“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

Eighteen

By Diane S.

Surviving

I am not sure I am ready to say that I am “living” yet…well obviously in the technical sense I am definitely living because I am breathing. But in the sense that people refer to as “living”, as in experiencing life, living life to the fullest, or truly living, I can’t say I feel that way just yet.

I am surviving.

I am surviving better than I was a month ago, better than I was two weeks ago. I guess it’s true, things aren’t bad forever and they do get better. Slowly, but it seems to be true. Some days I even enjoy parts of the days.

Things are okay.  I’ve had more good days than bad ones lately which is a blessing. Chris calls daily.  We write daily.  He finally went to A&O a couple days ago. I believe that a new inmate is supposed to go to A&O within 7-10 days of arriving; he was there over a month before he went.  I am not entirely sure what A&O is, but I believe it is somewhat of an orientation.  I do know that he had to go through that before he could get an assigned a job. He seems to think he was “lost” in the system for a few weeks. It’s okay with me, he was able to get a little more acclimated and it seems to have done him good.

He started his GED classes this week too and he was excited about that.  I was more excited.  I have tried for 8 years to get him to get his GED. He is scared of failure so he never would. I am very proud of him for already tackling that, even if the prison did push him. He has done really well on all the pre-tests and only had to attend a week of classes. Again, I am very proud of him. Every time I talk to him he has a new thing on his list to check into and that makes me happy & proud of him. I would imagine it would be quite easy to do nothing during this time and just let time pass without much thought of bettering one’s self. I am thankful he doesn’t seem to be taking that path. He has read 2 books in the last two weeks.

If you knew my husband and knew how much he doesn’t like to read you’d understand how incredibly proud I am of him for that too.

It catches me off guard sometimes when he tells me things that make his day good or things he gets excited about. A couple of days ago they were having “lunch room pizza” (think of back when you were in elementary and had the rectangle pizzas) for lunch and he was quite excited about that.  I guess when your life is as his is now little things make you excited. In any case I am thankful that he can see things to be excited and thankful for, no matter how small they are….bread crumbs. I have been a bit sneaky this week and I have a pretty big thing for him to be excited about this weekend. My plan was that I wasn’t visiting again until July 3rd…But God!  We (his son and I) are leaving this afternoon (June 12) and will be at visiting this weekend, June 13&14. Today is Friday and I have managed to keep this a secret all week from pretty much everyone. Michael (my stepson) doesn’t know we are going and Chris doesn’t know we are coming. I absolutely cannot wait for him to walk into the visiting room and see us tomorrow. It’s going to be EPIC! I love surprises!!!

Chris and I started a Bible reading plan together so we are reading the same chapters daily & that is good for us. We write about what we read and how it affected each of us in our daily letters. It helps us stay connected and focused on God together.  He found a Bible study in his unit that meets on Monday and another that meets on Tuesday, he is enjoying those.  He and I have a pastor out of Dallas that we really enjoy listening to and his church puts sermon transcripts online & I print them and send to him. He loves that. I send him encouraging books and devotions. I try to do whatever I can from the outside to help him on his walk.

It appears Chris is moving to a different room within in his unit, I think that is happening today actually. That makes me apprehensive, a lot of things make me apprehensive. One of the guys in his room doesn’t seem to care for him much & it makes things a little uncomfortable sometimes. He never told me that before and he only told me because of the possible move.  Some of the guys he has met through the Bible study are in the same room and one of them is leaving any day now.  The guys in the room have been looking for a Christian guy to replace the one leaving. They asked Chris if he would be interested in moving if it was approved and last night he said it looked like that was going to happen today. I just pray about it. If it’s God’s will let it be done! And if not I pray that things get better with the one guy in his room.  He said something the other day about his “Brothers in Christ”, I have NEVER heard him say those words ever before so that was good.

I can tell by some of the things he says that he is growing in his walk and that is answered prayer.

This post was a little different from my usual ones.  This one was more about the day to day survival in this new journey, a glimpse into what goes on during our days…well it was mostly his days. It’s a bit less deep and bit more boring than the others.

So I will end here and wish you all happy weekend.  But before I go I would like to share one other thing before I go…

A wonderful friend shared a post a couple days ago and it contained this quote:

No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.

I just love that and it really hit my heart. Over the last 18 months there have been many times when my emotions have got the best of me and I have been very hurtful and angry towards my husband during those times. There is/was filthy water (hurt, anger) in my jar (heart). I’m healing and those times when I lose control have happened much less. I am working on it….purifying my filthy water with Jesus.

 

(Editor’s Note: AMEN!)

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

Seventeen

by Diane S.

The Time Between

It seems the words don’t come as easily as they did when I started writing entries here about a month ago. I’ve pondered on why I think that might be and I can’t come up with anything except I think it might be that the last couple of weeks I have had more good days than bad ones. I seem to write more during the dark times. I need to work on that because I don’t really like the dark times and would prefer they stay away.

So the time between entries here has become longer.

Life has become a game of patience for me as of late. I find myself waiting a lot and counting down the time between letters, phone calls and visits. I try to keep my mind busy during the waking hours so the waiting doesn’t make me insane. Lately I have succeeded with that and it helps during the time between.

But there is always night.

I go to bed alone. I wake up alone. It’s hard to escape that part of my new reality, not that I am trying to escape it because I would miss some of the good stuff. Crawling in my bed at night is one of the hardest parts of the day. It is just a glaring reminder of how things have changed and how I only share a bed with my two dogs now. That is my new reality for a long time to come. Most nights I fall asleep praying and I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. Someone once told me that if you fall asleep praying it means you are at peace in your relationship with God. I am not so sure about that. Prayer is a conversation between God and myself and if I fall asleep that seems a bit rude. I mean, I don’t usually fall asleep during conversations with my best friends so I don’t think it’s good to fall asleep on God. It’s a good thing bedtime isn’t the only time I pray, my prayer life is constant. I tend to shoot arrows up to God pretty often throughout my day. I call them arrows because they are just very short prayers as I think of things throughout my day, they aren’t the deep prayers that I should say much more often than I do.

In the past I have wondered how much prayer really matters, does it really change circumstances?

The only real conclusion I have come up with is that prayer changes me & helps me to be equipped to handle the things and people God puts on my path. I think I am beginning to believe that prayer doesn’t so much change the circumstances as it changes my view, my heart and lines up God’s will in my heart regarding the circumstances. I could be really, really off on that line of thinking. I’m learning & growing every single day. It will be interesting for me in a few years to come back and read posts where I say things like that and see if my thoughts are the same.

