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?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I have recently had the awesome opportunity to reunite with an old friend. After the shock wore off, it was like the twenty years never separated us. At nearly forty, I have a difficult time remembering the names of many childhood playmates. However, even as a teenager, there were people I vowed I’d never forget. Then time goes by, I may recall a face or even a name but there is something missing. Yes, that giggly feeling that made us pals has evaporated into days gone by. Strangely, I cannot put my finger on what exactly I liked about that person or what we could have had in common. That must define an acquaintance.
A person I am sure I thought was funny or nice, but why did I label him or her a friend? I think the test may come when time ticks on and on, thou you lose contact the memories are vivid. For one to find a friend in life is a treasure that needs not be buried. Webster defines a friend as: one attached to another by affection or esteem. Wow! That must be that giggly feeling I have each time I hear my friends voice. The many changes that surround ones life cannot change the impact a friend has on another. As I reminisce, it is clear to me why this person became my friend. I can hear laughter of old times, muse over time spent together, and ask all the “what ifs”. I don’t resent the many years spent apart, but yet I rejoice over the opportunity to hug my friend once more. To laugh, share, and know the true meaning of a friend.

Proverbs 17:17a   A friend loves at all times ...

Monday, June 28, 2010


Life is not meant to be so fun!!! Seriously you see people in cars, in the store, walking down the sidewalk, and 90% of the them are not smiling :) Come on people are our cheek muscles that out of shape?  I have been unemployed for 3 weeks, the bills come and go,  my children still desire to eat, and yet I find it a joy to wear a smile.  My joy comes from the Lord.  Won't you allow Him to brighten your day? 

Reality:  Life is hard.

Exception:  Life is better lived for the Giver of Life.

You know,  we will always have problems that don't have solutions, so why not just be okay with accepting some Peace while you endure life's hardship.  It is okay,  go ahead grin (and bear it!) 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Change, good or bad?

Is all change bad? I think not. I have had the opportunity to manage a Christian Bookstore for the last three years. I feel it has been my boot camp to learn to witness to any and every one that has a need. No matter the circumstance, prayer, or praise I became a stranger’s friend. Whether the customer was a repeat or first timer, a Christian or a lost person, a male or female and no matter the race I became ears that listened. Recently there has been a change, God allowed that door to shut, I now see God blessed me with that season for a reason. For the last couple of weeks I have been unemployed and have been overwhelmed with the opportunities to witness to a dying world. I have this hunger, responsibility, and passion to tell others about our awesome Savior! I have been sad about not ministering to my daily customers, but I have found a new joy in taking my training to the streets. Most lost people don’t linger in Christian Bookstores, now I can go to them where ever they are. I find myself striking up conversations at gas pumps, grocery lines, and doctor office waiting rooms. What an awesome God we serve!!! Will you tell somebody or pass up that lost soul? Just wear a shirt that says, “I am okay with the fact that you are going to hell.” That may seem harsh, but that is what your silence says. God bless you in your journey today.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

So, it is Father's Day and we went to church to celebrate our Heavenly Father and our earthly fathers.  Strange as it was I kept silently praying for the fatherless.  I sat on the pew with a young man who admitted he never knew his father ... never, not one conversation, not one hug, not even one photo.  How will this young man know how to be a father? His grandfather had passed when he was young, and his mom never married.  Who does he look to for an example? The Heavenly Father is our role model, true enough.  However, I looked around the church as the Godly men sat with a smile. Almost as if they where reassured they had performed their responsibilities as a Godly head of household, Godly father, and Godly provider of their home.  I caught this young man watch as we each stood and thanked God for our fathers,  with curiosity in his eyes.  Was it desire to have a father like the blessed members who stood to testify or was it hope that he too would become that Godly husband, father, and provider?  Maybe a little of both.  May God quench his thirst.

I want to praise God for giving me a double blessing :) Yes, my dad (James Fry) and my step-dad (Wilburn Bagwell), are both a blessing to my life.  They are both Godly men.  Their prayers, devotion, endurance, faithfulness, and lifestyle has been an inspiration to live as Christian lady.  It is because of the strong relationship I have with them that I am able seek such a intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father. I am thankful for the men they are and the God we serve. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010


