This has been a tough week.  Sometimes the environment in prison overwhelms me.  I was eating lunch at a table with women I don’t know this week and couldn’t help listening to their conversation. One of the women said, “I miss my daughter so much. Being away from my family is so painful!” Her friend sympathized with her, then the woman said, “My room mate told me if I get a girlfriend I won’t even think about my kids anymore, but I don’t think I want to do that. What do you think?” Her friend said, “It’s true, once you get a girlfriend you don’t care about anything else.” It hurts my heart to hear the women that I so dearly love talk about things I consider sacred.  I love my family dearly!  Tomorrow is my 19th wedding anniversary and I miss everything about Chad.  Being married to the love of my life for 19 years is a great blessing.  It’s a precious gift that many of the women that I meet here will never have.

Each Saturday the prison shows a movie in the rec barn. I have been here almost a year now but haven’t been able to sit through a movie yet.  I have panic attacks caused by the trauma that I suffered at a county jail.  Enclosed spaces without windows really bother me.  My friend Pam wanted me to see the movie this week so she made special arrangements for me to sit in a place where I wouldn’t be closed in.  It was going really well until I went to use the bathroom and we all had to wait because two inmates were in the restroom having sex. Yesterday morning when I went to check my email there were two women in the TV room in our unit having sex.  After the movie I decided to take a walk before our support group meeting and as I was coming around the track two girls were fighting.  It was a girlfriend fight, and one of the girls took the other girl by the hair and pounded her knee into the girls face several times. By the time I sat down for our meeting I was pretty shook up and shared some of my feelings with our group. After I shared a girl who is new to our group said, “Portia I came to this meeting tonight because I took one of your classes and loved it. When I was sitting in your class you said that we get to decide how this all ends. That this is probably the most important thing we will ever do.  You told us that If we are willing to be vulnerable and walk through our pain we will leave here amazing.  I believed you, and knew what you said was true because I felt it in my heart when you said it.” Her words were very encouraging to me.

Today is Sunday and each Sunday morning I look forward to sitting outside on the bleachers near the track and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing on my mp3 player.  Music has become precious to me in prison.  Personally  I don’t have much musical talent but during the 10 days I sat in a cement cell at a county jail and sang the song, “A Child’s prayer” over and over.  It was during that time that music became a great comfort to me. This morning as I listened to the choir sing “Be still My Soul,” “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” and “I’ll Go Where You want Me to Go,” I became emotional as each of these songs are significant to me, and remind me of our Savior’s love for us.  I saved a letter sent to me from a friend in Highland and decided to open it on the Sabbath Day as a way of feeling closer to the spirit. I sat on the bleachers with tears streaming down my cheeks and thanked my Father in Heaven for the good in my life.  So many of you have been the angels that have carried me through many dark hours. Your comments, prayers, love and support have been a great blessing!  I’m going to share an excerpt from that letter because it was so touching to read this morning.

Dear Portia
Today, the first day after spring started officially, it is snowing:) But it will melt quickly. The trees are beginning to leaf, and birds can be heard especially in the morning. This week I passed the park on my way home, and was able to see for a moment, your husband pitching to your youngest daughter. She got a piece of one and hit a pop-fly.  I could see that she was pleased with herself, and that Dad praised her, and continued to pitch. It was brief, but it was sweet and I thought that you might like to know. I also want you to know that you have tremendous value, and that your blog touches lives. I am grateful to see behind your eyes through your words. I hope you can continue to find Christ in your life. I believe that your words will help others find him in theirs. Take care Portia, you are loved by many.

At the top of the letter this sweet sister wrote, “Please excuse the recycled paper.” When I turned the paper over it was sheet music so I read the words and this is what they said,” I have often dreamed of a far off place where a great warm welcome will be waiting for me. Where the crowds will cheer when they see my face, and a voice keeps saying this is where I’m meant to be. I will find my way. I can go the distance. I’ll be there someday.” I don’t think she intended the words to be so meaningful and I have no idea what song they are from, but this morning on this tender Sabbath day in Federal prison they are exactly what I needed. Thank you all for your love and support.