Sunday, April 26, 2015

#71 - A Bittersweet Last Good-bye (Journal Entries March 31-April 3, 2014)

Last night before bed I overheard parts of a conversation (in such close quarters, it's hard to not hear other people's business) and understood enough that Rachel was 'censoring' jokes for the girls to tell me.  I heard her say, "She won't get that one guys.  I promise you, her mind just does not go there!"  I had to laugh to myself as I went back to my cell.  First, that they felt the need to censor things from me.  These were some of the same girls that just weeks before were dropping f-bombs more often than any other single word.  Second, that they were actually having a conversation about my level of crudeness, or lack of.  It just makes me laugh.  I've never said one single word about them watching their language, but they respect me and I appreciate it.  To think that lil ol me, mom of 5, can have an influence in jail language. 

Pretty soon Nicki came to the door of my cell.  She said she had a joke - and it was clean - that the girls said I would think was funny.

A zebra went to Moses and asked if he was black with white stripes or white with black stripes.  Moses didn't know and told him to go ask Jesus. 

So the zebra went to Jesus and asked if he was black with white stripes or white with black stripes.  Jesus didn't know and told him to go ask God.

The zebra asked God, "Am I black with white stripes or white with black stripes?" 
God said, "You are what you are." 

The zebra came back.  Jesus and Moses asked the zebra what God said. 
The zebra said, "He just said, 'You are what you are.' What does that mean?" 
Jesus and Moses looked at each other and said, "Oh!  That means you're white with black stripes.  If you were black with white stripes He would have said, 'You is what you is!'" 

We had a good laugh, and I mentioned that she should have saved it for the talent show. 


There was a heated argument about the TV today.  After Robin drew up the TV schedule and everyone agreed on who would watch what at which time, the guards gave us the remote back.  Tuck and I were playing cards to pass the time.  A show that was not on the schedule was on and the content was awful.  If Tuck and I could have gone into a cell to play cards, I would have suggested that, but we aren't allowed in each other's cells.  Instead I tried to blank out the show as best I could, until I finally asked Tuck if she thought the other girls who were playing cards at the table behind me were even watching it.  She said, "I don't know, ask them."

I spun around on my metal seat and said, "Are you guys watching this?"  They said they were.  Tuck quietly pointed out that according to the schedule, Ellen was supposed to be on right now.  That's all it took for an argument to break out.  There was yelling and getting in each other's faces.  I spun back around on my seat to face the table and tried to ignore what was going on, not dealing with contention very well. 

Christina got in Tuck's face and said, "I told you we were watching this, and then you guys have to sit over there and talk **** to each other about how it's not on the schedule."  Ironic that this is why the TV was taken away in the first place?  I don't like confrontation and I really just wanted to hide in a hole! 

Tuck said, "Oh no, no, no, no, no!  Do you even know her? (pointing to me) Krissi isn't even like that!  It's Krissi!  Seriously!"  It was clear that the other girl didn't care at that point who I was, if I wasn't agreeing to what she wanted. 

I'm fine not watching TV.  I just wanted to grab Tuck and sit her back down and go back to playing cards.  Then as fast as it hit, Tuck apologized!  Other than being quick to get up from her table, Tuck really had done nothing wrong, but she was the one that apologized!  It's hard to apologize when you're wrong.  It's even harder to apologize when you feel you haven't done anything wrong.  It was obvious today that Tuck was the bigger person.  As soon as the apology came out of her mouth, the other girl calmed down.  They had a few more (calmer) words, went back to their seats, and the channel was changed to Ellen. 