My daughter, Rheanna, is 16 years old, and has a summer job babysitting. I went to check on her Monday, as I drove off her cell phone road on the top of my car down the bumpy gravel driveway. Oblivious to her screaming, jumping up and down, and waving her arms I traveled on. Not wanting to be left with an eight and four year old and no phone she went door to door with hopes of using someone’s phone. Finally, a lady opened the trailer door and allowed Rheanna to walk the path I drove while calling her cell phone. Once she retrieved the phone out of a ditch, she went to return the ladies phone and thank her. It was then Rheanna noticed the young boy with mental and physical complications. As my daughter thanked the lady, the lady (Mary) began explaining how thankful she was to have some one knock on her door and speak to her. They visited and Mary explained that her son’s condition made it difficult to leave the house and then admitted she never had company either. I was so touched as Rheanna called and told me the situation. I began praying for Mary and her son. I woke up the next day with a hunger to visit this lonely lady. As I drove into her drive way, a young boy slung the door open and began shouting at me. I took a deep breath and walked up, explained to Mary who I was. I thanked her for being so kind to my daughter. The pain, sorrow, and lack of hope in Mary’s eyes tore at my heart. The boy was beating on my legs and speaking rapidly, but I could not understand the message he tried so desperately to tell me. Mary was covered in a veil of shame … and why? Because she had been looked down upon or neglected by the world. Why is it Christians don’t stand out more? I hear people say God is lifting His hand off the United States. Well, as Christians WE ARE RESPENTING HIM, so if God is not being seen so clearly … we aren’t doing our purpose of revealing the Light to the darkness. As I invited Mary to church. She admitted, she had tried many times but the congregation could not hear the preacher due to her son’s uncontrollable fits. I explained we had children’s church in the back. Still, concern coated her eyes. Then I told her how many members at Parker Baptist happen to be in the medical field and her son would be taken care of during the sermon. Today is Thursday, Mary has agreed to let me call her on Saturday to confirm our arrangements Sunday morning. Had this woman imprisoned in her own home cried out to God? Had God sent my daughter to knock on her door? Has an opportunity passed us by today? Do we even see the surrounding evil as a chance to witness to others? Who have you invited to God’s house lately? I have invited Mary and her son, please pray with me that they both come and leave with God in their hearts. Thank you. God bless.

Monday, June 14, 2010


As I seek my purpose, I seek God's direction. I become more humble as I realize the constant need for God in this world. I hunger to serve Him, knowing He fulfills my deepest desires. When I blindly trust to be led into unknown territory I find I clutch His hand tighter. Though anxiety threatens to sway me, my passion to minister to others overtakes my own fears. I submit to God's calling on my life. It will be out of my comfort zone, yet may comfort others. May we follow God, no matter the path.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


So, in just a few hours I will go to a wedding. I will watch as two young people stand before God, each other, and 200 witnesses to declare their eternal love. They will vow to love for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, etc know, trust, honor, serve, and submit BUT mainly, I think the most special part of a wedding is in God's word where it claims they are now as one! Wow, for two people to be bonded in the presence of God is no longer two but ONE! Only God's love can be so defining. However, it will take three to make the marriage complete: God, groom, and bride. I pray their union is one that honors God eternally. Congratulation to Corie & Kevin.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Good morning! I am just basking in the presence of our Lord, and thanking Him for a beautiful day. A fresh day, an opportunity to serve Him, and a chance to learn more about Him! The Giver of this Day!!! Have a blessed one.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Where does the time go? My son turned 19 years old today! I reflect on the gift he is to me and remain in awe that God gave His only begotten Son that we may have eternal life. Can I possibly love God the way He loves me? Not in this human state of mind, but only by becoming more like God can I love like God. I feel the gift of time is an immeasurable gift. Time to grow, time to learn, time to serve, time to heal, and time to love. Thank You, Lord, for the gift of time with my son. Happy Birthday Chris!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spiritual Slump

Welcome to my pity-party. Not really, I just wonder how to take the valleys along with the peaks of Christianity. I have heard the grass is always greenest over the septic tank; however, I admit I don't care for the aroma in my spiritual slump.
Just a thought.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I find myself asking God for strong discernment ... then, when I see the world in"good or bad" or "righteousness verses evil" I don't like what I see. Even in my own life, I don't want to know so much clarity because that comes with a responsibility to accept the defeat or challenge myself to change. Discernment should be a gift, even a way to defend or protect oneself; however, that also comes with an expected obedience.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Surrender is the hardest, yet most helpful acts an individual can do. I say to my Lord, this life is not mine, please allow me to live only to fulfill Your purpose. He simply replies then surrender every area to me. Just when I feel I have, I acknowledge I have not.

Surrender, though the world considers it an act of weakness; Christians should see the pure blessing of strength through true surrender.

~Lisa McDaniel
Deuteronomy 30:19