Everyone had finished eating and they were heading back to their rooms. Karen grabbed her cup and filled it with coffee, then non-shalauntly walked over with her Bible in hand and asked if she could join me. I wanted to squeal and hug her and jump up and down, but I just smiled really big and said, "Of course!" Truthfully, I could hardly concentrate on my own scriptures as I watched her out of the corner of my eye. I watched her sit in front of her open Bible, sip her coffee, and turn the pages. I took note of the tattoos on her arm and felt like I was witnessing a miracle. I hoped she felt the spirit as she read like I felt. I loved watching a change happen right before my eyes. A daughter of God slowly coming to realize who she is and what she can become. I kept my head down and tried not to sniff too often so she wouldn't realize I was crying.
Any coincidence that I read this verse today?.... "And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people."
I went outside for break this morning by myself to 1/2 inch of snow on the ground! It's so strange to be inside and not even know what the weather is on the outside unless we go out. Not many of the girls want to watch the news and that's the only other way to see what the weather is doing. It was a blessing to be able to shovel the small rec area. It was a change from my lunges and jumping jacks to wake me up. I was happy to have a tan, jail-issued coat to wear. Maybe the Cabella's brand embroidered on the front should mean it's a good coat, but the zipper doesn't do it's job anymore. I wondered if making a snowman was against the rules. I don't think I'm supposed to take anything out to break with me, but maybe I could use the icicles that form in the holes of the chain length fence for parts of the snowman's face?
After headcount at 7:00 am the tv came on. It was hard to concentrate on whatever scripture reading I was getting done. Karen switched through channels and we watched part of The Today Show. A story came on that was really touching.
When the segment ended, I turned to Karen and said, "You know those could be our kids, right?" She looked thoughtful and staring blankly at the screen she said, "Yes, I know. It's weird." I didn't like how I felt to have my 2 worlds collide again - feeling that tender piece of my family while I am here in such a hardened place. As hard as I try, I can't seem to keep them separate. I can only imagine what Karen felt. She's been in a lot longer than I have and she'll still be serving time when I'm all done. I have missed my family so much all week, but today it really started getting to me especially bad. It was too hard to even hear Jason's voice when I called him a few days ago, so I have avoided calling home again. But not hearing his voice is worse than not hearing it now, so I've decided to call again tonight.
I only have a couple days left here. I have to say that I have more mixed feelings that I've ever expected to have. The girls here get transferred in and out so often here, so I don't know if any of the same ones will be here when I come back next month. One side of me is so ready to be with my family and go back to my normal life for a few weeks before my next week in here. But the other side is kind of sad to leave these girls. I hope I've done everything I was supposed to do and learned all I was supposed to learn. I hope the seeds have been planted deep enough with a couple of them that where ever they go from here they will remember and build on it. So, I've started my preparations to leave.
Karen and I have gone back and forth creating a Christmas decoration for our cell each day. Karen calls our décor our 'Be-Dazzle,' like the machine that puts rhinestones on clothes and purses. Today was her turn to come up with some Be-Dazzle. She very carefully ripped out a shiny star ornament out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine and stuck it above the picture of Mary and Baby Jesus that sits on our small metal table.
I started planning and looking for inspiration for what decorations to leave. Robin said she would keep them for me and give them to Karen on my designated days even after I am gone. (I can't tell you how excited I am to have them carry on this excitement of Christmas after I am gone!) I scanned magazine after magazine today looking for ideas. I found some camels in a National Geographic, perfect to add to the wise men. There was another magazine with an article about the middle east, so I bookmarked the pictures of those men. I settled on one that I thought could work for Joseph, but he was armed and had straps of ammo along his chest and waist. I tore another piece of the magazine to look like a piece of fabric to cover the ammo, hung over his shoulders. I did the same for 3 men standing together to make the wise men. Then I went cell to cell to ask if anyone had any empty toilet paper tubes and found enough to mount each of the magazine people to, sticking them on with toothpaste, so they would stand up by themselves in our nativity scene!
I used the foil seal from the top of one of the girl's Pringles cans to crease and tear another star out to put on top of our Charlie-Brown-paper-bag-Christmas-tree. I also started folding squares of my notebook paper and hand-tearing them into snowflakes. One of the girls saw me tearing snowflakes and asked for some for her cell too. I have nothing better to do than spread some winter wonderland, right? Since it wasn't a surprise anymore, I sprinkled some mini flakes on our table. Then Karen had the idea to use string from some of the girl's friendship bracelets and hang them from our curtain rod. The guard didn't like that idea and said we're not aloud to have things tied and hanging from our rod, but that we could tape them to the window. Good-bye to the rest of my deodorant label. :-)
Last night as I was right in between being awake and sound asleep, my eyes popped open and I realized I forgot the church Christmas program that Piper was supposed to sing in. I had to shake the sleepy fog to realize that all those arrangements had already been taken care of. My mom made her angel dress. I had someone to pick her up early that night to take her to the church for practice. She would have grandparents there to watch her sing. Whew! Ok. She didn't miss the party, it was just me that missed it.
