A lot has been going on. I do my best to remain positive and stay upbeat. But I must admit, sometimes it’s super hard. Back in August I was on a softball team that was argumentive, disorganized, and dysfunctional. So I quit.
Soon after I quit, I hear a knock on my cell door. It’s the coach. “Why’d you quit?” he demands! Right away I see he’s hostile and emotional.
I tell him, “Because it’s too stressful and I’m not having any fun. Guys are arguing with each other and we’re loosing too many games.”
He says, “Well then f*ck you! I’m done f*cking with you!” Then he slammed my door.
I immediately get an adrenaline rush. I almost open my door and call him back. But I don’t. I accept it and let him walk away. Because the last time I entertained such irrationality, I ended up knocking out the dude. And that cost me my EFV’s for 5 years. (see: How I Lost My EFV’s For 5 Years)
Today I’m a changed man. I’ve learned from my past. I try my best to avoid conflict.
So what could I have done to avoid this entire situation? It’s actually quite simple. I should’ve finished out the softball season with a positive, optimistic attitude. Regardless of our record and all the negativity.
I’m getting pretty good at avoiding physical confrontations. However, I need to work on avoiding confrontational situations all together. This has proven to be very tricky. I can be minding my own business, doing my own thing, and then suddenly find myself in an undesired situation.
So shortly after this whole softball fiasco, the Sergeant calls me in his office. He tells me that my celly, Dicky, is requesting that I be moved out.
Dicky is disabled and bound to a wheelchair, therefore we are in an ADA cell. These cells are bigger and have wider doors for wheelchair access. Which means Dicky always has top priority to live in these spacious ADA cells. So if he wants a celly gone, it’s always the celly who gets the boot, never him.
I’m genuinely surprised by this news the Sergeant it telling me. Dicky and I get along fine. So I ask the sergeant, “Why?”
Basically, Dicky said I’m too clean. I clean the cell too much. And that I organize his area when it gets too messy. Which I do. But Dicky and I have had discussions about this. And he said its all good!
So as the Sergeant is telling me all this, I’m confused. None of this is making any sense. REALLY! I’m getting the boot for being too clean and organized. What’s really going on?
Well it didn’t take long to figure it out. As soon as I moved out, Dicky moved in one of his dope fiend buddies. Dicky is an addict himself. He’s a pharmaceutical junky. He goes to pill line multiple times everyday. He keeps hundreds of pills hoarded in his cell constantly. But I guess the legal drugs aren’t enough.
Since I got kicked out, Dicky has been going downhill fast. Some dude ran up on him and in front of everyone and said, “Listen you punk ass bitch, that sh*t you gave me was bunk and I’m not paying you a f*cking dime!”
Wow! In front of God and everybody. Dicky was now exposed. Shortly after that, someone must’ve went and told. Because they suspended his visits. Tore up his cell. Took apart his wheelchair (looking for drugs). And subjected him to a piss test. Dicky refused the UA because he was dirty. Refusing a UA is a Major Infraction. Dicky is now out of the dog program.
It all makes sense now. Dicky kicked me out of the cell because he wanted to get high and sell drugs. And he knows I’m not down with any of that. So he reverted back to his lying manipulative ways to get what he wants. (see: Living With A Compulsive Liar)
When the Sergeant first told me I was getting kicked out of my cell, I was upset and stressed. But now I’m very thankful. It took me over 6 years to get in The Dog Program. By living with Dicky, he jeopardized my livelihood with his sneaky manipulative misconduct.
In a piece I wrote called, Stone Catchers: I Quit!!!, I talk about overcoming these exact type of challenges.
I know what I need to do. Now it’s all about having the strength, courage, and intelligence to successfully cope with any and all situations that come my way.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
I quit softball. I temporarily quit Stone Catchers. And sometimes I feel like giving up and smashing out some of these fools. It’s time I quit quitting. Giving up is NOT an option. Violence Is Never The Answer.
MY PRAYER: Please God, continue to give me the strength to endure and overcome. Guide me, guard me, and protect me as I continue my journey. Amen!
I was in my cell training for my upcoming EFV’s with my wife. I was doing weighted hip thrusters with a 65 pound box on my lap. As I was on my fifth set of fifty, my stomach growled. I finished my set, then looked at my watch to see how much longer until lunch time.
I looked at my digital Ironman TIMEX and quickly realized it was malfunctioning. The entire screen had nothing but 1’s on it. There was nine of them to be exact.
