When she woke up, it was a new day. Not only because the sun had peeked over the horizon, but because she had decided to turn the page in her life story and move on. She could no longer live in the past. God was doing a new thing in her life and she knew she had to embrace it.
God placed Grayson in her path. It was no accident; even though he was a blessing she felt unworthy of. ‘I need to just embrace the gift God has given me,’ Sierra thought to herself before she climbed out of the bed to face the day.
Sierra not only needed to accept God’s forgiveness, she needed to forgive her self. She poured through her mind with a flood of ‘what-ifs’ as she headed to the bathroom. She should have boarded a plane to Greece on the very day she drove her little car to Louisiana after her discharge. She had a choice to make. Stay in the Air Force for another enlistment period and go to Greece to guard the American Embassy, or take her honorable discharge and go home. She chose to go home. Something deep in her gut told her that was the right choice. She knows now that ‘something’ was God.
If Sierra were to be honest; however, she would have to admit that she also chose to go home rather than to Greece because she was reluctant to move six thousand miles away from PJ. ‘What if that was supposed to work out,’ was what she thought as she deliberated her choice.
That thought was more than she wanted to deal with at the time. ‘If I go to Louisiana, at least PJ and I will be close enough to make a day trip and be together,’ that was her reasoning.
But, today she did not need to consider that as her motivation. She recognized above all that God was fulfilling His plan for her in spite of her foolishness. This was not about PJ, this was not about Sierra. This was only about what God was doing that was out of Sierra’s control.
‘Whoa, Sierra, you look like you have been run over by a truck,’ she thought as she walked around the corner of her old bedroom and caught a glimpse of her image in the back bathroom mirror. The mirror wrapped around the entire bathroom wall, giving no escape from the ghastly display. Her face was streaked with the residue of black mascara– apparently from the tears that fell from her eyes most of the night.
‘Wow, Sierra, you forgot to wash your face last night. Love really looks good on you,’ she said aloud as she laughed at herself. If her hair had been long enough, it would have been tied in knots, but since it wasn’t, it resembled a rat’s nest. ‘A shower will do wonders!’ She convinced herself as she pulled back the sky-blue shower curtain and turned on the faucet in the matching blue bathtub so that the water could get hot enough to start the shower.
‘What should I do today,’ she contemplated as she stood under the shower head in a steady stream of nearly blistering hot water. ‘With a car payment due next month, I should probably think about finding a job. Hmmm, where would be a good place to start?’ She wondered.
Sierra wanted to start school, but that possibility limited her job potential. She did not want go to college while working a fulltime job unless she absolutely had no other choice. Anyway, most ‘real jobs’ would require some sort of commitment. ‘I will talk to Mom about it, maybe she has an idea,’ she decided as she turned off the water and stepped out of the shower onto the fuzzy blue rug beside the toilet.
‘What were they thinking when they built this place, she thought to herself as she looked around. The bathtub is blue, the toilet is blue, the sinks and countertops are blue, the walls are covered in mirrors, and the floors are a muddy brown color. Well, at least it isn’t lime green and mustard yellow like in the kitchen at the church. I guess it could be worse,’ she thought as she wrapped herself in a sky blue towel from the cabinet.
‘Well, now that’s better,’ Sierra thought as she saw the refreshed image in the surrounding mirrors. He skin was blushing from the rejuvenating shower, but at least the mascara streaks had gone down the drain, and her head no longer looked like a pedestal with a bird nest sitting upon it.
Pulling on her purple footie pajamas and zipping up the front zipper, Sierra got tickled at herself again. ‘You look like a twelve year old Sierra,’ she thought. ‘Well, one of these days that is going to be a good thing,’ with that thought, she headed to the kitchen where Judith and Stan were already looking at the morning paper and sipping coffee.
‘Daddy, do you see any good jobs listed in the classified ads? I need to find one before my car payment comes due again,’ she said as she bounced over to where he was standing. ‘Let’s see,’ he said as he began flipping the pages to find the classifieds. ‘Uhhh, Pets, Lost and Found, Properties for Sale, Ahh! Here it is, help wanted, that’s what we need. Umm, physical therapist needed, must have two years of experience, Nurses wanted, nope neither of those will work. Telemarketers, ticket salesmen, grocery store clerk, Sierra, why don’t you just go down to one of those temporary work places and get a job through them until you find something you really like. They don’t pay a whole lot, but at least you would be doing something until the job you are looking for comes open,’ Stan suggested. ‘He always seems to have a great idea,’ Sierra thought. ‘Ok, I think I will, thanks dad,’ she said as she grabbed a couple of the giant, fluffy biscuits Judith had just pulled out of the oven.
