Stories From the Crib – Part 5

Nick BolleaEight feet by two feet – the aisle space my cellie and I have for walking in our cell while living in “the hole” – solitary confinement. Actually, it’s the amount of space my cellie has for pacing.

660 laps equal one mile. My cellie does about fifteen laps a minute, which is roughly one mile every 45 minutes. After every lap he completes he looks at himself in the mirror, nods, and says a silent “hello.” He paces for 7-10 hours (yes, HOURS) a day. That is equivalent to 9 to 13 miles or 5, 940 to 8,580 laps, and the same number of silent hellos and looks in the mirror every single day. It is absolutely mind boggling. It’s the same guy who spent nine years in solitary confinement in a Texas prison for killing people while in a gang fight. That’s how he does his time. Paces. Nods. Talks to himself. Thinks.

Whenever I write a letter on the small table in the cell or when I work out in the aisle space, I’m forced to place him on bunk rest. He’s not too happy about it, as he has severe ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and can’t sit still. After an hour or so he starts getting the shakes and I know that’s my cue to wrap up what I’m doing. So I’m limited to about one hour a day off my top bunk.

Yes, it does drive me crazy – but God is definitely teaching me more and more patience every day. The poor guy is going to a Federal “Mental” Prison in a few weeks. I guess that is what happens when you spend almost ten years of your life in solitary confinement. I guess I need to get out of here, or else…..

Once again, sharing what happens in the crib. You don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here. Prayers appreciated.

What’s Your Perspective?

Imagine yourself walking with a friend through the woods. All of a sudden you come to a clearing and see two armies, one on glasseseach side of you. Between both armies stands the biggest, largest and strongest man you’ve ever seen. He puts the World’s Strongest Man competition on ESPN to shame. A man from one of the armies, your side, approaches you and tells you and your friend that if one man can fight this giant one -on -one and kill him, we will win the battle. After he walks away, you immediately say to your friend, “Is he crazy? Look at the size of that man. No one will ever take him down. Let’s get out of here!” You start walking away and your friend says, “Hold up! Are YOU crazy! Look at the size of that man. He’s about 8 men put together. And his forehead is the size of an elephant.” Your friend then begins walking towards the large man; you get scared and say, “Umm, that’s basically what I said. What are you doing?” With a sling out and few stones twirling in his hand he looks at you and says, “What an easy target!” And goes on to slay the giant. That’s right…this is the adapted version of David and Goliath.

What a difference perspectives can make. Most of the onlookers saw only a giant. David, however, saw a mortal man defying Almighty God. Goliath was a target too big to miss! With God on his side, this was an opportunity he could not pass up. God gave David the perfect opportunity to test his faith, courage and strength…..and succeeded.

How many times in your life has God given you that opportunity to do something for Him, but you had a different perspective and passed at the chance? Probably more than we can count. Each day God puts opportunities in front of you. Some you try and succeed at, and some you don’t even think twice about and turn away from them. Galatians 6:10 says “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good.”

Let’s look at another example in the Bible – Paul. Paul endured many hardships throughout his ministry. In everything he did Paul always considered what his actions communicated bout Jesus Christ. Being put in prison would cause many people to become bitter or give up. (Believe, me it’s definitely true. I would know). But Paul looked at it from a different perspective and saw it as an opportunity to spread the Gospel of Christ. Paul realized that his current circumstances weren’t as important as what he did with them. I was encouraged by Paul, after reading the book of Acts, to do just that. Instead of complaining about the deteriorating conditions in “the hole,” which I did when I first got in here, I began looking at each obstacle or struggle as a means of growth. I did my best to turn the negatives into positives, with each one an opportunity. Back on March 15, if someone told me I would be spending the next 4+ months in “the hole,” I would cringe and find some way to get out of it. But now looking back, it wasn’t all that bad, and I used the opportunity for spiritual growth, character building, and even shared the Word of God to my two cellies. What a great opportunity it was, and I give God all the glory!

