Embrace Your Valley

Boredom in Labor and Delivery Free Write:

4 years since the infamous Memorial Day weekend camping trip.  

Almost 4 years since I was sent up stream and thought I had been defeated.

In hindsight the valley was needed.  Guilty or not it no longer matters.  What happened in and after I left the valley does.

I had never been one to write down my goals or prayers or any of that.  In there, I did.  Not a lot but a few.  Some of them have yet to materialize but a few have.  

I set out to build a friendship with Andrea from inside Hell and did it.  Two and half years of just letters added tremendous depth to our relationship.  Get out, find her, marry her, and keep her smile a priority?  Done.  

Convince MDOC and every affiliate I was not the monster in the story and get all of it in it’s entirety done without extra time or classes?  Done.  

Maintain a genuinely good relationship and even build with my kids through my valley?  Done.

Not become institutionalized and a nutbag?   Good thus far.  👍😂

Be accepted by my family and friends upon my return without judgement?  If anything I have far more love and respect for my family and friends.  Our relationships mean more and are far more important to me.  Not one friend left my corner.    

Have a child.  A beautiful baby with my wife, after I get out, marry her, and do it right?  As of yesterday this one is complete too.

I don’t say this to brag like no one has come out and done better than before going in.  Many have achieved far more than my few prayers on my prayer list.  I know a good amount of good men that once upon a time were not good men.   It really isn’t about prison.  It’s about the valley.

A wealthy person who seems to have their life together could be in their valley.  I just write from my personal valley experience.  
Do not give up hope, no matter how dark it seems.  Work for it.   Focus on it.   Leave the shit that drained you of life behind.  Do not give up.  Bleed for it.  When the valley brings sorrow and pain and loss embrace it.  Handle that crap head on and kill it.  

Step outside the perpetual cycle that lands us in the valley in the first place.   

It’s not easy.  
It takes commitment.  

But, if the valley is walked correctly it can bring upon victory thus eliminating the original defeat.

Am I on top?  Hardly!  But, I’m still steadily climbing up.  Progress is progress.  

The valleys are just as important as the peaks.

Don’t limit God to DNA

Don’t limit God to biological DNA.  His mercy extends to the child that is left by one or both parents.  His mercy is followed by his grace by bringing another person or persons into the picture whose heart is just right for that child.  

A step parent adopting another child as their own speaks of God’s spiritual DNA.  It is the Gospel at work right in front of us.  It is God answering the groans of the Holy Spirit set at God’s feet, advocating for the child who desperately seeks to be wanted and have someone to call mom or dad, or mom and dad.

My dad was once my step father.  My dad took me in.  My dad adopted me just like through Christ we are adopted into and joint heirs to God’s kingdom.  

My dad has been and will always be my only dad.  No other man.  DNA or not he has been my living example of Christ.  He is my dad. 
 
Anything said against this is one of the ways humans limit God.  Reducing him to our subjective perception.  At this point we are no longer talking about God.  We are just talking about ourselves.

Soon to be Daughter

Not too long ago I met a girl.

She is young, beautiful, and wonderful. 
Her blue eyes go deep.  She wears her heart on her sleeve. 

Within this young woman is divine radiance.  God used exactly the right ingredients.

She is quick witted and smart.  Even at a young age she makes wise decisions with her heart.

Unfortunately over time pain has reached her soul.  She strives to be happy but feels again she’ll end up alone.  Left out in the cold.

She’s been separated from her brothers and moved back and forth.  Lived too long under a dark force. 

Her extended family has been there.  Her exquisite mother has done whatever she can.  Still though she saw too much war.

Her self-esteem has taken shots, her heart severely wounded, and fear weighs down her spirit.

She is tough.  She always wears her brave face and doesn’t back down.  But, it’s the wounds she covers that I refuse to allow to continue to bring her down.

She is Natalie.  She is my step-daughter.  And she has my heart.


I will not leave.  I will not abandon.  I will not wound.  

