Journey of Faith

Friday Night Lights

I was having a hard time sleeping last night. I haven’t been feeling the greatest after returning from Thanksgiving break with my family. The Doctor says that I’ve tested negative for Covid and the flu, which is a plus, but I do have an upper respiratory infection. I knew that prednisone and antibiotics were going to be prescribed. I don’t know if it was a combination of all of that or if the Lord felt that we needed some alone time, but I spent half the night talking to him and praising him for all of my blessings over the last year. One of the things that I talked to him about was some things that I’ve wanted to blog about here. I sort of left you all hanging after I was paroled and ended up moving with my Great Aunt, and now my permanent home back with my husband and son. I heard the Lord say to me, “Friday Night Lights”. I knew what he was referring to. I prayed about it some more, and it’s not the first time that this subject came up between him and I. So, what does this have to do with anything? I’ll take you back to when my oldest son was just starting to be old enough to register for rec sports team. My husband’s passion his entire childhood was baseball. His dad was the coach, he played on teams whose fathers were Orioles players. He was a pretty good player himself at one time. He had it pictured in his mind that if we had son’s they would play baseball. As soon as our oldest could sit up he was throwing him a toy baseball, when he was walking, he was showing him how to bat. The unfortunate thing was that by the time he was old enough to enroll in a rec team, the only sport available at pre-kindergarten was soccer. What the heck, we’ll try it out. We were excited, bought him the gear, shin protectors. All the gadgets needed to make a pre-k soccer player look official. We attended practice and then came the big day. His first game. I invited my mom to come watch. Our son was not as enthusiastic about this sport as we hoped. Apparently, when his teammates were at the other end of the field scoring a goal, he decided it was more entertaining to put the sideline cone on his head and start singing “Happy Birthday”. Oh, if we only had cell phone cameras then! We often reminisce that if we had video, we might have won America’s Funniest Videos. Obviously, this was not the sport for our son. He eventually went on to play T-ball, Baseball, and even had a few seasons of wrestling under his belt. All of which he seemed to enjoy, until he didn’t. They just weren’t his cup of tea. He came to us then one day with a flyer asking to sign up for Youth Football through the school. Neither of us knew anything about Football, other than watching it on TV as a spectator. My husband wasn’t going to get his chance at coaching, but as parents we became #1 fans. Rain, shine, cold, warm, we were sitting outside in our bag chairs yelling like we were rooting for the NFL. Our son excelled at this sport. Well beyond what we could have imagined. By the time he was starting Junior High, the coaches were watching him and moving him to advanced levels. The older kids weren’t too happy when he was able to barrel them over during practice drills. They soon got over it though, realizing that he was eventually going to part of the larger team that would take them to winning games. We definitely went through a lot of bumps, bruises, sprains, and breaks. This is not a sport for the faint at heart. As a mom, I needed to learn to sit on the sidelines and know that the coaches and staff were there to coach and protect the players. I was a fan and a mom at that point. The biggest change was when he had to make a decision. He was asked in 8th grade to go play with the 9th grade Jr Football team. He was one of I believe 5 that was asked. Only one of the boys took the offer as the remainder of the boys wanted to remain behind knowing that they could come together in the next season and come out undefeated. They did exactly that! I never saw so much whooping and hollering from the parents and locals. Yes, there were locals that would come out and keep an eye on the up-and-coming players. These boys were making a name for themselves, and they knew that this was the team that was going to take the High School to districts finally. So, imagine being a parent and from the time they were in Elementary school you were told that you had something exceptional that you were raising. I mean, after a while, you start to wonder if you need to plan for college scouts. When the time came and he entered into High School, he never played for the Jr team. He went straight to Varsity. A new coach was hired and had created a new culture