Thursday, May 12, 2011

Recently, between classes I turned on my cell phone to hear a message that immediately stung my eyes with painful tears. Before I was saved by our Savior I lived in a neighborhood I like to call Satan’s playground. Out of the 25 to 30 people I swapped drugs and crime with over a third of them are dead.

Back in 2005, I was in jail with Jen. We had committed crimes together, used drugs together and served time together. Difference was that Jen was pregnant with her fifth and unwanted child. Ironically, my Aunt R agreed to adopt this baby, even though he or she was probably addicted to heroin and cocaine. This bonded us Jen and I were now really a family in some strange, but special way. So much so that Jen had put on her jail information that I was her next-of-kin contact number.

Once released I accepted God and left Jen behind to fight the battle of the streets with other addicts. Well, Jen remained mad at God and commented that the only thing He could do for her was “take her out of this mess.” Just last week, God complied with her request.

When I called the number back, my jaw dropped and my heart was heavy as I heard the detective share the reports and limited information he had. I then called my Aunt R who immediately said, “I want to give Jen a proper funeral.”Then my aunt asked me questions that suffocated me, “Can you find her body?” and “Lisa, will you indentify her?”

All I knew was what the Detective had said, “Jen was in a pick-up truck on the track, took a shot of bad heroin, and began having a seizure. The man (trick/john) opened the passenger door and kicked her out on the sidewalk. Someone called 911, and an ambulance took her to the nearest hospital.”

I began the search for Jen’s corpse. As I am asking information to give me the phone number for the hospital and the city morgue, I began to sob. Reality hit: Jen not only chose hell on earth, but also eternal hell.

Jen’s mom died a couple years back and she didn’t know any of her children; therefore, the hospital only had record of an aunt and notified her. The aunt gave permission to turn off the machines and signed Jen’s body over to the state.

Sadly, the cop had notified me too late. The state had received Jen’s lifeless body and cremated her. She was not given a funeral service and is in the ground at a Potter’s Field.

I thought about how Jen felt so unwanted in life and how she was even unwanted in her death. The truth she never accepted was that she was wanted by her Savior. He died that she may have life, but she made a choice to reject Him. However, her death will serve a purpose! I pray that the man paying for sex, never picks up another girl. May conviction fall on the drug dealer and he never sell again. I hope the crowd who ran when the sirens approached the scene, ran all the way to the feet of Jesus.

This tragedy has tortured my soul. I vow to glorify God through Jen’s story, by sharing this message with you. When choosing to reject God, remember that doesn’t give you control over your life, but offers only death. Will you think of Jen before you choose sin? As if she isn’t enough, how about all three of my friends that died in that very same week from the same batch of bad heroin. I cannot even say: Rest in Peace to Jen, Levi, or Lil’ D because they never knew Peace.

But I can ask you, “Will you choose Jesus?” He alone is the only Giver of life. Now on earth and when your body eventually dies, He will claim you as His child! We are all wanted, by our Creator.

Lisa McDaniel

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Knock at the Door

Revelation 3:20 Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and I with him.

Deep asleep, I hear a knock at the door.
Has Rheanna lost her house key?
Feeling happy she’s home I rush to the door.

But the fireman dressed in rescue equipment says,
“Can you tell me your daughter’s name ma’am?”
As my heart sunk, my mind tried to grasp his next few words.

“Rheanna has been in a bad car wreck, she is being airlifted to Tupelo Hospital in critical condition.” A parent should never receive such a knock at the door.

At the ER, we are asked to wait in a family room, while they clean her up. The nurse knocks lightly at the door, “Ms. McDaniel, you can come back now.”

As she knocks to alert the doctors we are entering the trauma room. I hear machines, orders being shouted, and my child’s gut-wrenching screams.

A Strength not of my own carries me through the door, as I see my flesh and blood laying mangled on a bloody sheet with tubes going every direction; bruises and cuts covered her once flawless skin.

The swipe of a badge opens the door, to allow family to look at her in amazement and fear — one at a time I saw shock turn into reality on their faces.

