1st Day of Horticulture – Jan 8, 2016

Today I started Horticulture Class and there are about 20 inmates enrolled in the class.  It seems like a great class.  The instructor is cool and funny.  He believes in all organic produce and the greenhouse is organic.  They have their own compost pile and everything.

This first semester we will be planting spring flowers and plants.  Then we will be planting vegetables.  In the morning, we have a lecture and in the afternoon we work in the greenhouse.  On Fridays we work in the greenhouse in the morning and have the afternoon off.

I hope to learn enough in class to be able to live off the land when I get out.  Also, to help Mark and Mom with their business.  This class is another step forward to living a more simple life.  I learned how to sew, so hopefully I can make my own clothes when I get out.  Now hopefully I can learn to grow my own organic food and avoid the supermarkets as much as possible.  Kind of like my friend, Lonnie, tries to do that right now.  I will keep you updated on everything I am learning!  🙂

2nd Christmas in Prison – Dec 26, 2015

Last year I was “fresh” on my lengthy sentence of 16 years, and Christmas was only 23 days into my approximate 5,840 days.  I couldn’t call anyone.  All I could do was send letters and cards.  I listened to Christmas music every day for the whole month of December.  I thought about the Christmases of past, smiled and cried.  This year was different.  Let me explain my Christmas this year.

The week before Christmas, the prison system got us a huge bag of lots of goodies and on the same day, a KFC Chicken Finger plate / dinner.  Then, that night an excellent Christmas program by the Exodus Church Choir from Hickory, NC.  Then, Christmas week came at the TV schedule was filled with Christmas movies and we had off three days for Christmas break.  Me and 4 other guys made a huge table full of nachos on Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning, I drank Hot Chocolate and watched the movie, “A Christmas Story.”  Went outside at 1:00 p.m. and played Ultimate Frisbee in the mud.  Got wet and muddy and had loads of fun.  Came inside, played cards, called my family (highlight of Christmas), then smashed some Oreos, chocolate chip cookies and milk on Christmas night.

However, something was different about this Christmas than last.  I believe it was the people watching and realizations and the struggles that I observed around me.  This year, I was around people that I have been around for almost a year now.  This one simple factor changes everything.  See, when you live, work, eat, sleep, go outside with the same people 24/7, you learn things about them.

You see when they are happy, sad, angry, and so on.  Well, Christmas, which is normally a joyful day, is one of the worst days out of the year for most prisoners.  I am not going to go into depth on the theology of Christmas or the secular traditions; let’s just focus on how Christmas brings families together.  Most prisoners don’t like Christmas because they can’t be with their families.  I understand that and can sympathize with them.  It is hard. I am not going to lie.  There were times when I wanted to cry.  But I found myself opening up my “house” for guests; taking on and listening to others’ struggles, sadness, frustrations at this time of the year.

Henri Nouwen, in his book, “The Wounded Healer,” talks about how we need to, as Christian leaders, face our loneliness, sadness, past and let go of them to make space for others.  We are all Christian leaders by the way.  One of the guys that I shared my Oreos and Chocolate Chip Cookies with was having an absolutely terrible Christmas.

Our block got to use the phone on Christmas.  He told his Mom he was going to call Christmas morning.  When his time slot came, he called everyone in his phone book and no one answered.  You can imagine how having his expectations not met was hard for him.  He became very angry then calmed down a bit.

Then the night shift said that if there was enough time at the end, that he could try.  There was enough time, but then the officers backed out on their word and didn’t let him try, making things worse.  So like the chick in the chick flicks, I brought him a tub of ice cream (in this case a whole bunch of cookies) and we ate our (mainly his) sorrows away.  It was the moment of Christmas where I put “me” aside and focused on him.  Opened my house up for a guest.  It was the moment when I didn’t mention the wonderful phone call I had with my family.  Sometimes we need to… actually most of the time we need to, forget about “me” and focus on others.  Also, the best medicine is love and ears to listen.  You don’t have to give them advice, just listen and love.  It makes a huge difference!

I love you all!

Shattered Pieces – Dec 31, 2015

I am going to present a non-traditional view of a very important event in Christianity.  My point in doing this is not to cause a debate or to say that this view or the traditional view is the only correct view.  However, just to present something that will make you think, search, seek and understand God more and at a deeper level.  You do not have to agree with this, and it is completely ok to disagree with this view.

The thing is, God has all the answers, and we don’t and only God knows the complete truth.  So my questions are; Was Jesus dying on the cross really the will of God?  Was Jesus meant to die so young on the cross?  Or did God really want Jesus to live a full and prosperous life?

This is how I would answer those questions.  I believe that Jesus was supposed to die for us, but not so young. I believe that God would have wanted Jesus to live a full and prosperous life.  However, because Jesus was living in a time where who he was, was completely opposite and went against a lot of beliefs, that people believed back when he died.  He died because of who he was and what he believed.  He was fine with that too, because he wasn’t going to change who he was even if it meant dying on the cross.  Which, back then, dying on a cross was normal. It was their form of lethal injection, electric chair, etc.

I believe that we can learn something about God and understand him more deeply from this view.   That maybe it wasn’t the will of God for him to die at that time.  I think we can learn something else.  God will pick up all the shattered pieces of a situation and make something beautiful out of them.

In the case of the cross, the resurrection, God decided to say “Look, follow me with everything you have, even to death and then you too will be resurrected, given new life, new eternal life.”  Don’t be ashamed of following Christ, God.  Give him everything you have.  When you fall, ask him and he will pick up the shattered pieces and make something beautiful out of them.

Note from Eddie’s Mom:  I have to say that I don’t completely agree with this blog.  I do believe that some of the iterations of the bible have varying interpretations.  I 100% agree that God takes all of your mistakes and all of your brokenness and makes it beautiful liked stained glass.  But I do not believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection is a great analogy to prove this out.  Check out this prediction of the exact date of Jesus death in Daniel, Chapter 9

Laughing out Loud – Dec 31, 2015

So today at work, I was caught doing something.  Then wondered how often I do it.  I started laughing out loud (LOL) at something I was thinking about.  Rob, The Emperor of the Bottoms (I will explain that later), said  “What are you laughing at?”  I said “something I was thinking about.”  So thank you for asking… what was I thinking about?  I was thinking about how silly and playful God can be.  Yep!  I spend a lot of my time working, thinking about God and trying to understand him better.  I was thinking about the time when Moses was trying to let Pharoah take the Israelites out of Egypt and all the things God did and allowed to happen to Egypt.  The one that was the silliest to me was the plague of frogs.

I just imagined God looking down at all the frogs, laughing hysterically at the scene.  Then I started laughing out loud with him.  Then I thought why would Pharoah ask his Magi to do something?  Why not ask his Magi to get rid of them?  I bet God was really laughing then.  Haha.  Then Pharoah agrees to let Israel go and Moses asks Pharoah when he wants the frogs gone and he said, “Tomorrow”.  Why not “Now”?  I thought that was silly.  Anyway… Also in my understanding of God search I am beginning to see the many characters of God:  loving, compassionate, frustrated, forgiving, full of grace, angry and many others.  However, I think that God is all-loving, and my favorite characteristic is his love and compassion.

He displays this one the most.  He could have just killed the Egyptians and spared the Israelites, but he gave them many chances.  Even when he said he would destroy them, he still gave them a chance to get out.  If you have a chance, sometime, meditate on God’s silliness, love and compassion.  You will find yourself laughing out loud as well.

Note from Eddie’s Mom:  Okay, he forgot to explain, “Rob, Emperor of Bottoms”.  I’ll have to jog his memory… time for another blog!