‘I really enjoyed lunch. That was a great Mexican restaurant. Thanks so much for inviting me, but most of all, thanks for listening. I love you Alisa,’ Sierra said as she drove out of their garage headed back to her parent’s house for the night.
Sierra rehashed the happenings of the day as she began the twenty-minute drive back to her parent’s house. Her anxiety had settled down, her heart was more free, she knew that when she turned on the radio and began scanning the channels for a good song. Sierra was so thankful Alisa was there.
‘Way down yonder on the somethin’ another - no one knows how much that dog named – blacky means to me...’ Sierra sang at the top of her lungs to as many words to the song as she could remember. The ones she didn’t remember, she just threw in her own words, she just felt like singing.
When she made it to the house, Stan and Judith had already gone to bed. Sierra was tired, and she was glad. She was not ready for another sleepless night. She jumped back in that blue shower for a few minutes, this time she washed her face too, threw those footie pajamas back on, and curled up in her bed. She was asleep before she finished praying.
‘Good morning, good morning, good morning, it’s time to rise and shine. Good morning, good morning, good morning, I hope you’re feeling fine, good morning, good morning, good morning, it’s time to start your day, so raise your head, get out of bed, stand up and shout hooray! Rachael sang with enthusiasm in an effort to wake Sierra up. Oh my goodness, some things never change! What are you doing Rachael?’ Sierra chided as she pulled the pillow over the top of her head. ‘Get up you sleepy head. It’s almost nine o’clock. We have a busy day!’ Rachael said. ‘We are picking Trisha up and going to New Orleans for the day so get up and get dressed. Didn’t you get our messages, we called last night and left you messages about what we were going to do.’ Rachael said as she pulled the covers completely off of the bed. ‘Ummmm, no, I was so tired when I came in last night that I didn’t even notice. I’m sorry! I can get ready really fast. I took a shower last night, so I just have to fix my hair.’ Sierra grumbled. ‘Just throw a hat on for crying out loud, open your eyes and look at me. I sure didn’t doll up for you. Just get dressed and let’s go.’ Rachael persisted.
Sierra slid out of the bed and into the bathroom, she was about to brush her teeth when it dawned on her, ‘Grayson was in New Orleans, maybe he could meet them for lunch. But, would that be too forward, too awkward?’ She would ask her Mom.
Throwing her clothes on, deciding to just go with jeans and a t-shirt with a windbreaker since it would probably be pretty warm in New Orleans, and throwing on an LSU cap, Sierra was ready to go. ‘I will put my make-up on in the car on the way there,’ she said. ‘Hold on just a second, I need to ask my Mom something real quick,’ Sierra said and then knocked on Judith’s bedroom door.
‘Come in – I am just drying my hair,’ Judith called out. ‘Rachel and I are going to pick Trish up and go to New Orleans for the day. I wanted to let you know before I left.’ Sierra said respectfully. ‘I think that will be fun, thanks for letting me know,’ Judith replied. Sierra proceeded to ask her Mother if she thought it was too forward, or awkward to call Grayson while they were in New Orleans and see if he wanted to have lunch with them. Sierra was sure that Rachael and Trish would want to meet him after she finished telling them her story.
‘Ummm, let me think about that one for a minute,’ Judith said with a puzzled look on her face like she had some better idea. ‘What if I call Pastor Allen and tell him that you are going to be in New Orleans today; then he can call Grayson at the seminary, tell him you are there, and see if he asks where you will be. If he does, Pastor Allen can tell him what you are doing, and give him the option to show up where you are - thinking you won’t be expecting it.’
‘Well Mom, you are quite the schemer aren’t you,’ Sierra said. ‘How will he know where to tell Grayson we will be?’ she asked. ’Silly, Pastor Allen will tell Grayson you are going to be some place at some particular time; then he will call me with that information. I will call you on Rachael’s phone, I have her number in my caller id and you make sure you ‘happen’ to be there at that time,’ she explained.
‘If you don’t hear from me, then it didn’t work out.’ Judith said. ‘Well, that sounds like a plan,’ Sierra said with nervous excitement still not believing that her mother is playing cupid. Sierra asked Rachael if she was sure she had her phone as they headed out the door. She could not wait to tell her on the way why that was such an important issue on a day like this. ‘Yes, I have it, no worries,’ said Rachael as she glared at Sierra.
