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28 November 2008

Beyond Thankful

Ten years ago, I had Thanksgiving Dinner in jail, (complete with dry, thinly sliced turkey, cornbread dressing and a cup of Kool-Aid), with a group of strangers and my twin sister. That year, I was beyond thankful to have her there with me - because it meant I wasn't alone in the scariest time of my life.

Ten years ago, on the day before Thanksgiving, we were given the option to go up on the roof to get some sunlight. Our group cell was not made of bars, but cinder blocks, like what is commonly found in High School gymnasium bathrooms - no windows. I opted out because I was going home the next day, which would've been day 4 in jail, the end of our "sentence".

Ten years ago, the next day came, but I didn't go home. Instead, I got a message that our judge was on vacation and we were going to be staying "indefinitely". That word dropped into my stomach like a bowling ball. Every day we'd ask, Is he back? When do we get to go to court and find out when we get out of here? Day after day, we got the same reply. He's on vacation, we don't know. We'll let you know when we know. Eight more days passed before we were released, bringing our grand total up to 12 days in jail.

Ten years ago, I went to court high with the full understanding of what might happen when I got there. You violate probation, they put you in the slammer. I was scared out of my skin, but I had the slightest hope we'd get a slap on the wrist. And honestly, at the time, even though I was quite sure I'd faint in front of the judge, I thought the 4 days we got in jail was a slap on the wrist. I told myself, Four days is nothin'. I can do anything for four days. However, I learned rather quickly that I can do very little indefinitely.

Ten years ago, I spent 12 days in a room where the TV was rarely off, all the calls I made were collect, and someone was always slamming a deck of cards on an aluminum table. The noise was constant. We had a communal bathroom which was wide open. Flimsy shower curtains. Short stalls around the toilets. Never any real privacy. For 12 days I wore faded, used navy blue scrubs and black plastic slippers. Every day, lunch was the same; peanut butter sandwich with a small cup of Kool-Aid. I was always thirsty. I had no blow dryer. No makeup. And most importantly, no drugs.

Ten years ago, my 12 days in jail were the first of my days of sobriety. Up to that point, I had been high every day. I couldn't even remember the last day I didn't do something - and the idea of spending the REST. OF. MY. LIFE. sober scared me more than anything.

Ten years ago, I wanted nothing to do with God. NOTHING. I continued in that way for the next two years, searching for the ever-popular Spiritual Experience - but not the God who calls Himself "I Am". And God, in His amazing grace, saw fit to set me free anyway. Because He could see His plans for me - plans to give me a hope and a future. At the time, it felt like death - which now, ten years down the road, I've learned seems to be God's way to freedom.

And ten years later, I am beyond thankful for that.

We went through fire and through water;
Yet Thou didst bring us out into a place of abundance.

10 people love me:

Sara@ Butterville said...

WOW. Jodie. Thank you for your post. It always amazes me to hear peoples stories and see how God works in there life. It brings me closer to Our Father.
I can not imagine what jail is like, although you gave quite the description. The noise and lack of privacy would have been horrible for me. I am so glad that you took that and made the change. We all make mistakes, thinking "How bad could it be really? This won't hurt anyone." Then we end up hurting ourselves. Thankfully we have God there offering us his hand.
Thank you again for sharing. I like getting to know you.

Annie Parsons said...

Incredible, Jodie. Thank you for another amazing window into your world...

The Bayou Belles and Their Beau said...

I just love you.

Rachel said...

Wow. This post gave me chills! Praise God!!!

I can't wait to meet you in real life!

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

What an amazing testament, Jodie. This moved me very deeply, my friend. I would have never pegged you to have been a jailbird, but the fact is, even though I was never arrested, I was in prison in my sin, too. And the Redeemer bought me at a price, just like you, and set me free. All on His account. Wow. Thank you for being so transparent. I love you, girl!

Tonja said...

I'm beyond thankful for you as well! I love you!

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...

Amazing Jodie. This Thanksgiving I realized just how much I had to be thankful for and was overwhelmed by blessings. Your post once again reminded me of all we have - all God has done for each one of us.

You have a powerful testimony.

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

I'm getting here late...dang it.

Isn't it amazing what God can do when we realize He is the I AM.

What a powerful, powerful truth in your story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

bren j. said...

Grace is a beautiful thing.

Lynette said...

i thank God for seeing His plans for you ten years ago...what an amazing father!!