Today they called for anyone who wanted to go out to break to line up at the door.  I grabbed my coat, hardly ever missing a chance to be outside, even if it is like a cage version of what's inside.  I needed out!  When the guard came to unlock the door and let us out, he pointed at me and said, "You might not want to go out.  You have visitors."  Eeek!  Visitors!  It's the best part of my whole week.  As the rest of the girls filed down the hall to go outside, I found a spot in the hallway on a stool in front of the window.  Sitting at that little window with a telephone on my ear to hear through the glass is like Christmas.  I can't hardly wait to see who has come to visit.  You'd think I'm secluded in here for years at a time.  Maybe it's that 'normal life' never really leaves me, so I crave it so bad when I'm in here.  Today I saw 6 familiar faces waiting their turn for me in the lobby.  It's absolutely essential to have visitors and mail in here for me to stay positive.  I know that for those on the other side of the window, it's tough to take time out of their day.  Who wants to go sit in front of a window and talk to someone they could talk to face-to-face next week instead?  Who wants to turn over a drivers license and get permission to visit with a friend or family member?  Who wants to wait in a line of people for 10 minutes of conversation?  In this instantly gratifying world of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, who has time for all of that?  These 6 people today do, that's who.  These 6 people that are willing to reach out and uplift someone that struggles every single day to stay positive.  These 6 people that are willing to do exactly what Christ would do if he were here on this earth, in this town, on this day.  He would come visit.  He has counted on them and they have followed through.  Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal from their side of the glass, but what I see from mine is love... support... the gospel in action... I see people that are willing to 'bear one another's burdens' as it says in the scriptures.  I see people that set aside their pride and busy lives to come visit an inmate.  In my world of black and white, metal, and concrete, they sit at that window in full color with smiles, and sometimes tears, full of emotion and life.  Real life.  Not this life.  Although I was strong today while I visited with them, I am not feeling strong now.  I feel silly that their presence has had such an emotional effect on me.  When that thought runs through my head of how I can do this another day, I know how.  I have that support from visitors and mail.  I feel God's love through those acts of service.


Kris is the older lady with the choclear implant.  I have really, really enjoyed getting to know her and learning about her family.  Her kids are almost all grown, and she has a faithful husband that drives hours 3 times a week to come see her.  Kris is a naturally happy person, but something has been bothering her lately.  She doesn't have that usual pep in her step.  I've been grinding my wheels with limited resources to find something to do for her.  It's not exactly a plate-of-cookies-with-a-note kind of opportunity.  I can't do a plate of cookies - but I can do a note.  We could all do notes!  On hearts!  Like a 'heart attack' they would do for a teenager's birthday at church!  No, that's a silly idea.  Who writes messages on a bunch of hearts?  This is JAIL!  What am I thinking?! 

Really, who does that?!....
ME!  That's who!  After mulling it around in my head and thinking of all the reasons why I shouldn't, I decided to not only do it, but call in for help.  I went back to my cell and explained the need and idea to Robin.  Immediately she got that squeely voice and was ready to start tearing paper hearts out with me!  As we tore and talked, and wrote, and talked, I began to sense that maybe this was not for Kris at all, but for those girls that could serve her.  Robin's eagerness changed as she had a purpose - at least for an hour or so.  She found a bunch of conversation hearts from a magazine she had actually used scissors (gasp!) to cut out when she was working with the kitchen girls, so we used those too.  I got up the gumption to go around and ask the girls to write a message to Kris on a heart or two each - including the girls that over reacted over the TV.  They were hesitant, but added their own short note. 

Some of the hearts had quick messages on them, some of them long and thought-out.  I couldn't wait to collect them all.  We waited for Kris to get out to go switch the laundry again so Dani could spread them out on her bed.  As soon as she left and I passed the hearts on to Dani, there was excitement buzzing.  (To think I almost didn't follow through!)  This is just what we needed in here today! 

When Kris got back, Dani came barreling out of the cell and panicked at her down the stairs, "Look what happened in our cell!  Come fast!"  Kris hiked the stairs as fast as her short legs would carry her, with her concerned face the whole way. 

Then we all waited.  And waited.  The TV went mute.  Conversations turned to whispers.  Silence doesn't happen very often in here.  After reading every. single. heart, Kris came out of her cell in tears.  First she punched Dani's arm for making her worry.  We all had a good laugh, and Kris knew the joke was on her.  The TV came back on, the conversations went back to normal levels.  Kris hugged Dani and asked her who did this.  Dani pointed her down the stairs to me.  I didn't want to take the credit.  It was all the girls that helped.  Without any respect for the handbook's rule of no hugging, Kris made her way down the stairs, grabbed me and gave a big squeeze.  In her muted, hearing-impaired voice with tears in her eyes she stood back and grabbed hold of my arms.  "You made my day," she said. 

