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Lessons in Gratitude

“I would like a bible if you could bring me one, please.”

This was the request written on a Prayer Request sheet for the inmates after the June 14th Chapel Service. During “Practicing Gratitude” (my favorite part of the chapel service), another inmate had thanked God for the bible that Chaplain Joy had gotten her. “My very first Bible…. And I can’t put it down!” She reported with a big smile, and a high-5 from a fellow inmate.

I didn’t speak on this, but I could have. My message was about “Repentance, Revelation and Release.” But if I’d had another hour, I would have continued the topic of “Release”—true release, while imprisoned. I witness it every month or so that I am able to visit the Prison Chapel Service, led by Chaplain Joy Johnson: Release from all the extraneous accoutrements of this material world, so that finally, FINALLY, we are able to appreciate what REALLY matters in life! Family. Relationships. God’s Eternal Unchanging Word! Not that we shouldn’t give testimonies of how God blessed us with a raise on our jobs, a new house, a new car, a Disney Vacation, etc…. But boy, is it refreshing, to sit with 20 women dressed in blue, and hear them give nothing but testimonies of thanksgiving for--- their children being healthy, moms that are there for them, boyfriends that forgave them, a Chaplain that cares about them…….love….. a Bible. Why must we so often be stripped of everything before we realize what really matters in life? We hear this every time there is a tragedy, a deadly disaster, a serious disease…….and I hear it each month from these most precious incarcerated women. So now that I think about it, it’s not me that should be giving this message after all. It’s them. And they’ve given it effectively to me, and to the Unshackled Ministry Team, and to anyone else that has taken time to visit those in prison.

One more thing from “Practicing Gratitude.” Inmate J, who is a faithful Chapel Service attendee, is thankful for learning a new skill: Crochet. I smiled at the simplicity. Yeah J, it’s all about taking all these loose threads and creating something beautiful. The Master Teacher is ever-teaching us.

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