A few nights later I was sitting up in bed, and trying to get Bryer to do the same, to make sure she was still breathing. Jason woke me up and helped me realize what I was doing. Finding my baby not breathing in real life was bad enough. Now it creeps up on me when I'm sleeping too. When she was first born, her color wasn't good. I remember the nurses saying, "Just watch her tongue. If her tongue is pink, she's getting enough air." Those words often turn up in my dreams - about her getting enough air - about watching her tongue to make sure it's pink.
Sept. 15, 2013
Today was a day of fasting for those that have wanted to be included. I am humbled at the number of people willing to stand with us during this hard time. I am especially impressed with the children willing to fast. Going without food is a hard thing to do for an adult, let alone a child. It is an act of faith - giving up food for heavenly inspiration. To some people maybe it sounds crazy, but for me, I'm gaining a strong belief that it works! Spirit over body. Divine help over the body's needs.
This is Sawyr's first time fasting, so he is fasting for 1 meal. It's Hunter's first time fasting for a full 24 hours. It makes my heart sad that this is the reason they are willing to fast. No kid should have to fast to help find a way to keep their Mom out of jail! As sad as it is, they have a real, true concern and are willing to ask for God's help - and even give up something and sacrifice a meal or two. It's moments like these that I hope will grow their testimonies - that they will understand and get to see the rewards of their sacrifice.
I got a text from a friend today that said their son was fasting for us. He doesn't fast very often, as he gets very sick. They said he decided to fast anyway and they encouraged him to just try to go as long as he could. He got up once during church to throw up and then came back to sit down. He threw up again later in the day. He completed a full 24 hour fast on my behalf. I am so humbled by this boy, whom I have never even met, and the sacrifice he is willing to do for a stranger. It's said again and again that the kids being born now are the most vallient, the most courageous, the most brave. Heavenly Father matches his power with the adversity at hand. Where there is so much corruption, there is also that much good on the opposing side. Although I don't like the circumstances, I feel blessed to see that this is true!
We have met with several people with leads for expert witnesses and have been forwarding those names to our attorney. They are still trying to get a hold of our neurosurgeon to see about him testifying, or if he has an explanation for the article he was sited as being unreliable. We'll meet with our attorney tomorrow to see what has been done.
A friend came over one night recently with her husband who is a doctor. They did their best to answer question after question that I had through medical records, and brought up some of their own. In the end, they also felt frustration in how to go about disproving the doctors. They brought a long tube of rolled up paper with them. It kind of resembled a blueprint that a builder would use, and I hoped it was a drawn out plan of how to conquer this. They unrolled it to reveal a poster their family made. It illustrates David overcoming Goliath, with verses from 1 Samuel 17. That's really what I feel like - lil ol' David, trying to conquer this huge Goliath of a trial in my life. But as the poster reminds me, David had the Lord on his side. He had been fully prepared (not by the armor of the world, but by the Lord) and he was ready. As I have let those ideas soak in, it makes me teary and confident at the same time.
Along the bottom of the poster it reads the verse Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. " I have to say that I am so ready to just have an answer. I am ready to trust Him with all my heart. I gave up trying to figure this system out a long time ago. I need His help - to literally direct my path. What I had hoped was a rolled up piece of paper to show a blueprint, it really is. Trust the Lord. Overcome huge things with His help. What blueprint could more could be more helpful?!
|This hung in our dining room as a constant reminder|
Sept. 16, 2013
Okay, back to the basics. It's too easy to get wrapped up in this mess emotionally. To get an answer from God, there are 3 steps -
1. Study all the options out.
2. Pray about the one that seems most right. Fast if needed.
3. Wait for a confirming feeling for or against that choice.
There are times I feel a strong, definite answer one way or the other. Those are my favorite answers to prayer. But sometimes I have to start moving in the direction I think I should go and if it's not right, then God will let me know through my feelings. I love that the more I listen, the more in tune I get. This whole journey has given me plenty of practice at working these 3 steps!
I'm still in the 'Studying' step, figuring out all our options on how to move forward. As part of that, we asked our attorney to talk to the prosecutor and see what she had to say.
