pray God will continue to bless Terry and  that he can also be an example to those who are trying to get back on track as well.   What an AMAZING day!  Made my whole project! — Justin

An incredible update from my wife:

Had an emotional encounter this evening as we ran into one of Justin’s past strangers at Market Square in Knoxville. For those of you who remember Terry’s story, we met him selling the Amplifier (Knoxville’s homeless paper). In his interview for the stranger project, he explained that he and his wife had been on a waiting list for several months for an apartment with the housing authority. He was trying to come up with the final $25 for the deposit. That Saturday, Justin gave him $35 in good faith hoping he and his wife would be able to put it to good use. Fast forward several months later and we ran into him tonight selling papers on the same corner. He immediately recognized us and our first question was, “Were you able to get the apartment?” Terry explained that the following Monday, he and his wife took the money and paid the deposit, got their apartment, and they’ve been able keep it all this time! Truly a happy ending…a testament to hard work and being able to turn things around for the better…and perhaps most importantly a lesson in how an act of kindness that was so seemingly small can make such a huge impact in someone’s life.— Rachel 

I couldn’t be prouder of Terry.  We’re now 140-something deep in this project and I’ve met just he most incredible people…and true over-comers.  There are good people and there are bad people.  But, when you help, you just have to do it with the best intentions and then it’s up to them how they receive it or what they do with the gift. I just knew Terry was the exception and he’s proved that over and over.  I pray God will continue to bless Terry and  that he can also be an example to those who are trying to get back on track as well.   What an AMAZING day!  Made my whole project! — Justin




Cheryl.  Happiest time of your life?  “I went to medical school in the Carribean.  One of the happiest times was renting a boat with my friends and going out in the ocean and we went to this deserted island and had barbeque.  It was one of the happiest times.”
Toughest time of your life?    “Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (pauses) I don’t know why I’m getting tearful right now.”  How long ago was that?  “I’ll be three years relapse free in March.”
That diagnosis had to be hard to even wrap your mind around.  How did you do that and deal with it?  “How did I?  I think I’m still dealing with it…trying to come to grips with the fact.  I think the biggest problem is that I have no physical manifestations at this time, so it’s pretty much a secret at work.  That’s kind of tough to deal with it silently, but my husband is a great support and reminds me that really there’s no reason for me to be thinking about it everyday if I don’t really have any symptoms right now.”
“Also something that helps me deal with MS is I’m a part of the National MS Society and I do volunteer work with them and we go and talk to our legislators about policies that affect those with disabilities.  And, I’m a physician and see people going through such tough stuff like brain injuries, being paralyzed.”  Bet that helps with perspective?  “Yes, exactly.”
One piece of life advice for my boys? “Keep calm and carry on!”
Cheryl.  Happiest time of your life?  “I went to medical school in the Carribean.  One of the happiest times was renting a boat with my friends and going out in the ocean and we went to this deserted island and had barbeque.  It was one of the happiest times.”
Toughest time of your life?    “Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (pauses) I don’t know why I’m getting tearful right now.”  How long ago was that?  “I’ll be three years relapse free in March.”
That diagnosis had to be hard to even wrap your mind around.  How did you do that and deal with it?  “How did I?  I think I’m still dealing with it…trying to come to grips with the fact.  I think the biggest problem is that I have no physical manifestations at this time, so it’s pretty much a secret at work.  That’s kind of tough to deal with it silently, but my husband is a great support and reminds me that really there’s no reason for me to be thinking about it everyday if I don’t really have any symptoms right now.”
“Also something that helps me deal with MS is I’m a part of the National MS Society and I do volunteer work with them and we go and talk to our legislators about policies that affect those with disabilities.  And, I’m a physician and see people going through such tough stuff like brain injuries, being paralyzed.”  Bet that helps with perspective?  “Yes, exactly.”

One piece of life advice for my boys? “Keep calm and carry on!”

