Mona Beedle knows about the hardships of a professional woman truck driver. She spent thirty years on the road driving over three and a half million miles. She now drives for Raylee Transport. She has been featured in Road King Magazine for her dedication as a woman driver. "It has always been considered a man's world. They have always considered that women didn't belong out there. There’s challenges there. I had people tell me that 'you need to be home, you need to be out of trucking'. This was in my younger years driving when there wasn't that many women,” Beedle said.
A truck driver’s life can be lonely and full of hardship. It can really be bad on a driver that has children at home. Women have to be careful at all times being far from home or help and totally alone. "In today’s society, it’s getting bad all over. You've got a woman that is driving alone and you have an individual watching them and there has been a lot of women raped, a lot of women attacked out on the road. In today’s society, it doesn't matter if you're male or female - its rough out there and you have to be alert, you've got to keep looking and making sure that your surroundings are safe. You've got to be careful where you park. As a woman I won't park in a rest area anymore," Beedle said.
And being mobile, driving to tight deadlines leaves a truck driver in the cab almost all day and night. When team drivers stop the truck, many times, it’s for food and fuel and then back on the road to make the next destination. That leaves little time for socializing, exercising or relaxation and family time is reduced to a few tired hours or a day back at home. Loneliness becomes a constant companion. It’s a high stress, demanding job that takes its toll on a driver and their family.
Those long miles away from friends and family bring some drivers to temptations that place a wedge between them and their spouse and children. As the demand for drivers increases and a national shortage of drivers force trucking companies to find all eligible drivers to meet the demand, women truck drivers continue to increase. “Now the industry has really grown. There is quite a lot of women now. You have the issues of other drivers coming on to women in a rude way. They don't want to accept that women can be out there driving," Beedle said.
High pay lures many people into an industry that they don’t completely understand in the beginning. "Some of the women get out there and they have no clue what they got themselves into as far as driving truck but they do have homes, they have families. I had two small children when I went fulltime on the road. My children were like seven and eleven," Beedle said.
Mona Beedle speaking in church
For many mothers, the truck provides financial security. "I didn't want to be on welfare, I didn't want to be on food stamps and that was an avenue that I knew I could make a living for my family and raise my children. Granted they had to stay with a Nanna but it's almost like being in the service. You have to leave for deployment for a certain amount of time to do what you are called to do and driving truck was that was the way that I supported my family. There are a lot of women out there that have to leave their homes, have to leave their children, and only get to see them every other weekend. Does that make us a bad mom? By no means, it's just that’s the only thing we know to do," Beedle said.
She founded a ministry called ‘Trucking Angels For Christ’ and it has been growing since. She found that drivers had many opportunities to bond, pray, have bible studies, but almost nothing dedicated to the women drivers. "There's a lot of prayer lines and there's a lot of avenues for the men, we wanted to focus on the women's ministry, we wanted to focus on the needs of the women truckers and or the trucker’s wife and so that’s why we are trying to minister to them, encourage them and equip them through the word of God," Beedle said.
Her ministry is a beacon of hope for women drivers far from home. "Every Tuesday night we have a conference call that women from the whole United States and Canada will come and join and we fellowship on that line. We've had as many as five at a time and we've had as many as fifty at a time. Sometimes we have guest speakers that come on, country gospel artist that travel around the United States singing and sharing their hearts and sharing their testimonies," Beedle said.
"I've been a driver for thirty years now. I'm in the middle of transitioning," Beedle said. But that hasn’t kept her from her calling. Trucking Angels For Christ is her mission. "Our goal is to reach as many women as we can and to empower them, equip them, and encourage them with the Word of God," she added.
Mona Beedle Glamour to Grease
Angels For Christ reaches out in podcasts, truck shows, and in person. "We also go to various truck shows and we set up tables and we are usually there from Thursday to Saturday night at the different truck shows and we have a table full of bibles and CD's and things like that," Beedle said.
With women joining the ranks of truck drivers daily Beedle has found herself in a new but growing mission field. Trucking Angels For Christ is mostly growing by word of mouth which helps build a trust factor into each relationship. "It's through radio and us being at the truck shows and us praying for the women that come by the tables. I would say over 1,000 or so," Beedle said. She sometimes uses a 1,000 call conference call line that she borrows from Christian Truckers Network.
