Love the Unlovely – Nov. 22, 2015

So today was my Birthday and it was the first time that I celebrated my birthday in prison.  Today, during church, the whole congregation sang “Happy Birthday” to me.  Throughout the week, I got cards from family and friends and “Happy Birthdays” from everyone around me.  I even had a visit from my StepMom and my sister the day before my Birthday!  Then tonight 3 of my closest friends surprised me with enchiladas and chips and a card signed by dozens of other inmates.  Yes, this was all wonderful and made my birthday very special!  But there was something even more wonderful than all the acknowledgements, food, cards, birthday wishes and so on.

As I was reading all the comments on the card that I received from my friends, it hit me.  I realized that on that card were comments and signatures from sex offenders, drug dealers, rapists, murderers, gang bangers, muslims, christians, atheists, buddhists, homosexuals, black, white, mixed, hispanic, young, old, bald, crazy, and I could go on.

On this card, those things didn’t matter.

A person didn’t NOT sign the card because a homosexual signed it, or a gang banger, or for any other reason.  I took this thought even further and realized as I looked around the Dayroom, that yea, this is what heaven is going to look like.  I know it might be a crazy thought to some of you, but it is true.  See, I believe that Heaven is going to be filled with everyone. For me or anyone else to believe that one or two or multiple “types” of people are going to be left out is absolutely absurd.  God is not going to say to a serial killer who longs for God in the end, “No, you can’t come in.”

He is not going to exclude black people, asians, hispanics, from heaven.  That isn’t even biblical to think that. Heaven is going to have murderers, doctors, teachers, sex offenders, rapists, muslims, homosexuals, blacks, whites, CEOs, politicians, Republicans, Democrats, drug dealers, and the list goes on.

The Bible says we will get a new heart, a new body, new spirit.  There will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  No sin is greater than another sin.

We all fall short of the glory of God.  I challenge you to seek God’s love and love God.  It’s what He longs for.  Also to love everyone.  Don’t live your life in fear.  Love the unlovely, love the murderer, love the drug dealer, the homeless, the sex offender.

I am not saying that you have to agree or like what they did or the habits they have.  Just don’t let those things stop you from showing God’s love towards them.  There is good in everyone.  I see it everyday.  The gang member who could easily kill you, gives you a hug.  That happened to me today!  One gave me a hug and said, “Happy Birthday, Eddie!”

All I can say is God has been at work in our relationship.  God’s love is so powerful, it can move mountains!  What I say to the refugee situation… Don’t put them in the “Other” category.  Do anything you can to welcome them and love them.  Do not fear.

I love you all!

Love, Eddie

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Maximum Security Retirement Home – Feb 1, 2015

I was talking to my Dad today on the phone.  we were talking and nothing has really happened in the last week.  The only thing that happened here was I almost got written up.  (see blog “Almost Written Up”) and 3 people went to the hole.  Also I started sewing size labels on XL pants.  Two of the people got sent to the hole for fighting.  They were arguing, then one guy slapped the other guy and the guy punched him back.  The other guy was kicking the sliding door and cussed out the Unit Manager.  This all happened on the same day.

Not much happening on my Dad’s end other than the fact he hasn’t smoked a cigarette for a month (note from Eddie’s Mom:  Yay!!!).  That is exciting.  Near the end of the conversation, I told him I felt like I was in a retirement home.  Haha.  We have such a routine here.  We wake up at 6:00 a.m. go to breakfast, come back and chill in our room until 7:30 a.m.  I go to school at 8:00 a.m., go to lunch at 10:30, come back to my room until 1:00 p.m., go to class at 1:00 p.m., come back at 2:45 p.m., have 45 minutes of free time.  Dinner is at 3:45 p.m., room from 4 – 6:15.  Then 6:15 – 11 p.m. free time.  Lights out at 11, 12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.  It is so institutionalized.

During that night free time, guys are either talking, playing games, cards or watching TV.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a retirement home.  Last night I played Rummy with 3 other guys.  All had their coffee mugs, just talking about nothing.  Haha.  It reminded me of 4 older guys, sitting at Hardees or in a retirement home playing cards and talking about the local news.  This is the atmosphere most nights, unless there is basketball or football on.  Then everyone is yelling at the TV thinking the players and coaches can hear them.  LOL.  I will keep you updated on the exciting news of the Marion Correctional Retirement Home.  😉  That’s supposed to be a winkie face.  Wink. Wink.  Haha!

