Friday, February 19, 2010

#56 Prison Talk: Loose Ends (retro)

Prison Talk Loose Ends

It’s almost 6pm and I feel kinda tired mentally, but not physically. Today was kinda tough on me, but I suppose it is tough for a lot of folks who read my blogs and are concerned about others.

I will continue with the short series of “Prison Fear” tomorrow, but I wanted to take a moment to catch up on a few things, to kinda get you to see what’s been going on around me.

I am still kinda amazed that I am still blogging, and actually I kinda like it. If you had told me back in 2001 that I would be writing thousands of pages of prison stuff, I would have thrown a cup of hot coffee at you…with NO sugar!

Yet here I am, doing it and not tired of writing. It just isn’t possible to have written this much unless something very compassionate in my heart was urging me to do so. I’d like to think it was because I am a cool guy, but I think it is because God is using me to help others. If it had been of my own accord, there is no way I could have written 100 pages on this stuff.

For that reason, I thank those of you who have followed me through the years, following me either on other prison support sites, or through other blogs I had, or accidentally finding me through some search. I cannot say how thankful I am, and how it has been a privilege for me to be able to share things with you that might give you a sense of hope. I kid you not, sometimes at night I pray, thanking God for allowing me to write as much as I have.

And I am also very thankful for the support I have received from many readers who have compassion for me, and support my blogs. Whether buying my books, cards or just sending support in a gift, it has truly been a blessing for me. It is hard to tell people that I am not trying to hustle money off readers, because they will choose to see only an ex con trying to get money, rather than seeing the full body of work. For those that do see the difference, my humble thanks.

I wanted to catch up on some emails I received and share some with you. One came from a reader who makes some very good comments about problems with prison phone calls. I remember I wrote a blog on it about a year ago, but I cannot remember the actual title. Anyway, the link to check that out is:

If you get a chance, check it out, lots of people with loved ones in prison have serious problems with the rates they charge to communicate with inmates. If you get a chance to check out another prison blog, here is the link to one:

The reader from this site was kind enough to share the link so I can pass along to you, so give it a check out. I do apologize to them for being kinda tardy, several things had come up and I wanted to promise myself to email them and share their links. Again, if you get the chance, check it out. If you want me to blog about the situation, let me know, I can share what I can.

Another very interesting email I got was from a reader who sent me an email from now President Obama, about his feelings about inmates and ex felons. I read it and can see that he truly is concerned and cares about how ex felons need help to get back on their feet after doing their time, and how this country must be willing to embrace, not reject them. I want to share that with you, but I wanted to make sure I had permission to do so. It is a very intelligent email that was sent likely months ago, maybe a year or so ago. It kinda gives me hope that soon our country will do a little more to help ex felons instead of piling more condemnation on them. I think the entire letter President Obama wrote is worth of commenting on in support. It is a very positive and encouraging letter if you have a loved one in prison, letting us know somebody cares about those who have made mistakes.

Well, yesterday I was writing on my short series of prison fear, and one of my friends came by. He was talking about a lady he met (a friend) at a local convenience store, and as they talked, she told him how she needed a better job. She was working 16 hours a day, two jobs, to support herself and two children. My friend knew her well enough and really felt sorry for her, knowing she is slowly killing herself.

So he came over and had one of her resumes, and wanted to put her resume online at a local pharmaceutical company, to help her out. He does not have a computer, so he uses ours. I was looking at the resume, and to be blunt, it REALLY needed help. I have a kinda knack of sprucing things up in literal terms, so offered to redo her resume. To me, if my friend felt that much about her to try to help, I could at least give him a better resume to submit for her. It meant rewriting and reformatting the entire resume, but it had to be done, and I told him I would do it.

I was up to about 1am working on it, and decided to finish the next day. I went to bed, trying to stay positive about some things. Even when nothing bad is going on, you still have to try to hang in there, and build faith. The idea the next day was to finish the resume and write the third part of my prison fear series.

But some things happened this morning that really punched me in my faith stomach. Kinda the reminder that an ex felon just does not get the breaks needed to get his life back on track. And to add to that, my colleague told me that he wants to try to get a contract for us to work with the same local Christian radio station that cost me two jobs back in 2001-02. The same church that bounced two $75.00 checks on me, the same one that paid me $3 an hour, well below LEGAL minimum wage, and then lied to the state government on me, saying I was a volunteer. Yeah, the same.