for the players and the parents. He called it FAMILY. It was an acronym that stood for Forget About Me I Love You. Yes, it’s cheesy, but what it stood for was that your actions not only affect you but the entire team. You are the team and together all of us were there to support each other. You started to feel yourself being sucked into this idea. “Yeah, that sounds like a great plan! We’re family and do stuff together on and off the field. They were “Brothers”.” I find that if you were never part of something like this, it might be hard to understand how easy it was to buy into all of this. The coaches were telling us as parents, “Yeah, your kid is a superstar. They can end up being looked at by college scouts.” The staff was putting together film clips of their best plays and posting them on a website for scouts to look at. We were getting calls from companies that promised this and that (we didn’t buy into that mess). Let’s just say that as a parent, it gets you excited. You’re starting to apply to colleges, the teams at those colleges are looking to see if they want to add them to their rosters. I’m just looking for someone to help foot the bill. My son is saying that anything less than a D1, maybe D2 college isn’t worth it. Now, we’re tampering down his expectations that he’s not going to end up in the NFL. What doesn’t help that there was a guy that graduated from his school, that we all knew and were friends with the parents that was scouted to the Detroit Lions. We spent the evening at their home during the draft waiting. He was eventually contacted, went to camp and then was cut before things got started. It put that extra spark in everyone’s eye for a moment that this can really happen in small town USA. Again, on the surface this “FAMILY” concept sounded good. We started having some of the teammates over here and there for pizza nights, game nights and occasionally sleep overs. This was something that took place throughout several of the players homes. One oversite that we failed as parents to consider, was that OUR son wasn’t the same age as his teammates. Remember, he was in 9th grade going into 10th grade. The majority of the players, being Varsity were Juniors or Seniors. We never took into account the amount of peer pressure that was being put on him. Trying to prove himself on and off the field. My husband and I both grew up fairly secluded from some of things that kids these days are up to. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us were saints. We just weren’t the kind of kids that caused our parents any problems. I, speaking only for myself became very naive. I raised a good kid, the teachers, coaches, etc. told me that he was a great student, athlete, person. He was on the honor roll, achieved the Presidential Education Award. As parents, we felt successful in raising a decent, good human being. He’s still an outstanding person to this day! Kids don’t come with instruction manuals. We learn from our parents, who learned from their parent’s, and we try to build upon those lessons. You want to see your kids succeed, excel and heck maybe even live vicariously through them. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. He had no business hanging out with kids that were Jr’s and Sr’s when he was only in 9th grade. While the age difference isn’t huge, the thoughts and things they were doing was entirely different. In 9th grade, you’re still watching WWE Wrestling and still are relying on Mom’s taxi to take you everywhere. In 11th and 12th grade, you either have a car or at least your license. You’ve had a girlfriend or two and may have even started messing around. If you are put into a situation as a 9th grader and expected to perform at a Sr. level, you are forced to grow up and act a certain way in order to fit in. No one wants to be a dork. As a parent, we do at the time what we feel is the best decision for our kids. We give them leeway to be able to spread their wings and grow. There comes a time when we hope that things, we’ve taught them to this point has been enough. It’s never enough, because even today at my sons being 19 and 23, they are still seeking guidance from us. Heck, we seek it from them as well. It’s part of being a healthy family. Why? We respect each other’s opinions and those opinions matter. I can’t go back and have a re-do. If I could, I’d probably still allow him to move up because we were relying on the advice of a coach who saw potential. What I regret is buying into the FAMILY manta and actually thinking that we can treat the fellow teammates as our own. That we could allow them into our lives and into our homes. Our private sanctuary. Oh how wrong we were.