One thing I do certain is that prayer brings me great peace and comfort in the times between.

I don’t think I could survive if I someone told me I couldn’t pray. I am immensely grateful to live in a country where I can pray and not be persecuted for that. I can’t imagine the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ in so many other parts of the world that have to hide their faith and where the simple act of praying could put them in prison or worse.

Tragic.

The times between the phone calls, letters and visits are getting a little easier. I look forward to church, bible studies, pool days with my stepson, movie nights with my mom, and visits with friends. I am realizing more every day that the times between are much harder when I try to handle them by myself and shut out people who care about me.

I wonder what the times between are like for my husband. I know what his days mostly consist of but I wonder what his thoughts consist of. He doesn’t write like I do. I put a lot of my thoughts on paper. I wish he did. The old saying “A penny for your thoughts” comes to mind often when I think about what the times between are like for him.

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

Entry Sixteen

By Diane S.

Broken.

That seems to be a word I often use to describe various things in my life lately.

My heart is broken. My life feels broken. My stepson’s spirit is broken. My mother-in-law’s heart is broken. My husband is a broken man on the mend. Our extended family has been broken apart as some have decided they just can’t support or even accept this situation. I understand that and I hold no fault towards them. Some can continue a relationship with me even though they don’t support my decisions & I am very grateful for the maturity on their part and mine to make those relationships work. Some have removed themselves completely because they can’t handle any aspect of the situation.

I understand  one of their concerns. I am not bitter towards them….anymore. My city is broken. This country is broken. The justice system in this country is VERY broken.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

All of the above mentioned brokenness can only be healed by Jesus. Unfortunately we live in a society where our leaders and politicians look anywhere and everywhere but Jesus for answers. In fact, they deliberately steer as far as they can from this very simple answer to all of this.

JESUS.

I don’t understand why that’s such a hard concept for people. Jesus. He’s the answer. It seems so easy that it is mind-boggling that people literally run in the other direction to avoid Him.

In the last week I have seen quite a few examples of just how broken the society we live in has truly become. My friend Tony just wrote an article on here called “Punishing the Innocent” and his article showcased some of the brokenness that I have not yet experienced just simply because my journey is so new. I am blessed to have such a wise friend who is always challenging my thoughts and making me look deeper into myself.

In my last post I mentioned how some people close to me reacted to finding out a sex offender was in their neighborhood. The reaction they had is so common, so normal, so broken. It is a reminder of society’s brain-washed mentality regarding ANYONE on the sex offender registry. It is like a scarlet letter. I never imagined I would ever relate with Hester Prynne on any level when I read this book in high school but I find the quote below to be quite accurate for not only the beginning of my journey but so many others with heart breaking stories just like mine:

“In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she had inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs than the rest of human kind.” Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”

If you want proof of just how broken the justice system is read through your Facebook feed or scroll through the top stories on Yahoo or MSN. The stories are endless, each with their own brokenness. I am sure if you aren’t living under a rock you have heard about the current storm The Duggar family from Arkansas is going through. My thoughts on that one still aren’t coherent. I just don’t know how I feel other than sadness for a broken family and its broken victims. I’m not sure I have an opinion on the appropriate course of action at this point. I do know that his wife and children are suffering a great deal from a mistake he made a very long time ago and that is so very sad for all involved. There is a lot of brokenness surrounding that story and I can’t imagine having to try to deal with that while in the public eye.

I offer them my prayers but I truly don’t know where I stand on the issue.

In the last 12 hours our local news stations have posted two different stories about teachers having sexual relationships with students. They were both on-going relationships. One teacher brought the student to their home and gave the individual alcohol on some of the visits. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison and the judge suspended all but SIX MONTHS! In the other case, the child was under 14 and the teacher served 6 years. Meanwhile in federal prisons across this country people are serving 8, 10, 15, or even 20 year sentences simply because they downloaded a file from a music sharing site and it had hidden inappropriate images in it. The government tracked these photos to these people’s computers and the consequences include broken men, wives, children, mothers, brothers, sisters….etc.

These are people who didn’t go searching for those photos, they accidentally got them & promptly deleted them when they opened what they thought was music or a movie they downloaded for their child. These people are the faces of an incredibly large number of the sex offenders sitting in federal prisons serving 5+ year sentences. Meanwhile, we have teachers having physically inappropriate relationships with children they are trusted to TEACH that are serving SIX MONTHS, or sometimes all they receive is probation.

It’s not just stories about sex offenders either. Not long ago there was a story out of Atlanta in which a professional sports player admitted to shooting and killing a 22yr old mother as she was walking down a street. He had no reason other than he thought she was someone else. His sentence was short and he will end up serving 4-5 years, FOR TAKING SOMEONE’S LIFE! It makes me irate.

These stories are endless….these stories are sad……..these stories show us just how broken we are.

I can’t understand this logic. It doesn’t make sense to me. I need someone smarter than me to explain why my husband is sitting in jail for 8 years while these people are serving less harsh sentences. I understand that a big difference is that a lot of the cases like I mentioned above are ‘state’ cases where my husband’s and so many others fall under federal jurisdiction. If you didn’t know, many federal convictions have mandatory minimums. This means nothing matters and you get at least the mandatory minimum for whatever your charge may be. In Chris’ case it was 10 years. C

Chris was a first time offender, never been in trouble with law enforcement a single day in his life. He had over 20 character reference letters and he had a good lawyer. It didn’t matter. All that matters is the charge and mandatory minimum sentence that goes along with it. My husband did make mistakes, there is no question. He should be held responsible for his actions, there is no question.

Should he serve jail time? Maybe, but not 8 years.

I have never gone into detail about my husband’s case & I’m not sure that I will. I will say that he didn’t have a physical relationship with anyone and his charges aren’t related to computer pictures. He made a very bad decision and then was accused of some horrible things. Together those two things made for an incredibly difficult situation.

It’s a very broken system when your best option is to plead guilty to get a 10 year sentence rather than try to prove your case and risk getting a 30+ year sentence if you don’t win. And you probably won’t win. People shut down when they hear “sex offender”; details and truth don’t matter at that point.

