Sunday, February 22, 2015

#62 - What Jail Taught Me About Being a Child of God (Feb 26, 2014)

My whole life I have been blessed with a knack to sleep soundly through anything.  As a little girl I could be found asleep in a pile of books or under my bed.  Who knew that that would have been so useful - in jail?!  I sleep through snoring, talking, guards making rounds, heavy metal doors shutting, and my Bunkie using the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Nearly every morning I have been in this jail I wake up refreshed and ready to "Wake up and be different." 

But in the middle of the night last night, it was different. 

Maybe the bad dream sounds silly to most, but to me it was so real and actually scary.  In my dream I was driving down the freeway with all the kids in the suburban.  We got to the exit where I needed to turn off to get to my sister-in-law's house.  It's the last exit before the freeway goes into the neighboring state.  I turned on my blinker to get off the exit, and started to turn the wheel, but it wouldn't budge.  The car would not turn to get off the freeway.  I tried slowing down to give myself more time to get off, but the break pedal wouldn't work either and we continued to cruise in a straight line down the freeway.  I started to panic and try to figure out what was wrong with our car.  Then I realized that if I didn't figure it out soon, we'd be headed into another state. 

I really started to panic, knowing that I am on probation and I'm not aloud to leave the state without permission from a probation officer.  No matter what I did, the car would not slow down or turn.  Soon I passed the welcome sign into the next state and my heart started to race. 

I sat straight up in my bed, breathing heavy and my heart pounding.  Waking up did not help - I'm in jail!  My mind played tricks on me trying to wake up from a dream and thinking I was still in one.  When I fully woke up to realize what was going on, it was a relief.  (Waking up in jail should never be a relief.) 

Just like I teach my kids, I rolled over and said a prayer.  I felt a warm comfort overcome me.  Despite my pounding heart, my knack for sleeping returned and I slept the rest of the night. 


In the mornings, its' peaceful.  The couple of girls that stay up with me after breakfast either read or watch TV with it turned down quiet.  It's the only time there's news on the TV - any hint of what's going on, on the outside.  The single detail that's most different in the morning is the language.  There's no yelling, no crude music, no cussing.  (I'm talking 1000s of F-bombs on a given day)  If there were a time to feel the spirit the best and recharge in jail, it's in the morning.  That's my time to read scriptures, journal, just hear myself think before the chaos starts. 

One by one, girls started waking up.  I don't know what made it so different today or why I noticed, but there was a change.  I can't say when it happened.  Was it yesterday?  When I got here?  Was it something Rachel said to the others?  There were hours that went by this morning - with everyone awake - and I didn't hear a single f-word.  Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal, but when I'm trying so hard to do what the Lord wants me to do, the language detracts from that.  It reminded me of Hilary Weeks' rice experiment.  I taught about it for our family night years ago and it's a lesson I've always remembered. 

If that's what it does to rice, imagine what happens to our minds, our bodies, and our spirits depending on the language we use.  So for a few hours today, I soaked it in and appreciated the calmness.   


Rachel and I sat together this afternoon and evening making friendship bracelets.  I made a ring for me since it bothers me that I can't wear my wedding ring in here.  A couple of the girls have made me friendship rings, but they get twisted and stretched out wearing them in here week after week.  Now I am making a matching friendship bracelet (in the manliest camo colors I could find) for Jason, just for fun.  He'll know I think of him while I'm in here.

As Rachel and I sat together, we listened to some of the girls tease one girl about being 'so old' and still want to start a family when she gets out.  (She's 30.)  I asked Rachel how old was 'too old' for her to want to start a family.  She was thoughtful for a little while, tying her strings.  Then she stopped and said, "I think this time it's now or never.  I need to be healthy by the time I get out."  She's on a 2 year countdown to make that happen.  We were quiet for a while, working on our projects.  Then she started singing a familiar song.  One I have sung for my kids a million times. 

I am a child of God,
And He has sent me here.
Has given me an earthly home,
With parents kind and dear. 

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do,
To live with Him someday.

My heart was so soft for her, hearing these words come from her mouth.  I stopped my tying and said, "I didn't know you knew that song!" 

She tilted her head kind of thoughtfully and said, "My mom used to sing it to me when I was little.  I still sing it in my head sometimes.  Or when I was Robin's roommate - she wanted me to sing her a bedtime song a couple times so I sang her that one." 

Like the verse said that I came across a couple days ago, "He shall turn the heart of the fathers (or mothers) to the children, and heart of the children to their fathers (or mothers)..."  What Rachel's mom taught her such a long time ago - she still remembers.  Through so much heartache and trial - she remembers. 

So many emotions flooded me.  I wanted to cry and reach out and hug her.  We're not aloud to hug, so instead I felt this warm feeling of the Holy Ghost around us, and I hoped Rachel felt it too.  I also had a pit in my stomach at the same time, of what I hope for Rachel.  I want her to be successful and have a family some day like she hopes for.  I want her to pass on that song and sing to her own baby.  All I could say is, "I hope you know how that song makes me feel."  She didn't look up.  She just half-smiled and said, "I know." 

It's all I can do.  I can share myself.  I can share my faith.  My love for them.  The Savior's love for them.  But I can't make them change.  That's up to them.  Sometimes I just want to fast forward life and see how it all turns out.  I want to know - did they feel what I did while I was with them?  Did it make a difference?  Was it enough to help at all?  I have such high hopes for these girls that have become friends.  It would be nice to live in La-La-Land and think they will get out, remain clean, and live happily ever after.  But the truth is that it's scary out there for them.  There are 'so called' friends on the outs.  Dealers.  They know where to go to find it.  This is their safe place.  This is the roof over their heads, the clothes on their backs, and food in their bellies.  They are safe from themselves and from the temptations.  But it's no way to live, having their agency taken away.  They aren't free to make their own choices.  I so badly want them to progress, but I can't make it happen.  That has to be their choice.  It's easy to get down in here and think, "Am I even making a difference?  Is this whole awful situation for no reason?" 


My week-day highlight - MAIL!  I opened the envelopes at the table, gave my envelopes back, and then took my stack and went to my cell to read them.  To pick a favorite would be unfair because each one is such a treasure to me.  Who takes the time to hand write letters anymore in the day of email, Facebook, and Skype? 

There was one from my mom that I especially liked and had a good laugh about.  I showed it to my Bunkie, but somehow she didn't think it was as funny as I did. 