But he felt that we could still help them, especially since they were in serious financial trouble. And he wanted me in on it if we sign a contract to help run the station.

Guys, I say this to you because if you read this, I trust you understand…I don’t know what to do about this. I love radio, and have a degree in it, but those people did me VERY wrong. I don’t trust the pastor, because he has already lied on the newspaper about the station being “non profit”, when by FCC standards they clearly are, and has lied about when they would be coming back on the air. They have been off for months, and I have seen no real effort in them trying to run a real station.

I also know that if I get involved, it will likely swallow my time, and it will surely show on my blogs. I might be lucky to blog once a week. The last time I gave a lot of my time for a radio station, it was fruitful in the essence of helping someone, but not fruitful in paying any bills at all.

So today starts out pretty heavy and I find myself wondering if I am on the right path. I do my exercises, wondering what I am supposed to do, and it seems like the fear starts to creep in me…what if this ex felon is not supposed to succeed?

What if everything I have been saying is nothing but a lie to myself and to the readers?

What if maybe God isn’t on my side, as I thought? Circumstances today had me questioning myself, and sometimes I get to mental and it paralyzes my day. For a moment, I had thought about just going to my room and sitting there, even at 11am.

And then the thought came that maybe I should not write today’s blog, I had other things on my mind. And that person’s resume, well, it’s not like she’s paying me to do it. It just seemed like the better thing to do was not do anything….and then what?

Sit and worry?

Something didn’t seem right about that. I was worried about my situation, and something inside of me said that to worry is the road to failure and disappointment, but to push on, to write today’s blog, and to help that person with that resume, requires faith.

Faith that God has NOT turned from me, but instead is with me.

You gotta understand folks, it isn’t easy to write 6 pages of faith when you are worried about stuff. But in order to write today’s blog, I had to push off the fear, and write in faith. I have always said that anything good I write here is by God’s strength, never mine. So I decided to write that blog today, which was on prison fear, and the inmate. I thought maybe I might muster 2 or 3 pages, but I ended up writing 6.

I pushed forward, even with my worries, but I was hopeful that by going forward, rather than being worried, would give me strength. I actually felt a little better after doing it, and then decided to tackle that resume.

I may never see that lady, but my friend told me late today that she was very thankful for the resume I did for her. And it really wasn’t that hard, and just seemed like the right thing to do. I finished it, and decided to take a walk, to get my mind off my problems. I decided to walk to the public library, and on the way there, I was fighting my self.

What if God isn’t on my side? What if I’m not doing anything important? What if all I am is a loser? The thoughts seemed to envelope me and it was getting hard for me to really find faith. I walked with my head down, representative of the feelings I had. Maybe I am not doing as much good as I thought I was.

Halfway to the library, somebody honks a horn at me, it turns out to be the same guy that came over the day before. He was headed somewhere and wanted to know if I needed a ride. I was cool walking, but as it turned out, he was going to the library too. In a strange way, my temporary depression was interrupted by a friend, perhaps something needed to take my mind off it.

We went to the library and I decided to change my mind, because I needed to walk. I needed to clear my head, but ironically I was only confusing it. So I went walking downtown, trying to understand what hope I had in any of my goals, and dreams as an ex felon.

Several things happened that I cannot say here, but at the end there was a huge burden lifted off me. I wasn’t back to “great” but I was a lot better. I tried my best during that time to think of scriptures to keep me positive, and I guess after a time, it worked. I felt better as I went back to the library, and decided to grab a soda and sit out in the lawn of the public library.

I felt a little better, and thought about a lot of things, still wondering how this ex con looks to God, after all I have been through. I wanted to say that maybe I am nothing better than a common fool, but I could not help but think that I would have to be better than that…

I mean, it takes love to care about people, even those you don’t know or may never see. I can’t be a total failure if God is inspiring me to write for those with loved ones in prison. I started to see that what happened today was one of those days where fear and condemnation wanted to reign in me, and I buckled…but did not falter.

Today was kinda rough for me, but as I sit here typing, I say to you that I did not give up. Lots of you will go through times where circumstances will not look favorable, but these are the times that you have to push forward and dare to believe God. If all you can muster is saying a scripture under your breath, or in your head, it can make the difference in you believing or not.

So today I am doing better, still gotta work on building faith, but I think I will be fine…I got some people looking out for me.


(do you know Who I am talking about?)

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