When I first read the stories I mentioned above I was angry. I was angry at God, I was angry at those people. I was just angry. Then I realized those people made mistakes and it’s not my place to judge them. I realized those people also have family and friends that now have broken lives because of someone else’s choices. They could have spouses that are living a journey like mine. I realized there are actual real victims of their crimes that now have broken lives.

I was still angry with God.

How can he allow the things that have happened to us and let other people like those mentioned above have such an easier journey? Why does our journey have to be so hard? I was driving home last when it all hit and I had a meltdown. I was actually driving in my car in tears and yelling at God and asking him why. Why couldn’t we have got a 6 month sentence? Why didn’t God intervene at some point and stop some of this, any of this?

Why did he allow all this brokenness in my life?

Asking why doesn’t ever get me anywhere. Eventually I calmed down when the song “Just say Jesus” came on the radio & that’s exactly what I did for a good 5 minutes. I just said “Jesus” over and over. Then I prayed. Then I was okay.

The wires in my head get a little crossed when I think about the truth that God has a plan for us that includes this next 8 years. He also has a plan for the teacher who will spend 6 months in jail, and a plan for the one who will spend 6 years there. It’s just so hard to understand why his plan for us had to include this 8 years while so many others do things much worse (in the eyes of the law) than what Chris did and his plan for them includes much less punishment.

If you don’t get anything else out of this post I hope you remember this: Not everyone, in fact probably the majority, of people that are registered sex offenders never hurt and never would hurt anyone, especially a child. They didn’t go down a street and offer an 8 year candy to bride them into their dark van with no windows. Anytime you say someone is a sex offender in this society that is what people immediately think and it is just NOT TRUE. Of course there are some who did commit horrible unthinkable acts but it’s such a broken way of thinking to lump all 800,000 people on the sex offender registry into that category.

One day I hope I will no longer be able to identify with Hester Prynne.

It all just proves my point….

This world is a very broken place in need of the healing of Jesus Christ.

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

Entry Fifteen

by Diane S.

Understanding.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

Sometimes we just have to accept what we don’t understand and there is a lot in this world that I do not understand.

I like to have cause and effect and reasons to explain why things happen. I’m learning that sometimes there simply is none. Our minds are not capable of understanding the vastness and complexity that is God’s sovereignty and His plan for us. We don’t usually understand that sometimes God doesn’t do what we want because he has something better for us even though at that time we can’t see anything better.

We just have to accept these things without understanding.

I find that to be the case often in my life, where I just have to accept the situation without understanding. I just have to trust God and lean into him. I ask him – often – to help me accept the things I don’t understand. Sometimes the only comfort I can find is knowing that God is in control. God already knows every tomorrow. God loves Chris more than I do. If I think about those things, understanding the “whys” becomes less important.

I’m an adult and growing in my relationship with Christ. I can accept this theory of not understanding yet accepting.

However, my husband’s 12 year old son isn’t quite there yet.

We don’t know just how this will affect him for the next 8 years and the rest of his life. We don’t really know how it will affect any of us, but I know I have a strong foundation of faith, a growing relationship with my Savior and many Christ following friends who will pull me up at my weakest times. I’ll be ok. My husband will be ok too. We will both be changed forever but that’s okay because ‘…but God’. I pray my stepson will be ok too, but he is young and vulnerable & I worry. There is no way to tell how this will affect him and if he will learn to lean on God for comfort. Right now, he is just hurt and sad. He doesn’t understand. He can’t really accept it. I pray God gives the adults in his life the guidance we need to be able to help him through this with the least amount of pain possible.

Yesterday he posted a video on social media he saw on someone else’s page. It was a video taken while someone was talking to a homeless man who had been in prison for 12 years. This man talked of the struggles he has had since his release from prison and what brought him to the place he is now….playing his guitar for change in front of a gas station with no job or place to call home. I can’t imagine what a 12 year old thought as he watched that video. I talked with him about it made sure he knew that wouldn’t be his dad’s situation.

He said he understood and I hope that he did.

I’m just ‘the prisoner’s wife’. The ‘prisoner’ also has a son and a mother. The ‘prisoner’ has a sister and brother. The ‘prisoner’ has dogs. The ‘prisoner’ has family and many caring, concerned friends. And they have all been deeply shaken by this situation. I don’t know of anyone who truly understands how we got here. Yet, we all accept it on some level and continue on. Each of us hurt in very different ways. I know what it feels like to be a prisoner’s wife, but I don’t know what it’s like to be a prisoner’s child or a prisoner’s mother.

One thing I do know is that we each feel like we are walking through different degrees of our own personal hell on some days.

I don’t understand why God hasn’t intervened on our behalf in the last 18 months. I don’t understand why He has allowed all of this happen and hasn’t stopped it. I don’t understand why everything had to be taken away leaving me by myself at a rock bottom of sorts where I am 33 years old and I can’t afford to live in a place of my own. I don’t understand why the sentence had to be 10 years instead of 5. The list of things I don’t understand is quite long. I could go on for a while but I’ll stop here.

I don’t understand these things but I accept them. I can only accept them because I know God is in control and if He has allowed these things then they serve a purpose in His plan.

His plan is not just ‘good’. His plan is not even ‘very good’. His plan is not ‘better’.

His plan is PERFECT.

So I will wait patiently for the Lord’s plan to come together. He is always right on time you know. I will go where He leads me and do what He asks me. I pray that my heart can be open and receptive enough to not miss it when He tells me where to go and what to do. I am often scared that I will not be paying close enough attention and I will miss something important He is trying to tell me, show me or ask me to do.

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength” Isaiah 40:31

The story of Ruth in the bible is a very good story that illustrates how God always has a plan, even when we can’t see anything but darkness. Nothing can come to God’s children unless he allows it. If he allows it to come to you it is because He has a plan to work it together for your good and His glory.

This is the very reason I am able to accept my current situation without having the slightest bit of understanding.

“Punishing The Innocent”

“At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”                2 Corinthians 7:11b  ESV

“We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.”         Hilary Clinton

I have refrained from commenting recently as I have posted Diane’s stories. Certainly not due to any lack of impact those posts have had on me as I have read, edited, and formatted them. Quite the opposite, in fact, as that impact has been real and – at various times – tearful, joyful, heart-wrenching, soul-searching, thought-provoking, and memory-stirring.

My mind has traveled back through time to the days of my own incarceration, and I am grateful to Diane for this. Some who read these words might find it odd that I would welcome being reminded of the time I spent in prison, but that time, for me, was a time of monumental personal growth. Mind you, not all who go to prison perceive it that way.