My mom said she found this on the floor at the Fed Ex office - it just jumped out at her with my name on it.  ha ha!
And on the back of the card... A little vote of confidence!

There was one card in my stack of mail that caught me off guard and I got emotional.  I was glad to be in my cell alone when I opened it.  It was from another mom, who I don't even know.  In her card, she included a picture of her sweet family.  I have gotten mail in here from people I don't know, but it was the family picture that pulled me in.  Real, live faces staring back at me.  She shared in heartfelt detail how she has been touched by reading the blog and how well she relates to me.  She said she finds strength in how I have dealt with my situation.  Full color in a blank cell.  While I sit in here and wonder if I matter - if what I'm doing and by sharing myself is enough to help someone else - tears ran down my cheeks as I read how I have been an inspiration to her.  In my lonely, frustrating time, she was an inspiration to me.  A complete stranger.  Another mom that's doing the same dishes and laundry and kid stuff that I do - could reach out and give me a boost.  I wanted to squeeze her and let her know that she matters.  In all the day to day things - she matters!  When it seems like sitting down to take time out of her busy life to write to an inmate she doesn't even know - She. Matters!  While kids climb through her feet and the laundry doesn't fold itself and dinner may be late getting on the table.  She matters!  I have to think that God smiled down on the two of us and the connection we have made, being a strength to each other.  Me from a jail cell and her from a house of little kids. 

It is no accident that after I read this card and saw the picture of a real, live face that had been positively affected, that I opened the next devotional from another friend of mine.  With it, she included a 4x6 printed picture with the quote, "Never Postpone a Prompting," by Thomas S. Monson. 

Oh how true!  The family picture I received is a perfect illustration.  This mom I don't know had a good thought - the light of Christ - to do something that would be uplifting.  Maybe she wrote to me because she wanted me to know how she felt.  Maybe she knew it would be encouragement to me.  Whatever her reason - she followed through on that thought (that prompting).  So many times I have things pop into my head or something touch me and I think, "Oh, I'm supposed to do that because....." but the truth is, I have no idea what the reasoning God has for me in doing something.  This mom could not have possibly known the state of mind I would be in when I got her card - wondering if I matter, and if what I'm doing is making a difference.  God did know.  He knew what I would need and He used the Holy Ghost to influence a girl I had never met, to inspire me to keep going.  Keep trying.  Keep sharing.  And to help me to know that I. Matter. 

I'm pretty sure that what I wrote back to her on my loose leaf notebook paper in jail flex-pen ink was not as big of an impact as what she sent me.  It was not full color.  It was not grand or exciting to look at, but it came from my heart as I expressed my gratitude.  Someday I hope to meet her in real life. 


I have finished the next step today in The Plan of Salvation - Earth Life.

The purpose of this life has 4 parts
1- Gain a body for our spirit (which we receive at birth)
2- Be tested and tried
3- Learn about Christ, accept Him as our Savior, be baptized, and more
4- Endure to the end 

The 1st purpose is exciting.  A body!  The birth of a baby!  Hooray! 

The 2nd purpose - not so exciting to me.  Being tested means there's hard parts of life.  There's temptations and trials.  Making the right decisions.  Growing our patience.  Understanding God's plan for us, and then following that plan.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't want to obey sometimes.  (I mean, making the choice to go to jail, wrongfully accused, is not exactly fun.)  God knew there would be times that we wouldn't obey - and lots of times we'd make mistakes.  He didn't want that to keep us from returning to Him, so He sent Jesus Christ to pay for all those mistakes, if we would take His name upon us and accept Him as our Savior.  He also sent Jesus Christ to give us someone to help us.  He knows the sadness, the disappointment, the frustration, how hard it is - because he came to earth also to receive a body and be tested.  "I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me." 

The 3rd purpose -
Mathew 11:29 - "Learn of me"
Mark 10:39 - Be baptized
Acts 22:16 - Be baptized to wash away sins
Acts 10:48 - Baptism as a commandment
Moroni 7:34 - Repent, come to Christ, be baptized, and be saved

The 4th Purpose -
Mark 13:13 - But he that endure to the end, the same shall be saved
Enduring may be the hardest part.  Just plugging along.  Trying hard.  Keep on keeping on. 

It helps to know that when I sit by these girls - in stripes - at metal tables that are bolted to the cement floor - that they are here on this earth doing the exact same thing I'm doing.  They are here on this earth with a body to be tested and try to overcome temptations. 

The grouchy lady in line behind me at the grocery store.  Yup, here on earth with a body to try to overcome her grouchiness and pass this earthly test. 

The guy that passed me on the freeway and then cut me off.  Here on earth with a body to overcome trials. 

My child who sits at the table, frustrated over having to do homework.  Here on earth with a body to overcome those trials. 

It gives me a sense of being brothers and sisters.  We are all on this earth together.  At one point, we all understood that we would come to earth, receive bodies, and try like crazy to get back to our Father in Heaven.  Some have forgotten that that was the plan.  So it makes sense to me that I should try to do all I can to help those around me - be a light, do whatever I can to help them overcome those trials, be there to cry with or remind them why they are doing what they are doing - and why it's so darn hard sometimes. 

And sometimes when I feel down or frustrated and it gets to be too much - then I am reminded that there are others on this earth to also help me - to be a light to me - to sing me a song as we make friendship bracelets; or send me a card in jail - and remind me why it's hard and how to get through it.  It's because it will be worth it.  And I hope we can make it and all sit down and relax together, knowing how hard we worked to lift each other, make better choices, and link arms to make it back. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

#61 - How a Family Survives Jailtime (Journal Entry from February 25, 2014)

Today has been one of the best days in here yet.  In my morning prayer, I prayed for ways to magnify my purpose.  I am thankful for everyday, meaningful conversations.  Even if it's not for someone else, it has gotten me through it and given me a purpose to be here if I feel like I have something to share. 

Jason and I were talking when I was home the last time and he said he has had lots of discussions, especially in college with his teammates, about meaningful, eternal things.  He left those discussions feeling so good, and then he'd ask them the next week about what they talked about and they would say, "Oh ya, that.  I haven't really thought much about it."  I try to remember his experience when I talk to the girls in here.  Maybe it's more for me to grow than for them. 


