Tom Eickmann

Tom Eickmann
Episode 64

Join host Japhet De Oliveira in this episode as he sits down with his guest, Tom Eickmann, for a thoughtful conversation about the best time to hydrate as a surgeon, reading through the night, the meaning of forgiveness, and keeping an intentional record of miracles.
Libsyn Podcast
“God working through you is something that is so beautiful. It doesn’t happen every day, but when it happens it’s so beautiful … I don’t have the words.”

Narrator: Welcome friends, to another episode of The Story and Experience Podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira, with his guest today, and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Welcome friends, to another episode of The Story and Experience Podcast. This is, for the very first time, a recording at my home. I'm very excited about this. Usually I go to the location, meet the guest, but today the guest has come to me, and this is very, very, very good. For anybody who's brand new to the Story and Experience Podcast, what you should know is we have 100 questions, and our guest, who's looking at me right now, and they're smiling, so this is a good sign, they know that actually as they get close to 100, it becomes more complex. But these are all stories and experiences that shape us, so I'm going to ask the first 10, and then the guest gets to choose numbers between 11 and 100. Let's dive in straight away. Could you tell us your name, and does anybody ever mispronounce it?

Tom Eickmann: Yeah, this is Tom Eickmann. Happy to be here. And yes, I get my last name mispronounced almost every time. The first name Tom's fairly simple, that one they get right.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, I can do that.

Tom Eickmann: But Eickmann is a little tricky. Eekmann is a common one, Erickmann. Yeah, those are the common mispronunciations.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's good. I didn't realize that. I thought it was just so straightforward as well. That's good.

Tom Eickmann: Not so much.

Japhet De Oliveira: Tom, what do you do for work?

Tom Eickmann: I'm an orthopedic surgeon, so that's my primary job, and then I have a lot of other things that I do on the side.

Japhet De Oliveira: And what would some of those things on the side be?

Tom Eickmann: Let's see here.

Japhet De Oliveira: Which ones can you share?

Tom Eickmann: Yeah, I have a lot of entrepreneurial type interests. I've constantly got some sort of invention, or in this case, I think I have four that I'm working on simultaneously, with another orthopedic surgeon and a manufacturing company. I do some consulting for Kyocera, a Japanese implant company, and then I do some other things that are... Hospitals, when you work there, there's always a desire to have you participate in committees and meetings and things like this. And then of course my church does the same thing, so yeah, I serve on a number of committees and whatnot.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. Brilliant. All right. How long have you been this orthopedic surgeon?

Tom Eickmann: I have been, I guess technically, I became an orthopedic surgeon in 2004, when I finished my residency down at Loma Linda, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, all right, hey, that's fantastic. Now, in the morning, obviously for us, we have both got a cup of coffee. In fact, we have a flat white, which is a great experience.

Tom Eickmann: Awesome, yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: But in the morning when you get up, what's your first drink of the day? Is it coffee, tea, water, liquid green smoothie?

Tom Eickmann: Yeah. I would love to have a liquid green smoothie. I'm just not coordinated enough to probably pull that one off every day. But yeah, for me it's water, and I drink a lot of water. As a surgeon, you have to drink your water early in the morning and late at night, because sometimes you don't get an opportunity to really drink during the day. And so a lot of times it's sometimes two, or even three, glasses of water in the morning, with tall glasses. Yeah, because you've got to get two or three of your eight glasses in right there.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, that's impressive. That's actually very wise. I'm very glad to hear that. Middle of surgery, "Wait a second."

Tom Eickmann: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. Tell me Tom, where were you born?

Tom Eickmann: I was born in Libby, Montana. This tiny little place up in the corner, between Idaho and Canada, in Montana.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, nice, nice. And when you were a child in Libby, you said Libby, Montana?

Tom Eickmann: Uh-huh.

Japhet De Oliveira: What did you imagine you were going to grow up to be?

Tom Eickmann: Well, we moved to Glendive Montana when I was two, so I didn't really imagine a whole lot probably, when I was in Libby, but no, growing up in Eastern Montana, the middle of nowhere there, most of the people there are in farming and ranching or railroad. That's kind of the common industries. And so I don't remember exactly when, but I wanted to be a pedodontist, which is not what they call it anymore. They call it a pediatric dentist. That's kind of an old term, but I wanted to be a pedodontist when I was really little. And then it morphed into being interested in orthopedics when I was in the eighth grade, but I didn't really think that I would be able to do that, or I didn't know what the path was to become that. It didn't seem feasible.