I am grateful to God as well, because it was He who saw fit to have our paths intersect at this point in our lives.

Additionally, I am grateful because Diane’s story reminds me to try to do something to demonstrate to society that “America’s Culture Of Incarceration” has evolved into ineffective policy that punishes more innocent people than guilty, and I am not referring to those behind bars who may be innocent. Rather, I am talking about those who are left behind when a father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, or daughter is removed from society and locked away to keep society ‘safe’.

When Hilary Clinton said, “We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society”, I am pretty certain she was thinking something other than what I am going to suggest, but what she said is absolutely correct when interpreted the way I interpret it. “America’s Culture Of Incarceration” locks away individuals for tremendously long periods of time and for an ever-increasing variety of reasons. In its current state, our criminal justice system is focused entirely on the individual perpetrating the crime with little thought given to the greater number of lives negatively impacted by locking someone away for 5, 10, or twenty years. In its current state, that “culture” punishes far more innocent bystanders in far more devastating ways than the inconvenience of incarceration does the actual individual society thinks is being punished.

I quote from Diane’s last post: “One bad decision changed everything for so many people. I still can’t get over how this has affected every aspect of our life and the lives of SO many people around us. It is beyond my comprehension that the repercussions of one bad decision can devastate things so completely.”

In my four years of incarceration at Oakdale FCI, I encountered a mere handful of individuals who actually struggled with the fact that they were incarcerated. The vast majority of those in prison adapt quickly to the life that stretches before them. It may be disturbing or unsettling for family members and loved ones of those in prison (and society as whole for that matter) to consider the following, but prison, rather than teaching the burden of responsibility, removes it. Once we have resigned ourselves to our environment, prison life quickly becomes a matter of routine which is mostly unencumbered with the burdens and responsibilities of life. No bill-paying, no car repairs, no kids to worry about, no real job to go to. There is very little to think about beyond what is on the menu for the next meal, what is on TV, or what time will be spent in the library or in the ‘yard’.

Life is very simple, indeed.

For Diane, her step-son, her mother-in-law, and countless others, this simplicity does not exist. They are innocent of wrong-doing, but our ‘culture’ punishes them, and many, many others because, as Diane pointed out, “Life goes on.” The bills have to be paid, the car has to be repaired, the kids have to be cared for, and jobs must be performed without regard for the fact that “this has affected every aspect of our life and the lives of SO many people around us.”

In considering how we punish individuals who violate the rules and regulations of our society, we really should insist that those who are elected to make intelligent and informed decisions on our behalf are following Hilary Clinton’s unintended advice and “start thinking about what is best for society.” We must take the focus off of what we falsely perceive to be punishment for the guilty individual, and put it on the collateral damage caused by punishing those who are innocent.

There is a better way to change lives in a positive way. Destroying innocent lives in an effort to punish the guilty is not the way. May God be our guide and the guide of our leaders, and may we all push for major changes in “America’s Culture Of Incarceration”.

I applaud Diane’s willingness to share her heart, and her pain. It is my prayer that her willingness to do so will move others to stop punishing the innocent in the name of ‘justice’.

I thank you all for your time and ask that you all reach out to Diane and encourage her.

May God bless us all and keep us safe.

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

Entry Fourteen

by Diane S.

Life Goes On   

“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”    Maya Angelou

In truth life does go on.

I am not sure about the “better tomorrow” in literal terms, but I do know that there will be a lot of “tomorrows” that will be better. I just have to make it to those better ones. The days come and go, things happen, bills have to be paid, kids need to go here and there. Life does go on, even when you feel like yours has stopped.

Life goes on, just differently.

Today makes exactly 4 weeks since my husband’s surrender day. I feel like a lot and nothing at all has happened in those 4 weeks. I guess that is what happens when it feels like you are living life from the outside looking in, only doing the minimal to get by every day. It’s still very odd to try to grasp.

I’m still not sure how my life has turned into this. I am not sure how, but I do know why. God is teaching and preparing me/us for His plan. Not that I have any idea what it is, but that is the reason I find myself in my current situation even though I absolutely do not understand it.

I just pray for acceptance, not understanding.

The last 4 ½ days have seemed just a slight bit easier to get through. No breakdowns, not many tears. I don’t know if that is good or bad. I’m going to go with good. I’ve even made it to visit with friends a couple times and am starting a new Bible study at church tonight. I have a few other things on my ‘to do’ list as well.

I guess there can’t be a new normal unless I actually attempt to go on with life and stop living from the outside looking in.

Life goes on for Chris too. He writes & calls every day. He walks a couple miles a day on the track and has seen the crosses that a dear friend told him to look for. He has found that he can eat more things if he actually tries them, which is good. He reads his bible, watches TV, and hangs out with his cellies…life goes on, a new life, true, but it goes on nonetheless. Neither of us really has a new normal or a new routine yet, but we are making it. He found a Bible study that meets once a week in his unit last night and that is something I have been praising God for today. He attends chapel on Sunday nights.

Our letters seem to be the source of staying the most connected. He doesn’t enjoy writing as much as I do so my letters are usually much longer. The post office makes a lot of money off stamps from me when one letter takes 2 stamps. I try to make sure he will have a letter at every mail call but I am fighting a very slow small town post office and jail mail; so despite my best attempts he doesn’t get mail every day. We share Bible verses and encouraging things we read/see with each other and that is helpful too. It feels like we can connect.

It’s both sad and encouraging that life is continuing on. Secretly I want the world to just stop so I can too, but that wouldn’t do anyone much good. It’s good to have a feeling that this may get easier as time passes, but it’s sad to think I will ever be ok with a life that doesn’t involve my husband here with me.

Not that I have a choice.

It’s sad to know that life goes on for a 12 year old boy who dearly misses his dad and there is nothing I can do to fix that. Letters, phone calls and infrequent visits are as good as it gets. I don’t know if I will ever get over that heartbreak. Life goes on for Chris’ mom who moved her entire life 7+ hours from where she has lived for at least 30 years just so she can be near her son.

Life doesn’t stop just because ours did.

One bad decision changed everything for so many people. I still can’t get over how this has affected every aspect of our life and the lives of SO many people around us. It is beyond my comprehension that the repercussions of one bad decision can devastate things so completely. I often wonder how many people really think about what may happen when they intentionally make an unsavory decision. My guess is no. They probably think “no one will ever know” or they just flat out don’t think that far ahead about what the decision may cause until it’s far too late.