Pam and I got to know each other better today.  We both go to the Bible study group together and it's a chance to see a different side to the girls they don't usually show in the pod.  She had asked for us to keep her son in our prayers as he transitions back into society.  When we got back to the cell, she shared more of her family dynamics and it made my heart ache for her.  She asked about me and pointed out the family picture I have on the side of my locker.  It's one of the first things I see when I wake up in the morning and one of the last things I look at before bed at night, and one of the few items I have in here that I think about a lot throughout the day.  She commented on what a beautiful family we have.  After hearing about the heartache of her family, I didn't want to tell her about mine.  I wanted to add her to the list of people to take home with me. 

I know, I get it.  These girls have done bad things.  They have broken the law.  I get that they can be manipulative.  They lie and cheat.  They weasel their way into and out of situations.  I'm not so nieve to think I can fix that.  But what I do see is the guilt, the pain, the weight that they carry - or some of them atleast...  Those that are truly sorry for what they have done.  Some sincerely want to change and don't know how. 

I am amazed at the conversations of God in here.  People on the outs do not talk about God as frequently as they do in here.  Many on the outs have not hit rock bottom either, with nowhere to go but up.  Is that the level we have to sink before we look outside ourselves and want something more, spiritually speaking?  Many of these ladies have accepted Christ as their Savior and call themselves Christians.  I'm so glad they have that beginning and foundation!  But that's what it is - a beginning.  I'm glad it's not my job to judge their hearts and know where they stand with God.  At the same time, I want them to have what I have.  I want them to know that when it gets overwhelming, when it gets scary, when it gets to be too much - that He is there.  Not just as a quick fix to say, "I hand my life over to you and now I'm saved, so I can do what I please, without consequenses."  I want them to know that there is unseen strength in making the right choices.  It takes effort and work and like any strong relationship, it's not easy. 

We had Bible Study tonight and talked about living obediently.  One girl commented that she so badly wants to live a 'normal' life, but she doesn't know what 'God's normal' is.  She said she turns back because she gets scared and just wants her comfort zone.  Don't we all?  Sometimes change is hard.  It's painful.  No one likes to be told they are not doing the right thing.  That's what being humble is.  Turning our pride and habits and 'comfort zone' over to God and accepting a new way.  A better way.  His way

It made me thankful for a clear cut set of standards.  Honestly, there's not a minute that has gone by in the past year that I have not needed my Savior right here beside me.  To have the privilege and feel Him near, I must be willing to live a certain way.  Drugs would change my judgment on things and come between us, so I chose a long, long time ago that I wouldn't.  I have thought about that simple decision made in a 4th grade classroom and now I see how much heartache it prevented.  Other things that would come between me and the direct influence of my Savior - Pornography.  Lying.  Adultary. Stealing.  These are things the world sees the direct consequences of and many realize they are negative influences.  But what about living the next step?  Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercise, trying to be at my best. 

I'm sitting here.  In jail.  With girls that crossed one of those lines and couldn't or wouldn't turn back. 
It gives me courage to live my standards with renewed confidence, seeing the other side.  It also makes me not want to even get close to that line.  Right now, I have my free agency to make choices as I want.  Once these girls get tangled up in the snare of drugs, alcohol, and stealing, they have lost their free agency.  The drug runs their choices.  Not them. 

Now I just get a short amount of time to spend with them while they are separated from those temptations, those trials, those things that pull them in.  I wonder a lot about my purpose is here.  What tools can I give them that will last them for when they are back out there?  How can I share the love that Christ has for them?  Not a fleeting moment of His love, but to crave His love like I do. 


A lot of these girls really like one of the songs they play on the VH1 channel in here.  It's the saddest song, but I suppose many of them relate.  There's not a girl in here that has not made a comment about how they relate to this song.  For some it has been the story of their whole life - relationship after relationship.  For others, it's just been certain relationships that have ended this way.  It has a hopeless, give-up, depressing message. 

Contrast that song with the one I listened to that reminds me so much of Jason.  I've heard Jason sing it around the house, but I've been too busy listening to Hilary Weeks that I hadn't heard the radio version much. 

Sometimes I wonder if Jason knew what he was getting into when he decided to marry me.  I've had time to reflect on our relationship and growth while I've been in here.  I have thought back to our first months being married and how grouchy I was toward him.  It was very natural for me to want to be a mom when I grew up.  I knew what that consisted of and what to expect and how to magnify that job.  A baby needs fed, burped, changed, snuggled, sang to, read to.  A basic outline.  What I didn't understand was how to be a wife.  He was a full grown, different human being.  He could take care of himself.  I loved him, but I didn't really know how to magnify my job as a wife.  We struggled in our first year as I tried to figure out what a wife was supposed to be like.  He tried his very best to keep me happy.  After being married almost a year, we found out we would be expecting a baby and things seemed to get better from there as I settled into a new role that I was more comfortable with.  Growing another human being seemed so much more natural to me than being a wife.

As I have sat here with all the time in the world to reflect, I have found myself in tears at the huge amount of love my husband has for me.  He has trusted me through this whole ordeal.  That trust did not just form on the day that Bryer went to the hospital.  It had been molded and tested for over 10 years of growing together as a couple.  Had this single event been the deciding factor, our marriage would have crumbled.  We have learned to grow together, trust each other, give not 50/50, but 100% each so that there's always an overlap for what we're willing to do for each other.  We've learned to put each other first and to make time for each other.  It hasn't been easy between doctor appointments, attorney meetings, providing for, and running a household of 7. 

It wasn't until lately that I have questioned, "What would have happened if Jason didn't believe me?"  The thought honestly never crossed my mind.  Had he not, this whole story would have taken a different turn a long time ago.  With Jason's support came his family's support, which was desperately needed.   Community support.  Our kids remaining solid in our sturdy family.  With Jason's support came a harder case for Health and Welfare to fight.  It was suggested at one point after Health and Welfare took the kids that Jason and I split homes so he could at least have them, instead of the foster care system.  While I was busy thinking of how to support my family from a different house, Jason was insisting that he stand by me.  He said that we will take whatever they throw at us - together.  Not separate.  No matter what logic or attorneys or the justice system says would help our case, he stood by me.  He reminded me that we are bigger together than we are apart.