Japhet De Oliveira: You chose orthodontics in the eighth grade?

Tom Eickmann: No, I got interested in orthopedic surgery.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, okay. Oh, orthopedic surgery, that's right.

Tom Eickmann: In the eighth grade, I injured myself, and so I became really interested. I told my mother, "He has a really cool job," when I was an eighth grader. But I can't really say that I wanted to do that or thought... It was a kind of dream, but it wasn't attainable at that time.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's fantastic. All right, personality, Tom. If people were to describe you, would they describe you as introvert, extrovert, and would you agree?

Tom Eickmann: I'm right on the introverted-extroverted line. When I take the... I think it's the Myers Brigg that... I've taken it multiple times, and sometimes I end up being extrovert, but just barely, sometimes introvert, just barely. I think I'm technically an extrovert, just barely, because I gain energy from being around other people, more than feeling like I need to go by myself to gain energy. But I'm very content being alone for long periods of time, so I think that I'm right on that line.

Japhet De Oliveira: The reflective side. That's good.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Habits. Are you an early riser or late night owl?

Tom Eickmann: I've had to burn the candle on both sides most of my life. My normal schedule typically has been get up at about 5:00 and go and do jiu-jitsu for an hour, and then go to work after wrestling for an hour and-

Japhet De Oliveira: As you do, yeah.

Tom Eickmann: And then a lot of times after work, there's a meeting at either a hospital or one of the... A practice meeting or something like this. And so the tendency is to get home pretty late at night, and that's kind of a typical day. And then there's time with your wife and whatnot. She's a little bit more of a night owl, and so it just tends to lead towards not very much sleep. Recently, I've stopped doing the jiu-jitsu for actually medical reasons, so I don't do that anymore. I don't know, I probably am up to sleeping seven hours a night now, where I used to sleep more like five-and-a-half.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. Yeah, that's impressive. Yeah, good. Good for you. What's the first thought, this morning when you woke up, that went through your mind?

Tom Eickmann: It was mostly, I took my wife to the airport this morning, and so it was centered around getting up at the right time and eating breakfast and making all that happen and making sure that I was a good husband. Yes. Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. Well, we're recording this rather early in the morning, so you must have left really early in the morning.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah, it was on the earlier side, but yeah, it was just more like a typical weekday, instead of being a weekend day.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, fair enough. Here's a leadership question for you. Are you a backseat driver?

Tom Eickmann: No. I am a very hands-off driver when it comes to leadership, but if need be, then I'd start backseat driving. I'm capable of it, but I prefer not to do that at all. If I have somebody really good working underneath me, then micromanaging them is not helpful. If they need constant micromanaging, I probably don't have the right person working for me, is kind of my thought process.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, that's fine. That's great. All right, we have hit the first 10 questions, and so now the floor is yours and you get to choose between 11 and 100 where we want to go.

Tom Eickmann: Why don't we try number 39?

Japhet De Oliveira: 39? All right, here it is. If you didn't need to sleep, what would you do with all the extra time?

Tom Eickmann: Well, I've actually experienced this. I did a mission trip where I went to Rwanda in 2009, I believe it was. And what I found is that I didn't need to sleep when I went far enough that direction. Everybody else is going to bed, it's 10:00, 10:30 or whatever. It was like, "Well, it's time to go to bed." And I'm sitting there feeling just fine, like I could just keep going. And so I started reading. I would read into the night, and at about 1:00 I would fall asleep. I would go to sleep for about an hour-and-a-half, maybe two hours at the most, then I was back up feeling great. And then I would read more, until everybody else finally woke up.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, wow, okay.

Tom Eickmann: I literally was able to sleep for an hour-and-a-half to two hours every night and feel great. Everything was fine. I thought I might be going crazy, and I was worried I was getting manic or something, so I was really concerned about my mental health. What I would do is I would just read all night, because that's what I did. I borrowed everybody's books. I read everyone's books.

Japhet De Oliveira: You read everyone's books?

