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

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Pearly White – June 4

So a while ago I wrote about how I haven’t brushed my teeth for like almost 8 years.  Well, I filled a request to get a dental cleaning. In here, you don’t know when they are going to call you.  I usually at least brush my teeth the day of my appointment.  So I started brushing my teeth every day since I turned in the request.

My teeth are looking good.  I also feel better after brushing. I have even started flossing too.  I have never done that, ever.  I tried when I had braces, but that didn’t last long.  Haha!  My gums did not like both of these things and they bled a lot at first, but now they are used to it.

I am sure they love me now that they are not in pain.  My teeth are looking on the brighter side of life too.  J  I am pretty sure that people around me are happier too.

Kairos Sunday – May 29, 2016

This day was very emotional for a variety of reasons; One, because it was the last day and two, because there were about 100 people from the outside yelling, cheering, clapping and showing authentic Agape love for all of us.  If that doesn’t make you cry, I don’t know what will.  I don’t think that one inmate didn’t cry.  It is amazing how much Agape love helps a person; helps them to have hope again.  Helps them to see that even though they are broken, have sinned, have fallen, that people still care and love them.  It was amazing!

It was sad, because we didn’t even really get to say goodbye to all our Kairos mentors.  That stank really bad.  They are coming back on May 14th, but over the weekend we had grown very close to them.  I have seen some genuine changes in inmates on the block.  It is amazing.  I hope that we don’t get discouraged and keep supporting and encouraging each other.

So the conclusion of the weekend was: Accept God’s grace, love and forgiveness and spread his love to others.  “Christ is counting on you!”

Tough Turkey – April 18, 2016

So about 2 weeks ago I had a problem.  See we had Turkey Ala King for chow.  Well I had a huge piece of tough turkey, and it took me forever to chew it.  I was getting pieces stuck in my teeth and my jaw started to hurt.  However it tasted good.  When I got back to my room, I started picking my teeth and got a couple pieces out of my teeth.  It was crazy!  Anyway, so I don’t know if you remember the blog where I talked about how I DON’T brush my teeth.  I brush them before I go to the dentist, so twice a year.  Okay, well keep that in your mind while I finish this tough turkey story.

So confident that I got all the turkey out of my teeth;  I went on with my nightly activities then I went to bed.  I slept great that night, but when I woke up I had an awful pain in my gums.  Well apparently a piece of turkey was stuck up underneath my gums.  I tried to get it out with my tongue and finger… no luck! I said, “Man, I am going to have to brush my teeth.”  I very slowly, hesitantly. and with much agony, opened up my tooth paste, put it on my brand new, never used tooth brush, and brushed my teeth.

Now some of you are probably saying “Halleluja!”, especially if you come and visit.  I brushed and a long strand of turkey came out.  My gums and teeth felt normal after 10 minutes.  I will have to admit that it felt good to brush my teeth.  I might go back to regular brushing.  Now that I think about it, when I was in Central Prison, I went to the dentist, and she said, “You should brush your gums.”  I looked at her with a face, and she said, “You don’t have to use toothpaste.”  How did she know!  She said my teeth looked great.  I don’t know what to do.  I might just Emergency Brush…. You know when I get that tough turkey in my gums!  🙂

Horticulture Update – April 18, 2016

Hey everyone!  I haven’t written in a while so I thought I would give you some updates.  I am absolutely loving Horticulture Class.  Over the last 2 weeks, we have transplanted over 2,000 flowers.  They all look great.  We boosted them today with bloom booster.  Our flower sale is May 10th and 11th.  The petunias I planted are beautiful.  They look great, especially the hanging baskets.  We had 50 but we donated 2 to the volunteer banquet for the raffle.  There are 3 petunia plants in each basket.  The baskets were a huge hit at the banquet.  I have also been doing some cuttings of sage, clerodendran and begonias.  In a couple of weeks when the mist bench isn’t filled with flowers, I am going to do an aloe vera project.  We have a lot of aloa vera plants.  Some of them look terrible, some of them look great.  I am going to throw away the bad and take cuttings of the good and hopefully have a bunch of good looking plants.  I am excited for that project.

Also about 7 weeks ago, I had an orange in the chow hall.  Well, I took 2 seeds/pits and decided I would try planting them.  I didn’t think they would sprout.  But after much research and proper care, I was successful. So I have 2 orange trees growing.  Haha!

