I wonder how many little girls grow up thinking - When I grow up I'm going to drive an eighteen wheeler! In fact - Let me ask you- How many of you think you would like to drive an eighteen wheeler? I remember when I first married my husband, Jim, and he was a truck driver. I didn't realize I would be like a "widow" who could never re-marry. And on the rare occasion I would make plans for us to go somewhere special, when he was home on the week end, his dispatcher would suddenly not be able to get him home. And when it did work out for us to do something, it was usually with other truck drivers and their wives... so all anyone talked about was Truck driving, traffic, chicken coops, DOT officers and smokies.
It got so I dreaded the nights out and all the truck talk... I wanted to go somewhere I didn't have to listen to truckers talk about trucks. I wanted to be with my husband, and have some fun. Each week Jim would come home for a day or two, and then leave to go to New York, or somewhere east usually. I was lucky - in a sense because some over-the-road truckers get home every couple of months, for a couple of days. Some are gone longer.
Never-the-less I was home raising two strong-willed twin girls. I was lonely, angry, and trying to over-come a past. A divorce and something else... something that seemed to float in and out of my memories and my life... but I wasn't able to put my finger on it. For years, I couldn't remember anything in my childhood. It was like it never happened. Just one big mental block... But in my thirties I started to remember...
As a young girl, I was raised to believe in God. I went to classes on Saturday mornings to learn religion. And in Fifth grade I went to a school that taught religion as part of their curriculum. My idea of God was kind of hard. My dad had been a Seaman on the Great Lakes, and was Captain of a Tug that had a crew of thirteen men. He was gone nine months of the year sailing... but when he was home he acted not like the captain of a tugboat but like the Captain of a Navy Carrier. My dad loved us, but he was stern, and most of my memories of him are his "absence" and his stern side, when he came home for winters.I remember waiting and waiting for him to come home for months. Then one day he walked through the living room door and bellowed "I'm home now! And you kids better behave!" I was the fifth child in twenty years of having children. My parents were wishing perhaps that I hadn't come along. And that is how I viewed God back then- Stern, Absent when I needed Him, and sorry I'd come along... tolerant of me.
I remember being told to go outside and not to come in until supper... even though we lived on a busy street in a small town. I wasn't allowed to cross the street , so I had no one to play with. I learned to appreciate the field next to our house. It was a promising playground to explore. I remember hundreds of Lilies of the Valley all around the largest Lilac bush I've even known. It had a fort inside of it.
A great defense stockade to hide in if I was playing with my brother and his friends- hide and seek or war. Then there was the "old Hole". It was once a house ... but it had burned down .. or been torn down years before I was born. I dug clay out of its huge side in the summer, and made clay pots. And in the winter... snow banks would form as the winds caused the drifting snows to fill it from the field. When the snow was just right, my youngest brother and I would make forts and tunnels in that hole. Nothing was left but the hole where a basement had once been.
I entertained myself picking wild red berries and making mush, and mud pies, and picking flowers that resembled corn... making pretend meals. Most of the time I was alone... and my father was gone. I know one thing, I never sat around dreaming about driving an eighteen wheeler.
I did however, go to some of the neighbors and sing my songs. I remember Mr. and Mrs. Bone. He was the town pharmacist. I now remember sometimes my mother would walk me to his store and I was allowed to pick one mini package of three or four cookies to have at his soda fountain. The Bones lived in our neighborhood and I would go to their back door and sing for Mrs. Bone. She in turn would give me cookies and milk. I don't remember how that started, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was initiated by me. I loved to sing even then. Once I learned songs in Kindergarten... there was no stopping me.
May I ask you a question?
HOW DO YOU THINK SOMEONE BECOMES A "SINGING TRUCK DRIVER"?
In my life it was a necessity. My husband had taken my advice and gotten a job off of the road with a cartage company (explain). I wanted him home with me. But a year later, the boss absconded the money and disappeared leaving the agency with no one to run it. Jim had been basically running it anyway so the mother company came to us and told us if we took it over, we would have a job. If we didn't, we would not have a job, the next day. In a week, we decided to take the company...
Well it worked for two years, and my husband never worked longe or harder in his entire life. Having him "Home" was worse than having him gone. We argued and stress was putting a strain on our marriage. Within two years the two companies we were a cartage agency for... closed their doors. First one, and then another... and neither ever paid us the money they owed us. The third company closed a year later- and it had never paid us either. Over $30,000 and we couldn't do a thing... they were declaring some form of bankruptcy and we were going to lose our home if we didn't do something - Quick!