‘I need to call Travis today. Yesterday I fell asleep when he was supposed to call,’ Sierra insisted. ‘Yes, actually he did call while you were asleep, but he didn’t want to wake you up. He said he would call back tonight or tomorrow. He is in the middle of a big training exercise on his base in New Mexico, so he isn’t free to call just any time.’ Judith explained.
‘Oh, I hate I missed him, so it isn’t a good idea for me to call him right now, I will just wait, surely he will call when he gets a chance,’ Sierra said with regret. ‘Thanks for the biscuits, they are really good,’ she said changing the subject.
Judith asked Sierra if she wanted a cup of coffee, but Sierra laughed and told her that was one thing that would probably never change. She hated coffee when she was a kid, and she still hates it now. ‘Whoever came up with the idea that you develop a taste for coffee as you get older must have been ninety years old with no more taste buds, that stuff is just nasty,’ Sierra proclaimed with disgust. Judith and Stan chuckled with delight. They were so thankful to have Sierra back in their home.
‘Okay then,’ Sierra announced, ’I will get ready and go to the temporary job office today and see what they can come up with for me. After that, I will probably give Rachel and Trisha a call. I haven’t seen them since I have been back. That reminds me, I need to go get a new phone today too. Anyway, we may go out for dinner and movie or something if they are up to it. I don’t know if I will be here for supper, so don’t worry about me. ‘That sounds great honey, you need to spend some time with your friends,’ Judith said in agreement.
‘Here we go again, what should I wear? It’s a job interview, maybe I should dress up a bit. I don’t want to overdo it, maybe some slacks and a sweater would do the trick,’ Sierra considered her options as she made her way to her suitcases.
’I need to get all of this stuff put up somewhere tonight. I hate to take over the closet, but I can’t just leave everything in the suitcases either. I am sure mom and dad won’t take offense if I unpack. I don’t want them to think I am just going to move back in and take advantage of them after having been out of their home for four years. As soon as I find a ‘real job’ and get my feet on the ground I will find my own place, I am sure they will understand that,’ Sierra trusted that they would. She decided she would discuss the matter with them after her visit to the job office today.
‘Red, I think I heard that red is never a good color to wear for an interview, it is too … well, flashy. I think it is best to wear gray. Let’s see, what do I have that is gray?’ Sierra thought as she looked through her better clothes. ‘Well, here’s a gray sweater vest, maybe that will work, it is really more of a charcoal color, so if I put a black turtleneck under it with some black slacks and a pair of leather boots that should do the trick,’ Sierra felt confident in her choice of attire.
‘Now, what are the chances that I can dry and roll my hair and it turn out looking exactly the way it looked last night? I think slim to none, but I am going to give it a shot,’ she smirked as she looked once again at her towel-dried hair in the menagerie of mirrors.
‘Do you need me to iron something for you Sierra,’ her mother said as she walked down the hallway toward the back bathroom. ’Well, if you want to run an iron over these slacks that would be great. Thanks! I really appreciate it mom.
Sierra was not used to having someone to help her. It was nice. As Judith gathered Sierra’s clothes off of the bed, she noticed the boots she planned to wear were a bit scuffed. ‘Your dad will polish your boots for you while you get ready,’ Judith said with sincere desire to help out. ‘I feel so humbled, thank you so much,’ Sierra didn’t really know what to say, so a simple thank you would have to do.
Once the rollers were taken out of her newly dried hair, Sierra did the best she could to replicate the style from the day before. ‘Close enough,’ she sighed as she took one last look in the mirror before getting dressed in her newly pressed clothes and Marine shined boots. ‘Mother, you don’t have some kind of necklace I can wear with this outfit that would make it look more, I don’t know, professional, do you?’ Sierra inquired of Judith as she walked into the living room with her purse as if she was ready to go.
Sierra knew the answer to her question before she even asked it. Judith was a connoisseur of costume jewelry. She had an entire dresser filled with earrings and necklaces rather than clothes. Sierra was sure Judith would have something to fix her up in style. ‘Oh, I am sure I do, let me just go see what I can come up with. Do you want silver, or black, or do you want to add some color to what you are already wearing?’ Judith’s mind began to spin with ideas. She loved to help. It seemed to make her day if she could make someone else’s a bit brighter. That was just Judith.
‘Um, I think maybe something silver and black would be good if you have it. A long necklace that would come down far enough to touch the top of the sweater would be good,’ Sierra said. As Stan laced up his work boots, he asked Sierra, ‘What kind of job do you think you will go for?’ ‘I don’t know what they will even have to offer. I don’t want to go work in a fast food place or anything like that. If I can get a job at a bank, or as a secretary, or something along those lines it would be my choice until something more permanent comes open,’ she replied thoughtfully.