One man ran and one just treated her less than while she watched him abuse her mother.  It was devastating. 

———–

Natalie,  

I will not run.  I will not leave you.  

Your success in life is my priority.  

You will see me love your mother correctly.  You will not see me abuse her.

My hands will never strike you.  I will not mock or humiliate you.

I love you.

Having you in my life has brought me into a realm of Being beyond myself. 

The way my spirit wants to protect yours surprises me but emboldens me.

All those boys.  They all have my heart. 

You though, you have been placed as my daughter on my heart in a profoundly different way.

It’s just different.  I raise the boys to protect and care for themselves as growing men.  You, I want to raise you in a way that consistently shows you I will protect you.

Thank you for choosing to accept me.  Thank you for giving me a shot.  

I cannot promise perfection.  I cannot promise all the fancy things.  But, I do promise to never see you as less than.  I promise to love you with the fatherly love you deserve. 

I will inspire you.  I will encourage you.  I will be a rock for you.  I will do my best to help you whenever you ask.

I will support you.  I will protect you.  I will face your fears with you.

You are worthy of a dad.  You are worthy of his affection.  You are worthy of love.

I desire to be that man.

It may be over a year before my name is added to your birth certificate.  The process is long.  But, today, right now, I see you as my daughter. 

I am blessed to know you.  I am blessed to be able to love you.  And, I am blessed you are giving me one thing I have always wanted. 

A daughter. 

Dare to Love for Real

Standing idle while someone you know hurts someone else purposely with malice is the same as acting with them.

If you practice any type of spirituality you are not adhering to your own beliefs.

I am a Christian.  Would Jesus stand by?  Sit and allow it to happen?  No!   Contrary to the media and the lack of knowledge in general Jesus would not stand by and watch anyone be hurt whether they claimed him or not.  That’s what most people miss.

We cannot sit by as Christians and watch a man hold his kids from their mother out of vengeance and not speak up.

We cannot sit quietly while a loved one goes off into addiction, anger, or hate.

We cannot sit by and watch families be torn apart due to immigration laws.

According to our own Messiah we are immigrants!

Don’t break the law, change the law.

We cannot sit by and watch any group of people be dehumanized.

Whether they are straight, atheist, agnostic, gay, any color, man or woman, or whatever, we must stand in love.

How many of us who claim Jesus sit idle while people we love hurt other people purposely?

How many of us who claim Jesus sit idle while groups of humans just like us are dehumanized?

If this is your choice you have missed the entire point of the Gospel.

Jesus was and is not idle.

Exclusion is The Satan of Inclusion.

If you’re Athiest you are simply acting immorally.

Regardless if it is a friend, a brother, a sister, and so on, by standing idly by you show support for the act, agree with their behavior, and allow evil to continue on.

This may be someone you love.  Love is not just the rose petals.  It is the thorns as well.

Sometimes to speak life into someone you have to stand strong against their foul behavior.

I say this from experience.

The people that loved me when I was astray told me point blank when my drinking and partying was a problem.   They didn’t hold back.

When I have had differences with my children’s mother those who love me reminded me it’s about the kids.  They didn”t bash her with me.  They didn”t sit idly by while I went into revenge mode.  They loved me with truthful honest harsh heart piercing words.

In prison when my anger would kick up and I’d say crazy insane things due to my innocence and vengeful spirit they wouldn’t join in.  They’d remind me of what I had done in the dark.  Maybe not why on paper I was incarcerated, but still, I was reaping what I sowed.

Yes, what we say may fall on deaf ears.   They may spit back and move their devil from the other person to us.  That’s the risk.

We still can’t in good conscious do or say nothing.

To my family and friends who spoke up.  Thank you.  Thank you for standing against the evil in the mask I wore.  I know I can still be pretty hard headed but I know without your transforming love I would have never came home 18 months ago and stayed on a path to better myself.  Not for myself, but for my kids, my wife, and for all of you that spoke up.