At this point, I honestly feel like God would be fine either way we decided to go. He would be fine with us going to trial and winning, obviously. He knows how important my family is to me and He knows my innocence. I think He would also be fine going to trial and losing. Maybe that sounds harsh or heartless, but I really feel it's true. He sees the good that could be done in any situation and He has ways to make up for what's lost. What He does ask is for me to hold true to my integrity. 100% honesty. As long as we are honest, I believe He would be fine with us accepting a Alford Plea (in fact, that's what it's for!) and settling on some common ground with the prosecutor. I cannot say I am guilty for something that I did not do. I have said it from the beginning. I don't know what happened in that room on Dec. 19, 2010, but I DO know what DIDN'T happen on that day. It will probably be my very first question to ask God when I get there and meet Him face to face. It's kind of a fun thought to think that our lives will be replayed for us someday. I hope I get to see Bryer's highlight reel and re-watch the events that led to her hospitalization. She has no doubt touched a lot of hearts through this process. There was a specific day that she had to choose - even between life and death - and that was the day that our lives would never be the same. She is now protected from a lot of temptations in this little body she has. She is our toughest, littlest angel, sent here to refine us, to try us, to teach us, and to humble us. She is included as one of those that are the most brave, the most valiant, has the most courage and has been sent to earth for this specific time. She teaches me every day to be strong and to dance in the rain.
After we have all the information to study it out, I'm headed to the temple this week - the one place in the world I can think and feel the very clearest of answers.
Sept. 23, 2013
We met with our two attorneys today. It was not as good as we hoped, but not as bad as it could have been. They visited with the prosecutor for 3 hours and twisted and turned her to try to get the best possible outcome. They went to her with the goal of 4 items -
1- There will not be a 'No Contact Order' filed if I enter into an Alford Plea - meaning I will remain with the kids, just as we are now. That would be a huge relief. I cannot imagine going through again what we did with Health and Welfare. Normally once a Alford plea is entered into, a No Contact Order is immediately enforced.
2- When it's all over and done with, we could go to the judge and petition for a 'withheld judgment,' meaning a felony won't be on my record.
3- There would be minimal probation time.
4- No jail time.
That was their hope and stance going into it, and what they fought for during the 3 hour meeting.
At the end of the 3 hour discussion, she agreed to not file a No Contact Order. Check one off the list! That's huge! She agreed to have the option for a 'withheld judgement' when it's all over and done, but it's still up to the judge to decide. Check two off the list! When they brought up probation time, she said she wouldn't ask for more than 7 years probation. 7 years?! Really, 7 years? For something I did not do! Before I get upset, I have to look at the flip side of going to trial and risk loosing. No contact with my kids, and up to 20 years in prison. All for something I did not do. Plus, living 7 years on probation is not much different than my life right now. I don't drink, do drugs, or stay out all night. I'm responsible and educated and hold appointments and can jump through whatever hoops they have for me.
Then the attorneys both took a deep breath as they started to talk about bullet point #4 - jail time. They looked at each other, kind of giving each other a needed confidence boost. I knew that what they were going to say was about to go into uncharted waters. They explained that the prosecutor wouldn't push for more than 180 days in jail - and jail, not prison. My heart dropped. Jail time?! For something I didn't do?! Are they crazy?!
It sounds ridiculous to put me in jail for something I didn't do! I have never been arrested, never drank alcohol, never done any kind of drugs - heck, I hardly take Tylenol. I don't have friends that have been in trouble with the law. I don't lead a risky lifestyle. I don't even like spanking our kids. I try to teach my children responsibility. Most of my time is spent doing things for other people, researching ideas for Bryer, teaching my kids. I try to do what's right in every situation and teach my children the same. I am dedicated to education and learning. I'm not a perfect mom and I don't have perfect kids, but I certainly don't deserve jail time! And up to 180 days?! That's 6 months away from my family? Do they know what can happen or 'not happen' with a little girl's development in 6 months? How many soccer and basketball games and practices do 4 kids have in 6 months?! That's 540 meals that someone has to cook, laundry to be done, prayers to say, homework to help with, books before bed, the list goes on. How in the world can a prosecutor ask for a mom to be gone from her family for 180 days?! No, not just any mom - ME!
As all these millions of thoughts rushed through my head of all the reasons I shouldn't take this Alford Plea, one of the attorneys opened his mouth and explained something that hit me deep in the pit of my stomach. He said if I was sentenced to jail time, the prosecutor would encourage the judge to have me only serve weekends, for the sake of my family.