Tom Eickmann: I read absolutely everything that everyone brought on this trip. It was like, "Do you have any other books? Anyone?" And I read them all. Yeah, that's what I do.

Japhet De Oliveira: If you had extra time, you'd read a lot more.

Tom Eickmann: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. Hey, that's fantastic. I like that. Never known that about you. That's fantastic. All right, great. Where'd you want to go from 39? Up or down?

Tom Eickmann: Let's try 40.

Japhet De Oliveira: 40. Tell us about a time, if you would, a time when you failed.

Tom Eickmann: A time when I failed? Oof. Yeah. One of my mentors in my residency program, he's a spine surgeon. He started a company, and it was a physician-owned distributorship company, so it was a different kind of model of business. He franchised that model with me, and so I was the first business that he started that wasn't him doing the same thing. And what it allowed us to do is to save the hospital an enormous amount of money, and we made the money that a distributor would typically make, while saving all this money for our hospital. It seemed like kind of a win-win, so we did this for a while and it was working great. And then the political, as it grew, sometimes people would use it for evil. They would go and they would charge the hospital more, instead of less, and then leverage them working at the hospital. And so there was, what we would call, bad actors using the same model, but not with the same-

Japhet De Oliveira: Integrity.

Tom Eickmann: ... integrity, right. And so then we became acutely aware that one of two things was going to happen; either something bad was going to happen and this was going to get shut down, or if we pushed really hard, we might be able to create laws and guidance around how you did this, so that everybody would be forced to behave in an ethical manner. We started lobbying. We hired a lobbyist, and there was about four surgeons that were the very early adopters of this model. We worked both sides of the aisle. We worked really, really hard to make this happen. We presented to a bunch of congressmen and senators. Of course, it's the 20-year-old that works for them. You never get to talk to them, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, sure, sure.

Tom Eickmann: And so it's this person that isn't capable of understanding what you're talking about, that you're trying to explain a very complex thing to, and you watch their eyes glass over in about five minutes, and you realize that they are not capable of understanding what you're talking about. But anyway, we did that and we lobbied and in doing all of that, we testified for the Senate Finance Committee on it, and we presented to them how they could save a trillion dollars in 10 years doing this model, if everybody just adopted the same model. It was the most discouraging thing ever, because no one cared. What all of these different people care about is staying in office. It's kind of like House of Cards in real life.

They care about staying in office, staying in power, keeping their influence. And so there's constituents that they do worry about some, in their home states or whatever, but it just gave you this dark picture of what's going on in Washington. It wasn't positive on either side of the aisle. And then ultimately, we failed at this. They came out with a fraud alert, which was true, that this could be used for fraudulent activities. And then the hospitals didn't care that we weren't using it for fraud and what we were doing was good. The baby got thrown out with the bath water, if you will. And so that shut things down, and so that was just painful, because it was such a good thing for us and for hospitals, but we failed.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. Well, anyone listening may come and visit you and think about retrying. You are talking about a momentous change.

Tom Eickmann: Right.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah, yeah, for the entire country. That's interesting. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that. Where do you want to go after 40? That was-

Tom Eickmann: Why don't we jump up? I think we're ready for some harder questions.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah, okay. Oh, sure. That was not hard.

Tom Eickmann: Let's try 80.

Japhet De Oliveira: 80.

Tom Eickmann: Let's double down.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, double down it is. Well, how would you like to change in the future?

Tom Eickmann: How would I like to change? There's so many changes. I've spent a lot of time reading the Book of Proverbs, and just wishing God would give me answers and just make me smarter, because there's things you wrestle with and you don't know what to do, and you just wish that you would have more guidance and more understanding, so you can make wise decisions. There's so many people that I would like to help and big changes in the world that I would like to see occur. And then just knowing the best way to go about those things, sometimes I just feel like I'm not capable, I'm not smart enough, I don't have what it takes. And so I wish that I could give myself more bandwidth, more capability, more... There's just so many things that I would like. But on a more practical level, I'd like to speak more languages.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, all right. Hey, that is good. I think it takes a certain level of wisdom to know that you want more wisdom.

Tom Eickmann: Right, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Good for you. Proverbs, yeah, that's great. All right, that was 80. You doubled down on that. Where do you want to go? Up or down?

Tom Eickmann: Let's go to 90.