Now I know there are those reading this who are not in prison, but there are still plenty of instances of discouragement in your life – times of indecision, financial burdens, boss issues, illness, family conflict, church conflict, or the loss of a job. How we act in such situations will reflect what we believe. Like Paul and David, look for ways to demonstrate your faith even in bad situations. Don’t look at them as bad or even scary situations, but see them as opportunities to do God’s work in your life. Whether or not the situation improves, your faith will grow stronger. Focus on what’s in front of you, and someday you will look back and say, “God saw me through that and I am grateful.”

Craig’s Journal Entries

Portions of Craig’s journal at Racine County Jail

Entry # 1. 11/15/2013. Day 29
Beginning a new journal since I have now been at the Racine County Jail for 4 weeks now as I await my next court date on December 16. It’s a completely different place compared to the detention center; lots of negatives, but a few positives like email and vending machines, although I’ve only used the machines once. I lead a Bible study with 4 guys on a daily basis, and I do a lot of reading and scrabble playing. Guys are OK, but lots of kids. God is definitely in control and He wants me here for a reason. Ain’t never giving up on Him!!

Entry #2. 11/16/2013. Day #30
I’m so hungry. I feel like I’m wilting away.

Entry #7. 11/21/2013. Day #35
Mail has been coming in, as well as email. It’s nice to feel the love.

Entry #12. 11/26/2013. Day 41
Not a good sleep last night. But I guess it’s never good in this place. I’m just so cold and tired all the time. I do my best to keep up with the good attitude. My eyes are about shot, too, with my contacts. I feel like there is a needle in my eye. I put in a request to get my glasses from the detention center. I pray they get here soon and in one piece.

Entry #14. 11/28/2013. Day 43
Happy Thanksgiving! So many things to be thankful for. I thank God that He has me where I am today. I am happy where He has me and an extremely happy I am being used in ways to give glory to God. I am thankful for a wonderful God. Of course, I wish I was around family and friends, but I’m surrounded by new family and friends today. I pray that He can continue to use me in ways to help others get through this holiday season. To Him all the glory.

Entry #16. 11/30/2013. Day 45
Last day of November! I think mornings are the best thing God has created. It’s always hard to get up in the morning, but it’s the most peaceful when I sit down for my quiet time. Everyone is sleeping. I only wish I could see outside, watching the sun rise, overlooking the mountains or the oceans. God is good. I’ll soon be out of here. I pray I can get into a great normal routine in prison.

Entry #28. 12/2/2013. Day 47
It’s amazing the type of talk that goes on in jail. All everyone wants and talks about is sex. They’ve done so many worse things than my crime; yet I get punished for it and they don’t at all. It makes me sick to my stomach. I wish people were realize what goes on out there. I do wonder, why, God, why me? Why must I be punished for the rest of my life and the majority of the people get a slap on the wrist? I’m frustrated with it all and continue to pray good comes out of it. I won’t lose my faith, and I pray for miracles with those people who judge and not forgive. It hurts, Lord, I pray for miracles.

random-thoughtsSitting in “the hole” one does a ton of thinking. So I’ve compiled some random thoughts/questions that may or may not have answers.