I immediately thought: GREAT, ANOTHER EXPENSE! THIS WATCH IS CRAP!!
Then it happened. The 11 seconds turned to 12, then 13, 14, 15, 16….etc. That’s when I realized it was November 11th at 11:11 am.
There’s nothing wrong with this Ironman TIMEX. It works like a champ. The problem was with me. Within all of one second, my brain had made an assumption and drawn a conclusion: My watch is broke. It’s crap. I need a new one.
Sometimes if we just take a second and let things play out, we’ll realize that there was never an issue to begin with. So many non-issues become issues because we make them issues.
PRAYER: Dear God, please give me the wisdom to remain calm and assertive in the face of adversity. Please give me the ability to be patient before drawing conclusions. Open my eyes to the fact that no matter what the situation is, its as good or as bad as I choose to make it. Give me the strength to remain positive and happy as the events of life unfold. Thank you for using my watch to teach such a valuable lesson. AMEN.
Dear Heavenly Father,
As my wife hikes the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), I pray that she endures throughout the day and night. Please let it be known unto her heart how much I love and appreciate her, and how thankful I am to have her. Anoint her with all the energy she needs to make it through each and every day. Help keep her strong, sharp, and focused. I pray she feels good physically and will have the mental fortitude to appropriately process any situation she encounters.
Bless my wife by giving her sound intuition as she navigates through the wilderness. Lead her to a place of solitude where she may rejuvenate and revive her beautiful soul. Pour out Your peace and love all over her. Please let her see just how much she contributes to our happiness and quality of life together. Reinforce in her heart and mind how valuable she is. Equip her to seek, find, and carry out her purpose in this world.
Please Lord Jesus, be with Suzie on her journey and let her know that she is loved & supported.
~ Steven Jennings
What’s better than love? NOTHING…that’s what! So why not take the initiative to express love? Everyday. To your spouse. Your children. Your friends. To mankind.
I’m shocked by all the men who take their women for granted. No wonder divorce rates are at an all time high. I understand that every couple will have their differences. It happens. I’m going through it with my wife, Suzie, right now.
It would be so easy to lose my composure and say something stupid. But what good would that do? I love this woman. Therefore, it’s my duty to soothe and comfort as we work through our conflict in a respectful, loving manner.
How do I do that? By drawing on the knowledge I learned from a book by Don Miguel Ruiz called, The Four Agreements. The first agreement is: BE IMPECCABLE WITH MY WORDS. This means, speak kindly to the woman I love. Always. No matter what. Under no circumstances is it okay for me to allow my emotions to dictate a tone of voice that operates outside the realms of love.
I must admit, in the past, I have been guilty of that. I recognized it. I didn’t like it. I fixed it! And it wasn’t really all that difficult to fix. Especially when you consider the beneficiary…my wife, the woman I love, my marriage.
If I have something to say, and it involves negative feelings, I find a way to say it as nicely as possible. Because I love Suzie, and I am committed to giving her my best at all times. She is such a sweet sensitive soul and she deserves so much more than I can give.
The least I can do is love her with all my mind, body, and soul…with all my power and strength focused on loving her the way God intended for a man to love his wife.
The way I simply talk to my wife makes all the difference in the world. Words are powerful! So why not use them in the direction of truth and love? If you are in conflict with someone you love, take the initiative to express love.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flair. Proverbs 15:1
“We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
(pg. 25-27 in the NA book, sixth edition)
Today we read about step three. This reading gave me valuable food for thought as I interpreted it in a way that works for me. If I am to grow spiritually, I must be honest about everything, including my concept of God.
A lot of people try to force their version of God on me. However, their version makes no sense to me. To simplify my point, I’ll just say this: I don’t believe mythology in a literal sense.
However, I do believe in the fundamental teachings of the Bible and Jesus. I believe in Cause and Effect. I believe in The Law of Attraction. I believe in the power of love. Therefore, Love is my God.
I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or an afterlife, or a divine force that answers prayers and ignores others. I believe that You Reap What You Sow. And if your prayers are aligned with your actions, thoughts, and lifestyle…and if you consistently commit to that Prayer…well then sooner or later it’ll come true.
I am my own God. My moral compass is set by the fundamental teachings of the Bible and Jesus. And that’s where it ends. It picks up again with my actions and commitment level to living a life in accordance to the practical teachings throughout the Bible.
I don’t look to an empty sky for guidance. I look within myself and tap into my spiritual foundation which gives me strength and guidance.
