Merry Christmas! By the time you get this, you’ll be in Colorado, and the entire family will be gathered for gifts, food and togetherness, except me. This is not the first holiday that I’ve been away, but there is a chance it could be the last big holiday. I know your heart aches at times like this, as mine does, too. And as much as I want to be hitting the slopes with you guys this Christmas or getting aggravated playing Aggravation, or even a little touch football, God has me placed in this specific prison for a purpose and a reason. No, God did not want me here, nor does He ever want anyone to come to prison. I put myself here for the choices I made. Choices that you did not raise me to make, choices that are out of my character and not who I am as a person, and choices I embarrassed my family, friends, and my God.
This is not your fault, Mom, and don’t ever think it was. I had an amazing childhood and a wonderful upbringing. You and Dad raised me to be a man of God, not a prison inmate. You did so much for me growing up. You sacrificed your time and finances to make me become the man God wanted me to be. Unfortunately, I failed. I gave in to the sinful and the materialistic lifestyle. I was selfish, uncaring, and thought only of myself. I know I told you this before, but, Mom, I am truly sorry. I’m sorry for failing you as a son. In a million years I would never have seen myself serving time in a federal prison. I was surrounded by so many great friends and family members, so many role models and mentors, and so many caring and loving people. An inmate with a number is not who I am. I am a Christian, a man of God, a son with amazing parents. God said that all things WILL work for good for those who love Him. And I truly believe this.
Mom, I know you worry about me all the time. And you probably will even if I tell you not to. But honestly, there is nothing to worry about. I am in good hands. God is in complete control of my life and has me right in the palm of His hands. Remember the “Footprints” poem I read at sentencing? There is only one set of prints right now in my life, and that is God’s. I don’t ever want to not be carried again. I can’t say I enjoy prison (even though I can make this place fun HA!) but this is where I need to be right now in my life. I am perfectly safe in here and am surrounded by good people. Even though there aren’t a whole lot of Christians here, it’s a good mission field to be in. God uses me each and every day to reach out to someone, whether it be an encouraging word, a smile, or a word of advice. Mom, if you could see me in here, you would see a different person. I’m told other inmates recognize it right away, and tell me they want what I have. All I do is say “I’ve got Jesus inside me.” Sometimes that opens the door for more discussion. I feel great and do love my life right now. If I love my life now, I can only imagine how much I’m really going to love life when I leave these fences. It’s funny, before prison, I worried about so many things: my job, if I’m ever going to be married, money. Nowadays, the only thing I worry about is if I’m going to be able to fall asleep tonight surrounded by a room full of snorers!!! You laugh, but it’s so true.
Mom, there’s no need to worry about my future. God has the perfect job lined up for me, the perfect wife for me, and the perfect life for me. God is the definition of perfect. And I know with God as my centerpiece, my life will be perfect. I know it’s hard for you to be happy at family celebrations. So hopefully if I tell you that I’m happy it’ll ease your stress. Because truthfully, I am happy. I’m happy that I have such loving and supporting family and friends. I’m happy that I’m healthy and able. I’m happy for my strong relationship with Jesus. And I’m happy for the sacrifice and scars Jesus endured for me so that I can have eternal life someday.
I remember when I was in college, I had to put my portfolio together, and I titled it “The Great Adventure.” I wouldn’t necessarily call this experience “great”, but I would call it an adventure. And this specific adventure is teaching me so much about life and me as a person. It truly is molding me and transforming me into a spiritual leader, a man of God, and a servant for others. My life is not at the end of the road. In my opinion it has just begun. The first 35 years of my life have been training for what is ahead for me. I guess you can say it has taken a little longer than most to figure out! But my adventure is starting, and I cannot wait to see what it entails.
Mom, you have been the best mother I ever could have asked for. You are definitely irreplaceable. You have been with me every step of the way, and I’m thankful for that. The love and support you give me daily probably outnumbers the love and support all the other inmates in here have combined. It is that high! I know this ordeal has been hard for you, but the end is in sight. Continue to put your trust in our faithful Creator. He will not leave you nor forsake you. He is holding on to you and me and will not let go. The future of the Perino family is a bright one. Just continue to look up. During this holiday season, continue to pour out your love to our entire family. Love one another as God loves us.
Mom, once again, thank you for the mother you are. Keep smiling. This is just a bump in the road. The best is yet to come. I love and miss you! Merry Christmas!
Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Proverbs 31:29