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur: https://www.pexels.com/photo/selective-focus-close-up-photo-of-brown-wilson-pigskin-football-on-green-grass-2570139/

#FridayNightLights #FootballParent #Family #Parenting #Parent #HighSchoolFootball

Bible Study

Abraham and Isaac

As we mature as Christians and go back to read Bible stories told to us as children, we glean a whole different meaning or interpretation that we did as baby Christians. I’m sitting on day reading my Bible and was actually taking turns reading passages to a friend when we came upon the story of Abraham and Isaac. What it read blew my mind and has stayed with me. I actually shared it with my mom over Thanksgiving week when we went to visit her, my Stepdad, Sister and Brother-in-law. Hopefully, I can do this justice in explaining to you what I gleaned after reading it.

After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the Tree of Life, a veil was put between us and God. This meant that we no longer had direct access to him. Over time, God continued to do what he could to bring us back to him. People continued to do what they wanted, as were disobedient. Fast forward to Abraham and Sarah, God promised them they would have a son. Rather than waiting on God’s timing, they stepped out on their own to do what they thought God wanted. This was when Ishmael was born to Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar. He was not the son that God intended to bring about the promised things that God told Abraham about in their talks. Abraham eventually will have to sacrifice Ishmael too when Sarah demands that he and Hagar be sent away. Sarah wanted nothing to do with Abraham’s other son, Ishmael. So, she commanded Abraham, “Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac” (Genesis 21:10)! It’s ironic that Sarah asks for this, considering it was her idea for Abraham to sleep with “that slave girl” (see Genesis 16:2). God reassured Abraham, “Do not be distressed about the boy or about your slave woman. Obey Sarah, no matter what she asks of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants will bear your name. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, since he too is your offspring” (Genesis 21:12-13). At this point Abraham has learned to trust God. He knows God’s word is true, and so he knows Ishmael will live, and Isaac will be the father of his descendants. So, he does as he was told, and sends Hagar and Ishmael away. Fast forward to Genesis 22:2, the Bible reads, “then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” I bolded “your only son” for a reason. Why? This is when it hit me. Let’s recall the verse John 3:16-For God so loved the world that he gave “his only son”, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. Gave implies the sacrifice of Jesus dying for our sins. Abraham trusted God and I really think he knew that God was NOT going to make him actually go through with actually killing his son. God was testing him to see if he would be obedient. Abraham listened and took Isaac and 2 others to do what God had instructed him to do. Here’s why I believe this; in verse 5 it says: “He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Huh? So, was Abraham stepping out in faith to say that he knew God would not make him do such a thing? Then Isaac starts asking questions and this was when it hit me hard what was actually being portrayed in this story. Verse 6-8: “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.” Read that again, GOD HIMSELF WILL PROVIDE THE LAMB FOR THE BURNT OFFERING. What? Mind blown right? Burnt offerings are mentioned throughout the Bible, even prior to this incident with Abraham and Isaac. When the veil was put up by Adam and Eve’s sin, we had to make offerings to atone for our sins. The killing of an animal as a sacrifice for sin reminded an individual that the consequences of sin are “deadly.” On the other hand, the innocent animal who died in the place of the person who sinned also served as a symbol of what would occur when the sinless Savior would come to earth and have His blood shed for us, saving us from sin. Leviticus 1 gives instructions for a burnt offering. The priests made this offering twice a day. Individuals could also make a burnt offering to show their devotion and commitment to God. Many of the instructions concerning the burnt offering are the same as for other offerings explained in Leviticus. The biggest difference between the burnt offering and other offerings is that to make a burnt offering the entire animal was burned on the altar, symbolizing total commitment or surrender to God. The story continues in Verse 9: “When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. I’m going to wrap this up with one more insight that hopefully you won’t think is farfetched. We are all considered sheep. Jesus is the Shepard. A ram is a male sheep that actually guards the flock against predators. The Ram became the major symbol of sacrifice in the Bible for atonement of sins.

I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of a classic story. God has always wanted us to rely on him, be obedient to him and from the beginning he knew he was going to send his only son as a sacrifice for our sins. Thank you, Lord, for sending your only son to die for us.

Photo by Trace Hudson: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-ram-2538412/

