Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Cake and Ice Cream. . .

From my journal. . . I am not sure what happened this morning but God was telling me to share this story because someone out there needs to take a look around and see if they can see God standing right there with them.  I admit that this is one of the longer of my blogs, but it moved me in experiencing it again and writing it down this morning.  

Birthday Cake and Ice Cream . . . . . I've seen God in a lot of places: the waves of Lake Michigan, in the eyes of my children, and in my talks with Amy, and many more.  But, sometimes God is in the simplest things.  Maybe it's a perspective thing.  Maybe God knows when I need to see Him and it just happens.  Or maybe God is always there and I just don't always recognize it, let alone appreciate it.  And, maybe I have a role in seeing God?
That's a novel idea.  Like I have to do something to make myself aware of His presence, His power, His love, and His grace.  Oftentimes my perspective dictates when and how I see God.

I say all of this because I saw God on the coldest night of my prison sentence - - I mean it was frigid.  My Bible study was on a Monday and on this day I knew that we had a guest speaker and wouldn't be studying the Bible.  Admittedly, I was less than thrilled to go.  In fact, I was telling myself I didn't need to go - - I mean it was COLD.  No one would know. . . Hello, I am in prison.  But, God............

So, I walk to Chapel under the brightest stars on the coldest night of my prison sentence.  I walked alone and talked to God about how cold it was, how bright the stars were and how I wanted to turn back and go to my cell - I don't think I have ever been that cold (We don't exactly have warm clothing in prison . . no Under Armor or North Face in here). 

I get to Chapel and the normal crowd of 10-15 is down to 5, including the speaker.  You guessed it, it was that COLD.  We do our normal routine and the speaker puts on a rob of sorts and begins to recite from memory the Book of James. . . word for word. . . action by action.  That was powerful and I knew that this was the reason I needed to be here.  The Book of James is a powerful book for a man in my predicament and from my perspective. 

The speaker finished up about the same time I hear some commotion behind me and I looked back (prison habit of always watching your back) and I saw the CO (guard) bringing in cake and ice cream.  I thought I was dreaming hallucinating or both.  I haven't had either of those in like two years. Sometimes God shows up and sometimes God shows off. 

So, I ate 6 pieces of cake and a pint of ice cream (it's all perspective here and not one of us said "cut me a small piece, I'm dieting".)  I found one of my biggest God experiences in prison on the coldest night of my sentence. . . WHY?

Because that's what God does.  That's right up his alley.  That's in his line of work:  Making the impossible . . . possible.  It is against prison policy (and the law) to bring ANYTHING from outside the fences to us on the inside.  Apparently God didn't get that message. 😊

So, I saw God in cake and ice cream that cold, starry night.  Where have you seen God lately or are you really looking?

Tell us where you have seen him in the comments . . . 👇👇👇👇

If you are struggling it's okay help is only a prayer away.

Friday, February 8, 2019

there is always HOPE . . . real HOPE. . .

I have spoken of hope, or the lack thereof, for years now; as if I were well acquainted with and versed on the subject.  It has only been in the last week, after nearly a decade of recovery, I believe that I may know what hope really is.  Or more importantly, what it is not. 

Hope is not a wish. In current vernacular, the words are often interchanged.   For example, I believe the following two statements illustrate well this idea:

"I hope I win the lottery."

"I Wish I would win the lottery."

In my understanding of hope today, this is improper usage of the term.  Stay with me, I will soon explain.

Hope is not faith either, although the two are closely related.  Once again, an explanation is forthcoming. 

Hope is the moment when I realize something that to this point seemed impossible, unachievable, or insurmountable truly is possible, achievable, and attainable.  But beware if I stop listening in that moment, I miss the rest of the message.  HOPE says yes you can, but you must first do something… simply put, HOPE requires action.  All the hope in the world will make no physical or noticeable difference until it is followed with action.

"But it sounds like hope and faith ARE the same!" I hear someone mentally noting.  In my experience, and I stress those words, hope had to be present before faith was possible.  I had to see the impossible done, the unachievable reached and the insurmountable conquered.  Then hope awakened in me.

I was very fortunate, and still am, to have a group of "old timers" who showed me the action my hope required to reach a new place in life.  As I did the action, and witnessed the results, faith sprouted, green and new.  Fragile though it was, with continued action based upon my newfound hope, faith grew.

What do you hope for today? Are you just idly wishing?  Are you hopeless?  I have been all these things and more…  
I promise you, if you look around, there is always hope...real hope.

