Sunday, April 19, 2015

#70 - Building Momentum, Knowing I'm Leaving (Journal entries from March 31, 2014)

Today is just a jumble of thoughts.  I feel like I'm scrambling and running out of time.  Like a missionary at the end of service, I wonder if I've made a difference, done what I was supposed to do, and if it mattered to anyone besides strengthening myself. 

This morning as I studied scriptures, I started to wonder if we are held accountable to God for what we are taught or for what we internalize and believe?  More specifically, am I held accountable for things I have been taught - or only the things I have gained a testimony in?  That side of the question is easier to answer than the other way I have been thinking of it. 

Are these girls held accountable for the things they have been taught, or only for the things they have internalized and believe, however small of a testimony those things are starting out as?  My prayers today have been tender and sincere trying to understand.  I want to pad the way for them.  I want them to succeed and I want God to see how hard they are trying.  I want them to grow in those little bits of truth I was able to feel while I have been here with them. 

In answer to my prayers, I have felt a comfort.  He knows them and loves them far more than I do.  As protective I feel over those I consider friends now, I have been reminded that they were His before I was here, and they will still be His after I leave.  He also desperately wants them to return to Him.  He wants to pad the way, but He also wants them to stretch and grow.  It's hard to grow in a padded room.  For those bumps, God has provided a Savior to pad the way - a way to repent and try again.  I am so thankful for this gospel that succors me, a mother of 5.  And in the same way succors a girl without family.  God has answered my prayers as my kids were taken away, and will answer the prayers of these girls who struggle with addiction.  It is all encompassing and a safe umbrella for anyone who will accept it's protection. 

When Bryer was in foster care and we didn't know where she was or who was caring for her, I had to turn it over to God.  I had to ask him in all humility to watch over her and help her feel my love even when I couldn't be right with her.  I feel the same about several of these girls.  I love them like family, so I have asked God to watch over them and prompt them in ways they can feel Him, to keep them safe, and continuing in this search for truth and in bettering their lives. 


I got mail today - overflow from the weekend, and it never gets old.  I was ready to hear from family and friends!  In one card a family member wrote, "You will never have to endure this again," and then closed with, "The good times will be rolling soon."  But as I peeked out my cell door to watch the girls crocheting together, sharing inside jokes, and my Bunkie peacefully reading scriptures on her bottom bunk, I don't feel like I am 'enduring' this.  I feel privileged to be a part.  "The good times" are already rolling, and will continue when I get home.  Life really is what you make of it.  Seeing God's plan working in me has made all the difference.  Some may ask, "Why me?"  That would be easy to ask, being cooped up in jail for 7 days at a time for something I didn't do.  It would be easy to ask "Why me?" dressed in stripes and orange crocs, being stuck outside until someone notices I've been standing at the door for 15 minutes in the cold.  It would be easy to ask "Why me?" when I sleep with a light on, 2 feet from my face all night long.  It would be easy to ask "Why me?" when I have to leave my sweet kids with my husband and mother-in-law for a week separated from them, humbled and desperate for their voices and hugs. 

Where I stand, mustering up all my courage even still in my stripes and orange crocs, I put on my matching, hand crocheted orange headband and say, "Why not me?"  If we'll quit worrying about why life isn't going as we have planned and thank God for helping us see His plan, we will gain a different perspective - one that's so much more worthwhile beyond our own tunnel vision.  However much pain and frustration I've had over my own plans and what I should be doing, I have also so enjoyed reaching out to these girls, sharing inside jokes, and looking forward to what the next week of adventures will bring... What God's plan will bring. 


I saw jailhouse make up in action today.  Maybe on the outs I wouldn't have taken a second look, but in here I know the limited supplies!  Ink pen for eye definer.  Fireball smeared on her cheeks for blush, to compliment the jolly rancher lip gloss.  I tried not to stare, trying to figure out the ingredients for her make up.


There was a change in here yesterday.  There seems to be smaller little clicks of girls that group together, and there's a distinction between the ones that still have the oomph to try, and those that don't.  Maybe it has to do with the length of time they've been in, or maybe it's that they will go stir crazy if they don't, or maybe that the ones that don't try anymore have been knocked down enough that trying to be better in here is just a waste of time.  I watched Dani step outside her comfort zone and walk across jail 'clicks' to ask to workout with a couple other girls.  Until now there's been some tension between those that workout, and those that don't.  Dani has been here a long time, so for her to give it some oomph was inspiring!  I watched as she tried to keep up with the girl that used to be a trainer and the other girl who used to hit the gym 4 times a week.  Pushups, wall squats, tricept dips, jogging back and forth like tigers in a cage along the end of the cells. 

I watched the girls from Dani's regular group as they yelled out and kind of teased her in the beginning for 'trading sides.'  Then I saw her push through with perseverance to finish the workout, sweaty and huffing and puffing by the end. 

Dani was the start of it yesterday.  She was the first to go to the 'other side.'  The girls in here have a hard time with someone trying to 'better themselves' in here and misinterpret it to mean they are trying to be 'better than others' in here.  With Dani starting her second workout today, I decided to jump in, and brought Tuck with me.  If ever it was uncomfortable to workout with someone watching, it was now.  Inmates.  Cameras.  I usually prefer to do my lunges, triceps dips, and jumping jacks in the mornings when I go out to break by myself.  I suppose this workout for me was mostly to encourage Dani and let her know she's amazing for making the leap.  She's been here long enough to gain respect of the long timers and willing to finish a workout with the newbies.  Walking that line just doesn't happen in here, but she did it gracefully.   


