We all have struggles, and many of mine have been by my own doing.  But that doesn’t make them any less painful to overcome.  It used to seem like overcoming my mistakes was an impossible hill to climb. Having the support of so many good people has made all the difference. My legal troubles took years to resolve and they were the ever present shame that kept me running from the only thing that could free me: Responsibility! My legal fight culminated in a traumatizing experience that resulted in a guilty plea that quite frankly I wasn’t willing to enter into. I fought with the government because I thought what they were doing was unfair. I thought they were being selective. Banks were fully aware of what I was doing, so it wasn’t fraud? Now I can see that I should have been looking inside myself for the solution. I wasted a lot of time focusing on what the government was doing wrong, instead of being honest with myself. I was broken inside, and lacked integrity. I made risky decisions that hurt my family, and community and If I could have admitted those things I could have found some moral high ground.  Pointing to what other people are doing wrong never works? Facing my own weaknesses has been painful, but empowering! I read something in a book last night that I really liked. It was a book about the life of president Garfield, and said: “It is not proof of highest goodness never to have done wrong; it is proof of it to recognize the evil and turn resolutely against it.”

I felt the weight of the world for a long time worrying about what other people would think. I thought that I had to fight to preserve something for my family, and didn’t know any other way to make things right. There’s a freedom attached to being here. I guess you could say: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”(Janice Joplin) After I was sentenced to 7 years in prison, I thought: “Now what? They took their best shot, and I’m still standing. Now the process of healing can begin!” But sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it’s lonely, and the embarrassment is front and center.  Sometimes it seems impossible.  My crime wasn’t breaking the law of the United States of America, my crime was breaking Gods law, natural law and I convicted myself! I engaged in risky real estate deals, and made poor decisions; I used prescription drugs to numb the pain, and hurt my family. And Instead of humbling myself, I fought. My friend Heidi says: “I’ve seen the enemy, and it is I.” I think we have that in common. I have asked God for forgiveness, and reached out to others in humility. I’m doing what I can to be a better person. I fall short, but I am determined! It is my goal now to share the burdens of others, and lift the poor and downtrodden.

Prison is a great place to find God, anywhere is a great place to find God! I think there is a special spirit here. I think we are walking on hollowed ground. We come in broken; all of us have made mistakes, and everyone knows it! Can you imagine if your own community, knew your deepest darkest mistakes and fears. Sometimes they play them on the 10:00 news or post them on media outlets, and I can assure you the whole story never gets told. We all make mistakes, why not love and support each other? Why shouldn’t I want every woman to leave prison amazing? Is society served when a person comes to prison and we beat them down? I want these women, these mothers, these daughters of the most high God, to go home and be the change makers; the ones that stop generations of abuse! I have a purpose and a responsibility here! I have been loved and supported most of my life; I have an incredible husband, and incredible children; my community is cheering me on. Most of these women have nothing! I love them, and we are all on the same team. You and I, us and them, all of us. Let’s support each other, let’s all be amazing! Let’s never give up. Let’s humble ourselves, and find God wherever we are. And if any of my sisters get out of prison and fail, I will be here when they come back to cheer them on again. Lets be united in our love for each other, we can do so much good! I pray our God in Heaven will bless us all in our righteous endeavors, and in our desire to support each other in our struggles.

I want to share something we use in one of our classes. It’s called: “The Manifesto of The Brave and Broken Hearted.”
By: Brene Brown

There is no greater threat to the critic and cynics than those of us who are willing to fall. Because we have learned how to rise. With skinned knees, and bruised hearts, we choose owning our own stories of struggle, over hiding, over hustling, over pretending. When we deny our stories they define us. When we run from struggle we are never free. So we turn toward truth, and look it in the eye. We will not be characters in our stories. Not villains, not victims, not even hero’s. We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings. We craft love from heart break, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, and courage from failure. Showing up is our power. Story is our way home. Truth is our song. We are the brave and broken hearted, and we are rising strong”! Thanks for sharing this journey with me