Bible Study

Spiritual Blindness

Growing up in the 80’s everyone wanted a Nissan Pulsar w/ the flip up lights. They were cool and futuristic. As time went on, people noticed a design flaw with the headlamps. They were the ones that would flip up when you turned them on. Over time, one would unfortunately remain stuck in the upright position. You drove around town with these cars essentially “winking” at you. This flashback came to mind yesterday after traveling to my sister and brothers-in-law’s home for Thanksgiving. I recently had eye surgery, AGAIN. I’ve lost count of the number of surgeries that I’ve had in my eyes from detached retina’s, cataract surgery, scar tissue removal, oil bubble removal. A habit that I’ve started because of these surgeries is closing my one eye, essentially using my “one good eye” to look at things. People notice that I squint or only have the one open. I’m walking around looking like a Nissan Pulsar, unknowingly winking at people. I’m really just trying to see out of whichever eye is working at the moment. One the trip here, and after asking several times if it was ok to fly, my surgeon assured that I would be fine. We boarded our flight out of Baltimore and after reaching maximum altitude it happened. I knew immediately my eye pressure was not right. When you have the problems that I’ve had, you know a thing or two about eyes. The feelings I was having, the feeling not only in my eye but the cold, clammy sweats. I was going to be sick. I didn’t want to do it, but if I did, I would probably feel better. I leaned forward, looking down and resting my head against the seat in front of me. It was all I could think of to do. A posture I had to do after my first detachment surgery, lying face down. I thought, maybe this would relieve some of the pressure. My wonderful husband was trying to comfort me, bringing me cold rags. I did essentially get sick, and I don’t know if that made me feel better, the leaning forward, or that we were descending by this time for landing. I was just happy to be feeling better and putting feet on the ground. During this time, I was also doing a lot of praying. “Lord, please protect my eye, get us there safely. Help relieve this pain.”

The Lord put this one my heart to share with all of you because as I suffer through temporary blindness, I can’t help but hurt for those who walk around spiritually blind every day. It reminded me of the story of Paul before he became Paul on the road to Damascus. If you’re unfamiliar with this story, you can read the full story in Acts 9. Saul was against Christianity and was persecuting early Christians. He had gone to the high priest asking for permission to arrest anyone to bring back to Jerusalem. The Lord shined a bright light down from Heaven asking him why he was persecuting him. Saul and his men just stood there astonished, hearing a voice but seeing no one. When he stood up and opened his eyes he couldn’t see. The Lord had told him to go, and he would tell him what he needed to do. The Lord had made Saul (Paul) blind. Ananias ended up restoring Saul’s sight, filling him with the Holy Spirit and converting him.

Again, you can read the entire story in Acts 9. I read and heard this story many times, but it wasn’t until now that I could put it into context. Whether Paul was literally or not, it doesn’t matter when it comes down to the meaning of the story. Paul might not have been able to physically see with his eye, but his heart was blind. He didn’t want to believe in the Lord. Sometimes, it takes a circumstance in our life to enlighten us. The Lord everyday uses any way possible to bring us closer to him. To fully rely on him. He doesn’t want us to be spiritually blind and wander aimlessly. The Lord lights a path onto feet. Go to him, lean on him and let him open your eyes.

Photo by Monica Turlui: https://www.pexels.com/photo/unrecognizable-woman-with-blindfold-and-blooming-roses-7218408/

