October 7, 2016

Hey all.  I am so sorry I haven’t written in a while.  I was sitting here thinking of the blog and how I haven’t written in months.  I apologize.  I will try to write more often.  This will be long because I have a lot to say.  Let’s start with class. I am in my 3rd and final semesters of Horticulture.  It has been a great year of class.  I have learned a lot and met a lot of great people.  This semester has been a little uneventful.  We do have a successful fall crop right now.  We have planted Arugula, Broccoli, Carrots, Spinach, Turnip Greens, Swiss Chard, Radishes, Zucchini, Onions, Lettuce and beets.  The beets and Zucchini didn’t do too well.  The Carrots, Turnip Greens, Arugula and Radishes have done really well.  My Aloe isn’t doing great inside the greenhouse, but it isn’t terrible.  I divided some baby Aloe and it is struggling from shock right now, but I think it will bounce back.  My orange trees look great.  That is about all that is going on in class right now.

The last day and graduation are on December 9th.  Then I might become a library worker while I am waiting to be shipped out to Medium Custody. I am excited to be going to Medium Custody.  I am also a little nervous.  My first choice of prison is Harnett Correctional.  They have a lot of classes there.  They have Barber School, Welding, Plumbing, Electrical, AC/HVAC, Small Engine Repair, Masonry, and Carpentry.  They also have a sex offender program that I would like to go through.  Once you go through it, you can get put in to be a peer counselor.  Seeing that I want to be a Counselor when I get out, I would love the experience.  My second choice is Warren, which I have heard is primarily Gang members.  They have a Travel & Tourism class I am interested in taking.  They also have part-time CDL classes too.  I am thinking of Lumberton.  They have some classes I am interested in as well.  However, I could be shipped to whatever prison has a bed.  My case manager will put in for me to go to my Top 3 choices, but it is not guaranteed.  So please keep me in your prayers for that.  I will be shipped out any time between January and March 2017.  I briefly mentioned above that I would like to be a counselor when I get out.  I am checking into correspondence courses to get my Master’s Degree in counseling while I am in here. I would like to get my PhD when I get out.  I will be 46 when I get out.  I still have time.  I would like to help felons, ex-cons and sex offenders.  Oh yea, also gang members. I would like to have a ministry for sex offenders to help them transition into society when they are released from prison.

I have met a lot of sex offenders who don’t have anywhere to go when they get out.  No family or friends.  They can’t stay in halfway houses.  At least in NC, there are no halfway houses that take sex offenders.  They can’t get Section 8 housing either.  So they need help.  It is also hard for them to get jobs.  That is the goal.  I will keep you updated.  Today, I read in my book, “And Jesus Said” by William Barclay, about servant hood and helping people.  He talks about how we should help people.  He uses the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  He talks about how and why the rich man was sent to Hell.  It is simple.  The rich man knew Lazarus was there, but he didn’t do anything to help him.  That was his sin.  As Christians, I have preached this before, we need to not just have pity, but do something about it.  The author talks about how the littlest thing is all we need to do.  Flash someone a smile, listen to them, give them a drink, invite them for dinner, have lunch with a homeless person, send someone a card, pray with someone.  I could go on and on!  Be creative!

He talks about how it’s our responsibility to make others’ lives easier and happier.  The saying “do unto others as you would have them do to you” goes a long way.  Think about that.  Let’s look at the negative form of that law.   “Don’t do to others what you do not want them to do to you.”  I challenge you to think about these two phrases, meditate on them.  I know that I myself have a lot of work to do in this area as well.  We can’t have a life of love without God’s help.  Put your trust in him always.  I love you all!

Love,
Eddie

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Love Beyond… July 4, 2016

This morning, I was watching Good Morning America.  They had a lot of 4th of July segments.  The one segment that stuck with me was a commercial/video that was made with John Cena speaking in it. It was a 4th of July video about patriotism, but in the end “love” was the main character of this video.  What he said was short but powerful.

