This week I took a class called, “Explaining Your Conviction”.   The class was really good.  The idea is to be able to explain what you did in a way that a person interviewing you for a job might still want to hire you. When the teacher asked me to explain my conviction I told him what I did. He said, “That was a really good explanation, but what did you do that was illegal?” I laughed and said, I wish you would have been a member of the jury at the trial I never got to have :)” He was kind enough after the class to spend an hour with me and we looked at what the Government said I did. In the end we settled on this explanation, “I wired money from my bank account to a title company for a real estate transaction that was found to be improper.” Not bad?

The next day I was asked to talk to a large group of women at the RDAP (Drug Treatment) building.  The topic was identical to the class that I had just completed,  “Explaining your Conviction”.  I was definitely intimidated when I walked into a large group of inmates all waiting for me.  I was really nervous and a girl handed me a microphone. I offered a silent prayer and this is what I said to them,”Hi, my name is Portia Louder and I was asked to speak to you on the subject of explaining your conviction.  I think I have the credentials to stand before you today for several reasons.  First, I’m a drug addict, second I’m now a convict. But those are just titles that I don’t really like to use. I’m also the oldest of 7 kids, I’m a mother to 5 children, I’m a friend to many and a pretty good sister. I’m an amazing photographer and I’m a wife who’s crazy in love with her husband and a mother who adores her children. I’m a Mormon from Highland, Utah and I’m a person who made a mistake and makes mistakes. Dublin FCI has been home to me  for the past 4 months.  I have survived a lot of trauma in my life and lived to tell about it. Like all of you, I’m a soldier, I’m here to change my life and leave Dublin, California a better person. I have courage, I’m willing to face my mistakes and plan to make a positive impact on those I love for generations to come.” I asked,” How many of you feel like the legal system was completely fair to you? That the government was objective and impartial and really searched for the truth?” Everyone laughed. I said, “Here’s your chance to tell your side of the story, to show the people who love you and maybe even the people that hate you how amazing you are. All you have to do in order to leave here a champion is be vulnerable and willing to face your mistakes.  To walk through the pain you carry deep down inside and if you do that, I promise that you will leave here a champion and so will those you love. Somehow we have to face the trauma and pain we have been through and come to realize we are really just mothers, sisters and daughters and children of an all powerful God.” I blew through the time they gave me to speak and think I did ok:)

I am grateful for the gifts our all powerful Father in Heaven bestows upon his children, today I am grateful to be a soldier in Federal Prison.