You are the heroes in my life.  Your refusal to sit and watch me spin in darkness and hurt others and myself saved my life.

Reconstruction #1

A few weeks ago within the depths of my being I felt something missing.  I felt the place where I had held Jesus high now empty.  It was something that was weighing me down.  Normally I did not notice the emptiness until I was alone and it was quiet.  The silence set in.  Where I once prayed I did nothing.

This frightened me.

I know that within me is Christ.  Whether you believe what I believe or not I do not care.  But, over the past few years I have deconstructed my faith.  I deconstructed it to a point where I closed the door on God and removed God from my life.

No prayers, no reading, no studying, and absolutely no forgiveness.

A Bible literalist is once what I was.

Yes, Genesis happened that way.  Yes, Jesus was the result of the virgin birth.  Yes, Jesus died and was resurrected.  Of course anyone who saw the scripture differently or wasn’t part of my specific religious practice was wrong and most likely off to burn in hell.  Pretty simple right?

I took all those beliefs and trashed them upon my entrance into prison.  The books I had access too opened my heart and my mind in the end, but at first it hardened everything in me to absolutely everything about God.  Anger really started the process.  Locked up for a violent crime.  A violent crime that never took place.  Rightfully pissed off I was.

My mind-set was: those asshole Christians forgot about me, an asshole of a Christian Judge for Kent County screwed me, and my pastor friend disowned me and he’s an asshole.  No one asked me my version of events.  No one seemed to give a shit.  Just added to my anger.

I remember speaking out loud that God and Jesus were complete bullshit.  Absolutely a waste of time.

Quite the ridiculous deconstruction if you ask me now.

The books I read were from all kinds for spiritual practices.  The good in them made it impossible for me to believe if someone chose not to label themselves a Christian they would end up in hell.

I have been home going on eighteen months and I attempted service at the most recent church prior to incarceration when I first came home.  It did not spark any interest in returning to my faith.

Moving on I was happy, even without Sunday’s worshiping a God I no longer thought was real.  I remarried a minister’s daughter.  Go figure right?  We are now expecting a baby boy.  We picked the name Oliver Aaron.

Wait, strong biblical names?

Something deep within me told me I needed to name my son to fall in line with a faith I no longer believed in.  This is when I realized we can’t run from Christ.  We don’t return to Christ.  Christ never goes anywhere.

When things started to slow down and I had more time to think about thinking I realized I may have tossed too much of my beliefs out when I deconstructed.  I started to remember why I chose Christianity over other beliefs.

Jesus.

I do not have to believe the Bible to be literal.  I do not have to take it at face value.  I do not have to have zero doubt.  I do not have to claim a denomination so I go with Christian Mystic.  I can love and appreciate the story of the virgin birth, the flood, and Genesis as a symbolic way to express something much deeper than the stories at face value.  That’s okay.  My beliefs do not have to align perfectly with other Christians.  I think that would be tragic for the Christian faith honestly.

How boring life would be if we were all programmed the same.

What do I have to do?

I must love.  I must sacrifice.  I must live as closely and similar to Jesus as my Being is capable of.  This doesn’t mean I have to be a bible scholar.  This doesn’t mean I have to agree with everyone.  I am one of the fallen.  Jesus taught to people just like me.

I do not stress the importance of original sin.  I believe and push on original Blessing.

My belief will differ from the next guy and the next guy’s beliefs will differ from that guys.

That’s life.  We can still love one another and sit on the foundation as Jesus as our Messiah and through his Way we are redeemed from our sin.  Everything after that is up for personal interpretation.  My imagination may not perceive scripture the same way as others.  That’s okay.

It isn’t easy.  We are people using our imagination to deduce something that was written by another people using their own imagination and perception.

If anyone thinks we are supposed to all take it the same way they have missed a great deal.

My faith today is one hundred percent with Jesus the Christ.  Jesus and Christ.  Not just the man, but the Great Consciousness behind, within, and in front of this man.

