I have done many things in my life prior to retiring from Troy University as an educator and many things since retirement. God has richly blessed me in life and carried me through some deep valleys. Little did I know in June, what God had in store for me and the valuable connections He would put together that would be a life line for me and my family. I was enjoying refreshments after a wonderful program at our ladies’ monthy meeting (GLOW- God’s Love on Women), when the husband of our hostess, Jack Carter, came into the house and greeted everyone. Jack held up a Fly Right brochure and said a few words about it and asked if anyone wanted a brochure. No one raised their hand except for me. I was right by Jack and told him that I would like to have one.
I took it home and read through it. It was close to the Gadsden Jail ministry visit. I contacted Jim Harris for the first time, asked him about the ministries of Fly Right, the Gadsden visit, etc. The Gadsden visit was filled because it was so close to the time when I received the brochure. I was encouraged by Jim to be a part of the ministries. Throughout the summer, I thought about it, read all the information about the up-coming Tutwiler visit in November. I became very interested and felt like God was tugging on my heart. I asked Jim if there were any women going because I did not want to be the only one. He assured me that there would be and that it would be a blessing. He sent names of three women. I talked to all three and to Holly from LA and Angie for a long time. Each told me what a blessing it would be. I began to seriously think about going and made reservations to at the hotel suggested. I told Jim that I had made my decision and would be going.
It was during that week that something happened in my family that would change our lives forever. Our 22-year-old granddaughter, a 5′ 1′, pretty, with a little girl-like frame had been in the Brookhaven Jail for prescription substance abuse. Almost on the very day that I told Jim I would be going to Tutwiler, my granddaughter was sentenced to 4 years in prison in Pearl, MS at CMCF. It was the day that shook my family when I received the call from my daughter who lives in Alabama. She was wailing and could not catch her breath. It all happened at the time that I was writing to Jim about participating in the Tutwiler visit. I wrote to Jim that my granddaughter had just been sentenced. We did not know where she was going or anything about her specifics at the time. He answered my email and asked me her name and anything thing I could tell him about her that he knew people in the prison system and they could check on her to see if she was OK and make sure she is going in the right direction. Then the GOD THING began to be realized by me and to take place. First, I wept! And then said, “How could I, personally be put in contact with someone who would know someone in the prison system where my precious granddaughter would be going?” My family knew it was a God Thing too!
My husband and I shared with our Sunday school class the Sunday before I left on Friday for the Tutwiler ministry. There were tears and prayers and I shared the first God Thing with them. Jack Carter, the man who gave me the brochure was sitting in the class.
I made it to Greenwood, checked in, and then headed to the Bistro to meet the team for the first time. I met Regina when I got there. She would be my new friend who was also a “freshman” with the ministry and I shared my room with her. I was sitting by Angie and I listened to her tell of the ministry to prisons. Saturday morning, I rode with Regina, Angie, and Nancy to Tutwiler. As we were riding, I listen to Angie and Nancy tell about the ministry they have in Rankin County at CMCF! I am almost jumping “out of my skin”. I am riding with the two ladies that minister at the same prison my granddaughter has been sent. On the way, I told them that I had a God Thing to share with them on the way back, but I would not share then.
The team is about to go out for the first time to the yards. I am given Josie, from Memphis, as my mentor. Nancy is sitting behind the desk. At that point, I had not mentioned my granddaughter to anyone. Jim passed by and said to me, “Elizabeth, Nancy will be the one who will let you know about your granddaughter”! Again, I was amost in disbelief! I had been riding with the person who would be ministering to my granddaughter! Another God Thing!
What a wonderful, blessed day we had. I was touched, brought to tears, blessed beyond any ministry I have ever experienced. If you don’t know me yet, I was the one who started out as a freshman with a mentor and said that I was preaching by the afternoon! Every man within the walls of Tutwiler is God’s creation. I will never forget that.
As we headed back to Greenwood, I shared my GOD THING with Regina, Angie, and Nancy, about taking a brochure from a man at my church, at a ladies’ meeting in JUNE, praying and deciding to participate in Fly Right, the tragedy that happened with my granddaughter in OCTOBER, Jim’s email, and me riding in the car with the two ladies that minister at CMCF! Nancy then said that she did not know when we drove out in the morning that Skylar was my granddaughter! I shared a picture of my granddaughter that was taken in September. At that point, Nancy took her phone and pulled up Skylar’s picture! She said that she would see her Wednesday in Bible study and give her a hug. I touched Nancy’s hand and arm and rubbed it with tears in my eyes and told her to tell Skylar that this from Nana.
And “folks”, like Paul Harvey, that is the rest of the GOD THING story. When Jim got to the Best Western, he asked me how I got the brochure. He does not know Jack Carter. Angie and Nancy told me to share my story with him. He said to share my story on Fly Right! Nancy reminded me yesterday in an email to be sure and tell my story. So here it is………………..my GOD Thing, how God put a brochure in my hand from Jack Carter, in June, connected me with Fly Right and Jim, and then with Angie and Nancy – none of which had anything to do with my granddaughter, but everything to do with God’s plan to ease my family’s hearts to a degree with my granddaughter. God is Good! Pray for my granddaughter and for my daughter. See you all in Mobile!
Skylar, at this point, is in a 10-12 month Drug and Rehab. The rest of the sentence is suspended IF everything goes well.