Many people say, “Yes! That is God!”
In which I respond, “Hallelujah!”
So many people turn their lives over to God, yet they continue to struggle and suffer. That’s because God won’t do anything for anyone who does not understand that God has to be created from within them. There is not an outside force that magically works for the good (or the bad) of people. This force comes from within! This is As I Understand It.
If you want it, you can have it. How you come to IT and how you get IT, is up to you. But it must come from within. Don’t expect some outside force to come in and magically change your life.
Create your own God within your soul with love, understanding, and compassion. Then serve that God with all your might and strength. If you do that, then your life will truly transform for the better.
So again, STEP THREE says: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
How do you understand God? And how is THAT working for you?
In My 12th NA Meeting, I rewrote the 12 principles of “HOW IT WORKS.” I rewrote them according to how I perceive them, and how I apply them to my daily life. In this post I want to focus on two of those 12 principles:
#2 Understand that there is a POWER greater than yourself that can and will help you.
#3 Make a decision to learn about and understand this power. Then commit your life to it.
So what exactly is this Power? Is it God? Or is it a complete and unreserved trust in the goodness and loving kindness that can still be found within mankind?
So many word games can be played here. I’m not up for the debate. Because I know there is but ONE spiritual teaching. And those who have followed these teachings, have been justified in their faith. Regardless of the God they believe in, or from whom they get their teachings from.
The POWER that is greater than myself, that can and will help me…is within the love of mankind . (Is that God?)
I say this from personal experience. Which brings me to principle #3. I’ve identified the power…now I must learn about it and understand it. The POWER in which I must learn about and commit my life to, is the POWER of Cause and Effect…or….The Law of Attraction. This is an Universal Law that cannot error.
I understand that this POWER is the law of perfect balance, of logical sequence, and of inevitable consequence. WHATEVER A MAN SOWS, HE MUST REAP. Everyone recieves their just due.
Life will return to me the manifestation of my thoughts, motives, desires, and actions. For years my thoughts and motives operated in the realms of negativity. Therefore, this POWER had no choice but to work against me. I created it…I set it in motion, and I got what I had coming.
I believe the POWER that can and will help me is within the love of mankind. That’s why its so important to understand The Law of Attraction.
If my outlook on life is always happy and positive, and I have a loving, understanding heart filled with sympathy and helpfulness towards all, well then THATS exactly what the POWER will suck out of mankind and return to me.
Today I try my absolute best not to judge, or to condemn anyone. Not even that guy who threatened to break my jaw. Because I now understand that the only judgement that matters is the immutable Cause and Effect.
Whoever deserves punishment will receive it.
And whoever merits reward, they too shall receive.
I didn’t just get my wife, Suzie. I earned her. She is my reward for being a good boy. She is my biggest blessing and I will forever cherish her. She is a testimony to the POWER that is there to assist all.
As I conclude, I want to leave you with some serious food for thought:
There is a POWER that directly responds to negativity.
There is a POWER that directly responds to positivity.
It is always your choice in how you want to use this Power. It is common to all people. It responds to everyone at the level in which they deserve.
If you live in a continuous state of condemnation of people, conditions, and things, then you will suffer at the level of your infliction. But if you learn to praise, love, and treat everyone with dignity and respect, then your life will be blessed with a POWER that will aid and assist you to no end.
My life is my testimony. Read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary, and witness for yourself the power within the POWER!
Just before December approached, I asked my wife, “Is there anything I can do for you this Christmas?”
She said, “Hmm, let me think about it.”
A couple days later she tells me, “I thought of something we can do together!”
I respond, “Reeeallly. And what might that be?”
“Well, you know how much I love Christmas…” she began.
My baby LOVES Christmas! She goes all out. She decorates her house and the tree, listens to Christmas music as she bakes, and much more.
She sent me 20+ Christmas cards throughout December, each one was different and full of love & life. Her words were full of comfort, encouragement, memories, hope, humor, and passion. My sweet lady even sent me a personalized paper Christmas Tree to hang in my cell!
We had date nights watching holiday movies/programs together at the same time. She also sent me TONS of pictures, too. Which I absolutely LOVE!
So YES!!! I know how much she loves Christmas and this time of year.
She continued, “I’d like for us to win this year’s Christmas Door Decorating Contest.”
We’ve done this together for the last 2 years. We’ve placed 2nd and 3rd, but haven’t gotten 1st place yet. So I respond in a skeptical voice, “You want to WIN IT?!”