It feels good to end my day on that note.  We read scriptures tonight with Cal, Rachel, Tuck, and me.  We didn't have much time for a prayer before lights out, so 'Sister Tuck' didn't knock doors.  It feels good to be in here and feel my purpose so clearly.  Tonight I gave a prayer of only graditude.  I didn't ask for anything.  I only listed off my many blessings to my Heavenly Father, and included this time in jail as one of my greatest opportunities. 


The same feeling I went to bed with last night is not here today.  The residual good mood doesn't last and it's a constant struggle to feel happy in here.  Constant struggle.  2 1/2 days left in here and days like this, I want out NOW.  It makes me tired to be strong.  I feel worn and spit out.  I have felt this feeling before and I think I'll just hang out in my cell for most of the day.  Sometimes there's a feeling that I want to tuck in and hibernate in my cell, but I know I should be social.  And other times there's a strong feeling to just hunker down and hang out for the day and try to recharge. 


Sometimes it's just not easy to watch someone be happy.  Sometimes you just want to throw that pity party, cry it all out, and feel sorry for yourself.  I get it and I totally respect that.  I've been there.  You gotta do what you gotta do, but then don't stay out too late at that pity party.  Pull yourself together and find something to be thankful for.  I so badly want these girls to see their potential.  The happiness that I feel that maybe feels a little annoying to them at times, comes from doing just that.  I have wanted to crawl in a hole.  I have wanted to take my kids and escape to a secluded cabin to protect them.  But it's the times I have found the blessings that help me understand this horribly tough refining process. 

It's so hard to see Point A to Point B, especially in here.  Sometimes God doesn't show us a clear path to Point B.  Sometimes we must go through Point 1, Point Triangle, Point 5.c and things that don't even make any sense at all, to arrive at Point X, ending up so much further ahead than Point B ever was.  His plans for us are so much further than our own expectations, hopes, and dreams.  It reminds me of the song, "The Woman I Was Before."  Who was I before this life that God would think I could handle this?  What does He see in me that I don't see in myself?  How can I reconnect with that potential He sees in me? 


There is a painting in my mind that I have pictured a lot while I've been in here this time.  It's Christ standing at a door, knocking.  For as long as I can remember, I have known that the door knob is not on his side, but on the opposite side of the door.  As it says in Revelation 3:20, he is knocking and waiting for us to let him in. 

Until now, I have always felt that the painting was accurate.  I keep staring at the door to our pod here and it tells a different story.  In here, the girls feel stuck.  Stagnant.  Like Cal and Tuck argued - it's a waste of time.  I pointed out to them that in earthly time, this may be a waste of time.  But if they look at it from an eternal point of view, it's part of the repentance process.  It's a time to study and reflect.  It's a time to get back on track - mentally, physically, even spiritually.  This time in jail is an important step to repent before we can move on.  We can't really progress if we're not willing to repent and change. 

The door to our pod is intriguing.  I think about what it's like in Spirit Prison versus Spirit Paradise, where our spirits go after we die.  Those that have received the gospel teach those that haven't.  Until they receive it, they are stagnant... Stuck... Maybe feeling like it's a waste of time - I'm sure with lots of thoughts of 'Can't we get on with this already?'  But when we learn and accept the atonement, Christ has that key to open up doors for us.  He helps us out of captivity and sin.  But like in the original picture, he doesn't force us to open the door.  He doesn't come pounding or pushing.  He lets us know he is there.  When we are ready, he unlocks the door for us - whether he's on the opposite side of that door, or right there with us teaching us personally - he holds those keys. 

I had Robin draw the door to our pod because it really is so intriguing to me.  I am so thankful for her sharing her artistic ability with me!  She's like a walking camera.  I also took notice of the slot that maybe was used to pass food or mail through at one time or another.  It provides a means for our physical needs, but doesn't help us spiritually.  The only way to progress is to get out and use our own agency. 

