Inmate Lives Matter…

 

inmatepicIn a time where tensions are high on every end, the truth is ALL LIVES MATTER. 

But when the racial tensions die down, the presidential campaign season is over, temporary solutions have been put into action, and turbulent times have ceased- the message will still remain that INMATE LIVES MATTER!

With more than 2 million people incarcerated in American prisons, there are a lot of individuals, children, families and communities affected by mass incarceration. So much so that the subject has become one that is being talked about by individuals everywhere. Actors, singers, rappers, politicians and families directly impacted are talking about mass incarceration because in one way or another it touches us all.

Those individuals who are inmates today were once (and hopefully will be again) citizens of our communities. Those men and women who have become identified by inmate numbers, are still sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and many times parents. And while they are paying the debt they owe to society for their crimes, or in some cases waited to be exonerated of charges they didn’t commit- the quality of their life matters.

Those inmates who have loved ones or friends to visit them and help keep them connected to life outside of the prison walls are fortunate and are more likely to return to society as viable citizens. But what about those who don’t have anyone? How will they return? Does anyone care?

Jesus Christ in the Criminal Justice System,  is our new book and in it we argue that Jesus cared about these inmates. In fact, we take a journey through Jesus’ personal account with and in the criminal justice system.

 

You see, for those of us who have inmates who matter to our lives- this is only a testament to what we daily live. But for others, Jesus Christ in the Criminal Justice System will be a wake up call and summons to action as they too will come to know that Inmate Lives Matter. 

Please visit Amazon.com  to purchase a copy of the book.

 

Thankful for an oasis…

Oasis in the desert...

I very clearly recall the beginning days of our journey down the double-digit prison sentence road. I remember the hard talks about the pain and agony that would come with the territory of being a “prison wife.”

Although the forecast was bleak, it was important for us to be real; and the reality was that our days ahead would be long, lonely and it would take a lot to endure the harsh elements of incarceration.

Aware but not afraid- we continued forward into “the desert” as we termed it.

In the desert, few people are able to survive for long periods of time and the same is true of prison marriages. (In fact, statistics say that less than 4% of them are successful.)

As we tackle each 365 day period, we learn something new about traveling through the desert.

We have learned the importance of timing- because with limited visitation and short phone calls; there is little time to waste on things that are not that important.

We have learned that some seasons are more trying than others. For instance, the summer heat and holidays apart seem to be slightly more painful than a regular day.

And the further we travel away from “life as it used to be,” the more we have learned to NOT take for granted the blessings in life that ARE.

Most individuals who have to spend long periods of time in the desert know about and long to find an oasis, which is a fertile spot in the desert where water is found. These isolated areas formed by underground rivers serve as a place of refuge, relief or pleasant change from what is usual and difficult.

After traveling nearly 2,000 days in the desert, God provided my husband and I with the divine gift of an oasis. It came in the form of a marriage seminar sponsored by Worldwide Voice in the Wilderness and we are truly grateful for everyone connected to that ministry!

For three amazing days, God afforded 22 couples with a moment of rest, refuge and refreshing from the painful realities of marriage separated by incarceration.

He allowed His love to flow through a group of amazing volunteers who waved banners of hope for overcoming.

While every couple had a different need, this experience created opportunities for fellowship, worship, forgiveness and the simple gift of touch. Each one of these gifts literally caused new life and love to spring forth!

I would imagine that once a desert traveler prepares to move on from an oasis, they do so with mixed feelings. While they wish they could stay there and drink forever, they understand that they can only find their way OUT OF THE DESERT by traveling ahead.

I believe this is also the case for each of the couples who were able to partake in this marriage seminar. While we surely would have loved to stay there together for just a little while longer; we understand that the victory is in making it to the other side and that we must continue forward as part of the 3% percent who survive this desert experience.

However, because of this experience, we truly have been revived and refocused for the journey ahead! I am ever so thankful for this oasis experience in the middle of our desert, and today we move forward with new strength.

Thank you Johnny and Betty for allowing God to use you in such an amazing way!

Love Pains

Have you ever noticed that the littlest things can cause us to feel some of the biggest pains? Paper cuts, in-grown toenails; tiny lashes in the eye….. ouch, ouch, ouch!

Well on many days and for many different reasons, such is the case as we walk alongside our loved ones in prison. It is often the littlest things that hit my heart in the deepest way. Beautiful days that would be perfect for a walk in the park; love songs that play in perfect sequence on the radio or moments of victory that just don’t seen the same when you share them over the phone… once again…ouch, ouch, ouch!

Now even though we may be tempted to utter a few “not so nice words” I doubt that any of us would fall out in a tantrum or go off the deep end at the hand of one of the tiny natural pains. Somehow, we are built in such a way that we are able to take the pain and to live beyond it.

And such is the case as we battle with the “love pains” that are a part of this walk. They are just as real and just as intense as a razor cut across the finger. But you are equally built up with an internal reservoir of strength that allows you to live through the love pain.

Sometimes, there is not much to do other than breathe deep; sigh out loud or just hold still until the pain passes. Some days are better than others; and some moments last longer than others. But know that you equipped to endure and that you will make it through!