#156 I dare you! (retro)

April 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

I dare you

I think I got over my writing problems, since I posted 5 blogs yesterday. Granted a few were retros, but hey, I still wrote two.

Anyway, before I get started, please consider my “Grades of Honor” books or ask how you can support my writing, they directly affect my contributions and how often I can do it. When I get support for my writings, it gives me confidence that there are people that like what I do, and it encourages me to do even more.

Yesterday while checking my emails, I read a couple from some very nice readers. One or two came from new readers, one or two came from readers that have been following my blogs for awhile. Remember, at this moment I have about 110 blogs that you can see…but it is only a fraction of what I have written on these blogs.

In late 2005 I was blogging on I think just one site, then two. I wrote over 100 blogs before I removed them all offline. A few months passed and I started again, writing just over 500 blogs before I got frustrated and removed them all offline. After a period of a few months, I started again, with what you see now.

So believe me, if you think all these blogs are a lot, you haven’t seen anything.

Anyway, I got a few emails from some readers that seemed to be kinda down. You can tell how a person feels in what they say, even if they don’t tell you. If I feel disappointed, I can barely betray my heart when I blog. Lots of you have seen that in my writing; you know when I feel pretty good, you know when I feel down, you know when I am pissed.

No different from anyone else I suppose.

But after reading one email, I felt that the reader was kinda down because her loved one wasn’t doing right after his release. I could tell she was feeling down about it, even though she didn’t come right out and say it. I read it and sat back wishing I could do something…

Then there was something deep inside that kinda “said” “help her”.

How am I going to do that?

“Help HER help her LOVED ONE”.

I can’t do anything but write, and from the way I’ve been banned from literally every prison support site and spat on by moderators all over the “prison support” realm, what can I do?

It was then I started to realize something…my writings isn’t just about prison, it is about hope. I didn’t write thousands of pages just to give petty information to people who are curious about prison. I wrote because I have been in the midst of a very bad situation, and I made it through. I have been in some of the most negative places in our state, and managed to come out it.

I write these blogs because deep down, I believe things CAN get better. Even in my worst days, I felt it could get better, even if I didn’t have a shred of evidence that it could.

What we are talking about folks…is faith.

For some reason, people don’t believe that inmates or ex felons ought to have faith for anything; that whatever happens is whatever happens. If your son gets beat up in prison, that’s the way it is. If your boyfriend gets put in the hole for a month for a weak charge, that’s the way it is. If your husband gets sent to another state to do his time, keeping you from visits, that’s just the way it is.

If your loved one can’t get a decent job when he gets out, that’s just the way it is. If your loved one gets out and isn’t doing right, that’s just the way it is. Sometimes life isn’t fair, and after all, they broke the law, so maybe what they are getting is what is deserved.

How many of you believe that?

Let me say that again, with emphasis:

How many of you BELIEVE that?

How many of you actually believe that when bad things happen to the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated, then it is just? If you are saying that, you are saying that for some reason, it is God’s will for these people to never be shown mercy.

Guys…that has to stop now.

I’m not talking about justifying what a person did to go to prison; I am not talking about glorifying prison. I am talking about whether a fallen man or woman has the right to get up. I am talking about the idea that a person who has gone to prison or is currently IN prison to have faith for a better life.

Here is the great irony in that. Society as a whole would benefit GREATLY if people in prison would get out and get a better life…but at the same time, these same people believe that “certain” ex felons should never have a normal life. How many times have I read that about sex offenders? How many times have I read that about “con men” or guys who took a life?

Again, I am not trying to justify the fault, I am saying that if a person did time, or is even DOING time, does he or she not have the right to embrace faith and mercy? Do you guys really think God is up there with an iron rod just waiting to smash every ex felon who is trying to do right?

I gotta tell you, I felt that way.

Remember, you’re not reading the words of a saint, I am nowhere NEAR perfect, but I do believe God knows what’s in my heart. But when I got out of prison in 2001, I had dreams and goals. I was gonna make good, and get my life back. I was gonna earn money and take care of all my family’s bills, and travel to some of those exotic places you see on television. I was gonna be able to pay to see NBA games and a lot of those college football games. I was gonna decorate the house really nice during Christmas, so anyone who came in would know that we are in a joyous mood. I had so many plans of doing good and doing right.

But it didn’t happen.

I won’t chronicle some of the problems I had; many of you read about my situations with so called “Christian” radio stations and the difficulty of me getting a job. Things were not going well for me at all. It’s funny, just recently a person asked me if things were going well for me since I got out. Simple answer…no.

