Sunday, September 28, 2014

#41 - Addressing the term "Gay For the Stay" (Journal entries through December 12, 2013)

There's a girl in here that 'Brother' was calling 'Sister' until she got transferred.  Sister is still here, so that's how I'll refer to her.  She got in trouble for passing notes a couple days ago and it landed her in The Hole (solitary confinement).  She gets a little mouthy when the guards come in to do their rounds,  something they have come to expect of her.  One of them commented to her about following the rules.  She shot back, "The only thing that ever gets me in trouble around here is loving too much."  The guard laughed, shook his head, and said, "Just follow the rules."  He knew it was true - she does get in trouble 'only' for loving too much.  It's trouble for passing notes, or for sneaking a peek out the crack in the shades of the window when the guys pass by.  I hear her make crude comments about the guards when they leave from doing their rounds in here. 

I have thought about her 'breaking the rules' by 'loving too much.'  She's not the only one.  I thought back to my child development days in college.  I've remembered how important the need for affection is.  It's so important that if a newborn baby does not get love and physical contact in the early stages of life, that the development of that child suffers - sometimes so much that nothing that is ever done for that child in the whole rest of life, will ever make up for what was lost in those first years.  I think about babies in orphanages who look deformed because bones and muscles didn't form right or eyes that show no emotion.  That's what a lack of affection does to a baby. I know these girls aren't babies,  but the need for human affection is strong.

A need for physical affection and love is so crucial in a relationship that it can make or break a marriage, a family, an individual.  That need for affection is so much a part of our being that we crave it.  God created this need so powerful that in a marriage, it would be a strength and create a desire to have babies of our own, and to pass along that love and affection to them, to snuggle them when they cry or comfort them when they get hurt. 

All of that need and desire to give affection is how God created us.  We crave it (some more than others) and it's a good thing.  But he also created commandments - the boundries of how and when it's appropriate. 

I can't attest to all these girls, but I know a lot of them have had horrible experiences when they were younger with being molested.  That commandment was broken and they are the result of someone else's actions.  For some of them, it was not just once, but several times, or for years.  Experience after experience has been heartbreaking to hear how this God-given desire was turned evil on them.  It's not surprising that the results of male after male disrespected, defiled, and humiliating one girl, she turned to other women for that love and affection she craved so badly. 

I don't know every girl's story in here - and I don't need to.  I know that God gave us commandments to keep love and affection within the bounds He has set - to be between a man and woman - to be within marriage - to be used as a strength to a marriage relationship and also as a way to create children.  For different reasons, many of these girls have turned to other women for affection.  For some, it's a choice.  For others it's the way they were from the time they were little.  Sometimes it's sexual and other times it's just being a friend.  Anything from playing with each other's hair, to sitting on each other's laps, to finding ways around the rules to be in each other's cells or shower.  The term 'gay for the stay' has been used around here - meaning while they are in here, they get affection how they can; and when they get out, they go back to dating guys. 

In other facilities I know it's a problem.  Women trading property for 'favors' or fighting for dominance in a relationship or intimidation.  That's not the way I've seen it here, and I know I would probably never survive another facility with my trusting nature.  The guards will announce 'reminders' over the loud speaker - "Keep your hands to yourself," or "No crouding around the door of another inmate's cell." 

I don't get it, I don't understand it, and I have never been around it like I have in jail (despite what the rumors say about girls that play college softball)!  One thing is for sure - it doesn't stop me from getting to know these girls, to love them, to serve them, to pray for them, and be a light even though I don't agree with what they do.  I don't have to compromise my standards or stifle my compassion for them.  They have too much good within each of them to stop me from helping them try to magnify that good.  There's a lot that we miss out on within a person if we draw a line at something we don't agree with.  I can still have compassion and not agree with what they do. 

I feel a soft spot in my heart forming for these girls.  I never, ever, ever expected that from a jail experience.  I completely realize that many of them are manipulators.  They lie.  They cheat.  They steal.  They are conniving.  They have created more havoc in their families than they should.  I'm sure their families have learned to be cautious about what they hear.  But on one level or another, Nobody... is perfect.  I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt - not to judge or try to make sense of it all.  Luckily, that's not my job anyway. 


On my last trip to the temple, I went in hoping to receive some inspiration.  I knew I'd be going to jail soon.  I didn't know all that would be before me, but God did.  As I sat in a room listening to the organ play, I picked up a hymn book.  I opened it to a song that was sung at my baptism.  I didn't expect it to bring me to tears and remind me exactly of what I was going to jail to do. 

"I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go."

It may not be on the mountain height,
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle's front
My Lord will have need of me.

But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I'll go where you want me to go.

I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea;
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I'll be what you want me to be.

Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin
Some wand'rer whom I should seek. (Enter any name of these girls here.)
O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide,
Tho dark and rugged the way, (or full of profanity)
My voice shall echo the message sweet:
I'll say what you want me to say.

By this point in the song, I was getting mushy inside.  My eyes were getting wet and I tried to fight the need to sniff. 

There's surely somewhere a lowly place (jail)
In earth's harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor through life's short day (42 short days to be exact)
For Jesus, the Crucified.
So trusting my all to thy tender care, (I'm scared of what I'll face)
And knowing thou lovest me, (For. Sure!)
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere:
I'll be what you want me to be.

By the end of the song, sitting in the temple pew, I was sobbing.  I had to get up to get a handful of Kleenex.  I had been digging my heels in, trying not to go to jail.  And after reading this song in my mind, accompanied by the feeling that's there in the temple, my feet quit digging in, and starting picking themselves up to move forward.  This is the song that I sang in my mind this morning at break outside.  I did lunges back and forth in the small fenced yard while I hummed all by myself, as the only one that goes out in the mornings after breakfast.  Forward lunges, backward lunges, side lunges, some high knees and some bum kicks to wake myself up in the freezing air.  Wish I could Pinterest a 'small apartment workout' about now for some ideas of how to workout here.  My mind is blank.  I also was trying to remember all the words to Say Love, but I get stuck in some parts.  My own voice humming just doesn't carry the same tune as when I sing along with Hilary in the car.  My off-tune throws me off and I forget the words.  When I'm humming or thinking of music, I can kind of forget where I am. 