We had a good Bible Study with the two ladies from Mountain Life tonight.  We got on the topic of regular church attendance.  One of the girls from the kitchen said she always sent her kids to church without her.  Her father taught her that she needed to be right with God before going to church; otherwise it would be spitting in His face.  Because of her fear of irreverence toward God, she chose not to go ever.  She said she didn't want to give her life over to Him and then mess up.  It's scary to accept Him - maybe her last chance and she doesn't want to let Him down.  While I believe that repentance and 'being right with God' is an important part of the gospel, if we all waited until we were perfect before we went, then the pews would be empty!  I testified to her that we go to church to accept Christ and continue to change our life that it's a constant process - not change our life before going to church.  I'm glad that this is a continual process, and that I have a chance each week to take the sacrament bread and water to remember Him and get back on track, set new goals, and remember what He needs from me. 

That led into a conversation about communion and the two ladies leading the discussion brought out their canned grape juice and saltine crackers.  They talked about being right with God before taking communion.  They said a prayer and then passed it out.  I was the only one, as usual, who didn't take part.  Again, I felt different and strange, even though I knew I was okay not taking it.  While I'm so glad that the girls here have that opportunity, I am happy to wait until I get back to church on the outs to have the sacrament.  It still didn't make it any easier to know I was the only one feeling left out.  I don't like the feeling of thinking they are all looking at me and wondering why I'm 'not right with God.'  We closed our meeting shortly after and we walked single file back down the hall, waiting at each of the doors for it to be unlocked for us until we made it back to our pod. 

As we crossed the pod to our cells, Robin was walking at a quicker pace.  When we got to the cell, she seemed frustrated.  She dropped her books on her bed and then just said bluntly, "Can I ask you a question?"
"Yes," knowing something was really bothering her.
"I noticed that you never take the communion, and it doesn't matter who brings it!" 
I explained what the sacrament means to me when I take it every other week that I'm out.  It's frequent - because I need that weekly, to reset my goals, to think about my path, to try to do better this week than I did last.  I also talked with her about the Priesthood - the literal power of God - to bless and pass the sacrament. 

I explained that while I'm happy for the girls to have a way to honor their religious beliefs, there are enough things that are not similar for me to feel comfortable accepting communion.  Robin accepted that and respected my answer.  She said it made her feel so much better just to know why! 


Tonight I read scriptures with Tuck and Cal.  They had a reading assignment from their clergy visit out of the Book of Mormon.  We read the first part of Helaman, chapter 5.  When we read verse 12, I explained a trick I use to 'liken the scriptures to me,' to make them more personal.  Verse 5 reads,

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

When I use my trick, I replace words like 'my sons' and 'you' and 'ye' with my name.  So I substituted Tuck's name in this verse.  It wasn't until I started reading it with her name, that I felt so touched to hear this piece of council to her, a recovering addict trying so hard to do what's right, straight from God.

"And now, Tuck, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye, Tuck, must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you Tuck, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye, Tuck, are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

She didn't comment right away.  She just stared thoughtful at her scriptures while Cal commented on how powerful that was!  As we finished the 27 verses, I asked them to visualize what we had just read as I recapped it - all that these 2 men overcame to then go out and be missionaries and preach the gospel. 

Walking with a little more pep, Tuck got up to go knock doors to ask those to pray with us before bed.  I had to giggle at "Sister Tuck" making such a good missionary as she gathered the girls in.  We had quite a few with us tonight.  We stood in a circle around one of the metal tables with the outside edges of our feet touching and our arms folded.  I prayed for each of the girls in the pod, as well as the guys next door and the girls in the kitchen pod.  I thanked God for the guards and the way that we are treated with respect by them and the way they treat us.  By the ending 'Amen' the lights had been dimmed, signaling that everyone should be in their cells, but the girls in the circle waited for the end of the prayer to move.  When we were finished there was a guard at the door who cleared her throat and everyone scattered, kind of giggling. 


I will cover my last 4 days of jail in next week's blog post.  
Then... May will be a big month for our family!  Our Bryer is having hip and muscle surgery.  We have invited anyone who wants to set a personal goal to 'Wake Up and Be Different' along with Bryer.  Set your month-long goal by May 1.  I'll be posting goal ideas and tips on The Briar Effect Facebook page.  Go 'like' us there if you haven't already! 

Also, I need your help!  I have been so inspired from stories of every-day people that have overcome challenges.  I want to feature them on the blog during the month of May.  Do you know someone who has overcome adversity?  Was it you?  A friend?  A family member?  Sometimes it's something that we bring on ourselves (though I don't want to bring up someone's past who's not comfortable sharing) or sometimes it's just something tough that happens to us to refine and teach us. 

Please send your own story or a nomination of a friend/family member to or message me on The Briar Effect Facebook page.  I'd love to share a picture of the person when they are featured, if you have one.  We need inspiration during May to give us oomph to meet our goals!  You, or someone you know may be that inspiration!  As a small bit of incentive, I'm giving away "Wake up and Be Different" bumper stickers.  


  1. I love you, Krissi. I receive edification and strength each week as I read your posts. I am sorry you were wrongfully accused, I am sorry for the pain this whole situation brought to you and your family. But, I am so happy and proud that you took an awful situation and made something so wonderful come of it. I know Heavenly Father is proud of you, too! I want you to know that I pray for each one of your friends who spent time in jail with you, who was blessed to have your presence and example in their lives. I pray for each of them everyday! Maybe if enough of us pray for strength for them, they will feel our love and support! I want so much for each of them to succeed - spiritually - and I feel as if they have become my friends, through you!

    1. This means a lot to me Christine! Thank you for loving these girls like I do and praying for them! You are so sweet. I hope you will recognize one of them if Heavenly Father allows your paths to cross. You just never know! ;-) Thank you so much for your sincere prayers! I hope also that they can feel them.