‘I will just take a shower in the morning,’ she thought as she walked into the house and headed to the back bedroom. She wondered if she could make herself go to sleep with all of the hype she was feeling. Her adrenaline was at an all-time high. She felt like she could run to the moon and back, but she needed to get to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a full day.
Sierra tossed and turned for a while, trying to settle down. She prayed thanking God for what he was doing in her life – even though she could not try to explain it. The next thing she knew, the alarm clock was buzzing. It was time to get up. Sierra felt like she had only been in the bed for a few minutes.
She walked into the kitchen where Judith was fixing breakfast for Stan. ‘Up and at-um, you have a long day ahead of you,’ she said. ‘Yeah, I am going to go by and get something for Andrea before I go to the hospital. Are you sure you don’t want to go with me? I could drop you off at the mall or something while I go for the interview,’ she suggested.
‘Well you know, I was headed to the hospital today anyway, so I guess that could work out perfectly,’ she decided. ‘Will you have time to do that? I wouldn’t want you to be late for your interview,’ she insisted. ’Right now it is only seven-thirty. I don’t have to be there until ten,” she said positively. ‘Ok; well, let me get your dad off to work and I will get ready and go with you. That will be more fun anyway,’ Judith insisted.
Sierra was glad her mom was going to go with her. She could hardly wait to tell her about what happened last night. Sierra grabbed a box of cereal as she thought about what she should wear for the interview. ‘Should I wear a dress or pants today?’ she asked Judith. Without having to think about it Judith responded, ‘I think what you wore to the job office was perfect. Why don’t you just wear that again? You will not be over dressed – and you will not be underdressed in that outfit. That looks like something a person working at a bank would wear anyway.’ ’That’s a good idea. I will just go with that, Sierra agreed.
Stan walked in the kitchen on his way out the door to work. ‘Good luck with your interview today – man, what time did you get home? We waited up for you as long as we could, then we had to call it a night.’ He harassed dramatically. ‘What in the world were ya’ll doing at the Preacher’s house till midnight? I didn’t think anything exciting went on over there,’ he laughed.
‘Sabrina has a game that one of her friends made for her. We were playing that game. We made cookies and popcorn, and then we just talked. It was fun,’ she recapped. ‘So Grainey was glad you were there, huh?’ Stan remarked. Sierra laughed at her dad and told him that he seemed to be very glad she was there. ‘Are you sure you want to get all mixed up with a preacher type?’ He asked with a serious tone in his voice, and a joking look of his face. ‘You know what they say about those preacher boys...’ he laughed. ’No, daddy, I don’t know. What do ‘they’ say about those preacher boys?’ she asked. ‘You’ve just gotta watch out for um’ that’s all,’ Stan winked, patted Sierra on the back, grabbed his lunch box, and headed out the door saying, ‘You girls have a great day and tell Andrea I am thinking about her.’
‘He is so funny. How does he come up with some of the stuff he says,’ Sierra asked with a chuckle. ‘That’s just Stan,’ Judith replied. ‘When God made him, He broke the mold.’
‘Okay, let’s hurry up and get ready. I want to hear about how your visit with Grayson went.’ Judith said with haste.
As the grandfather clock struck nine o’clock, Judith and Sierra were walking out the door. ‘So, start from the beginning, how was the dinner?’ Judith asked with anticipation.
‘I was so nervous, but when I got to the Allen’s house, Grayson was not there. He had gone with Pastor Allen to the grocery store to get ice. Because of that, I had a minute to prepare myself and I felt a bit more at ease. When they finally walked in, Pastor Allen was really good about breaking the ice. He had bags and bags of drinks and snacks. It was funny because Sabrina told him not to get all of that stuff and he got it anyway.’ She began.
‘Grayson finally came in and plopped himself right up on the countertop and watched everything I was doing to help Sabrina get the food ready. He was flirting. He told me I looked cute, and stood all close to me when we were getting the glasses to put on the table. I was having a hard time catching my breath!’ she laughed.
’We had lasagna. It was pretty good. Grayson went on over to the church to get ready for the youth and I helped Sabrina clean up the kitchen. Afterward, Sabrina suggested I keep my car parked at their house and stay a while after church. So, we walked over. When I got to the youth room, some boys were aiming a water hose at me. I turned to run and Grayson was blocking my way. See, I told Grayson that if he promised not to shoot me down with a water hose I would go in with the youth again that night. He was playing a practical joke on me. I really believe if we had not been inside of the church building he would have allowed them to spray me.
Anyway, he preached a marvelous message on purity from the story of Joseph. I guess it has been a while since I have been in church listening to messages, so maybe anything would have seemed good to me, but I am telling you he brought things out of that story with Potiphar’s wife that I had never even considered would apply to teenagers and the peer pressures they face.