Tonight I sat at a table with Tuck, Cal, and Nikki and read a few verses from Ether.  Then we called for prayer before lights out.  Rachel joined us for prayer.  As usual, I ask if anyone else wants to say the prayer.  I rarely get any takers, but tonight Tuck said she would!  It is one thing to read and pray with these girls.  But to hear one of them talk to God... literally talk to God... has got to be one of the most sacred experiences for me.  Tuck has always been too nervous to pray out loud, until tonight.  It was smooth and sincere, and exactly from a soft spot in her heart.  Knowing they can pray on their own means they don't rely on me anymore. 

Good night.  Yes, GOOD. Night. 


Maybe I should be looking forward to being out tomorrow, but I'm having a hard time disconnecting.  Today was packed with many of my 'bucket list' kinds of things.  Cal and I made an original game - Convict Pictionary.  We played with Tuck and Rachel and laughed so hard we almost peed our pants.  We even folded paper into an origami box to keep the pieces in and I let Cal have it.  She will need it worse than I will - and somehow my family and friends on the outs just won't laugh as hard as I have in here playing it. 

We also announced the talent show for anyone that wanted to share a talent.  After so much anticipation, I was a little let down with only 4 of us playing along.  Rachel and Nikki started out with Cat's Cradle and then went back and forth turning the friendship string into different shapes - the Eiffel Tower, Grandpa's Trousers, Grandma's Trousers, and more.  They got a round of applause. 

Robin and I did "You might be a convict if" comedy act and took turns reading off funny details of jail life. 
If your hair gel consists of conditioner, jolly ranchers, and clear toothpaste...
You might be an inmate.

If your whole wardrobe consists of scrubs, white undergarments, flip flops, and crocs...
You might be an inmate.

If you get dressed in the shower...
You might be an inmate.

If you put half your lunch in an empty milk carton and set it in your window seal to save for later...
You might be an inmate.

If you suddenly awaken from your nap to stand at your bedside for count time...
You might be an inmate.

If your mascara is made of ink pen and toothpaste...
You might be an inmate.

If the only food in your kitchen is nutty bars, moon pies, and items to make a jailhouse spread...
You might be an inmate.

If the only dice you own is made from toilet paper...
You might be an inmate.

If you mount your bed to the wall...
You might be an inmate.

If you have a one-piece stainless steel toilet/sink combo in your bathroom...
You might be an inmate.

If you sleep with the lights on...
You might be an inmate. 

If the best feature of your room is that you can see both the clock and the TV from your bed...
You might be an inmate.

If you regularly have others in the room with you when you use the bathroom...
You might be an inmate.

We ended with another round of applause.  At least the talent show gave 4 of us something to keep us busy for the afternoon. 

Today I got good and devastating news from the guards.  The good news was my paperwork stating they would let me trade my own 3 personal books for the coveted vintage Readers Digest books that I have scoured thrift stores for, to create a Pinterst craft.  I'm so excited I could hug someone - but that's against the rules.  :-) 

Later this afternoon, the guard brought mail in.  His stack was smaller than normal and I assumed that most of it was probably for me.  As he read off names to come get their individual envelopes, the pile got smaller and smaller, until there wasn't anything left for me.  I tried not to hang my head, but so disappointed that I hadn't gotten anything.  On his way out, the guard motioned me to come with him.  A little nervous, I followed.  When we got into the hall and the door was locked behind us, the guard explained his case.  He told how the girls get so excited for mail.  He said he can hardly stand to see their eyes as big as quarters, hoping for just one envelope.  He explained that it breaks his heart to see them let down each time when a big stack comes in and then one by one, it's given away to someone else.  I completely understood, because I had just felt the same way moments before.  He handed me a stack of mail.  He said there are girls that will be in this jail for months and never get a single piece of mail from anyone.  He didn't want to be the one to crush them with my pile of mail, so he was giving it to me privately.

I felt crushed myself that these girls would have their own hopes crushed by my personal support system.  At the same time, I have never had so much respect for a guard as I did today.  His compassion for the inmates touches me.  I am thankful to have served my sentence here, as one of God's details in this crazy plan.  I know that those that lead and work in this facility do their very best and do a tough job with integrity.  I count it a blessing to get a 'sneak peak' behind a tough system and the people that are too often criticized for the work they do. 