I have a brother who has been a corrections officer in a state prison and he once said, “The biggest difference between the people here in prison and us is that we didn’t get caught.” I believe that to be a very true statement. If you look back over your life, I am sure almost everyone can think of a time that things could have turned out very differently if you had been “caught”. It’s hard for me to understand how society can write off individuals in prison when, if they really looked honestly at themselves and their life, they could probably find that if one tiny little thing had happened differently they could have easily ended up in prison too. Yes, I realize not everyone has committed a horrendous crime, but there are A LOT of people in prison that haven’t either. I also realize that there are probably some who can look back over their life and not find one time when a bad decision could have turned out differently. I am not one of those people.

I have never robbed a back, kidnapped, or killed anyone but I can think of at least two times decisions were made that could have very easily ended with a mug shot.

Another thing I have found hard to deal with is how people view those who have committed crimes in the past. Just this past week some people very close to me found out a sex offender was living in their neighborhood. The reaction was typical. ‘Is it legal for him to live there? There is an underage girl living right next door?’ ‘How can a child molester live in a neighborhood with kids?’ These are people who love me and love my husband, but they are just like everyone else.

My husband is different to them because they know him.

None of them knows the story of the sex offender who lives in the house in that neighborhood, but they are all quick to judge. They may have good reason to be alarmed, I don’t know…but neither did they when they formed their initial opinions about this stranger wearing the label ‘sex offender’ living in their neighborhood. I found that to be a very eye opening experience. Society is broken, the system is broken, and lives are broken.

But life goes on.

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

Entry Thirteen

by Diane S.

Visiting Day                                                                                                                               6.1.15

It’s now been a full week since I visited my husband at his new living quarters for the first time. The thing that seems to keep coming up in most of the posts is the fact that I was unprepared. I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t even close.

I knew visits would be hard.

I thought there would be some happiness in the fact that I got to see him, talk to him, hold his hand, etc.   I try not to think much because I am usually not right. I kept telling myself that even though I am seeing him in prison it’s much better than many wives who visit a grave for their husbands. It really is too bad that the things I know to be true can run so far and so fast out of mind in the middle of a stormy situation. It’s usually not until after the fact that I remember what I told myself I was going to remember during the middle of the situation to help get me through.

A brief summary of my 3 days of visiting with my husband: they were sad, curious, a little small bit of happy, more sad, and the realization that I don’t think I will ever be prepared for anything coming my way in the next 8 years. It’s going to have to be a take as it comes type thing, otherwise I end up not being able to get out of bed for days. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I try to be prepared I never am so I think I’m going to stop stressing over it.

So here are some details about the actual weekend: We left at 4pm on the Friday before Memorial Day on our 6.5 hour drive to Chris’ aunt’s in Shreveport. My mother in law was concluding her move to Shreveport so she was in her car, I was in my car and off we went. We had a few hurdles, nothing major but when you get two women on a road trip there has to be a few “oops” along the way. After a detour through downtown Shreveport at 11:30 on Friday night around one of the biggest ‘mud bug’ festivals they have there, we made it to Chris’ aunt’s about midnight.

That’s a great time to get into town when you have to get up to drive 2.5 hours at 3am to get in line for visitation.

Let me say right here, I had greatly underestimated the dedication of these prison wives, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles. We had “heard” people start lining up for visitation about 6am. We arrived to the ball field around the corner from the prison at 6:40 on our first day to visit. We were the 17th car in line. We weren’t sure we were in the right place, but you find many kind souls in the cars around you and they are more than happy to help out first timers. It turns out; visitors are not allowed onto prison property to the visitors’ parking lot until 8am. To circumvent that problem there is a very small ball field around the corner and you just pull up and get in a single file in your cars and wait until 8 am. And by wait, I mean you sleep until 7:30 and then get up and put on your make up.   At exactly 8am the first car in line starts their engine and line moves slowly from the ball field to the visitor parking lot at FCI Oakdale I.

Again, once you get out your cars here you find more nice folks who are happy to tell you how it works. In this case, it is important to notice who you are in line behind in the car line at the ball field because that is who you line up behind when you form your single file standing line at the edge of the prison parking lot.

You can find at out some really good information while standing in that line. We found out that a lot of wives get in line at 2-3am to make sure they are first in line. That’s dedication (most likely won’t ever be me). We also found out that if you aren’t in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd (on a good day) group of 10 in line you will likely not get processed in before the 10am ‘count’. The ‘count’ stops everything. If you do find yourself not being processed by about 9:30 you can take a seat on the ground because you won’t be going anywhere until after count clears which seems to be about 10:45-11am. We made it in before count on the first, after count on the second day, and before count on the third day. We haven’t found any rhyme or reason to the times people arrive. All three days we arrived at different times and all three days we were in very different spots. We have decided it’s just a game of chance.

We also found out that rules change….daily. The first day ladies were allowed to wear white pants in for visiting, the second day they sent them back out to change. ALWAYS have a complete change of clothes for everyone in your visiting party. The first day our bras were ok to pass the metal detector, the second day they weren’t but they gave us a warning. If you showed up on third day and couldn’t pass you didn’t get in to visitation. I think the prison and Wal-Mart right down the street has an agreement because after the second day we saw 4 other visiting groups correcting their bra situations by purchasing new ones before the next day’s visit. They also turned people away for not having the right shoes on the first two days but the third day several people were allowed in with sandals. I’m not sure how anyone could make sure they follow all the rules when they are different every day.

Overall the process to get into visitation is mostly painless; it just takes a little time. We figured out on day 2 that if someone goes in and gets the paper work you have to fill out and it’s completed when they call your group it does go much faster. Once you are called you go in, give them your id, do the metal detector, get your hand stamped (I still don’t understand the reason for that one) and then you are lead through 2 locked doors, across a breezeway, through 2 more locked doors and in a large room with 150 plastic chairs, and 6 vending machines. That is all the excitement for the next 6 hours. Well, other than trying to pick out the seat you think will be the most private in a room that large with many other people and then making the decisions as to what the menu is for that day from snack machines. You better go to the snack machines early, prison food must not be all that great because the food in those machines goes QUICK and it’s really not great food. Who knew chicken wings could be in a vending machine and just be heated up in a microwave.

Anyway…I digress.

