Psalm 33:6- The heavens were made by the word of the Lord, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.
On September 27th many of us witnessed a Super Moon Lunar Eclipse. I sat outside in a comfy little lawn chair at my pastor’s house with him and his wife and a few of our friends from church. I watched as our beautiful moon slowly transformed into what seemed to me a huge beach ball in the sky. It looked as if it was suspended in the air just waiting for permission to fall. I thought for a minute that I could reach my hand out and I would be able to touch it.
It was absolutely amazing. As I looked at this spectacular display of God’s majesty I wondered how I ever could have denied His goodness. The beauty that is in His creation is so often ignored. We live in a fast pace world and most of us barely look away from our phones or computers enough to enjoy the gift’s that God has given us.
The problem we face if we don’t take the time to pay attention to what God has created for us is this: We do not thank Him for it. If the chief end of man is to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever it should start now. We should glorify Him by thanking Him for the beauty of earth and space therefore giving recognition to Him as creator God. We enjoy Him on earth now and forever.This is one of our duties as christians and it is our example to those who do not believe.
God spoke our moon into existence. He has created and named all of the stars. When you look into the night sky and see lights that are so many you can not count them, and you realize that you are small and God is big, thank Him.
Loving you and all of God’s creation,
In N.A. and A.A. I tried to meet God on my terms, ya know, a God of your own understanding, but that is not God at all…that is my imagination. In prison and here at TTG I am taught the God of the Bible and when you see God for who He is you worship Him and not drugs.
Your sister in Christ Jesus,
I always hear people say knowledge without love puffs itself up, we see Paul telling the church at Corinth this in 1 Corinthians 8:1. While this is very true I also want to say that knowledge without application equals disaster. Let me explain.
I spent nearly three years learning Reformed theology (also known as The Word of God, Scripture, the Bible). I studied creation and arguments for it, Covenant theology and the deep love and understanding that comes along with digging deeper into God’s beautiful plan that He carried out through His son. I learned about the parables that Jesus spoke and the beginning of the church. I even learned what the church is, what it is a picture of, how a pastor should handle his flock, how women in the church should behave and what our responsibility is. I learned about God’s will and human responsibility and I touched on the different schools of thought about eschatology. The biggest topic that I seemed to always land on was SIN.
In prison you have a church service that you can attend, there are several to choose from. You go once a week and you set for an hour and a half and you learn what you can if that is what you are truly there for. The thing that get’s you there is that as much as you want your church service to be your church family it just isn’t going to happen the same as it happens in the free world. You have people constantly cycling through prison so you may see someone one time and never see them again. Or you could go to church with someone who lives on a different dorm as you and even though you are in the same prison you still won’t see them.
I knew that being part of the body of Christ would be invasive, accountability in the church is one of our human responsibilities. I never realized how paramount this would be in fighting sin. You see, I learned about sin and how to fight it. I had sin in prison, plenty of it. I also had sisters who held me accountable, but true application was just not there. The circumstances of prison helped me tremendously to learn, but never could I have imagined what it would be like to be in a church and fight sin together with other believers.
In prison it was very easy to hide my sin. Mostly all christians in prison have not ever truly lived a christian life in the church, and unfortunately most of their church experiences in the free world were not what the Bible would tell you church is suppose to be. So, when it comes to application, especially with accountability we were all very cautious or we just couldn’t do it right.
Coming to Through the Gate was a real eye opener. I thought that because I knew some thing’s I would be fine. I thought because I had left prison with unresolved sin issues that I would never have to deal with them because well, I am not in prison anymore. Silly me, God never let’s his children sin successfully. When you belong to God He want’s all of you, not just most of you. If you have sin in your life, no matter if you think that you can hide it, ignore it, or deceive yourself into thinking that it is just not there anymore- God will deal with it.
This is where the application comes in. Having a church to show me what it looks like to actually live out God’s word, to actually apply His word to their everyday lives, that is the means that God used to bring my sin to light. I didn’t even realize that I had fully hidden my sin. I realized that I was guarding my sin like it was something I needed to protect. I was afraid of losing it and what my life would be like with out it. It was comfortable to me I guess. It was easy to deny.
Like I said earlier, God wants all of you, not just a little bit. God’s word is so powerful and it is meant to be lived out. I was so afraid of giving up my sin because I thought I would feel empty. Getting that sin out and in to the light gave me freedom. That doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle, but I have learned that you have to pair knowledge with application or it will be a disaster. How do you do that? You pray and you rely on God and His people. I am thankful that God is teaching me and that He has placed me somewhere that applies His word to their daily lives!
Love your sister in Christ,
September 12th 2015
I can’t help but to think of where I was at just 5 years ago. The type of lifestyle that I lived before I went to to prison was something that seems to me now like a nightmare, but it really happened.
When I talk to people about my past they have a hard time believing that I lived the way that I did. They can’t imagine me as a drug user, dealer, thief, liar, neglectful parent, promiscuous woman, and violent in nature. The fact of the matter is that was who I was.
We seem to have this picture in our heads of what a drug dealer looks like or what a drug addict looks like. You can think of just about any crime and in your mind you have a picture of someone who you think would fit the description of that crime.
In reality we are all capable of any sin because we are born with a sin nature. There is no set appearance of a criminal. It isn’t as easy as saying everyone who has brown hair is a meth addict or anyone with pimples is a thief. That just isn’t the case.