If you are struggling, it’s okay… help is only a prayer away.

Editorial Note:  The writer of this Blog is my sponsor, Jon N. and I am grateful for his guidance, strength, courage, and support.  He has shown me what love is, what faith is, and what hope is.  I am forever grateful for his friendship.  He is a good man who holds me accountable to my journey and reminds me to stay humble.  A perfect example of this is what he said to me when I was struggling with helping those in recovery and thinking I could save people from themselves and on that day he simply stated “Shane, you are not that important.”  That is humility. 

I am a better man for having Jon in my life.

I love you, Jon.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

I remember the first time. .

From my journal. . . When I started writing this journal while in prison, I never thought about sharing it or my life with anyone other than the pages where my words, my thoughts, my pain, my heartache, and sometimes my laughter lived. Like most people, my journal was for me and my healing.

When released, something or someone nudged me. . . Pushed me. . . Told me to share my journal and my life with y'all. Okay....okay - - I heard God tell me to do it. In doing so I have healed so much more by sharing my whole life -- holding nothing back.

Something else happened too. People began sharing their journals, their lives, and their pain with me. It's like my sharing helped them share...that's powerful.

The following is one such share inspired by this amazing song. I hope you read this, listen to the song, and share this post. By sharing our lives, by being vulnerable, and by loving others we can begin to heal.

Here you go. . . .

I can remember the first time I gave up. The first time I knew there was a “stop fighting” option. The first time that it seemed like a better choice. I had no idea the significance of that day when I rolled out of bed in the morning. That it would be the day I learned how broken feels. I don’t think I realized how heavy tears really are. That gravity could pull the tears out of you so fiercely that your knees buckle under the weight of it all, until you inevitably hit the floor.

The way a body shakes when something pierces so deeply that it misses every organ and aims straight for the soul. I cried soul shifting tears that day. Tears that turn to acid and corrode the protection and safety of a heart. Until all that is left is broken pieces that can’t seem to work together or function at full capacity. I laid down in vines that day. Long and heavy vines that twisted their way around my limbs and tangled my thoughts. Vines that kept me stuck in a forest of agony next to a stream babbling steady uncertainty into my brain.

There were endless nights when the sun wouldn’t rise and the easiest option seemed to be sinking further into the vines until becoming one with the thorny mess and chaos. The wind would howl the deepest hurts, beating the branches until every last leaf of hope disappeared.

The vines became the safest place in the forest, even as they stole my breath. The darkness overwhelming as my eyes shut out the world. I miss the sun. I miss the comfort of being wrapped in the light that used to keep the vines away. One last look at the sun before it ends. That’s all I want. The numbness inside of me subsided for a second, long enough for my eyes to open in surprise at an emotion I hadn’t felt in forever- a glimmer of hope. I looked to the sky and through the darkness a million lights sparkled. They spoke of miracles and shimmered with more power than I ever thought possible. They were better than the sun, because they lit up my darkness. “God must still be here,” I thought “God is the only One I know who can use darkness as the perfect guide.” I lay perfectly still and slowly slipped through the vines that had grown weak from my small persistence in not giving up completely.

I stood up determined to see the forest as I had never known it. From a vantage point above rock bottom. Flowers swayed steadily and the stream reflected majesty. It was quieter up here. The leaves that had fallen had been replaced with new blooms more radiant than ever. And the vines decomposed to nurture new growth. For the first time my tears felt light as they brought relief to my dry eyes. Soul shifting tears that watered the flowers of change and reminded me of beauty again.

And my broken pieces were put together like a puzzle by the One who could see the bigger picture-even in the dark.

If you're struggling it's okay help is only a prayer away.     LISTEN TO THIS SONG

