Friday, March 18, 2011

In God's Time

I knew the name of this blog before I ever wrote it or even organized my thoughts on the subject.  Usually its the other way around for me, I write, then search for the name.  This particular subject I have battled with all my life...In God's Time....but I want it NOW!!!  And I want it my way!!!  Sound familiar?

While in prison, just prior to being accepted into the Faith Dorm I was accepted to participate in a Retreat Weekend, held by a prison ministry called "KAIROS".  The way we were considered for this weekend is to write a request into the prison chaplain explaining why we want to attend the Kairos weekend.  I wrote three times, it seemed important enough to me to become a squeaky wheel.  And, sure enough, I received far more than I ever imagined possible. 

A little definition is in order here.  "Kairos" is a Greek word meaning undetermined time when something special happens.  In contrast "Chronos" is the Greek word for chronological or sequential time.  To take this a step further, in Christian theology kairos refers to "the appointed time in the purpose of God", the time when God acts.  For example Mark 1:15 says "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand....." this is referring to kairos time.  This retreat weekend was indeed, a time for God's purposes, His presence was enormous and awesome, the transformations among us were amazing and inspiring.

To start with, it was held in the gymnasium which had been partitioned off into sections.  A section for group meetings, a section for worship and a section for eating. On a Thursday evening we were ushered into the gym and every two of us were assigned a volunteer.  We were offered a buffet dinner...fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, olives and finger sandwiches.  That may not sound like a big deal to you, BUT it was GIANT to us.  I had not had fresh veggies or fruit since incarcerated that time it had been two and a half years and I craved these delicacies.  For others it had been even longer.  After filling our bodies with healthy food, they began to fill our hearts and minds with healthy thoughts and feelings through songs, sharing and presentations.  These women, the volunteers, had unconditional love down to a tee, they embraced each one of us just as we were.  Not one of us ever felt judged, we were brought into this circle of Christian women with open arms.  I don't think I have ever experienced so much love at once.  The women came from several different denominations...there were Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalians, Catholics and Lutheran to name a few.  They came from churches all around, some from as far as 50+ miles away.  Some of the volunteers were ministers at their churches. 

At night we had to return to our cells to sleep.  We were then brought back Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  In all we were together about 36 hours.  They provided our meals, which were home cooked by volunteers outside the prison.  Another large volunteer group that we never saw were the prayer warriors.  These were volunteers specifically assigned to each one of us and were to pray for that person all weekend.  They wrote us personal notes and sent them in, they took prayer requests from us and included that in their prayers. 

The presentations to us were shared among the volunteers.  After a presentation we then did group projects based on our understanding and presented those projects to the entire group.  So the presentations to us were turned into an experiential learning, a much better way for us to retain and connect to our lessons.  There were approximately 50 inmates and the volunteer group inside with us was approximately 35-40 women.  As we were walking in each morning the volunteers surrounded us and sang to us.  It was so beautiful.  I still get tears when I think of how joyful that weekend was like an oasis in the middle of a desert and we were just thirsting for what they gave us.  The community that grew among us became an enormous force of nature...we carried it with us for the remainder of my time there...and I'm certain it continued long after I left. 

On Saturday morning we were each handed a small piece of rice paper and told to write names of people we needed to ask forgiveness from on one side and those we needed to forgive on the other side...we kept it with us throughout the day and wrote names as they came to us.  Then later that evening we had a worship service on forgiveness and prayed on our lists.  At the end of that service the minister was at a table with a large bowl of water and a wooden spoon, we each went up and put our list in the water, one at a time, and as she stirred we watched it dissolve.  Following that exercise there were ministers in each corner of the room so we lined up (if we wanted) and were prayed over while that minister washed our hands.  The power of that entire experience and the feeling of freedom was beyond words.  It made the actual prison walls surrounding us seem like nothing, as we realized how withholding of forgiveness (in either direction) really creates a prison within, one for which there is no parole unless we make the choice to let go and speak those words and clean our thoughts.  I started out that morning saying I was not a grudge holder so I wouldn't have anybody on my list...then as the day went list grew and grew as I became more and more honest with myself.

Also offered during the weekend were individual counseling sessions with ministers of our choice, but only if we wanted.  I had been grappling with the forgiveness issue regarding my false accusers.  I had prayed over this several times, but seemed to have circular thinking.  I met with one of the ministers I felt most comfortable with, asking if it made sense for me to continue with my appeal/habeas if I have truly forgiven them?  Giant question for me.  It was her belief that I was dealing with two separate issues, making them one.  It was okay for me to pursue clearing my name (sticking to the facts of the case) and at the same time forgive these men.  The two actions could live hand in hand inside of me.  I began to understand, and was provided a sense of relief.  I still work on this and when I feel the anger surface again (as it does), I lift it up, let it go and move on.  Sometimes my husband gets angry at me for not being more angry, but I know that anger, if I were to hold on to it, would just kill me (if not physically, then spiritually for sure).

Everything in God's time...I have to remember that!  My parole was granted that very Friday while I was at the Kairos Retreat, although I wouldn't find out about it for another three weeks.  When I came home several months later I found that sweet Nate, my special needs son, had regressed significantly.  I had heard about this but never imagined how bad things were for him.  My husband's health had deteriorated because of diabetes, he never let on in his letters but his last couple visits were somewhat revealing.  My other son, Brandon, had survived the best, but basically had been very much on his own soon after I left, doing it the best he could (like being in the family group but not connected).  I have to remind myself...the healing is all in God's time too....for all of us.  The habeas is still not filed, I pray on that also.  That habeas has to be the best it can be, because it is a one-shot deal.  God's time!!  His perfect time.  It all boils down to trust and faith.


  1. I have tears in my eyes.
    I am humbled by your ability to forgive people who falsely imprisoned you, causing a ripple effect of discomfort within your sweet family.

    If you can choose to forgive this unimaginable sin and pain, I know that anything's possible...
    especially a successful habeas for you!
    Like you said, all in God's precious Kairos!

  2. This post brought tears to my eyes.


    And yes, we're praying for that habeas thing.

    (This post really makes me want to get involved with that KAIROS group.)

    Bless you, Audrey.

  3. KAIROS is so wonderful, I also want to be part of it, once I get this case behind me. As it is I can't go into the prison for several years as a volunteer. I get this case cleared, I can do it. For anybody interested in reading further about these folks (they are international) their website is

  4. Another part of the ministry which I did not mention above is they do a similar weekend for the women who have family members incarcerated. They believe the family goes through this incarceration too and needs all the support and healing they can get. I believe that own mom wrote me usually twice a week as did often, by their words, I felt they were right there with me...struggling as I was.