Jason – Jan. 17, 2015

I normally don’t write about particular people, but I have felt led to write this blog.  When I got here, I was in H2 South block, and I met some great guys quickly.  The second or third day I was playing rummy with the guys.  This other guy came out that I had not seen around.  He sat down near us and asked if he could play the next round.  Come to find out he hardly ever came out of his room.  He joined us the next game and it was really hard to play with 5 people.  I volunteered to leave the game.  That way, he could play.  I had already played a game, and I was fine.

Over the next couple of days I started eating with Jason.  And the next day he was in his room.  One of the usual players was playing cards with another group, so I went to Jason’s room and invited him to play.  He was hesitant but came out and played.  We got to talking, and I found out he was in choir.  We started talking about it, and he talked to the Chaplain.  I went to choir the following Friday and sat next to Jason.  I was no longer in H2 South block.  I had been moved to H1 South block.  It took me some time to adjust because the guys were more direct and not as laid back.

It was good to see Jason and over the past 2 1/2 weeks I have started to form a friendship with him. Not the “How is your day friendship?” but a deeper friendship.  We were at choir yesterday and at the end, we get into groups to pray.  I joined up with Jason and David.  David has known Jason for a little longer.  Well, the Chaplain talked about putting your full trust and hope in God.  He also brought up a counseling session about a woman who discovered the little girl in her and told the little girl that she would be there for her.  She had some damage from the past that was blocking her from moving on in her adult life.  I identified with this, because my counselor did the same thing with me.  I have a big fear of abandonment.  It is better now, but I still struggle with it.  I was crying my eyes out after this, it was so emotional.

Anyway, so we are in our prayer group, and Jason brought up the inner child.  He struggled with this bad and has huge trust issues, and fear of abandonment.  He said that sometimes he doesn’t see the point in living.  He has always dealt with bullying, abuse, and not trusting people.  People often left him without letting him know why as well. We prayed for him, and he cried to God to help him to comfort the inner child in him.  He started crying, weeping in the middle of the prayer.  I started crying too.

It was so powerful.  Ever since that moment I can’t stop thinking about being there for him.  He is a great guy.  I have prayed for him numerous times.  I know his struggle.  I understand.  There are a lot of people out there that struggle with something similar.  It is hard to do, but you have to start discovering and facing your past.  Then you have to let it go and move forward with your life.  Also don’t blame your past for who you are.  But understand your past.  Take responsibility for you and your choices.  YOU make the choices you make, not anyone else.

I would ask that you all pray for Jason.  That he will be able to cure his wounds and understand his story.

Thank you!

Love,
Eddie

H1 South Revisited – Jan 17, 2015

I know that my initial post about my new block wasn’t so positive.  This is an update to that blog post. Things are going much better in this block.  Like I said in my post “January 17, 2015,” the day just got better.  I was invited to play monopoly with 2 younger guys.  The one guy has given me a little hard time, but that is just him.  He has known nothing but jail.  He is 21, but has been in since he was 17.  He gets out in 2016.  I am guessing he is in close custody because of his gang affiliation or he messed up and got some disciplinary write-ups.

I passed up the game because I wanted to watch the movie, “Whitney” which was about Whitney Houston.  It was an excellent movie.  She was amazing!  Truly an awesome singer who will be missed.

Then we had lockdown and after lockdown the guys asked me to play again.  It was Kenny and Tony.  Kenny is the 21 year old I talked about and Tony is this real cool black guy.  Yesterday Kenny joked about my shirt being too tight.  I disagreed with him. He wears his clothes super baggy.  Tony was like “Don’t listen to him, he wishes he was as muscular as you in the shoulders.  Your shirt fits fine!”  Tony is cool.  Real nice guy.

Along with these guys, I have made a few more friends in the block.  Mike and Mike are in choir, and I like hanging with them.  Then there is Buck Norris.  Haha!  His name is Burk and he looks like Chuck Norris.  We talk all the time. He is fun and a good God-centered man.  Then there is Josh, who Mike and I are trying to get to join the choir.  He is cool too.  Then there is Cory.  He reminds me of a short caveman, outdoors man. He has the primitive beard, and he is laid back.  So things are going much better in H1 South. Plus, the heat is working now!  They only complain about my snoring.  Apparently this new CPAP isn’t working well.  Only the guy next to me can hear me. They just mess with me.  They know I can’t help it.  I feel bad for them.  The mask doesn’t stay on my face.  I have tried everything to get it to stay on.  My Dad should be sending my CPAP machine, I hope.  Things are going much better.  I feel more comfortable!