Here's Say Love, by Hilary Weeks


I really want to pray as a group for dinner.  The 3 of us that sit at the table all pray individually, but I really want to get up the courage to ask if we can pray together.  I don't know what it is about praying together.  Something about hearing what's in another person's heart and hearing them talk to God that's a tender experience.  I just need to find the courage to ask sometime before the week's end. 


I met a new girl today in the cell right next to Karen and me.  Karen thought she saw Robin reading The Book of Mormon, so I asked her the next time I saw her reading.  I walked by her doorway and saw her laying on her stomach facing the door with her scriptures open.  When I asked what she was reading she said, "It's the LDS kind of Bible."  I said, "Aww!  The Book of Mormon?  That's one of my favorite books!"  She sat up on her bed and explained that her Dad goes to that church and he's been wanting her to read it for quite a while.  She started quoting scripture to me from the Bible like nobody's business, talking about how she's trying to cross reference things with the Bible and fit all the people together like a puzzle.  I told her to let me know if she had any questions.

So, later on she sat down at one of the metal tables next to me in the common area and started talking about it again.  Not too far into the conversation, I felt in over my head.  I know stories from both the Bible and The Book of Mormon... and I know verses that I've memorized that have really touched me, but I don't have a ton of experience fitting the historical timeline of the two books together.  I scribbled a couple notes of things I would try to find for her, just wishing I had access to

I mentioned to Robin that Karen said she could draw.  Robin said she plays around with it, but I could tell she was being humble about this possible hidden talent.  I told her that it was killing me not to have a camera with me for this whole jail experience.  I asked her if that was weird.  After laughing at me, she said no, that wasn't weird.  I asked her if she would want to draw me something from in here and she said she'd be happy to. 

I gave her a few pieces of my notebook paper and told her she could use it to start over if she wasn't happy with it, or keep the extra pieces for herself.  A short time later, she brought this picture to the doorway of my cell! 

It's a gem!  It's better than a photographed picture!  This is the work of a real live, inmate!  I was so excited that I tried not to jump up and down and hug her!  It shows the small metal table and seats bolted to the wall, the metal sink/toilet combo that's hooked together in one piece, the metal lockers to the left of the door, the metal bunk beds bolted to the wall with worn pillow cases and drab, plaid, wool blankets.  And the tiny window with thick glass that we can't even see out of - but it's cold enough to store a carton of milk in the windowsill in the middle of winter!  I love the drawing and will treasure it!  

It makes me wonder what other hidden talents are in these jail walls, going completely unused... 


Tonight I am thankful that someone else shared their talents with me.  I am thankful for music - how good it sounds in my head and even how off key it sounds coming out my mouth.  I am thankful for mail, even though I didn't get any today.  I know there's some coming.  I am thankful for visitors!  Oh man am I thankful for visitors!  I had 7 of them in the lobby all waiting to share the 20 minute visit with me.  I wish more of the girls in here got visitors.  I had worked my way through 5 of them when I could see through the glass, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law walked in the door at the farthest side of the lobby.  I never thought Jason and his brother looked a lot alike, but when I saw Chase walk in he was all the handsomeness of my husband.  It was a view I needed to see!  He sat down on the stool across from me to take his turn at the window.  I got teary.  This is the first time I have had family come visit me.  These people that come visit carry such a spirit about them.  A whole, big dose of goodness from the outside world!  I am thankful for that feeling of contrast.  I don't even care what we talk about, I just need to feel that pure goodness through the window and phone receiver!  It reminds me of the verse in Mathew that says, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
"Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

#40 - A Letter to My Jail Bunkie (Journal Entries From Dec. 11, 2013)

"Ding, ding, ding, ding!  Breakfast in 5 minutes!"  Will I ever get used to that 5:55 am announcement?  Think I could implement that at home with an intercom system?  While I'm at it, maybe I will issue 1 cup and 1 spork to each of our kids and they will be responsible to bring it with them to every meal and only wash them once a day.  Ha!  It's a funny thought, but now I sound like a jail guard.  Sometimes getting all 7 of us together for mealtime would be easier if they all had an intercom announcement and spork in hand at the appointed time. 

This morning was back to normal after the crazy transfer day yesterday.  After breakfast everyone went back to sleep, I stayed up to read and journal.  It's so quiet in the mornings.  I can actually concentrate and think.  The more I read my scriptures, the more emotion I feel.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, being in here.  That line that I've drawn between real life and this life seems to blur a little once I feel myself going soft.   Real life is the fun chaos of 5 kids, homework, laundry, helping at the school, running Bryer to appointments, homework, sports practices, and bedtime routines.  This life...  I want my children to be nothing a part of.  It hurts to even think about them while I'm in here.  I so appreciate all the help of family and friends back home, but I don't want to think of someone else doing my job.  I don't want someone else helping with homework or hearing about their day at school or trying to get Bryer's needs met.  We've worked so hard with Bryer the last 2 weeks to form her lips together to say 'up', instead of 'uk' when she wants up out of bed in the mornings.  She finally got it the last 2 days before I left!  I don't want to think about her loosing that skill. 

When I read scriptures, I loose that line that I've drawn.  I get soft.  I think about them.  I get teary.   I miss Jason.  I hurt.  I remember the cute things they say and what their voices sound like.  I want to melt.  I loose my confidence that I can do this, and I remember so clearly that this is hard stuff I'm going through.  Being away from my family for these past 5 days has seemed like 5 months. 

In our house we don't say the word 'hate.'  I never set out for it to be a big, bad word, but I'll hear someone say at the dinner table, "I just H broccoli," substituting H for the word hate.  I try not to laugh in the moment, but I'm glad that the word hate is something they think about before they say it.  It's powerful.  I can honestly say that I hate being away from my family.  It's a big, strong emotion.  If I let it, it would just overcome me.  It's too easy to fall into the routine and give in to the 'hate' that surrounds me.  So this morning as I have been reading, I've decided that I have to match it with something good...  Some reason I am here...  Something I am supposed to learn or someone I am supposed to help...  Good will always, always, always overcome evil.  So in feeling that big, heavy, overwhelming sadness, I have to find the positives and feel God's plan for me here.  The easy way out would be to sleep my time away.  Avoid the feelings.  After going from Mom-mode of good chaos and running on less hours of sleep than I would hope, it would be really easy for me to go back to bed with everyone else after breakfast.  And if I'm here for me - than that's what I would do.  But I know I'm not.  God does not put us in places to let us sleep our time away... Or just 'get by'...  He expects more out of me.  Make it worth it.  Do what Jesus would do if he were here.  I've only got 1 chance at today to be completely aware of what my purpose is and what I can offer of myself. 