That was it. Those words 'only serve weekends' echoed in my mind and took me back to the dream I had nearly 2 years ago. In my dream, I was sentenced to weekends in jail. In my dream I could never remember if it was 5 pm on Friday night or 5 am Saturday morning that I was supposed to check in - and I panicked that I would be late. I still remember vividly the women's faces and the facility where I was at. I remember one lady in particular that 'took me under her wing' and showed me around in my dream. Most importantly, in my dream I was not there for me - I was there for the other women. Those that needed something that I had. They needed Christ-like service and compassion and understanding.
Does God send us dreams? It sounds crazy! I don't know that I could recall any other dream I have ever had in my whole life, but this one of me in jail is like it just happened for real. Jason and I have discussed the dream several times, as well as a few other friends and family. How could the attorneys have known this? How did the prosecution know? What would constitute a person, supposedly so violent as to hurt a baby, to serve time on the weekends and then go back home to kids and family? It just doesn't make sense! And after spending the last (nearly) 3 years with my kids, now I am considered some kind of danger to society? Do they really think I did this?! Now I wished I would have paid more attention to that man that was sentenced to weekends that I watched as we waited for our turn in court a while back.
180 days, only weekends. That's nearly 2 years, every weekend, spent in jail. No basketball tournaments, no church, no camping, no quiet Sunday afternoons spent with my family - for 2. Whole. Years.
After so many thoughts and frustrations and options running around in my head, I needed some clarity. I need to know exactly what I am up against. So the attorneys presented these circumstances:
Option #1. Take my 50/50 chances at trial and take the chance of being locked up - in prison (not jail) - for anywhere between 90 days to 20 years WITHOUT seeing my kids.
Option #2. Continue my innocence and honesty, but take advantage of an Alford Plea, to keep my family in tact, to have a few hoops to jump through - one of which to maybe somehow help women in jail.
I know what I WANT to do - I want to fight this thing. I want to pray and fast and find another expert witness. I want to go to trial to prove my innoscense. God will surely help us find another expert, right? I want to prove that I did not do this.
He will help us, I'm sure of it.....
Or has He already? Is the whole way this has worked out - with the prosecution telling us about our faulty expert witness - the way God has helped us? The lady prosecutor has been the source of so many prayers that her heart would be softened. Has He found a way out of this crazy maze and expects me to trust in that? Is this the answer to prayer we've been looking for? Could it be disguised as jail time? What kind of answer to prayer is that?!
As we started to walk out of the meeting room lined with law books that are supposed to set innocent people free, Jason grabbed my arm to stop me. In front of the attorneys, he recalled a minor court dealing of a family member who was very obviously guilty. The client against her had said something out of turn and got on the judge's bad side and the judge ruled in favor of Jason's family member - the guilty one! The attorneys agreed that going to trial does not automatically prove my innocence, as it was illustrated so perfectly in this instance. It may not prove, in the eyes of the jurors, that I didn't do this. I'd like to have more faith in our justice system. There are not supposed to be guilty people let go and innocent people behind bars. Yet there is news story after news story of people who have spent years of their lives paying the price for something they did not do, only to walk free with years of their lives taken away. The attorneys both strongly advised that we would be "crazy not to take this Alford Plea," in their words.
So now I am faced with what I WANT to do and what I feel the answer to my prayers is. It's always about turning it over and trusting God, isn't it? In the big things, in the little things, and everything in between. After studying it all out, this is the answer I will take to the temple tomorrow.
Sept. 24, 2013
I thought I would be a mess. This is a huge decision to take to the Lord. I didn't even wear make up to the temple, hoping not to have mascara running down my face. I have been to the temple 3 times in 2 weeks. Some for answers, but also to feel the peace I can feel there. I need a break to just sit and feel, away from the world and stress and making big decisions. It's my escape. My way to reconnect with what's really important. Jason's parents went with Jason and I. The only way I can describe in words, is refreshing. Just as I expected, a session at the temple was just what I needed. Feeling like I went in hot and sweaty and full of worries, I ended feeling calm, confident, and (almost) ready to do what God would ask of me. I received confirmation of my decision and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace with it - although my nerves were still going crazy thinking what I was headed for. As it says in Romans, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" It has never been more true! I also was reminded again about the eternal scheme of things and was able to take a step back at the big picture.