Sierra knew exactly what that glare meant. Rachael was offended that she would even suggest that she had not brought her phone. She was a perfectionist about those things. ‘Anyway; Rachael, who’s keeping Presley today?’ she said in an effort to let the air out of the situation. ‘My mom and dad wanted to take her to the zoo, so I thought today would be as good a day as any, that way we could spend the day together without worrying about her getting tired.’ Rachael announced with pride. She always liked to have a plan, and when her plan worked out it was always that much better for her, and everyone else around her too, for that matter.
Rachael picked up her phone as she drove out of the Bradley’s driveway. She called Trish to let her know they were finally on their way, making sure she included the fact that Sierra was still in the bed upon her arrival, and the fact that she had not heard their messages the day before. Sierra felt incompetent, as usual. Rachael had not changed one bit, but Sierra loved her for it.
‘So, I can’t tell you how glad I am that you finally came home from the Air Force,’ Rachael began. ‘I have had so many days that I would have loved to just sit around and drink tea, or go to a movie, or something, just anything, but you were nowhere around,’ she continued. ‘Now, if I have a day, at least you are close enough that I can at least see your face once in a while,’ she finished as she reached over and grabbed Sierra’s cheeks and shook them between her fingers as if to make a sweet gesture of friendship.
‘Trish is waiting for us at the end of her driveway. I think she is anxious to see you,’ Rachael and Sierra laughed out loud. Trisha was not known for her patience; that was certain. She wasn’t as demanding as Rachael, but she definitely did not like to wait. Rachael was; of course, joking about Trish being at the end of her driveway. It was an inside joke between the girls from when they were in high school. Rachael and Sierra had been about fifteen minutes late getting to her house one Friday night, and when they finally showed up, Trish was standing out by the road so that they would not have to take the time to drive up the driveway. She was tired of waiting! It has been a joke amongst them ever since.
When they arrived at the apartment complex, Trish was not at the end of the road, but she was standing at the door waiting to lock it when they pulled up. She pulled the door shut and ran to the passenger side of the car to steel a hug from Sierra. ‘Ohhhhh, it’s so good to see you again. I have missed you soooo much!’ Trish squealed as she squeezed Sierra with all of her might. ‘It is just not the same without you here, I am so happy that we could all take the day and go to New Orleans. It will be so much fun.’
‘Get in the car Trish, we need to go, you can talk all the way to New Orleans,’ Rachael said as she put the car in reverse.
‘So, Sierra, what’s been going on with you? We need to get caught up,’ said Trish from the back seat. ‘Well, that’s a loaded question, Trish. Do you want me to give you the short version or the long version?’ Sierra responded with a playful tone.
‘Just give us the scoop on PJ, that’s the part we really want to hear,’ Rachael said without hesitation. Sierra started from the beginning, knowing she had a two hour trip to New Orleans to tell her story. ‘Where should I begin,’ she said aloud as she pondered the idea of starting the whole story off with the phone call from PJ.
’Well, a lot has happened in the past two days that you are not even going to believe. By the time I get finished with my story you will probably think your friend has finally gone over the deep end.
PJ and I were doing fine when I left the base last week. I was headed home; he was leaving out for a three week training course for the 82nd Airborne. We had every intention of meeting half way when he got out of training so that we could see each other. It would only be about a three hour drive for each of us, so it wouldn’t be too bad.
Well, he called me Sunday night and said that he was going to take leave for the week after his training and ride his bike down to Louisiana because he had something he wanted to give me, and he wanted to meet my family, and he said that he thought he loved me.’ Sierra reminded Rachael and Trisha at this point that PJ was not the ‘meet the family, drive to Louisiana to give you something’ type.
‘I truly didn’t know how to respond to him, so I told him to call me back that night. You see, if he had called me the day before, I would have been on cloud nine. I would have been in town looking at wedding rings without a doubt.’ Sierra explained.
‘Awwww, that is sooo sweet,’ Trish interjected from the back seat. ’But that’s just it, he didn’t call the day before, and that morning, before he called something transformational happened in my life. ’I went to church with my Mom to sing the special in the morning service, and I met this guy named Grayson Raines.
The only thing I know to say about him is that he made me a believer in love at first sight. I don’t know, something just happened to me the moment I laid my eyes on him, and it has not stopped. I think it has changed my life forever. I have had encounters, but never one like this. I truly believe that my chance encounter with Grayson was a God thing. He was the reason I couldn’t talk to PJ. He rocked my world.’ Sierra admitted.