There were a lot of times where I sat in my bedroom wondering if God is purposely destroying everything I was desiring. It got to the point that I believed that anything I tried to do would be destroyed simply because God wanted it destroyed.

I wondered if I tried to start up a lemonade stand, would He strike it down with lightning, just to keep me from making a couple of dollars.

Guys, it was hard, very hard for me. Nothing I was doing was working. I tried to work at one Christian radio station, but was fired when I tried to get the LEGAL minimum wage. I tried to pick up my mail order fragrance business, but it wasn’t working since I had no working capital to build it back up. My professor and I was working on writing scripts for local tv, that wasn’t working. I lost not one, but TWO jobs because of the “pastor” of the church that owned the “Christian” radio station. I had a television talk show in another town, but didn’t work out because the station wanted me to do more than the free work I was already giving them. I helped save a second “Christian” radio station (we have 4 in our town…go figure), and created a sports program, only to have that program taken from under me by the very guy I hired.

I wrote thousands of posts for prison support groups, but when I finished “Grades of Honor” those same sites turned on me, banning me or warning me about trying to sell my books.

Folks…I know the face of disappointment…I know what it is like to see the threat of failure. I have been there. I spent many a night with tears in my eyes, asking God why He is beating my life like a drum; why can’t I make progress in my goals and dreams? Why am I going through so much crap when all I want is to do right and help people? In all these times, I was ironically writing on all those prison support sites and my blogs, talking about hope and faith and never giving up. Yet my life was almost one disappointment after another.

So you have to ask yourself this…and read this VERY carefully….

Why am I still writing?

To the novice, the answer is this: because I am a fool.

But the real answer goes much deeper than that. In fact, the answer perhaps the opposite of what the natural evidence shows. Something I want to pass along to that reader, and everyone else in a similar situation. Something I have said many times before in my blogs:

There MUST be hope.

Let me tell you something, if I never had a miracle during my prison term or after, then maybe I am in no position to encourage you. But I have had one…in fact several. I have seen miracles in my life, and they came because I chose to believe in something that in the natural was NOT possible.

While in county jail I had promised a juvenile that I would bond him out before by his birthday. I had no money, but was believing that if I can go without canteen for a few months, I could come up with $150 to bond him out. I am telling you guys, I had no money, but I was believing it could be done.

It was like a few months before Thanksgiving, and I was spending time in that cell praying over it….

(note to those who think they are perfect: ANYBODY can demonstrate faith…even the incarcerated)

Anyway, I prayed for the money, and for the next few months, nothing was happening. I told my family to just save the $20 they gave me a month so that I can help get this “stranger” out. It just so happened my family was kinda in a crunch, so they didn’t really have the money to set aside for him. I could not complain, it wasn’t their fault.

But things started getting pressing, since I saw no money. The kid (about 16) was excited about going home and each time he said it, I wanted to tell him “well, maybe you will but I might not be able to do it”. But I could not do it, I didn’t want to destroy his faith…or mine.

These were tough days folks, I just didn’t know where the money was going to come from. As it got to October, I was getting worried, I really didn’t want to disappoint the kid, but I had no money. But one day, somebody sent me $5 in the mail…while in county jail.

I want you to UNDERSTAND how strange that is…because that person didn’t know me, and second, jails usually check all mail for contraband. Yet I got an unopened letter with money. Five Dollars!

“Big deal, you said you needed $150”

See, that’s where you missed it. Most people would look at the NEGATIVE, rather than the HOPE of the positive. And it is there that you lose your faith. When I got that money, I was very happy because I saw that anything is possible.

Just like some of you with loved ones in trouble. What are you looking at? Are you looking at the fact that things look bad, or are you trying to find faith that things can change for the better? If you loved one is in the hole in prison, do you fall apart or find some faith to say, “he’s going to get my love and support because I know he can get through this”.

If your loved one got out of prison and isn’t quite on the right track, do you fall apart and just accept it, or do you say, “this can change for the better, and it starts with some faith”.

It’s your choice you know.

Anyway, I got that money, gave it to an officer that deposited it to my account. With a week or so before Thanksgiving, we were getting a hair cut in the cell and he used the pay phone to call home. He was talking to his brother or sister, telling them how he was going to be home by Thanksgiving. I could tell someone asked him how he knew he would be home, and he said something like, “I got a friend that’s gonna get me out”.