I made my phone call and talked to Jason. I heard Walker's little voice in the background and I started to get teary. He seemed like a big boy when I left, but being in here I could hear all the innoscence in his 5-year-old voice. Jason's voice was strong and comforting. So much that I wanted to just let myself crumble and let him take over. He said Piper was asking to talk to me, so I saved a few minutes on my calling card to call her at my Mom's where she was staying the night. I let Jason know that the Captain had given me the okay to use the booking phones to call home on my way out Sunday evening. More than likely, it will be snowing, so he was happy to know when I'd be leaving.
Then I called my Mom to talk to Piper. At the sound of my Mom's voice, and then followed by Piper's I wanted to fall apart. I could hear my voice start to shake. I just wanted to scoop her up and head for home. I want to tuck her in and hear about her day. I want to help her with homework and hear who she sat with at lunch. Now I know why missionaries in our church only get 2 phone calls home each year - voices from family are too hard to hear on the other end of the line! Letters and cards are much easier than voices.
For a few years I have adopted one of my favorite routines from an idea I heard from Hilary Weeks. A lot of times when I go in to check on my kids before I head to bed, I will make sure they are covered up, and then lean over their sleeping body and whisper to them, "I believe in you." Most of the time it's because I really do believe in them. I love to watch who they are becoming and help them find their niche in this crazy world. I love to watch their personalities and talents develop. Once in a while when I've had a rough day with one of them in particular I will still whisper, "I believe in you," but I do it more for myself. To remind myself why I do what I do, to remind myself that I really do believe in them and they have been sent to Jason and I for a specific purpose. I've been doing this for years, but I have never gotten a reaction from them as they sleep. A few weeks before I left for jail I overheard Piper and Walker playing house. Piper was pretending to sleep and I peeked into the room just in time to watch Walker lean over his sister and whisper, "I believe in you." It sent chills down my body and brought tears to my eyes, surprised that he even knew that I did that! Piper didn't act at all surprised by her brother's whispered comment (not normally something this little stinker would have said at all!), leading me to believe that she remembers me doing it as she sleeps too. It was a tender mercy for me to witness, but now it makes me miss them that much more.
I don't want to be in jail anymore. I can't do this. I want out. Now that I've heard my family's voices, I'm toast. I'm shot. I'm ready to be done. I call 'uncle' to God. I've tried my very best for the last 7 days and I hope it's enough for Him. In less than 48 hours I will be home-bound. I can't get home fast enough!
(Dec. 15) I was approached today by one of the guards. As he stood near me while I sat at one of the metal tables, I had to look up to him to see him talking to me. He let me know that I wouldn't be aloud any special privlidges when I left. Not understanding what he was implying, I said that would be fine. He went on to explain that I will not be aloud to use the booking phones when I check out tomorrow. I politely explained that I had gotten permission from the Captain and he said it would be okay. I explained that I didn't have my cell phone with me to let my husband know when to expect me and that if it's snowing, he should know when I'm leaving to drive the two hours home. He said, "It's not our responsibility to allow any other inmates to call when they leave, so we won't allow you to either." I was trying to be as respectful as possible. I told him I had just used the rest of my calling card since I understood that I would be able to use the booking phones. I told him I could put in another in-house request for another calling card, but that I am already late for that deadline to have it in. As the conversation went, he became more accusatory of me asking for special privileges. If it is one thing I have been acutely aware of in the past 3 years, it's the sensitivity of my intentions. I was not intending to ask for special privileges. I was only trying to get home safe, and on snowy roads in a little car, I felt Jason should know. We ended the conversation with him telling me I could try to put in a request for a calling card, but he couldn't guarantee it. It would be up to the guards on the next shift. I wanted to crawl in a hole. He went on with his rounds and I slowly packed up my things and took them to my cell. Karen overheard, as I'm sure everyone else did, and asked what that was all about. I broke down. If that discussion had happened at the beginning of the week maybe I would have taken it better. As it was, I blubbered to Karen about my motives being questioned and the frustration of just wanting to go home. I'm just done.
The next guard that was on shift received my request for a calling card. When she made her rounds I stopped her and explained what was going on and why the request was in late. As she was talking to me, a voice came over her radio that said, "Tell her no!" I wanted to crumble. Seriously?! I have not had a problem with the guards this whole time and now they question me on the day before I need to leave? Have they not watched the camera on us 24/7 all week? Before I got too defensive, I realized the voice on the radio was probably the Captain, and the guard was standing there smiling at me. She was friendly and said, "We'll see what we can do." I don't know what's going on in the control room, but I think things will be okay.
I went back to my cell, trying to stay up beat for just a little while longer. I read Mosiah 2:17, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." If that's what He has required of me - to serve - for the past 8 days, then I can finish the last day out strong. He's with me. I can feel it. And as that verse explains, that if I am serving these girls, then I am really serving Him. I kept reading and in chapter 3, verse 3, I was reminded that I am not a help to anyone if I give in to frustration or sadness or being upset. "I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy."
Ok, suck it up. Move on. The Christmas spirit is here. I can help the girls feel Christ's love for each of them. I am watching miracles happen in Karen. Serve Him by serving these girls in this circumstance? That... I can do - maybe just for a little longer before I need a break - but I can do it!