Japhet De Oliveira: 90? All right.

Tom Eickmann: And then we'll just do the one-by-one path to 100.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, okay, all right.

Tom Eickmann: If we're starting to run out of time, we'll jump to 100.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's fine. That's fine. All right, here we go then. Tell us about how you overcame something that was seemingly insurmountable. An obstacle that was...

Tom Eickmann: Probably, let's see here, I'll go with our practice merger. That was so painful. Our orthopedic practice, and this is happening to physician practices a lot. I was president of our orthopedic practice. That's one of the other jobs that-

Japhet De Oliveira: One of the jobs that... Yes, yes.

Tom Eickmann: ... that I did, yeah, that I was doing, but I no longer do. I was trying to manage our orthopedic practice, and we had, at the time, somewhere around 12, I think, physicians, and then we had physical therapists and X-ray techs and MAs, and we had about 100 employees. This is the size of the business. We had three different offices. And so we looked into... We could see the writing on the wall. What's happening in healthcare is there's all this consolidation. And so hospitals are continuing to gain power. Insurance companies are continuing to gain power. Physicians are getting less and less power, and slowly just getting pinched. Their contracts go down. Every year you get paid less and less, but your expenses go up every year.

Inflation, your help, they need to make more money, because their housing is more expensive and so on. And so the slice that is left for a physician is less and less and less. And so we could see that we needed a corporate partner, because we might be okay this year and for five more years, but eventually the end is coming. It's not a sustainable model being in private practice as the big entities pinch you out. And so we looked into getting acquired by private equity and traveled down that path, and I worked with another person on the private equity side to create a model of how we would win with private equity in the Denver area, and how we'd acquire all these practices and what we would do.

That was a lot of fun, but it just didn't feel right, so we didn't go with that. And so we ended up getting acquired a little bit by Optum, and so it's a subsidiary of United Healthcare, and there was a number of other physician practices, orthopedic practices, that were already in this situation or practice entity, I don't even know what to call them. OCC is what they're called. And so we work the practice cornerstone, and so you could look at it as a merger, but we were kind of acquired by them. That process was incredibly painful. I was getting one attorney telling me that what I was about to do was not okay, it was not legal, not okay, and then this other attorney telling me that it was, they'd reviewed it, it was absolutely okay. And the amount of time to close the deal became tighter and tighter. You've got these two attorneys telling you absolutely opposite things-

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh my goodness.

Tom Eickmann: And more and more pressure as this day comes closer, and that was probably one of the most painful things I've ever been through, because I couldn't get consistent legal advice. I was getting absolutely, diametrically-opposed legal advice. And I remember I was so stressed out during that, that one day I was in my living room and I was just shaking. Just sitting there, just shaking. And then I was like, what is going on? And then trying to break down why you're so stressed out. What are the causes of it? What are the solutions? How are you going to work through this? And how, in the end, you're going to come out on the other side of this. That was probably one of the roughest things that I've been through, but it did go okay. Nothing terrible happened, like the one attorney suggested, now that it's been a few years, and that was brutal.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, well done for getting through that.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, yeah. All right. Did you want to literally go up? 91?

Tom Eickmann: Yeah, I'm ready. Yeah. Hopefully the next question's easier. That was a rough one.

Japhet De Oliveira: Describe a time in your life when you learned about forgiveness.

Tom Eickmann: I think early in my practice, I had another orthopedic surgeon tell the hospital that... I was his first real competitor, and he said some negative things about me to the hospital, and it was very, very hurtful. I was young, I was just new out of training, and now you've got this surgeon that's 15 years older than you, that's very established, and he's saying things about you that aren't true. What do you do with that? My first impulse is, I'm going to get him back. I want revenge. And then I thought about it and then I thought, I think actually, I'm going to do the opposite. I'm going to try to kill him with kindness. I was very polite with him. The hospital, a few years went by, and then he had some sort of incident, and they came to me and asked me about him. And I said, "Oh, he's a very good guy. Very good guy." And I sort of supported him.