She says in a confident & sweet voice, “Yes. Win it for us! You’re always telling me that we can do anything we set our minds to. Lets WIN IT! We’ll do it together.”
I perk up and say, “You’re right, baby! I’m going to win it just for you!”
I’ve put over 70 hours in on decorating my door. It looks AWESOME! My wife inspires me to go above and beyond. Every second I spend crafting this door into a masterpiece, I’m thinking of my beautiful, loving wife.
Even though we’re almost 900 miles apart, I feel a strong spiritual connection to her.
She sends me ideas, sketches, paper cut-outs, and all kinds of creativity for the door. I send her samples of those ideas and await her approval, or her suggestions of improvement. And I love it!
I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife. She soothes my soul and puts nothing but love and joy in my heart. The way Suzie loves me is the best gift I’ve ever received. The warmest, most powerful feelings I’ve ever known are generated by this incredible woman and her love.
Because of her, this has been one of the BEST Christmas’s since childhood. As a matter of fact, she makes me feel like a child again with all the anticipation & excitement she brings to my life. She takes me up outta this gloomy, negative prison environment.
I have felt the Christmas Spirit so strongly. With every ounce of my strength & energy, I will love this woman the way God intended for a husband to love his wife.
For my wife’s perspective, please read her blog titled, Christmas With My Husband.
Once again, as I sat at this meeting, I struggled to identify with certain aspects.
Such as : “I’m an addict. My life has become unmanagable due to drugs. My entire life revolved around getting drugs and doing drugs.”
This has never been the case with me, yet it is the main theme of NA.
Then I realized that through out my incarceration, I’ve been offered heroin, meth, coke, LSD, weed, alcohol, cold pills, and spice.
It would be so easy for me to say I’ve only smoked a little weed, and I turned down everything else. But that would be a lie! The truth is, over the years, I have tried all the drugs listed above.
Until now I have been lying to myself and others about my drug use. It’s true that I’ve never been addicted to narcotics. I’ve only tried them a few times. Now it’s time to face the facts.
At this NA meeting, two things really stood out to me.
#1) NA is a program with a set of principles written so simply that I can follow them in my daily life.
This stood out to me because I have on my wall a set of principals that I have commited my life to. I call them “MY 7 FOCAL POINTS”. The 4th one says:
TRUTH– Always be honest and tell the truth. Lying is a form of weakness and will only set me back on my journey to self improvement.
As I sat in that meeting and really thought about things, I was actually a little surprised. I was suprised that after all I’ve been through, after all I’ve done, after all I’ve admitted to in “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary”, that there was still one major thing that I swept under the rug and tried to ignore.
And that is my involvement with drugs and addiction.
Alcohol is a drug!
I am an alcoholic.
I have done a variety of drugs in my past.
I am an addict.
NA has opened my eyes to the truth.
I am now ready to confront my truth and take responsibility for it as I deal with this appropriately. And the first step is to recognize it, admit it, identify it, and embrace it. NA is allowing me to do just that!
The 2nd thing that stood out to me was a saying from a NA book called,”Just For Today” (revised):
“I will open my eyes to the possibilities before me. My potential is as limitless and powerful as the God of my understanding. Today I will act on that potential.”
Those very words have inspired me to write this post and to share my truth. A truth I’ve been hiding for decades! I will embrace my past and use it to make me stronger, wise, and helpful to those who struggle.
This blog is by far the best rehabilitative tool I’ve ever come across.
Thank you for all your support.
Thank you to my family for all the years of unconditional love & support.
And thank you, Suzie. My rock, my world, my everything. The blessings you bring to my world are incredible. You truly are my other half and I love you so much with all my heart!
The spirit within me is God. Therefore, I am my own God. I decide if I want to create an Almighty Living Spirit within my being. There is no outside divine nature that dictates anything. Everything comes from within.
The Spirit within me, which I have cultivated and created, represents Wholeness. It is peace, love, and harmony. I created it within my soul so that I may seek Divine Guidance from IT.
This Spirit governs every act of my life. If I let it. And I do! It surrounds me with Light in an environment that’s supposed to be dark, gloomy, and heavy with fear. Prison!
In this Light, I elevate to a higher level of consciousness. I am able to rise up and observe my Being. I now have the power to cast out all darkness and all fears.
I observe my transformation and it inspires me to GO HARDER, TO DO MORE, and to ACHIEVE GREATESS!