Note from Mom:  Praise the Lord!  When your son is in prison, having a stomach ache from worry is an everyday occurrence.  Thank you my Lord and Savior for protecting my son.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. – Psalm 91:7

H1 South – Jan 10, 2015

So on Wednesday, I was moved to H1 South, and so far, it has been difficult.  Before I get into this blog, I want you to know that I am not trying to complain.  In the End, God wins.  So keep reading!  I had to move cell blocks because the block I was in didn’t have a cell with an electric outlet.  I received a CPAP machine, and need electric to run it.  The only block that had a room with an electrical outlet was H1 South.  I got down there and went straight to my room and started unpacking my stuff.  I made my bed and then laid down.  I had a pounding headache, and just wanted to rest.  I laid down and fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night, freezing.  My feet were numb, and I was shivering.  It had to be at least 50 degrees or less in my room.  All I have is a sheet and a blanket.  I walked into the day room and it was at least 20 degrees warmer.

Class was cancelled in the morning because the college had a 2 hour delay.  It was -2 degrees outside.  Everyone was at work in the sewing plant.  There were like 5 people here, and they were sleeping.  I gathered a book, drink, Ramen noodle and my radio.  I hung out in the day room, in the warm, watching TV and reading.  I took a hot shower and relaxed.  My feet weren’t freezing anymore.  I put 2 pairs of socks on.  I went to class that afternoon, and I decided to hang out in the day room after lock down.  Plus, I wanted to watch Taken 2 at 8 p.m.  I went to my my chair somewhere, and I was informed by another inmate that that spot was someone else’s.  I said, “Okay”, gave him an evil look and sat somewhere else.  One guy said “Did you see that look?” I put on my headphones and watched TV.  Then the same guy came up to me and asked if I had a sleeping disorder.  I said “Yes, that is why I have a machine.”  He said, “Well, I can’t sleep with your snoring.”  The machine is supposed to make me breathe better at night, so I don’t snore.  That was frustrated.  He asked me to cover my vents to block out the sound.  I told him I wasn’t going to do that.  He walked away.  I could get written up for covering the vents.  Even though no heat is coming out of them.

I watched the movie and went back to my room and went to sleep.  I didn’t talk to anyone else.  This block is filled with obnoxious and evil people.  The next day my feet were still frozen and I had spent most of the day outside my block.

Two of the men from my block are in choir, and I talk to them.  They are nice and not obnoxious or disrespectful.  Then all 3 of us went to our rooms because it was loud and annoying.  This block is terrible and completely opposite of my last block.  My first block here was amazing.  Then today at lunch, this guy named “Renegade” sat down and started playing mind games.  It was annoying.  I came back and prayed hard.  He told me all the bad things that he had done, and he didn’t care and wasn’t ashamed.  I became silent and tried to avoid any conversation with him. He harassed me for 20 minutes, being nosey and deceitful.  I prayed, listened to music and listened to God.  I don’t know if God was speaking to me, or if it was my mind.  I was thinking, “I just want to go back to my block I was in before.  I can’t feel my feet, people complaining about me, and now being nosey and loud..  I will take my chances with sleep apnea.”  The problem is, I believe my sleep apnea has gotten worse.  I used to be a pressure of 13, and the machine was reading 18.  20 is the max.  That worries me a bit.  I have major sinus problems.

All these thoughts were going through my mind, and I finally told myself, my mind, to “Be Silent!”  Be silent and listen for God.  Then it popped into my head.  The Left Behind series!  If you haven’t read these books, you are missing out.  I have only read the first 2 books so far.  The books are about the end of times as they are in the Bible.  The first book is the rapture of the church happens.  In the second book, you are introduced to the AntiChrist, which isn’t completely decided that he is the AntiChrist until the end of the first book and beginning of the second book.  The AntiChrist starts taking control of everything.  The pilot and journalist (two of the main characters) are both asked to work for the AntiChrist.  They are new believers and really strong on their faith and beliefs.  They both hesitate to take the jobs because he is the AntiChrist.  He hates Jesus and God.  They fear that they will be killed if he finds out.  However, the rest of the core group believes that being close to the AntiChrist could have advantages.  They could know his every move, and what was next.  They could help people turn to Christ to prepare for the days to come.

I thought about this.  They felt like God had led them to those jobs.  So far in the series, it has helped them.  The AntiChrist hasn’t messed with them, because the power of God is greater.  He can’t harm them!  God is protecting them.  So I thought and maybe God wants me in this block.  Yes, it is filled with evil, but with God’s protection from evil, I will be fine.  I might be able to help some people, turn them to God.  Also I can keep my enemies close and love them.  I am going to stick it out.  If Buck and Rayford can work with the AntiChrist and be protected, I can do the same!