Unfortunately, I don’t think they will get big enough to produce fruit, but it is still cool.  That is about all that is going on in class. I have found another passion.  🙂

Last Hope – March 10, 2016

“And there was a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.  She had heart the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.  For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.”  And immediately the bleeding ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.  And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, “who touched me?” And he looked around to see who had done it.  But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, case in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.  And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”  –Mark 5: 25-34

I am currently reading a book about the healing miracles of Jesus.  The author’s views on this miracle touched me.  There is so much to this miracle that I could write pages about it.  However, I am going to just make some highlights:

First, this lady was very brave and you could say, desperate.  To go out in public around all those people brushing up against others was really against the law.  If a woman had a discharge of blood for many days, it was illegal. She had been bleeding for 12 years.  The law regarding this is in Leviticus 15:25-27.  Here she was out in this massive crowd making people unclean.  Then to top it all off, she touched Jesus’ clothes.  This brings me to my second point.  She was desperate, it was her last hope.  She had been to every doctor and tried every remedy known to man at that time.  But nothing healed her disease.  She put everything she had into Jesus.  She put her whole faith — in him.  He was her last hope.  She realized that with him, she would be healed.  Even if she just touched his garment.

However, my favorite part of this miracle was Jesus’ response, his words, his actions.  Right here we see Jesus doing what he does best, attending to the human need.  He stops in the middle of this huge massive crowd and talks to her.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands of people trying to get his attention. He turns around, blocks out the crowd, forgets about the law and focuses on the one woman.  He has a one-on-one moment with this woman and he says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

He doesn’t say much.  He doesn’t spend that much time with her, but what he does say is beautiful, loving and compassionate.  It was enough for her to be healed, happy, joyful and at peace.  To feel special.  It is what Jesus does.  He has compassion and cares about each one of his people.  The author tells about this girl who was studying how to play violin.  Well a famous violinist came to town to do a concert.  Her teacher played her some of his songs, and she wanted so badly to go to this concert.  She went to go buy a ticket, but they were all sold out.  She ran into the violinist, and he was the one who told her that they were sold out.  The girl was so upset.  The violinist told her that she could still hear him play.  She questioned him and reminded him that the tickets were gone,  sold out.

He said, “sit”, went and grabbed his violin and played his whole concert to her.  This guy’s whole goal in life was to use his gift to make people happy; even if it meant doing a whole concert for one person.  Wow!  Just imagine if we had the same mindset.  I challenge you to give yourself up to that one person that calls you to talk, to listen or to be a friend to someone who needs it.  I challenge you to take time out of your busy day to attend to their need as Jesus would have.  You never know what 30 seconds or 5 minutes or even an hour can do for a person whose last hope might be… you.   🙂

Horticulture Class Update – Feb 28, 2016

I hope everyone is doing well.  I have not updated you on my Horticulture Class since the first day.  Haha.  I love Horticulture class.  It is so fun and interesting.  In the morning, Monday – Thursday we have a lecture / class, and in the afternoon, we go out to our big greenhouse.  I love going to the greenhouse.  It is so therapeutic.  I have about 300 plants that I take care of.  I planted some Petunia seeds in the middle of January and now I have about 120 Petunia plants.  They are for the Spring Flower Sale.  I also have two trays of Begonias that we got from another plant by clipping pieces off and planting them.  It is a form of propagation (breeding plants).  So I have 72 of those.  They are looking great.  I also have about 50 Snake Plants.  They are just cuttings right now.  We cut up one of the plants and made more.  🙂

I also have some Holly cuttings as well.  I took a grassy-looking houseplant and separated it, divided it to come up with 11 plants.  They are doing so well.  I also have 8 Strawberry plants.  One of them has 4 Strawberries!  Yum!  I also have 15 Cacti and 2 Tomato plants.

We are about to start our vegetable garden. We are going to plant Beets, Carrots, Cucumbers, Arugula, Spinach, Broccoli, Leafy Lettuce, Turnips, Turnip Greens, Radishes, Squash, Onions, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Crème de Menthe Melon, Green Beans and Tomatoes.  We have about 60 Tomato Plants.  I am planting Beets and Onions in my row. I have been adding compost and turning the dirt so far.  It looks great! I can’t wait. I will also be planting some Browalia (purple flower, annual) for our Spring Flower sale, and Vinca and Mimulus (yellow flower or monkey flower) in the next month.  So far, in the greenhouse, I have learned about Pest Management,  and Propagating and Basic Greenhouse Maintenance (weeding, cleaning, watering, etc.)  I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

I am also working on m own little project.  It is called “Second Chance Acres”.  It is a Dry Bean Farm, Hummus production, low income housing, Rehabilitation and a Community Garden for ex-cons.  It will be a non-profit organization to help felons get their lives together.  I am doing some intense research and planning!  Not only will we provide Rehab, but also Christian activities, services and community meals and programs.  The Rehab part will be modeled after the Circle of Hope program in Canada.  I will keep you all updated on Horticulture and “Second Chance Acres.”