Anaheim Girl

On November 27th "Long Haul Paul" Marhoefer will be releasing his 3rd  CD,"You Were A Good Hand". The album includes the track "Anaheim Girl" , a  song about a Christian couple who finds themselves living apart, after working together in a tractor-trailer for more than two decades. "I was touched by their story of commitment to family and to each other," said Paul. "Most love songs are about: young love, lost love or infidelity; theirs was about faith and commitment."

Todd and Tamera Sturgis have been over the road truck drivers for over two decades. According to Mr. Sturgis, "We've lived the unconventional life of perpetual nomads because we can't see ourselves working in an office or reporting to work at the same place day after day" . The trucking life, he continued "Has allowed us to see major tourist attractions from The Empire State Building, to the Venetian Pool"( a natural pool made from a coral rock quarry in Coral Gables, Florida).

       Still, their life has not been without its ups and downs . In 2003 Todd, a one-time state champion wrestler in California  , decided he needed one last test of his physical endurance. At the age of 33 he decided to train for and compete in a cage fighting organization called Gladiator Challenge. "Todd had been driving a truck and acting like a paid tourist for over tens years and then one day he became a different person, " said Tamera. "He was focused on becoming a professional MMA fighter.His training was intense and so was he."

      The adventure of cage fighting  lasted over eighteen months."It took up most of my time and my attention," Todd recalled. "Tamera came to me and said things have to change, we aren't in a good spot." Todd saw his dream of competing in an MMA fight come to fruition. The couple even made a documentary film about their experience, "Under Pressure, Diary of a Cage Fighter's Wife", which made it as far as Netflix, but their marriage was in deep trouble.

     After some intense conversations, the Sturgis' found themselves at a local church that had a marriage counselor on staff. Tamera had attended church sparingly growing up and Todd was an agnostic for the most part.  "We attended church as kind of a way to show our appreciation to our marriage counselor," said Todd. "Shortly after that, we had some intense encounters with God." The Sturgis' then began a life serving Jesus Christ.

     In 2014 Tamera received a phone call from her stepfather who had raised her from a little girl; he informed her that he had stage-four cancer.  Tamera decided(with Todd's blessing) to move 300 miles away from home and take care of her dad.

     "It was the best of times and the worst of times," said Todd, "Tamera and her father really enjoyed their time together even though Tom was fighting for his life." Tamera not only felt the burden of praying for her father's health, but she was also worried about his salvation. He was a Vietnam Veteran who had seen things people shouldn't have to see. During Tamera's late teens her father began a battle with drug addiction that caused him to lose his family. "He never forgave himself for being human," said Tamera." He struggled with very powerful guilt that kept telling him he didn't deserve salvation."  

      Todd and Tamera spent many nights praying together over the phone and there were lots of tears. "I finally got a word from God, 'Are you willing to give him to me,' which I promptly said, 'Yes, I can't take the weight of this burden'," said Tamera. After many months of heartache Tamera, her father and some neighbors found themselves at a local church. Her father once again wrestled with his guilt, but ultimately he chose to be baptized! It had to be his decision and in the end, he chose to be free. "My father was sick, but you could see he was different after he was baptized," said Tamera, "He just kept commenting how different and free he felt." Tamera spent another couple of months enjoying her time with her father until he ultimately lost his fight with cancer.

        It was during these times the idea of creating a song for his wife first entered Todd's mind. "I listened to a lot of Jesus Culture and Third day during those intense times, but I also found myself listening to the song 'Tonight looks good on you', by Jason Aldean," said Todd. "Sometimes you just want to be nostalgic when you miss your girl." Todd would listen to the song the day before he who would arrive. " I was missing her so much by the time she came to pick me up, it would look as if she was walking in slow motion with a wind machine blowing her hair back as she got out of her car," chuckled Todd. "I thought to myself this girl needs her own song.

