Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Let the Mountain Move"

I have come to understand that adversities arise to first uncover places in us that need improvement or attention. Then to be faced I overcome. If we can look back at all the adversity conquered in our lives I believe we'd have the best perspective to face whatever challenges us now.
Right now, it's resentment I've been impacted by. And resentment itself is a product of another deeper root. Personally, being offended by the judgement of others has been a culprit often. I abhor the thought that because of my poor decisions, my problems with drug addiction, my young wreckless life of crime, my years of selfishness and carelessness, disgrace now in the prsent is brought upon my family, my wife, my daughter that's grown up without a father. I've grown into a man I hope can be polite, personable and proper in any situation and even consider myself mature, classy and a man my wife can be proudly introduce as her spouse, disregarding the fact that I'm currently incarcerated. But just my appearance alone, heavily tattooed, leads to other assessments. The content of the book doesn't get its depth truely revealed by its noir cover.
An offended attitude is one of the most difficult things to overcome. Proverbs 18:19 says, "An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguements seperate friends like a gate locked with bars." Literally, when we get offended it's like emotionally we gate up, draw out the weapons, lock away compassion and stand at the top of our wall glaring out. Daring our grudge to just try it! Pretty potent image. It's unfortunate admitting actually how many years of my life I wasted atop that wall. The thing we forget is, although we've geared up for a fight it's to protect our...dignity. Or honor. Well let's be honest, our pride and the right to have our own judgements....we've also locked ourselves up! We can't leave. It has us captive. It's so deceptive, we forget that. Crazy thing? We have the keys to unlock the barred door. But we just hang them on a peg, so our hands are free for us to keep tally on the wall nextto them of all the times we've been done wrong.
Hubert H. Humphrey said, "yiou cannot go around keeping score. If you keep score on the good things and the bad things, you'll find out that you're a very miserable person. God gave man the ability to forget, which is one of the greatest attributes you have."
Being locked up is miserable. Self imposed lock-down is not only the same, but preventable. It's not easy work, pulling out the weed to the roots. It takes bent backs and dirty hands. But the root, this poisonous vine, can't remain or it spreads and starts choking out good growth. It must be ripped out and flung far away.
I know in the past, my own resentments over being judged and overlooked were really just ways to cover anxiety overnot  being accepted or fear of rejection. Fear based emotions are damaging and have the tendency of blowing up in our face.
Someone said courage is just doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared. Facing certain fears is like staring at a mountain with sheer cliffs. Sounds like the only hope is courage and lots of prayer!
Jesus teaches us about moving the mountains of resistance or hindrance in our life in Mark 11:22-25.
he begins with, "have faith in God," reminding us that our prayers aren't empowered by our fears, but by faith in Him. He gets our eyes off the prblem and on him. Then proceeds to encourage us to tell the mountain to be cast into the sea and to believe it will be.
The sea is a metaphor for forgetting. Elsewhere, the Bible says God casts our sins into the "sea of forgetfullness" when He forgives us. Never to remember them again.
In Mark 11:25, Jesus says, "When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins too." Jesus doesn't leave the lesson in an encouragement to forget wrongs done, but takes it all the way to make us complete in the heart. Forgive. God knows that grudges are self imposed cages. We can pray for Him to free us until we are blue in the face and He can't. It's us who holds the door shut and keeps it locked! So, He urges us to let it go, open the door and trust Him. To take the fear, the pain, the hurt and to give us courage and a way to freedom even in a physical cage.        -N

How I Got Here (2)