‘You know you could go be a cop, or work at the post office or something like that and you would not lose your time in service, and all of that training,’ he said. Sierra was waiting for that remark to come from her dad. She knew she could go back into Law Enforcement, but she really – really didn’t want to do that. She felt inadequate looking like a little girl playing dress up in a police uniform. She was afraid that in the ‘real world’ people would not take her seriously. ’Halt! Who goes there?” sounds more like a wind up doll than a threatening remark from a law officer coming out of her mouth. ‘Let me just explore my options before I go that route daddy,’ she voiced in reply to his suggestion.
‘Here you go sweetheart, I have red, orange, purple, silver and black. Pick whichever one you want, then you can have the rest of these too, you never know when you may need another color,’ her mother had such a giving heart. She would literally give the shirt off of her back to Sierra if she thought she would wear it. ‘Oh, mother, I don’t need all of these, just let me borrow the silver and black one today, that will work out perfectly,’ Sierra humbly replied.
‘Okay, but if you ever need any other color, you know where to find them,’ Judith said with a loving smile. Sierra really hoped her mom and dad never felt even a tiny sense that she was using them. She appreciated all that they were willing to do for her, but sometimes felt that she was asking too much. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. The words to that old song resonated within her soul as if they had dropped in her mind from nowhere. ‘Okay God, I get it, you want me to just be thankful,’ she thought as she looked up at the ceiling feeling as if she had been put in her place.
‘Alright then, I am ready to go. Wish me luck,’ Sierra said as she marched toward the door with her keys in her hand. ‘You will do great; honey, you look like a professional, just answer their questions, do your best, and be yourself, that’s all you can offer. God will do the rest,’ her mother’s words were encouraging, as usual. ‘I love you, and I will see you guys tonight when I get home. If Travis calls, tell him that I am going to try to get a phone today, so I will catch up with him as soon as I can,’ Sierra said as she rushed to her car.
Sitting in her car, Sierra took a long, deep breath before starting the engine. It seems that the rest of the world fades away every time she closes that driver’s side door. ‘It’s just you and me God. I don’t really know how to walk in this. You are going to have to teach me one step at a time. I want to please you from this day forward. Show me your way so that I can walk in it,’ she prayed earnestly as she lay against the headrest of the driver’s seat.
As if the voice was audible, she heard God speak to her at that moment. ‘Sierra, if you want to walk in my way, you can start by cleaning out your glove box right now before you go another step,’ the voice said. Sierra looked around, startled to see who was speaking to her. No one was there, at least no one that she could see. ‘Oh my goodness, the Holy Spirit just spoke to me - literally spoke to me and told me what to do,’ Sierra thought, on the verge of disbelief.
This was all new to her. ‘Can the Lord really talk to me like that,’ she thought. When suddenly the verse she had memorized, from Isaiah, Chapter 30, when she was a kid in Bible Drills, came to her remembrance. “Isaiah 30:2: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ Isaiah 30:2’ The verse came back to her memory as if she had learned it only yesterday and had just stepped forward to recite it in a Bible Drill competition.
’Wow, I feel like I am in a whirlwind. It must really be the time in my life that God wants me to become more than what I have been. Okay, Lord, let’s get that glove box cleaned out,” Sierra knew the idea of ‘cleaning the glove box out’ had more significance than simply discarding the items that it contained. It meant letting go of what her flesh still held on to. ‘God, if you are going to lead me to get this out of my life, I pray that you take the desire away from me completely right this very moment,’ she prayed as she opened the latch.
A box of cigarettes fell out of the glove box and landed on the seat. This habit started in Sierra’s life as a result of childish peer pressure, and had blossomed into a full-blown addiction during her time in the Air Force. This was that ‘window’ Grayson had spoken of the night before. She had no doubt. The window had already been shut on PJ, now it was time to shut this window of addiction.
Sierra picked up the unopened box of cigarettes, peeled off the wrapper, emptied the entire box into her hands, and broke them in half all at the same time. ‘Satan, you are not going to control me with this addiction any longer, I give this to you Lord, and I ask you to forgive me where I have failed you for so long.’ With that, Sierra opened the door, marched to the garbage can that sat beside the brick wall on the side of her parent’s carport, and brushed her hands of it.
’The desire immediately left her,” Sierra had heard so many horror stories of people trying to quit that she didn’t know how she would ever manage to do it, but with her obedience, God instantly and completely lifted the desire for a cigarette. God healed the addiction while she sat in her car - instantly. The desire of her heart must have been stronger than the desire of her flesh.