I really enjoyed it.
After church was over and I came in and talked to you for a minute, then we walked back over to the Allen’s house. They joked around with me because they had heard about the water hose stunt Grayson pulled. He defended himself saying that it was the teenager’s idea. I was just glad I didn’t actually get wet.
We got to the house, and I found out that Grayson is on a strict diet with his work out plan. We made cookies and popcorn and had all kinds of drinks, but he didn’t eat any of it. He drank water the whole night! I told him it was too bad he didn’t like to go get hot donuts at midnight because that was one of my favorite things to do. He laughed and said he would go if they had an apple filled donut.
Sierra had a neat game for us to play. It was some kind of board with cards on it that you divide up into teams and try to get five in a row –twice. We played a couple of times before the Allen’s went on to bed. Grayson and I were going to play a round of the game by ourselves before I went home, but when they went to bed – he started to talk earnestly to me. He put his hand on mine and would not let it go.
‘What did he talk to you about?’ Judith inquired with intensity. ’It was really amazing, it was like he opened my heart and stole the feelings and thoughts right out of my very being. He is a ‘cut to the chase’ kind of guy, that’s for sure. He basically said that it was obvious to both of us that something was happening between us and he had prayed about it all week. He said that God deals with him very directly, and when the ‘writing is on the wall’ it is hard for him to ignore it,’ she went on.
’I guess you are his ‘writing on the wall,’ this time huh,’ Judith said with a confident glow. ’I guess so! He said that he was preoccupied with thoughts of me all day on Monday. When he found out that I was going to be in New Orleans on Tuesday he skipped his second class to go to the River Walk and look for me. He said he was itching to see me. He said that he was open with Rachael and Trisha because he felt that God wanted me to learn more about him, and he had invited me to stay after church so that he could learn more about me.
‘Wow! What did you tell him?’ she asked. ‘At first I just listened. He was so passionate with his words that it sounded almost like a rehearsed speech. He said he wanted to know everything about me. He started asking questions and I tried to answer them the best way I could. I’m telling you, it was a real soul searching time for me and Grayson didn’t even realize it. He asked some simple questions like -what was my favorite color, and why I joined the Air Force. But then he asked me a question I didn’t quite know how to answer,’ Sierra admitted.
‘What was it?’ Judith could not contain her eagerness to know more as she gripped the edge of her seat with anticipation of Sierra’s answer. She went on, ’You know he has a degree in Psychology. Well I felt like he was reaching deep into my soul to dig out something that would not normally surface. I felt like he was trying to get me to reveal any secrets I may have so that we could deal with them right then and there. He said, ‘If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?’
‘I felt vulnerable enough to just tell him my entire life story without hesitation. You know more than anyone that I would never even consider doing such a thing with anyone else in the world. I wanted to, but...I didn’t. I thought about all of the things that happened when I was fifteen, and about the struggles I faced later being a woman in the military, but I did not spout off with an answer right away. I tried to use wisdom and discernment to let him know that although bad things happen sometimes, how we view those things will determine their outcome. I told him that I could tell him some sob-stories, but I that I felt it was more important for him to know who I am now, and how far I have come rather than all the dirt. I almost felt like he already knew some of it and wanted to get my version of what he had already heard,’ she explained.
‘Mom, you will never know how much the words you spoke to me after that incident transformed my way of thinking, and my whole outlook on life. You are the reason I can be an overcomer in any situation life throws my way,’ she disclosed. ‘What did I say,’ Judith asked as she pondered that conversation in her mind. ’You told me that I could look at my situation from two different angles. I could either take a, ‘why me’ approach to the whole ordeal, or I could realize that this had happened, today was a new day, and I could move on knowing that ‘no weapon formed against me shall prosper.’ You used the example of a family whose house burned down. You painted a picture for me of the ruins, and the sense of loss they would feel at having everything they had worked for go up in flames,’ she reminded Judith of her words.
You said, ’No matter what that family does, there is nothing they can do to recover or replace most of what they lost in the fire. They have to pick themselves up, move past it and start over. They have each other, and they have learned that is all that really matters when it is all said and done. You told me that I had experienced a similar loss in my own life, and what had been ‘burned’ would never be the same, but today is a new day and I can face it with confidence because I am here, I am alive, and the enemy did not win!’
The trials I faced in the Air Force could have been the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back.’ I always thought lightening didn’t strike twice in the same place, but I was strong because those same words resonated within my very being. I truly am an overcomer and it is largely because of you. So – thank you mom. If I never told you that before, I am telling you know. Thank you!’
Sierra said as she looked over at Judith who had a tear rolling down her cheek.