He said something along the lines of “The 4th of July, we celebrate Patriotism, but it is also a day we celebrate Love… love beyond race, age, disabilities, sexuality and religion.”  I might have left some things out, but you get the point.  In the background you saw a Hindu hugging a Muslim, Black hugging White, Christian hugging Muslim, so on and so forth.

I don’t know how many of you remember the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.  There was one called the “Melting Pot”.  It talked about the great American melting pot.  This country was founded by immigrants, we are a country of all races, cultures, religions and beliefs.  We have been for centuries.  However, over the past centuries we have fought against each other’s races, religions, and cultures.  We have harbored a lot of hatred. Love is better than hatred.

I just read the book, “Love Beyond Reason” by John Ortberg.  He talks about our raggedness. He talks about how God loves our raggedness.  How he loves his “Rag Dolls”.  See, the author talks about how is sister was fond of and loved her rag doll, “Pandy.”  Pandy was a part of the family.  Eventually Pandy was unrecognizable and his sister didn’t want her anymore.  She traded her for a boyfriend.  Well, the Mom couldn’t throw her away, so she wrapped Pandy up in a box and kept her.  When his sister was married, she had her third child and it was a girl.  She took Pandy out of the box, got her fixed up and gave it to her daughter, who kept her and loved her for another 15 years.

See, we are like “Pandy”.  We are ragged.  We have faults.  We do bad things, we are lonely and the list goes on.  But God still loves us.  Let’s go beyond that…. Jesus came to love the raggedness, the most ragged, unrecognizable, unlovable people on the planet.  He loved them.  We are called to do the same.  I know I have written about it a lot, but “love” is so powerful.  In the world, there is a lot of hate and not enough love.  There are even Christians that are so hateful.  As Christians, we should be able to love beyond race, religion, sexuality, disabilities, age, and whatever else that comes to mind.

We should love beyond others raggedness.  Love Beyond Reasons.  Let’s try to look past their skin color, sexuality, religion, disabilities, diseases, faults and age.  Love others.

Love Beyond Reason…. Love Beyond…. Love

Visit with PA Family – August 16, 2015

Yesterday, my Mom, Mark, Sam and Colin came to visit me from Pennsylvania!  I had a visit in the morning and one in the afternoon!  It was awesome to see them!  It was great to hug them and talk to them in person.

We talked about a lot of things and even got to put a face to the name for my friend, Jason.  Jason, I asked for everyone to pray for him a couple months back.  Well please continue praying for him.  He has really gotten depressed and hardly talks to anyone, sometimes doesn’t show up for chow and doesn’t do any religious activities any more.  So please pray for him.

During the visit, my Mom only cried a couple of times.  2nd visit she was a lot better.  I will have to say that one of the best parts of the visit was talking about the closeness, the deeper, stronger relationships that have come out of this situation.  I never realized how distant I was to my family all over.  From my family in Missouri to my Dad, Step-Mom and sister in Greenville, SC and to my family in Pennsylvania.  We talked about this near the end of the visit.  We have grown closer and stronger over the past year and a half and it is awesome!

I have seen and communicated more with my family in the last year and a half than I did in the 11 years before then.  I realized that I missed out on so much of their lives.  Time I can’t get back.  Memories that were never created.  Now, letting go of all my failures, shortcomings of the past, I must… WE must push on toward the future.

If you have a grudge or feel distant from family, I challenge you to take a step to mend those broken relationships.  Don’t let it go too far, because you may lose relationships forever.  It is hard to mend the wounds, but with God’s help you can.  Trust in Him and He will guide you through the most difficult tines.  Thank you to everyone who has shown love and support to me through this period of my life.

I love you all!

Read Philippians 3: 13-14

First 4th of July in Prison – July 5, 2015

Most prisoners would say “Just another day in prison.”  But I am not every prisoner.  Yes, I am in prison, away from my family, away from the freedom of being able to go wherever I want to go and whenever I want to go.  Yesterday made me realize how nice we have it in America.  We have the opportunity to make choices.  There are some countries where you can’t make choices.  The United States is a very rich country.  Yes, we have poverty, homelessness and starving people, but there are a lot of resources for those people that they can choose to take advantage of.

