Cindy Tilkens-Jennings lives in Central Oregon, and is a
songwriter, singer, recording artist with three Nashville CD’s. Cindy recorded her first album in Nashville when she was a truckdriver with her late husband Jim. She literally got out of their Frieghtliner, drove to Nashville, and recorded ten of her best songs through her producer Donnie Sax Sanders, and arranger Tom Wild. She remained an independent artist and got out of the Eighteen Wheeler and traveled for years doing concerts all over the United States.
Cindy's songs span a lifetime. Music was the language God used to reach Cindy early in her life, to confort, inspire, grow her faith in the fact that God is real and he loves her. When she went to her deaf brother Jimmy on his death bed to again express forgiveness and tell him about Jesus Christ, God made the way miraculously for her to record her third album, Family. Hope and Faith is a compilation album from her previous three CD's with two extra singles that have never been on a CD. Each song on HOPE and FAITH has its own story. It is Cindy's goal to blog some of the stories and also to do a second Faith and Hope on DVD with the stories recorded for the listeners.
In 2005 Cindy was widowed. And then in 2008 she was in a near fatal accident that landed her in a trauma care unit for nearly a month. In that hospital, she came into the presence of God, in the presence of His Holiness. Hope and Faith is a re-awakening. Cindy's hope is that it will be a Re-awakening for the ones who purchase and listen to this album. It is for ones who have been discouraged and need a fresh transformation from struggles and challenges they have passed through.
Cindy wrote an allegory called “Feathers”, that is part fictional, and partly parrallels her own life. Her
website is found at http://www.reverbnation.com/songbirdcindy also http://www.facebook.com/songbirdcindy
Below is a short story that includes recent events in Cindy's life... including coming into the presence of God after a near fatal car accident.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
My life as I knew it ended the night I found myself tumbling down an embankment, tossing around like clothing in a washing machine The pounding and rolling broke my seatbelt, and I landed upside-down with a broken neck and broken back with the car roof cutting off my right arm that was bent and firmly pinned underneath the roof and the entire weight of the car! It is still difficult to think about the hour-long wait for Jaws of Life, while screaming in pain on that August night. I was finally Life-Flighted to Knoxville Trauma Care, but not without further complications that I will not get into here.
In the emergency, the doctor told me I might lose my arm. I was in so much pain and so despondent after watching people walk around my car nearly the entire time while I was begging for them to lift the car just a bit so I could get my arm out from under it... and no one would help. No one dared to push my little Suzuki slightly for fear of hurting me further or being sued, so I screamed in agony while the car cut my arm to the bone, slowly. Now this doctor was telling me that I might lose my arm, and I didn’t care. I had lost my husband Jim, two years earlier and I wasn’t sure I wanted to live. The sharp metal cleaved my arm nearly to the bone and the doctor had to cut away most of the flesh four inches wide almost completely around the arm. He said I had a degloved arm. I had a concussion and a crushed cheek. My back and neck were broken. My eye was displaced and needed to be sewn back into the socket. My right cheek had been crushed. I was put into a drug-induced coma, intebated, and later trached. I would be trached for over a three week period that would damage my vocal chords... and lose my high range for singing my songs... the ones you see on this site.
These things changed my life forever, but what I want to tell you about next is more important. I came into the presence of God, and then in the presence of Jesus when I coded in that hosptal.
The last thing I remember before leaving my body was hearing Randy’s deep southern
Tennessee voice, “Bayebee, Honey? This would be a good time for you to
draw near to the Lord.” Randy and I had been dating six months. We met in church and had volunteered at a homeless ministry together.
I had been waiting for him to come, in the car and later in the hospital. No one knew if I could hear him but I heard perfectly. They didn’t know if I would live. I began to seek God with all my heart, just searching for him in my own heart, focusing best I could, and then…
As I looked off to my right I saw my life. I saw my mistakes and sin. I wanted to look away, but I had no choice, for I saw things crystal clear as from God’s point of view.
The closer I came toward the presence of God, the more clearly I saw my own
wretchedness, and this became all too painful. I was moving toward something and a voice like thunder spoke, “Who do you think you are?” It came from what seemed like a distance, so, I thought the voice was talking to someone else.
Then louder and sterner, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!!!”
Here I was, and this was God! And He was upset with me! Frightened to the core of my being, I realized this might be it! I had thought I was safe because most of my life was spent telling people about how much God loves them. I did gospel concerts throughout the United States in churches, resorts, and at trucking events. Everywhere I went I sang songs I had written back at home in that music room where God met me, and I felt His Presence. Let It Shine, Solid Ground, Wildflowers, Whom Shall I Fear, Family (A song about forgiveness), Singing in the Fire, Trucker’s Prayer, A Child in a Man, Celebration, Darkness Gives Way to the Dawning, were some of the songs I had shared, along with the stories behind them with thousands. I never imagined God would be this angry with me. And somewhere along my journey I had hardened my heart enough to justify bitterness and unforgiveness again. Maybe because the women hurting me knew I was a new widow- perhaps I thought I was justified. Jesus said, “If you do not forgive, my father in Heaven will not forgive you”. As I looked toward the cliff and the edge of Outer Darkness, I wondered if this was my judgment… Outer Darkness- Eternal Separation from Light and Love and the Presence of God and all others. Alone forever with the truth about myself… Crystal Clear, as God revealed to me.