‘I love you honey, you know that,’ Judith said while trying not to choke-up. ‘So, if you didn’t tell him the dirt, what did you tell him?’ She asked. “I told him that I would not change a thing about my life, even if I could, because the experiences I have had, both good and bad, have worked together to make me the person I am today. I told him that everybody alive has things that they would rather not have lived through – but those things should make, not break a person.’
‘I am so proud of you. You are wise beyond your years my dear,’ Judith said in admiration. ‘So then what happened?’ She pressed for the story to continue. Well, he was floored by answer to that question. It was almost as if he didn’t know how to respond.
‘He said that I could not have given a better answer. Then he asked me for a picture. He said that he had told everyone he knew at the seminary about me and he wanted to show them a picture.’ ‘I actually had a few pictures in my car left over from the ones I had made at the beginning of the year, so I told him I would give him one when we went out to the car before I left,’ she explained.
‘His last question was surely unexpected if I do say so myself, but welcome nonetheless,’ Sierra said while attempting to hold back a smile. ‘What? What did he ask you?’ Judith blurted out. ’He said that he has to go to Tennessee next week for his cousin’s wedding. He said that his parents just have to meet me, and that he would feel honored if I would go with him! Can you believe that? He is asking me to come meet his family. PJ avoided that situation like the plague. I am not used to this. What if they don’t like me? I am going to ask the lady at the job interview if I can start the following week so that I can go. If she agrees, then I will have my answer!’ Sierra said with a giddy look.
’Then, he asked if he could hug me. Can you believe that? He actually said, ‘Do you mind if I give you a hug!’ I was thinking, ‘Do I mind...I was hoping for more than that.’ He was such a gentleman. He pulled me to his chest and held me there for a long time, brushing my hair with his hand. I could hear his heart pounding as I rested my head against him. I could smell his cologne, and I even asked him what kind it was. Ha! He said knowing I like it he will wear it every day!
Anyway, when he stopped hugging me, he reached out and put his hands on the sides of my head and kissed my forehead real sweet. I felt like I was going to pass right out! Literally, I could barely walk around the car to drive home. I rolled down the window on my way out and he invited me to the youth car wash on Saturday. He said he would pick me up around ten that morning. He may call before then, but I don’t really expect him to.
‘Goodness Sierra, it sounds like we need to go dress shopping - and I don’t mean to wear to church on Sunday!’ Judith said in reply to Sierra’s awe inspiring story. ‘Hey, that would be fun. Why don’t we do it just for the fun of it after I get finished at the bank?’ Sierra was delighted with the idea. ‘I wish Andrea could go with us, she used to work at that Bridal Boutique across town. She would know the good ones to try on. Well, we will just go have fun with it, why not?’ Judith seemed more excited about the whole situation than Sierra was.
‘Do you just want me to drop you off at the mall while I go downtown, or do you want to walk around the Capital building instead? I don’t expect this to take very long. Today is just an initial interview, I won’t start the job today,’ Sierra asked. ‘Actually, it is a beautiful day to walk around the Capital grounds, I think that will be a great idea, and anyway it is really close to the bank. You can just park in one spot and I will meet you back at the car when you are done,’ Judith agreed.
The Louisiana State Capital was known for its beautiful gardens, and scenic overlook onto the Mississippi River. Sierra remembered going there on field trips when she was a kid in school. She loved the rolling hills, and the big cannon that sat on top of the highest one. She remembered a bell that always reminded her of the liberty bell that sat at the bottom of one of the hills. The building itself is thirty-four stories high. She remembered how scared she would be when they rode the elevator to the top and looked out over the city from the viewing area with the wind blowing in her hair. The whole area was like an escape from reality. The horse-drawn carriages gave the whole area a ‘take you back in time’ feeling.
’Ok mom, I will park right here. Just keep an eye on the car periodically, and when I get finished, that’s where I will be waiting for you. Have fun!” she said as she put a few quarters into the parking meter on the curb. As Sierra turned to face the bank towers, she was surprisingly confident. ‘Lucille Watson, here I come,’ she said aloud with a snicker as she made her way to the entrance.
‘My name is Sierra Bradley. I am here for a meeting with Lucille Watson. She told me to check in at the front desk and I would be directed to the appropriate office,’ Sierra said as she attempted to sound professional. ‘Yes, Mrs. Bradley, right this way. Lucille is expecting you.’ The older lady in a pink over-coat said as she took off down the corridor gesturing Sierra to follow. The walked to the elevator, and went down one floor. In such a tall building, Sierra half expected to go up, but if she was going to work in the vault, it made perfect sense to go down instead.
