From Surviving to Living

Holly Bot

My story is not fiction. I am a woman, a felon, a sex-offender. I did hard time; it was a living hell. I am so awed by Jesus I will risk reputation, everything, to tell you the details and His glory. God changed me, radically. He will do that for you, your family. I trust Him. I hope you do too!! God is interested in you. read less
Religion & SpiritualityReligion & Spirituality

Episodes

(04) ORIENTATION (CHANGE, SHOCK & AWE, SUICIDE WATCH)
Jan 16 2024
(04) ORIENTATION (CHANGE, SHOCK & AWE, SUICIDE WATCH)
Discover extra content in the blog post – ORIENTATION! In March 2011 I entered prison and was placed in an orientation class. After 2 weeks I was given a job and prison life began. Life outside of prison continued for my family as well, and as I sought to redefine my role as a mom of 5 children I would also experience the loss of my grandmother. I share my struggles with depression and how strict prison rules and challenging prison personalities affected me my first year. Are you overwhelmed? Are you experiencing a lot of changes in your life? Do you need strength to get through? I discuss steps we can take today to see us through to tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT I had believed I was a good person, but I sought to improve. Can you relate? I struggled with serious depression, making stability and holding a job challenging. I felt the weight of other people’s expectations. In prison I tried adjusting to a new normal, but I would learn entering prison wasn’t rock bottom. Life can get even worse. What does life look like before transformation? How can change happen for you? This is ORIENTATION (CHANGE, SHOCK & AWE, SUICIDE WATCH). I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t realize I needed to change. What do I mean? I believed myself to be a good person or at least a person who understood what good is, even if I couldn’t do it consistently. If I could tell you what is right, doesn’t that make me …right? Do you think of yourself as a good person? If you know what’s right, then are you right, even if you don’t do the right thing? I had always been interested, though, in improving myself and my life. I didn’t need to change my beliefs; I wanted the skills to perform well! One of my biggest struggles began in my teen years. I began to suffer from serious depression. I felt disinterested in things that gave other people joy. I was easily irritated.In a 2016 Psychology Today article by Gregg Henriques Ph.D. called The Behavioral Shutdown Theory of Depression, Dr. Henriques does an excellent job of explaining this enigma. He describes depression as a defensive strategy. If one sees little return on their behavioral or emotional investment eventually, they’ll lack the desire to expend that effort. In short – why do things that don’t work? Medication helped, but it wasn’t a cure. I agonized about my failure to do things I saw people do every day. I was just barely surviving, even with meds. Eventually I was prescribed extremely high doses of anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. I believed my depression symptoms said ugly things about me and made me unlikable (or they would if people knew about them. I worked hard to rid myself of these symptoms and hide them. Fake it until you make it was a motto I lived by. Does this sound familiar? You are not alone, and there is hope! On my second day in prison, I was placed in an orientation class lasting 2 weeks. We were called R&
(05) A PADDED ROOM: Pursuit of The Good Life
Jan 23 2024
(05) A PADDED ROOM: Pursuit of The Good Life
Discover extra content in the blog post – A PADDED ROOM! In October 2011 everything I thought I knew was turned upside down. My husband fled the state with our children, and still facing 7 more years in prison, helpless, I threatened suicide. While I’d suffered serious depression for years, I became mentally fractured. I share the emotional journey of hitting rock bottom and finding it’s not the lowest point, experiencing the world as shattered and questioning your own identity, your own ability to understand the world. I discuss Acute Stress Disorder and its symptoms. Are you facing a rock-bottom moment? Are you looking for hope? Find out about the good life God has waiting for you right now, and how you can pursue it today. TRANSCRIPT Even after many years, I remember the moment I felt fractured. I had become familiar with suffering, but now life took an unexpected plunge. Join me on a raw and authentic journey through the prison system, exploring themes of despair, separation, and the relentless pursuit of hope. Where do you turn when faced with profound self-doubt? Have you faced a rock-bottom moment? And how can you learn about the amazing life God has waiting for you right now? Suicide watch in Shakopee takes place in the seg unit. While inmates are usually taken to seg for disciplinary reasons, seg is also used suicide watch and health concerns. It was October 2011. Seven months had slid by since I arrived at prison. I felt my life hit rock bottom when I entered prison. No. So far, I’d only been given a painful life lesson- a new place to live