This Divine Wisdom within me guides all my actions. It pushes everything in my life towards happiness, peace, love, and joy.
I have discovered the most powerful Spirit I have ever known: THE SPIRIT OF LOVE!
I am in prison, yet LOVE surrounds me with beauty, friendship, and joy.
Some of you may remember my post: Please God…Are You Real? For years I struggled with my belief system. Is God real? Or is he Mythology created by man? I wanted to believe God is real. But for some reason, I had my doubts. All I knew about God was what I learned from the Bible. That made me extremely skeptical. Because most Christians believe in the Bible 100% as they take every word literally.
I couldn’t do that. I tried. But I can’t fool myself. Deep down I knew I didn’t believe 100% of the Bible in a literal sense.
I believe the Bible is full of metaphors that teach about the brief, temporary, transient nature of life on earth.
That’s it! The rest is up to ME! And not some divine force that comes from the sky and intervenes with the environment, conditions, and life. I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO THAT!
And I am doing so by creating Divine Wisdom within myself through the teachings of Jesus.
This works for me. Because it is entirely individual, personal, and unique. I am the expression of my own complete self. There is NO LIMIT to this SELF-EXPRESSION. I am the Spirit of substance. That Spirit within me is the Father of Supply. It brings me everything I need to gain wisdom and understanding. As I unfold and evolve, this Spirit keeps me in a world of love & compassion as It governs me, NOW & FOREVER!
Today I went outta my way to put the scriptures into action.
Mark Till is the man with the art. I met Mark on the handball court about a year ago. I asked him, “Can I play?”
He said, “No.”
I didn’t like that answer. Years ago, that answer from someone could’ve led to a fight. I mean, that’s just how I was. That day it was so easy to just walk away. Simple. But I walked away not liking Mark. In fact, I down right dis-liked him.
At lunch I sat with him. I never do that! For lunch we had a baked potato with shredded cheese, I ask him, “Are you eating that cheese?”
He looks at me like I’m stupid and says, “Yeaaaah!” His tone spewed, “That was a dumb question” as his head kinda swiveled from side to side and he prolonged his jaw. Even one side of his cheek was raised up and I could see the whole top of half of his upper teeth.
“Would you like mine?” I asked.
He didn’t look at me. He just grunted, “Yeah right,” as he continued to chop at his potato.
I lifted my tray which has five compartments. The cheese was in the upper right corner, so I lined it up next to his cheese. He stops. Looks at me. And asks, “You don’t want it?”
“Take it,” I say.
He takes it and says, “Thanks man?”
“You’re welcome,” I respond with a smile.
He looks at me in puzzlement to my kindness. In my mind I’m thinking, “What is going on?” I almost wanna laugh. But I just ride it out.
The day goes on, and soon I’m in the chow hall finishing dinner.
I was walking to the garbage to dump my tray. The entire left two compartments held spaghetti noodles. I quickly observed a weirdo (see: Prison Glossary) eyeballing my tray. He’s sitting just one table from the trash can. He knows these noodles are fixing to get dumped.
To my surprise, he doesn’t pull his eyes away. He’s going to watch these perfectly good noodles get thrown away. I get the feeling he wants them.
I know this dude is in prison for some weirdo cyber child sex crime. I’m gonna dump these noodles right infront of his face!
But wait! Today I am serving the Lord.
So I ask Facebook (that is what the prison hierarchy nicknamed this weirdo), “Do you want these?”
He quickly says, “Yes please,” as he looks at me with wonder in his eye.
He did not expect that! I can almost see the excitement in his face. It reminded me of a dog about to get a treat.
I extended my tray towards his. He quickly stood up, leaned over, and bare handed the large pile of noodles from my try!
“Thank you,” he said.
He does a double take. Slight pause. And looks around the room. He’s baffled as to why I am being nice.
This is too much. I actually bust out with a laugh.
What is going on?! Is this God working in my life? Or is all this the result of simply following the fundamental teachings in the scriptures?
I have to be honest with you, I’m conflicted. There’s a large portion in my mind that is skeptical. Is there really a God? I pray about this all the time. I wish my mind didn’t have any doubt. But it does. It’s beyond my control. I can’t just switch it on and off. It is what it is.
But I’m not going to let that stop me from living a life according to the Bible. The Holy Bible is my God. I believe in its philosophies and decrees with all my heart. I will commit to God everything I do. I will continue to pray for wisdom and understanding.
I will continue to go out of my way to put the scriptures of God into my life.