Month: July 2016

First Day in Max

The unit is still on near-lockdown, so I did cell-by-cell visits again. Even for introverts the extended lockdown can become tiresome. For extroverts these extended lockdowns can be very tough.


One of the men who had been having a hard time last week was doing much better.

I asked another guy how he was doing and he indicated that this week had been a whirlwind. Today was his first day in max and his mind was still reeling.


As I mentioned before, the main ways to fill the time are: sleeping, reading, writing letters and journaling, and exercise. There are a few variations. I listened to one guy describe the business plan he was developing. Another man has an excellent singing voice and has been doing some song writing.

Many of the guys are reading spiritual books which they find encouraging.  They will share some of the highlights with me. Others will read whatever books they can get their hands on just to fill the time.


During the idle time the men think about their families – a lot. They realize how quickly time is going by and they are not there to see their toddlers change. Many of the men have children that are in the early elementary school grades. They are keenly aware they can’t be home for their kids’ summer break. Some have family members battling cancer. Many of the prayer requests are for their families.

Many of the guys are praying for peace on the unit. Some are praying specifically for racial reconciliation. Since some gang affiliations are divided along racial lines, this may also be a prayer for peace between rival gangs.



Some Days Are Hard

Some days are harder than others. Today was a hard day.

There have been a number of fights on the unit, so it was on near-full lockdown. This means that only one cell is opened at a time. Each cell is give 5 minutes and 30 seconds of time outside their cell.


I was able to visit the men at their cell doors. The CO instructed them to turn on their signal light if they wanted a chaplain visit. Each cell has a small window with metal reinforced glass. Below that is a slot covered with a metal grate. We speak to each other through that slot, each bowing to listen to the other.


The first man I visited was exhibiting signs of mental illness. We talked for some time, though his conversation was quite disjointed. He was glad to have me pray for him, and to know that others were praying for him.

Another inmate thanked me for talking to and praying with the man in the first cell, “because that man has a jinn or something and needs some help.”


The guys that have a cellie (cell-mate) seemed to be coping better. The guys in the solo cells were showing stress from the isolation. Some pass the time “stress-sleeping”, i.e. trying to sleep as much as possible to avoid the stress of lock-down. Other ways to pass the time: reading, working out, journaling, researching case-law, and writing letters. One man was even working on a business plan.

Most of the prayer requests were for upcoming court dates, and for the families of the men. Quite a few men have children who are elementary school aged. Some have family members who are battling cancer. There were many request for calm and peace on the unit.

Before leaving I asked for mental health evaluations for two of the men I met with. One man was exhibiting signs of mental illness. Another man was quite depressed, perhaps due to the extended isolation. He is the only person in his cell.


Prayer for Prisoners

Father of Mercy, the secrets of all hearts are known to you alone. You know who is just and you forgive the unjust. You alone are the Almighty Judge. We are not worthy of judging anyone. Your mercy is enough for sinners. Hear our prayers for those in prison. Give them repentance and let them believe in you. Give them patience and hope in their sufferings, and bring them home again soon. Comfort their near and dear ones. Let them trust in Jesus Christ and live with hope. Amen

Sleepless in San Diego

The trials and delights of ministry come in various ways

Sometimes Care Giving Stinks

20160705_165548I ran into this VHS case while picking up in our son’s room.  I’m not sure if he still has the video but this conjured the Ghost of 4th of July Past.

We lived in Orange County, CA, which is between L.A. and San Diego.  Joey was in his “I don’t sleep” years.  We were exhausted, taking turns being up to take care of him at all hours of the night.

Along came the 4th of July.  No holiday for caregivers, it meant being up whenever Joey decided we should be.

He was thumping around the house around 4 a.m.  I was up keeping a weary eye on him and disgusted by the combination of sleep deprivation and the futility of efforts to engage Joey in some meaningful interaction.

So I plopped the both of us in my car and drove.  Yes, parents will recognize the universal tactic of lulling a…

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