I ate dinner with a murderer.
I just heard a story that beats all excuses you might ever have about why you can’t do or be or have what you want. So I don’t want to hear it. No one wants to hear it.
Here’s the story. Are you sitting down? Sit down.
Tim Terry grew up in a house of Godliness. Of love. With sisters and brothers. His mom was happy and lively. He was set. They went to church. They played. They laughed. They loved. Good life, really.
At 14, Tim’s sister called him. She was 12. “Tim, mom just took your .22 and killed herself. Shot through the temple.”
This is where the story of No Excuses starts.
Tim was devastated. He was angry. Confused. He asked God, “WTF?!”
All his upbringing led him to believe God was good. Life was good. How does this happen.
For a 14-year-old boy, God was no longer his friend. No one was.
Why his gun? Why not the other guns in the home his dad had in easy grasp?
Tim’s gun was in a closest, out of sight.
Why the suicide note that only asked for Tim’s dad to make sure the kids kept going to the church school. Nothing in there about why she did what she did. Why life was too much and death seemed a better option.
Tim cracked. Like the foundation of a building that wasn’t built on solid enough ground. Little cracks. An innocent, happy child whose life just took a drastic hairpin curve at 100 miles per hour… in an epic earthquake of 7 on the seismic scale. Crack.
Tim was angry as hell at God and all he thought he knew. He bolted. (Can you outrun a nightmare? Tim tried.)
(Remember you have no excuse. Not Tim, YOU.)
He drank. He smoked pot. He didn’t care any more. Life was, afterall, just a lie.
He went to live with his uncle in Miami. Drug capital supreme. He drank Jack Daniels. He learned the powerful paralyzing feeling of heroine to make you not care about losing your mom to a bullet from your own gun. He started selling drugs to make the money to take drugs. He’s 14. 15. 16.
One day at 17 years of age he decides it’s time to marry his 14-year-old girlfriend in South Carolina. Push comes to shove for her parents and they agree to let it happen. Wedding bells ring. Tim takes her down the drug hole he has been in. They get pregnant, twice. They now have 2 children. Alcohol and drugs are still in the picture.
(Crack goes the foundation. And you have no excuse.)
What Tim does not know is that his wife is bi-polar. That comes out later. So all the drugs and drinking kind of cover it up for awhile.
After his wife has her 2 children, she learns she has uterine cancer. “WTF God?”
They decide to clean up their acts. They have prayer circles. They change their ways.
Her cancer does not get better. It’s worse. “WTF God?”
Doctors cut out her uterus and save her life. (But that word “save” might not be the best description.)
Now at age 19, uterus removed, in hormonal hell and bi-polar (they still don’t know this) Tim’s wife says, “SCREW YOU TIM, I’m OUTTA HERE.” She takes the kids and goes.
Tim takes another major blow to his soul. He goes back to the worst drinking, drugging hell trip he can go on to forget. Soothe. Self medicate. Survive. (Survive?)
His wife returns when she’s on a bi-polar and hormonal “high.” Again Tim is ready to clean it up, make life right. But two weeks later, life says, “HOW ABOUT ANOTHER, TIM?” And his wife says she’s leaving again.
His heart torn out. (He describes it thusly: My heart felt like it was ripped from my body. I saw it.) End of rope met.
Tim kills his wife in the house they own with the kids right there.
Rather than let her leave again, he’ll just stop her. Forever.
Yeah, you heard it. HE. KILLED. HIS. WIFE.
<PAUSE here. Take a breath. I had to as well.> Absorb this. It’s mind-altering.
Devastation and drugs will do that. He then decides to take his own life and shoves the biggest eff-ing needle he can full of heroin into his arm. Ahhh. Tim slowly sinks into death.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.
Tim’s sister, the 12-year-old earlier in the story who told Tim of his mom’s death years ago, yeah that one. She is knocking on the window of Tim’s house. After Tim and his wife do not show up for a party on Saturday, Monday she comes to see if everything is ok.