As we struggled to keep our family together and get Bryer back, our stake president came to Jason and asked if he needed to be released from his high demanding responsibility as bishop of our church ward.  His response was, "Our family has received so many blessings.  I don't know a bishop anywhere that would ask to be released from that.  If you feel that the Lord would have me be released, then I am fine with that."  He continued to serve for another year and a half until just before we moved to a different area.  He put others in our congregation ahead of himself.  He thoroughly enjoyed serving others in that capacity.  Faithful men like my husband are blessings in their families. 

When we were in the thick of the Health and Welfare battle, we received a nasty, hurtful anonymous letter in the mail.  The writer was accusatory, hateful, and relentless at how we were going about things when this was 'all our fault.'  I crumbled.  And cried.  And felt hurt that someone would have such opinions about us.  Jason was the one that reminded me again that this person obviously does not know us and what this person thinks of us has no value.  Jason was the one to patch my heart.  When I took Bryer to the grocery store in our small town, I often wondered if the person who wrote the letter was shopping too, or if that person also had a kid at school with our kids.  Jason's words echoed every time - that this person's opinions of us have no value. 

In the beginning of our marriage, it used to bug me that Jason never showed much excitement - birthday gifts, Christmas presents, good news.  He was so even-keel that it was hard to get a reaction out of him.  I am the opposite and the littlest things will make me giggle with delight or be a cause for celebration.  I cry at commercials and songs on the radio.  I teased him about his lack of extreme emotion.  Now I know that the trait of staying grounded, unable to be excited by every little thing, is something we have needed in this trial of ours.  He has been the rock I could lean on, the logical force in meetings with the attorneys, the calm, collected one to hold us together when I wanted to fall apart. 

When Jason and I were given the choice between going to trial without our expert witnesses (with a possible outcome of 20 years in jail) or accepting the Alford plea and a possible 180 days, it was a hard decision.  20 years is a long time.  We went to the temple together to pray about it.  In the end, he trusted me.  He trusted my relationship with God enough to say, "Whatever you feel we should do, I will support you 100%." 

He was volunteering for a possible 20 years without his wife by his side and 5 kids to take care of - if that's what I felt the Lord wanted for us.  Either way he was volunteering for at least 180 days of full time work, 5 kids, a little girl with special needs, on top of practices, meal prep, homework, baths, and housework.  Yet he said, "I will support you 100%."  My heart is humble.  I don't know what I have done to deserve such a husband. 

He worries so much each time I have to leave for jail.  It was all he could do to drive me up here the one time and watch me walk into the lobby.  It was too much emotionally to come with me.  Part of being willing to give 100% is accepting those limitations.  I am not mad or upset in the least.  As much as I would love for him to come visit me, I don't want him to have that memory implanted of seeing me through a window in stripes, talking through the phone and being recorded.  I'm okay protecting him from that.  Jail is not the ideal place to show emotions - no matter what side of the glass you are on. 

Many people have said what a blessing I have been in sharing my story.  But the real blessing is the faithful, strong man that has stood as my rock.  Today I was playing solitaire when a song came on VH1 that the girls were watching.  I didn't pay much attention to it, but once the chorus played for the first time, I realized it was a song Jason has sung around the house.  Listening to the words in here made me melt into a puddle.  I listened to the song, tears streaming down my face, and then made it back to my cell to grab a roll of toilet paper, my journal, and crawl up on my bed to write.  God picked this guy out just for me.  Just for this trial.  Who would have known that after just 11 days of dating, God would answer my prayer without a doubt, that this was the guy for me?  

(I'm sharing this classier version of the song than the one that was featured on VH1 in jail.) 
When I had been Rachel's Bunkie, she had asked about Jason's reaction to everything and how things were when I got home from jail after the first time.  I told her that we sat and talked on the couch for hours after the kids were in bed.  She said she could never imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship like that.  My heart hurt for her.  Everyone should experience a successful marriage.  I can't speak for those that live with abuse or drug issues.  But I wish every marriage could feel what it's like to stick together through sweat and tears and hard times, feeling confidence in each other and doing what it takes to stick it out together.  No matter what!

I hope that someday Rachel gets that opportunity and I hope she snatches it up and runs with it.  I hope she gives it her all and doesn't look back.  I hope there's a guy out there that can appreciate all she's been through and will embrace her past along with her.  I hope someday she gets the chance to rock the role of motherhood.  Because she will!  She will be awesome if she can realize her potential. 

She told me one time, "Your life seems like a fairytale to me."  I kind of wanted to laugh.  What kind of fairytale rips kids out of their homes and sends an innocent mom to jail?   I'll own it and make it my own, knowing the full blessings that I have on the outs, and understanding the big picture.  A fairytale is what you make of it I guess.  Good things come to those that are faithful.   


Mail came today.  And I was caught sleeping.  How embarrassing!  I have it in my head that moms are not supposed to take naps.  And part of me feels a little guilty knowing what's going on at home while I'm in here with the chance to take a nap.  The guard brought my mail to me, rather than waiting for me to make it downstairs to pick it up.  He reached up to my top bunk to hand them to me, careful not to step foot inside the cell.  Then he started to walk away.  I said, "Don't you want the envelopes back?"  He shot me a smile.  "I'm not worried about your envelopes.  I'll pick them up on my next rounds."  I looked at Pam and she looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and raised her eyebrows.  Envelopes are a big deal.  People hide things in the creases and put drugs on the back of the stamps.  To say he didn't need my envelopes back right away was such a huge vote of trust! 

I got mail from 4 different states, and from 6 people I don't even know.  I am so deeply touched that people would take time out of their busy lives to sit down and write a letter to someone they don't know.  They have no idea what a strength it is to me to read and re-read their cards, letters, and the fun things they send - crossword puzzles, comics, poems.  They are doing what the Savior would do if He were here.  They are His hands. 

Among my mail, was the first letters from my kids! 

An jail-approved contraption to keep me busy...  One of the reasons why I love this oldest kid of mine! 

No little girl should have to draw a picture for her mom in jail, but this one made my day!  I especially love the detail of the lock on the jail, the guard keeping watch, and Piper in the upper right hand corner with her jump rope.   


I've been looking forward to this day for a while.  25 days down.  It seems like a lifetime and the blink of an eye all at the same time.  Today marks the day I can turn in the paperwork to request Good Time.   I have read the rule book a dozen times, making sure there wasn't any part of the requirements that I didn't meet.  I've applied for a job each time I've been here - and been turned down each time.  Being denied the jobs of jail seamstress and jail janitor at .30/hour was actually a low for me.  Not many are denied those positions.  I even saved my denial paperwork so I had proof that I had tried to get a job, in case they questioned it.  There's no word document or spell check for what I have hand written.  I wrote it out in my journal to make sure it was just right.