‘If you will have a seat in this waiting area, I will let Mrs. Watson know that you are here,’ the lady spoke in a sweet voice. Sierra sat upright and crossed her legs as not to appear slouchy. After about five minutes, a distinguished black woman, apparently in her late thirties, walked out of the office with a beautiful smile, moved toward Sierra with her had held out, and said, ‘Hello, you must be Miss Bradley. I am Lucille Watson and I am so glad you are here today. If you will step right into my office, I would love to talk with you.’
‘It is very nice to meet you too,’ Sierra replied as she stood, shook Mrs. Watson’s hand, and walked into her office. ‘Have a seat, make yourself comfortable. Can I get you anything to drink?’ Lucille said in an effort to relieve any tension Sierra may have felt. ‘No – thank you. I am fine,’ Sierra replied with quiet poise.
‘Judging from your profile from the job agency, you are more than qualified for the position we are attempting to fill. I was actually excited to see that you are multi-talented,’ Lucille started off the interview with complimentary words that made Sierra feel some of the pressure relieved. ‘We went through the agency because we knew they would narrow the choices for us better than we could adequately do it ourselves. For that reason, the job is listed with the agency as a temporary, two week position. However, in the event that you are able to do the job as well as we anticipate, the opportunity will be available for you to become an employee of the bank directly, rather than a temp,’ she divulged.
‘What exactly does the job entail?’ Sierra asked. ’I was just about to get into that, so I am glad you asked. We have a huge vault on this floor. I will take you there in a few minutes. Important records are kept there, such as deeds to properties, inheritance entitlements, titles, wills, and such. Often individuals, family members, lawyer’s offices and such will check out the documents for various reasons. Authorized individuals only can take the actual documents, and they must sign a form before doing so. Other individuals who are listed as having access only to the files can sign to have a copy of a document in the vault, but are not permitted to take the original. Your job would be to monitor those requests, and keep those records. You would also be expected to re-file all of the removed documents at the end of each business day in the proper place. You have a copy machine that will be used to photocopy documents for authorized customers, and a logbook for the date, time, and specific document that was photocopied, then the authorized taker will sign for the copy. It is a very organized system because many of these are sensitive, legal documents that could really cause a problem if handled improperly.
And that is about it,” Lucille explained. ‘We have three other employees who work in this office area, so you will not be down here alone. You will, however be the only one authorized to sign out documents or copies of documents. This alleviates the possibility that a document of high priority would go missing,’ she expressed.
‘So, if you don’t have any questions about that, we can head on back to my office and talk a little bit more about the details,’ Lucille guided. Sierra followed Lucille to the office while she rehearsed in her mind how she would ask Lucille about the possibility of starting the job after the trip to Tennessee that she so wanted to make with Grayson.
As Lucille sat back down behind her desk she said, ’Now, the job itself will not actually start until a week from Monday. The last employee left the vault in much disarray. We have two of our people who are familiar with the vault working diligently to get things back in order, but it is going to take them some time. So, if you can start with us a week from Monday, everything should be in perfect order. Our expectation is that you will work to keep it that way. If we are pleased with your performance after the first two weeks, I will meet back with you about the transition from the temporary office to becoming a permanent employee with benefits and the whole ball of wax. Does that sound good?” Lucille asked.
‘Yes, actually that sounds great,’ Sierra responded in an attempt to hamper her excitement. ‘Okay then, we will see you in about ten days. Thank you for coming!’ Lucille said as she reached out to shake Sierra’s hand one last time.
As Sierra walked back through the corridor, she had a skip in her step. She got a job in a bank that would probably become permanent with benefits, and it doesn’t start until after the trip to Tennessee with Grayson. ‘How perfect is that,’ she shouted as she ran across the street to her car.
She didn’t see Judith anywhere, so she found a cast-iron bench near her parking spot and took a seat figuring she would show up before long. ‘We could go find a gift for Andrea, stop by the hospital for a while. Then, we can go get some lunch and do the dress thing before we go home. That should be fun,’ she thought as she waited for her mom.
‘Hey mom!’ She shouted as she saw Judith across the field from where she was sitting. ‘Hey, how did it go?’ Judith said as she made her way towards the car. ‘It went really well. Are you ready to go, or do you still want to look around?’ Sierra asked in an effort not to rush her. ‘Oh, you know how it is, you could stay here all day and get lost in the serenity of the place, but all good things must come to an end. Anyway, we need to get on down to the hospital if we are going to go play dress-up. I don’t want to be gone when your daddy gets home from work.’ She replied. Sierra told her all about the job interview, the perfect timing of the start date, the possibility of the temporary position becoming permanent, and about the benefits. ‘I don’t think things can get any better than they are at this very moment of my life,’ Sierra said as she drove toward the hospital.
‘I am so excited for you. It seems like you are just right where God wants you to be, and He is just opening those windows of heaven and pouring out blessings all over you girl.’ Judith bubbled.