Tim WAKES up from his near-death stupor. (How IS this man alive still?)
The sister has the police with her.
He still has the heroine needle in his arm. He rips it out, throws it under the couch. Police and sister enter. “What’s up? “Where is your wife?” “Neighbors say they saw her leaving a few days ago.” They NEVER check the bedroom where she lies dead.
Oh are you wondering about the kids? I was at this point. Three days alone at ages under 6 years old, they have taken all the eggs out of the fridge and cracked them on the coffee table to play with. Kids are resilient.
Tim cleans himself up at the police officer’s suggestion and GOES TO WORK. (oh I forgot to tell you Tim is somehow able to hold a job as a mechanic.) He washes off the dried blood on his arm from the heroine needle that he tells the officer is “nothing.” He lets his sister take the kids. He goes to work.
GUILT. SHAME. HELL. All ensue over a period of days. Tim turns himself in. He can’t live with what he has done.
30 years. That was his sentence. 30 YEARS. Age 19. He’ll be out MAYBE at 49.
In jail Tim says, “SCREW IT.” I’m done. He continues to take drugs, sell drugs ($5000 a month he makes IN PRISON selling drugs to buy drugs.) He’s got no hope. No faith. No ideas of ever leaving prison (alive).
But a man comes in and touches Tim with his story of faith. “YOU CAN DO THIS,” the man of faith says. “I have been in your shoes myself and turned it around. YOU CAN TOO.” “Guess what Tim, YOU HAVE CHOICES to make. It’s up to you.”
(YOU, the reader, HAVE CHOICES EVERY DAY, too. Choose to feel better or worse. YOU GET TO CHOOSE. Complain, play the victim and moan. Or know that your life has a purpose and you need to live it. No excuses. )
Tim chooses to release himself from the guilt. The shame. The idea he is not worthy of anyone’s love, especially the Creator’s love. And he FEELS the physical release of all that pain.
His life changes. Shifts. He gets out of prison 13 years EARLY. He, after seeing most inmate buddies leave and come right back into prison, decides to do something to help them. He has an organization that goes into prisons and takes 40 weeks to work with inmates. Do the impossible. GIVE THEM HOPE. GIVE THEM ABSOLUTION. GIVE THEM PURPOSE. GIVE THEM THE KEYS TO RELEASE THEIR SHAME.
This man, Tim. He has now flown on a Governor’s private plane. He has lobbied and changed laws. He’s bringing to inmates what they don’t have when they leave prison: A home. A job. A support system. Faith. So they can transition back into society and be human again. (Can all inmates and all crimes be washed clean? No. But the ones who can, MUST BE.)
Tim. The murderer. The drug addict. The scared, hurt, lonely child who lost his mom at age 14 to suicide and never thought his life could amount to anything… ready to die and say screw-it-all to life. That Tim.
Is your life rough? Are you having a hard time? Not sure how or why you are here? Think your boss is mean. Wish you had a better car. More money. Blah blah blah. REALLY? You’re unhappy. Boo-stinking-hoo.
You think of Tim Terry. And you pick yourself up. Thank God for your amazing life. Begin to see that you are here for a PURPOSE. Find it. Live it. Serve others. Be better. And know you never ever have another excuse for why you can’t make it.
Want to help Tim help those who have messed up bad by committing crimes be part of society again? Embrace them versus continuing to crucify them? Donate to Fresh Start Prison Ministry.
Our country needs this kind of program. We can’t keep the revolving door of 75%+ recidivism going. Tim’s program sees a less than 5% return-to-prison rate. He is transforming people.
Do you know the impact on society of that? IT IS HUGE.
Let’s help this amazing human being do this unbelievably important work.
I am FOREVER changed by sitting in a restaurant hearing Tim tell me his story, which I was not prepared for at all. No more excuses for me. I’m helping. I’m shutting my boo-hoo bad day machine down and getting on Tim’s train. It’s going the direction we all need to go. FORWARD. Put some putty in your cracks and move forward with us. There is really no excuse not to.