The first day was the most difficult for me. I was in tears before my husband ever came in, and in more tears when he did walk in. The tears were off and on all day. He looked the same; he hadn’t even started to lose weight yet. He had got a haircut and pretty much shaved it all off, it was so short it didn’t look he had any hair at all. He had to pay 3 mackerels for that hair cut (we’ll chat about mackerels in another post). Leaving was HARD that day even though I knew I’d be back the next day.

Leaving that place and leaving him there WILL NEVER BE RIGHT. EVER and I HATE IT.

I had a complete and total meltdown later that night after we got back to his aunt’s house. It was an overwhelming sadness and sorrow I have never felt before. I had to leave his aunt’s for a while and just be alone to pray. Knowing that was the best it was going to be for 8.5 years is a very difficult thing to try to accept.

If wasn’t real before the first visit, it gets very real after it.

The next two days were better, we laughed, we joked, we talked, we held hands…it was almost normal, I guess it is the new normal. I don’t like it. I am thankful they aren’t strict and you can hold hands, hug and be close (within reason) throughout the entire visit. Very grateful. The worst part was leaving Monday afternoon, not knowing how long it would be before I would be able to afford another trip. It was heartbreaking. It was like saying goodbye the first day all over again. For two entire days I didn’t think I’d ever want to visit again. Entry Twelve went further into the horrible week last week was.

I almost let it take me down and not get back up, but I did.

The visiting room is a very interesting place. I learned that once in the visiting room you don’t talk to the people you made acquaintances with in line. In the visiting room it is you and your inmate, no one interrupts anyone else. It’s almost like everyone has a little bubble that appears around them and their visitors and no one really notices anyone else. Even the inmates that know other inmates don’t say more than “what’s up”. It appears it’s an unwritten respect that everyone knows and follows. You also know by the second day that some people must come there often and have certain seats they sit in. So you don’t sit there if you see those people in line for visiting.

I have a curious mind, a very curious mind.

My mind wandered all day wondering what brought all these very different men to this one place. Everyone has a story. You see these men with their wives (that you probably talked to in the waiting line) and kids and how they light up when they are with them and it’s hard to imagine they did something that truly warrants them being there. Then again, I sit in the same room visiting my husband. I observe a lot, like the guy who had a different woman visitor every day and they all appeared to be his girlfriend by how friendly they were.

I probably observe too much actually.

There is a lot to observe, there is also a lot of hurt in a lot of eyes you see in that room. I came to the conclusion that overall the visiting room is a happy place, at least most everyone puts on a happy face. Everyone seems genuinely happy to be there and be able to spend time with their inmates. I didn’t fall into that category this first visit. I pray that one day I will, but the first visit was far more sadness than happiness for me.

It’s comical the amount of times I have been asked “is it like TV” since last weekend. In a short answer, NO it’s not like TV at all…at least not at the facility where Chris is. There is nothing but 150 plastic tan chairs in the visiting room, no tables, no board games, and no card games. You can’t go outside to picnic tables or anything else. There is a small playroom for children that has 1 table, 8 small plastic chairs, and some books. It’s funny how easily kids can entertain themselves. There is a desk in the front with a monitor, I assume it has feeds from all the cameras around the room. A CO sits pretty quietly at that desk and during the 3 days I visited was pretty nice to everyone. We didn’t have to sit and talk on phones through a glass wall, although I do think at higher security prisons that does happen. You are in that room sitting in those chairs for 6 hours, no cell phones, no iPad, no TVs.

I kind of liked it that way, no distractions. You actually communicate with each other. My first experience is that the visiting room is a very calm and safe environment.

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

by Diane S.

Entry Twelve

Drowning.

“No amount of guilt can change the past. No amount of worry can change the future” – Unknown

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

I’m really not sure how to sum up the last 6 days.

I have felt like I was drowning and I did a real terrible job of grabbing onto the hand of God that keeps me from going under. However, I have managed grab onto His hand and to come up for air today. I may even be able to get out of the water if I try hard enough today.

This week I should be writing details about my first visit with Chris last weekend. I probably should have already written about it but I haven’t been able to do it yet. So far it’s indescribable and I haven’t found the words.  I have experienced more emotions in the last 6 days than I care to admit. That wooden roller coaster has been very rickety this week.

The actual 3 days I visited were good. Of course the first day was difficult and emotional, but good overall. The other two days were also good.  It was good to see my husband. It was good to be with him. It was good to see that he is okay.

However, the emotional and mental crash after the last day of visiting and having to come back home has had me questioning if I ever want to visit again. I’ve asked myself why I am doing this to myself. Why have I chosen this path? Why would I ever want do something again that breaks me down so totally?

And why have I resigned to do it for the next 8 years?

Drowning in the doubts of the enemy is the only thing that can describe the last 3 days.

Prayer has been difficult for me this week; I just haven’t known what to say. A lot of prayers this week have just been asking God to strengthen me in Him and asking Jesus to just listen to my heart because I didn’t know what it was saying other than hurt. I have not been in a place this week where I can thank God for this situation or even for waking up every day. I know I should be thankful for each day, but the last 3 have convinced me that being in Heaven with Jesus and not here going through this would be a much better option for me.

I know that isn’t true, but you know the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees”? That is a good way to describe the feeling. I have been so focused on the doubts, fears and worries this week I have not seen anything else.

It’s a difficult place to be, drowning that is. I haven’t wanted to write anything this week, not letters to my husband, nothing for this site. Basically, I have done exceptionally well listening to the “woe is me” bidding this week and I crawled into a hole of worry and doubt.

It’s a very bad, very dark place with the only company being the enemy.

It’s always funny to me how people don’t think Christians should struggle like this; Christ followers don’t get depressed. They seem to think because I have a relationship with Jesus and some days they can see faith and trust in me that I don’t or shouldn’t have struggles. That’s not true at all.

Not even close.

I’m still human and now probably more than ever the enemy is working hard to get me to fall. Does the enemy know your weaknesses? I think he probably does & since he does it’s an open invitation for him to use those against you. It’s probably in the Bible somewhere but I can’t recall a particular verse about it. I think I will do some more research on that.

I didn’t work yesterday because I allowed this all to make me physically ill. I have worried about everything from travel, to finances, to bills, to the overall picture of the next 8 years. I know that when I think about the next 8 years overall it’s more than I can stand, but when I just focus on today I’m usually okay. I’m learning to just focus my eyes on today and what Jesus has for me this day. Worrying about how I am going to pay all my bills, afford visits and not let anyone down is so very pointless because even though I can’t see a way, I am not planning the way. God will provide, I know this yet I still drown in worry and doubt.