I found myself joining my husband to drive an eighteen wheeler to survive. I remember well, the first time he put me behind the wheel. Weeks before, he had let me practice the shifting while he was driving. At first I didn't get it too well. Now the day arrived in Illinois, and he said we were on a straight, flat highway- and it was time for me to learn. At first I was so concentrated on the shifting, that I wasn't frightened. I started in low gear and quickly had to shift up... 2nd, third, fourth, fifth gear then flipping the switch to go into the high gears... eighth, ninth, tenth gear - Overdrive... and I was flying down the road. Suddenly he cautioned- get over in the other lane! Watch out for that guy coming on the on ramp! Watch that guy coming up on you - he wants to pass! Get over... remember your not a four-wheeler, you got 48 ft. of trailer behind this truck!
Forty eight foot of trailer! How long was this truck and trailer anyway?
Suddenly I was gripping the wheel so hard my hands were numb. My CB radio was on, and I heard this trucker passing me saying to the rig following behind him, "Take a look when you go by, we got a pretty thing driving this rig. But I'd watch out for her if I were you, her white knuckles look like their 'bout frozen around that steering wheel." I couldn't believe that he knew I was just learning. I remember he was called the "Pack Rat"- and as he faded in the distance...
Jim was a great teacher. He always encouraged me, and it wasn't long before I was driving in the night, singing on the CB radio, keeping other drivers awake, while Jim took his turn sleeping in the bunk. I learned out on those highways, that God could use me- warts and all...to sing my songs to people whose problems were making their lives miserable.
I knew all about problems ... For years I lived with a truckload of baggage. Damaged as a child, I had stuffed anger, rage, sadness, fear, bitterness, hatred, secrets, and pain. Much of it had been suppressed. But rage, lived in me. Night time found me lonely and exhausted. It was during that time, before I joined Jim on the road that I began to turn off the TV and spend time with God, my Bible, and my guitar... alone in a room... after the children were in bed.
I was searching for answers. I had a friend Sandy who I'd known since Freshman year of school. She tried to tell me that I needed Jesus Christ... that my life would be better. I remember thinking "Who does she think she is... talking to me this way? Acting like she has the answers to life?" I remember one time when she was talking to me, she made me so angry that I started using foul language and Sandy asked me to please stop using those words.
I stopped seeing Sandy even though she lived only across the parking lot from me. But one day Jim came off the road and I was making soup. He went to bed to get some sleep and I had the overwhelming urge to go to Sandy's and ask her how to ask Jesus into one's life.
She was folding clothes as she explained that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I already knew Jesus was God's son, that He had lived as a man on earth, then died on a cross to pay for man's sins, then rose again to return to Heaven. Those were facts I'd learned as a child.
Sandy told me He had already paid the penalty for all of my sins... past, present, and future. But in order for His sacrifice to cover and protect me, I needed to do some things.
# 1) First I needed to decide I really wanted God in my life... # 2) then I needed confess past sins to God and tell him I was sorry then # choose to turn away from any known sin I was committing. # 3) I needed to ask Jesus Christ into my life and heart and commit my # life to Him to believe that He is my Personal Savior... meaning that if I # had been the only person in the world- He still would have died for me.
I listened as she spoke and then headed back home. We did not pray. I just left- thinking, now I know how to do it... by myself.
That next night I knelt by my bed, and prayed asking Jesus to come into my heart. I felt nothing. I kept thinking that I should feel differently. I didn't. So I did it again the next night, and then the next, and the next... for a week. Then one day Sandy dropped by. By this time I had been to a Christian Book store and bought myself a Bible. I told Sandy that I had bought a Leather-bound King James Bible that came with a "Life-Time guarantee"! It was true, they said if the binding ever gave out, the company would re-do it again for nothing. Sandy, smiled and said... "Cindy, Your Bible comes with a Life-time guarantee, but not the kind you are thinking about." I also told her that I had been asking Jesus into my heart every night for a week, and that I didn't "feel" any different. She looked at me with love in her eyes and smiled again, and told me, "It wasn't by feelings that you received him, it was by Faith".
There is a place in God's Word, the Bible, where it says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us." Even though I didn't "feel" Holy, God took me at my word. I wanted God to come into my life as my personal Savior and Lord, so He did.