As I sat at breakfast today, I looked around at the girls.  Conversation is a lot quieter and less vulgar in the mornings than later on in the day.  I looked at their faces.  Their body language sitting at metal tables.  All the matching stripes.  The messy hair.  The crackley, morning voices.  In this strange place I find myself in, I had an overwhelming feeling of sisterhood.  These are not just random girls that happened to show up in this jail at the same time as me. Here I sit with these girls in the early morning and try to remember what it was like maybe before we came to this earth.  Did we all sit down together?  Did we know each other?  Were we friends?  Before we had bodies that had temptations and distractions and made mistakes, were we united?  Did we count on each other for help?  Did we make promises to help each other make it back in one piece?  What if God had to go to such great lengths to arrange my meeting with one of these girls, (I mean, really, how else would I have met these girls?) and then I was too caught up in my sadness or frustration or 'hating' my situation, to make a difference in her life?   
With that, I wrote Karen a letter after 7 am headcount.  I tucked it away to save.  I thought maybe I would leave it on the table for her to read after I left, 4 days from now.  But now that I've moved into her cell, I felt strongly that I should give it to her now.  We stayed up late last night talking and then continued more today.  We were kind of having a heart-to-heart and she said she was so glad I came when I did.  She said she was struggling.  She needed someone to be strong for her.  She needed a light.  She was feeling so down on herself for being locked up and missing her kids and regrets.  Full of regrets.  So, I handed her the letter.  She saw what it was, handed it back to me and said, "You're not even going to read it?"  Handing her the letter was enough - with me sitting here to see her reaction and not hide after I'm gone.  Now she was asking me to read it to her?  I took a deep breath and started, hoping that a confirming feeling would accompany what I had to say.   


I hope you know your potential.  If Heavenly Father were here in this cell with you He would hug you and give you a pep talk.  He would cry with you when you are missing your kids.  He would know how you feel to miss your Dad.  Maybe He could give you some insight to what your Dad is up to, up there.  Then I think Heavenly Father would give you insight to yourself - How you were before this life.  I don't remember what that was like, but I know He has saved His strongest, most valiant spirits to come now!  He knows you.  He knows your heart.  He knows your strengths and your weaknesses.  He knows you will pull through and your best side will come shining through. 

Until you get out, please know that you were an answer to my prayers.  I prayed sincerely that I would find a friend - someone whose heart was softened.  I knew I would need help and someone to show me the ropes, but I also hoped I could be of some goodness or light to someone else.  I don't know if you've felt that, but I know you've answered my half of my prayers. 

Love you!

I looked up and there were tears streaming down her face.  As naturally as it could have felt, we hugged.  Now you tell me that God did not have a plan in that!  Here I am, finding myself in stripes and orange crocs, sleeping on a top bunk with a light on all night long.  Eating food that's brought to me at 6 am, noon, and 6 pm on schedule.  Lining up like a kindergardener for the chance to go outside.  God has put all that in front of me.  And I was able to make a difference.  I think about what a strange place I am in with strange women and strange clothes.  A mission was never supposed to look like this!  But I feel very strongly that today, through that letter, that I did what Christ would do if He were here.  This morning I underlined the verse that says, "Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden."  Isn't that our purpose?  To strengthen those around us...  Be a light... Be an example... Don't hold any goodness back... Treat others with compassion...  Reach out to others that need a friend... Even in the very strangest, very hardest circumstances.  No, not even in those circumstances...  Especially in those circumstances! 


Today I borrowed a Bible from another inmate.  As I scanned and flipped pages, waiting for something really inspirational to hit me, I came across a verse that was underlined.  Phillipians 4:11 says, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."  The part 'be content' was underlined several times.  In the margin I read a handwritten note that said, "Topical Guide - Thief."

'Thief' isn't in the Topical Guide at the back, but as I flipped the surrounding pages, the page with 'theft' had a bookmark in it.  I don't know what this inmate is in prison for or even if these were her notes and underlines, but I had a glimpse into the internal struggle of someone trying to overcome  temptation, all through a couple sections marked in a set of scriptures.  This struggle between stealing and being content with what she has.  It's thought provoking. 

With that provoking thought of being content with very little, I received my store commissary today!  I've never been so happy for my own shampoo, conditioner, brush, and a treat of hot chocolate!  I 'paid Karen back' and squeezed some of mine into her containers that she had let me borrow.  She didn't even mind that the 'flavors' of shampoo mixed.  :-) 

Mail came again today.  I don't know how I made it through the weekend without mail, now that it comes daily on the weekdays!  I got 4 letters today, including a 5x7 of my family!  I *may* have let out a little squeak when I saw it.  Oh I miss those faces!  And I can just hear Bryer's giggle!  I tried not to tear up.  In strong contrast, it's in color!  Everything here is so monotone.  White walls.  Grey metal bunk beds.  Grey concrete floors.  Stainless steel tables.  Dark colored bedding.  And then my family picture arrived!  Karen noticed I had a picture of my family and asked to see it.  I kind of have mixed emotions about having their picture in here all of a sudden.  I'm so, so, so excited to see their faces and have something to look at when I'm missing them so terribly, but I also don't want my kids exposed to anything in here - like having their picture in here would really expose them.  It's a silly thought, but I'm so conflicted about it.  I showed it to the girls that were sitting around me and then I put it away.  It's part of my real life that I don't want to mingle with this life


One of the officers came in an announced today that he found a spork out in the rec yard outside.  He asked if we needed a cell toss.  The girls repeatedly assured him that we didn't.  (I learned later that a cell toss is when the guards come in and go through whichever cells they want, looking for anything that doesn't belong.) 


