This morning I walked around the track and felt quite emotional as I thought back to all the things I’ve been through over the last 3 years. I said a simple prayer: “Father in Heaven, will you please walk with me, I feel alone today. Sometimes being in prison is hard.” I know I can’t change the environment in prison, so I’ve tried really hard to change the way I look at the environment. As I have worked inside my own heart, my feelings have changed; I have grown to love the women here, and feel blessed to see the good. I’ve been reading a book called, “The Power to Become” By David A. Bednar. In his book he shares stories of people who face their struggles with courage and honor. One of the men he wrote about was faced with a life threatening illness and said, “I just don’t want to shrink as I face this trial. Not shrinking is much more important than surviving!” I was touched by those words. Another man facing cancer said, “I knew I had enough faith to be healed, that I had the strength to fight the good fight and stay positive. The question was: did I have enough faith not to be healed? To stay strong to the end if things didn’t go the way I wanted them to?” The book said that when the man made the decision to kneel before his Father in Heaven and offer himself completely without reservation he was given a whole new perspective. The man said, ” I told God if the plan for me is different than what my heart desires I am willing to suffer whatever is asked in faith.” He said: “It wasn’t until after that experience that the big miracles started happening. My understanding was opened, and I felt peace, and clarity that I had never known before.”

I too have had incredible moments of clarity, and understanding as I have submitted my will to God. I have humbled myself through repentance and felt the healing power of Jesus Christ change my very nature. I have also witnessed that healing power come into my children’s hearts, and give Chad strength above his own. My study of the scriptures has become deeper than I ever thought possible. My desire to read and study good books has become so intense I hardly have enough time in the day. My mind has been opened in a very miraculous way! I get up at 5:30am every morning to study and usually read and study at least 7 hours a day. I’m even thinking about writing a book, and working hard to prepare myself for that possibility. Recently a woman who read my blog outside self surrendered here. She reached out to me a few months ago because she was nervous and scared to come to prison, and of course her heart was broken to have to leave her children. When she wrote me she told me the date she was coming, and I was able to let the women in our support group know to watch for her. When she arrived we were ready with open arms! Yesterday she told me how humbling it’s been to have the love and support of so many good people. She said: “Prison is nothing like I thought it would be. I tried really hard to prepare for this, but it’s impossible to be prepared. I read so many bad things on the internet about prison; finding your blog was such a blessing; it gave me hope! Reading about the good things that can happen in prison gave me something to hold onto.” I’m so grateful we were able to help her:)

Lately we have had women running down to get in line to have their pictures taken. Yesterday my partner said: “You know Portia, these women just act like they love you. They would turn on you in a minute, none of them really care about you.” I said: “I don’t do a good job taking their pictures because I want them to love me, I do it because I love them! I get a chance to see inside their heart when I take their pictures; they are my sisters!” It’s a blessing in prison to have a way to express the love I have for others. My daughter Sadie wrote me a message this week and said: “Mom! I haven’t heard from you for a while, how are you doing? Give me all the details! I want to know everything! I’ve been really busy getting to school on time, getting good grades, playing volleyball, and talking to boyz… Oh the things I have to do!” Today Sadie wrote me a message and said: “I’m doing so good mom! I was sad for a long time, and I’m not sad anymore, I’m so content. I’m trying new things, and making new friends. It’s just awesome loving life again, and loving you!” Talk about a sweet moment for a mother! I have prayed and prayed for my children, asking God to comfort them. Our family has been through a lot! Knowing that my children are thriving, not just surviving was so powerful for me. I’ve been a bit down lately? I love you all, and always appreciate your prayers. I know this too shall pass, and something amazing lies on the other side of it, but for now I just need to make the best of each day. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support. Sharing my story has been, and continues to be a great blessing.