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Monthly Archives: December 2019

I Am Free – James Kerbleski

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“I Am Free”
By James Kerbleski
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI

Indwelling fear, depression and loneliness behind these walls, by your saving grace I saw the smallest light and knew I was free. When I allowed You in, You lead the way, you conquered my fear, shattered my depression and filled my heart with your presence and made loneliness an impossibility.

Over the past 2,600 days you have been there and I know you will be there for every day to come. I praise you and thank you my Lord.

To all of my fellow Christians I have met and have fellowshipped with over the many years behind these walls, I love you and thank you all. Know as I walk out these doors you are never forgotten and are always in my prayers.
God Bless

Love Unknown to the World – Terri Reese-Green

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“Love Unknown to the World”
By Terri Reese-Green
Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

Praise the Lord. Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani is to say “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me.”

When we hear these words, my thoughts come to mind. Many should know that Jesus spoke these words as He to my sin and yours. My payment for sin was placed on Him forever, and one of the most important things about that is the separation He felt being separated from His Father for the first time ever.

Sin cannot and will not dwell around a Holy God (Ps. 22:1, Mark 15:34, Matt. 27:46.

We want to thank Jesus this Christmas season for giving His life for me. That is love.

I Came Home – Melissa Paquin

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“I Came Home”
By Melissa Paquin
Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

“Jesus take my hand”
I asked so long ago.
My life was down and broken
And I had nowhere to go.
He took my hand and saved me,
But then I turned away.
Began to live without Him,
My lips no longer prayed.
Then the trials slowly came,
And I was living life alone.
It was then that I had noticed,
I was truly on my own.
Though I know He’s always been there,
‘Til my heart began to weep,
‘Til the Lord became my Saviour,
My soul just couldn’t sleep.
I needed Him so badly,
When I cried out His name,
He took away my loneliness,
He took away my shame.
Praise God, I’m in His glory,
And I am saved by grace.
Today I live my life for Him,
Because in death He took my place.

Merry Christmas – David Kurbaba

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“Merry Christmas”
By David Kurbaba
Harrison Correctional Facility, Adrian, MI

As I have sat the last few days pondering the coming events that changed the world, I began to realize that I am an utmost blessed man.
You see, I have always been the victim. From my earliest memories I have been abused by the ones whose job it was to love me. For so long, I claimed the victim card that I had become dependent on this title and all the accessories that come with it.

Over the 12 years that I have been in prison I have been working on myself with the help of others. Slowly the walls that I built as a child to help protect what was left of me began to crack. Some sections of this wall have been totally demolished but others have proven more difficult to tear down. These sections, I have come to realize, may never be totally removed but stay standing to help remind me that whatever it is that I am going through now is not even close to what I have gone through already. They stand to witness to my inner child that I have survived and that no matter what life throws at me, and life will throw stuff, I can stand firm.

Now, I would like to say that I did this all on my own. This would be a great disservice not only to myself but to all others who still struggle with their own demons. I am no miracle worker but the One who helped me is. His story has been told around the world for over 2,000 years. His story is one of unselfish love for all.

Let me back up some, I have been in prison since January of 2008. When I sat in the intake cell the first three days after being arrested I asked Him into my life. As the first few years passed, I studied Him like there was no tomorrow. For me, that is what it felt like, that there was no tomorrow. All through this portion of my life I had a feeling of discontent as if something was missing. After many doubts and fears I was blessed with the understanding that I was missing a personal relationship with Him. What I had was religion, what I needed was a relationship. So after my own way of asking, a personal relationship with Him finally began.

I began to see ever-so-subtle changes. Memories of the past would flash through my mind but they were different than usual. They all seemed to have a new figure in the background. This figure was blurry at best.

As I began to work on my hate and anger I began to be able to look at those who abused me as lost themselves. That figure began to clarify as well, still unrecognizable but clearer. The walls began to crack, hate began to soften and the anger began to subside. But the great sorrow was still there. Why?

As the years passed and I grew, though I didn’t realize that I was growing, different people began to appear in my life. These people have become the healer of that great sorrow. They have guided me, encouraged me, and most of all, they have loved me. They will ever be in my heart, thoughts and prayers.

I must say though, there was still this sorrow that penetrated the depths of my soul. This sorrow was like none other. It was a sorrow that needed a special kind of healing. This past November, a miracle happened. I received a note/card from my sister Diane. We had not spoken in over 30 years other than one time in 2004 when I was on the run for the crimes for which I am in prison for now. I was unable to tell her the truth at that time. We spoke, yes, but it was more a formality than words of love and support. It was neither her fault nor mine for this. But nevertheless our ships passed in the night without hope.

Well, here we are at the end of 2019. Hope is in my heart and growing with every new day. My sister is back in my life. That deeper sorrow has been lifted. Another gift afforded to me is that by hearing from my sister I have now heard from my brother Mike. There are brighter days ahead I believe.
So you see, when I say I am an utmost blessed man, I say it with undoubtedly certain conviction. I am blessed. That figure I talked about earlier? Well, I am sure you know who it was. He was there all along. He has been there every step of the way. And I truly believe He will be there through the rest of my earthly life but more importantly, He will be there when He calls me home.

