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February 23, 2021

Things are so different in life on the outside. There is no one telling you when to eat, sleep, or go outside. This newfound freedom is amazing. I am able to open any door in the house. I have not been able to sleep with my door closed yet, I am afraid if I close it at night it might not open in the morning. I know it is not true, but it feels better to wake up and see it open.

I have recently started studying to get my commercial license back. I received my first CDL in 1980. Things were much different back then. There was not a written or road test. 

Years later when I moved to California and transferred my CDL from Arkansas to California, I had to take a written test only. Today, when I walked into DMV the first thing I noticed is the tests are now computerized. I took all four tests which means I have my learner's permit. Next I had to find a truck and trailer to rent for the pre-trip, skills, and road test. Due to COIVD and the DMV testing being suspended, all of the companies that rent trucks have closed. Thankfully my daughter found a school that will help me prepare for the pre-trip portion of the test, which is the most difficult portion. I am scheduled to go next week.

 

February 13, 2021

Tonight my daughter and I tried to go to church to listen to Amir and Jack. When we got there, it was crazy! There were so many people that we could not even find parking near by. So we decided to get a coffee at Starbucks and stream it in the parking lot. It was so much fun listening to the word of God with my daughter while in the car sipping Starbucks. Life can be so fulfilling, and sharing something as amazing as our God with my daughter is more than any man could ever expect or ask for. Thank you Lord for all that you give us.

January 14, 2021

Today, it was such a pleasure to be able to work outside. The sun felt so good. For many years I have dreamed of being able to spend days like this working around the house. There is something that is so peaceful about working in the dirt and planting things that grow. I have planted tomatoes, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, and herbs. There was one year that we were allowed to plant vegetables inside, it was so good for so many of the men. That program was stopped after the first growing season. Now, however, I am free to work outside and to enjoy the solitude.
Being in church or outside in church was amazing!
Being in church or outside in church was amazing!

January 2, 2021

Tonight I was able to finally go to Church. It was so amazing to stand there and take in the whole thing. Being there in corporate worship, feeling the Holy Spirit moving was such an awesome and humbling experience. Conversely, listening to  the Pastor give the sermon was such an encouraging experience. Even during this time of the COVID, it was well worth the risk. In fact I was kind of happy to be wearing a mask because that way no one could see me grinning from ear to ear. 

It was a bitter sweet time, on one hand my soul craves corporate worship. On the other hand I was so saddened when I thought about my brothers still behind the wall.  They have not had a church service at all in almost a year. How sad is that. 

Last night CR, tonight Church, thank you Lord, it does not get any better than that. 

This was painted on our Locker for CRI
This was painted on our Locker for CRI

January 1, 2021

On this New Years Day I was blessed to be able to attend my first Celebrate Recovery meeting. It was such an awesome experience to come from CRI (Celebrate Recovery Inside) to CR. Because of the COVID pandemic, CR does not have the large group. It is open-share groups only at this time. When I sat down in the group the first thing that hit me was, "Hey everybody is dressed differently."

The group lasted for an hour and I was extremely nervous, I kept thinking do they know I just got out of prison? Do they care? How will they treat me if they find out? Well when my turn to share came, I found out. I was treated with grace, love, and acceptance. I was able to share about my feeling like a fish out of water amongst "free people." It felt so good to be able to open up to like minded people. People who share the love of Christ and the freedom of living a life in recovery. It felt so good because I knew I was Home.   Free at last, I am free at last and at my Father's House. Life does not get any better than that.



Decembers 31, 2020.

I cannot believe this year is over. 2020 will forever be known as the year of the COVID. However, for me it will be the year I regained my freedom. After almost two weeks of being free I have found that the COVID has shut down all of the programs that are supposed to help people like me reestablish their lives. It is all online. For people in our position that have not  been online for  16 years it is a daunting task to navigate the different websites to register for the government programs. They all want me to take a picture of my picture ID. The only problem is that if you have been down for more than ten years, DMV will not issue you an ID until you go down for a new picture and wait weeks for it in the mail. Meanwhile you only have the 171.00 in gate money to eat and reestablish yourself.


However, that being said, thank God for my family that has put a roof over my head, fed me, and even given me cash to be able to survive. This shows me just how important the whole EMRC concept of helping those who do not have family support re-establish their lives. This motivates me even more so to follow God's path in making sure that EMRC will be there to say "don't trip" we got you. We will be there to help men help themselves.

December 25, 2020

This week is so different, it has been like a whirlwind. Yesterday I was able to go to my daughter's house and help her get it ready for Christmas dinner. I have not worked with power tools in many years, it felt so good. I also was able to drive to her house. It felt so amazing to be back behind the wheel. I can't wait to drive a big truck again and enjoy the smell of diesel fuel.