Today is a new day. I am not out of the water yet, but I am at least floating on top of it for now. That’s even better than just treading water, right?   I have a lot of guilt today because the last two days of phone calls with my husband have been a complete mess. I am resolved in my decision to be on this journey until the very end, I will not waver. (And I will visit again, as often as I can…see above where I said I was questioning that).

Even on my darkest days deep down in my heart and soul where it really matters I am steadfast in my decision and never questioning. You would think that would be enough to tame the doubt. However, on the drowning days it isn’t. Sometimes on those days, like the last two, I voice my doubts to Chris that rise to the surface about how we will ever survive this and of course it makes him question if there is any way I will actually stay resolved to stay on this journey. It hurts me to my very core that I know that after that 10-15 minute phone call I have let my doubts become torment for him until we talk again in 24 hours. My saving grace today (5/28) is that it is my birthday (the first one of nine without him, only 8 more to go) so he called early this morning for a couple of minutes to tell me “Happy Birthday” and I was able to tell him that I am back on semi-solid ground today and not drowning. Hopefully it eased his mind and calmed his heart. I wish he could know the difference between my mind and my heart; they stay on different pages a lot. Does it make sense that I have doubt in my mind but never in my heart and soul?

I don’t know if that does make sense but it’s the only way I can even attempt to explain it.

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

By Diane S.                                                                                              5/21/15

Entry Eleven

Felon.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  Luke 6:37

It wasn’t until recently that I realized what a powerful word ‘felon’ was.

I was like most of the rest of population of this country; that word didn’t affect me so I didn’t give it much thought. I was clueless to the power of this word. I was clueless to the stigma of this word. I was clueless to the effect of this word.

I am not as clueless anymore.

I am still very new to this word having an effect on my life. I know that I have much more to learn and I am aware a lot of it will come as painful lessons.

I am now married to a convicted felon. At some point in my life I will be living with an ex-felon (is that even a thing?). An ex-felon? See, I’m still so new to all this. I know that this will affect our lives until we are called home, it won’t be over in 8 years. I do have hope that the hardest part will be over in 8 years, but there will be difficulties well after that. My husband will be one of the more fortunate ones (God willing, meaning I am still alive and well at that point) and he will be coming out of prison to our home. I hope he will be able to find a job of some sort but I am not all that worried about that. I have 8 years to establish myself and get my finances in order so that we will be in a good place and ready to face those challenges. If he can’t find work for a while God will provide at that time. Honestly, I don’t give a lot of thought as to what life will be like in 8 years for an ex-felon because my hope is a lot of things will change by then and things will be better for someone coming out of prison and re-entering society.

Everyone needs hope, even if it is far-fetched.

A lot of people leaving prison have nowhere to go and the government doesn’t care, they are no longer responsible. These people, men and women both, walk out of the prison life they have lived for many years into another prison of sorts. They are free, but what now? What about the ones who have no family or friends? They walk out into their new freedom and into the unknown. I’ve never asked one personally but my guess would be that walking out of prison into a world all alone with nowhere to go is probably more frightening than the day they walked into the prison facility. That’s a total guess on my part, maybe I’m wrong. I would hope I am wrong. Their life won’t be controlled by someone else any longer. They have to figure out where they will live, how they will eat, where they will shower, try to find a job….the list is long of things that felons face once they “have paid their dues” to society in prison. This country does very a POOR job of preparing felons to re-enter the real world. Many articles have been written on this site about this subject.

This is on my mind today because one of our local news stations posted a story on Facebook last night about a woman who has been out of prison for 4 years and can’t find a job because she is a convicted felon. I know there are programs for felons to help them find jobs and I don’t know why this particular woman hasn’t had any luck with those programs. Her story was a bit “woe is me” but it wasn’t the story that caught my interest. It was the 500+ comments on the post that had my attention. It doesn’t take long when reading comments on a post like that to understand just how biased and uninformed the majority of this country is about prisons, laws, sentencing, etc, etc.

VERY UNINFORMED.

The comments from people who quoted a Bible verse to back up their OPINIONS were the worst ones. I always find it difficult to keep my mouth shut when people try to use the Bible as a basis for the hateful things they say and believe. Those folks must not know my Jesus. Many people truly believe that if someone ends up in prison they deserve any hardships that come their way for the rest of their lives. Many people believe in a system that is broken at its very core. Many people don’t believe that prison is a business and the government has more concerns than just “rehabilitating” people when they go to prison.

Many people don’t believe that the Bible says to love prisoners and ex-prisoners. I saw one comment that actually said, “What if they are in prison for doing something to your loved one, would you really want someone to visit them, give them a Bible and tell them about Jesus. The bible doesn’t mean visit those kind or prisoners.” It took a lot of will power to scroll by that comment and not voice my opinion in ALL CAPS! People believe that God can forgive but society doesn’t have to; they wouldn’t want an ex-felon working where they shop.

Gasp! The horror!

I’m trying to remember that most of these opinions are because people are uninformed and have never been directly affected.

I wish I could say that I have always had compassion for felons, that I have always been aware of the all these things. I can’t. I wasn’t. I didn’t care just like so many others because  it didn’t affect my life. I started changing the day I started living my life for Christ, truly doing that, which was about 15 months ago. I was saved when I was 10 but my relationship with Jesus didn’t truly start until January 5, 2014. I started caring more about the hardships others faced, the felons, the starving, the persecuted. I cried at the news of the ISIS terror, my heart hurt for things it never hurt for before. I’m continually baffled by the many people who have a relationship with Jesus but don’t see the problems in this country, let alone across the world.

It’s hard to argue that this country doesn’t have a serious breakdown in the federal justice system. When a blind man can go to prison for accidentally downloading inappropriate photos that HE COULD NOT EVEN SEE there is a problem. The fact that a jury and a judge would send a man like that to prison speaks volumes and really makes me wonder if this is a battle that can ever be overcome. I am so very new to this and all that comes along with being married to a convicted felon. My passions are growing every day for these causes I never knew existed. My heart aches every time I read a news story that hits too close to home. Every time I read a post on this site written by Tony or any of the other guest posters about the hard stuff my heart breaks a bit more.