Enter... Jesus Christ. Light, Love, Grace and Goodness. And I slowly began to be unfrozen emotionally. God's Word was the new seed in my soul. I began to read my new Bible, attend church services and bible studies with a zeal I had never known before.
Two years later, I began to get songs in the night. I came to understand that God saw me in that room. God loved me enough to make Himself known to me, even though I struggled. I still exploded with rage and bitterness at times, but God met me in the night, in that room, giving me songs that helped me with my struggles. Over and over, he met me. My Ducks weren't in a row, but He gave me Inspiration, songs and poems, and that is how I became a songwriter.
God gave me songs to build my Faith, Songs to encourage me Songs to cheer me, and songs to heal me. I began to believe He loved me and even at times that he liked me. Fifty songs, a hundred songs... God gave me private little miracles in my home. They He arranged for me to sing publicly so He could use songs to heal and encourage others.
Contrary to what many people think, God is in the miracle business today.
I've heard it said, if you want to see miracles, go where God is moving. I believe the Broken People Factor is one of God's greatest miracles. GOD HAS GIVEN BROKEN PEOPLE A SPECIAL GIFT OF THE MIRACLE OF LOVE. NOT THE LONGING TO BE LOVED- BUT THE EXTENDING OF LOVE. THE REASON I CALL IT A MIRACLE- IS BECAUSE BROKEN PEOPLE USUALLY DON'T FEEL LOVE- THEY CHOOSE IT. THEY CHOOSE TO LOVE, OR TO EXTEND LOVE, IN THE MIDST OF THEIR PAIN. I have never seen anything more wonderful, than when imperfect people let a Perfect Loving God use them to love each other.
Let me tell you about a situation that happened to me. I'll never forget the night I wrote the song "Let It Shine". Jim was driving through the hills of Tennessee on a bright moonlit night. There were fireflies flitting in the meadows, and a steady ribbon of traffic lights winding through those hills toward us. I started to get Words that were bigger than life- in my mind. Words like "Light" and"Shine", "Fireflies", and "Let It Shine". I grabbed paper and pen to jot them down. Inspiration filled me, but it wasn't until the next night that I actually got the song. We had made a delivery and were headed back north with another load, on the same highway as the night before. I wrote these words as we bumped down the highway.
"Rolling down the mountainside, the damp night air, the moon so bright, an endless trail of headlights meeting mine, Fireflies light the fields with play, they light the dark and seem to say, Won't you let the Light God Gave you Shine?" "Let It Shine - Let It Shine Let the Light within you shine. For a Hurting world - which only knows despair. Let It Shine. Let It Shine. To their hearts and to their minds. You will Light the darkness when you let it shine.
When I finished the entire song I got on the CB radio to a tanker driver named "Hobo", whom I had been singing to before. I said, "Break for the Hobo". "Go Ahead Break" "You got the Songbird here. I just wrote me a brand new song, and I was wondering if you would mind if I sang it to you."
He said, "Go ahead Songbird!" I teased "Now be nice to me Hobo, or you'll hurt my feelings!" When I was finished he said, "Songbird, That was beautiful! Sing it again." He didn't know it, but God used that gravel voice to give me just the push I needed to really start reaching people. I've sang that song hundreds of times and it's been released to radio stations twice..
I remember thinking when I got the song that maybe God had made a mistake. Maybe he meant to beam that song down to someone else's head. Then I realized that God had given me a special gift... it was a gift I would give to others for the rest of my life.
Sometimes I wish I could tell Hobo how God used him in my life at just the right time. I'll bet if I got to know him, I'd find that he maybe didn't have all His ducks in a row. He probably wasn't a perfect person either. But you know, God really used him to encourage me that night. Hobo and me -- we became one of God's miracles ... the miracle of encouragement. Hobo encouraged me and my song encourages others, as I pass it on.
Another night out on the road, after singing my songs on the CB, this gruff voice came back and confided to me how a drunk had crossed the center-line and killed his wife in a head on collision- on her way home from church. After her funeral, he had to return to work, jump back into his truck, and drive the highway. That night I felt his pain as he described how hard it had been to be alone in his truck, after losing his wife like that. I remember he told me point blank that she was a "Good Woman" and then he said "I KNOW I'M GOING TO HELL". My job that night was to be the messenger who reminded him that "God loved him". We never met. He was a voice on a CB radio.