Sometimes a woman driver feels she has no one to reach out to but Beedle connects with them quickly, especially after they learn about her years behind the wheel. She takes advantage of that. "It’s a good opportunity to get out there and share trucking with the women and just let them know how much God loves them and that He is with them and there is nothing they can't do without him,"
She is reaching an audience that can’t always make it to a church. Even drivers that are away from home can’t get their rig into some church parking lots even if they were off duty. The phone conference line is one of her tools. "There is some women that haven't stepped foot in a church for over 20 years but they come on that line faithfully and they get something out of it each and every time. They cry. They call me and text me and say you're stepping on my toes right now. They'll tell me they need to get some steel toed boots on," Beedle said.
Her efforts have proven results today. "The way God has arranged it through multi-media is just awesome. I've got women that call me from Canada, from Michigan, California. Sometimes I'm on the line with the women through the week or afterward because the message has touched them so much that I'm ministering to them for two hours after the conference call," Beedle said.
She often stays in touch with those that she has ministered to. They call in and say ‘I'm going through this. Can you pray with me?’ “We pray we believe together. They call me back with tremendous testimony about what God has done in their lives. I give God the glory for all of it," Beedle said.
"If we can reach one soul from one lady that comes online or a thousand you know, however many the Lord sends us we just what to be able to let them know that God is a life-changer," Beedle said.
Contact information can be found by going to ChristianTruckersNetwork.org and tapping on Trucking Angels for Christ.
Christian Truckers Network provides a platform for Beedle to get her message out. They have also been a big support to her ministry.
Friendships are built at public events
Stories by Susie
I was born in a very remote town in West Virginia in 1941. Less than a year later a sister was born. Everything was good until my father joined the Navy. Our lives changed abruptly, our happy home changed overnight. My baby sister, Jo became very ill with a high fever, seizures and an infection in the bone of her leg.
Mom spent most of her time in and out of the hospital which was thirty-six miles away. I was so lost. I missed mom, dad and my sister. I was left with Grandma Grace who took it upon herself to make sure that I never felt lonely or felt left out.
Grandma Grace’s house was very old fashion with gravity-pulled water which ran freely, no indoor plumbing and a great big wood burning cook stove which made the kitchen unbearably hot.
As I got older, I couldn’t understand why she would chose to live that way. My grandfather had a study, good-paying job. I began to listen to Grandma Grace’s words and I realized she had a very strong belief system. She did not believe that you should purchase a new coat if you already owned one. She had other plans for that money.
There were all types of children around Grandma Grace’s table for every meal. I couldn’t understand why they visited her so much and even called her Grandma Grace. When it was time for them to go home, she packed a dozen eggs, homemade cow butter and cow milk to take home.
I once asked her why we had a cow, pig and chickens when we didn’t need all of that food. She sweetly replied that their parents couldn’t find work and she didn’t want to children to be hungry. Neither did she want them cold because we often picked them up when granddad got paid on Friday evening. She purchased new coats, winter boots, gloves and hats to protect them from the cold mountain air that was quickly approaching.
I spent a lot of time with this special lady and believed she was an angel sent by God. She also had the patience of Job with her brain-damaged son. We now understand that he had symptoms of autism but we didn’t know that at the time. He had difficulty understanding such simple task, but at other times blow us away with such complex thinking.
My sister got somewhat better. Daddy came home from the war and my parents bought us a new home sixty-six miles away. My father felt that we would get a better education in the new town plus it was closer to his job.
However nothing could keep us from our grandparents and their humble home so we visited them (along with all the other children in the neighborhood) at least every other weekend.
I grew up and got married. I was sharing on my neighbor’s front porch, telling her about my Grandma Grace. I told her if anyone deserved a home in heaven it was she! My neighbor was quiet for a moment and then said ever so softly, “Not if she hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.” I began to defend my Godly grandmother, after all look how she had lived her life. She was kind and good and did many wonderful things in the name of the Lord. My neighbor held her ground and declared, “We are not saved by good works!”
I went home terribly troubled and those words haunted me for the next twenty years. Oh, but God had a plan. Read the next edition of the paper to find out how God worked in my precious Grandma Grace’s heart. You are not going to believe what happened to her next.
Continued from the September edition of The Missions Tribune (page B4)
GRANDMA GRACE’S GOOD WORKS
In the first chapter of my story, I told you how my neighbor rebuked me when I told her that my Grandma Grace would have a secure place in heaven when she dies. After all, she had chosen a life of poverty to carry on God’s work with the poor. How shocked I was when my neighbor responded “Not unless she has been born again’’.