I am requesting good time to allow 5 days off my sentence of 42 days, bringing the total to 37.
The inmate rulebook states, "Every county inmate serving a jail sentence who has a good record as a prisoner and who performs the task assigned to him/her in an orderly and peaceful manner, shall upon the recommendation of the Sheriff and the Judge, be allowed five (5) days off their sentence for each thirty (30) days sentenced.  Housing fees must be paid in full before good time is allowed." 

I fit the description of a county inmate serving a jail sentence in this jail.  I have a good record as a prisoner.  Although I have requested a jail responsibility each week I have been here, none has been assigned to me as I am considered 'temporary.'  I have kept my cell clean and participated in the cell block cleaning on my assigned days.  I have also shoveled snow multiple times in the rec yard as well as cleaning up candy wrappers in the yard that were not mine, but felt that was the right thing to do in keeping our area tidy.  The snow and candy wrappers were not required responsibilities and done on a completely volunteer basis.  I have been an orderly and peaceful inmate.  My housing fees have also been paid in full. 

Part of me wanted to attach my job denial paperwork and the receipt that showed my housing had been paid in full.  Too many college papers I've had to site sources, I guess.  Now I wait... 


Yesterday new stripes were brought in.  So after I showered, I put on the new clothes and realized the pants were a size too small.  As I left the shower area and made it back to my cell, a couple of the girls noticed.  I said, "Ya, real funny joke Christine!"  She's the one in laundry and has the cochlear implant.  In her muted, hearing-impared vocals, she laughed and promised that she didn't do it on purpose.  She said she'd get me new ones when she went to laundry again. 

On the way up the stairs to my cell, one of the girls (who happens to come from Vegas) whistled and said she had a few dance moves to teach me in pants like that.  If this had happened the first week, I would have been mortified!  I laughed right along with her and said, "Danielle, I don't want to know any of the dance moves you have in store for me!"  I hung out in my cell until new pants were delivered, finding the sense of humor in it all. 


The next step in the Plan of Salvation is Birth.  Anyone who has held a newborn baby can feel the special spirit they have, fresh from God's presence.  For many parents it's 9 months of planning, shopping, preparing, and learning before the baby comes.  But I would guess that God takes a lot more care than just 9 months in preparing the family for one of His spirit children to join an earthly family.  I have thought about how we were prepared for Bryer before we even knew what was coming.  He sent her to a family who is patient, who loves to learn, to a mom who craves studying child development, to a dad who plays an active role with his kids, and as the youngest of 5 siblings to give her plenty of people in her face to help her grow and learn. 

I would guess that God put an equal amount of thought and preparation into sending each of these girls to the families He has.  I have thought about the revelation and Heavenly help a mother can receive.  Each of these girls' moms are entitled to that.  Of course it's easier to receive that revelation if they are close to God.  He wants these girls to succeed.  He wants them to return to Him.  I have thought about the way these girls talk about their moms and the great respect they have for those that have tried their very best to raise them the right way.  That's not all lost! 

I don't understand why someone like Crystal would be sent to a family and have to work her way through the foster care system her whole life.  I do know that God doesn't leave us helpless.  There is always a way to be better.  Always someone He will send to help us.  Like it says in the book of John, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." 


A couple of my favorite moments from today....

I sat at a table making friendship bracelets with Rachel and Christine.  We talked, laughed, and shared inside jokes.  It was like we were long lost friends being reunited.  I would have never, ever in a million years thought I would find these memories in jail.  It was another one of those moments that time seemed to stand still and I wanted to soak it all in and hope both of these girls make it.  I want to see them succeed.  I watched their genuine smiles and listened to their laughter and wanted to stop time and help them remember how good it feels to be clean and sober. 

Then tonight ended with our regular group prayer right after the med cart left.  The girls have expected me to lead the prayer, which I am happy to do, but I also love to hear what they have to say when they talk to God.  Tonight I called on Crystal to say the prayer.  I loved the phrase she used, "peace in the pod."  A couple others also commented about it after the prayer was done, which made Crystal feel good.  Tuck had some gospel questions so she came to ask me and we got out our scriptures and read tonight together.  These stripes I wear cannot contain my excitement for being here and doing what I'm doing.  I wouldn't trade this experience for anything - except maybe 5 days off my sentence to be with my family, who I am missing like CRAZY!  :-) 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

#60 - Perspective (Journal from February 24th, 2014)

"Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.  Breakfast in 5 minutes," I rolled over in my bed, realizing where I was.  And then I kind of laughed to myself.  Who does this?  Who voluntarily, innocently comes to jail one week at a time in real jail stripes, plans around the family's schedule for when jail would be a 'convenient time,' welcomes a light in the face all night long, hangs out with (and learns to love) the other inmates?  It's the chance of a lifetime.  I'm really not being sarcastic.  It really is the chance of a lifetime.  And then like clockwork, that repeating phrase that has popped into my head every morning.  Every. Single. Morning.  Wake up and be different.

I got into my locker to grab my cup and spork for the routine breakfast trade for new ones.  Pam got out of bed and said, "Man, I don't know if it was your presence or what - it probably was.  I slept better than I ever have last night!"  I thanked her for the nice compliment, and told her I was glad she slept so well.  This morning, as I made my way down to breakfast and heard all the toilets flushing, I am glad to have a Bunkie that waits for me to leave the cell before she uses the bathroom.  It's the little things really.  :-) Another week of doing the 'Bunkie shuffle' and planning around when to use the bathroom. 

The girls are all more relaxed in here this time around (or is it me?) and there doesn't seem to be all the drama and loudness that has been here before.  I think it's the dynamic of the girls that are here and it's such a relief. 

I was so glad to see Rachel still here when I got here yesterday, and she was glad to see me.  One of the first things I asked her was, "Are you getting them all ready for the talent show?"  She smiled her original Rachel smile, which warms me all by itself.  She doesn't show her teeth very often, but when a genuine smile slips out, it lights up her whole face.  She laughed at me, but admitted that they've been talking about it and she 'warned' some of them I would be expecting a talent show.  I think the idea is growing on her if she's mentioning it to the other girls. 