Another night, a woman called "Lady Gear Jammer" told me how her daughter had been killed three weeks earlier. She said she walked out on her life after that happened. Some time later I was singing in Atlanta when I was approached by a woman. After she heard me sing , she came over and started talking. I learned she was Lady Gear Jammer. She told me how I had been there for her that night, and what it had meant.
I had no idea what God was doing in me or through me - at first- but as time progressed and I kept journals of events, I knew that God was working and doing something special, and using me to do it, in spite of the problems that lived inside of me.
It would take hours to tell you about the miracles God has done since that day I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and we don't have that kind of time. But I do want to tell you about one last miracle today -- the miracle of my brother Jimmy who died of cancer in February of 1996.
Jimmy was fifteen years older than me, deaf, angry, loved motorcycles, wore a black leather jacket and hung around with a rough crowd when growing up. I spent most of my life keeping my distance from him and staying out of his way- even hiding from him. As an adult - I pretty much did the same- with the exception of family gatherings.
I had repressed memories because Jimmy molested me repeatedly before I knew how to read or write. I had repeating nightmares and Childhood memories resurfaced and disappeared all my life. When I was somewhere around thirty I reached crisis level. I could no longer push away the memories. As a result, all their childhood, my children lived with my rage, depression, and bitterness. I was up and down- struggling to be normal- but so scarred inside- at times I struggled just to go on.
In December of 1995 Jimmy was dying of cancer. God had been nudging me to go to him for about two years, but whenever the thought even crossed my mind I rationalized I didn't need to go. Yet my repeating nightmares gripped me each time I had them. One day I awoke from another nightmare. This time I was not frightened, I was furious! I was sick and tired of being tormented ... tired of the terror in the night.
That day, I prayed, wrote down what I wanted to say to Jimmy, and then contacted him through a special operator. The Operator could type the conversation into a device that came directly into his house-where he could read what I said... a special phone for the deaf. Before I called Jimmy, the operator assured me that they could handle a graphic conversation about severe sexual abuse... and that it would remain confidential. I confronted him with everything, and when I was finished, all he signaled back was "OK" and hung up. Nothing else.
That day, I went back to our RV, and began writing. Those pages went from short story to my unpublished book "Feathers" ... an allegory about a character called "Squeaky Feathers" and her healing journey. Several of the situations are based on circumstances from my own life and putting these thoughts on paper proved to be a real catharsis for me.
After the phone call, I contacted Jimmy's daughter and she told me I needed to get an Interpreter and make a Video in which he could see her signing and also be able to read my lips. Three months later, my friend Linn helped me to do just that. God provided me with another lady who signed and worked for social services, and was not shocked by the confrontation. This time I not only told my brother that I forgave him, but after I confronted him with the details. I went one step further. At the end of the Video, I told him that God loved him and I explained what my friend Sandy had told me...how to come to Jesus- believing that all sins had been covered by the sacrifice that Jesus had made when He died on the cross --- all sins, including Jimmy's sins. I sent him the Video and figured it would be the end of it all.
So, when he was dying of cancer, I didn't think it was necessary for me to go to him. I argued with my mind that I had already gone to him twice, via the telephone operator, and the video.
One day a woman who knew the situation heard me singing my song "Family", then told me that she didn't see how I could ever record that album, until I went to my brother. I felt like someone had shot a cannon ball right through my heart. She hadn't known that just previous to our coming there my husband had been bleeding so severely from Ulcerative Colitis, that I thought I might lose him. She hadn't known that we'd just spent 1500.00 on a rebuilt transmission for our Ford Truck. She was just telling me to pick up and fly 2000 miles to go see the worst person I'd ever known in my life.. All she knew was that I needed to go to him and really forgive.
And God knew that I needed to be healed and released from something that had controlled me all of my life.
It was December 10th, when I flew out- supposedly for one week. I arrived and could not even go to his house for two days. I stayed at his daughter's home, whom he had also devastated. I lost my Bible on the plane. I didn't know sign language so I spent the first two days making calls looking for an Interpreter... but no one would come. People were already busy with Christmas. His daughter couldn't do it, and finally her brother Tommy, the youngest offered. It was that night that I told my brother for the first time in person that God loved Him. I told him about Jesus, and how he had died on the cross for all sinners, and rose from the dead... because He was the son of God. I don't remember everything I said that night, but I do remember Tommy added, "You must tell God you are sorry for your sins." and so it went.
