Olympic Games


On your mark. Set. BANG! And the race is off!

It’s that time again. Every four years the Summer Olympics takes place. The best of the best come together to compete in a two week competition. The Summer Olympics for 2016 took place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Personal bests were achieved. Olympic records were broken. Even world records were crushed.

It’s one of my favorite athletic competitions to watch on television. I wish it was more often than once every four years. But then if that was the case, the hype and excitement wouldn’t be there. Maybe one day I’ll get to attend the Olympics as a spectator or volunteer. Or better yet, how about going as a competitor! Ha!

I’ll only be 40 years old in 2020 at the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. That isn’t that old, is it? After all, there was a 41 year old woman gymnast from Uzbekistan who was in her 7th Olympics. And there was a 42-year-old United States woman who won the gold medal in biking. So I have a chance, right? Anyone want to be my synchronized diving partner? You can never be too old to shoot an air rifle or bow and arrow. Maybe I’ll learn to ride a horse and compete in equestrian. Who has a horse that can jump?

I watched the first heats in the women’s 100 meter dash. I’m not sure if you know this, but every country is allowed to designate one athlete to compete in any individual event, no matter how good or not-so-good they are. Some of the smallest countries don’t have the athletes like the United States or China. But there are always those few athletes who want to represent their country. Because there is no competition among the other countrymen or women, anyone from that country can compete and go to the Olympic Games.

While watching the 100 meter dash, there were some competitors who finished the race in 14 and 15 seconds, which is comparable to a fast Middle School runner. They knew that they were not going to win or even make it to the next round. But they wanted to stand before the world to represent their country in one of the biggest stages of competition. They are proud to be a citizen of that country and even prouder to be an athlete in the Olympic Games. It was actually pretty cool to watch. Even though I knew they would not have a chance, the announcer still made a big deal, talking highly about them. One Iranian runner in her race even set her country’s national record, finishing in a little over fourteen seconds. I know, I know, that time does not even come close to runners in other countries. But at the end of the race, she had the biggest smile on her face, knowing the feat she just accomplished in the biggest competition in the world.

As a Christian in this world today and especially in prison, I, too, feel like one of the small countries. I feel like a piece of meat surrounded by a pack of wolves, ready to be torn apart. Like these Olympic runners representing their tiny countries, but being proud as they can be, I, too, feel that same way. I’m proud to be a Christian. I may not be the best at sharing God’s Word. I may not be the best at talking or even reciting Scripture. But I do love to take center stage being a representative of Christ in the biggest battle between good and evil I’ll ever face. And with God by my side, I’ll be on top of that podium every time. It’s a win-win situation that I don’t intend on losing!!!


Moving Day


The truck arrives. Friends and family members start coming over to help. Personal belongings and furniture are slowly being moved out and loaded into the truck. It’s moving day!

How many of you have ever moved? I’m sure the majority of you have, unless you’ve lived in the same house since birth, which I highly doubt during these times. People move for a number of reasons: job relocation, closer to family, college, a fresh start in life, downsizing, need for more space, safer neighborhood, a good deal on a different house, location, the urge to move, etc. etc etc. And the list goes on and on. Some people move across town, some across the state, and some across the country – even the world. But people always have their reasons for moving.

The first eighteen years of my life, until I went away to college, I lived in the same house. In fact, my parents are still in that same house that I grew up in, living there for over 40 years. Once I went to college, it seems like I have been on a constant move year after year. Since 1998 I’ve moved a total of thirteen times. And these thirteen moves all took place between 1998-2012. I’ve averaged just less than one year and two months per location in those fifteen years. My longest stay was four years in one spot, and my shortest stay was five months. I’ve moved for all sorts of reasons as mentioned above. I don’t necessarily like to move, but I don’t mind it either, knowing that a new chapter in my life is underway.

I’ve had my share of moves here in prison also. Since being incarcerated in March of 2013 I’ve had a combined total of fifteen different rooms, cells, jails, or prisons. I can’t even count or probably even remember the number of different cellies (roomies) I’ve had. Some of the moves have been quite simple, while others have been a pain. An easy move for me was going from a jail to a prison. I was not allowed to take anything with me except the clothes on my back, so no packing was required. Going from prison to prison, an inmate packs all his belongings ahead of time, and ships it out in hopes the stuff will be there upon his arrival at the new location. Of course, an inmate is still limited in what they can and can’t bring. I was in “the hole” (solitary confinement) right before leaving Yazoo City, MS, so I did not get a chance to pack my stuff.  A prison worker packed it for me. Some of my stuff was missing when it arrived at my new prison three months after me. So the move was easy, but getting my stuff was a pain.

Moving from cell to cell inside the prison or even from building to building can be quite hectic. A while ago I wrote a blog on “Stuff”. And in the blog I described what kind of stuff an inmate can accumulate. Being in this same prison for two years now, I have actually accumulated a lot of stuff. Most of this stuff I would never keep if I was outside of prison, but here an inmate is always in need of the little things. When we find something interesting, we keep it. A few things we like to keep are springs from a pen, empty toilet paper rolls, any sort of plastic bags, or empty plastic food or medicine bottles. When I move to a different cell or building in the same location, I have to neatly pack everything into large laundry bags that could weigh close to fifty pounds after filled to capacity. I guess I could just throw everything in a bag if I wanted to, but since I was raised by the pack Nazi himself (my Dad HA!) he taught me how to properly pack, cramming everything in the smallest of spaces with as much order and neatness as possible to conserve space. After packing the bag I get a couple of other guys to help me make the trek across the compound to my new place. I know it sounds fairly easy but you have to remember that prisons in Texas have no air conditioning so a summer move in 100 degrees plus temperatures is brutal. One may also be moving from a larger locker to a smaller locker so downsizing is a must. And adjusting to a new cellie and neighbor and their routines can be challenging. Change in prison isn’t the easiest for some people; some struggle with it, while others do great. Thankfully, I’m OK with it and can adjust with ease.

The reason I’m writing about moving is because there is a good chance I’ll be moving buildings once again. The compound wants to put all past program participants in the same building to keep us together. I like the building I’m in now and the guys around me, so I’m not looking forward to the move, especially in the summer, but it will be one step closer to my freedom. Hopefully, this will be my last move until I’m outside these prison walls.

The last thing I want to say is that when I think of moving I think of the Bible verse in Matthew 28:19 “Go and make disciples of all nations….” This verse means to me to move around to all parts of the world, telling others the Good News wherever you go. Maybe that is why God has me moving around so often. Why does He have you moving? Is His work for you finished where you are and He needs you to move on to the next place? Wherever I move to in my future……here in this  prison or when I leave here…. I want to consider what God needs from me at this specific location. God can work even in the moves we make in life.  I know it’s true for me in the different places I’ve been since incarcerated. Each time I move there are people watching me and seeing me pray and reading my Bible and asking questions about my faith. Hopefully, I’ve planted seeds in each place I’ve called home. God is at work and can use you right where you are!!!