I understood God’s plan of Salvation but I could not understand how anyone would live so sacrificially if the Lord were not the Lord of their lives. My neighbor continued about works and how they cannot save us.
I spent the next twenty years writing weekly, giving my grandmother instructions on what we must do to be saved. How dare I question such a Godly woman?
The years passed quickly. It was time to do another visit before the cold winter weather blew into the mountains. I had noticed that Grandma Grace’s letters had slowed down to bi-weekly. Could something be wrong?
She met us at the door. It felt so good to feel her soft arms around me and feel her sweet kisses on my cheeks. I soon noticed she had lost a great deal of weight.
My grandfather informed me that Grandma Grace had been suffering from so much pain that she actually went to the doctor. He diagnosed her with a rare form of bone cancer. Everyone was encouraging her to go to the hospital for a second opinion.
My sister Jo and I made an appointment for the next weeks to get the results from the doctor. I prayed, “Oh, Dear Lord, please do not let it be that dreaded C word”. The doctor was pleasant but extremely serious. He informed us that the tests were conclusive and the original diagnosis was correct. He said that the surgery would require the removal of some large facial bones.
As the doctor continued, the information became more difficult to hear. He said skin grafts would be necessary using the flesh from her breast. At that moment, Cancer was the least of my worries. The doctor left us with one final warning, “If you don’t tell her I will have to tell her”.
He also added that she should wear a mask in public.
My sister Jo and I sat for such a long time in the parking lot. We felt that we personally had been given a death sentence. We cried, prayed and cried some more. What a sad day-even the weather was not cooperating. Where was the sun hiding its face? The wind seemed to be telling us we had better hurry before old man winter showed his ugly head. We stopped for chicken and started out for our dreaded destination. “We need Thee, oh Lord, we need Thee”!
Even though the chicken smelled good, only the neighborhood children were hungry. Jo and I were too distressed to eat. Everyone cried during the blessing on the food. We were so totally relying on Jesus to help us get through the task that was set before us. Grandma Grace quietly excused herself as she went into the living room and sat down.
My thoughts ran back to a college class I had many years ago regarding the three greatest pains known to mankind. He said facial disfigurement was the second only to the death of your child. How could I possibly tell my grandmother she not only had cancer but was about to experience something even worse.
Grandma Grace was the first to speak asking about our visit with the doctor. The lump in my throat became so large that I could hardly swallow let alone speak. I knelt down by her chair thinking how I might soften that doctor’s harsh words. I looked at Jo to see if she could do this job. She was weeping so pitifully and praying for God to give me the right words.
Finally, after one last swallow, I began speaking—not what the doctor said but the one thing I needed to know. Grandma Grace, I whispered, what if you do not survive this, will I see you in heaven? There! I said it!
I felt relieved that I finally ask her the most important question in this world. I waited for what felt like an eternity but she gave no response.
Jo and I exchanged glances. Grandma Grace was so still. I felt her wrist, then her neck. I could not find a heartbeat. Finally, I heard her whisper, “My faith has been enough to live by but not enough to die by.” 1 Corinthians 13 verse 3, “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not love, it profited me nothing. I need Jesus Christ to save me,” she added. We prayed the sinner’s prayer with tears, laughter, and with great rejoicing in my heart!
I stood up and saw my grandfather sobbing in a large blue farmer’s handkerchief. Would you believe he too accepted Jesus? Suddenly, I felt my mentally challenged uncle standing with us crying ever so softly.
What should I say? Could he comprehend all of this? I put my arms around him and ask if he understood what had just happened in that room. His answer was so overwhelming that I almost fell to my knees. He said that he heard a preacher tell how God gave his son to die for us. He said that helped me understand how precious I was in the heart of God so I ask Him to forgive me and take me to live with Him forever.
Suddenly, the sun (Son) appeared ever so brightly in the room. John 8 verse 12 states that Jesus is the light of this world. Indeed He is and He entered my Grandparents humble home and into their hearts that very day.
Jo and I praised the Lord and sang all Grandma Grace’s favorite songs that we sang to her all of our lives. “When we all get to Heaven –what a day of rejoicing that will be”!!!!!
There is so much more! God was still at work in my grandmother’s life. We were about to go on the most unforgettable journey with the Lord as our guide. Look for more in the November issue of the Missions Tribune.
