CVB: How did you decide your bicycle journey across America needed to be a book? What was the motivation?
Debbie: During the bike tours we kept a blog. Every night after we finished bicycling, we came home and there were so many lessons that we learned. Tim summarized them into 52 lessons.
Tim: We actually published a book when we married at age 52. It was the first marriage for both of us.
CVB: Oh, wow! Congratulations.
Tim: Thank you. And then we took a trip across the country on bicycle. That was our honeymoon.
CVB: Wow. Which is a unique thing just in itself.
Tim: We published the book on that, which was basically a testimonial of how God brought us together and then that adventure. We liked touring so much that we went on two more tours. The third one was a fundraiser for the hope line, a teen outreach ministry of Dawson McAllister Association. We are both hope coaches for them. Because we were praying for that particular tour, there were just so many stories that had God moments tied to them. There were so many spiritual lessons that when we got back we knew we had to share this with people.
CVB: These lessons are basically daily devotionals. Why did you choose that particular format?
Tim: The first book was about us. It was a testimonial of what God had done in our lives. So a person reading that can see what God did, but it doesn’t come back and challenge them to ask, “How does this apply to me?” When we wrote using the devotional format, it gave us the opportunity to say, “Here’s what happened in this episode, and here’s what it means in a more general sense. How might this apply to you?” Then we give them three reflection questions to be able to think about
CVB: I was thinking this would be perfect to do a devotion per day. I love those kinds of books.
Debbie: Or even a weekly devotional since there are 52 lessons. We thought if it was a small group setting, people could read one each week.
When people hear that we’ve bicycled over 10,000 miles, they say, “I could never do that.” But they don’t have to do that if they read this book. They can get the benefit of going on the adventure with us. I think a lot of times people live vicariously through others. So to take them on the ride and have them have the adventure without really leaving their house, I think is a benefit because we learned so much.
I still keep in touch with a woman I met just by chance. We stopped by this church on a Sunday morning and there were only about 15 or 20 people at this church. So we roll our bikes in and this guy says, “Okay, you’re going with the women and Tim, you’re going with the men for Sunday school.” So I sat there with these five strange women. And at that point I was thinking, “Get me off this stupid bicycle. I cannot bike anymore.” I sat there in that room and they wanted to know about the hope line and about our trip. They totally embraced me. They gave me a book of on God’s promises, because I said, “I’m so tired. I don’t think I can go on.”
They also had a little bear ministry, and they gave me a stuffed animal that they made a stuffed bear out of polar fleece to take with me. And I said, “Oh, can you just mail it to me?” (laughs)
CVB: You didn’t need to carry anything else!
Debbie: Yeah. To this day, one of the ladies in that group named Patty, she and I speak every other week. We talk on the phone and we’ve read The Power of a Praying Wife together. She got married, which was her second marriage, in her fifties. So we have that in common – getting married later in life. We have such a great time and she’s such an encourager. She works for Teen Challenge, so she knows about the hope line.
Two of the women handed us a check on our way out that day. I opened it up and it was for a lot of money for the hope line. So they’re just generous people.
CVB: For those who don’t know, what is the hope line and why were you attracted to it?
Tim: The hope line is for young people, 13 to 29, for people who wanted to call Dawson McAllister’s radio show to get help. We now have a text-based chat service. Debbie was first on board. We went down to Spring Hill, which is where the headquarters are, had a tour, and sat in on a radio show. Debbie was amazed with the coach we met. She asked, “How can I do this?” They gave her the manual and she was trained over the phone. Soon she started taking chats.
After we married, I got trained. So now we do coaching on weekends for a few hours in the evening. Sometimes these sessions can go all the way into the middle of the morning. We have interactions from kids all over the world.
CVB: Then do you refer these young people locally for them to get hooked in there?
Tim: We have partner organizations, for example, a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ offers email mentors. We have addiction-based counselors, along with help for those dealing with rape or incest. Focus on the family, focus on the family, provides the counseling network. These are mostly national faith-based organizations that provide support.
CVB: That’s fantastic. Tell us some of the memories out on the road, both good and maybe challenging.
Tim: I mean the first trip we took was two weeks after we got married. So it was a celebration for us, but we weren’t sure how we were going to do at this. We were both kind of recreational cyclists, so we’d go 20 or 30 miles on a weekend. Neither one of us had toured overnight before. So we had all this gear that would get us probably as far as we could make it. We had two months, because Debbie’s a school teacher. We thought we might be out there for a week, or maybe two weeks, and then fly home. It was a good honeymoon. We cycled 15 straight days without stopping. We had some saddle sores.
We got to Great Falls, Montana and we hadn’t stopped. We were just so invigorated and full of energy. But that was kind of an interesting time because we had to stay there to get better for five days. We started to think, “We’re losing time. Do you think we’ll be able to get across? Are we even going to be able to resume?” But after we had that waiting period, when we left we were both convinced we could do this!
Fast forward another month and we went from Buffalo across into Canada. What else do you do on a honeymoon? Right. We cycled right up to the head of Niagara Falls.
CVB: Yeah. Frank Sinatra says you have to do that on a honeymoon. (laughs)
Tim: From a personal standpoint, that was just very memorable.
Debbie: I start crying sometimes when I think about what God gave us during those trips. Tim was up in Maine and I was in Massachusetts, so we had a long distance relationship. So when we married, we hadn’t really been together that much. It was like a total faith walk. So here we’re bicycling across the country together. God enabled us to do that and gave us the memories and the bonding experience.
We’re very different. Tim’s an accountant and I’m a teacher. We were riding through Washington where all the cherry orchard are and I wanted to go swimming. Tim doesn’t know how to swim. And I said, “Oh, I’m so hot. How about if we just jump into the river?” Well, there were all these dead rattlesnakes and signs saying, “Beware of snakes.” And he said, “No, Debbie, I don’t think we should.”
So, I’m riding my bike and thinking, “This guy is not that much fun.” So we had a few conflicts at the beginning. Then when we arrived in New York, we were in Ticonderoga and it was getting toward the end of the trip and I was getting really sad. This lady was outside the hotel room and another guy was pumping up the tires. I thought it was Tim. The woman was talking to her husband and then she started talking to me and she says, “I can’t wait to get off this stupid bicycle. I never want to do this again.” They had ridden from California. But I thought to myself, “I cannot wait to do this again.”
CVB: It’s unique. Not a lot of people get to do that.
Debbie: The fact that God brought some guy that like loves to exercise as much as me and loves the adventure. It was just amazing.
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Dr. Craig von Buseck is Managing Editor of Inspiration.org.
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