Was it Rachel that prompted another girl to share her artwork with me?  She is a fantastic artist using the limited supplies we have in here.  I'm amazed at the shading with a jail flex-pencil that brings her art to life.  Wild animals are her favorite to draw.  She's trying to perfect portraits.  It's definitely a God-given talent she has and she admitted that she doesn't keep much of her own artwork.  She gives most of it away.  It's just another reminder of the goodness within each person in here.  It's in there, it just has to be brought out.  She's not selfish with her talent, but willing to share it with others.  Every person has something they are good at.  It's just finding it and magnifying those talents that's the hard part. 

It gave me purpose to reading scriptures this afternoon.  I re-read Mathew 25 about the parable of the talents.  The servant that was given 5 talents, used them and multiplied them into 10 talents.  The servant who was given 2 talents also doubled his and came up with 4.  The servant that was given only one talent hid his up and was ashamed when his Lord asked what he had done with his. 

Was this servant, who was given one talent, embarrassed that he wasn't good at lots of things like the others?  Was he scared to use the talent, with the possibility of loosing what was given to him?  Either way, I don't think he saw his potential, nor did he have the confidence to explore the options.  I think about these girls - and others on the outs - that just need a little confidence.  A little push.  A little encouragement to go out and use what talent they have.  I don't know what this artist in here could do with her talent on the outs, but I know she'll never realize her full potential if she doesn't try.  It gives me renewed dedication to encourage those around me and not to be critical when they are trying new things.  It's not up to me to decide whether they have enough time or space or energy or money to try what they want to do with their talents.  If we are trying, then the Lord will provide a way. 

So after all this thinking and reading, I'm excited for a talent show.  It may or may not be this week, but it will happen.  Of all places, this seems to be the hardest place to share and explore what a person is good at.  If they can do it here, they can do it anywhere.  I've started noticing all the little hidden talents that go on in here.  The drawing.  Dancing.  Crochet.  Hair-do's.  Singing.  It's sad to me that all this talent goes unused.  Nobody has tapped into it and brought out the best.  Or they have just chosen not to on their own. 

I think about how much time I spend encouraging my own kids in their activities to find what they are good at.  Basketball, piano, helping others, scouts, soccer, compassion, music, drawing, science, and more.  I want them to feel and understand their worth and have the confidence to share whatever talents God has given them to bless those around them.  It's crazy with 5, but completely worth it!  If I've done my part and encouraged them, and they still choose not to develop themselves, then that will be between each of them and God.  I have to hand it over to Him after I've done all I can do. 


We got a fun surprise today - a lady from Mountain Life church came to visit.  She plans to start a Monday night Bible Study group, to add to the Sunday morning worship service and the Tuesday night Bible Study that the local churches put on.  They also have someone that comes every other Wednesday to lead AA.  I'm so excited for these girls to have something productive to do.  The lady that came traveled an hour to be here.  She had silky, blond hair and wore a cross around her neck.  Her voice was soft and had a soothing rhythm to it.  She introduced herself as Sarah.  She started off right away with the very best thing she could have said, "I have never been in your shoes, but I have felt the need to come and be of service to you."  For someone to say that from the general public to a room full of inmates was profound.  It's being completely honest (yes, she hasn't been in their shoes), and she was opening herself up to be completely humble.  These are women that have stolen, lied, cheated, used, and manipulated those around them.  Not generally someone you want to openly serve and risk also being lied to, cheated on, or used.  But Sarah carried with her a feeling - the light of Christ.  She did not judge.  She simply put herself out there and was willing to serve. 

At this first meeting, she didn't even realize what that service would look like, but she was willing to act.  It makes me teary to even recount it.  So many times it's so much easier if we know what God's plan is for us.  If we know what He wants from us, we feel safe.  Secure.  It's predictable.  We know what to expect.  But sometimes He asks us to serve and we don't know how it will work out, or what to say, or who to help.  For Sarah, coming to a room full of inmates, asking them how she could serve, was not the world's way of doing things.  It was God's way.  If we just move and act, He will provide the way.  It takes faith and sometimes it's scary.  For Sarah, it led her to a room full of inmates who desperately need something more in their life.

She pulled out a paper and pen and asked us each to write our name and IDOC number down.  My first thought - if she is actually going to pass that pen around, it will get taken.  It was a real pen.  Not a thin, flimsy, flexible plastic like the ones that we use that give us hand cramps - but a real, hard plastic pen.  I watched as it was passed around the table.  I felt a duty already to make sure that that pen made it all the way around and back to Sarah.  I watched as the first two inmates looked at it and gripped it in their hands, feeling the sturdiness as they wrote their names.  By the time it got to the third inmate, she said what everyone else had been thinking, "It's a REAL pen guys!"  We all laughed in agreement.  Everyone around the table had noticed - everyone except Sarah.  She looked confused until an inmate showed Sarah what we use to write with.  After it was pointed out, I didn't worry about it being taken.  Now that it was out in the open that there was a real pen in the room, it would be less likely to disappear.   

I wrote my name, but I haven't memorized my IDOC number.  I'm supposed to write it on my outgoing mail, but can never remember it.  Or maybe it's that I choose not to.  I have to look it up every month when I send off a money order for my probation 'cost of supervision' on the outs.  I have to look it up to fill out my monthly report to turn in to my probation officer.  It's just not a number I choose to remember.  My mind is full of birthdates of my kids, how much they weighed when they were born, our bank account balance, our social security numbers, and the scores of the kids' last basketball games.  Who wants to mess with remembering an IDOC number they have no use for?  I passed along the paper and real pen to the next inmate to sign in.  In the end, the pen made it safely back to Sarah. 

It's funny that the most ordinary objects are such novelties around here.  It reminds me of the time one of the guards came in with the lunch girls to monitor them passing out our meal.  The guard's cell phone started ringing from inside his shirt pocket.  Every girl in the room perked up at the sound and several of them immediately yelled, "Cell Phone!"  The guard's face got red and he quickly pushed the hush button on it.  Just the brief sound of it had made the girls so happy! 

Sarah's visit was short and direct.  The girls gave ideas of what they wanted to learn.  They tossed around ideas of getting their GEDs, tutoring, another AA class, and a Bible Study by Joyce Meyers.  They narrowed down their ideas and then Sarah left, ready with some ideas of ways to serve for next week. 