We began chauffering a prostitute around; we were armed security guards. She was a highclass escort. We made $300 a day each.We worked 24/7 with hardly any breaks. We sat for hours at a time in the car waiting for her to be done with the trick.We became greedy and decided we would no longer wait for her to really do the deed.One day we became impatient and rushed the room where the trick was making a deal with our escort. We robbed him for everything he had; it was easy and the adrenaline rush was priceless. It was an everyday thing until one day a target of ours gave us a taste of our own medicine. As we sat outside waiting for the signal to come in, we heard screaming. My cousin and I realized that we may have to actually use the guns we carried. As we ran up to the house through the window, we saw our target holding a knife to the throat of the escort. He was taking advantage of her and had no idea what was about to happen.With one kick I knocked the door down. Without getting into details, we got her out safely and got our money. This experience caused our escort to quit, and we were unemployed. We became desperate so we started placing false ads on Craigslist and robbing the people were "interested" in purchasing our merchandise. i started really feeling bad for all the things I was doing. It was just about father's day after my 18th birthday. My sister called and invited me to go to our parents house with her to celebrate father's day. I knew I wanted to be home. Once there, I asked my parents if I could stay. I honestly tried staying out of trouble but still had an emptimess about my life. I needed money to do whatever I felt like doing. I began selling weed and ecstacy. i fought all the time and over small drama. Then one day I met a girl. I started hanging out with her everyday and put my other life behind me. Shortly after meeting her, my past caught up to me. My house was raided at 4 am and I was arrested. I was charged with 13 armed robberies with the use of a firearm, kidnapping, home invasion and other misc. charges. my family had no idea what I had done while I was gone. My father bailed me out and we immediately began looking for a lawyer. I was still with the girl I changed my life for and she stood by my side strong. While on bail I faced life in prison for all the dirt I had done. My family never lost hope and they never gave up on me. I turned to weed and alcohol to numb my pain. I remained selfish still. It is hard to admit, but I wasn't really upset that I may have to leave my family and girlfriend for life. I was upset because I could no longer live the lifestyle I was so addicted to. I ended up getting an offer 10 months after being arrested. Five years and 2 strikes. (My cousin got off easy; 2 years with 1 strike. By the time he received his sentence, he had already been locked up for close to two years because he wasn't bailed out.) Some thought I got off lucky, some thought I got broken off, but only I knew all the things I was really doing. So between you and me, a deal of 5 years and 2 strikes was an act of God. After my goodbyes I was off to LA county and the ripe age of 19. I learned quickly that white boys don't walk through easy. I found myself in the hole very quickly. Thirty six days later, I was off to prison. This is where every man has to prove themselves and earn their stay. Back and forth to the hole I ran into many problems. Race riots were only the beginning. There was no time where you could relax. You would be stupid to olet your guard down. I became addicted to the respect so I raised my hand for every job that needed done. Whatever it was- to jump one of my own or if it was to get a knife to the yard. I soon found myself in charge of the homeboys from my area. I started living a carefree life again. I started popping pills to numb the pain of the penetentrary. My addictive personality soon took control as usual. I found myself in thousands of dollars in debt every week. The big homeboys became tired of it and gave me an ultamatum. By now I had run my family into the dirt financially and emotionally. I had also run the love of my life away. i was disciplined several times in my cell. One on one, two one and three on one, but still I didn't stop. I had one last chance to make it right with the homeboys- whack a child molester. That's when God finally helped me realize that I was ruining my life. I decided it wasn't too late to save my future. I decided to drop out. I went to the hole and into protective custody after years of putting my life on the line. My family supported me entirely and were relieved to know I would no longer be risking my life. I sat in the hole praying that the ones I've hurt would someday forgive me. I was transferred to an SNY prison closer to home and I got a brand new start. With my family still by my side I began living my life in here for my future out there. I truely would like to say without my familyand the ones that loved me no matter what, I would probably be doing life in prison or be dead. But instead, I am less than two years to the house, I got my highschool diploma, I am enrolled in college courses and I'm getting married September 9th to the woman that stood by my side. Anyone that reads this I want you to know that I've been through some of the toughest things possible and I still made it. It is never too late to fix your life. It took me a whole lot to finally realize that my life could be different, but it's better late than never. I've got an extremely dark past but I have an amazingly bright future, and I have all the support to make it possible. Thank you for letting me share where I've been and the things I've conquered. You have to realize that in order to really change  your life for the better you have to make durastic changes. Anything and everyone involved in your old lifestyle has to go in order for it to be a real change for the better.                  -M             

Friday, August 5, 2011

How I Got Here

As a child I guess you can say that I was like all the other kids around the neighborhood. I had all my favorite toys and my parents provided me with everything I wanted. Of course we had hard times financially and emotionally but my parents did whatever they had to do to make sure my siblings and I were taken care of. My father broke his back day in and day out trying to keep his company afloat, so he was gone pretty much all the time, often even working a second job. This left my mother taking care of 5 kids usually alone. My siblings and I were never easy on our parents. There were always issues at home caused by everyday stressors and our misbehavior. I personally was a complete tyrant; sure I loved and cared about my family but at the time my selfish attitude consumed my life. I was doing whatever I had to do to fit in with my "friends." I grew up fighting other kids in school and picking on the "outcasts."
 My first fight was in 2nd grade and the attention I got was enough to keep me in trouble. It became a way to get attention from not only my friends but my parents as well. It was negative attention for sure but to me it was better than none. I am not at all blaming anybody else for the way I acted but that was all I knew. I began hanging out with my cousin (who had an even more troubled childhood) and started doing things kids my age should know nothing about. One day in 6th grade I got into it with a kid over him calling me a name . After school I pulled a knife out on him and chased him down the street. I became feared and I loved it. The next day I was called to the office and arrested. I was around 11 years old and that's about when it all went down hill.
Everyday it became a challenge for me to live up to the day before. I began creating enemies and I became one of the most hated kids in the area. I got kicked out of school after school; I never stayed longer than about a year and a half at one school. I soon began smoking weed and stealing to pay for it. I felt invincible with my cousin by my side. My next arrest ocurred when I was 15 years old. I was arrested for theft and shoplifting. My cousin was also arrested with me. I thought I was the baddest dude around and continued fighting people and talking bad about them. At 16 I began selling large amounts of weed and became addicted to the money. My cousin and I were making so much money and we ran out of things to do. We started going places; we road tripped to Vegas, Mexico, and anywhere we could have fun. One day, sitting in the Taco Bell parking lot, on the way home from Mexico, we sat counting our money and we were putting everything away. We put the weed in the glove compartment and the guns under the seats and I put my brass knuckles in my back pocket. We got out out of the car and began walking to the entrance of Taco bell. Next thing I know we were surrounded by 5 cop cars and guns drawn. I was arrested for possesion of a deadly weapon and possesion of marijuana with the intent to distribute. I was 17 years old. The DA gave me the opportunity to straighten up, she offered me a juvenile diversion program and she would drop all charges.I should have learned. I left home and moved with my cousin. I continued selling drugs and living the fast life. Hotel parties were on the regular, we did whatever we wanted, and feared no consequence.                      -M