I humbly walked back through the door with my stack of letters and slinked back to my cell to open them by myself, hoping no one would see the amount of mail I came in with. 


I read some last verses with Cal and Tuck tonight before I leave tomorrow.  We read about the brother of Jared, who was led to the edge of the ocean and then asked to cross.  I explained the story as we read individual verses aloud.  Even when we are faced with an overwhelming problem (say crossing the ocean with no skills to even build a boat - or serve jail time for something I did not do) the Lord has the end in sight.  He sees the obstacles and provides a way for us to overcome them if we will trust Him.  He doesn't take our trials away, but He will help us through them and give us those tools we need (family, friends, financial opportunities, the comfort that comes from the Spirit).  As the brother of Jared made barges under the Lord's direction, he was inspired.  The waves and storms were not calmed, but they had ways to breath and survive the storm within their capsules.  There is always the means to pray available.  And it's never too late. 


Before lights out, some of the girls passed around my 'yearbook' to sign.  I will forever cherish the words written by my fellow inmates in those pages of my Book of Mormon.  Words and phrases that touch my heart like: have truly inspired me...
...thank you for bringing light into such a dark place...'ve made a huge impact in my life... have brought peace to this place the minute you walked in...
...thank you for the reminder that God loves me... reminded me there are good people in this world...
...I've grown within myself because you reminded me to believe in myself... saw me as a person, not a hardened criminal... are a true blessing and have touched so many lives...

With that, several of the girls said they would purposely be sleeping when I leave tomorrow, and we said our good-byes tonight. 


The morning seemed to drag on and move full speed all at the same time.  Have I given adequately?  Have I grown in the past 37 days?  Have I proven faithful in this trial?  Have these girls had every opportunity to feel God's love while I have been here?  I have not prepared myself to feel sad leaving!  I am so ready to be back in Jason's arms for good and to be home with my kids! 

The guard announced over the loud speaker, "Hansen!  Roll up!"  He didn't have to tell me.  My bedroll was already stripped and taken care of.  My personal belongings were bagged up, I had given away my stamps, my paper, and my shampoo and conditioner.  I said my last good-byes and a guard came to the door to call for me. 

The inmates lined both sides of the walkway and started singing, "Na na na nah.  Na na na nah.  Hey, hey, hey.  Good-bye!"  I fought tears through my smiles, giving (completely 'illegal') hugs, saying good-bye and being so happy for my new chapter all at the same time. 

Most of the time I have forgotten I'm in jail, but sometimes that reality hits.  Most of the time I look past the girls covered in tattoos, holes from their piercings, their missing teeth, and drug-damaged skin.  Once in a while I see their earthly body and then I am reminded to look deeper at their spirit.  Their spirits that I feel so strongly that I sat with before this life.  I am forever grateful to get to know them in all their earthly struggles, side by side to help one another. 

I let my mind wander a little and every so often, and I wonder how trial would have turned out.  Would I have been found innocent as I am?  I know that God answered our prayers in exactly the right way that He needed us.  I will try very hard not to second guess that plan.  His plans are always the right way.  Even if it means going from Point A, bypassing Point B, and making my way to Point X in what seems to us as disarray.  I am so thankful for this opportunity He has given me.  I am not the same person that entered this storm 4 years ago and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it because I know we walked hand in hand with God the whole way.  There is no replacing the strength, the friendships, and enduring faith I have found.  It is evidence as I watch my well-adjusted kids in their compassionate ways, their growing testimonies of God, and pure happiness.  What more could a mom ask for?  Today I leave this jail with tears and run home to my family for good! 


  1. Thank you. Reading these personal journal entries has been amazing. Again, Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your example to make the best of your situation and recognize the need to teach these women that we are ALL loved by our Heavenly Father. You have planted seeds and I'm sure they will grow in many of those women!

  3. This had certainly been a sweeping journey for you. It’s good that you almost at the end of it, even though there are still a few adjustments that you'll have to make. I guess it’s all part of the process, because what this will lead to is a transformation, much as it has been a bit of precautionary, I'm sure. I hope you'll be able to get past this, and look back to all of it one day as a lesson in life. Good luck!

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JRs Bail Bond