Today, was very special, being my first Christmas home in 16 years. To think that just 5 days ago I was in prison, and now I am having a feast with my family to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, this is the very definition of something being beyond words. As I laid my head on my soft pillow, in my soft bed, in a warm home, all I could do is cry and thank my God for His grace and deliverance and for giving me such a loving and awesome family.

December 21, 2020

Now, let the games begin. Today my daughter picked me up early and we went straight to DMV. I had, or thought I had, all of my documents in order to renew my class A CDL (Commercial Driver's license). The lines were not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. It was so different being in public, doing what normal people do on a daily basis. The first person we saw said I had to go and get a medical card so Tiffany showed how cool these new smart phones really are and we found a doctor that could see me right away. So off we go to the doctor, only to return to DMV and be told that I had to have a social security card to get my commercial license, and in order to get my social security card, I had to have my driver's license. One verifies the other, and then the second one verifies the first. So I walked out of there with a class c license. This will allow me to go to the social security office with my picture license (when it arrives) to apply for my replacement social security card, then wait for it to be mailed so I can take it back to the DMV to get my class A. Needless to say my head was spinning by the time we walked out. But, the good news is I am free and now I can drive.

Our next stop was at the probation department to meet with my probation officer.  I asked him if my daughter could come in with me, I figured it is  better to have her there to hear and understand exactly what I can and cannot do. I am so glad that he was gracious enough to allow this. Subsequently it has been a big help to me to be able to get feedback on issues that have come up. This visit actually made much more sense. He was professional, explained everything and knew how different things are for me right now in adjusting. 

December 20, Part III.

From there we went to have lunch, it was all I had dreamed it could be surrounded by family, enjoying a meal together in the warm California sunshine, breathing free air. From there we went to church. Chaplain, had told us that men who visit a church within the first twenty four hours were 75% less likely to recidivate. I had to go to my Father's house and thank him, and praise Him for my being home. Being on God's property was awe inspiring. I walked the campus with my family and could not stop praising Him for His faithfulness. That night as I lay down, I could not believe how much my life had changed in a day. It would never be the same again, thank you Savior.   


December 20, 2020 Part II.

The first stop was Starbucks. I was the only one that actually had coffee, everyone else got sweet stuff. I almost panicked, it was crowded, there were people all around, I felt surrounded and claustrophobic.  I swallowed hard and went outside to wait for everyone.

From there we walked over to the AT&T store where I was to get my first smart phone. There were opportunities to use one in prison, however, I had promised my Lord that I would not touch one until I was free. So, when my sister said pick one out, I did not know which one to pick. I ended up with a Galaxy S-20 Note. It is so cool yet I had no idea how to use it. 

December 20, 2020, Part I

Today, was like a whirlwind. I was taken off of the yard at 8:30a.m. This was the first time in 16 years that I rode in a vehicle without being in chains. I kept moving my hand and feet in awe of how liberating it felt. Next I was taken to R & R (receiving and release). I was handed a box that had my dress outs in it. My beloved brother Greg had gone shopping and bought me clothes. I could not believe how good it felt to put on pants with a zipper and a belt. I had forgotten how thick and heavy jeans were, it felt amazing. I was so paranoid, I just wanted to go. Now dressed in real clothes, I got in the van and was taken to the  bus station. It was surreal. I was so nervous I could hardly breathe.

When we arrived at the bus station and they opened the door, I could not believe I was finally going to be free. I saw my family coming towards the van, stuffed the emotion to cry down and went over to hugs from everyone. It was finally true I was going home to my family that has  loved and supported me through this experience. It was an amazing experience to be able to hug everyone without worrying about the prison guards watching over us.

December 19, 2020

In the morning I go home. It is with such mixed feelings and trepidation that I know I will not sleep tonight. I am so excited, yet have no idea how the world has changed over the last  16 years, then add the Pandemic on top of it. It is a tradition prison that the guy going home gives away all of his property. I have been going  over the list of who gets what and my cell looks so empty, I am keeping my television until the morning so I have something to do on my last night here.

December 13, 2020. 

Now just one week to go, I was honored to make plans for my first free Christmas in many years. It is hard to believe that I will actually be home for Christmas. It is even more difficult to realize that my friends that I have gotten to know will not be home for Christmas. I have been so fortunate to be able to build an amazing support system here. My brothers in blue have been there for me through thick and thin. When you can find like minded Christ following men who have realized the damage their criminal activities have caused. Men who have made a conscious decision to deal with the issues that brought them to prison, then you have a starting point for a real relationship. Surprisingly, there are such men behind these walls.


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