And I remember the look on some of the people's faces, because they were the same people that had confronted me about this negative stuff that he had told them that wasn't true, and yet, I'm coming back to them saying, "He is a standup guy." It was like they wanted me to throw him under the bus, but I didn't. I forgave him, and he was a very good guy, so what I was saying was true. And so through that process, he started actually sending me patients, when patients didn't want to go to the hospital that he worked at. We've worked together and been in really a good situation for a lot of years. He recently stopped his practice, and now I'm inheriting a lot of his patients. It's one of those things where it felt really good to forgive him and not try to get him back, which is just... It feels like we're hardwired that way, but it's hard to not do that. But it felt really, really good.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really beautiful. Good reminder to all of us. That's great. 92 then, how would you, Tom, like to be remembered?

Tom Eickmann: Wow. I guess there's all these things that maybe you're not, but you wish you were. And it's so easy in life to get stuck on things that maybe they don't matter quite as much. Like your career as an orthopedic surgeon, it takes so much time out of your day. Yes, it'd be nice to be remembered as a great orthopedic surgeon, but there's things that are more important, but you get so much less time to spend with them sometimes. Like being a good father, being a good husband, being a good, hopefully someday, grandparent. Being a person that shows other people God's character. Those are, I think, the things that are most important to me, but it's difficult to spend... To make those desires and those goals match up with the demands of your day-to-day life.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. I think that's actually something that a lot of us would like, and so I'm with you on that. 93.

Tom Eickmann: All right.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, here, paint a picture for us of what success looks like.

Tom Eickmann: Well, I think success, for me, is tied in a little bit with that last question. I think, obviously we spend so much time working to try to make money, to try to get ourselves in this position where we're financially secure and whatnot. Obviously getting to the point, and it's sort of this trap, making enough money where you don't have to worry about money. It never quite works out, right?

Japhet De Oliveira: Never quite does, yeah.

Tom Eickmann: But anyway, making enough money where you didn't have to worry about money, whatever that is. I suppose that would be one. And then I think it's success and all those things I was just talking about. Being a really good father, having your kids turn out in a way where they're able to contribute to the world, not just live, but the world is a better place for having them in it; that would be deeply meaningful for me to see that. To see my wife content with her life, and me and our kids and whatnot, would be also deeply meaningful. And then just to feel like I'm doing something for God, for God's work, for making... Feeling like when I'm on my death bed, that I did something that was meaningful for the world, I made the world a better place and the world was better off for me being in it, as opposed to me not being in it.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's good. That's good. That's fantastic. All right, if you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Tom Eickmann: I feel like these questions are slightly related. Wow.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, they really are, yeah. But this is one thing in the entire world.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah. What one thing would I change? I guess I wish that... It feels a little bit to me like, it was dark, really learning more about how our government works. And again, I'm not being political here. This would be true if there was a different president in office, et cetera. It was a little bit dark for me, realizing how hopeless, I guess, it feels to create change. If you had a really great epiphany about how things would be better, how actually stuck everything really is in the way that it is, because it benefits certain people that are very, very powerful. If I could change that, that would really be beautiful.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. I like that. I like that. All right. You have time for two more. And that was 94. Where would you like to go with your last two numbers?

Tom Eickmann: I guess 99 and 100. Let's do 95, and then 100.

Japhet De Oliveira: 95 and then 100.

Tom Eickmann: We'll pace ourselves.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. 95 and 100. 95 is this. Tell us about how you see... And this is a great question for you. Tell us about how you see your faith and life intersecting.

Tom Eickmann: Oh yeah, for me, they're all tangled up. Yeah, they're really all tangled up. As a physician, you are looked at as a healer. And so I remember doing this surgery and I was doing a hip replacement, and if I had their leg in one position, everything was fine. I'm working away in this one position. I put their leg in a different position, one that I can't see very well, anything, and all of a sudden, this massive amount of bleeding started. It's the kind of bleeding where you realize this person isn't going to survive. In a matter of minutes, not hours, this person is actually going to pass away from blood loss. And there you are. You're the only person that can stop it. You can ask for help, but they won't make it there. What are you going to do?

And this hospital doesn't have... The people that would even help you, they don't even work there. I positioned the leg in a position where it wasn't bleeding as much, and I could see, and I had time to think. And so I packed off the wound and backed off and I said, "God, I need help. I need help. You got to help me." That was kind of it, and then I was back to the surgery, because you realize that's either going to happen or it's not. This isn't time for a 20-minute prayer, right? I position the leg back in the position where the bleeding really occurs, I reach in there blindly with a clamp, and I just clamp blindly and it stops the bleeding immediately.

