A Little Something to Think About

My life these past 37 years has been quite the roller coaster ride. I’ve had many ups and downs, good times and bad times, happy times and sad times. I’ve made great decisions and poor choices, had many successes and failures, and lots of dreams and regrets. But when I think of my life as a book that has already been written, I’m even more moved. It makes me wonder how I can ever despair or question God, how I can ever lose my trust that He will answer my prayers, how I can ever fear or worry. If God knows me by name, if He knows me by touch, if He knows the number of days ordained for me on this earth, if He wrote the book of my life and knows what will happen on all future pages, if He can see around corners and over hills and knows what’s coming……..what is there ever to fear?

Yet, I do sometimes, and He knows it. I fear and worry and cry out and question…..and He understands because He knit my personality in just this way. He gave me a questioning mind, an emotional heart, a cautious spirit. And He’s not finished with me yet.

He’s still sculpting, still editing, still knitting….and when I let Him mold me in that special way, when I succumb to His loving, skillful, strong, and sometimes harsh fingers, I become more like His image. I begin to take on the features of my Creator, the one who knows me by name, the one who took on human flesh because something had to be done about my sins. Someone’s blood had to be shed. Someone had to die. I was that precious to Him.

On Easter Sunday, think about what God is doing in your life, and remember that He made all things possible through His Son who willingly died a most gruesome death for you, for me, for us. Each of us has decided our course in life by the free will God gave us, but the Lord knows each and every step. He truly sees what is in my heart, and everything about me. He knows when I sit and when I get out of bed in the morning. He knows what I’m thinking every second of the day. He knows when I go to work and when I come home. He knows exactly how I live. Even before a word is on my tongue, He knows all about it. He is all around me – behind, in front, and on the side. I’m amazed at how well He knows me! It’s more than I’ll ever understand.

While I am here on earth, I am both a work in progress and already made whole because of the cross. I am a child of the risen King who will wrestle with the flesh. I’ll win some and lose some, but it can never change how Christ sees me because the cross was enough. Even through my fears and doubts, I rest in the fact that Christ remains in me. I am living proof that He can carry you through anything. And if this is the journey I had to take to truly know Jesus and understand who I am because of His grace, then I wouldn’t change a thing.

He makes no mistakes. He has no regrets. He is never surprised. I am thankful that I am a child of the one true King, Jesus Christ.

one true king

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Buzzer Beaters

buzzer

With 4.3 seconds to go and Missouri up by one, UCLA called for their final timeout. It was the second round of the 1995 NCAA basketball tournament. UCLA was the #1 seed and the overall favorite to win the tournament, while Mizzou was the eighth seed and a huge underdog. It was a back and forth game from the beginning, with a lead by either team not more than five points. But with 4.3 seconds to go and my team up by one, UCLA had to go the full length of the court to win the game.

I was so nervous. I don’t think I left the couch the entire game. But I was also very excited because there was a good chance Mizzou was going to advance to the Sweet 16. I knew it would be very tough to go the full length of the court in under five seconds while getting off a decent shot.

As the timeout ended and the ten players dispersed onto the court, UCLA set up for their final play. I thought to myself, “This is it. Don’t get scared now.” As the ref handed the inbounder the ball, Tyus Edney, UCLA’s point guard, did a quick V-cut by his defender to get open. He received the pass and started dribbling down the full length of the court, around the Missouri Tiger’s defense. He passed half court with two seconds to go. As he neared the basket with only a few tenths on the clock, 6’1“ Mizzou player Derek Grimm stood between him and the basket. Edney knew he had to get that shot off to have a chance to win the game. With Grimm in the way and Edney ten feet to the right of the basket, he threw up an off balance fade-away shot over the outstretched Grimm.

As I watched the final play unfold, it felt like an eternity. But all it took was exactly 4.3 seconds for the ball to go through the basket and UCLA to win the game. Game over. I was so disappointed. It looked like an impossible shot. Miraculously, it went in. Mizzou was eliminated from the tournament, and UCLA went on to win the National Championship.

