I was asked to write a letter and share it in a class I’m in this week, and decided to share the letter with all of you.

Learning about the impact our choices have on others, and how far reaching the consequences of those choices can be has been eye opening.  The day I was sentenced I stood in a courtroom surrounded by my family, and loved ones; I know now how blessed I was to have their support!  My sentencing range was 0 to 7 years, and I hoped I would be sentenced to the low side of that range.  While waiting for the judge to come into the courtroom I suddenly felt so alone; I looked back at my family with tears streaming down my cheeks, and knew right then that judge was going to give me the maximum sentence.  My heart ached for my loved ones, and I felt a strange peace come over me; I wanted desperately to tell my family that it was going to be okay.  It was surreal, I could almost see my life as a spectator, and knew that the way I responded to what was about to happen to me might be the most important thing I would ever do. I remember looking back at my children and thinking how beautiful they looked in their best clothes. My youngest daughter CJ was sitting on my husband Chad’s lap at the time and I thought: “Oh my dear child, how am I ever going to live without you. How will I survive 7 years away from everything good in my life? God have mercy on me; please give me the strength to do this!”  My heart broke that day! Before the judge sentenced me I stood at the podium and apologized to my family. I told the judge that I knew I had a good life, and there was no excuse for my mistakes; I told my family how much I loved them, and how sorry I was for what I was putting them through. The judge ordered me to serve 7 years in Dublin California, and gave me 8 weeks to self surrender. I do know that 8 weeks was a tender mercy from God! After I was sentenced watching my children do the simplest things seemed like perfection to me. I thought: “How could I have been so foolish; everything important was right in front of me! Why did making money seem so important?” I made a decision then that I would face this challenge with courage; that I would do right by my family, and community, and do whatever it took to leave prison an amazing person!

My case was a real estate fraud case, meaning I bought and sold houses that were over valued. The government defined the victims as banks, but I still struggle with that definition; the banks were a part of the problem too! I know I don’t have it all figured out yet, so I’m still working on a better understanding of what took place. I do know my family, and community were victims, and I’ve had many heartfelt conversations apologizing to my family. I write on a blog each week and share my experiences with my community, and hope that my willingness to be open and honest with them will in some way repair some of the damage I’ve done. My family and community have been very supportive of me; their support is extremely humbling, and motivates me to be a better person. I try to make amends by doing the right thing in the situation I’m in now, and I’ve asked God to give me a change of heart; to help me see the truth about myself. I know I am completely responsible for where I am today. I have learned that responsibility is freedom! I struggled accepting that what I did was illegal, but that doesn’t matter so much anymore. I knew when I was investing in real estate it was wrong; there was a place in my heart said stop; this isn’t right! But I just kept going. I thought the end justified the means; that making more money would allow me to be home with my kids more; what foolish thinking! I want to be a mother my kids can be proud of now, and think I’m on the road to making that happen.

In this class I have met some courageous women. I was impacted in a significant way by some of the stories you shared, and feel deeply humbled by your strength. I can’t imagine being 11 years old and having my father try to rape me, or 3 years old and being raped by my uncle. My father loved me, and worked hard to protect me, and provide a good life for me. My dad is one of my hero’s. Such atrocities are hard for me to comprehend! I was most impressed by the choices you made to respond to your hardships with courage, and responsibility. Your stories remind me of a quote from my favorite book Les Miserable’s by Victor Hugo. It says: “You have left a place of suffering. But listen, there will be more joy in heaven over the repentant sinner, than over the robes of a hundred good men. If you are leaving that sorrowful place with hate and anger against men you are worthy of compassion; if you leave it with goodwill, gentleness, and peace, you are better than any of us!” I am grateful I had the privilege to get to know you. I know as I take responsibility for my mistakes, and make amends, the best is yet to come! It is my goal to continue on this journey, and become an amazing person. Thank you for sharing your stories with me, it is an honor to call you my friends.