Last Visit

Today the boys and I experienced a “last” that I have dreamed of for the past three years. We made our last visit to Joel in the prison at Jesup! What an odd feeling it was to look at the overpriced vending machine food, and think, “I certainly won’t miss this.” As we drove home and put away all the paraphernalia from our day trip I couldn’t help but reflect on our first visit nearly three years ago.  Here is a portion of what I wrote in my journal after that first visit:

Visiting Joel at Jesup was so wonderful and agonizing at the same time. To touch his face, kiss him, and see him hold the boys was so precious. But to know that long drives, security lines, and crowded visitor rooms with vending-machine food for lunch is to be our lot for the next few years was overwhelming. That is what we have to look forward to—week after week. Wow! How much we have lost. I’m so glad we get to see him and spend time with him. But at the same time, I can numb the pain a little more when I’m not with him. I can almost pretend we have a normal life until I walk up to a concrete prison with double-razor wire fencing and go through metal detectors and X-ray machines just to see my husband for a few hours every couple weeks.

Today as I re-read that portion of my journal the emotions of that first trip to Jesup washed over me. I didn’t know if I could do it! Emotionally, mentally, or physically. How could I afford all the gas, and  money for food, and time? How could I handle the exhaustion, and supervision  of three boys for such long, tedious days? How could I stand the process, the degradation, the inhospitable visiting environment? And yet, I knew I had no choice. If I wanted to see my husband…this was it. The only option I would have to keep our relationship dynamic and growing.

Honestly, I look back and I don’t know exactly how we’ve done it.  God’s grace is abundantly evident as I think of the countless miles we’ve traveled, and the stress and work of every visit over the past three years, which amounts to about 72 visits! What makes God’s grace even more obvious though is the joy these visits have brought. The delight in our times together as a family. The mature handling of adverse situations by the kids. The sweet involvement of my parents, my siblings, Joel’s siblings, and especially Joel’s parents. God has used this very uncomfortable situation to draw us closer to one another and to Himself.

So while visiting Joel in prison is something I definitely won’t miss, I am grateful, deeply grateful for the work God has wrought through those visits. And I end this era with sheer awe at His amazing grace.

4 Responses to "Last Visit"

  • Rejoicing with you!!!

    1 John & Genise said this (June 11, 2012 at 7:37 am) Reply

  • Hallelujah for GOD’s enduring Grace evidenced in your journey! Thank you for the blessing of your raw transparency…the Hope GOD granted you has spilled out into many lives. Love you.

    2 Jessica said this (June 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm) Reply

  • You are a strong woman! I am happy for you and your family.

    3 carolyn ragan said this (June 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm) Reply

  • Praise the Lord for seeing you through. Love from NH

    4 Alice Corbett said this (June 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm) Reply

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