And so anybody that's a surgeon knows that you have to put this clamp on very exactly to clamp a blood vessel on that's bleeding. If you're looking right at it, you don't always get it right the first time when you try to do it. Sometimes you have to clamp and re-clamp and clamp four times before you get the thing completely clamped off. Sometimes you have to dissect a little bit. The probability of me reaching in blindly and clamping this thing off is so improbable. It's just ridiculous. And so then you tie this thing off and you realize that God worked through you to do something that wasn't... It's not possible in myself. I can't do that. I'm not that good. It's too improbable. And so God working through you is something that's so beautiful. It doesn't happen every day, but when it happens, it's so beautiful, it just... I don't have words.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that is truly beautiful and inspiring and so true. And I think that's actually part of the wonderful miracle of faith and life coming together. Yeah, I like that. I like that.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah, it's all tangled up.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. All right. Well, our last question then, this is question 100. Tell us about one question that you just don't want to answer.

Tom Eickmann: That one's kind of easy for me.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh yeah? All right.

Tom Eickmann: I think, because the question you don't really want to answer is, "Do you ever have doubts about God, or do you ever doubt your faith?" Because it feels like it's not okay to feel that way. Of course, I'm a very strong Christian. I always believe in God. Why would I ever doubt my faith? I went through some real doubting times when I was in medical school, where I really even doubted God's existence. I had a little bit of atheist thought process for a while, and trying to decide, is this really real, or is this just what I've always been taught? I've always went to these Christian schools, and so making it kind of real for myself. And so I think that's the question that you don't want to answer is, yeah, do you ever have doubts?

And I do sometimes, and I know this about myself now, now that I'm basically 50. I've had these seasons of doubt in my mind, where it felt like God wasn't working in my life or he wasn't present and you wonder if your prayers are going beyond the ceiling. What I do to combat this is I actually have this little book that's my most valuable possession. And when a miracle occurs, that I feel like it's a miracle, for example, I was driving up to Montana and my car started going back and forth on the snow and I was losing control. I pass under a bridge, and it's just the tires touching down from an airplane, and it just slams me into the guardrail and pops my tire.

I've got my family, rural Wyoming, and I realized that I don't have the right tool to change my tire. I've got a jack, but I'm missing something. And so I limp this car with a flat tire, which of course isn't good for it, to this gas station, which is not that far away. And then I ask these people, "Hey, do you have this tool?" And no one does. And so we get in the car and we pray and we look up, and now there's a truck right beside us. And I thought, well, I haven't asked them, so I asked them, "Do you have this tool?" Of course they do. And so this guy helps me change my tire, and when we're done changing our tire, I get back in the car and I explain what happened to the family, and we look and this guy's truck has just kind of disappeared.

And so I write stories like that down in this book, because at the time, I'm so sure that it was a miracle, and I know this about myself; five years later, I will come up with explanations why maybe that wasn't a miracle. And I doubt that it was a miracle. But when I'm feeling this feeling of, "There is no way, this has to be a miracle," I write it down in this book, and I have a collection of these stories, and when I'm feeling doubt in my relationship with God, and does God care about me? Does he care about my daily activities? Does he care about my life, my family when something terrible happens, I read this book, I read some of these stories, and it strengthens my faith.

Japhet De Oliveira: Tom, that's beautiful. It reminds me, actually, of a conversation you and I had about how you found books of your ancestors, letters of your ancestors, and how much they taught you about them that you didn't know.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: This is going to be a great book for your future; for your kids, for your grandkids.

Tom Eickmann: For sure. Yeah, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. Well, thank you for sharing.

Tom Eickmann: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Our time is up for this particular episode. We could have gone a lot further, so that's great. I just want to encourage everybody who's listening to do the same thing. Sit down with a good friend, maybe go for a walk with a good friend, at a slow pace, and just ask good questions. Listen to their stories, because you are changed, they are changed, we all grow through this experience. Thank you so much, Tom.

Tom Eickmann: Thanks so much.

Japhet De Oliveira: Appreciate it. God bless, everybody. You take care and we'll catch up another time.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us For the Story and Experience Podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story and experience at The Story and Experience Podcast was bought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.