‘Oh, I am sooo jealous,’ Trisha said with a sigh. ‘What was it that got you all love struck?’ Rachael asked. Sierra tried to explain that it wasn’t his cover model body, or his piercing blue eyes, although those definitely drew her attention, it was something supernatural that drew her to him. It was God, and that was made clear to her over the course of the following twenty-four hours of ‘cleaning her glove box out.’ Sierra took time to explain to her friends what that cliché was about.
’I broke it off with PJ, I broke my cigarettes in half and threw them in the garbage, I emptied my secrets out before the Lord, and now I am free. I am forgiven, and I am fillable with what God wants to pour into me. I really believe that Grayson is a gift from God that I had to be ready to receive, so God has taken the past two days of my life and purged me of everything ‘me,’ so that he can start over with His plan for my life,’ Sierra spilled it out to them.
‘So, when can we meet this cover model guy?’ Trisha queried. ‘Well, actually there is a possibility you can meet him today if everything works out.’ Sierra said with a grin. ‘How today, we are going to New Orleans,’ Rachael prodded. Sierra jeered back at Rachael telling her that it just so happens that Grayson Raines is already in New Orleans and if he chooses to do so, we have the opportunity to be in the same place that he will be today at a given time.
‘What in the world are you talking about Sierra,’ Rachael begged. Sierra explained the plan that Judith had concocted before they left her house. So, just keep your phone turned on. If he decides to meet me somewhere, my mom will call your phone. She will tell you where we need to be, and at what time. If not, we will just enjoy the day anyway. Sierra said that, but she was really thinking about how crazy her nerves were going to be all day long waiting for that phone to ring.
‘Well what does he look like,’ Trisha could not stand to be left in the dark, she wanted to know everything. ’He is not quite six feet tall if I was guessing. He has brown hair that is kind-of wavy, his eyes are crystal blue, and when he stares at me I feel like they are going to burn a hole through me.
He looks like Mr. America, I know you think I am joking, but I am not. He is like two- hundred pounds of solid muscle. He looks like a super hero. I had to pinch myself when I first met him to see if I was dreaming. I am still not sure what he does to get his body like that, I hope to ask him the next time we meet. He asked me to show up for church early tomorrow night. He wants to talk.
‘How old is this guy?’ Rachael asked. Sierra truthfully did not even know how old he was, she told Rachael that she supposed he was about 26, but she was not sure. She said that she knew he was out of college, because he was attending the seminary, but she was not even sure what his degree was in and when he graduated, or from what University. Sierra felt a bit embarrassed that she was telling her friends she had fallen for a guy and she didn’t know anything about him, not even know how old he was.
‘All I know is that I am drawn to him like a piece of metal to a magnet. After two years of dating PJ, my entire focus is totally and completely shifted and it was of no coercion of my own.’ Sierra explained.
’No matter what happens from this day forward, God used Grayson to change my life, to get me back on track for the plans he created me for. I really believe that God intends for me to marry him, but if I am wrong, he still will be a forever part of my testimony because the moment I met him my life was literally transformed from the inside out. I see the world differently.
I see my life differently, I make decisions differently, my desires are different; my focus is different. I guess it is safe to say I am a totally new person. You remember that verse from Bible Drills, ‘2 Corinthians 5:17: If any man is in Christ he is a new creation, old things are passed away, and behold, all things become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17.’
Well that is my new life story. That is exactly what happened to me yesterday, the old ‘me’ is gone and God has totally remade me and set me on a new course. That’s the only way I know how to explain it.’
Sierra’s story was interrupted by the sound of the LSU fight song roaring from Rachael’s purse. ‘Oh, it’s my phone, can someone grab that, I can’t get it while I am driving,’ Rachael demanded. Sierra dug into the side pocket of Rachael’s purse, pulled out her phone, and noticed it was her Mom calling. She was so excited she could hardly speak, ‘Hello, Mom, is that you?’ Sierra answered nervously. ’Yes, it is me. Hey, Grayson did call back and Pastor Allen told him that you would be at the River Walk near the fountain at two o’clock this afternoon. So – make sure you are there and don’t act like you knew he was coming.
‘Thank you! Mother, you are a genius! I owe you one! Well, I owe you a bunch, but thank you so much! I am so excited!’ Sierra could hardly contain her excitement.