Monday, March 13, 2006

LAY IT AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

Psalm 38-39

I was so hurt, so struck down, so sick because of my sin. As I lay in my top bunk in my prison cell, my mind and my body were torn inside out. I'd arrived at the State Correctional Facility at Muncy, Pa. on January 5, 2000. It was an awful day and a horrid time in my life. By February 6th, the day after my 40th birthday, the prison started me on Interferon treatment, shots in the stomach and 3 pills a day of Ribiviron to treat my Hepititis C. As the medicine coursed through me, it made me sicker and sicker. Prison is no place to be sick. There is no sympathy and certainly no leeway. They just don't care. Then February 8th, my Grandpa Bill died. He was the one person in the entire world, that I respected the most and the one person I wanted to make happy.Grandpa was a stern man but when I did wrong, he'd say in his low baritone voice, almost a whisper,"Barbara, you know you can do better." And when I doubted myself and I always did, Grandpa would always say,"Barbara you know you can do it." I was so sick, I couldn't even cry, yet my world was falling apart. Prison is no place for tears either. People don't want to hear your annoying sobbing, so I didn't cry. I held it in along with everything else. My only possessions were a bible and a picture of Grandpa. I placed both neatly on the metal shelf that was my spot. On top of the bible I placed Grandpa's picture. The day after he died I was called to the Psychology Dept. for my first session with Dr. Wood, a very nice woman who really wanted to make sure I wasn't suicidal, as one of the apparent symptoms of this Interferon treatment was suicidal tendancies. Although, at that point in time, I wished I was dead, I didn't tell her that and was simple in my answers. She said, "But Barbara, what are you doing with all these emotions, I'm concerned?" I looked her straight in the eye and said,"I'm doing what my Grandpa told me to do, I'm laying them at the foot of the cross." I handed her my pass to sign and walked out. When I was secured back in my cell and had climbed back up on my bunk, I noticed that the picture of my Grandpa was gone. I jumped down and questioned the three other girls as to what they did with my picture. I looked under the shelf, I looked everywhere. The bible had been placed, standing up, facing in just as you would put a library book in with other books. The picture of Grandpa was placed horizontally on top of the bible. I felt I could take no more and I grabbed my bible and feebly climbed back up on my bunk. My soul was crying out, my pores were reaking of sin but I could only go to the Father and tell him that I deserved to be where I was, to please forgive me and take this pain, the weight of all my sin away from me. As I sat in a heap on my bunk. I opened my bible and there was Grandpa's picture. How it got there to this day I do not know but it was placed between Psalms 38 and 39. Read it, Psalm 38 again, it described me and 39 spoke to me. During my 3 1/2 years of incarceration, I read those Psalms over and over and still do. Thank you Grandpa. I am grateful for the wisdom you imparted and the seeds you planted. That and Yeshua holding my hand, brought me through the fire.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

DO WE SKIP THE LITTLE THINGS WE SHOULD BE GRATEFUL FOR?