This is the most wonderful time of the year. I have my sister Diane, my brother Mike, with a little more time, maybe one day, my daughter Felicia will be here, too. I have my new friends who love me. And I have the best gift anyone could have, I have Him, Jesus. Jesus, the Healer, the Redeemer, the Savior. No matter what I go through from this day forward, I know I am loved, I know that I will make it through, and I know I will be in His presence when I get home.

Merry Christmas to you all. I pray you are blessed with love, hope and peace throughout this coming year. Please know I am truly grateful for all you have done for me. I love you dearly.

Sloth – Joseph Jones

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“Sloth”
By Joseph Jones
Newberry Correction Facility, Newberry, MI

A little over a year ago I got called over to the psychologist, completely unusual for me. We talked and he asked me about my bit (almost 18 years, 2 to go). He asked how I felt about my crime and the effects it had on the victims, their family, my family, and the community. The obvious answers came out – I feel full of shame. His answer, “You shouldn’t feel shame, don’t feel that way.” I was flabbergasted.

Newberry has a great self-help program. They offer over 45 classes. I recently took “Healing the Shame that Binds You.” This was a great class because it showed that there is a difference in the amount of shame a person feels, and how the amount can become an unhealthy amount of shame called “toxic shame.”

Toxic shame, per the course, is when a person feels so horrible about their actions they feel like they are a monster, an animal, or unredeemable. The reason toxic shame is horrible is because if I feel like a monster then I will do monstrous things. I won’t care about my actions because I believe I’m an animal, nor care about how you feel about me because I believe I am unredeemable.

I just took the course on sloth and I would like to share a gem I received.

Sloth is more than just being lazy. Sloth is giving in to the deficit (our sin) and sliding into despair. Sloth is to believe that I am less than human (a monster, an animal, and unredeemable) and not God-made.

Now I see why “toxic shame” and sloth are the same and so dangerous. Sloth has a new meaning to me now. I truly understand why sloth is one of the seven deadly sins.

Sloth creates nothingness in our lives. When we become slothful, we reject God. We don’t give Him a place to work in us.

I have moved away from “toxic shame” and sloth. Hope is the cure, the virtue of hope says: “I can do better. I can change my conduct and I can have a significant impact for good on the lives of others.”

I love what Paul wrote in Romans 15:13. May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

It is easy to become tempted and slip into those nasty thoughts, the devil trying to take hold of us. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1Cor. 10:13).

I know it’s our Lord Christ that is responsible for my ability to grow and move forward in a healthy direction. Thank you and amen.

Breaking Tradition – Raymond L. Carr Jr.

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“Breaking Tradition”
By Raymond L. Carr Jr.
Lakeland Correctional Facility, Coldwater, MI

There was a woman who was cooking dinner for her family. She was cooking a pot roast. Every time she cooked pot roast she would cut the ends of the pot roast off and throw them away. Her husband wondered why she was wasting good meat he worked so hard to buy. So, he asked his wife, “Why do you cut off the ends of the pot roast and throw them away? She answered, “That’s the way my mother taught me.” So, the husband went and asked his wife’s mother why did she teach her daughter to cut off the ends of the pot roast and throw them away? The mother said, “That’s the way my mother taught me.” So, the husband went to his wife’s grandmother and asked her why did she teach her daughter to cut off the ends of the pot roast and throw them away? And she said, “Baby, we only had one pot and it wasn’t big enough to fit the pot roast so I had to cut off the ends so it would fit in the pot.”

Traditions turns into culture, culture turns into the way we live. Good or bad, traditions are rarely challenged. Nobody asks, “Why is this our tradition?”
Like conflicts between: the Hatfields and McCoys, the Crips and Bloods or Christians and Muslims.

They have been fighting for years, but does anyone really know how these life-long wars started and why. Today, people take part in century-long wars and conflicts because of tradition and almost never stop to ask why.

In most cultures, traditions are followed as the previous generation passes them down to the next generation. In believing in our culture, we protect and carry on our traditions with great pride and honor. But what happens when traditions lead us to an abnormal culture?

Traditionally, through sayings we have been taught to be violent, impulsive and to accept defeat. Sayings like: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” So, you want me to look and don’t touch, taste but don’t swallow? I think we get the cake we want for the purpose of eating it. The problem comes in when a person wants their cake and someone else’s cake.

How about, “I’m going to hope for the best, but accept the worse.” How defeating is that? I’m going to hope for the best and accept the best because I am the best and I belong to the best.

From the time we are sent out to play in the sandbox, we are told, “If somebody hits you, you hit them back.” This saying teaches us to go from 0 to 100 in our interaction with people, with no conflict resolution or critical thinking skills. This saying has the snowball effect. Because, just hitting someone back is not enough, we have to win. In some cases, the person we are in the conflict with may be bigger and stronger. So, we get an equalizer, a weapon of some kind to win. This saying is taught to defend ourselves, but added to our violent culture that leads to a loss of life and prison.

Words have power; life and death are in the tongue. We have to watch what we say and speak life, not death. into our situation and lives.

Some traditions are valuable, knowing why it’s a tradition is historical knowledge, but breaking some of man’s traditions and doing it God’s way is priceless.