Wrapping Up 2015 by: A.J. Rasmussen
As another year wraps up, I thought I would take some time to sit down and give a re-cap of 2015 for me as well as Cornerstone Ministry.
I received a similar letter from a pen pal, which is what gave me the idea to do likewise. Initially, I thought 'Maybe I will wait until the holidays are over.' But then, you, wouldn't be receiving the reality of the true ups and downs one lives inside these walls.
This time, two years ago, I was spending Christmas Eve receiving a colonoscopy, as a regular check-up, courtesy of living with Crohns Disease.
So, what would Christmas 2014 hold to compete with such an amazing Christmas 2013? Just when you think you can't top 2013, 2014 brings the Washington Supreme Court's response to my appeal, stamped DENIED! This meant, aside from a major miracle, (which I don't deny God's power to do) I would spend the remaining years, above ground, right here. That's a depressing Christmas present, right?
Well, the Lord didn't allow it to keep me down long. Shortly after this news is when I heard Him tell me that regardless of where I spend my remaining days on earth, I will be okay. He continued by telling me it was time to get back into ministry.
"O God," I replied. "Whatever for!?" I didn't ignore Him though, or question Him any further. 2015 has been full-speed ahead, re-launching Cornerstone Ministry. The Lord has used me, and my ample time, to focus my energies on helping others, and He knew what He was doing, because, even though I've had some minor rough patches, (emotionally) 2015 has been my best year, probably since my youth. It has been in putting forth work to help others, that the Lord has helped me, freeing me from a lifetime of mental and emotional bondage.
I spent a good portion of my years without direction or guidance, or I should say, ignoring direction and guidance. Thus leaving me in a state of lack when it came to having purpose or hope. The launch of Cornerstone Ministry has been a life-saver, and life-changer, probably/hopefully for more than just me.
Although all of 'my' goals haven't been fulfilled for 2015, many have, as have additional things that overrode my plans. It is good to establish plans/goals, but when doing the Lord's work we must remain flexible, making room for changes or delays in our plans. It's not about us. It never has been, nor will it ever be.
"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22)
And one of my cornerstone scriptures. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Some of the 'plans' we had set have been pushed back, but so much more than I could have imagined, has been accomplished in one year's time. I contribute that to the Lord's planning, guiding, and providing. Through this year, He has provided us with the people He knew He wanted, providing Cornerstone Ministry with a well-rounded board of directors as well as outside professional counsel and consulting.
We will now enter into 2016 with the vision "Grow the Business" We will piggy-back on the successes and growth of 2015 to continue and further ourselves in: *Networking *Marketing *Learning *Fundraising *Promoting *PR Through this combined effort, we hope to raise the funds necessary to continue to fulfill our mission of helping the incarcerated meet their needs and evolving our efforts to helping families of the incarcerated to meet their needs.
On a personal note, as with most those incarcerated I'm sure, these holiday-filled months make for some of the most difficult days to be in jail or prison. Separated from those we love, and knowing the hurt they face as well, separated from us. This at times can be very overwhelming. This marks my ninth, total, Christmas that I have spent separated from those I love most. You'd think it would get easier, but it doesn't. I fear and dread the third week of November through Christmas. There is a definite sigh of relief when December 26th has been reached.
I do feel selfish in this battle, because I know I have it better than so many. I have 15 Christmas cards sitting out that I have received. I get visits. I receive letters and emails. I have people I can call. Don't get me wrong, I am truly thankful for all of that, but I'd gladly give it all up to spend Christmas day with my entire family and closest friends.
I share this to inform and encourage you all to reach out to someone, alone through the holidays. I know it's not only difficult for me. Reach out to an inmate, an orphan, a widow, a homeless or struggling family, or perhaps the family left to struggle due to a loved one being incarcerated. Consider this old, well known saying WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) This is exactly what He did and would do.
You can request an inmate to write by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org Or, go to a prison pen pal site, such as the one we have partnered with www.inmate-connection.com and reach out to someone who likely has no one this holiday season.
Christmas is the season of giving, give by showing love to the least-loved. Thank you all for your love and support of myself as well as Cornerstone Ministry throughout 2015. I pray God will bless you all in 2016!
P.S. You can also help those incarcerated, and the families of, by visiting our NEW crowd-funding site at www.fundly.com/cornerstone-ministry