Happy Anniversary!

Seven years ago today, at 11:55 AM CST, I ground my last Kool filter king (always in the soft pack) under my foot in the parking lot of the Federal Correctional Institution at Oakdale, LA.

With understandable trepidation, I walked through the front door saying goodbye to my brother Jim and a life I was anxious to leave behind.

While the trepidation I felt was real, so was the hope I felt in my heart. A hope that I believe was put there by God as I embarked on a journey not of imprisonment, but of freedom.

“Huh?”

“Say what?”

Yes. I walked into prison to become truly free for the first time in my life, and the past 7 years have been the most wonderful years of my life, I have never felt more free, and yes, I spent 4 years and 2 months of that 7 years in federal prison.

It was the most negative of circumstances that predicated my imprisonment, but building a relationship with God gave me the strength, courage, and determination to allow Him to produce the most positive of outcomes. I do not want to go back, but I am eternally grateful to God that I went.

God is indescribably amazing in the things He can do in us and for us if we only see our way clear to trust Him no matter what we may be facing. Hopefully these pages have contained evidence of God’s work in my life.

I miss the men I left behind, and I pray each one of them connects with God in a truly profound way and leans heavily upon Him as they complete their sentences and when it is their turn to walk through the gates of the prison. Perhaps they will get a chance to read these words of “Thanks, guys!” for those things they provided me with while I was there.

Prison is not the best place to make friends, but I made the best of friends there.

For many, April 1st is simply “April Fool’s” day – a day in which pranks are played. For me, it was the day  always referred to in the old cliche, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Thank you, God, for giving me new life to serve you, praise you, and to glorify your Holy name.

(Author’s note: This is a slightly modified and updated version of a post published 2 years ago in my prison blog, “The Oakdale Chronicles”.)

About Tony Casson

" For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
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