My life is just beginning to evolve with the new effects of being married to a felon, a sex offender felon at that. People look at me different. People will always look at my husband different. He will always have a difficult time finding a job. We will always have to be conscious of where we go, what we do, where we live and so many other things when he is released in 8.5 years. There will always be things we won’t be able to do and that’s ok, we will survive.

We will be together and we will survive.

I pray this country can change, laws can change, people can change, and a broken system can be fixed.

No single word should have as much power over someone’s life as the word ‘felon’ does

“Stories Of A Prisoner’s Wife”

Entry Ten

by Diane S.

Miss or Missing

The dictionary defines the word MISS as a verb and a noun:

verb

  1. To fail to hit, reach, catch, or otherwise make contact with.
  2. To be too late for or fail to meet
  3. To fail to perceive, experience, or understand.

noun

  1. A failure to hit or make contact with something.
  2. A failure to be successful. The new movie was a miss.
  3. The misfiring of an engine.

The dictionary defines the word MISSING as an adjective meaning

  1. Not present, absent
  2. Lost.
  3. Lacking, wanting

Wow, two words with so many different meanings. Those two words play an important role in my life right now, in all of their various forms and applications. I find these two words in my mind and my prayers often, and in a variety of ways.

Like, I miss my husband. I miss everything about him.

And I miss my old normal. I miss not having a normal.

I miss my two dogs that had to go to new homes. I miss financial security; even though we have never had much of it, now we have none. I have been missing the little ‘bread crumbs’ God gives me every day. Last night I know for a fact that I missed a divine appointment because I out-right disobeyed God when he told me to move my feet and go to a person who was hurting. I miss things my friends need from me because I have been too focused on me and just getting through each day. I miss opportunities to exercise my faith and my trust. I feel like I am missing what God is showing me and telling me.

My list could on for a very long time with the things I seem to be missing right now. If I studied on the things I miss or am missing I could probably send myself into a pretty dark depression for a long while.

I choose not to do that. I choose to pray about them, change what I can and trust God for what I can’t.

I pray that God helps heal my heart and make the pain of missing my husband easier to bear. I pray that God leads me to a new normal that is more fulfilling than my old normal. I trust that God will provide what I need, and pray that He helps me understand and accept the difference between a need and a want.

I pray that God helps me not to miss His ‘bread crumbs’ and the way He shows me He loves me EVERY DAY. He does show us all every day and I miss it a lot. I pray God doesn’t let me miss when He tells where He wants me to go and what He wants me to do. I pray I don’t miss the good, there will be good. I pray for my husband. I pray that God doesn’t let him miss the things He puts on his path and the people He places in front of him on this journey. I pray Chris doesn’t miss this time God has put in his life to grow his faith and trust. I pray that he doesn’t miss me as much as I miss him. I pray that our marriage survives, and even thrives if that’s possible (and it is with God).

Today I am praying diligently about a divine appointment I missed last night. I have already asked God to forgive me for disobeying when He told me to move. I volunteered with my church last night at a revival for a local mission. Our church worship band came out in full and one of our pastors was there to deliver a wonderful message. It was the first time in quite some time that I JOYFULLY praised God. For more months than I can count, I have always ended up in a heap of tears during worship on Sunday mornings. Tears of sadness, tears of sorrow, tears of accepting His plan while not understanding it.

Last night in that tent with people I had never seen, most much less fortunate than me, God showed up BIG and I was able to PRAISE him without tears. We were all just sinners in need of a savior. I am thankful I have already found my savior and I pray for the ones who were in that tent that haven’t made that decision yet. I was thankful, truly thankful to Him and it was just good. It was the most refreshing two hours I’ve had in a very long time and it was needed.

Anyway, back to the divine appointment I missed.

There was a man sitting about 2 feet to my right with no one between us. During the alter call he did not move to go forward, but he raised his hand when the pastor said if you just prayed that prayer and asked Jesus to change you tonight raise your hand so people around you can pray for/with you. He was in tears and I KNEW God was telling me to go pray with him, no one else was around him. Shamefully I did not. I didn’t move. I was supposed to move and I didn’t. Too many doubts about what would I say, would He accept me to pray with him…etc, etc, etc. I am NOT PROUD that I didn’t listen, but I do recognize it. I’m not sure I have ever been able to recognize it before, so that is something, I suppose.

I wish I could go back and pray with that man. I hope the next time I am at the mission I see that man and I can go ask him how he has been and if I can pray with. Right now, because I missed the appointment God set for me all I can do is pray for the man in the red shirt with the black eye and scrapes on his forehead. I pray that his prayer was sincere. I pray that Jesus did come into his heart and I pray that his life was changed last night. I pray in the coming days and weeks he remembers exactly what last night felt like when he is tempted by old ways (whatever they may be).  I pray that God sets him a divine appointment with someone who will listen to God’s guidance and will pray with that man.

I’ve come to find out that even with all the things I seem to be missing these days, most of them I can change myself. I just have to do it and recognizing them is the first step. I don’t think I’ve ever been as attentive to recognizing things as I have been in the last few weeks. I can change a lot of things by just becoming more aware of God’s presence and listening for Him more.

I can’t change that I miss my husband; I can only pray that God helps me find a way to deal with that and makes the pain more bearable. I can’t change how my husband handles his relationship in Christ or if he misses the things God is trying to show him, but I can pray about it and I do diligently. I can’t change and go back to the old life I say I miss. Really I am not sure I would want to anyway.

Growing with Jesus is a much better place to be.

I’m not sure missing things is really all that bad as long as you are willing to recognize them, pray about them and learn from them. It seems a lot of things I am missing or have missed have led me on a path to find things in my heart I may not have found otherwise.

The message last night touched on the story of the blind man in Luke 18:35 and our pastor summed it up in a very good way I thought. That man was blind and couldn’t see a thing but when Jesus called him he threw off his cloak and ran to Jesus. He didn’t know what would happen, he had no way to find his way back to any possessions he may have left with his cloak, he didn’t know what was between him and Jesus that he could trip over that might cause him to fall down. He didn’t care. He ran to Jesus because he knew that being with Jesus was better than where he was.

I can’t even imagine how many things I wouldn’t miss if I could be more like that blind man and trust Jesus so completely and entirely that when He calls I would go running to Him giving no thought to what might happen.

I have a feeling I wouldn’t miss very much at all if I could be more like that blind man.