Journey of Faith

An Open Heart

Can a person be too nice? Hmm. When you enter into the prison system, one of the first things that takes place is you need to take a bunch of evaluations. They schedule a day when you and a whole group of other newbies go to a classroom with the staff Phycologist to work on these packets. They include different questions, containing different scenarios, some have photos containing 2 or 4 in a group. You need to choose the one that doesn’t fit. Those kids of tests. It’s funny as I sit here, one of the photos comes to mind. It’s a baby changing a tire. They were illustrations, not actual photos. Included in this group of packets was the 300+ question one that the crazy roommate stated she was not completing because she didn’t have time to study. Several weeks after completing these evaluations, we’re then called down to the phycologists office to found out what they found out. Well, I was told that I am too nice. I’m a people pleaser. I didn’t know how to take that information. I mean, aren’t we taught to be nice, be kind, care about others? One of the things that my husband said to me when I found out I was going to prison, was that he prayed it wouldn’t harden me. So now armed with this new information, what am I supposed to do? Ms. Gates was nice. That was her name. She went on to explain to me that people may “try” to take advantage of me when I get out into general population. She also explained that because of my age (MY AGE! I’m not old), that people most likely will leave me alone. I’m just sitting there staring at her, taking this all in. Up until this point, all of us were new inmates. Some had been incarcerated before either on the county level or some had been “upstate” in the past. I realized that I was being prepared to go out into the general population. Up until this point, we were sheltered. We lived in our own separate pod, behind out own separate gate, with our own separate yard. We didn’t leave for meals, we only left for appointments throughout the campus or commissary. All appointments had to be walked to. It didn’t matter if it was rain, shine, freezing or hotter than you know what. We walked and you had 5 minutes to get there. It was called “move time”. You were only allowed to “move” during the announced move times, unless you had a pass. There were times when there was “cease movement”. That meant, it didn’t matter if you had a pass or not, your butt didn’t move. These occurred during shift changes, count, emergencies or if there was some other event going on in the campus that they didn’t want us getting in the way. Anyhow, back to being too nice. I had learned somewhat in county how to negotiate the lending, borrowing and barter system. Upstate, it the methods are pretty much the same but at a higher risk. People there have no craps to give in some of their situations. If you know what I mean. I learned quickly that the only people I would lend, barter or share with were my roommates or people that I actually considered friends. Anyone outside of that group, I would evaluate them as best of possible to see what their angle was. In prison, everyone has an angle. Someone comes to the door, asks if you or anyone in your room has such and such they can “come up off of”. I learned that I had to lie sometimes and say, “no, I didn’t”. Then, I later realized that I wasn’t lying. I didn’t have it to give or lend because I needed it. So, by giving it away or “selling” it, then I would be out. So, I was learning how to negotiate this “being too nice” thing after all. There’s actually rules that you are NOT allowed to lend and borrow. I explained this before, however it’s a very necessary process of being in prison. Our facility was 2 weeks behind when we would order commissary. The other facilities that I was in (Muncy and Phoenix), you would order one week and get your stuff the following week. Cambridge, you would order and wouldn’t get that order for 2 weeks later. This is one of those things that was decided by the lady that ran the commissary department. It’s just one of the many small things that didn’t make sense to me. Shouldn’t this be consistent across all facilities? You would think something small like this shouldn’t matter, but it does. Waiting 2 weeks for cough medicine you need now doesn’t help when you need it NOW. Therefore, you sometimes need to go out and start asking around your unit to see if someone is able to sell you a bottle, give you a teaspoon or whatever. If someone came to me asked me for 2 Tylenol and I knew they weren’t someone that asks EVER, I might be inclined to just give them 2. If I see you around the unit asking for stuff constantly, well then you might be outta luck. This is how things worked. You gained a reputation in prison and even if you moved from one unit to another, people knew your reputation. When moves took place, you can best believe that people were up at the officer’s desk asking who was moving where. Who was going in what rooms and if it was someone that you knew was a thief-All hell would ensue. Many officers wouldn’t disclose the move sheet until the morning of for this reason. During an emergency move off out unit, I saw a lady get refused 2 times from being allowed to enter a room because of her reputation of stealing. The other inmates in the room would guard the doorway and YOU WILL NOT enter. You would think that staff wouldn’t allow this, but they would keep reassigning her to a room until there was no fuss. Your reputation can go the other way too. I ended up being forced to move because someone in a different room was stealing. They wanted to switch me to get this thief out of that room. Now my current roommates weren’t happy because that meant I was leaving for a now accused person that steals. Well, before I even knew what was happening, I heard my friend Bernadett at the offer’s desk demanding that she wanted to know, “where they were putting me”. The officer on duty that day was an ass. He was cocky and loved to just agitate people. He was nice, but he was just a pain in the ass that liked to cause problems then get pissed when inmates would push back. Anyhow, she was wanted to know where they were moving me. He asked her what business of hers was it. She said to him, “because she’s my friend and you aren’t sticking her just anywhere that’s why!”. I love Bernadett. Her and Tiffany were two ladies that I meet in C unit when I first got to Cambridge. Tiffany told me on day one I was going home. This was how my time was while I was incarcerated. People knew my reputation, they knew I was respectful, minded my own business and I wasn’t afraid to speak up for myself. I came across as quiet but poke the bear and I will growl back. The easiest thing though is that when someone is barking in your face, I would just walk away. When they would say something about you walking away, I would just tell them that I didn’t have time for their crap. People would purposely try to annoy someone else I think out of boredom. Also, living with all women meant someone was always on their period. Yeah, bet you didn’t think of that! So, while I was labeled as “being too nice” it was the beginning of learning how I ended up here in the first place. A lesson that I wish I’d have learned before it was too late.