I have brown hair and blue eyes. I am short and I have a huge smile. I love to play sports and my kids are what I talk about the most. If you set and talked to me you would not think that I spent the past 4 years in prison and the 10 years before that addicted to narcotics.
Walk into a prison and see the faces of the women who are only known right now as a number given to them by the state. They have committed crimes that you may think you would never commit. Set down and have a conversation with them. You will find out that they are mother’s and daughter’s, sister’s and aunt’s, friends and wives. They are people who have lived and are still living.
The majority of them will return to communities in Indiana. They may even end up as your next door neighbor. What will you do? Will you treat them like a neighbor or when you find out that they just got out of prison will you treat them like an enemy? What would the scriptures tell you to do?
I can tell you from experience that God is in the prison and He is calling women to Himself. Some of the most amazing women that I have ever met are inside the gates and Christ is doing a work in them like He did and is doing in me. Are you going to welcome them when they come through the gates and enter back into the communities from which they came?
I just want to encourage everyone to really pray for the women who are in prison and for the people who have the wrong idea’s about them. Pray that God would open all of our eye’s and change our hearts. For the grace of God has saved us all, including the women in prison. If it were not for His grace who know’s where we would be.
Your Sister In Christ
I spent almost 4 years of my life incarcerated. That isn’t to mention the little bit’s of time here and there that I have done, 6 months for this or 45 days for that. No, this last time was a 16 year sentence. I received 10 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections and 6 years of probation. Under the old law you serve 50% of your time so I was looking at a complete 5 years.
When I got arrested I really didn’t care about anything. I had been living on the streets, a drug addict for 10 years, and I hadn’t gone around my children for months. I was barely 25. My parents were passed away and the rest of my family stopped having anything to do with me years before when I couldn’t stay out of trouble. Life was hopeless. I believed there was a God but I didn’t believe that he cared about me.
While I was in jail I was sick. I was coming off of crack and heroin and I begged God to take my life, I even tried to take my life but I got scared. I thought about my kids and how when they got older they would feel abandoned like I did as a kid. I was given up by my biological parents when I was born and my grandparents adopted me. I thought about how I didn’t ever want to be sober because I didn’t want to feel anything. I didn’t want reality.
I spent 7 months in the county jail before I went to prison. I was sober and I can remember thinking that I liked not being high and not being sick, just kind of level. I laughed more than I had ever laughed before, but I still didn’t want to talk about God. I didn’t even like to think about God or say the name of Jesus out loud and I would get mad when people would go to church. I was very much against “jailhouse religion”.
When I got to prison I stayed to myself at first. I was on a dorm that was loud and people liked to fight. There was a ton of drama and to be honest I was tired. I lived hard and fast for 10 years and I just wanted rest. I wanted forgiveness. I had been holding a lot of anger and hatred towards someone who caused some of the problems for which I was arrested. I knew that in order to forgive that person God would have to do it, I couldn’t.
I went to the library and got some Joyce Meyers books because there were a lot of them in the religious section. Looking back now I can see that you have to look for quality and not quantity because this lady has a lot of books but they really make no sense. I kept reading that I had to do this step and that step and it depended on me and if I really wanted it bad enough I would get it. WHAT?!?! All I could think was that when thing’s depend on me they crash and burn. I thought “what good is God if it all depends on me”.
Nevertheless I began to pray and I would just ask God to help me forgive. That’s what I really wanted, just to forgive. I didn’t know it then but God was calling me to Himself. I was walking on the walk one day and I just thought that I forgave the person who I was angry at. I don’t know why it came on then and there but it did. I empathized with the person and the situation and I was able to forgive. I remember thinking of how I could not be angry at him and not be angry at myself too. I just wasn’t angry anymore.
I didn’t really truly understand what was happening with me then, but I signed up for a program that offered a time cut because I needed to get out of prison sooner. In the meantime I wrote the person who I had been angry at and I told them that I forgave them. I signed up to be in the faith group of the program so I could learn more about God and forgiveness. I kept writing the person that I forgave and we were re-building our relationship. I was still missing something though, I felt like I was just kind of floating around wanting something but not sure what or how to get it.
As part of the faith group we were able to go to the chapel and watch videos. It was actually required. The first video that I watched was a Louie Giglio video about the stars and whales. It tore me up. For the first time I realized that God was infinitely huge, that He was creator and that He was sovereign over EVERYTHING. I immediately went into the chaplains office and talked to him. I of course was crazy. I told him to send me to do anything that had to do with God because Mr. Giglio had talked about Isaiah 6. He kinda laughed at me but he said he would. For the next 3 years my chaplain taught me the Doctrines of Grace and Reformed theology.
I can see now God’s providence, His sovereign reign over my life. Every little detail about my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, are being worked out for my good and for His glory. He has purpose for me. The terrible things that I have done and have been done to me are a testimony that God has given me. I embrace my past and I know that God will use me to help others. I don’t question my salvation, I am an elect, a daughter of God. No matter what I have done or what I will do, God chose me before the foundations of the world. I had nothing to do with that…all of the glory is to God.
Here I am now at Through the Gate. I have been given this gift of living with the church. I am being taught how to be a godly woman. I am taken care of by people who want to honor and obey God because of who He is. I am in such an amazing position in my life right now because God has set out my path and He has placed me here. I am excited to see where He takes me and I pray that He will use me here, like He is using the volunteers of Through the Gate, to glorify Him by helping women like myself who are getting out of prison and learning to live for Him and sacrifice for His people!