By late this evening between the time of pill call and lights out, the girls were telling spooky stories.  It was all fun and games until they told a real one - about the inmate that hung himself in cell 3 a couple years ago.  The girls swore that the metal on the top bunk bed seems colder than any other place in the cell block.  The poor young girl that is assigned to that bed was completely freaked out.  If it wasn't bad enough to be in jail, the other girls assured her that this guy Levi haunts 'his bed.'  Rachel piped up and suggested she just become friends with the ghost of Levi the way Sister did when she was assigned to the top bunk. 

I had had enough of the ghost stories and decided to turn in for the night, but now I look at my cell differently now.  The hooks we hang our coats on bend down with the weight of even 2 coats hung on the same hook.  Suicide prevention.  The rods that our cell curtain hang from in the doorway are tension rods that give with too much weight.  Again, suicide prevention.  No hooks on the inside of the lockers.  The girls aren't aloud to have even the shortest laces in their approved slippers.  They are strict about hanging anything in the doorways, from the bed, or locker.  I never stopped to think about all the ways the inmates are kept safe from themselves. 
It must be a terrible feeling not to be able to escape yourself.  In here, there are times that there is a heavy feeling.  The weight of the world rests on these girls as they worry about relationships, their kids, families, how long they will be here, who their next Bunkie will be, trying to get healthy, the pressure to 'do it right' this time, what will be for the next meal... Even whether we will get more toilet paper or feminine hygiene products soon rests in someone else's hands. 

With that, I worked some more of my Plan of Salvation.  IT's what's given me hope and direction and a huge dose of perspective through our 3 1/2 year trial.  Robin has helped me a little here and there, but Tuck has asked a lot of questions about it too, so I think I'll make her one.  No whipping out my copy machine.  I can pay $1 or something to have it copied, or I can do it by hand. 

I just know how much comfort I get in this plan that God has for us.  It's not just the here and now.  Not just jail time.  Not just from the time we are born until we die.  It started way before that.  And it has no end.  It's hard to comprehend, in our lives of beginning and ending - that there is no end. 

I have completed the pre-earth life section in the drawing of my Plan of Salvation called

The Pre-existance

We lived before this life as spirits.

We lived with God and Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee."

Job 38 Asks the question, "Where was I when the earth was created?" 

Revelation 12:7-12 and Abraham 3:12-28 talks about the war in Heaven.  As spirits, each of us were given a choice to either follow Christ's plan or Satan's plan.  Because we are here on earth and have bodies, it shows that we chose Christ's plan.  We have the free agency to choose between good and evil.  And because God knew we would make mistakes, He provided a Savior for us.  1/3 of those spirits we were with before this life chose to follow Satan's plan.  They were cast out and could not receive bodies. 

I can't say how many times and how many conversations I have had in here that I have felt that I knew these girls before this life.  Could I really have sat with them?  Could we have made promises to help each other get back?  Were we close friends before this life?  Did we stand together when we decided we would choose Christ's plan and come here to get bodies?  Could we be a strength for each other?  Did I agree to come to jail, to find them at any cost, and help them back on the road to a successful life?  Did they also agree that they would be a strength and friend to me when I found myself in such a scary, unfamiliar place as jail is?  I know without a doubt that I lived before I came to this earth.  Being here is the next step in that plan. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#59 - Jumping into Another Week of Jail (Journal Entries from February 23, 2014)

Our Sunday morning started out with cinnamon rolls from some friends of ours.  They brought them by late last night and was such a sweet blessing to know our Sunday morning would go that much smoother.  I mean, anyone that wakes up to cinnamon rolls has to have a good day, right?  Even if they are going to jail? 

I helped Jason get the kids ready and out the door for church, sad that they would all be sitting in a pew without me.  I held it together.  Two full weeks with my family in between jail time is just not long enough, but I'm planning around Spring Break.  I feel like I barely got back in the swing of home and now I'm off again.  I grabbed the few things I can take in with me - socks, underwear, long johns, and a white t-shirt, and then headed out the door.  I can do this! 

Instead of pouting during the 2 hours of driving time, I turned up Hilary Weeks in the speakers and tried to refocus my energy and think about my purpose in this situation.  I noticed the fading admission stamp from yesterday's basketball game on the back of my hand.  It's strange really - the transformation and mind shift that happens in 2 hours, going from full time wife and mom to jail inmate.  It's taken me until this 4th time, but I'm getting better at it. 

Today, I listened to Hilary sing Brave over and over and over again.  And over one more time.  And then sat in my car in the parking lot of the jail and listened to it one more time before I gathered my courage to check in.

To my readers - I have shared this song/video before.  I am thankful to this girls camp group that put it together and posted it on YouTube so that I have a link to share the song with you.  I'd love for you to be distracted from the video while you listen to it this time around.  You can feel how I felt, sitting in my car headed in to jail - or better yet, keep in mind whatever trial you are going through right now.  And then listen to the song.  And then listen to it again if it's helpful.  "Heaven will be there beside you," as the lyrics go. 

Booking.  Not my favorite.  At all.  I'm much more comfortable once I'm in stripes, although regular clothes would be my ideal.  Blessing #1 - At least the guard on duty didn't put the lice chemical in my hair. 

I carried my things, walking in front of the guard, to the common area with 2 heavy metal doors shutting behind us as we walked to remind me again where I'm at.  I was pointed to a cell on the top tier on the far right.  I would have to walk up the stairs, and then past every other cell to get to mine.  The walk was long, wondering who my roommate would be.  She's been in my prayers continually, so I trust that she is who I am supposed to spend the next 7 days with, but it's still makes me nervous. 

She was sleeping on her bottom bunk when I walked in, so I tried to quietly set down my bed roll, bag of clothes, and pillow.  No one tries to be quiet in here when someone is sleeping, but at my house, if a kid wakes a sleeping baby, they've got the jobs that I was going to do while the baby slept.  To me, waking a sleeping Bunkie is even more crucial!  I wasn't quiet enough and she rolled over and popped out of bed, wondering who was in her cell.  Her face had chiseled features and her hair was a cut like a girl from the Dukes of Hazards.  I told her I was sorry for waking her and introduced myself.   Then I stuck out my hand to shake hers.  As soon as my hand went out, I realized that's another thing they don't do in jail.  Too late, so I kept it out there - kind of as a truce for waking her up.  She accepted my handshake and introduced herself as Pam.  I noticed the books at the foot of her bed all had something to do with spirituality and finding God; I breathed a sigh of relief.