I gotta tell you, my body felt SOOOOO broken because I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t have enough. Not nearly enough. But something….something would not let me say that to him. I just could not destroy his faith.

I continued to pray on it, trying to build faith that I could do the impossible. I think it was the week of November 17th when my mom came to visit me, and told me that my professor from college sent me some money…

$100.00!

With some of the money my family had set aside for me, plus the $5 I had, guess how much I had…$150.00. I asked my mom if she could get the money and pay that kid’s bail so he could go home. My older brother got in touch with a bail bondman and they were able to pay the bond to get that kid out on November 17th. In time for Thanksgiving… and get this….

On his birthday.

I could not have PLANNED that any better. I think I had enough joy in that jail cell to light up the entire city. I saw first hand that miracles do happen but they need faith. And not a ton of faith. Just a little. And you don’t need to be the most religious person to have it work. You simply have to believe that things can and will get better.

If you have a loved one that is in a little trouble, or a LOT of trouble, you have to choose what to embrace…the fear or the faith. You can’t have both, you will embrace one more than the other. That does not mean you will totally dismiss one, because even if you are trying to walk in some faith, there will always be some level of fear. Troubles come whether you want it to or not, but you can get through them.

It would seem that I am doing that.

There used to be lots of night where I am upset at God because I am trying to do something good, but it is hard to get finances to continue in it. Months ago I thought inside myself, “why is God fighting me with this? Isn’t what I am doing a good thing, if I am helping others? Thousands of emails, thousands of posts, thousands of pages, thousands of “God bless yous” but not enough money to buy a decent pair of shoes.

Why isn’t this working? Would God rather I work at McDonalds than write on prison issues? For awhile I was frustrated because nothing was working. Then I realized something. I was too focused on the negative. I was too worried about what WASN’T going right, rather than what WAS going right.

I wasn’t in faith, or at least enough of it.

So I went back and found some faith-filled magazines, tapes and stuff, and also read some scriptures of faith…mind you, I am not perfect, but I KNOW this faith thing works. I’ve seen it work too many times in my life.

I had to look at what to expect in faith, rather than why I wasn’t prospering as I thought I should. A week or so after I started doing that, things started to happen. New people were responding to my blogs, and were asking me how to support my writing, or asking about my books. With the finances that started to come in, I could spend more time and effort on prison writing, and encouraging others. It started to work for me.

But that is not without problems. Last week I just did not have the mental energy to write a good blog, and you KNOW how much I like to write. Something wasn’t going right, and I didn’t understand why I could not blog, or even share a retro blog. It was then that there were thoughts about “maybe God isn’t pleased” or something. I started to wonder if I did something wrong; if this lack of production is some form of punishment.

But a few days ago, I kinda thought on this in my bedroom. If God cares for everyone, then it is His will that everyone gets help, especially if they are asking in faith. If I have spent the last 5+ years writing to HELP people, how then can God fault me for showing compassion?

No, it wasn’t God punishing me…it was someone else trying to destroy me.

I might have made bitter enemies with sites like LostVault, Prison Talk Online and other sites, but none can say in honesty that I was not helpful in what I wrote. No, what I was doing was a good thing, and that last week was my fight to stay in faith.

I won that fight yesterday when I put up 5 blogs.

Even in faith trouble still comes, but you can overcome it. You can’t avoid it, but you can beat it. In fact, I DARE you to overcome it. I dare you to find some faith in the midst of your situation and believe things can get better.

There are lots of you out there with a loved one in prison, or a loved one who has gotten out of prison that are worried. There are some of you that are just worried yourself about a prison situation. Most sites are filled with moms and wives and girlfriends filled with enough fear to submerge the Grand Canyon…but listen to this, just a little faith can drain all that.

I say this to you with as clear a conscience as I can muster, you can get through this. I’d be a liar if I never had a miracle in my life, but I have had many. I had them before I ever went to prison, I had them while in county jail, I had them while IN prison, and I had them after I got out. So apparently, faith isn’t just for those who have never been in jail or prison…it’s for anyone willing to believe.

Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to dare to believe? No matter how it looks now, it CAN get better if you are willing to put some faith on it. Heck, we’ve all believed in worse, why can’t we believe in better?

Anyway, I gotta go, email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask how you can support my writing or ask about my “Grades of Honor” books. Don’t give up guys.

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Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#155 How do inmates pass time (retro) #158 How did U make it through prison (retro)

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