Once stabilized Rheanna is moved to a room. Relieved, she is ready for rest, but there was a constant knock at the door.

Test this, check that, poke here, push there. I knew the hospital staff was helping, but how I wanted to lock that door!

Then family and friends seem to have a different tone when they knock at the door. They bring prayer, praise, love and concern. There knocks brought Hope in the room with them.

I sit here now, awaiting a knock at the door. The doctor will tell me the condition of my frail child.

As I patiently wait, I am reminded of how my Savior knocked on the door of my heart and how long I made Him wait. Even though He entered with joy, not dreading the task at hand.

The hinges seemed rusty, yet He entered and began remodeling, renewing and restoring. Had I not opened the door of my heart to my Savior, I could not have walked through, or opened the many doors I face today. 

Thank you Jesus, you are our Strength, Healer, Deliverer, and Hope! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chapter One


In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares,

but he who guards his soul stays far from them.

Proverbs 22:5

A dingy county jail, with a stack of paper napkins and a rubber ink pen is where I find myself in 2005. It seems like a dead end in life, yet becomes the beginning of my journey to truly living. Strangely, I sit in this cell and begin journaling what I hear, when I chose to listen.

How did I get there?

Looking back down the degrading trail that led to this dismal destination, sadly, I admit this is the path I chose to follow. In 1989, at a mere eighteen years of age, I drop out of high school, have my first child, and then get married. I determine to raise my daughter the right way; yet, what was the right way? Clueless of the responsibilities, I give birth to, my second child, a son in 1991 and another daughter in 1994. Within a five-year period, I acquire the responsibility of raising three children while struggling with a failing, abusive marriage. My absent husband intrudes into our lives periodically — just long enough to break household items, my nose, and my children’s hearts.

Without acknowledging God in any area of my life, there remains only confusion and desperation. A faded memory of church music is the only knowledge I have of Christianity as a child. In the second grade, my family lived in Memphis, Tennessee on Faxon Street. At that time there was a huge church on the corner that woke the neighborhood up every Sunday singing “He’s an on time God.” As an adult, I become convinced God is watching from Heaven, unconcerned and just simply not fixing my situation fast enough. I search for solutions to life’s issues without the guidance of our Savior or any one else.

As a mother, I know we need a better home than the shack that is literally falling down around us. I sign up for Section 8 Housing, a program where the government bases rent on household income. After waiting over two years, they call. I am relieved, finally providing a descent home for my three children. However, I would soon make the personal, deadly decision that turns our descent home into the porthole of my dangerous lifestyle.

Age Twenty-four

At twenty-four years old, six years of trying to follow the world’s rules and standards gets me nowhere. My minimum wage job barely pays the daycare bill for my children. With no bill money left, I see no way to succeed. The heaviness begins consuming me as I feel I am deemed a failure in my children’s eyes and in society. I seek welfare aids in order to put food on the table and hopefully stop them from turning off our electricity.

Poverty becomes an overwhelming hardship, one I am hopeless to bear alone. My children look at me with expecting eyes, and I return their glare with only despair. At the end of my rope, I can for fight for life or accept death. With no strength of my own to fight, the end of my rope soon turns into a noose.

Satan, being aware I am not listening to the voice of the Savior, tightens the grasp of death and I submit to the bondage of sin. It is no coincidence that Satan preys on victims when they are most vulnerable and where they are most available — as in government housing, where crime, drugs, alcoholism, violence, and prostitution are usually rampant. One of the devil’s mottoes is, “Kick ‘em while they’re down!” I feel him definitely kicking me, as I sink deeper in the quicksand of society’s slum.

Escape from Reality: Cocaine

My husband becomes consumed by the wickedness that surrounds us. Our relationship is destructive; however, the attention he shows me (good or bad) I accept as love. When he returns home after being gone for days, I feel jealousy instead of anger. However, I do not grasp why my husband prefers anything or anyone to the love I offer. He explains that it wasn’t another woman he sought, but cocaine. I consider that to be a lie, because surely no man-made substance could take the place of embracing one’s spouse, playing with the children, or waking up to go to work in order to provide for one’s family. After many failed attempts to lure him home, curiosity gets the best of me. One day I ask, “How can a drug be so powerful?” He says, “Here try it.”