Female hands giving red heart
Bible Study

Hexes, Curses and Attachments

My husband and I have always loved to travel. Like many of us that go on vacations, we also like to pick up a souvenir or memento to bring back home. These small treasures become little reminders of the fun we had, a visual piece that can instantly take us back to that moment. As we grow in our Christian faith and dig deeper into ways that Satan and demonic energy gains access to us through open gateways, it amazed me the things that I never would have thought of before. Many other countries have different believes than we are used to. There are in fact, many religions and beliefs right here in our own country. I don’t know how many of you remember the episode on The Brady Bunch, when the entire family went to Hawaii? The kids were doing what all kids do and they ended up finding this tiki statue. After several misfortunes, they soon realized that a curse was attached to this thing. As a kid or even maybe some of you as an adult might scoff thinking that where I’m going with this is hog wash. Google if you will, but you will soon find plenty of sites across the internet stating items to NEVER bring home from certain areas. Here are a few examples:

Hawaiian Lava Rocks: It’s not exactly illegal to take one of these natural elements from Hawaii, but tradition says that you could anger the Hawaiian goddess of fire and incur Pele’s Curse. The modern explains says that if you remove a rock from the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll have bad luck until it has been returned (yes, this was the premise of a very special “Brady Bunch” episode). Don’t laugh it off — hundreds of tourists return rocks to Hawaii through the mail every year.

God also gave us clear instructions to never worship any other god or put one before him. you could knowingly or unknowingly be bringing home a replica of a god or idol that another culture or religion worships. It’s been found that some factories that produce these trinkets “pray” over them or quote some incantation over them before selling them to us travelers waiting to spend our money. One idol in particular that I never put together, until another Christian pointed it out to me was the Budda’s inside many Asian restaurants, salons. He’s sitting there, looking all innocent. He actually isn’t Budda at all, but he is a deity that is worshipped. Many times, you will notice that they are sitting in an almost alter like setting. So, when we purchase items from these locations, are we then paying homage to this jolly looking man? (Read more information here: https://people.howstuffworks.com/that-fat-jolly-fella-isnt-buddha.htm).

I don’t know if we should stop buying these items all together, or perhaps when we enter into these establishments or purchase these items, we can use the authority that God has given us to bind whatever is attached to them and ask the Lord to deal with it however he seems fit. We can then loose Gods will, love and protection over all items we own and bring into our home. If you are unfamiliar with binding & loosing-you can read about it in Matthew chapter 16. (Matthew 16:19: I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”    You need to educate yourselves regarding the authority that the Lord has given to us and start using it! Not only does this apply to items or nick knacks we bring home, but we need to discern who we are allowing into our home as well. People also can have “things” attached to them. So, the next time when someone comes to your door, and you get “that feeling”. It might be the Holy Spirit trying to tell you that the threshold is far enough! Start evaluating these feelings, pray to the Lord and ask him for wisdom.

I’ve known for a while that my son’s also have the gift of discernment. It’s fun as they get older, seeing them unknowingly utilizing this gift. Today, I had a conversation with my one son about something he said to me yesterday. I received a gift a few years ago a bracelet with beads from Africa. I almost forgot that I had it. I was going through some things and stumbled across it yesterday. I asked my son if he would like to have it to put away. he looked it over and said, “no I’m good”. I said, “why, what’s the matter?”. I could tell by his response that it was a normal, no thank you. He said to me, “mom, I don’t know what they did to make that thing, but it’s made out of some animal hide. The hide of an animal I don’t know of what, and whatever other voodoo crap they had going on when it was made”. I didn’t think anything about it at the time and laid it on top of my desk. Today, he came back, and I told him that I thought about what he said and that I’m proud of him for making that discernment. He said, what do you mean? I then explained to him the importance of what he noticed immediately that I failed in doing so. I had this picture of this little African girl making these cute bracelets to sell to support her family. He received a whole other vision. This is why it’s so important that Christians share and support each other. We are here to advance God’s kingdom. What one may fail to see, another can surely turn on the light. If this wasn’t enough, I pulled this bracelet down from where I sat it yesterday. I jokingly said, I agree it could be cursed or something, I should pray over it to cast it out. I went to lay it back in its spot and a picture it was next to fell and almost hit me in the head. We both looked at each other. I said, well obviously something isn’t happy that it’s getting its eviction notice! I immediately prayed over it, but I’m still considering getting rid of it. Have you ever had anything like this happen with an item you purchased or were given as a gift?

