The Suspect

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
- John 11:25-26 (NIV)

“This ‘gal’ came behind me and just started punching me…”

“So I hit her back!” explained this young, female inmate. Her heart racing like a horse as I cleansed a small cut on one of her fingers of her right hand. The right hand swelling up. And red by the knuckles. One could tell. Coming from the many punches she threw right back at the prisoner who she said attacked her.

I kept listening to her. Paying attention to every other signs and symptoms of injuries as medical staff was aware…After the treatment, the deputy from that involved unit would write an incident report where the treating nurse had to sign and write down what the injuries were and the treatment plan done.

“Just keep this ice pack on your hand,” I uttered as I started wrapping her wrist with an elastic bandage.

“This will immobilize your hand temporarily so the pain and swelling can also go down,” I explained.

She let out a deep sigh. She started complaining again about the other inmate and the louder she described each event when she saw our Infirmary Deputy approached both of us. She was upset about her alleged ‘attacker’. 

I looked at the deputy and he glanced back at me as if our eyes were talking. We both must sense that the wounded prisoner I was treating actually was the attacker. She was the suspect. 

Working in the prison for many years now, I had learned to try to listen to both sides of a story as much as I could. Because the story always sounded so good and true. Not until I would hear the other part…

The injury report was delivered to be signed by me…True enough…That inmate I suspected of starting the fight was the attacker

How many suspected Jesus as a “liar” and “not the Son of God?” To the point that the same people who were praising Him before, wanted Him to die on the cross days after. How quickly one’s belief or story changes! Except the truth is…

Jesus came to die on the cross to save humanity. It was God’s love Who put His own Son to that wooden cross, not men’s wishes, to save humanity from sin’s death…

The Lost Files

“It is impossible to get exhausted in work for God. We get exhausted because we try to do God’s work in our own way.” – Oswald Chambers

I could feel my son’s frustrations last night when he found out that the illustrations he had been working on to produce the image he wanted to enter in the County’s Art Show was lost. However, the image remained. Not the steps he took as he painstakingly drew each line using mathematical stuff in the computer. He was upset. And it was understandable. Nothing hurt my husband and I more than to see him so upset because the many months it took for him to work on that project was lost…Just because of that program from the computer that didn’t convert it to become that file that he wanted. 

“Take a deep breath…”

“Try to cool off please. Just be thankful that your image was saved and that you could still submit that,” I added but with a growing tear ripping across my heart as a mother. 

He had been quiet. He would never talk in any offensive language. It was just his eyebrows were showing anger. That was how I could tell. And deep sighs.

I fell asleep as he continued to work on his homework. As I laid down and fell asleep…whispering prayers for him…

This morning as I ate breakfast, I brought it up again. Not wanting to remind him of the pain and frustration but it was necessary. I wanted him to know…Nothing truly was lost. Even from that mishap, he gained so much knowledge and he could use that as a learning tool instead.

“You have the choice to continue to be upset about what that program did to your months of work…But you also have a choice to pray about it and move on. Be thankful to the Lord that the image was not lost which was the important thing you needed for the art show.”

Like a broken record that he must have heard thousands of times, I repeated, “I want to remind you…Whether you win or not, you are a winner already because you are able to use that talent that God has gifted you with. Never allow the spiritual enemy to steal the joy in your heart. Because as believers, we will also face trials. But we must hold on to what is true.”

“I’m not upset anymore, Mom,” he reassured me, as he savored the buttered Texas toast I paired with the candied bacon. He started laughing as he recalled his Art teacher joking around with him, teasing him that one of these days, his computer would start smoking because of the difficult techniques he was doing in that project. “Boy! Was he right!” I thought… We laughed together. His heart was at peace as he spoke about retrieving what was lost by going back and doing every step he took even if it would sound like a lot of work so he could get the lost illustrations back. 

As the smoke of frustrations eases up, one truth emerged:

That we must continue to labor for Christ, no matter what difficulty we face. Because in doing so, that is how we retrieve what is lost… We don’t allow our lights to be put out so the other lost ones could be found…We don’t labor for us. We labor for Christ. We shine for Christ!

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (NIV)

The 'Clicking Jaw'

The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. – Psalm 119:130 (NLT)

“Can you see this inmate complaining that her jaw is stuck?” asked one of the units where they housed female prisoners.

Photo Credit
“Send her down!” I uttered over the phone. 

With my readied pen, I took her booking number and started probing more regarding her medical or mental history. Glancing at past and future appointments from the monitor in front of me, it was easy to see that she was seen recently by the prison’s dentist and she was also seen by the Mental Health Services. I got up and searched for her medical chart from the thousands filed in the metal bins. Right in the middle of the Infirmary.

“What was the complaint, Rcubes?” asked one of the nurses working with me that night.

“The unit said that the inmate’s jaw is stuck. Either she has jaw problem but she also has mental health issues,” I responded.

“I’ll see her,” I added as I only worked 4 hours that night to help out the short staff. I could see that nurse already tired from working not even half of her 12 hour shift. I wanted to help her knowing she was one of those who worked hard and never needed to be told on what to do.