Suzanne, whom I spotted sitting on a deck in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee.  Happiest time of your life?  “Wow.  Probably the most carefree was the first time I came to Leiper’s Fork.”Why so?  “Cause it was a group of people and none of us knew each other and we’d all come here for….we’d just come here.  You know, we’d all just left our lives and we’d come here.  So, we didn’t….”Kind of a fresh start?  “Yeah, yeah.  Not only a fresh start, but it was a time when most of us weren’t labeled by what we had done or who we had known or what we had been in our lives.  It was when I knew, all of a sudden, that I was no longer a mother, no longer a business owner, you know, no longer the bank president’s wife.  I was Suzanne.  And that was it.  It’s like the whole blackboard erases and you are….this.”Some people really embrace their identity and need you to know who they are and what they’ve accomplished.  Sounds like you liked not having that baggage?  “No…it was terrifying.  I mean it was good, but it was terrifying.  It was like being naked.  You had to just get back into yourself and come out again.”Feel like you were kind of reinventing yourself?  “Yeah, totally.”Toughest time of your life?  “Probably the end of my marriage.”How long were you married?  “Fifteen, seventeen years.” How did you deal with that ending?  “Maybe you don’t.  Maybe…yeah, maybe you don’t.  You just, you do something else.  You use it to open up the bottle and see what comes out.  It was the beginning of this….it was the beginning of who I was, rather than what I’d made myself into.  It was horrible, but it was good.”Are you at peace now?  “With life or with that?” Either.  “I think I’m at peace with that.  I don’t know that I’m totally at peace with life.”What would it take for you to be at peace?  “If I knew, I’d probably be doing it.  I’m ok with it, it’s just like hills and valleys.”Advice for my boys?  “Build your frame of reference.  Just build it.  Everything you do builds your frame of reference for life.  Every single thing you do every day builds your frame of reference you have to use, to take the next step.” I found Suzanne absolutely fascinating and appreciate her candor and transparency.  I hope she continues to find that peace she seeks.

Suzanne, whom I spotted sitting on a deck in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee.  Happiest time of your life?  “Wow.  Probably the most carefree was the first time I came to Leiper’s Fork.”

Why so?  “Cause it was a group of people and none of us knew each other and we’d all come here for….we’d just come here.  You know, we’d all just left our lives and we’d come here.  So, we didn’t….”

Kind of a fresh start?  “Yeah, yeah.  Not only a fresh start, but it was a time when most of us weren’t labeled by what we had done or who we had known or what we had been in our lives.  It was when I knew, all of a sudden, that I was no longer a mother, no longer a business owner, you know, no longer the bank president’s wife.  I was Suzanne.  And that was it.  It’s like the whole blackboard erases and you are….this.”

Some people really embrace their identity and need you to know who they are and what they’ve accomplished.  Sounds like you liked not having that baggage?  “No…it was terrifying.  I mean it was good, but it was terrifying.  It was like being naked.  You had to just get back into yourself and come out again.”

Feel like you were kind of reinventing yourself?  “Yeah, totally.”

Toughest time of your life?  “Probably the end of my marriage.”

How long were you married?  “Fifteen, seventeen years.”

How did you deal with that ending?  “Maybe you don’t.  Maybe…yeah, maybe you don’t.  You just, you do something else.  You use it to open up the bottle and see what comes out.  It was the beginning of this….it was the beginning of who I was, rather than what I’d made myself into.  It was horrible, but it was good.”

Are you at peace now?  “With life or with that?”

Either.  “I think I’m at peace with that.  I don’t know that I’m totally at peace with life.”

What would it take for you to be at peace?  “If I knew, I’d probably be doing it.  I’m ok with it, it’s just like hills and valleys.”

Advice for my boys?  “Build your frame of reference.  Just build it.  Everything you do builds your frame of reference for life.  Every single thing you do every day builds your frame of reference you have to use, to take the next step.”

I found Suzanne absolutely fascinating and appreciate her candor and transparency.  I hope she continues to find that peace she seeks.