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/asian-figure-stone-asia-50993/

Journey of Faith

Fed up!

When I became incarcerated, I vowed that I would bring to light misconceptions about the criminal justice system as well as incarceration. Once, I came home I joined different groups and follow different people on social media to become even more aware. It’s obvious that as I watch and listen, that many are FED UP! People are starting to realize that regardless of whatever crime you committed that you’re still a human being. You can be punished for a crime and still be treated humanely. One of my guilty pleasures is watching Tik Tok. I came across a vlogger recently @djwhatchusaid360. What caught my attention was that he was employed at the Beaver County Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania. He was a Corrections Officer who while employed there, tried numerous times to report abuse, neglect, corruption by staff to no avail. The result of his persistence let to his dismissal from his job because he was unwilling to “play by their rules”. The way he explained it was that staff fit into categories. You cared but didn’t want to bring attention to yourself because you had a family and needed the job, or you were just holding on until retirement so you could cash in on your pension. You could also be one of the ones that neither cared one way or another and got off on being given the “authority” to do whatever you wanted to inmates because there would be no consequences for doing it. Who was going to tell? Admittingly, the cameras didn’t record. The only “eyes in the sky” was another officer who sat in the control booth, who could look away when necessary. Regardless of how someone might feel about an individual for a crime they committed doesn’t give us permission as society to allow the mistreatment of them at will. We can’t be in shock in awe on one side, but then consider it to be ok on this end. How doesn’t that even make sense? Have we lost all of our compassion or care for life in general? One of the things that was also shocking to me when I became incarcerated was the amount of people with mental disabilities being housed there. Many mental hospitals were closed many years ago because the abuse, neglect and illegal testing done on the patients. This left those needing special housing to go into group homes, back to family or if they were criminally insane-they’d be locked up in a prison. I can tell you that a prison facility has no care or ability to correctly care for these patients. Most of the time they can’t live with others because of safety concerns. Certain medications cannot be prescribed because of the risk of the meds leaking out into the prison population. Staff is not properly trained to handle these inmates. Many times, these inmates end up in the hole because of acting out or not being compliant. Even, those who aren’t a danger and can live with general population struggle. Their needs are different than other inmates. Unfortunately, they end up getting stuck there because they are viewed as a problem inmate. They aren’t so much as a “problem” as they aren’t able to cope or understand so they act out. They aren’t medicated properly, nor receiving the right care. Ironically, the men’s facilities in PA have specific prisons for those with mental disabilities. The women’s facilities have specific “units” for those needing different housing. While this might look good on the surface, I again assure you that it’s just for show. I applaud this gentleman for speaking his truth. There are many good corrections officer’s out there who realize that they can make a difference. They realize that part of their job is to be a mentor and to encourage those incarcerated to do better. They can either help or be part of the problem. Like I mentioned in my last post, what’s done in the dark does come to the light. People are fed up and speaking out, I pray the right people listen.

Photo by Anna Shvets: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-people-holding-hands-4672719/

Bible Study

Your Inner Voice

1 John 2:20-27 But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.

Some call it a gut feeling, intuition. Call it whatever you want, but I say it’s the Holy Spirit giving me unction to make a choice. Last night I taught an online Bible study and one of the things we talked about was choices. In fact, that was the theme. Making good choices. How do we know we’re making good choices or not? The first question I had to ask myself when preparing this Bible study, was, “who am I to be instructing someone how to make good choices when I didn’t do it myself?” The Holy Spirit quickly told me that I am the perfect person to teach others about making better choices. Sometimes we allow other things to influence our decisions. We don’t want to let someone down, we don’t want to look like a loser, or it quite frankly might be an easy out. Whatever our reason is, we should be consulting the Lord before we consult anyone else. Eventually, the decisions that we make will affect us now or later. It’ll just depend on who’s voice your listening to when you make it.

Luke 12:3