I have gotten to know a really amazing lady, Kris. Her three kids are almost all grown and gone. When she was little she got really sick with a high fever and she lost 95% of her hearing. One of her probation requirements a year ago was to see a doctor to see what could be done. They decided to put a cochlear implant in and in the past year her brain has learned to hear again! She said she was amazed at the sounds of birds, how loud semi-trucks are, and the beautiful sound of music. Out of habit she still reads lips, but her speech has improved so much too! She wears her heart on her sleeve and cries almost daily over her family that she desperately misses. Her husband makes the 3 hour drive a couple times a week for visitation, and she talks to someone from her family every morning and every night. It makes me wonder how in the world an addiction could come between her and her family. They are so supportive though of her getting healthy and know this jail time is just a step toward having her home.
The other extreme... They've had some problems and Sister got sent to The Hole yesterday. No one really knows why, but she came back twice today since they needed room for new arrests. I'm not into all the drama, but the girls expect me to know what's going on since I stay up in the mornings. It has been so quiet without her here, but once she came back, the noise level also went up.
We were filled in later after she went back to The Hole. She was caught talking to her boyfriend on the phone in the other pod. She called her mom. Then her boyfriend called her mom on a different phone. Her mom flip-flopped the phones so they could talk through receivers. I completely do not understand the relationships that go on in here.
Tonight I sat by her and the conversation turned to her tattoos. I'm intrigued and she's willing to share stories for all of them - 100's of details all up and down her legs, arms, and hands that all mean something. Some are beautiful art and some are morbid and scary. Rachel piped in and asked what she's gonna do when she gets old and wrinkley. Sister said, "Ya, I know I'll look like a melted bag of skittles and I'm okay with that. I don't know any 80 year olds that are still hot looking anyway." It's the little things that make me smile. She didn't cuss even once during the whole conversation. That detail didn't go unnoticed.
The girls can't get enough of the show Locked Up. You'd think living the show would be enough, but they love to hear other people's stories, watch other jail set ups, hear updates of fellow inmates. It's a whole culture to know and understand where they are coming from. One I never thought I'd be a part of or even have a glimpse into.
Locked Up focused on satan worshipers and I was about to get up and find something else to do in my cell when one of the girls said, "If the devil said he could get me out and give me a better life on the outside, I'd sell my soul to the devil." I let that statement sit, however uncomfortable, in the pit of my stomach. Three years ago I would never be having a conversation with a girl like this. Jail would have been the last place I would think of being. Heck, last month this was the girl I avoided even asking for a pillow from the laundry because she intimidated me. Calling someone out on selling their soul to the devil would have been completely out of the question! Sitting across from her at the metal table, the words spilled out, "What if Jesus Christ did the same?" She kept staring at the TV like she didn't hear me. I kept my eyes on her, knowing she was uncomfortable answering. She glanced my way and shrugged it off, then said, "People have been telling me that for years. If Christ himself came down to me, then I would believe it."
It made me sick to my stomach. It wasn't her that made me sick. It was the absence of faith. No hope. So directionless that this place in jail is her best bet. Basic necessities are 'enough' for her. My whole being, my faith, my personality, my strength comes from Him. How can two people sit so close to each other and feel so completely different?! How could I help her feel His love for her? The verse popped in my head, (there are those) "who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." I looked it up later.
"For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it-"
Here I sat face to face with one of God's daughters who has been so deceived and hurt, has given in to temptation, and fed her pleasures, that she believes there's no hope. I wanted to scoop her up and take her on a walk of the life she could have by following Christ. A life where there are so many more options then 'Do I choose to go outside or not?' and 'What book from the library do I read again?' He opens up possibilities if we obey and follow the commandments.
I worked on the Plan of Salvation drawing with Robin some more today. And had more good gospel conversation with Jen. I joked with Rachel about getting these girls ready for the talent show when I come back. She's softening to the idea. There are still those that have the hots for others in here, but they aren't as explicit about it. There are still those that are crude, but lots of times they apologize. My heart hurts that I have to leave them and I hope they are here when I get back. I never forced them or asked them to change. It's just happened.
