My older kids came to see me last weekend, and we had such a good visit! After the visit, while I was in the dressing room getting ready to go back to the unit, the officer that escorted Jace and Shelby out of the prison came in to talk to me. She said, “When I walked your kids out they said, ‘Thanks for taking such good care of our mom.’ It was one of the sweetest things I’ve had a visitor say to me. They seem like such good kids!” I love them both so much! Our visit filled my soul with light, and reminded me how powerful family bonds can be. Our God can make up the distance between us, and I felt that miracle with their presence. At the end of our visit Jace said, “Mom, we came here to encourage you, but you have encouraged us. Talking to you gives me so much hope! I still have so much to learn from you.” What more could I hope for as a mother? I’m teaching my kids through my mistakes and weaknesses. I have the power to be an example even in my greatest struggles. The way we choose to deal with our trials and mistakes could be the greatest thing we can teach our kids? They learn how to deal with their problems and mistakes from us. We can admit fault quickly when we make mistakes, and do our best to make things right, or we can fight to the death to prove we are right. I’ve done both! It is my honor now to live a life of responsibility; to recognize my power to chose to stand firm in the knowledge that my Savior Jesus Christ has made up the difference in my life.
While we were visiting I told Jace and Shelby I have learned how important it is to focus on the things I can control. I said, “If I look at the negative things going on around me I feel despair; when I focus on myself I feel hope. The solution is always inside of me! In the free world I didn’t see it so clearly, but I have learned in here that if I focus on the negative things it gives power to those negative things in my life. I have the freedom to decide how I will respond to everything that happens to me, it is always my choice.” In the book, “Mans search fro Meaning”,Viktor Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstance, to chose ones own way.” I was really discouraged for a long time that I couldn’t meet with LDS volunteers regularly here. I thought it was a righteous desire to have an LDS service at this prison, and didn’t know why it was so hard to make that happen. One day I realized it was completely within my power to keep the Sabbath day holy and make it a sacred day. I decided I would fast every Sunday, and use my time reading the best books and study my scriptures more deeply. I decided I would pray more, and humble myself, and knew all those things were within my control. Sundays have gone from my hardest day of the week to my best day of the week. Some of my Sundays here have been the most spiritual Sundays I have ever experienced! Our Father in Heaven will always make up the difference when we do our part! The other cool thing that happened when I quit focusing on the problem(something I couldn’t control) and started focusing on the solution (the things that were within my control) was a few weeks ago our Chaplain got a hold of me and said he was setting up an LDS service with our volunteers on Tuesday mornings. What a miracle! Things change when we change ourselves. It’s very empowering to know I always have the solution to my problems; and it’s amazing how well things work out when I get out of the way:)
I told Jace and Shelby that I know now I am 100% responsible for everything that has happened to me. I made choices either directly, or in the way I responded to what was happening to me that led me to this point. I said, “I’m not angry anymore. I made mistakes, and then made the decision to make them worse when I didn’t admit my mistakes quickly. It didn’t have to be such a big deal, I made it a big deal!” Jace said: “Can I just tell you how cool it is to hear you say that. I knew when you were fighting your fight that you had made mistakes. I knew you didn’t have the intention of causing any harm; that maybe the government was unfair in the way they treated you, and the punishment didn’t fit the crime; but at the end of the day you made mistakes.” I smiled and said: “I sure did!” I told the kids: “I’m learning so much in prison! I could have kept trying to rationalize, and blame others if I hadn’t come to prison. I wouldn’t have had the time to read and study like I have here, and the time I’ve spent walking and meditating has been invaluable!” I have humbled myself, and experienced a mighty change of heart, and I am so grateful! I feel bad about the pain and difficulty I have caused my family, but I know they are strong, and I know we will rise up through this experience. I have found my passion in teaching and writing, and have so much more love for others than I ever thought possible. The seed of greatness lies in our greatest struggles! It is the hard things that have the power to change our lives, and help us find out who we really are. We have the freedom to chose how to respond to what is happening to us, and our future is ours when we take responsibility. I love you all, thanks for following along:)