I now have more compassion for Sawyr.  Making the bed on the top bunk is hard work!  I used to get frustrated at him that he wouldn't just get it done, or that his blankets weren't just right.  Now I know.  And I will give him a big ol' hug when I get home.  Maybe I won't even ask him to make his bed anymore.  :-) 


In the movies they show inmates making marks on the wall, marking days off to keep track.  I guess it was bound to happen.  Today I started mine.  It's not on the wall though, it's in my journal.   Today I asked Karen about Good Time that I read about in the jail handbook.  She said once I have served 25 days, I can request Good Time, which is 5 days for every 30 off my jail sentence for being a good inmate!  Even the possibility of having to spend 5 days less in here had me excited!  I've started planning out my dates to be done!  42 sentenced days minus 5 days good time, equals 37 days total, minus the 5 days I've already been here, equals 32 left!  Like a young girl with a crush, I want to doodle '32' all around my paper. 


I've had some thoughts in the past months of sharing my story from the beginning.  I even talked to my mom and Jason about it.  The thoughts have come and gone, but now the thought won't leave.  I've been praying about it.  Honestly, it's scary to me.  I would have to go back to my journal and re-live the day Bryer went to the hospital, remember how hard it was to watch her be intubated, remember what it was like to have our kids taken from us, the trauma of Christmas that year, and all the judgments the doctors made.  That might be the worst part.  How can I put myself out there?  Expose myself to anyone and everyone that wants to read it?  Maybe that's no one.  Maybe no one cares what happened or how we made it through.  What if they don't believe me?  What if I have to face more ridicule or judgments? 

Even as I write this, I feel negativity creeping in.  I know that God does not bring negativity.  That comes from the adversary.  Satan tells us that we can't, not to try, to just give up, to just sleep away opportunities.  I know there is so much good that has come from all of this.  God has been with us from the very beginning.  He's provided miracles in our lives, working out the timing and circumstances exactly how we needed them.  The lessons I have learned are invaluable to me.  I will pray tonight with more willingness to share my story, if that's what God would have me do.  It still feels a little silly to me.  It's just my journals.  I guess it doesn't matter.  If God wants me to share, then I will. 

For more unity in the blog, I'll skip ahead to the journal entry the following morning... 
I woke up thinking about a name for a blog, feeling so comfortable about the idea of sharing myself with anyone who wants to read my journal.  The Bryer Effect was a title my mom had suggested a while ago, thinking I should write a book.  I've co-authored a book before.  It was a lot of work and turned out to be something we just sold to our friends and family.  A blog seems less overwhelming - and those that want to read wouldn't have to pay for it.  If someone else can receive help or inspiration or perspective by our hardship, then it's worth it to me to share.  This morning I started thinking of the double meaning.  Bryer is our sweet little girl that has accepted all life's challenges as they were given to her and does it with bouncy curls and a cute little giggle.  She's overcome a lot of the odds and is so much better than the doctors ever predicted her to be.  But a briar - a thorn - is not always so easy to have a good attitude about, as Bryer has.  Getting caught up in a briar patch would be a struggle.  The more you fight to get free, the more you get tangled and scratched up.  Maybe the best way not to get tangled - have patience and faith and look for the good, however hard that is to actually do in real life.  And in the process, we are stronger because of Bryer (or briar patches in life). 


I doodled today and created a reminder for myself.  Wish I had some crayons or colored pencils.  Karen said if I want color for my picture, I have to order skittles or M&M's from store commissary.  They soak a few pieces of candy in a little bit of water and then use a stick of rolled up toilet paper or the cotton part of a tampon to 'paint.'  The M&M's are flat colors and the skittles dry a little bit shiny.  Oh the things I learn in jail!  Maybe I'll 'paint' with Piper when I get home when skittles are a little easier to come by. I hung it up with a piece of the back label from my shampoo (you can see along the top).  The mind is a powerful blessing! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

#39 Transfer Day and My First Jail Bunkie (Journal Entries Through December 10, 2013)

I like peanut butter.  And I like oatmeal.  But this morning I learned that I don't like peanut butter in my oatmeal.  The inmates that cook from the other cell block do a pretty good job of mixing things up in here.  I know their resources are very limited and they try their best to fix a variety. 


Some of the girls started packing last night, even though we don't know who's leaving.  Appearantly this is the highlight of the week.  Today is transfer day.  I've learned that each week some girls leave and some new girls come in.    Most everyone went back to bed after 6:00 breakfast, I got some quiet time for reading and journaling, and then after 7:00 headcount everyone was up.  Pacing.  Watching TV.  Filling up on extra coffee.  Packing.  Showering early.  Layering their extra clothes in hopes they can keep them at their next destination.  The tension and strange energy has been a little much this morning.  It kind of makes me tired and want to go back to sleep, but I'm kind of curious about it all.  Some girls are hoping to leave and others are really nervous about leaving.  I don't understand it all. 

This is considered a state hold for prison inmates.  (And I thought I was 'just' going to jail?!)  This little community wouldn't keep the jail full on its own, so they contract out with the state to house those that are fluctuating between rehab programs or waiting to see a judge, or a 100 other situations that they get transferred here.  So here I am in jail with prison inmates.  When we lived in town, I thought it was for inmates that were on 'good behavior.' 

One of the older ladies is really hoping to be transferred.  Her son is serving time in another facility south of here and somehow she thinks he's being transferred today too, so she's hoping to be able to see him in passing.  (Who is being transferred is kept so hush-hush, that I don't know how she would know he's being transferred in the first place, as well as herself.)  She said it's also his birthday today, so if she gets to see him, she will know there's a God.  (If that's what it takes to know there's a God, personally I think she's looking too hard.)  She's been pacing back and forth all morning...  Asking the guards if they know who's leaving yet and when they'll tell us...  Hoping she's getting transferred...  Hoping her son is getting transferred...  Hoping to see him...  Hoping to yell happy birthday to him...  Even though the transferring inmates are not supposed to talk to each other, she said it will be well worth the punishment to yell "Happy Birthday" to him.  I can't imagine so many things lining up for her to meet all her expectations, but more power to her if they do.  I'm just realizing again and again what a bubble I have lived in... And so thankful for my bubble! 


With all the talk about transfers, I really hoped Karen wouldn't be transferred.  She said because she's only been here a couple weeks, she should stay until she's ready to go before the judge again.  With that as the start of our conversation, we talked about being 'bunkies.'  I have to say that the tension of transfers is getting to me too - and I even know that I'm staying put!  What makes me nervous is having a new girl move into my cell with me.  It's kind of a toss up with what kind of girl I would get.  Karen and I decided to put in kites (the paperwork) to request that we share the same cell.  We both added on the kites that we'd like to move to cell 3 if it's available (so that we can see the TV from our bunks).  I just laugh at the little things that make these girls' day! 