Returning to where I started this.  My reconstruction.  I want it.  I desire it.

My faith is with Jesus but I have not felt my return to him in full yet.  It is coming.  My progress has been different from normal.  Usually I would jump head first into something but if there is one thing prison taught me is to be careful about my choices and who I involve in my life.  I can never be sure if I am meeting an angel or a demon without slowing down and letting the Spirit discern it for me.

I want to be part of something that is bringing people together.  That includes people of any race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and past sins.  You know, like Jesus!

If Jesus came today and chose twelve new disciples I am pretty sure it would be a group of homosexuals, minorities, criminals, and women.  Why?  Because Jesus is a radical and for him to be radical in 2017 he’d have to do more than pick a few liars, wimps, and a tax collector.  We wouldn’t care if he picked those guys.

We’d shrug our shoulders and say, “big deal.”

How about a Muslim?  I bet he picks a Muslim.

I have moved forward.  I have picked a new congregation to try out.  Why do they interest me more than others?  Well first off I sent an email of my history and did so to a few different churches and one responded with love.  The others?  Have yet to hear back.  

This place meets in a brewery a few times a month to discuss doubts openly.

A brewery?  To discuss Jesus and doubts?  With drunks and sin around?  Yes

I’m in.  I feel this is where Jesus will be before he is in any church building.  It was his thing.  To be radical.  To be different.  To not conform.

Now we do still meet in a building on Sundays but the response and the groups I’ve looked into really seem to fall in line with my current reconstruction.

This does not mean I will not return to my previous church.  This is my reconstruction and I need it to reconstruct the best way possible for my family and me.  It will be a continual process that I believe will take me to new places and new light and back to old places with new light.

I still wake up pissed off some days.  When I think about prison I try to see it as a stepping stone in my journey towards my True Self in Christ.  Some days I just see the face of the person whose lies put me there.  I’m human.

We aren’t supposed to do this perfect.  It isn’t supposed to be fun and safe.   Christianity isn’t safe.  Just like open boarders aren’t safe.  But, it is the Jesus Way.

If you are questioning your faith and you’re scared to fully come out of the closet with your doubt you must do it.  You must in order for your own spiritual growth.  I left Jesus only to find myself back with Jesus.  Allow yourself to experience something new, to be uncomfortable, to not conform to your families beliefs simply because they’re family.

Be radical.  Be a badass.  We are all in this together and as long as love is in action throughout the process no one of any belief system has any grounds to say a damn thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have An Angel

I woke up such a blessed man today.  
Opening my eyes to such a beautiful woman keeps me grateful.   I don’t deserve her.  

She’s proof of God’s grace in my life.

Radiant luminous light shines from within her.  Her skin glows with life.  It’s hard for me to believe I have her heart at times.

I’m a dork.  I’m not sitting on riches.  Average looking ginger.  Failed a billion times.  A few years in prison.  Still climbing out of the hole I dug.

Yet, she still chose me.

I had written her off.  I remember doing it.  Deciding to give up on any shot with her back then.  No way I would ever have a real chance.  God had other plans.  

She found me.

Today she carries our baby boy.  She will say she is fat.  I say she is absolutely breath taking.

Set the science aside.  Growing a baby is a miracle.  It’s absurd.  It’s awesome.

Her heart is strong.  She gives off a strength I have never seen even when tears are produced. 

Through our union I have experienced real Heaven.  Not some place, “out there.”  Heaven is here.  It is Now.  

I feel God took her wings for later use and sent her to me.  

It has always been easy for me to write, but when I attempt to describe my love for her I freeze up.  There are just not words in English that do it justice. 

There’s pragma with agape, eros, philia, and ludus throughout.  

It’s exquisite chaos.   

My wife is amazing.  

I’ve walked along Niagara.   I’ve stood on mountain tops.  I’ve seen the sun set over the Pacific.  There’s nights I saw the northern lights with shooting stars.  None of these sights compare to the dazzling angelic beauty of my wife.

Her soul is divine. 