John, whom I passed on a street corner in downtown Nashville, handing out Gospel tracts…and just had to turn around and meet.  Happiest time of your life?  “Gosh, right now I’m pretty happy, to tell you the truth.”Why so?  “I’ve found a contentment, I think might be the word.  Just a contentment in life’s journey, you might say…not striving to achieve anything particular or not terribly worried or confused.”A lot of us constantly strive for contentment.  Like the Bible verse says ‘I know what it is to have plenty and I know what it is to be in want…and I’ve found contentment in both.’  How and when did you find it?  “I think it’s been a little bit of a process, but it’s been like getting to know somebody and then when you really get to know them on a level of intimacy, just like you and I are just acquaintances…but if I got to really know you, have some meals with you, we’d know each other and feel comfortable around each other.  I think that’s the way my relationship with Christ Jesus has been. I’ve gotten to know him more.  The scripture says that he’s the Prince of Peace and I think I’ve gotten to know that aspect.  Even though I can’t see him, the Bible says he’s sent his spirit here.  In a strange way, just speaking to you today is kind of an encouragement, to me, and kind of reinforces the peace and contentment that I think he wants us to have.”So you feel like your spiritual life has really helped you achieve that feeling of contentment?  “Absolutely, absolutely.  And my contentment is not because I’m doing something good or because I’ve made some achievements, but it’s because I’ve come to understand the gospel message more….and embrace that I’m not good and understand that the world is a terrible and horrible place, in a lot of ways, but when we begin to understand the scripture and understand Christ, it should be really no surprise.  He came to redeem the fallen world and he’s going to do that if we’ll give our heart to Him.  That’s my message today, standing on this corner for a few minutes.”How often do you do this and what gave you the guts to do it?  “It’s sporadic.  Today, I’m going to get a haircut and happened to be down here and had my backpack with me.  I’ve got these Gospel tracts in it, which I handed you, and my message is just to tell people that God loves them and I can only hope that seed will take root.  Really, it’s his word and I hope it will be an encouragement to somebody who’s passing by….whether I get a chance to have a conversation with them, like yourself, or whether people just need to see a smiling face.  A lot of people don’t know that God loves them and I think there’s a lot of resentment and anger in the world…because they just don’t realize the magnitude of God’s love.”Advice for my boys?  “Wow.  I would say to trust Jesus.  You’re their earthly father and it sounds like you’re trying to raise them according to scripture and faith.  That’s exactly what the Bible admonishes you to do, as a parent, because He’s the only one that will always be there for them…and for you and I, for that matter.  It’s like a great exchange…it’s like I give God my ugliness and all the things I’ve done wrong and he gives me his righteousness.  I like to refer to it as the exchanged life.”I wish John the best on his journey of meeting strangers, as well.  I also apologize for often prejudging and for the assumptions I’ve made of people that stand on corners and distribute material.  Yes, sometimes they’re fanatic indeed.  But, sometimes it’s just someone, on their own, carrying out what they believe they are meant and called to do.  That is respectable…and it takes guts.  May God continue to bless John, his family and the people he meets along the way.  

John, whom I passed on a street corner in downtown Nashville, handing out Gospel tracts…and just had to turn around and meet.  Happiest time of your life?  “Gosh, right now I’m pretty happy, to tell you the truth.”

Why so?  “I’ve found a contentment, I think might be the word.  Just a contentment in life’s journey, you might say…not striving to achieve anything particular or not terribly worried or confused.”

A lot of us constantly strive for contentment.  Like the Bible verse says ‘I know what it is to have plenty and I know what it is to be in want…and I’ve found contentment in both.’  How and when did you find it?  “I think it’s been a little bit of a process, but it’s been like getting to know somebody and then when you really get to know them on a level of intimacy, just like you and I are just acquaintances…but if I got to really know you, have some meals with you, we’d know each other and feel comfortable around each other.  I think that’s the way my relationship with Christ Jesus has been. I’ve gotten to know him more.  The scripture says that he’s the Prince of Peace and I think I’ve gotten to know that aspect.  Even though I can’t see him, the Bible says he’s sent his spirit here.  In a strange way, just speaking to you today is kind of an encouragement, to me, and kind of reinforces the peace and contentment that I think he wants us to have.”

