Of course, Bridget's story will continue beyond the words in these posts and good fruit will be the product of her life.
Since her release on September 13, 2014, Bridget has worked hard, really hard, in building a life for which she can be proud. Finding reasonable employment was one of her biggest challenges. She worked menial jobs until she caught the attention of the wife of a local business owner. Based on what this woman saw, Bridget was asked to interview for a job which eventually earned her the title of manager and a wage allowing her to stand on her own two feet.
One thing she did right away was tackle that list of things she wanted to do upon release which she had shared in her jail journal.
- Sit outside in the sun
- Dig my toes in the sand
- Drink pop out of a cup with ice and a straw
- Lay in the grass
- Rest under a tree
- Read a book while laying out
- Go for a motorcycle ride
- Have coffee with my mother
- Hug my daughter
- Get a job
- Watch the sunset
- Hold hands with someone I love
- Be a great mom and grandma
- Address my regrets and right any wrongs
- Take lots of pictures
- NOT GIVE UP
- Continue to love myself more and more
- Catch up with friends
- Make new friends
- Breath fresh air
- Be free!
- Take a walk thru the park
- Swing on a swing
- Lay in a hammock, napping in the afternoon sun
- Catch fireflies
- Smell fresh flowers
- Make better choices
- Keep praying and listening to my creator
- Embrace the "Apple Tree"
- Use my gifts to help people & myself
- Bake and cook
- Plant a garden
- Make snow angels in the winter
- Go see my dad*
- Get back up when I fall
*Unfortunately, Bridget's father passed away before she could see him. She was able to attend the funeral and gain some sort closure on that part of her life.
Shortly after her release, on a shopping trip to Target (see picture above), Bridget literally ran into the Walmart employee from that night at Walmart. He didn't recognize her, but Bridget certainly recognized him. It shook her to the core.
Bridget's recovery has not been a solo endeavor. Cheering for her, praying for her and supporting her has been a wide community of people. I'm privileged to be a part of that community and I continue to call her my friend. I was so pleased to baptize her TWO grandsons in early 2016. God is good, indeed.
In February 2016, Bridget was part of a panel whose aim was to discuss issues relevant to women who had been incarcerated. Incarcerated people face a variety of extreme challenges upon release; especially those without a healthy community. Below is an overview of that evening.
In August 2017, the magazine for the denomination in which I serve, The Covenant Companion, published a story about our shared experience. You can find the link here.
Throughout her recovery, Bridget has returned to the question, "What is my truth?" The answer to such a question is best realized from a distance. As I walked through Bridget's story, each individual part of her story, like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, could only be understood when placed in its spot in the bigger picture.
The truth is Bridget is a complex individual with faults, fears, and failures; and, despite everything she has done she is worthy of hope, love, second chances, and opportunity. She is a beautifully designed person who bears the image of her Creator.
And, Bridget is designed to flourish; just as we are all designed to flourish. My truth in this is that I can be a part of helping others flourish or I can ignore what I've discovered. I chose people. Before Bridget, I didn't truly know what that meant.