Family Adopts another child
Count now at an even dozen
By Jeff McCoy
HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Cindy Lathwell holds her baby close. Like most new mothers she is full of joy, wonderment, and pride. The only thing is she is not a new mother. This is her twelfth child. Her husband, Kevin sits nearby with some of the other children. He appears as a captain on the bridge of a great ship out at sea, in charge, confident.
Of the twelve children, three have special needs, two are adopted. Zoey, the newest member of the clan falls into both of those categories. The entire family is involved with her care. Zoey is surrounded by love.
There wasn’t really a plan for a large family. "It kind of went like this. The first one was so awesome, and then the second one was so cute and then the third one was so great and then it was like oh my goodness. Let's have another one, that one is so adorable and that one is so great," Cindy said.
"It can't be another boy," Kevin said with a laugh.
When asked about their stress and worrying as the kids get older, Kevin shakes his head no. He maintains that calm demeanor. "I worry about all of them," Cindy said.
Daughter Grace wanted a baby sister. “Two weeks before we got a call about Zoey my daughter Grace said 'mommy I want a baby sister’. I was like ‘well we're beyond that’. Two weeks later we got a call. I think she was praying behind my back I don't know," Cindy said with a smile.
"We got an email from the same adoption agency, the Children's Home Society, that asked if we would be interested in a placement. The birth mom was still expecting and she had found out that Zoey would have Down Syndrome and club feet and a heart condition," Cindy said.
"They had to call in the reserves," Kevin says with a laugh.
"We weren’t even on the ‘ask us’ list. I called Kevin and asked 'what do you think of that email we got?' and Kevin was like 'I'm game if you are'," Cindy said. At first, it seemed that another set of parents would step in. But as the days passed Cindy stayed close to the phone wondering if that day would be the day the adoption agency called.
"I was super excited. I wonder if (today) we're going to get a call. I felt that if God had planned another baby for us He was going to take care of us,” Cindy said.
"One of the things I worried about with Zoey is it was a lot on Cindy at home. I really had to pray because it got down to the end to where they called and said 'are you still interested?' I really had to pray about that. I told the guy - 'you know this is a lot for my wife. I don't think we can do it,” Kevin said.
That concern never entered into his wife’s mind. "For me, I didn't feel that way. I really felt like it was a calling because we weren’t seeking - they approached us. So I thought God has another little one planned for us is how I saw it,” Cindy said.
Cindy Lathwell was an attorney and gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mom. Most parents would be concerned about having 12 children but not so for the Lathwells. Getting a child to baseball practice, doctor visits, school events, and church can be a full-time job with a single child. Having 12 children would require nothing less than the logistics team from the U.S. Navy. "There's not a handbook for this," Kevin said.
"We're not to rest here. We'll have our eternal rest and I can't wait, whenever that happens far in the future but we're here to do whatever job God sends to us," Cindy said.
The Lathwells found a better way. The entire family has helped. As a teenager got his or her driver’s license they were pressed into service for deliveries, pick-ups, and other transportation needs. The older children just considered it part of their job and they were glad to do it. "That's where these guys help out. It's definitely a family effort. It's not just Kevin and I. The credit goes to the whole family. I actually think a big family is a huge help. Everyone pitched in," Cindy said.
But with Zoey things would be a little different. With so many medical issues she would require special care for a lifetime. But once the baby was born the Lathwells knew she was going to be the newest member of the family. "She was three weeks early. My goodness, once we saw her. I'm not leaving this hospital without her. I did not want her to go into foster care. I was like 'no' I just want her in our family," Cindy said.
"But then they surprised us when we left and they were like 'oh by the way she has problems with her heart and she failed her hearing test’. We were a little shocked," Kevin said.
"To me, she was already my child. When they told me she had failed her hearing test twice my heart dropped out of me," Cindy said.
Even with these problems the family embraced and loved her. "Look how healthy she is! That’s what I don't like; potential parents get scared away when it's not that scary. She's been just like any other baby, maybe she has had more medical appointments and she is a little behind schedule. She is not crawling yet but she is just the best baby. We can take her anywhere. We can take her to the movies. What 10-month old would you take to the movies? She is just the sweetest. She has brought so much joy into our household," Cindy said.
When their tenth child was born they knew there were some problems. "At first we didn't know much about Down syndrome," Cindy said.
