By Marjorie Eldred
Years ago my daughter and I learned first-hand the power in a simple Biblical command. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. “ I Thessalonians 5:18
We were both fighting depression. Bobbi’s wrong choices robbed us both of the freedoms we once enjoyed. A long prison sentence loomed ahead because of her controlled substance abuse. Drugs no longer ruled my daughter’s life, but the eight and one-half years behind bars during her thirties robbed her of the opportunity to have children of her own. I dreaded more years of driving long distances to spend an hour or two with her in a crowded visiting room.
Long years of frustrating shopping trips wore me down. No, she couldn’t have any red clothes; even though red had always been my favorite for her. Okay, maybe blue would work. No, it was too close to the color the officers wore. Could I get her a black top that would go with everything? No, black was never allowed. Could I purchase needed articles at Value Village and save a bit of the extra expense? No. All clothing must be new, and it must have the tags to prove it. She needed a coat to protect her during long hours spent standing exposed to weather while the officers counted the women over and over. Would the coat I loved, pink and white with a grey lining, do? No. Grey was being denied.
Any clothing sent in, if not approved, she must mail out. Her thirty-one cent per hour wages must stretch to cover all her lotions, shampoo, and health needs. Could she afford seven dollars to mail out a package? No way! But that’s what they charged.
Bobbi and I struggled for five years to adjust to the constant changing of prisons, rules, roommates and family tensions precipitated by her presence there. Heaviness of heart over those issues plus family health complications and deaths tempted us toward self pity.
Frustrations multiplied. Her sixth Christmas behind bars approached. We used one of our precious visits to come up with a plan. What decision did we make? Restrictions and limitations would no longer frame our lives. We would destroy their power by counting our blessings.
November, Year Six
Bobbi’s list began:
I Am Thankful For:
Daylight savings time happened. Now I’m able to read my Bible in sunlight instead of darkness.
I actually had clean sheets given to me at linen exchange. Sometimes they are dirty, or dusty.
The rain. The salmon need it, the wildlife need it, and skiers appreciate the snow.
No one was killed in the mud-slide event at Snoqualmie Pass.
I didn’t have to work today.
A new student attended exercise class today.
Mail. I got a letter from Mom and a sister in Christ.
No new rules today.
Some of the staff are approachable; they care, and it’s nice to see.
My Mom has been so good at sending pictures. Because of her pictures I wake up every morning smiling at my family.
I’m clean. I’m not “on the sheets” any more. I’m healing. I’m loved.
Gas prices have gone down so it doesn’t cost my family so much to visit me.
I have a voice. I like to sing.
I am doing better mentally this week. I’m not nearly as discouraged. My prayers are being answered. I’m more at peace.
Hi! This list is for you. It helped. Great idea. I will continue writing down things I’m thankful for. It helps me dwell on something more positive. I love you. I hope you are doing better, too. I’m praying for you, Grandma and CB. You’re the greatest of friends. I have a wonderful Mom, and mentor.
Yes, I felt better. My mood, thoughts, and imaginings improved. My energy levels increased and I accomplished more daily.
How wonderful we can turn our thoughts toward God and deepen our happiness.
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4