Week in Review

Monday, July 13, 2020

We of Epic 2020 are what our name says: Epic! Even though our class read the packet on PEP, signed up for it yet experienced so little of it, we still to this day – and will from now on – show no sign of slowing down or quitting. We are who we set out to be and who we say we are. We were taught in the early stages of this program to stay ready to keep from having to get ready. No one was “ready” for this situation, but we have done our best to stay strong.

By definition, epic means “a book or film on heroic deeds or history.” And this is our storied history in the making of PEP: not being able (or fortunate enough) to do what other classes have done, see what they saw, meet who they met or learn what they learned. We are unable to go through the fire of PEP, have a graduation ceremony and get all of what we thought we would. But what we did achieve was change: change in our hearts; change in our thoughts; and most importantly, change in our lives. Some may not understand, but we desperately needed that change in our lives. Though we are highly concerned about our families and friends, we still put forth the time, effort and dedication necessary into all that is left. We are not done yet; we are just getting started.

The easy route is quitting, the hard route is persevering through adversities and challenges no matter how big or small the obstacles are. That is where PEP has played a major role in our Epic class. PEP has helped us to change our thinking and stay optimistic, building the heart of a lion. 

Terrance S. (a.k.a. “Little Ron Ron”)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

When we started PEP, we never expected that our class name, “Epic 2020,” would turn into a reality. The Coronavirus has really taken us on a crazy ride. Some of us want to quit, and some of us are not giving it our all. But there are a lot of us still doing it for the change. We can never predict these types of epidemics, and we must not give up because of them. Yes, we are not getting the full program, but we signed up to better ourselves and that is what we must focus on.

Life has a lot of difficult times in it, and we just have to sit back and think how we can overcome and make the best of it. PEP has really helped a lot of us – and yes, some of us have had it a little harder because one is not going to change overnight. We must help each other during these difficult times because we are all going through something. But if we use the tools that PEP has to offer and stay away, we will better ourselves. PEP means much to most of us and little to some, but for those that want to change, we look at it as another chapter in our lives. After all, it is better than just sitting and watching TV all day.

We signed up for this – nothing was forced on us. Yeah, we are not getting the full program like I said before, but we have e-School to look forward to. We do have better days ahead.

Mario S. (a.k.a. “Muffin Man”)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

PEP has meant a lot to me during this difficult time. It has represented hope. This has taken a great amount of faith during this time of unrest and uncertainty. This also meant finding the courage to keep moving forward. Regardless of all the ups and downs of this journey, we have continued to move forward and push on toward our end goals and persevere during this strange and terrible moment in history. It has been trying and stressful dealing with the unknown, but pressing on has proven fruitful.

It has taken more effort to keep learning and teaching myself the skills available to us. We all have continued to stay strong for our loved ones and the program, showing our families we will be able to better provide for them in the future once we are released. Our future is undeniably brighter for the effort put forth and the faith maintained, regardless of the uncertainty in the world today – especially when you take into account and consider all of the small business owners who will not be equipped to handle the new normal and will not survive the long-term effects of the situation. We will be coming home to a changed world that we have the opportunity to plan for and adapt to. That is how PEP has equipped us, and we are all thankful for the time and dedication that has been shown to us during this time.

Samuel S. (a.k.a. “Strawberry Shortcake”)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

PEP provides hope for the future, a life re-established once released. It is similar to the covenant of reconciliation established in the Gospel of Grace. Promises are given, and hope’s expectation – to be fulfilled in the future – is provided to the participant who remains vigilant to the agreement made in the beginning. The promise doesn’t say it won’t be difficult or that we won’t experience hardship, but if we remain steadfast even though we can’t see beyond the here and now, we are assured of help and fulfillment upon completion.

The only difficulty I have experienced is stagnation, or the lack of seeing progression. When this happens, many people return to what they know or did before, “like a dog that returns to its own vomit.” It is a sense of a loss of direction or guidance that is found in the structured program. Regularly meeting together helps keep everyone likeminded and headed in the same direction. We have to want to change our direction before we actually can; it comes from within.

Difficulty is found by those who seek to find change from the outside: from a book, person or program. Until they choose to examine themselves and make changes in their character, true change is difficult. PEP helps identify character faults and provides resources for us to make lasting change, if we so choose. PEP is a grace provided to many by God, and all we can do is hope and continue on with the expectation of better things ahead.

Walter S. (a.k.a. “Powdered Sugar”)

Expressions                                                                                     

“A man’s belief does not make him a good person. It is the things he does in his life and with his life that determine his worth.”

Being incarcerated, especially for any length of time, allows a person a lot of time to study Scripture and to memorize its passages. When I first started my journey behind these walls, I looked to a lot of people who stayed in The Word constantly. I admired them and believed that they were truly focused on becoming better humans and more compassionate and less judgmental. But the more closely I looked and the more I paid attention, I realized that a lot of the people who were deepest in The Word were some of the people who had made the fewest changes in their lives and about themselves. They sought out the physical knowledge of the book, not the spiritual knowledge of its message. It had become just another way to focus on other people’s faults and the things that they were doing wrong, rather than focusing on the internal issues that had put them in in the situation that they were in.

When I started to see this and realize it, these same people who had not fixed the anger issues, blame issues and acceptance issues are the ones who actually helped me to focus on my own issues so that I didn’t end up the same. I made a vow to myself that I would address my issues and focus on my faults. I would use this time that God gave me to fix those issues. Now my actions match my beliefs, and for that I am eternally grateful.  

Christopher S. (a.k.a. “Sassy Sarah Palin”)