Friday, June 22, 2012
And words like incredible, wonderful, joyful, outstanding, sweet, painful, devastating, and sad come to my mind today. The Stonecroft ladies of Bartlesville have climbed over some unbelievable barriers and entered into a world that is wildly different than their own.
The sheriff and law enforcement people are grateful.
These very wonderful, honest to the core, loving friends visit the gals living in lockdown once a week. They lead Bible Studies, listen, hug, cry with the inmates, pray with and for them...and did I say LISTEN? Once a month they have a special "lifeskills" program.
Being a small part of a Mom's Panel here in Tulsa, I was included in the invitation for yesterday's lifeskill event. The Mom's Panel is made up of 6 moms of various stages of parenting. We've brainstormed and come up with lists titled, "The Top 10 Things I Have Learned or Am Learning about Parenting." We've spoken at various events in the area and have had a great time. We love each other and have learned much. We have a mom of a pre-schooler, elementary age, high school, college, married with children, and one that talks about life that "doesn't work out as you dreamed it would."
Yesterday was our first gig at a prison.
Sitting before us were 25-30 women, dressed alike in orange jumpsuirs and flip flops. They were all ages and stages of life, now living confined to that small place. Their best days include hearings that give them hope that one day they would be free again, free to wrap their arms around their children, free for a fresh start. They are very aware that they have made some really bad choices and the painful consequences are wrapped around them like a straight jacket. They can't escape them.
I looked each one in the eye. I had no idea what circumstances brought them there, what horror they had experienced or performed, how long they have left to serve or where their deepest pain might lie.
We all shared our lists. There was laughter and tears, hugs and stories. After it was all over, there were more stories, stories that nearly set my hair afire, more hugs, more pleas for prayer and help. They are very grateful for these meetings, if only to get out of their cells for a while if nothing else.
Some will be released with a challenge to do life WITHOUT their children because their parental rights have been taken away to protect little ones. Some are looking at a very long stay!
Eight of those women indicated that they're ready to wave the white flag and admit that controlling their own lives, doing what they wanted to do at any given moment was what landed them in the slammer in the first place. They have decided to re-think this business of life and now want to try to do it God's way. They are learning that they need HIM to make life sane.
Good for them. I hope that desire is strengthened by the support of those regular visits from their new "on the outside" friends. I heard plans of arranging help for them once they are released.
I'm thinking that sometimes JAIL might be the very best place for a person. These women are removed from bad influences, distractions, abuse, confusion, horrible family situations, and the many opportunities to break the law. They are relatively safe physically.
They have lots of time to think. And some ARE thinking, regretting the past, trying to live peaceably in the present, fearing the future.
Hard work is being done in that jail. Most accomplishments are invisible, progress is taking place in hearts and minds.
Pain is hard but it certainly teaches people reality.