In September 1994, I received another official document from the Department of the Army. This time it was the best news I could possibly expect. The letter I found inside the envelope was my Certificate of Release from Parole.
It seemed as if my parole officer and the Army thought that I had done enough to complete my sentence. It was effective 9 September which was 20 days shy of my twenty-fifth birthday as well as two months earlier than my original release date. Essentially, I had been forgiven by the government and was being awarded my freedom.
The paper stated that I was hereby released and set at liberty. Nothing I could do at this point could ever send me back to Leavenworth. It was an amazing feeling, knowing that I was literally and completely free. Like shackles being removed from my arms and feet, there was nothing holding me back at this point. It had been a long five years of being in this mess and it was officially over. The State probation remained in effect, but that didn’t matter to me anymore. This chapter of my life was over.
Near the end of my State probation, the owner of the school wrote a letter to the licensing board asking them to consider letting me off probation early. Since I worked closely with him, he felt that because of my performance, dedication, and the fact that the Army had seen fit to release me from parole early, probation was no longer necessary. It felt so good to have someone other than my family stick up for me that way. The State agreed with him, and even though it was only a month early, it saved me from my last urinalysis.
There was a final sense of freedom and hope. My future was ahead of me and the path was open wide. One of the things I learned from this whole experience was that no matter what adversity I faced, I knew that I could make it. Not on my own strength or will, but by the grace of God. It was He who’d carried me through this journey. Everything I tried to do on my own turned out to be a disaster. It was crazy to think that five years prior to my release from parole, I was on a path of self destruction. A path that had I not been arrested, would most likely have led to my death.
Even though I had made quite a mess of my life, it seemed as if there were people around me that were willing to stand by me or stand for me:
Special Agent Thundercloud testified in my defense;
My father flew from Germany to be present at my court-martial;
Mary Sue Meeks, who didn’t even know me, wrote to me, prayed for me and came to visit me in prison;
My family gave up many of their weekends to come spend time with me;
The owners of Capitol School of Hairstyling, took my collect call and allowed me to enroll;
The ShopKo manager, gave me a chance when he hired me; and
Lyal McCaig wrote the letter to the Cosmetology board.
Ultimately, I feel as if God placed these people in my life and timed these circumstances perfectly according to His plan. So many events transpired over those five years to help me reach this place of freedom and new opportunities.
Even though I had to re-earn my place in society and also regain the trust of many people, none of this matters to God. I can never run far enough, dig a hole deep enough or screw up bad enough to hide from His love. He is crazy about me because I am His child. There isn’t anything I can do to make Him love me any more or less.
My past, present and future are in His hands and I know that He has a plan for my life. It wasn’t just people, but the situations as well. Starting with the arrest, every scenario led me to Him. I can say that now, because at the time, I was just thinking about myself. I’m so thankful to have this shot at starting over.
With this second chance, I was ready to launch into a new life and a new career. After completing the instructor program, I was offered a full time position at the school. Without hesitation, I accepted the job. Working at Capitol gave me the opportunity to share my passion for cutting hair with others and watch the students achieve their goals and dreams. To this day, I still work at Capitol School of Hairstyling. It has been so rewarding helping over one thousand students realize their dreams.