That night when I left Jimmy's, I realized that if I hadn't shown up, no one would have come. A still small voice was speaking to my mind, "As you do unto the least of these, You do unto me." I remember this because my answer to the thought was, "Well Lord, he sure does qualify for the least of these". He was mean, loved fighting, too proud to be sorry or admit one thing that he had done. He gossiped about everyone but himself... and bragged about the fights he'd gotten into.
What he didn't see, or talk about, is how he had devastated every person in his life that had been under his power... people who wanted to love him and be loved by him. No love happened.
Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice. When I decided to go to Jimmy, I was only going to stay a week. I was there 23 days helping to nurse him and visiting with him ... talking for the first time in our lives as brother and sister. I made a decision to go and to tell him about God's love for him and to forgive him for what he had done to me. I know he received Jesus Christ and I know I now have a deaf brother ... who is deaf no more ... but is changed and healed --- waiting for me in Heaven. God taught me about unconditional forgiveness and love throughout that healing process. I feel that because I learned much about forgiveness and healing Jimmy's life wasn't wasted. God was able to take something awful and ugly and turn it for good in both our lives.
This story isn't finished, but I need to bring it to a close for today. I want to leave you with these thoughts ...Jesus Christ is my all in all. My Heavenly Father has re-parented me. No longer can I view Him as only stern and absent. He has lovingly pursued me all my life in one way or another. He is Ever Loving and Ever Present, and as I choose to "Let It Shine", His touch in my songs has helped others. He used those songs to convince me of His Awesome Love. At times, to this day, I am tempted to feel inadequate- because my ducks aren't always in a row . But then I remember God can Use Broken People. And that's a Miracle He wants to do if we will let Him.
When I became a brand new person in Christ , my parents told me "My new found Faith would pass". But they never realized the Miracle that God was doing inside of me.
God still wants to do miracles and God can use broken people. The question is are you going where God is moving? Are you doing what God is wanting you to do? You don't need to be perfect. And you don't need to have all your ducks in a row. Start where you are at.
Perhaps you are like I was when Sandy visited me. needing to ask Jesus into your life and heart? He would that none would perish. Jesus wants to be your Lord and Savior, as He is mine and my brother, Jimmy's.
The Bible says " He changeth not. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever." And when you receive him ... the Bible says it will be "Just as if you had never sinned" - in God's eyes- because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross at Calvary.
Have you needed to forgive some unforgivable things, sins that have been committed against you. Or have you needed to be forgiven for things you, yourself, have done.
Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. God will forgive your sins because Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. He will blot them out the minute you ask for and receive forgiveness for your own sins, and forgive the sins of those who have hurt you in the past, or present.
Remember the days I knelt by my bed asking Jesus into my heart and asking for forgiveness... I kept waiting for a feeling. Sandy was right ... we do not receive Jesus by feelings, nor do we receive our forgiveness by feelings, it is by Faith.
Faith has the ability to move beyond our limitations. And it also removes the limitations we put on God. It is a miracle, every time a sinner is forgiven, either by God who is perfect, or by us, when we choose to forgive each other. Miracles still happen every day... if we really want them to.
Do you need Jesus, Healing, both??? God has your answers. They are not micro-wave answers. But IN HIM - you will lack nothing.
If you haven't had the Joy of asking Him into your life and then Trusting Him for the Rest Of Your Life --- today would be a good day to do just that -- - I'm going to close now with a prayer similar to the one I prayed when Jesus became real to me. and I invite You to Pray with me. Let's do it right now.
Jesus, I am a sinner. And I believe you came and died at Calvary - in my place so I could have a way to Heaven. Lord, I invite you into my heart right now. And also into my life and my problems. I need you and I am sorry for the sins I have committed. I am putting my trust in you- from this day forward. I believe you are the Only Begotten Son of God. Thank you for dying for my sins and being my personal Savior. In Jesus Name I pray...
Thank you for taking the time to read through my story... If you have sincerely prayed to recieve Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you now have your own story. If you would like to write me about it... your story and how you came to Christ.
...My husband Jim has cancer. To provide income to buy the herbs and vitamins for his cancer, I have put my albums for sale on Ebay.com. If anyone goes to ebay.com and then types songbirdcindy into their website search engine, it will bring up my album links where they can purchase my CD's.Would you help Jim and I? I wondered if you would be able to post this on your website somewhere, perhaps at the beginning or end of my article. If this is possible, I would be very grateful. We have been fighting this cancer for four years without Chemo or Radiation... for very good reasons....
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