A lot of times I'm surprised who's reading books like that when I find they are searching.  Sometimes it's obvious, but lots of times it's not.  The girls continue to draw the line in here between religion and spirituality.  Over the time I've spent here, a lot of the girls would consider themselves spiritual.  Not many consider themselves religious.  In my eyes, I'm thankful that they realize they are spiritual.  They have spirits that make them alive, that part of them that lived with God before they came to this earth.  They acknowledge there's a God.  t's a start to understanding their potential.  Some of them are afraid to go any further than that.  Is it the commitment to one religion?  The label each religion gets?  Being dedicated to just one?  They haven't found what they are looking for?  It's intriguing to me.  I sensed Pam was the same - spiritual, but not religious. 


I made my bed and organized my few belongings in the empty locker.  Each time I start the week here, I am faced with the same blank locker.  By the end of the week, it's covered with cards, pictures, and letters.  The start of the week always is a little humbling to start out on my own without the visual support.  There's always that thought of "What if I don't get any mail this week?" 

I walked back down the stairs to the common area to figure out who is still here.  Robin is back from C-block where she was working in the kitchen.  She seemed happy to see me as she sat down at the metal table to chat.  She jokingly told me that she got 'voted off the island,' meaning the kitchen girls weren't happy having her there.  She always has a positive way to look at things. 

I asked her if she ever got a clergy visit like she had hoped for.  Before I left, I had explained the process to one of the other girls that was curious as to how I was getting visits from a bishop.  I told the girl to put a kite in (paperwork) to request it.  She passed the info on to Robin and they both received visits while I was gone - and Robin said she was visited by my brother-in-law!  Robin has had two clergy visits since I've been gone in two weeks and they give her reading assignments each time.  She was full of thoughts and questions and the answers she's finding linking the Bible to the Book of Mormon.  It makes my heart happy that there is a way for her to progress.  Not that the men that visit can make her progress, but that they are there to help her along the way as she's ready.  I would have been happy to hear that anyone was getting individual clergy visits - from any denomination, but to know that my friends and family from church in this little town are the ones reaching out...  Well, it's a whole new level of tenderness. 


I met a new girl today.  She's different than anyone I've met in here.  Since 'religion' is so different from 'spirituality' to most of them, I've connected to them that way.  This girl was different.  Everyone here knows I'm 'Mormon,' and more of them than I can remember, have connections to the same religion.  Maybe I was nieve, but before I started out on this journey, I thought 'the kind of people' I went to church with (which sounds completely stereotypical now that I've been through what I have) led one kind of lifestyle, while those of other religions lived another, and then non-believers lived another.  Now I know that people can't be lumped into groups like that.  I've been thrown in with some of the most amazing women that are in the process of overcoming challenges - just like me.  Religion aside.  All daughters of God.  And He doesn't have 'favorites.' 

There's no separating my spirituality - and my religion - from who I am.  I know that it has offered me answers, a deeper connection to God than I had before, stronger faith, and much-needed perspective when I have needed it most.  I would never force it on anyone, but there is a deep desire to share the treasure I have found.  If someone found a way to get free tickets to Disneyland - supposedly the happiest place on earth - wouldn't they share the good news with their friends?  I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I have thought about the standards we are asked to hold and how those standards and commandments prevent so much of the heartache I have seen in here.  No one is perfect.  Not me.  Not the girl sitting at the table next to me in jail.  And not the lady sitting next to me in church.  We're all on a path to better ourselves. 

With that thought, it's struck me that so many of these girls have had associations and connections with the LDS church.  Jen, the one who openly told me, "I'm not looking to become Mormon or anything, I just have questions..." had an uncle that was a member of the LDS church.  Another girl in here worked for Desert Industries, the thrift store associated with the LDS church.  It was the only place that would hire a person with her record.  They offered her a budget to shop for work clothes in the store, assigned her a mentor, supported her probation requirements, and laid out a plan with her to pay for 1/2 of her schooling to become a dental hygienist.  Robin's dad regularly attends the LDS church and talks with Robin about what he's learning.  Another girl had friends growing up that were LDS and she went to church with them a couple times.  Rachel's family comes from an LDS background.  My nieve thoughts of feeling 'seperate' from the world have been completely wrong.  These are the people that are just out of reach.

So back to the new girl I met today that has me thinking.  I will call her Tuck.  She was completely open about being LDS herself - the first to go beyond spiritual, and talk religion.  I sat by her for mealtime today.  She blessed her food, as many of the girls do in here.  I love not being the only one that does, as it was in the beginning.  Robin has hooked her up with clergy visits also and Tuck told me at the table while we were eating, "Robin said once you got here, we'd have clergy visits every week."  She's a short girl that talks all. the. time.  That's what makes her Tuck and I love her for it already.

She's explained her family dynamics and how much she misses everyone at home.  She has a little boy that's being raised by her Mom.  She said she really struggled growing up, wanting to live the standards of what her family taught her, but also wanting to do her own thing and she admitted there's some rebellion in her, which has landed her here.  She said she doesn't feel that rebellion so much anymore.  The one thing that made the biggest difference was when she felt her heart change toward her family.  She felt that her family would love her no matter what decisions she made.  Her mom didn't tell her how to fix her life - but would love her no matter what.  She says all that rebellion has faded away.  Of course, she's still in here, away from her temptations while she continues to get healthy.  She's been in and out of jail and I think about the strength her family is to her.  I wonder how her mom continues to do what she does - emotionally supporting Tuck while she's in jail, raising her grandson, being the glue to their family.  She must be a strong woman and I bet she was prepared before this life to take on what she has.  I hope she has heaven's help in doing what she does. 

I'm going to sleep tonight feeling good - even in stripes - even on the top bunk with the light in my face.  It doesn't mean that I don't wonder how my family is doing, what went on in their day, or how their week will go.  Those things are always on my mind.  It just means that I'm ready to be used how God can use me.  If it's not with them, then I'm ready for whatever else He has in store for me.  I'm ready to listen.  I'm ready to obey.  The other times it has taken me a day or two to get in the swing of things, to pull myself out of the negativity and 'poor me.'  I'm ready to jump into this week with two feet, feeling that heaven is right beside me! 

I think it's going to be a good week...  Like Hilary sings, "It's a good day, to have a good day!"