Friday, February 1, 2019

Goodbye. . . not see you later

Dear Coco:
          I bet you are surprised to hear from me.  Don’t get excited… I’m just writing to say goodbye.  Some people say, “see you later”, because they don’t want to close the door on a future relationship.  Don’t flatter yourself that I even consider f*#king with you again.
          When we met, I could not hardly wait to get to know you.  I had heard so much about how fun / exciting you are, how sensual you could be, how you were full of energy and never seem to tire.  I had seen you in action several times… you were the life of the party.  You were sexy as hell (so powerful, so enticing) with your cool, subtle style.  Your confidence seemed to be contagious with everyone you touched.  You motivated the entire group of your followers to do everything bigger, faster, longer.  I would wonder what it would be like to know you.  But for a long time, I was both afraid to introduce myself and intimidated by your mere presence in a room.
          As I got older and met a couple of your friends, I started to feel more comfortable and confident with myself.  I began to believe that maybe I was giving you too much power in my fear of at least a proper introduction.  I started to wonder what kind of relationship we could have.  I wanted to prove to everyone AND myself that I could live with you and have a relationship with you.  I wanted to be like you - - or so I thought.  So, I finally got up the nerve to say “hi.”
          From that first date, you were true to form.  You were charming as hell.  You made me feel like a queen.  You shared your power, your confidence, your control over emotions.  You made me feel so focused. You made me feel like I was walking on air - - riding a freight train.  I was never tired, never hungry, never confused.
          After a while, as we got closer, you started to hint that there was a side of you that I hadn’t seen.  I asked your close friends if they knew you like that.  I should have seen the fear in their eyes when I asked.  They told me you didn’t need to show me.  That I shouldn’t want to know you like that.  That our friendship would change forever if I kept asking you to show me.
          But that made me want to know even more.  Why could they know your true power, but I couldn’t?  Why wouldn’t they share that part of you with me?  Were they that selfish?  Were they better than me?  Did they think that I was too weak to handle it?
          I coveted that knowledge.  I decided I would NOT stop asking until they gave in and let me be part of this group.  I was so convincing they finally gave in - - warning me, begging me really, to reconsider.
          Why I didn’t pay attention to the fervent warnings / protests, I do not know, except I thought I could prove them all wrong.
          When I let you into my mind that night by opening a door after lighting a fire to let you know I was inviting you - - you hit me so hard I was shocked.  It turned me on as I fell to the floor, begging you to leave as I cried and sweat and felt my heart beat throughout my body.  It was electrifying and terrifying all at the same time.  I asked you to be gentler so I could experience the ectasy more without the fear.  You accommodated me and lulled me into a sense of submission.
          All I could think about was your touch.  But it came at a hefty price very quickly.  You became jealous of everything else in my mind.  So, you sent thieves in to begin systematically robbing me of my confidence, self-control, my pride.  You pushed my family away first.  Then my career.  All I had left was my children and my desire to keep you away from them.  So, you attacked my sanity.  First only when I knew you were around.  Lying to me about what I saw, heard, felt.  Then, your attacks came all day.  I couldn’t understand how you would find me, where you would hide to play your sick tricks on me.  You wanted me to believe I had it all wrong.  That you wanted to share and teach me your ways.  When I couldn’t hide my fear or anger, you responded by sending in the evil, the darkness that you had found your birth in.  A desire to take over.  To own my mind, my body, and now my soul.
          I tried to fight you.  At every turn.  I used anything I could find to push you away.  Then you would call me a coward, weak-minded, pathetic.  You said, “get a grip” and quit giving you so much power.  You were just testing me. Testing my mind, my will.  You said, “I had it too easy all this time.”  That challenge is why I wanted to meet you, so why was I afraid of the challenge now?  To keep pushing my limits would make me stronger.  That I didn’t want people to think I failed in this after I asked for it - - insisted on it.
          You are a cunning liar.  A thief.  A manipulator.  A leach.  You were waiting for me to believe you, follow you, to turn my life over to you, so you could slowly kill me.  Your plan was to tell everyone I killed myself.  Your plan was to let them all believe you were so loving, so powerful, so in control of me that I couldn’t handle our relationship.  You did that so you could find your next thrill.  So, you could feed your own claims of power.  So, you could continue to draw others in and rob them, ruin them, and kill them too.
          Your plan failed when I met a group of people who had met you before.  Some of them got away quickly before you hooked them too deep.  Some of them fought you long and hard until they were mere shells of bodies and souls.  Most of them, regardless of their fight with you, or the injuries they suffered during the battle and things they lost to you - - all had others to help them fight and eventually get away.
          Those people, because they know you so well, have warned me, begged me not to believe I am free forever.  They have shared their stories of how you stalk them, send your minions to taunt their happiness, their careers, their health at times.  All to again convince us we need to / want to meet you again - - at least to tell you to leave us alone forever.  Those people suggested that I avoid meeting you again at all costs.  To ignore your charm at times.  To block out your threats and promises that it will be different this time.  They suggested I write you a letter to tell you goodbye and so I am. 
          Not see you later.

A note from Shane . . . if you want to submit something for me to consider posting on this blog, you can contact me at 

Thank you to this courageous person who decided to share a piece of their life with all of us.

If you are struggling it's okay, help is only a prayer away. 

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