God is good!  All the time!  All the time!  God is good!

Sewing Class – Day 2, Jan 9, 2015

Before I get started, I forgot to mention some important details about the class.  By being in this class and possibly working in the plant, I will be released November of 2030, my minimum.  That is exciting!  Unlike what my lawyer said, it is really easy to make your minimum release date.  (Note from the editor [Mom]:  Eddie’s lawyer was an incompetent who cares more about politicking than about doing his job–my opinion only. Eddie’s father would disagree with me.  LOL) I have met inmates who have been written up multiple times and only worked during 50% of their sentence.  They still got out at their minimum release date.  These inmates have been in prison more than once.

Also, the class is from 8:00 am – 10:30 am and 1 pm – 2:45 pm Monday – Friday.  The only downside is that I miss Yard Time.  I was just starting to exercise, walk/jog again.  Working up to running again.  Now I can only go to the recreation on the weekends.  I will have to come up with a room exercise routine I guess.

So the second day of sewing started out discouraging, but ended up great.  The first half of class, all I did was sew straight lines for 2 1/2 hours.  Then the teacher’s aide told me I was not going to move onto anything else until I filled 4 scrap pieces with lines.  They never told us that.  It was frustrating.  He told me 10 minutes before class was finished.  So I was frustrated.  If I would have known that, I would have been onto something else… like sewing pockets or something.  I came back to my room and prayed hard.  I prayed continuously for about 20 minutes to relax me and not to worry about it.  I asked God to help me focus in the second session and to complete the task.  I felt much better, not frustrated.  I went into the second session determined to finish the task and to improve.  I did 6 strips of scrap!  The teacher’s aide and instructor told me that I would move onto something else on Monday. I was excited!

Then I got back to my room and another prayer was answered. I got 2 letters, one from my Dad and one from my Step Mom.  I hadn’t heard from them in 3 weeks.  I was a little worried about them.  For the past week, I prayed about it.  All I have to say is “God is good…. All the time… All the time…. God is Good!”

Peace everyone!

1st Day of Sewing Class – Jan 8, 2015

Hi Mom,

Yes, I am in Sewing Class!  Haha.  Who would have thought I would have wanted to learn how to sew.  Well I do.  So I met with my case manager on Tuesday.  He was super nice and seemed to like me.  He asked me if I was interested in Sewing Class or cabinet making.  Well cabinet making would have put me in one of the worst units on the camp.  So I said sewing and he said he would try to get me in the class but made no promises.  From what I heard, getting into the class is hard.  There have been people on the wait list for some time now.  About 4 hours later, I was called to the Education Department.  Come to find out, they found me slot, the last slot.  My case manager got me into the class at the last minute.  Well, I missed the first day of classes because I had to get my CPAP machine at Central Prison.  That was a full day’s trip.  Today, I learned the difference between the good side and the bad side of the fabric, how to thread the machine, and started sewing straight lines.  we also learned how to manipulate the needle without cutting the thread.  It was fun, relaxing, and therapeutic.

I have class for 5 hours a day.  I get paid $1 a day for training.  Haha.  When I am finished I hope to get a job in the sewing plant and eventually get $3.00 a day.  This is the maximum an inmate can get paid in the prison system.  This is fair, because they pay for our clothing and food and housing, so I’m happy with this.  I mean, if you are in minimum security on work release then you get paid a normal job wage.

The guy behind me helped me out a lot.  He had taken the class before, but didn’t finish the class.  He got a write-up 2 weeks before the class was over.  Because of the write-up, he was sent to “the hole” and taken out of the class.  He is a real nice guy, and he goes by “Jazz”.  He is gay but I don’t hold it against him.  God says to love everyone and to show His love to everyone.  I am not going to express my detailed opinions on the issue.  I wanted to mention Jazz because I am sure he will come up again in more blog posts.  His station is behind mine.

After class was over, we had to return our sheers and work boots.  Then off to the search room to make sure we didn’t smuggle anything out of the room.  After every class session, we have to get strip searched.  A lot of guys complain, but it is for everyone’s safety.  I certainly wouldn’t want to be stabbed with a sheers or a needle in a vein or something.  Who knows what kind of weapon they could make with a needle?  I will keep you updated on the sewing class.

Love, Eddie