There are countries where they have millions of starving, homeless people and they don’t have help.  I also realize that even though I am in prison, I have it better than millions of people in this world. I am not saying prison is awesome and full of luxury, because if I said that, I would be lying.  It is prison.  However, we have it made, compared to the starving family that struggles for food even though the parents do work.  Or how about the millions of people all over the world, starving and stricken with disease?  A lot of times we say, “Well, they choose not to work.  They get what they deserve.”  But surely, if one day you lose your job, can’t find another job, get sick and can’t work, and then end up in their shoes, you would wish someone would help you.

I get 3 meals a day, clean water, a shower every day, hygiene products.  I get to work.  I have a bed, blankets and sheets.  I have clean clothes all the time and 99.8% of the time, I don’t feel unsafe.  There are people in this world that can’t say any of that.  There are millions of people in this world that don’t have a choice to be safe.  Their countries are run by some militant terrorist group, and they could be killed at any time.

I know that I am stepping on some toes by saying what I am saying, but I tell you this.  It is time that we, as Christians, and Americans step up and help these people.  Also it is time to be thankful for what we have; thankful for everything.  We have to stop taking things for granted.

As I ate my hot dog and hamburger, loaded with chili, cole slaw, ketchup, mustard, and mayo with a side of baked beans, green beans and a chocolate cookie for dessert, I thanked God for the food and realized that I need to be more of a blessing to those starving.  I can’t help but think of the starving when I eat anymore.  Yes, I got to watch fireworks on TV, but is the 4th of July about fireworks?…. Is Christmas about Santa Claus?  Is Easter about the Easter Bunny?  So ask yourself this question.  What is the 4th of July really about?”

Exercise Program – March 28th

Last night at Bible Study I was talking to Jason about losing weight.  Another one of my brothers gave me a 10 minute exercise program out of Men’s Health that I can do in my cell.  Well… another brother turned around and offered to help me get on an exercise and diet program.  I was stubborn and said I have lost weight before.  I know how to do it.

Well, the Chaplain had a message I needed to hear about choices and perceptions.  I have heard this message before, but I am no different than anyone else. I am human and sometimes I need a reminder.  After the study, I went up to that brother and said, “I would like to give it a try.  I apologized for being slightly defensive and not listening.  Come to find out that he was 315 pounds when he came to prison and now he is skinny and buff at 215 pounds.  He is tall, probably 6’ 3”.

We talked for about 45 minutes. I am to write everything down that I eat for the next 7 days.  Then I have to give him a budget of what I can spend in the canteen.  He told me less bread, sweets, junk and more protein.  My Mom has been preaching this to me for the last 2 months.  He knows what I can get in the Canteen that will help.  Then he is going to put me on an exercise plant that will burn fat and build muscle.

Well, today it was 31° outside, and I went outside to start my exercise.  My buddy walked with me around a huge track, about 1/3 of a mile.  Then we jumped into a 2 on 2 basketball game with two other of my Brothers in Christ.  If the other team scored, you had to do 10 push-ups or 10 squats.  Come to find out I am a beast at defense in basketball.  I figured that if I didn’t let them score I didn’t have to do push-ups.  My strategy worked.  I still ended up doing about 50 push-ups and 10 squats.  It was an excellent 45 minute work-out.  What was even more great, was my Brothers’ encouragement.  I am not in the best f shape but they kept encouraging me, saying “You can do it, Ed”, “Good job,” “Keep going” and even “I’m proud of you.”  Instead of tearing me down for being overweight, they lifted me up and encouraged me.

Even the inmates on the sidelines.  My perception was that people would make fun of me… not the case.  Now I feel encouraged and very very sore!  Haha.  I will keep you all updated on my progress.