He offers me a small “baggy” containing a white powdery substance, known as cocaine. I want to prove him wrong, yet subconsciously hope it will erase the turmoil of my situation. So, I snort this magical potion. Instantly, the burning in my nostrils is replaced with a numbness of all my senses. This is the beginning of my downhill journey.

As a teenager I had my share of drinking and smoking marijuana, but cocaine is much more dangerous. Despite warnings I hear about harder drugs, they make everything better or so I thought. Mistakenly, I believe I find an immediate cure by medicating my problems, but I only cause them to multiply. My temporary escape from reality never lasts long enough, but instead sends me on the hunt for more. For a while I do drugs, then without warning the drugs do me. It rules my thoughts, becomes my every desire, rips away my self worth, steals my dignity, and ultimately controls me completely.

Cocaine is definitely destroying my ability to nurture my children. At age five, my oldest daughter stops playing with her dolls and begins mothering her brother and sister. She changes diapers, fixes bottles, and hurries them off to bed when she hears the knock on the door with my supply of cocaine.

My blurred, drugged vision keeps my focus off the destruction I am causing my children and myself. After a few experiences with cocaine, it has my full attention, nothing or nobody else matters. My growing addiction warps my judgment to the point that I sell what little furniture we have, pawn the car, shoplift, and search for any means to get more drugs. I delude myself into believing that when the food stamps come, I will go to the grocery store. Instead, I go to the drug dealer, selfishly seeking to fulfill my own hunger. The responsibilities of being a mother take second place to being an irresponsible addict.

Honestly, numbness is a marvelous discovery and an incredible sensation. Doctors numb patients before cutting them open and performing surgery. I later discover each time I seek a numb feeling, I allow evil to open me up and cut a little piece of my heart out. When the numbness is gone, I am sore and have less compassion or concern for those around me.

I continue to neglect my children, denying them the right to be cared for by a loving mother. Dreams of raising them properly are shattered by my own sinful actions; no longer can I blame others. To avoid facing my guilt, I make excuses to leave the kids with family members, never returning at the time I promised. My failure to provide a safe, dependable home becomes obvious to everyone and quickly causes me to lose custody of my children.

Digging Deeper

Looking back at what others must have clearly seen, I am thankful my children were rescued at an early stage of my addiction. Their devoted great-grandmother gave them a Godly, loving, and nurturing home. Meanwhile anger, depression, and guilt push me further away from them and deeper into the devil's grasp. I become a sickly, full-blown junkie, prostitute, thief, and liar. I was simply Satan’s slave.

Soon, powdered cocaine no longer feeds my increasing appetite. Regardless of the amount I snort, the potion loses its magical potency. Seeking different ways to fulfill my craving, I am introduced to a new "high” — smoking crack cocaine. The high is completely paralyzing, but lasts only a few minutes forcing me to search constantly for more. I never give up the hunt voluntarily. I do not eat or sleep for days until my body collapses. Drug dealers, pushing their deadly products, find me leaning against a tree, lying under a bridge or on a stranger’s floor, and wake me up with a “hit of crack.” By doing this they know it will increase their drug sales, because one hit will begin my mission for more. Addicts’ motto: One is too many, a thousand is never enough.

Addiction: Slave to the Needle

In the latter stages of my addiction, I find an even more powerful way to escape reality, injecting cocaine straight into my bloodstream. However, my body cannot handle this extreme climax. On the brink of an overdose, I begin having seizures repeatedly. Instead of reducing the amount of cocaine, I choose to counteract the high with any available downer narcotic, causing my body to experience intense highs and lows all at once. Despite the fatal consequences, I am a slave to the needle. I feel the presence of death surrounding me, and, have no doubt this is how I will die.