There is a firm line drawn between things that are temporal (only during this life) and things that are eternal (that we take with us in the next). This life is full of cars, houses, toys, vacations, money, status, feeling important, competition, prestigious jobs, and a million other things that will be gone with our last breath. The things that are most important, the most lasting, and the things we hope to take with us are our family relationships, our integrity, our knowledge, and most importantly - our relationship with God and our Savior.
Making the decision to accept an Alford Plea goes against a lot of worldly, temporal things - my reputation on paper would show 'felon.' That's a humbling place in life to be. That's no status to be proud of. Not something I would have ever expected to be fighting. The possibility of going to jail. A very hard, but very temporal thing to do. On the other hand - those things that matter the very most - following what God would have me do, keeping my family in tact, preserving my integrity - those are the things that matter. If I can do all that and have a clear conscience and remain honest, then that's what's really important.
I got back to Bryer's preschool and called Jason as he was riding home with his parents. He asked if I had made a decision. I knew once I voiced my decision, there would be no going back. I told him honestly that I still struggle between what I want to do and what I feel like the right answer is. More than anything I want to fight this thing! Maybe it's pride. Is it worth giving up my pride to do what I know I should? I know that my pride is not worth sacrificing my kids for 20 years! Even if there's a 50/50 chance. I just can't chance my family. Our conversation ended with Jason saying again, "I'll support you in whatever choice you make." Does he really know what that means? 20 years is a long time to be married without a wife to come home to! I'll try not to think about that.
I talked with my Grandma and she asked if this was a hard decision to make. I can't say in words how hard! Maybe for some, it's very obvious. Fight it - go to trial! And for others it's very obvious - don't risk it! What really matters is the answer I feel led to by God. But oooh that's so hard to accept sometimes!
By the time I got home, I blurted it out to Jason before I could take back my words.
"I'm taking the Alford Plea."
Big breath. Another big breath.
I want to have a good attitude. Maybe that will come.
Right now it takes all I have to just obey. Just take this leap of faith. Just accept the way out of the maze that God has allowed. Jason seemed a little relieved and hugged me and said, "Ok. I'm good with that."
I called my attorney to let him know we would be moving forward with the Alford Plea. One more hurdle, one more hoop, one more step further down this path. We're moving forward ever so slowly with the Lord on our side. I hope I am soaking up all that I need to and allowing myself to be refined in the ways I need to be. There are huge blessings in store for me - it said so in a priesthood blessing I received - I just didn't realize that there is so much sacrifice to be made to earn those blessings.
One thing that keeps me going is to help others along with their struggles. Ours is temporal. It's a paper that says felon. It's a relatively short amount of time that I may spend in jail away from my family. It's a certain amount of time to be considered on probation. Those things are earthly - they will be swept away - not important after this life. It's not of an eternal nature, as long as we keep our family in tact. That's what matters. I have a wonderful husband on my side that continues to pray with and for me and says often, "I will support you in whatever choice you make." Sometimes it would be easier if he would just take over and make my decisions for me. :-) I am blessed. Oh ya, and as blessed as I am, I may be going to jail. (This is such a strange thing to be writing in my journal! Who'd a thunk?)
We have a family living in our basement - for about the past month or so after their house flooded. (It turns out that Pioneer Trek we went on with them was a good test for them to live in our basement). That basement apartment we bought the house for has been put to good use. We thought maybe it would be used for our extended family if they needed to move in to help Jason if I was locked up. (Ya, 'locked up.' Doesn't seem so impossible now. I'm trying to comprehend it, but it seems so impossible that it's funny.) Todd and Kristie came up to visit one night and we joked about jail time a bit. Jason keeps calling it a vacation. You know - away from housework, kids, bills, phone calls, messes, laundry, groceries, appointments, making dinner for 7 people every night of the week. I told him I would rather call it a mission. In our church, receiving a mission call is a big deal. The future missionary will pace by the mailbox, waiting to receive the letter from our prophet that tells when and where he or she will serve. Todd jokingly suggested that we have the judge write my sentence down and send it in the mail so I can wait anxiously by the mailbox to see where I'm going and how long I'll be gone. He joked that we could have a community party and send me off and everything. :-) I love the quote by Marjorie Hinkley, "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."