"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
I was raised by two hardworking and loving parents who taught me I could be anything I wanted. In 1974, fate led me to the love of my life, Holly. For the next 10 years, everything was picture-perfect. We began a family in 1977, built our dream home in 1978, and by 1985, our family consisted of four boys and a girl. I owned and operated three family restaurants and five muffler shops with my brother. All of my hard work had paid off, and I was living the American dream.
On August 13, 1985, we lost our infant son, which was very difficult, especially for my wife. In 1990, my brother and I had gone our separate ways in the business By 1993, our oldest son began to struggle with drug addiction. The year 1995, our city began a 19-month road project that resulted in our business dropping in half. December 17, 1997, our son Landon was killed in a car accident. In 1998, our oldest son was faced with eight years of prison due to his continued struggle with addiction. In 2000, my father passed before his time, falling victim to surgical mistakes.
"Our American dream was becoming our American nightmare. Why was this happening?"
For years, I struggled not understanding why all the turmoil. My belief I could be anything I wanted and I had control over my life was shattered. I had no control over what was happening. Our American dream had become our American nightmare. Why was this happening?
After a year of struggling with our second son’s death, a friend of mine wrote, “Larry, if Landon could talk to you now, what would he say? He would say,” Dad get your head out of your butt, take care of Mom, my brothers and my sister, and I’ll see you someday.” At that point I had a choice. My faith would either grow or it would go to hell. Luckily for me and my family, my faith grew.
Fast-forward to May 28, 2010—the day I suffered a stroke that paralyzed my left side. I laid in bed thinking, “Why me? What Now?” Through this stroke, I have been blessed with an understanding of patience and persistence. I walk carefully, and currently type with one hand. However, I am working full time, and life is good! I have been blessed to share my story with others, and this is what I believe:
Proverbs 16:9. “We make our plans, but the Lord guides our steps.” With each of these life challenges, I have been given an opportunity. I have been blessed with a wonderful family and love of my wife of 38 years. My three amazing children have all been blessed with their soul mates, and I have 5 wonderful grandchildren.
Life’s challenges have blessed me with an understanding of the importance of faith, family and friends. It is through faith we receive the gift of hope. It’s by faith our challenges can become opportunities. I would add to Dr. King’s quote to say, “The bigger the challenge the bigger the opportunity.”