By the end of the day I was approved to move into Karen's cell, but the girls in cell 3 weren't being transferred out, so we'll stay in cell 2.  The older lady got her wish and was transferred.  Brother also got transferred today.  I happened to have the Yahtzee game sitting in front of me at the table and she ran over and wrote on the pad of score sheets, "I will miss you guys!" over and over on half the score papers.  


I also got up enough nerve to put in a kite (paperwork) to apply for a jail job!  Kinda nervous about filling out a 'job application' of why I should be the... (drum roll!)... jail seamstress!  Really it just consisted of a paragraph explanation of why I want the job and what my sewing experience is.  After hearing the girls talk, they said no one in the block has experience sewing.  (What?!)  One of the girls heard that I have sewing experience and assured me 'job security' if I got the job.  They use strings and thread from their clothes for all kinds of things - hair bands, friendship bracelets, markers to use with their crocheting, etc.  As a result, the seamstress always has work to do - you know, job security.  I just have to laugh! 

The specific guard was finally on duty to approve my store-bought items.  I can't believe how excited I am to be approved for a few simple items!  Shower shoes... so I don't have to shower in my orange crocs anymore.  I don't dare shower in bare feet now that I know better!  CD player with headphones... Thank goodness for something else in my ears besides what I've been hearing!  3 CD's... Hilary Weeks in jail, here we come!  Pictures from home... Even just one would be fantastic!  Crochet hooks and yarn... to help me keep my sanity and give me something to pass the time!  At this point, the things I have ownership of consist of a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small deodorant, a small black comb, pack of paper, a few envelopes and stamps, and my clothing I came in with. 

Store commissary should come tomorrow or the next day.  Looking forward to my own shampoo, conditioner, hair brush, and hot chocolate mix!  By going through store commissary, plus the 10% store fee, 25% commissary fee, and 6% sales tax, these 4 items should cost me about $20.  And those aren't even name brands! 


The Captain called me out and asked me to come with him down the hall.  I've learned by watching that most of the girls get up tight and nervous if they get called out.  Not me!  I would much rather go than stay - even if it's just for a few minutes!  He took me through 3 locked doors.  All the doors around here sound like they are slamming since they are heavy metal.  We stopped in a room with a desk.  He scanned the shelves on the wall, looking for a specific book, and then handed it to me.  He asked if I would like my own copy.  I felt like I had hit the lottery!  In my hand I held my very own copy of The Book of Mormon!  I could highlight, add notes, connect references from the Bible... heck, I could do whatever I wanted with it!  Add it to my small list of things that are my very own!  My spoken "Thank you" was hardly enough to show my gratitude for his thoughtfulness. 

I also asked him if I would be able to leave my things here between 'visits.'  I don't want to have to buy shampoo, conditioner, a brush, etc. everytime I come and go.  He said that would be fine.  I also explained that I don't have access to call Jason when I leave.  Since it will be late when I check out, and more than likely will also be snowy, he said I could use the phone in booking, (You know, the 5 minute phone call each person is aloud to make when they are booked?) to call and let him know I'm on my way. 

Once I got back to my room I flipped through the pages, trying to remember thoughts that had come to me as I read before and couldn't mark verses.  Some of the first several pages inside the front cover were pictures.  Without even hesitating, I tore out the picture of Jesus.  I needed to find a place for Him where it was visible to me every day.  I need His example, His strength, His tenderness with me!  Like the hymn goes, "I Need Thee Every Hour."  I used toothpaste to stick Him to the wall where I could see Him. 

I marked in my scriptures part of 2 Nephi 2:8.  It says, "...there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life..."  I added in the margin, "Christ did not just die for our sins, but felt our pains and heartaches and sadness too.  He knows exactly how we feel."  I need Him and His atonement just as much as every one of the girls in here. 


Last night one of the girls asked if I wanted to workout.  It was kind of one of those moments where I looked behind me, thinking she couldn't have been actually talking to me.  Maybe I was mistaking the invitation for the girl behind me.  Not because I don't like to workout, but because up until now, none of the girls have really paid much attention to me.  I stick to myself, and if I need something I ask Karen.  There are a couple that I've talked with individually, like the girl who didn't have anyone to sit with at lunch.  (I have continued to sit at her table, and then Karen started joining us.)  I kind of just feel like a fly on the wall in here, which maybe is not a bad thing.  I'd rather not draw attention to myself.  But now this girl was asking if I wanted to workout with her.  Being ripped out of my bubble, I've observed long enough to know that she was one that didn't scare me nearly as bad as the other ones. 

As I write and think about how to describe this girl, there's a line drawn in my mind about her as a human being.  As humans, we have 2 parts.  We have a body and we have a spirit.  We received a body when we were conceived.  We gained parents as a result.  Our bodies are tempted with all kinds of things and we learn to overcome (or give in) to those things.  Our spirit, on the other hand, is much older than our body.  Our spirits lived with God, the father of our spirits, before we were born, as it says in Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee."  We are each given attributes, talents, and traits that are unique and will help us overcome the temptations our bodies endure. 

So as I have this line drawn in my mind, there are 2 ways to describe this girl.  By reading her body language, listening to her past, observing her interactions all could lead me to describe her outward appearance.  She has long, shiny brown hair and is a pretty girl, maybe 30ish.  She's creative with the hairstyles she practices on herself and some of the other girls.  She's missing a couple of back teeth, but not noticeable unless she smiles really big.  She makes passes at the other girls and talks about her girlfriend, but in the next breath talks about how hot the guy inmate is in the other block.  I don't understand it, but I also don't have to.  I'm not here to judge or try to 'figure her out.' 

What really intriges me is the other part of her being - her spirit.  There's so much good inside her.  The way she talks about her past is awful.  Things that no human being's spirit should have to experience.  Yet she has so much ... something.  I can't put my finger on it.  Maybe it's compassion.  She can't wait for Home Extreme Makeover to come on and she stands right in front of the TV and clasps her hands behind her and sways back and forth and bawls with the family when they talk about why they need a new home, and then bawls again when they get to see their new home.  She completely intrigues me - because people with a past like she has - watching her mom inject heroine into her arm or sell her body, seem to become hardened and emotionless.  They learn to put up walls around their heart and their spirit.  She has kept her compassion in tact - very obviously a God-given attribute.  And a lot of it.  She's not afraid to cry or show how she feels.  But when she talks, I feel like she doesn't have the tools to change, but her spirit's desire is there.  She's been through this system for a lot of her life and she's learned to survive.  With all the awful things her body has had to endure, witness, experience... all the poor choices, addictions, and broken family...