Tonight the girls watched a movie of a guy that dies of heroin while I read in my cell. It's the icing on the cake and I'm officially ready to head out. I feel drained. I'm ready to be home. I give everything I have emotionally and spiritually when I come. I'm happy to share what I have. And now I desperately need a recharge.
Funny that the recharge comes in the form of doing my own 10 loads of laundry a week, cooking for a family of 7, and wrangling them all into a pew for church. That chaos can not come fast enough! Rachel braided my hair and I'm counting down the hours until they call me out.
I'll turn the light off when I sleep.
I won't wear orange crocs to breakfast.
I'll check my own mail and get to be the first to read it.
Have cold water to drink - with ice.
I'll eat when I'm hungry, not just at 6, 12, and 6.
And someday soon I'll pray for these women from the comfort of my own home - and probably even miss them.
The question has come more than once. My bunkie, Rachel, and even a few girls I wouldn't think would care. "When are you coming back?" I've tried not to think about it. I won't get much of a break at home this time since I'm trying to plan around Spring Break, so I'm shooting to be back again the end of the month - fitting 2 weeks into February and less time in March. Who plans jail time around their kids' spring break?! I really have tried to embrace this trial and give this jail experience my all, but it is exhausting to keep a positive attitude in such a negative place. However hard it is, I have been true to myself and true to my God that has blessed me with this trial. To leave this place with that in mind feels so good.
I was called over the loudspeaker and packed out my things. He was professional. Stern as usual. By the time I worked my way backward out of booking and was back in my street clothes, the guard was relaxed and told me, "Have a nice day." Yes, thank you. I think I will!
My mom was there to pick me up with Piper, Walker and Bryer. We stopped at McDonald's where I couldn't decide between all the options on the menu - so different than the 'take it or leave it' menu options for my week. After canned veggies all week, I chose a lush, green salad and enjoyed the giggles of some of my favorite little people! Bryer wouldn't leave my lap and kept saying, "Mom!...(giggle) Mom....(giggle) Mom!"
|Braided hair, complements of Rachel|
2 weeks is not long enough to recharge and spend with my family. I want to stay longer. I want to cook our dinner and wake up to my own alarm clock to wake up kids for school and when I get out of bed, I want my feet to hit carpet. As good as this life feels, as I drive to basketball practices or head out to help at the school, I catch myself wondering how Rachel is doing in jail or if Robin and the same girls will be there when I get back.
Back to normal life - taking a therapy class to understand Bryer's body better, supporting someone else's fundraiser, help at school, basketball games, calling on equipment for Bryer that hasn't come yet. And in the middle of it all, I wonder again about the girls in jail that are being transferred in and out. I wash the dishes and think of them. I do laundry and think of them. The songs on the radio have different meaning. My prayers have different meaning. I am forever changed.
I feel so overwhelmed with gratitude for those who have cared for my family while I have been away. I know that laundry and dishes and cooking and homework and practice schedules are all hectic with 5 kids. Jason would be overwhelmed by himself trying to swing it all and working. Throw in therapy and Bryer's needs on top of that. What person would take all that on without it being their own kids? Our extended families and friends - that's who!
We have been incredibly blessed with therapists for Bryer that are the best of the best. I don't worry about her back sliding while I'm gone and know that for 12 hours a week she's getting the 1-on-1 therapy she needs. They are on top of things, and one therapist even cried with my mother-in-law when she picked Bryer up this week. This is hard for all involved, not just me. It eases the stress of leaving my family to know they are so well taken care of. But then what else would I expect when we sit in the palm of God's protective hand? It's no accident that we have found these particular people in our life.
I had a moment today that I just wanted to soak it all in and save it up in a bottle. It's a blessing that God has used the extended family we have to protect our kids from the negative effects of all this. With Hunter being our oldest, he remembers the most from the beginning. He remembers Bryer being in the hospital, the social workers, Bryer in foster care, and living with Grandma and Grandpa. But today I saw a 13 year old young man in church clothes in the kitchen, being resourceful and productive making deer jerkey from a deer he shot himself. I thank God for His protection and for preserving our family!