Some parents are overwhelmed by a child with special needs. "I know a lot of parents are intimidated by it," Kevin said.
"I think it's a lack of knowledge - that's what I think," Cindy said.
"It's challenging all the way around. Dillon’s got eye problems, she has double club feet and heart problems and Antony has all kinds of problems," Kevin said.
Today some parents elect for an abortion when they know their child has problems. "Before they are even born children are being done away with. It's so sad," Cindy said.
The Lathwells are happy that Zoey’s birth mother had the courage to deliver her and not have an abortion. Cindy offered advice through tears for expectant mothers that aren’t sure which choice to make. "Don't give up hope. Don't be afraid. That child is going to have an awesome life and have an awesome fantastic family. God's got a plan for them and it's a great plan. We're so very thankful. God bless them. That was hard for her, you know that had to be hard."
"It does take courage to give a child up. I think it is very thoughtful of them to go through with it.” Kevin said.
Zoey will be raised in a loving Christian home. The Lathwells have made a commitment to do that with all their children. "He knew that if we were to get married we would have to raise the kids in the faith. He took it to heart," Cindy said.
They do not see Zoey as a burden. They see her as a blessing. "Even with the brothers, I see them interacting with her. She brings a side out of them I never see," Cindy said.
Grace, the ninth child said, “I like her.” She spends a lot of time with the new sister that she prayed for.
“She is like a mother hen," Kevin said.
"Grace has told me Zoey is the greatest thing that ever happened to her," Cindy said.
The Lathwells know what the adoption process is like. Cindy sends pictures to the birth mothers and the adoption agency so they can see how the children are growing up and what is happening in their lives. They feel that with so many options for adoption that abortion is not a viable choice. "I hope this article touches a mom that might be needing it and let her know there is so much hope and so much love. Pray about it and don't be afraid," Cindy said.
Ruth Lambert started writing her short stories and drawing pictures as a way to overcome stress and help ease anxiety. She hoped to find comfort in her life. In about 1988 or 1989 her journey to explore coping skills began. At that time, she was in a very challenging relationship in which her husband reportedly drank often and became verbally abusive.
Using writing as a way of dealing with anxiety didn’t come easily at first, but it worked for her, and she still uses this technique today.
Her stories are fictional and have come from her childhood fantasies. Lambert would create them from a young age. When asked how she came up her stories she says she “loves unicorns and mythology.” Writing is just a way of finding ways to deal with life and an escape for her.
One of her favorite stories is “Cloud Dancer.” It is a mythological tale and takes place during the time of the Greek gods. Medea is a protector of the winged horses now known as unicorns and must battle against some terrible guys who collected the horns of unicorns to get special powers from them such as healing, and the ability do things ordinary people can’t. The story explains how Medea saves these wonderful creatures that must be protected here on earth. “Cloud Dancer” is just a glimpse into her creative entertainment.
Another favorite of hers, called The Last Unicorn tells about a calico stallion horse from a Native American tribe who wanted to be different and to be who he was meant to be. His attitude made the horse stand out from the others. He began to feel unique, different and unhappy with himself. The others tried to change him as the journey of this extraordinary horse leads him down a path to become who he truly wanted to be. It’s a very encouraging story that makes you want to be your own person and be amazing at it.
After some time, Lambert gained the courage to enter one of her stories in a contest. Weep Willow Weep won first place. It’s about a lumberjack who goes into the forest looking for beautiful trees from which to build his home. He cut down every other weeping willow tree. The story is set in a time when the ancient people believed every living thing had a spirit and was alive. When the forest comes to life, the great oak tree notices that many of the willow trees are missing. A willow tree that remained began to cry and bend. It is Lambert’s interpretation of how the Weeping Willow got its name.
The use of such creative choices is an outlet to help relieve anxiety. Another way Lambert copes with stress is through pictures. Her pictures show her emotions and how she is feeling at the moment. Her choices of designs and color templates all depend upon her mood. She sees the shapes and the color combinations in her mind and puts them down on her graph paper. When the colors she uses are bright she seems to be in a good mood, dark colors are used more in a sad time, and grays show up when she is feeling somewhere in between. According to Lambert, her artwork helps her to calm down and see happiness.
Lambert hopes to encourage everyone to use their creative side to help them get through their most desperate times. She recommends to take life one day at a time, and if you are in an abusive relationship, get help and know things can get better. Find your inner strength and use it to get to the place you need to be.