Winter has arrived in Waseca, Minnesota. Would you believe that the temperatures gets down to 30 below zero and that the yard is closed?  The noise, and chaos inside a prison is often times overwhelming. Going outside has been a vital part of my mental well being and I can already feel the difference.  I’m tough and in these cold temperatures I would bundle up and go outside if they would let me. I thought I tried being assumptive on Saturday when an officer came to work.  I said, “You’re going to open the yard aren’t you? It’s beautiful out there!” There was no delay in his response, “Not a chance! The weather is so cold you could get frost bite on your face in 10 minutes.”  That didn’t work out so well:) The days are long, and to deal with it I walk back and forth from rec to the unit every hour on the 10 minute move. I really miss my morning walks! As I was leaving the kitchen yesterday an officer said: “Hey Louder, how are the roads out there?” The snow gets pretty deep here. I told the officer: “The roads are great! I live in a gated community and everything is taken care of for me.” He laughed:) A while back in visiting a little boy was talking to his Grandma and said: “Grandma, I know why you don’t want to come home now; It’s because you get to live in such a big house.” I laughed! His Grandma lives in the “Big house”.  What a difference our perspective makes; the little guy was too young to understand good or bad, or to know what prison is. He just thought his Grandma was lucky to live in such a big house.

I have been praying for a Christmas miracle.  I want this Christmas to be special for my family.  The obvious miracle would be to get a response from the courts? I told my lawyer recently: “My children have offered a thousand prayers; is our legal system really this awful?” The judge has had the paperwork for months, and the anticipated time for a response came and went in September. I don’t even know what to say to my family anymore? I sent CJ an email telling her how much I love her recently, and her response was: “Thank you mom for telling me that, but when is the judge going to let you come home?” I would certainly love to get a response from the courts regarding my case, but that shouldn’t take a miracle? If I could pick one wish for my children right now it would be that they feel the infinite love that our Father in Heaven has for them. Many of the women I live with in prison don’t value themselves.  They don’t know how special, and important they are. I want my children to have a spiritual experience this Christmas. I want them to feel the all encompassing love our Father in Heaven has for them. That love can fill us from the inside out, and can heal the broken hearted, and downtrodden. I have felt that love lift my spirit in times of my greatest suffering.  I don’t have anything material to give my children this year; I just want to give them my heart! I pray this will be a very special Christmas for our family.

A while back I was able to meet with LDS volunteers and requested a priesthood blessing. If you aren’t LDS, and read my blog I won’t be able to adequately describe a priesthood blessing.  I will only tell you that it is a special prayer that has the power to heal through the powers of Heaven. When the volunteer gave me the blessing I was emotional, and hoped that I would be promised a resolution through the courts.  I was told that I would have good health, and comfort; that I would have a closer relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ through this Holiday season. Since our visit, I have felt a calm in the middle of the storms around me. I was grateful for the blessing of good health, because prison is a really hard place to get sick! I was promised that I would feel closer to my Savior, and that promise has been fulfilled. Before I came to prison, and was going through my legal troubles I felt isolated, and alone a lot of the time. For so many years I was afraid of what I am now experiencing! Since being sentenced I have felt free of that isolation, I have opened my heart and let all of you in. I realize our Father in Heaven could open the doors of this prison, but opening my heart is a much greater miracle! The change of heart He has given me will be with me always. As I have humbled myself in prayer, I have felt a special relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ, and can see now that I would have under blessed myself of I had been granted my wish to go home; that would only have been a change in geography. I have prayed many times to have my suffering relieved, only to find out the joy waiting for me on the other side of the journey is indescribable. The hard stuff builds character! Our God has a much grander plan for us than we are capable of grasping. Sometimes I look back and think, “This has been going in for so long, when will it end?” But I have been given a new perspective, and my life will never be the same! I have walked through the hard stuff, and kept a tender heart; the freedom I have in is indescribable. I pray you will feel the love of our Father in Heaven this Holiday season. I know the Christ Child lives; that He came to earth in humble circumstances, and lived a perfect life. He is the advocate with the Father, and desires to bless us with His spirit this Christmas season. I pray you will feel His love as I have, and know how truly valuable we are to our Father. Merry Christmas