And it’s that time of year again – March Madness – when the best 68 Division I college basketball teams compete to be crowned National Champions. In my opinion, it’s one of the best sporting events of the year. By the time this blog gets posted, opening weekend will be finished, buzzer beaters and upsets will have occurred, and there will be only sixteen teams remaining.

I can’t say I have ever made a game winning shot in my lifetime or ever been on a team when the final shot determined the game. However, I did coach a girls’ Middle School basketball team that scored a basket with no time remaining to send the game into overtime. That was pretty exciting. I actually did a blog on that game a few years ago. But buzzer beaters are hard to come by, let alone ever getting a chance to win the game on a last shot.

I’ve been locked up for five years now. I’m looking for that last second, buzzer beater miracle to allow me to be set free. I eagerly wait for my release paperwork to be approved at the last minute. Time is ticking away. God’s timing is perfect. He is never late, hardly ever early, but always right on time. He is definitely teaching my family and me patience through all of this. As a basketball player waits for the perfect time and an opening to take that last second shot, God is waiting for that perfect opportunity, that last second buzzer beater, to free me. Please pray for me as I wait.

Apology

Every Friday and Saturday night the Recreation Department issues a new release movie that can be seen on every television throughout every unit in the prison. The Rec Department does their best to purchase the newest released PG-13 or less movies. (The compound doesn’t allow R rated movies to be shown). Because of this special treat I’ve stayed up to date on most of the new movies that have come out during the past five years.

This past weekend the movie “The Shack” was shown. This move is based on the book by Paul Young that was written in the early 2000’s. I wasn’t much of a reader before coming to prison so when my Mom handed me this book and told me to read it on my flight to Las Vegas one summer, I gave her the smile and nod and said “OK” just to make her happy. I actually had no intention of reading it because I was so excited about the trip. But God had other plans that day, as my flight was delayed for eight hours. During the eight hours I read and read and read. I couldn’t put the book down. I was hooked. It was that good. I finished the entire book just before landing. I’ve since read it about four to five times. It is faith based and has an amazing story and message. If you’ve never read the book or have never seen the movie, I highly recommend it. Both are great stories.

There are a wide variety of faith based topics in the book and movie. But the topic that intrigues me the most is forgiveness. For me, the hardest thing about being in prison is not knowing if I’ve ever been forgiven by the ones I have hurt the most by the terrible choices I made……one family in particular. It’s been over six years since the truth came out about my actions and I still don’t know today if that one particular family I hurt has ever forgiven me. I pray that they have, but if not, I pray that this blog somehow stumbles across their desk or email so that they will know how truly sorry I am.

After watching “The Shack” this past weekend, God put it on my heart to write an apology to the family I hurt over six years ago. No names need to be mentioned as they know who they are. This blog is actually specifically written for you today and I hope you get a chance to read it.

I pray your hearts are open to my heartfelt sincerity. From the bottom of my heart I am sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt I caused all of you and could still be causing you today. I am sorry for being such a terrible friend, role model, and a poor example as a Christian. It bothers me tremendously knowing that I have hurt you all.  I know that everything has not been all right these past six years even if you act like it is, and that because of me you hurt to the core. I can only imagine the pain I have caused you. My actions brought devastation to your family. I was wrong. I am so sorry. There are no words that will ever be able to express my true sincerity. But I am truly sorry. I wish I could take back what I did. But, unfortunately, I can’t, and I will have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life. I deserve this punishment. I know that. Do I deserve your forgiveness? Absolutely not! You all have every right to be upset and angry with me forever. I don’t even deserve God’s forgiveness, but thankfully, God has shown me grace and mercy and has forgiven me and has wiped my slate clean. I’ve learned that forgiveness is a process, a daily choice, not just a one-time decision and it’s with you every day of your life. Forgiveness doesn’t take away the wrong done to your family, but I pray you all find it in your heart to forgive me. I am truly sorry, and pray you can accept this apology. I pray for all of you and hope all is well, and that God is using you daily to bring glory to His Kingdom. Will you please forgive me?