She sat quietly as I looked through the glass partition window. Her long hair, slightly disheveled, lacking gloss. Her orange, prison-issued uniform slightly loose from her thin frame. I let her in to start asking about her complaint. I felt her jaw clicking on the left side as if the jaw bones were grating against each other. With that, she complained of increasing pain, barely able to open the mouth fully. I knew well ahead of time, prior to her arrival that the dentist already had scheduled her for a specialist consult regarding this problem. Except…the wait always took a long time. Month…Depending on that Specialty Clinic’s availability.

“You had been seen already for this problem and in fact, the dentist had already requested for an OMFS referral…” I stopped in the middle of my explanation…Realizing she might not understand what I just said. It was just not her “lingo”. OMFS… Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery…Who would know? If that person didn’t have a medical background.

“Oh, God!” I prayed in my mind as she kept her eye contact with me.

“Help me explain it to her in easier ‘layman’ terms…”

“Ma’am…” I continued as I tried to gather my thoughts, praying still at the back of my mind for His help and wisdom…

“You just need to be patient because our dentist had already requested for an appointment for you to see the doctor who specializes in treating diseases for your jaw…But our dentist can’t do anything not until that doctor’s office give her the schedule or “go signal” for your case. If the Motrin is not helping you for pain, I will schedule you to see our dentist tomorrow so maybe you can ask her if it’s okay for you to get a stronger dose of pain medication as you wait for that appointment.” 

The words kept coming…I had to inhale and replenished my lungs hungry for air. As she sat there in front of me…Quietly…So still…

She got up and thanked me. She said she understood better that she needed to be patient and that her jaw, despite the pain, was not life-threatening. She admitted her long Methamphetamine abuse. The last day she quit was on the day she was arrested. That could have killed her than this ‘jaw problem’…

She heard the loud ‘click’ from the heavy, metal door. Signifying I opened it as her more calm demeanor exited. The anxious look on her face was replaced with a slight, grateful smile as she opened her right palm to receive the small envelope I stuffed with some packets of Motrin to help her for the pain, despite the slight relief, until she would see the dentist in the morning…Her shadow was long gone but deep in my heart, I knew…She got it…Because of her ‘clicking jaw’, the demanded visit made her understand the reality of waiting for everything in perfect timing. It clicked…Because simple words needed to be explained…So they could be understood.

And how true it is for all of us!!! If we approach the Bible, His truth, as lay persons…Just be stillRead with open minds…And hearts…And as one’s understanding of God’s truth starts ‘clicking’…it will be so clear…how much He loves everyone…Ahhh…The wonders of His redeeming love

The Open House

I grappled with my cell phone camera as I tried to take a picture of my son driving his car. On our way to the college’s open house. The college he chose to go to. As dark clouds loomed over the distant mountains, I was able to capture a silhouette of my son’s familiar physique and was contented though a little dark the photo seemed.

The parking lots were half-full, expected as it was on a weekend and some regular classes were not open. There was a throng of parents with excited would-be freshmen already crossing the intersection from the marked parking lot for those wanting to explore this college’s programs. Like the three of us.

A mixed emotion started to grow in my heart as a mother. Concerned for even the littlest details. For who, as a loving parent, would never want the “best” for their children? My child that soon would be driving farther distances and would continue to advance his knowledge. Apart from what my husband and I shared and continue to share.

The atmosphere from everyone working there was very friendly and welcoming. The anxiety from that “motherly concern” of mine was slowly being replaced minute by minute with very informative lecture about the degree my son wanted to pursue and the appearance of the campus itself. It felt as if I was the student who would go here to study that I got excited myself as I observed the convenience of how near the  Student Services, the bookstore, the campus store, and the different little restaurants and coffee shop were to the building where he would go as Fall Semester starts this year.

My son…our little baby then…was not a baby anymore but a man. Ready to explore and be challenged. Yet, as a concerned parent, aware of all challenges this life would offer. There would be moments of triumphs. There would also be moments of defeat. There would be moments of joy and laughter. But there would also be moments of sadness and tears. This life, like a labyrinth…where each person’s goal would be to pursue “true happiness”. His path definitely would be changing course.

We stood for a moment…Out in the sun that came out from hiding from the dark clouds that were blown away suddenly by chilly winds. We marveled at the campus’ beauty. Of how diverse the population was. Like them, I knew my son would have to find his happiness to fulfill his life’s goals. But with uncertainties. At times.

After having a great lunch from our favorite burger joint, we headed home. Grateful that we attended the Open House this morning. Grateful that despite the uncertainties and all the labyrinths of life, my son could continue to move on because we all knew, thanks be to God, that it wasn’t about seeing things BY SIGHT that would help him find that “true happiness”…It was SEEING BY FAITH. No matter what challenges would come, only by God’s grace my son could accomplish his endeavors. For none could comfort and strengthen and help one to endure…but God…And Him alone

“Don’t forget to say ‘Thank You Lord’,” I reminded my son as I took a sip of the cold drink I still held in my hand. 

“Thank You, Lord,” he uttered under his breath as he tried to concentrate with the pile of cars driving on the busy road.

Yes…Faith…That’s what matters…For where can one go but under His wings to feel safe and fearless?

“Thank You, Lord!”

“For giving us the opportunity to go to the college’s Open House…But most of all for Your Open Arms…Ready to welcome us when we are wounded, puzzled, weak or broken…”

All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.