Lights Out

starrynightsky1I absolutely love this time of year when the days get shorter and the temperatures start getting cooler. Well, cooler temps in Texas mean temperatures in the 80’s. I know that is still summer weather to all of you that live up north….which I guess is most of you since I’m way down in Texas. But……winter is right around the corner. HA!

So it has been getting dark here around 7pm. And darkness means cooler temperatures. And cooler temperatures mean it is more of an enjoyable time to work out and run. Because the compound closes at 8pm lately, I’ve been able to do my workouts under the lights. It was 7:30pm the other night and I was in the middle of doing push-ups and pull-ups on the football field when all of a sudden the lights on the entire compound shut off! And let me tell you, IT WAS AWESOME!! For about fifteen seconds, I felt like I was free: free from all the other inmates. Free from all the drama that happens every day. And free from the prison. I was in my own little world for about fifteen seconds, looking at the stars in awe, bringing a smile to my face along with memories of being away from all civilization. I can only dream of them these days, but until then, my memories will have to suffice.

I remember the first time I ever took a backpacking trip. It was the summer of 1997, the summer before my senior year in high school. It was through a Christian sports camp called Kanakuk Kamps located in Colorado, which is now called Camp Kivu ( – check it out!). I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors so this camp really grabbed my interest. The camp was a two-week long adventure camp with mountain biking, white water rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, and camping. It was an outdoorsman’s dream come true. We camped most every night and even had a three-day, two-night backpacking trip into the Rocky Mountains, climbing a 14,000 foot mountain during the trip. Besides having fourteen other guys on the trip, it was the first time I completely got away from all civilization and took in God’s creation, the great outdoors. I absolutely fell in love with it from the beginning. It wasn’t a strenuous trip, hiking about seven miles up and seven miles down in three days, with a day of small hikes and rest in between. But what I saw was absolutely breathtaking: mountain rivers and lakes, snow covered boulder fields, thousands of aspen trees, wildlife, fields of flowers and snow capped mountains. On the way up the mountain, it rained most of the time, just a steady drizzle, which made for a very wet and cold journey. As we were nearing the tree line (the place where trees cannot grow at that elevation) with our camping destination just above it, suddenly the rain stopped, the fog cleared, a hole in the clouds opened up, with the sun shining down upon us. As we rounded the last bend on the trail, and made our last few steps up and over the rocks, a wet and tired group finally reached our destination. And let me tell you, every single one of us was in awe as we observed the giant blue mountain lake with snowfields and mountain peaks surrounding the campsite. With the rays of sun shining down through the clouds, glistening in the water, we couldn’t have asked for a better view. It made the journey well worth it. Our attitudes changed from cold and somber to upbeat and cheerful. However, just minutes after we arrived, the hole in the clouds closed up, the fog came back, and a mist came upon us again. It didn’t matter. Those fifteen minutes with the sun shining down on us made the experience well worth the climb.

In my opinion it was God’s way of saying, “Well done, everyone. You made it. Enjoy the scenery. And enjoy what I created for you.” And that we did! It was like a glimpse of heaven to me, when we reached our destination and the sun came out. And because of that trip, I’ll forever be in love with the outdoors and will never forget that moment in my life. The rest of the trip finished with a bang. We did a little more hiking, sledding (yes in the snow in the summer) and jumping into the freezing lake. It was a great experience. One that will be in my memory bank forever. I know I’ve said this before, but God created this world for us to enjoy. Use it, and give Him all the glory!


Driving Force

Everyone’s life is driven by something. It could be an event, a relationship, or something that excites you. The word drive is defined as “to guide, to control or to direct.” Whether you are driving a car, a nail, or a golf ball, you are guiding, controlling and directing it at that moment.

drivenAs a person gets older or circumstances occur in your life, a driving force can change. I know my drive has changed from when I was younger to where I am right now. It has changed to fit me as who I am as a person today. I am not the same as I was even just a few short years ago, and definitely not the same person I was a decade or two ago. If my family and friends were asked what they thought my drive is today, I believe they would answer God. But if they were asked the same question ten or fifteen or even twenty years ago, I believe they would respond by saying “sports.” I would agree with both of their answers.

Sports were my life when I was younger. I would always put my sports first. They would get me fired up and filled with excitement day after day. I played numerous sports while growing up…, basketball, baseball, track, golf, water polo, volleyball, biking. I loved watching all sports. And I hated to lose at any of them or see my teams lose. In college and after college I strived to be the best at everything I did, even if it was just a Trivia or Scrabble game, and would let others know if I had won and if I was “the best.”

But now, after coming to prison, I know they can see a different person in me. I don’t want to be that guy who brags or boasts or has to be first. I want to be that guy who puts others first, caring about the needs of others over my own, especially among my peers here in prison. So if my family and friends answered the question as to what drives me now, the answer “God” is right on.

If I were asked the same question about myself, “What do I think is my driving force in life,” it would be (1) God first (2) God’s creation (the great outdoors), and (3) helping others as best I can. It definitely has changed from when I was younger to where I’m at now, and all for the better. God has become my number one! I try my best every day to put Him first with everything I do, whether it is the willingness to help others out or to just sit in solitude enjoying what God has created for me. These things motivate me and drive me to lead a life devoted to Him. I do want God to be the center of my attention day after day. I strive for Him and want His continuous and abundant love. I want to give back just as much as He has given me. And I want to love others as much as He loves me. God is my drive. To love others is my drive. And to witness is my drive. Because of these three drives, I know my life is going somewhere and has a purpose far greater than I ever could imagine.

Let me leave you with one final thought. Everyone wants to be remembered when they’re gone. Ultimately, what matters most will not be what others say about your life when you die, but what God says about you. How will you answer God when He asks, “What did you do for my son Jesus while you lived the years I gave you” and “How did you use the gifts I gave you?”

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20