1. When folding laundry, why are there always an odd number of socks?
2. When going to the bathroom, do you fold or crumble the toilet tissue?
3. Speaking of toilet paper, why do they make scented toilet paper?
4. Did you know if you chug a warm can of Coke, you’ll vomit? I didn’t believe it; tried it, and it’s true!
5. Who actually waits a half hour after eating to go swimming?
6. Don’t you hate when you’re driving and you have to sneeze? What’s worse is when you are in stop and go traffic and it happens!
7. What’s the difference between talking on the phone when driving and talking to a person sitting next to you when driving? Just asking!!
8. What does PU stand for (as in “PU, that stinks!”)?
9. How come whenever you are in a hurry to get somewhere you always seem to hit every red light? But when you want to take your time and are driving slowly you can still manage to make it through every green light.
10. Why do we say “heads up” when an object is flying at our heads; shouldn’t it be “heads down”?
11. Why do we lock our doors in the house? If someone wants to get in, they’ll still find a way to get in. A locked door is not going to keep them out. It only creates a bigger mess for you.
12. Why do they call it quicksand when it pulls you down slowly?
13. How long does it take you to get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? Remember that commercial? 
14. In outer space is the sky still blue or does it turn black eventually, even if you still see the sun? How high do you go before it’s not the sky anymore?
15. Why does a dog get mad at you when you blow in his face but loves to stick his face out a car window?
16. What type of animal is Snuffleupagus?
17. Why does the sun lighten our hair but darkens our skin?
18. Which of your five senses could you live without?
19. What is your most used word?
20. Why are there no B batteries?
21. Why does it feel like we need a vacation after a vacation? Aren’t vacations supposed to be for rest?
22. Where does the wind come from?
23. Why do we say a pair of pants when it’s just one item?
24. If someone who has their nose pierced has a cold, and they take their nose ring out, does snot come out of the pierced hole?
25. Why is tuna sometimes called tuna fish? Chicken is never called chicken bird?
26. Can you close your eyes and raise your eyebrows?
27. Where is Waldo anyway?
28. Why doesn’t McDonalds sell hotdogs?
29. Why does grass only smell when you cut it?
30. Why do we sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame when we are already there?
31. Why does round pizza come in a square box?
32. How has God always been here since the beginning of time?
33. Can anyone really fathom the love God has for us?

There are many things in life we just can’t answer and never will. As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5

Stories from the Crib – Part 4

Nick BolleaIt’s laundry time!! I take care of my own laundry by doing it in the shower. It can be relaxing with the water beating on you. But some people in “the hole” like to do their laundry in the toilet. Yep! That’s right, the toilet!! Pretty disgusting if you ask me, but it works for them.

The toilets are not your everyday household toilet. They have extreme suction which means practically anything can be flushed down as long as it fits through the hole in the toilet. When I was at the detention center last year I witnessed a kid (16 years old) flush a t-shirt down the toilet. I have no clue why he did it…..most likely to be funny and to see if it worked. The t-shirt went down with ease. He got a kick out of it.

The reason some people do laundry in the toilet is because of the high powered pressure that can suck off the filth and grime. They shampoo the inside of the toilet water, make it nice and sudsy, and then start scrubbing and flushing, scrubbing and flushing many many times to get the grime off their clothes. The most important thing to remember is to hang on tightly to their clothes so they will not get flushed down. They say it works, but there’s no way I am going to try it.

The reason for doing our own laundry is because we only receive one or two sets of clothes for the week, so doing your own laundry is a must, unless you were my old “smelly cellie” who didn’t care about clean clothes. Ha!

Just wanted to share another day in our lives here. Never ever dreamed I would be learning this kind of information in my life…… Wish I didn’t.

Stories from the Crib – Part 3

Nick BolleaAhhhh…..fishing!! I remember those days of fishing at the Lake with my dad and grandpa. Great memories!!

For all you fisherman, you might actually get a kick out of fishing in “the hole.” Not your kind of fishing hole, of course. I’m talking about fishing in “the hole” – in solitary confinement. The definition of fishing in prison is casting a tied and knotted line that is attached to a filled toothpaste tube for weight underneath the door to another door in your hallway. If you want your line to end up all the way down the hall, sometimes one might need the help of the neighbors to zigzag the line from door to door until it gets to the destination. It eventually gets to the place you want it to.fishing

The reason you might throw a line out is to receive something you need or want from a neighbor; for instance, more soap or a book or magazine you might want to read or even some food. The neighbor receives the line after precious casting and ties the object what is wanted to the line just received. The caster then reels in his catch with excitement. It takes time and skill, of course, but all we have in the hole is time. Oh, in case you’re wondering where we get string from – it comes from the blankets – yards and yards of thread!!