Christmas this year had a great effect on me and really made me appreciate everything I have even more than usual. I really have had an awesome time realizing how much God has blessed me in 2008. I know His hand has been on my life forever but this year especially has given me a chance to reflect and be the most grateful. I feel like I am closer to God and therefore my wife, and that God has given us such a great relationship to be able to be real with each other and to be honest in everything we do, well except when we play cards….
I feel like we have started down a path now that will undoubtedly lead to a new awareness of His glory and a glimpse of His plan for the rest of our lives. I am only able to say that for 2009 we are headed for new experiences, new places and new faces. I will not forget about all the places and faces I have already been and seen, but I am looking forward to all that God has for us. God is leading us into a phase of our lives to not only be a hundred percent reliant on Him, but of also realizing that it is the only way. When you get a feeling of Gods presence in your everyday life it is more motivating and challenging than anything we try to create ourselves. There is no way that we could ever be as challenged to do the right thing, say the right thing, or even think the right thing as when God is sitting right there at your computer with you, or at the coffee shop or at work with my “Work Friends”.
He really has put an extra helping of self awareness that is by design His way of allowing me the opportunity to choose Him and not Me. I have been blessed greatly by honoring Him in the things I do, and the decisions I have made but it’s not always easy. I have decided to see if I have what it takes to fully let go and let God. It sounds funny to LET God, but it is true. I have to let God take full control and give up trying to wreck my life. It is God that is perfect and no matter how much I try I never will be. All I can do is take everyday as a blessing and accept what God has for me. I believe that this coming year is going to be a very educational and in-depth look into my life and I hope that what comes out will be pleasing to Him.
Psalm 17:5 My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Yes its true Danielle and I were both in prison on Sunday. Actually, just visiting so not technically IN prison but we did get a metal detector sweep and a very intimate pat down before being able to enter. Once we had our shoes and jackets back on and were Ok'd to proceed we went in past the two ginormous sets of Razor Wire an armed Guard tower, and were escorted into the Prison walls. Johnny Moffitt always says " Prisons have two sets of walls...One to Keep the Prisoners IN and one to keep Everyone Else OUT."
Well, we were allowed in as Chapel Volunteers pretty easily on Sunday, which were told is not always the Norm, so we were happy. We had twelve people all together led by some friends of ours Linda and Randy, and Al and Tammy. Johnny and Betty Moffitt were there along with Gina and Travis and Me and Danielle. At first I thought it was going to be difficult to get all of us through all the units we were told we would only have an hour to visit, but then I realized we were all splitting up. Even through I had just visited prison in Mexico, this was going to be the first time inside with Danielle and the first time inside with out someone I knew. I mean I'm still a rookie and don't even know all the rules yet.
But alas we overcame the apprehension and were both glad we did. Danielle and I first traveled trough Ad Seg for Cell to Cell Visitation. Ad Seg is short for Administrative Segregation. This is sometimes used for Inmates that are either a threat to themselves or someone else and means that they are in their cell up to 20 or more hours a day. Mountain view is a women's Prison and Danielle and I were in the Ad Seg block visiting about 6 inmates for about an hour. A couple of the ladies wanted prayer for anger or bitterness and one for just having lost her niece.
One of the things that encouraged me the most was how enthusiastic one inmate (Millie) was about God and how Jesus had saved her. She was more than willing to share the gospel with us and tell about how God has been by her side while on the inside. She did tell us about how hard the past five months have been on her and we could gather she was in Ad Seg for her issues with authority. We were able to encourage her to stay steadfast and not to lose grip what she has been holding onto for 6 of her 15 years of incarceration.
Another inmate that I was encouraged by was Julie. She has been in prison for much of her children's time growing up, and is very worried that her kids will fall under the same influences that she did. She was not without faith as she spoke and We could see joy still in her cell as she sang gospel songs for us and the other inmates. I prayed that her children would be protected and that Julie would have peace and would not be worrisome about their well being.
I am still moved by how impactfull this visit was for me. I knew going into yesterday that I had nothing to offer and that i could not give these women anything but my time and presence and I truly believe that God was there in our midst and gave us the words to speak and the prayers to pray over them.
After our time was up, we said goodbye and headed to the Chapel for our afternoon service. The building looks like it will hold about 200 people and there were definitely not many seats left empty. We started out with some praise songs and Christmas tunes and heard from Tammy, Travis and Johnny. My biggest take away was the attentiveness and eagerness to soak up as much teaching and love as possible. All, we did was show up and show love and I know for a fact that God showed through.
While not everyone was eager to be around us or chat with us, I know that Tenishai, Millie, Julie and Delia heard what they have been waiting for. I think thgat for those few moments we spent in Ad Seg, it was Our time, Our Smiles and Our Prayers that made God real for the inmates and their words and reactions that made God real to me.
I know that we will be back soon and often. With close to 200, 000 inmates in Texas we shouldn't run out of people anxious and in need of a Godly friend. I will choose to go back in because I feel like God has a purpose and a plan which will allow us the freedom to explore His gifting in our lives, a freedom to speak His word, and freedom to share His love with the world especially if "The World" means Mountain View Prison.
"I would rather be FREE in Here than Locked Up out THERE" Julie - Ad Seg Texas
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Well, we had a fabulous week in Mexico and have made many connections that will be utilized through God in a big way this coming year. We met with several leaders in Mexcio that are more than eager to serve God and to see Him Move throughout Mexico and the World. I am excited to continue building on the relationships I made and develope more ministry connections. I know God has a great plan for me and Danielle and I knbow that this is only the begining. We have lots to learn but I know that God has already blessed us with a great wealth of knowledge and I pray I am willing to put it into use. We were blessed to see several dozen inmates and other individuals recieved into the Kingdom by accepting Jesus as their Savior, and were able to Introduce several church leaders to Overcomer's addiction program through newly published books translated into spanish. God really has a great way of building His kingdom and I am always glad to be a part of no matter how big or small. I am including some more images here that are in my opinion the essence of what God is doing. For More pictures Please visit These Links
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