She is who I give my life to.

I am a Christian

What?  Surprised?  My argumentative attitude has left some wondering what my beliefs are.  Well to put it simply, I am a Christian.  Progressive yes but still a Christian.

My faith is not based on what other’s say.   The Old or New Testament, or just the Torah were all put together by people.  Not God.  Everyday people claim to be inspired by God, which is a man made name for whatever it actually is.  

There’s hundreds of names.   They could all be wrong.   We gave whatever is out there a name.  Whatever it is refused a name.  Well, according to Moses anyway. 

I question everything.  I don’t believe a Supreme Being came down and helped Moses write a thing.   But, I do believe he believed he was inspired by God to write what he did.  He became enlightened and achieved great things for his people.

I believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God.  Now the labels confused me so I investigated more which I recommend everyone does.  Labels are our way of trying to order something we just cannot order.  Caesar referred to himself as Jesus followers referred to Jesus.  Before Jesus did.  Think on that.

Son of God to me means Jesus was 100% in tune with what I like to call Christ consciousness.  The Way being the only way to joy and eternal happiness was his way of life.  Not his name.  Get over his name.   All the power he had and we still get hung up on names, on labels.  Stupid. 

The law?   Was for a group of people who had no law.   It was radical.  But most of it is not valid today.  I don’t see people shaving their heads or sacrificing calves in my town, yet they still cling to the the law they don’t follow.   

Now is some of it valid?  Yes.  Let’s not kill folk, cheat, steal, or lie, but for the love of God eat some bacon.   You’ll be okay.   God doesn’t care.  Bacon is good for the soul.

All we’ve done is divide ourselves with all the added bullshit.  A Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Catholic, Christian, or whomever can live a life of non violence, acceptance, and love.  The Way.   It is his way that saves us, not his name.  Not his name! 

Our labels do not matter to Eternity. 

Eternity is far bigger than our tiny small minded labels.  Labels act against love.   Not for love.   At least in Spirituality. 

Now I know hard nose people in there wooden boxes will think I’m crazy.  It’s okay.  I think you’re nuts too.  

I won’t believe a book because a book tells me too.  I must experience it.  I must investigate it.  The, if God is real or not, argument is boring.   Is the bible the tell all?   Boring.  Waste of time.   Shut up.  I don’t care.

Life.  Now that’s not boring.  

Why do I follow Jesus?   Because he is love in action.  He didn’t divide.  He conquered and brought together.   With force?  No!  With love.  

I have a friend who claims to be a Satanism.   Cool.  Whatever you gotta do.  Do I trust him?   Absolutely.   Do I believe what he does?  Nope.  But, his life of acceptance of others and love for others out shines his label.  I would trust him with my life before I’d trust most Sunday church goers.   He is gritty but kind.  He is loud and in your face but will stand up for you in an instant.   The Way.

My older sister is a lesbian.   My life style choice?  No.  My sister gave her life up to take care of her mother and step father.   Her time was consumed by her love for her parents.   Her service work to them cannot be matched.  She is love in action.  She lives the Jesus Way more than most straight women I know.  She’s going to Hell?   Kiss my ass!  You who believe she is are already in Hell.

Jesus my Messiah along with all the other Prophets would be sickened by how twisted and evil our so called religions are.   If it promotes segregation, hate, war, or anything not of love it is not in line with what was actually taught.   It’s a lie.  It’s politics.  It’s ego.  It’s Hell.

No one person believes exactly as the next.  They never will.  We never will. 

 Stop being assholes and get over it!

 Stop trying to accomplish something with added doctrine and bullshit that will never ever be accomplished.  Regardless of your faith practice if this is what you are doing you are breeding hate.   

I call myself Christian because of the teacher I choose to follow.  His Way.  People have shit on the Christian name by their own supposed Christian actions.  All religions have done this to themselves.  

It is what is happening to Islam right now.  Doesn’t mean within the mess there are not some of us who still believe what was actually taught.