Ashamed of my revolting, rebellious, drug-addicted lifestyle, I have minimal contact with my children, family members, and friends. After years of manipulating, abusing, and taking advantage of their love, they stop being accomplices to my destructive behavior. Tough love doesn’t mean they stop loving me, it just means they stop enabling me. I can no longer get the benefits of living on the streets in selfish sin; then, drop by for a hot shower, clean clothes, and an opportunity to steal from my parent’s wallets. Nonetheless, they continue to lift my name in prayer.

Criminal Lifestyle

My criminal lifestyle leads to numerous arrests for misdemeanors. Going before the judge is a joke, since the punishment is usually nothing more than a slap on the wrist. However, during these short jailhouse pit stops, I sense my family’s grief and know their prayers are causing this unfamiliar tugging at my heart. Unfortunately, this tugging results in the typical “jailhouse religion”— a religion that never lasts longer than a jail sentence.

Throughout my incarcerations, I "dry out" long enough to evaluate my lifestyle. Daily, I pray and read God’s Word, making it my survival handbook. Once a week, I hear the chaplain preach a sermon. She always closes by offering an invitation and shouting, “Salvation is a free gift from your Savior.”

That's when I stop listening. After living on the streets for years, I had a programmed mentality that nothing is free. I had walked down the church aisle before, and nothing changed. Why should I humble myself again? Upon release, I know I will seek a quick fix from drugs, not from the Savior. My bondage requires no lifestyle changes. It is the easy way out.

The chaplain preaches about heavenly knowledge that does not coincide with my worldly experiences. To me, taking the first step of faith and believing God's word is like jumping out of an airplane with no parachute. Would this Savior reach down and save a wretch like me? As I would soon find out, I would have to go against the grain and just accept what I could not see or understand.

After much failure, discontentment, and denial I quit rationalizing. By studying the Bible, I begin to discover the truth. An individual cannot get to Heaven by works alone; Jesus Christ did take all my sins to the cross; He did die for me. Everything God offers is free! The only requirement is a sincere, heartfelt commitment that produces trust through faith. Fed up with trying to solve problems in my life for which I have no answers, I want His free gift.

However, I am merely willing to allow this Mighty God to ‘fix me’ so I could have a more productive life. My so-called decision is all about self. Can you imagine a slick sinner trying to manipulate God’s power for my own benefits? I don’t comprehend that my empty decision had not produced any change in my heart. I estimate that I have received fire-insurance, a free ticket to Heaven. After all, didn’t my Creator owe me that much after giving me such a life of hell on earth? How hard could this Christian life be?

After the Chaplin says the supernatural prayer over me, I am supposedly cured. No longer the twisted sinner, which I know still lurks inside. What a misconception. I follow the rules. I say a daily prayer I wrote down out of a book. I read a chapter of the Bible a day. I even memorize the verses I liked. If this salvation doesn’t work it will not be my fault.

Once released from jail, I quickly began reliving my repulsive sin; I painfully learn I must go beyond acceptance and into repentance. My roadblock to God was built by my own behavior. At that point in my journey, I realize I never have surrendered. Frankly, I did not choose to leave the church pew and walk to the altar, and truly mean: I leave my past and walk toward the feet of Jesus to lay it all down. By simply not submitting, I cheat myself of God’s strength, blessings, and mercy.

My evil ways harden my heart. I am certain surrender would be an act of weakness. In street-life, weakness is never rewarded. By avoiding a commitment with the Savior, I arrive at the county jail yet another time. By that point, I had spent ten years running further away from God, and closer to the pit of hell as I travel down my own destructive path.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Difficult Day

His will / my will

His direction / my waywardness

His timing / my anxiety

His purpose/ me, me, me

“It’s not about me.” The famous line from Purpose Driven Life by: Rick Warren.

Such a common phrase, but how many of us can say that we practice it to the fullest? How much sacrifice goes into serving God? Didn’t I give Him 30 minutes this morning while I drank my coffee? Oh yeah, and I sang praise music in my car. But then, well, the world became busy with so many distractions. The only thoughts I gave to God were when I screamed, “Hurry up and help me through this day!” Sure, after work or school I will get in my car and the music will sooth me, but is that same praise music now for me or to lift up God? I mean I have had a hectic day, don’t I deserve to relax? After all, once I get home I will be in a better mood to talk to God. Yikes, the dogs need a bath, supper needs cooked, the house is a mess. I’ll get to you soon God. The night falls, I collapse into bed with a mumbled good night to the One who gave me this day.