Although I didn’t see his face, I was in the presence of pure
holiness. It was a dark place. Not hell. Surely not heaven! I stood nearby the cliff, beyond it was black matter swirling around like a smoke or a mist only it wasn’t smokey, and it wasn’t wet.
“I SPOKE! AND GALAXIES WERE FORMED!” he boomed. In the distance, I saw huge lips that spanned bigger than a universe moving slowly up and down, together and apart, almost mechanically. A huge galaxy slowly orbited and moved out of the lips. They formed a picture I would never forget. I have thought about it wondering, were these his lips or a vision to demonstrate His Glory, Power and His enormity. God is HOLY. Although I felt His presence many times when I was writing music, this was beyond description. I found Him “All Loving”, “All Holy” and “Terrifying” all at the same time, but words don’t touch it really. The Israelites wanted to know His Name. He answered, “I AM”.“I AM” covers it all. No word or group of words in our language can describe Him. Words cannot contain who He is.
“There is no unforgiveness in Heaven” came directly to my spirit. It was His voice without audible sound, and it was gentle this time, but firm.
I had seen my sins of pride and selfishness and regretted them in the crystal clear revelation of truth about myself. I was ashamed when I realized how petty I was, compared to eternity. Scripture says, “to keep no records of wrong”. I had such regrets, and wished I had been more loving. At the same time God was showing me his incomprehensible grace. Each day the world rejects him, sins against him, and even denies his existence. And by the way we live, we deny His importance.
God showed me my unforgiveness toward two older women who were on my mind the night of the accident. I had not spoken about them or mentioned them to anyone that night, but I was angry with them. Two years of their critical gossip had caused me to justify my bitterness. Now I realized that this was enough to eliminate me from Heaven!
God revealed to me that I was judgmental and un-forgiving, He showed me how he had forgiven me for so much in my lifetime. I felt sheepish and ashamed. I felt lost and exposed for what I really was. Without Jesus, I was nothing but a self-righteous sinner. He showed me that when I refused to forgive, I put myself above Him, “I AM”. It shocked me. I had never seen myself this
God showed me a particle of an atom. In a blink it grew from the particle through a multitude of stages, to a galaxy and back down. My brain felt like it would explode. God was showing me who I wasn’t. I am not God, nor am I even close to understanding a tiny speck of who He is. I wondered why he would take His time to show the likes of me anything. I knew I didn’t deserve anything due to my impure heart and self-important attitude.
I asked Him into my heart when I was twenty seven years old. Two years
later, he began to give me songs. With my guitar and my bible and a
pad of paper and pen I would sit on the turquoise shag carpet with a
giant floor pillow and pray, read my bible, and get songs. I felt the
presence of God so strong I would weep, and say to Him “You came to be
Although I was aware of His Presence, I thought He came because it was
his duty. After all, he was God and God is love. So he had to love me
whether He wanted to or not. But deep inside I didn’t really think he
loved me. Over the years, I came a long way to know him and he gave me several hundred songs. But it convinced me that he wanted me to tell others about His love. And without realizing it, I thought that made me safe and a Christian. I believed in Jesus, asked Him into my heart, lived for him, forgave others, but when I made the decision one day hold a grudge and not forgive, God was showing me I eliminated myself from Heaven. Jesus said if I do not forgive, You will not be forgiven.
I left this place at the cliff overlooking outer darkness and found
myself now in front of Jesus and he emanated mercy, love and kindness like I had never experienced before. I remember being surprised He was wearing a pale yellow robe, instead of white. He looked at me gently shaking his head and simply said “Oh Cindy. Oh Cindy”. That’s all I remember of Jesus. Then I returned to my body…
I don’t have all the answers… but I know I am still
here to warn others who may think because they are a good Christian who
loves God and Jesus, that God will put up with bitterness and
unforgivness. He won’t. I believe He would do anything to have us
with him--anything except allow evil in heaven. Pride is evil and God
In the Presence of God He showed me there is a trap we all can fall into. Now, nearly three years later, I am singing, playing guitar with a severely limited right arm, and writing more songs. I have had time to
think, and to realize that God wants us to love and be loving. Not
appear to be good and loving, but to really love others. To do this I
ask God to help me see them through His Viewpoint. People are often
like a smoldering flame, fragile, and on the brink of going over that
cliff into outer darkness. Love rekindles the flame, and pulls them back.
I never expected to end up in front of Almighty God with him
thundering “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” But I did. My prayer: Lord,
Keep me close. Teach me your ways, Let me love what you love and hate
what you hate. Help me to do what is right in your sight. AMEN