It makes me want to rewind to when these girls were little.  I want to take away all the pain and hurt and frustration and temptations they have had.  Start new.  I guess that's how God still sees them.  With repentance and turning away from their old ways, accepting Christ, they can be Moldable.  Clean.  Pure.  It seems like such a huge mountain for each of them to climb - and I'm not even in their shoes! 

So, we worked out.  We did lunges.  And some abs.  I just let her lead with as much as she wanted to do.  I haven't seen anyone else workout, so I don't know how much 'movement' we're aloud to do in here.  It felt good to get a little bit of physical activity in though. 


I got to sample some caramel popcorn tonight.  Yes, caramel popcorn in jail!  These girls get pretty creative with their items that they can order from store commissary.  It was actually microwaved popcorn with caramel ice cream topping squirted all over it.  I don't know if it would have tasted so good if I had access to other treats, but in here it was delicious!  One of the girls made it in the common area and offered me some.  Karen filled me in later on 'jail etiquette,' that if something is in the common area, it's nice to offer some to others, but if we take it to our room to eat then it's all ours.  Even though that's not what it says in the handbook (no sharing at all), all the girls seem to get along pretty well with etiquette.  Karen said she'd fill me in on all the jailhouse recipes.  (Now THAT would be a good Christmas gift from the heart, right?!) 

Other jail-isms that I've heard...

"I didn't get home until 11:00 last night!"  (which really means they didn't go back to their cell until the regular lights-out time of 11:00.) 'Home' will never be here.  I feel so sad for the girls that consider this their home. 

"Don't be walking main street looking for a fight!"  (Main street is the area right in front of the bottom 4 cells.)

"Who did the drive-by?" (Passing gas as you're walking by)  And in a jail full of girls, this happens more than I'd like to think and there's no escaping the smell!  There's conversation flying when the cooks bring in hard boiled eggs as part of the meal. 


In four days of being here, I have heard more hard core profanity than ever before in my whole life combined.  But there's always a silver lining.  Always.  Today Karen swore, like she often does, and for the first time - she apologized to me.  I never asked her not to swear.  I didn't tell her the swearing bothered me.  I didn't ask for an apology.  In fact, I am learning to really like her anyway, despite the swearing.  The apology was a nice gesture and maybe showed some growth on her part.  Most of the girls here seem to have a hard time looking outside themselves, and to notice those around them, let alone think of other's feelings.  I certainly didn't need an apology.  I don't expect people to change for me.  But for her to take notice and be sensitive to another human being's feelings showed progression.  Today, it just happened to be me. 

Tonight's Update:  After getting up the nerve to 'apply' for the jail seamstress position, I was denied.  (Who gets denied for a jail job?!)  I tried not to be too depressed.  Their explanation was that I am only here for a short amount of time.  I thought I was going to have something to fill my time.  Crochet hooks and yarn are a necessity now! 

Tonight I go to bed in my new cell with my new bunkie.  I'm on the top bunk now.  And since they never turn off the lights, I will use one of my socks to cover my eyes from the light that's 2 feet from my face.   My prayers tonight are gratitude for my safety, a continued friendship, and a sock.  Things could always be worse! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#38 - Feeling and Sharing His Love - in Jail! (Journal Entries Through December 9, 2013)

I have to admit that when I knew I was going to go to jail, like a new missionary, I hoped that I would sweep them off their feet and they would all be praying and reading the Bible by the end of the first day.  And then I'd remember - it IS jail.  These girls are here for some pretty rotten things.  But then my faith would overturn my fear and I'd feel that God was preparing them.  And then I'd realize my pride and be put back into my place of humility.  This conflict has continued.  I am soaking all of this place in.  I'm looking for the goodness in the middle of a lot of bad language and inappropriate discussions.  And today...  I learned that God has never intended me to swoop in and teach every one of these girls.  What I do feel is His hope for me to touch just one of them, or to be the ear to listen to an individual hurt or during one specific time they need a friend.  Sometimes He works in huge, grand ways, but more often He works softly, quietly, and subtly on an individual basis. 

This morning when I was reading scriptures my mind began to wander.  I used to think it was a bad thing when my mind would wander when I read from the scriptures.  Then I learned that God may be using that time to communicate with me... The thoughts I feel are His messages to me.   I spend plenty of time praying to Him, but how often do I sit and listen and feel his answers to me?  Today my mind wandered to the parable of the lost sheep.  Christ was willing to leave the whole flock of 99 sheep to go after the 1 that was lost.  I sat at the metal table wearing my stripes in the quiet of the morning in a chilly jail with my books open, but not really reading.  Just feeling... and listening to what I felt.  I felt very strongly that I am in the middle of a lot of girls that are hurting.  They have caused a lot of pain.  And hurt people closest to them.  With a lot of regret.  They are the lost sheep.  No, not the lost sheep.  His lost sheep.  Is it strange for me to write that I feel honored to be in jail?  I'm still scared.  I still don't sleep great at night.  I still don't let many emotions show.  But I can't explain the feeling of protection I have here.  I feel the Holy Ghost so strong.  Maybe it's the physical power of prayers from others?  Maybe it's the positive thoughts and good vibes?  Maybe it's the love of my Savior?  I still don't understand my purpose here, but I'm settling into the routine of things and learning about these girls.  I have no doubt that inspiration will come when I'm ready to receive it.  So that's what I pray for...  I don't know what these girls need, but God does.  He knows their needs, their hurts, their temptations, and also their strengths, their loves, their wants.  And if He feels confident enough in me to allow me to be here, then the least I can do is open my mouth and show these girls the love that He feels for them. 