If you can relate to this, I encourage you, as well as myself, to focus on God and allow Him to be the center of all areas of our lives. Then perhaps our days wouldn’t be so consumed by the world.

God bless!

Recognizing the difference between works and busyness is an ongoing challenge for me. Busyness is when I do what I think God wants me to do with my life and hope it honors Him. Works are performed by an acquired obedience to the One I truly desire to serve and through submission I know it honors His Holy Name: Jesus.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Will you be a fossil?

Another month nearly gone, another day has begun, another minute has just past, another opportunity to serve our Savior is at hand. Will we let it pass unnoticed? How will we impact the world? My son found a fossil in the yard. I was fascinated that the markings of the past, were so vivid in the present. I began considering the future, how will I leave an ongoing mark? What will my legacy become?

At nearly 40 years old, I see how my past has good and bad consequences on those around me and myself. My sin had been hurtful, yet brilliant warnings of bad choices. Lessons learned by watching another’s mistakes is an amazing wisdom. Lessons learned by my own mistakes has brought upon a painful knowledge. However, lessons learned by communication with God has brought me to an understanding that true wisdom and knowledge comes from Him!

How will your life impact the choices others make? What do you see when you look in the mirror? How deeply do those around you see? Are they stopping at skin-deep? I doubt it. Even a stranger notices personality, attitude, and body language before they notice the color of your eyes, the wrinkles forming around your mouth, or the choice of shoes you are wearing.

I just encourage you (as well as myself) to face each moment as a chance to show off our amazing Savior. Do you reveal Him to others by your lifestyle? What impression will you leave on the world? Who will find remains of your spirituial fossil? What will they discover about the life you lived?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Indescribable blessing…

Indescribable blessing…

I have spent the last five years of my life journaling, jotting thoughts on napkins, stopping in traffic to scribble a thought on a receipt found in the floor board of my car. Writing is what I enjoy. Throughout those five years, I have managed to compile a forty chapter book. My hard working editor explained how I needed to begin writing the back cover of my book.
No problem, I mean at the max two paragraphs … how difficult can that be? After all, my book is about God’s transforming power, strength, forgiveness, and love. While in turn it first takes you through my degrading lifestyle of sin and how I was bound by defeat. I wrote my small “sermon” and sent it to the editor. In her loving boldness, she scolded me! She asked, “Who are you writing this for Christians or lost people?” She encouraged me to relate to those still bound.

Hard as I tried, much as I prayed … those once familiar feelings of defeat were so far from my heart and mind that words could not describe the death I once felt. I cried, I read over my own book, I read journals from when I detoxified, I recalled the first hug I felt from my children I abandon, I imagined sitting on the plastic cot behind bars yet nothing could bring back those emotions of hopelessness.

Had God blessed me so much that not even my memories could defeat me? Oh yes, He has renewed my mind, restored my family and remolded me after reaching down in the miry clay and saving His lost daughter! Not only is my past beyond description to me now, but also the way God blesses me is indescribable!!!

Thank You Jesus.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Questions anyone?

To search, is that the same as wondering with action behind your thoughts? Regret, is that to live in the past instead of move forward in life? No matter the question why do some answer with a positive remark while others can only focus on the negative? What makes the human race so different?  Why is it you can destroy an ant hill and yet they just work hard to rebuild ... not give up and bake in the sun?  When the wind blows do you enjoy the coolness on your face or fuss because it messes up your hair?  Do you think a fish ever gets tired of water? So why is it so many are feedup with their surroundings?  How can a bird build a nest out of dead twigs and leaves that have floated to the ground, yet humans aren't happy with their cozy homes?  Life has so many unanswered questions, so many different people but only one Savior.  If you haven't answered the question of where will you go when you die ... well, then do the questions about this life really matter?