          

      After a short break at home, Tamera once again joined Todd on the road. Less than a year later, Tamera's mom was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. Tamera would not be leaving her home this time. Tamera's mom chose to seek treatment at The Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa. Tamera's mom moved to Todd and Tamera's house where she has been getting ongoing treatment. Todd found a great dedicated run that paid almost double what he normally makes. There was only one catch, he would spend most of his days off in Kansas City, 220 miles north of Tulsa.

They needed the money and the job was consistent and simple.

     As Todd and Tamera's 25th trucking anniversary was approaching, Todd was longing to do something special for his wife. "I couldn't be there with her very often, but I wanted to tell her how much I appreciate who she is." said Todd," I wanted her to know that she is the badest chick I have ever met and she looks good driving a truck!" It was at this point Todd reached out to Paul Marhoefer. Paul is also an over the road truck driver and he has a tremendous talent for writing songs.

     " I told Paul we are facing a lot of serious stuff and I wanted to create a light-hearted fun song that showed the world how crazy fun Tamera can be," said Todd, "I wanted a reminder of the times that weren't quite so emotional." After Todd gave Paul some bullet points, the songwriter began to ask Todd some questions. Their conversation went on for three hours." One thing was clear," said Paul, "This man had a deep respect for his wife." Paul enjoyed all stories of Tamera doing fantastic things out on the road with Todd, but it was the subtle ways Todd relayed to Paul how strong his wife was that caught his attention. She did everything he did, nothing scared his wife and she also always finds time to help others.

      Sometimes a songwriter can see the real song that needs to be written better than people living the life being written about. "Oh, there was a song here for sure," Paul said. "I just feel the more quiet times when nobody is around define who people are, more than the so-called major moments." The last thing Paul said to Todd was, "Give me a little leeway on this draft, if you don't like the song we can go a different direction."

     Paul woke the next morning and recorded a song in the sleeper of his truck. That song is pretty much exactly like the final recording of the song. He sent a youtube link in an email that read, "Let me know what you think?" Todd returned to his truck after taking a shower and opened the email. He grabbed his phone, earbuds and headed for a dirt road behind the truck stop. "The sun is rising and I'm walking down this dirt road that runs between two cornfields," said Todd, "I pressed play expecting something cool, what I got was a life-changing experience that made me weep!"

      The song was like a documentary that captured all the highs and lows of their life. It was as if a fly on the wall had been taking notes their entire life. Todd a twenty-five year veteran of the big road called Paul in tears. "This crusty truck driver was crying like a baby; all the emotion I had pent up inside of me was coming out," said Todd. "I thanked him and then I told him I would have to call him back because I simply could not hold it together."

     It was now time to give the song to Tamera. Todd had big plans of a great night out followed by a romantic night at the house where he would play the song for Tamera. Time and circumstances(life) didn't allow for a big night with a lot of pomp and circumstance. He was only able to drop by the house at 11:00 pm for his ten-hour break. They went out on the back porch(their favorite spot at the house) and Todd asked Tamera to put some headphones on and listen to a song.

      "I thought it was an already existing song that Todd felt described something in our life," said Tamera. "As the song played I thought, 'that sounds like me'." As Tamera continued to listen to the song it became clear it was her. A feeling of jubilation came over her as it would anyone. " Once Tamera realized the song was about her a huge smile came over her face," said Todd, "When it got to the part about her devotion to her dad she fell apart." The song continued to play out and it was as if she was reliving it. There was pain and sorrow of course, but God's mercy triumphed in the end and she knew it will always win.

      Tamera is now able to listen to the song without crying(sometimes). She sees the joy in her song and hopes the story of what God did for her father and her, speaks to other people experiencing hard times. Todd, with Tamera's knowledge spent the next year making a video for the song. Tamera participated in the making of the video, but she wasn't allowed to see any edits. Todd made Tamera dinner and surprised her with the video the day after Halloween. Both the song and the video have now been released. The trucking industry has many inspiring stories, we are glad that Paul Marhoefer(Long Haul Paul) has decided to create beautiful songs about many of them.To buy the single Anaheim girl click here 

on 09 November 2019