As I lay in bed the other night, saying my prayers as I usually do, I began to think of how cozy I was under my covers. I usually fall asleep praying, I guess I'm not a real attentive conversationalist, when it comes to my talks with God every night. But it comforts me, my prayers, and in turn I think the Spirit calms me and allows me to go to sleep. As I was saying, I was cozy under the covers, on an especially blistery night. Long Island had just received a whopping 22 inches of snow and brother it was cold. I began to pray, not the usual prayer but one of simple thanks. The fact that I'd been healthy enough to work, having Hep C, to buy the very bed I was in, (with a little help from Mom and Dad, I bought a matching dresser), and sheets, this was a feat in itself. The down filled comforter that enveloped me was lovingly sent to me by my Mother cause I didn't even have a blanket. No, actually, after leaving prison, I'd started over from scratch, so I especially appreciated all the possessions I had. They may have been a mere accumulation but they were mine. God had taught me this lesson too, to appreciate even the little things, as I'd been completely stripped of all my worldly possessions as well as my pride, dignity and self righteouness. On top of that comforter from Mom, is a beautiful patchwork quilt, given to me by my oldest son, Lee. So, here I was, warm and snuggly and I began to revisit a time when I wasn't warm and snug but out in a blizzard trying to do what I had to do to get some heroin. I had to walk across town and I was so cold and sick, so very sick that when I walked over a bridge crossing the Conwango river, I stopped and looked over the side. I watched as ice jams flowed and wondered if the water was cold enough that if I jumped in, would it immediately take my breath away and take me under. In my journey that night, just a few streets up, I had to cross another bridge, that same river. Four times that night I crossed those bridges as I backtracked in the cold with one bag of heroin to split with my husband, I, always having to do the dirty work to feed his addiction too. Each crossing, I stopped and contemplated my life and how utterly disgusting and horrible it was. I was so sick, I could hardly walk and every step in the deep snow felt like four. As I came to the last bridge, still 1/4 mile from home, I knew this was the last chance to do this. Satan tried to talk me into it so badly that I began to throw my leg over the bridge to climb over and jump. But a car was coming, so I stopped. I hadn't seen any cars, that's how bad it was out. The temperature was 22 degrees with a wind chill of -7 that night and nobody in their right mind, except me would be out. The car slowly drove by, an older gentleman and he smiled at me. Something warmed my heart at that very moment and I began to cry. I stood there in a blizzard and wept tears that had welled in my charred black soul. I wept so hard it was painful, so painful, I fell to the ground on my knees in the deep snow. At that very moment my soul cried out for help for the first time. Oh, I'd asked God to help me get another bag of heroin. I'd asked him to let me die from a hot sack, a bag that is sold as heroin but contains poison or is too strong and you just stop breathing. But never before had I cried out from the depths of my soul, a scream for help, only heaven could have heard. I don't really remember too much more of that walk home except I was so cold I was numb and the hill we lived at the top of felt like Mt. Everest, I fell twice trying to climb it. I had to wipe away the tears and gather myself before I went in the house. My husband took most of the heroin and after we were used to doing 5 bags a day this little bit, was hardly noticed. I had to wake up the next day to the same dilemma, the same guilt, shame, pain and sickness. This was my hell.
Not long after that, I was sent to jail and through a chain of events that only God himself could configure I was held in jail for more than 2 months. Long enough to kick heroin. It was an awful experiance and I went through hell. I even had a seizure before they finally realized just how sick I was and got me on blood pressure medication. God heard me cry out. He gave me that jail sentence and the gift of walking away from heroin and my husband who'd been more than abusive. Not long after I went to prison. He gave me that too. A gift. That gift wasn't wrapped up in a pretty box with a big red bow but it was exactly what I needed, what I had to have.
As I lay cozy, warm, not hungryor dope sick, saying my prayers, I again thanked him for all the miracles big and small. I thank him for forgiveness and I am so grateful.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

BUT GOD DOES HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR!!


There once was a rich man who was near death. He was very grieved because he had worked so hard for his money and he wanted to be able to take it with him to heaven. So he began to pray that he might be able to take some of his wealth with him.

An angel hears his plea and appears to him. "Sorry, but you can't take your wealth with you." The man implores the angel to speak to God to see if He might bend the rules.

The man continues to pray that his wealth could follow him. The angel reappears and informs the man that God has decided to allow him to take one suitcase with him. Overjoyed, the man gathers his largest suitcase and fills it with pure gold bars and places it beside his bed.

Soon afterward the man dies and shows up at the Gates of Heaven to greet St. Peter. St. Peter seeing the suitcase says, "Hold on, you can't bring that in here!"

But, the man explains to St. Peter that he has permission and asks him to verify his story with the Lord. Sure enough, St. Peter checks and comes back saying, "You're right. You are allowed one carry-on bag, but I'm supposed to check its contents before letting it through."

St. Peter opens the suitcase to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaims, "Why did you bring paving stones?"