There was drama in here this morning when the guards came to wake up 2 of the girls and take them out.  It was after breakfast, but before 7:00 am headcount.  At count there was only 10 of us, rather than 13.  Listening to the girls, I learned that Brother was out doing laundry, so we were all accounted for.  It did cross my mind that someone had escaped, although I don't know how that would happen.  But the girls were worred about the 2 that were pulled out.  The officers came back in and cleaned out a bunch of stuff out of their cells.  There went the rest of my quiet time for the morning!  After a while they brought the girls back in and then heard the guards talking to one of the guy inmates out in the hall.  Appearantly one of the girls left her coat in the common area over night and one of the guards took it and found a note from one of the guy inmates.  I'm so naïve, I have no idea how they can pass notes between inmates in a different cell block!  The girls got a bunch of 'privileges' taken away.  No more phone calls.  No commissary.  No library privileges.  (I learned later that anywhere there's an area that both the male and female inmates visit, notes can be passed... The library and outside were the most common.)  They talked about their 'boyfriends' on the other side of the wall, hoping for a glimpse of them as they walk by the window to pass by outside or to the library or even an outside visitor.  Some of the guards are strict about closing all the windows before the girls and guys have a chance to see each other. 


Today Dolly and I talked quite a bit.  She shared her frustrations in being here.  She said she was going along just fine at another facility, and then 2 weeks ago they uprooted her and transferred her here.  This jail was full when they transferred her, so she spent 2 days in a holding cell all by herself without anything to do.  I've been in that holding cell when they booked me.  It's like being in one of our cells without being able to get out.  She said she spent a lot of time bawling in there, wondering why she would be transferred here when it's already full, and being bored out of her mind.  As I heard her talk, I knew that during the weeks before I came, I was praying specifically for someone in jail to 'show me the ropes.'  She was that person - the answer to my prayers.  She let me borrow her shampoo and conditioner to wash the lice chemical out of my hair, she lent me her pen and paper so I could journal until I had my own.  She fills me in on what to expect and gives me someone to sit by when we eat meals.  She has given me a friend, even as close as the cell right next to me, to ask questions that I'm too scared to ask anyone else.  She tells me who's who and what to look out for. 

Still frustrated, she told me at that point, "I still don't know why they have transferred me here!"  I blurted out, "I know exactly why... Because I was praying for a friend.  Someone to show me the ropes.  I needed you here."  She looked at me for a minute and I blinked back my tears - my first emotions that have been shown in 3 of some of the longest days of my life.  She wasn't as good at blinking back tears.  She tilted her head and slowly said, "Thank you."  I explained to her why I needed her here right now and how she has been a help to me.  (Who knew in all my self-sufficient pride, I would need another inmate?!) 

I can connect to her in more ways than she knows.  There have been so many times in the past three years that I also questioned "Why am I here?  What's my purpose for going through all this hard stuff?"  Just as I needed an answer to my prayers for a friend 'on the inside,' maybe I can also be an answer to someone else's prayer.  That is a good place to be!  Now, I'm not so naïve to think that these girls don't just 'say things' to manipulate or get something out of someone.  But I also have to let go of those judgements to an extent.  I can't constantly question motives.  I'll leave that judging up to God and rely on the Holy Ghost to warn me. 

It sparked a good conversation between Dolly and I.  She said she has missed her family a lot.  At Thanksgiving they have a tradition where they go around the table and say what they are thankful for.  She sent her 'thankful moments' home in a letter to be read at the dinner table. 

Dolly said she'd really like to go back to church when she gets out.  Then she looked down at her arms of tattoos and said, "But people at church don't really look like this, do they?  What would people say if I really showed up at church?"  I told her about a girl named Al Fox, who goes by the nickname The Tattooed Mormon.  I summarized Al's story of how she does just that - she goes to church each Sunday - with arms covered in tattoos - with a smile on her face.  She speaks to crowds to motivate them not to judge others.  It's not encouraged for LDS people to have tattoos, but if we are practicing Christian behavior, then we won't think twice to include someone new - tattoos or not.  Man, my thinking has changed already since my scary experience at Probation Orientation!  My prayers were for the future day when Dolly would find the courage to step inside a church building again.  I hope she feels the love of her Savior through the people there.  I hope she feels welcomed with open arms.  I prayed for God to send words to the mouths of those people that they will know how to respond to her and help her know she is loved by Him! 

(I didn't re-write Al Fox's story in my journal, but here it is on YouTube.) 
After our long discussion, I asked Dolly if I could call her by her real name.  Not a name dictated by a tattoo, or by a name known by her so-called-friends on the outs.  She smiled and said she would love for me to call her by her real name, and the thought had actually passed through her mind, but she didn't know how to bring it up.  From that day forward, I called her Karen.


Tonight we watched Bonnie and Clyde all together.  It's the first time, other than meal time, that all of us have been in the common area at one time, to agree on something to do together.  I don't really watch TV, nor did I have an interest in Bonnie and Clyde, but everyone else was so excited about this made-for-TV-movie, and I didn't have much else to do, so I found an uncomfortable metal seat at one of the tables to watch.  On the first commercial, Brother stood up and randomly started counting us.  She said, "Aww look!  Everyone is here!  We're all together!"  She got a little sappy about everyone being gathered together to agree on a movie to watch.  No bickering about what was on TV or if it is too loud or who had a turn to watch what they wanted already.  Funny that she would notice and actually do a head count.  About that time I turned around to Karen and said, "This is pretty much like Family Night, right?!"  She laughed and said, "Ya, the Adam's Family!"  We had a good laugh.  Man, it feels good to laugh.  Feeling emotion again.  And realize that these girls are no different than anyone else in wanting to feel included - part of a family - something bigger than themselves - unity - togetherness - instilled by Heavenly Father.  It comes in a strange form sitting in jail all watching Bonnie and Clyde together, but it fills a need that we all crave.  For some of them, jail is the best place to find it.  The movie continued after the commercial and the girls hooped and hollered, rooting for Bonnie and Clyde to make their escapes.  I just laugh inside.  This has got to be the strangest mission ever!   


This evening I read a quote from The Miracle of Forgiveness that really got me thinking.  Spencer W. Kimball writes, "There is a prevalent, perhaps subconscious, feeling that the Lord designed repentance only for those who commit murder or adultery or theft or other heinous crimes.  This of course is not so.  If we are humble and desirous of living the gospel we will come to think of repentance as applying to everything we do in life, whether it be spiritual or temporal in nature.  repentance is for every soul who has not yet reached perfection." 