So you feel like your spiritual life has really helped you achieve that feeling of contentment?  “Absolutely, absolutely.  And my contentment is not because I’m doing something good or because I’ve made some achievements, but it’s because I’ve come to understand the gospel message more….and embrace that I’m not good and understand that the world is a terrible and horrible place, in a lot of ways, but when we begin to understand the scripture and understand Christ, it should be really no surprise.  He came to redeem the fallen world and he’s going to do that if we’ll give our heart to Him.  That’s my message today, standing on this corner for a few minutes.”

How often do you do this and what gave you the guts to do it?  “It’s sporadic.  Today, I’m going to get a haircut and happened to be down here and had my backpack with me.  I’ve got these Gospel tracts in it, which I handed you, and my message is just to tell people that God loves them and I can only hope that seed will take root.  Really, it’s his word and I hope it will be an encouragement to somebody who’s passing by….whether I get a chance to have a conversation with them, like yourself, or whether people just need to see a smiling face.  A lot of people don’t know that God loves them and I think there’s a lot of resentment and anger in the world…because they just don’t realize the magnitude of God’s love.”

Advice for my boys?  “Wow.  I would say to trust Jesus.  You’re their earthly father and it sounds like you’re trying to raise them according to scripture and faith.  That’s exactly what the Bible admonishes you to do, as a parent, because He’s the only one that will always be there for them…and for you and I, for that matter.  It’s like a great exchange…it’s like I give God my ugliness and all the things I’ve done wrong and he gives me his righteousness.  I like to refer to it as the exchanged life.”

I wish John the best on his journey of meeting strangers, as well.  I also apologize for often prejudging and for the assumptions I’ve made of people that stand on corners and distribute material.  Yes, sometimes they’re fanatic indeed.  But, sometimes it’s just someone, on their own, carrying out what they believe they are meant and called to do.  That is respectable…and it takes guts.  May God continue to bless John, his family and the people he meets along the way.  







James.  Happiest time of your life?  “That kind of answer, sir, is…how should I say…I’ve had a whole lot of happy times in my life.  Which one you wanna know about?”
Well, just tell me about the happiest.  “When I first got my first car.”  (laughs)
What did that mean to you?  “It meant a whole lot.  ‘Specially when I paid for it!  Meant a whole lot.  Meant responsibilities.”
“Second happiest is when I got married.  Third happiest when I had kids.  Fourth happiest is when I raised all of ‘em.  And the fifth happiest is me and my wife starting all over again.”
How’s that feel to start all over again?   “Mighty fine!  Feels young again.”  (laughs)
Toughest time of your life?  “When my parents passed away, for one.  I really hadn’t had a lot of tough times.”
How did you deal with their passing?  “It was rough for the first two or three days or four days, but you got to go on.  The wouldn’t want you to sob, cause they happy…they want you to be happy, too. They want you to use what they taught you.  They want you to be like them.”
Advice for my boys?  “Listen to your mother, listen to your father…whether you wanna do it or not, ‘cause nine times out of ten, they right.”
James.  Happiest time of your life?  “That kind of answer, sir, is…how should I say…I’ve had a whole lot of happy times in my life.  Which one you wanna know about?”

Well, just tell me about the happiest.  “When I first got my first car.”  (laughs)

What did that mean to you?  “It meant a whole lot.  ‘Specially when I paid for it!  Meant a whole lot.  Meant responsibilities.”

“Second happiest is when I got married.  Third happiest when I had kids.  Fourth happiest is when I raised all of ‘em.  And the fifth happiest is me and my wife starting all over again.”

How’s that feel to start all over again?   “Mighty fine!  Feels young again.”  (laughs)

Toughest time of your life?  “When my parents passed away, for one.  I really hadn’t had a lot of tough times.”

How did you deal with their passing?  “It was rough for the first two or three days or four days, but you got to go on.  The wouldn’t want you to sob, cause they happy…they want you to be happy, too. They want you to use what they taught you.  They want you to be like them.”

Advice for my boys?  “Listen to your mother, listen to your father…whether you wanna do it or not, ‘cause nine times out of ten, they right.”

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