1 | The Journey Begins

February 29, 2008
Friday, 5:00 p.m.
Letter #1: The Journey Begins


Dear Family,

I am doing well! God is gracious and full of compassion as I am fully reliant on Him for my daily needs. I am busy in my cell after a very thorough and restful first night’s sleep.

What an incredible blessing to be able to speak with each of you after leaving you in the courtroom! It’s the unknown, the silence, that can let worry and fear creep in, and I was so anxious to hear how you were handling everything. God was kind to let us cry and speak to each other so soon!

As I mentioned, I am keeping busy. You all know how my greatest fear is that I waste my time in frivolous activities, conversations, or sleep, so that the portion of my life invested here would return void. To combat this, I’ve made a dozen lists: Things to Do, Thinks to Learn, People to Write To, Topics to Write About, Prayer Requests for My Family, Prayer Requests for Others, Exercises, etc. It helps keep the pressure of responsibility and urgency on me.

There is a huge temptation to become lazy, and that would not only be detrimental to my ability and capacity to bless others but also catastrophic to my character, resulting in a possibly permanent disorder. I don’t want to hinder what God wants to do in and through me now, and I certainly don’t want to hinder what He wants from my life when I get out.

I want to practice NOW for when I’m out, and I want to prepare NOW for when I’m out. This means my character, my work ethic, my education, and my walk and relationship with God. It includes preparing for ministry, building healthy relationships, and being willing for God to use me—as much or as little—as He desires.

To make this process more challenging and fun, God blessed me with a certifiably insane cellmate. He lives somewhere between reality and a fictional existence in which everything and everyone around him somehow relate to an event or place in his past, both real and imagined.

This becomes increasingly frustrating when trying to ascertain why he’s here, where he grew up, and how many dogs he’s actually owned. I believe him that a cow in New Mexico nearly kicked him to death, but I don’t believe that the nurse here used to live near him in Mexico and that he knows her husband. I believe that he has ridden the train, buses, cars, and wrecked a friend’s motorcycle, but I’m just not sure about that $3,462.18 lottery ticket in his wallet. Nor the $1,000,000 ticket. I believe him that his sisters are 31 and 35, but not his recollection of them being 23 and 26 when he was 10. He is 25. Pray for Brandon.

I just looked at my wristband to check the time, but it told me only my name and ID#s. I’ve found a few guys here who recognize me from the 34 days I served here last summer prior to being bailed out. They all have been shocked at the amount of time I have to do, but so far so good with me accepting it. (Of course, this is after a grueling 24 hours in here!)

The length of time doesn’t bother me so much when I look at it from a victim’s perspective, but it bothers me greatly to not be able to spend these years with each of you. So, I live each day to become closer to you, to share more of me, and to learn more about you and how I can support each of you in various ways, while lifting you in prayer … daily.

My attorney just visited me, and he seems to think I HAVE to work in prison to qualify for good behavior time off.  🙁  Most guys end up doing only 50% of their time. Serious felonies such as murder or sex crimes have to do 85% like me. Well, I assure you I’m going to do whatever I can to keep my time away from you as minimal as possible!

God is so good! I was able to trade my lunch for a few pieces of paper and trade my dinner for two stamped envelopes, so I could write to you before I have the opportunity to purchase them myself from the commissary. Guys in here LOVE the food, so I can use that to my advantage.  🙂

I introduced myself to the Correctional Officer on the day shift, and he asked me if I was still “street high.” I guess a positive attitude and smile means you’re most likely on drugs or alcohol.

Well, I love you all so much. Keep me in your prayers, as they give me strength to endure.