I had to read it and re-read it a few times.  It's something I've known, but maybe not applied as well as I could.  I have spent the last 3 years 'proving' my innocence.  Stating that I have done nothing wrong.  Over and over again.  I have done nothing wrong.  Although it's true - I am innoscent of what I have been charged of - I am not perfect.  I am human.  If I am willing to work for the relationship I want with God, then there's some minor things that have slipped past me without repenting of.  For me, it's not repenting of bad things I have done, but more about repenting and setting myself up to do better in the good things I have not done.  I am not always diligent in my scripture study.  I forget to start my day with prayer.  I lack patience with my kids on occasion.  I am not as organized as I could be.  I choose to eat food that's not always the best for me.  It's nothing close to 'murder or adultery or theft' like Spenser W. Kimball writes about, but it's those things I could do better at that I can apply repentance to.  For that thought, I am thankful.  3 years is a long time to continue to say, "I have done nothing wrong," when I am human.  I make mistakes.  I get my priorities mixed up.  I get forgetful.  And I am thankful for a God that hears and understands and makes it possible for me to do better. 

I know I will be judged for what I know.  I will be held accountable for that.  The girls in here will also be judged for what they know individually.  I am thankful that God holds us each to our own level of accountability.  It wouldn't be fair for me to be held accountable for what they know, nor for them to be held accountable for what I know.   


Today the guards brought in mail!  They don't deliver mail on the weekends.  I wasn't really expecting anything since I've only been here for the weekend, and I didn't really know the process for mail to tell my family before I came in.  I got mail anyway!  My Mom and Grandma both sent me mail - postmarked the day I left, of course.  They are so on the ball!  I needed encouragement.  I needed my family - without feeling like they are here with me.  I couldn't see my Mom's or my Grandma's face, but I held a card with their handwriting.  Mail filled that need.  A few of the other girls got letters too. 

In my Mom's letter was a small card the size of a business card that she wrote a message.  The message paired with my Mom's familiar handwriting brought a strong reminder,

"Only God can turn
A TEST into a TESTimony,
A MESS into a MESSage,
A TRIAL into a TRIumph!"

This small card remained on the inside of my locker for the entire time I served.  I wish I had a picture of it to post, but I passed the card on to another deserving inmate at the end of my sentence before I left. 


Today marks 17 days until Christmas.  My Christmas card is not written yet.  So I tried to start writing it tonight.  How exactly do I start writing a Christmas card after the year we have had? 
Can I summarize our basketball and soccer seasons, piano lessons, therapy progress, and hunting trips without mentioning all the hard stuff?  A lot of our friends have been following our progress, but a lot don't know anything.

Another year closes and I write this card from jail.  Too abrupt. 
We've had an interesting year.  Hasn't everyone?  Maybe that's an understatement. 
We are thankful for our Savior, especially this time of year.  True, but too cliché. 
I'm writing this card from jail trying not to pay attention to all the cussing outside my jail cell and girls making passes at each other.  I'll just laugh at that possibility.  Now there would be a funny Christmas card to read!  I think this task on my To Do List may have to wait until I get home. 

However, on my To Do List in here, I need to get approved for crochet hooks asap.  It may save my sanity to have something new to learn and something to create!  There's a few of these girls that have said they will teach me to crochet, so I just need to get my own supplies sent in.  It's better than sleeping and watching whatever they decide to watch on TV. 

There's a specific process for everything in here.  Like I learned when I was booked in here, I couldn't bring my own books or scriptures.  They have to be sent in brand new from Amazon or another online store.  There's a list of things we can ask to be approved to have.  Among the list is shower shoes, crochet hooks, yarn, a blanket of our own, a small rug, pictures no bigger than 5x7, a cd player, cd's, and a few other things.  I'm turning in my request for hooks, yarn, a blanket so maybe when I'm out in between I can buy them online to be sent in.  The other girls have to call family or friends to have them send items in.  Most of them feel really bad about asking people on the outs to buy them things.  I don't think those on the outs understand how much we go without in here. 

There is also a list of items we can buy on store commissary.  The guards go once a week to the store to fill our requests.  I had no idea it was such a process to get a hold of some cheap Suave shampoo and conditioner!  I've also requested hot chocolate mix.  A girl has to have some chocolate to make it through this place!  I've also learned that with shampoo and conditioner I get 'free' secret tape.  The girls use the labels off the bottles to tape pictures up on their walls or to tape string to the table to make friendship bracelets.  Every single item they get in here is saved and repurposed.  No wonder Martha Stewart did so well in jail!  If she can do it, I can totally take it on! 


One last side note from my day:  Last year a harvested corn field by our house accidently caught fire.  It spread up over the hill toward us and threatened our house.  The farmer that owns the field called in the other farmers in the area to disc a line in the field around our house to create a fire barrier.  The fire fighters evacuated our house and we had to stand and wait to see what the fire would do.  There was smoke damage, but the farmers saved most of our property!  As I was cleaning my cell late this morning, I heard a familiar voice come over the TV.  I had to stick my head out to see if it was really him.  My neighbor that had called in for help to save our house was on a potato commercial!  I have never been so excited for a familiar voice!  A reminder of a little bit of normal!

In the process of cleaning our home of smoke damage, women from church came to collect all our smoke-smelling-laundry - clean and dirty - to wash at their own homes and return it once our house and been professionally cleaned.  In the rush to get everything out of the house, I remember being so embarrassed thinking someone had our underwear and whites at their house to wash. 

This jail experience has beat the humility of that experience.  Today was laundry day.  Brother is the head laundry worker.  Although she's the 'guy' of the group, she's really good at keeping everyone's sizes straight, keeping us stocked with clean stripes every other day, and pressing the guard's uniforms for the next shift.  I have been hesitant to drop my mesh bag of whites in the laundry though.  I got the courage up to talk to her when she was alone.  I told her she could just wash and dry my whites and leave them in the mesh bag for me to fold.  Oh no, that isn't the way she does things.  Brother brought me back my pile of whites washed with bleach, dried, and all folded in a nice, neat pile.  All I could do was laugh to myself.  Tonight I will thank God for clean laundry, however that humbling blessing is supposed to come!  3 days down.  6 more to go before I get a break to return to my family and rejuvenate for my next week in jail!