with ugly new clothes in a laundry bag. Rock bottom can be redefined. How do you define rock bottom? Was there a time in your life when you felt a need to “redefine” it? In the months since orientation, I had become sick from the constant trauma. My sense of security eroded. I found myself with competing feelings of disbelief and agitation over the reality of my situation. Simple things like TV commercials showing a happy family together easily blindsided me. I missed my family so much. My stress became so acute I wet my bed at night. At least my children were safe, I told myself. They were living with my parents. Everything was about to change, like a disaster movie. My husband’s mental health really declined the year before I went to prison. He lost his job, started drinking heavily and did drugs. He became suicidal and threatening. for the safety of myself and our children I was given an Order for Protection, which is like a restraining order. My husband was allowed supervised visits. I passed custody on to my parents When I was incarcerated. I felt good knowing my children were safe with my parents. One Thursday night in October I called my parents, and a new nightmare began. “Your husband told us he’s moving to Washington,” my dad said. “He’s picking the kids up on Monday and taking them with.” Taken completely off guard I shouted “What?! You can’t let him do that! Call the police if he shows up!” Trembling started in my stomach and began working its way out towards my arms and legs. Tensing, I tried to stop the shaking I knew was coming. “Dad! Don’t let him take them!” I pleaded. Now I was shivering from head to toe, teeth chattering like I was in a blizzard without a co
(06) WoW (Shatter My Excuses)
Jan 30 2024
(06) WoW (Shatter My Excuses)
Discover extra content in the blog post – WoW! In October 2011 my definition of rock bottom was redefined when my husband left the state with our children. After 2 weeks on suicide watch the prison transferred me to a mental health program named Woman of Wellness. The social isolation of prison was made more complete by the distance from my children I now experienced as they moved across the country. I share the surprising living conditions at MCF-Shakopee and the unusual rules such as the “No Touching” policy that caused additional emotional trauma while it tried to prevent the same. I discuss social isolation and share comparisons between COVID-19 lockdowns and prison policies that lead to severe loneliness and physical illness. Are you lonely? Are you isolated or looking for connection with others? I share insights for having a personal experience with God and how this can lead us to deeper human connection with others. TRANSCRIPT Listen today to discover intimacy with Jesus, overcoming adversity, fostering personal growth, and finding hope in every situation! Despite my difficult experiences in seg, I found solace in a mental health program. I reveal the surprising living conditions at Shakopee prison and show parallels between my experience of isolation there and the broader social impact observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. How can we apply these insights to have a personal experience with God, appreciate human connection, and recognize the potential for transformation in any circumstances? Listen until the end, you won’t want to miss it! This is Wow! October 2011. I waited to be released from seg. recent experience had left me drained. Sitting in seg on suicide watch had been demoralizing. Forced to wear a padded gown, watched by cameras always, having to ask for squares of toilet paper each time…I was not even allowed to wear underwear or use tampons. Helpless, I bled on the gown and myself, messy and embarrassed, alone and shaken – my dignity taking a beating. Now, I wished to feel any measure of control. Finally released from seg I was transferred to Monahan, the prison’s mental health living unit. Have you ever experienced a difficult time that felt really lonely? Do you know someone who has? At my website Hollybot.me you’ll find pictures of the MCF-Shakopee prison campus, inside and out. You might be surprised to discover it doesn’t resemble a prison, as you might imagine a prison to look. It was far different than I expected. MCF-Shakopee resembles a college campus with nice dorms and well-manicured lawns. In 1986 MCF-Shakopee opened at its current location. It was state of the art for its time but almost at once needed renovation to meet its increasing needs. In 2000 Shakopee opened the Monahan living unit and 8 years later expansion began again. A $5.3 million dollar addition to Monahan opened adding another 92 beds for treatment and therapy (for a total of 154), making Monahan the largest living unit at Shakopee. Shakopee’s “cells” also seemed atypical to me. Without bars, they have wooden doors. Walking through a living unit is like touring an apartment complex. Cells have their own separate bathrooms and furnit
(07) GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Burning Rubber)
Feb 6 2024
(07) GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Burning Rubber)
Discover extra content in the blog post – GENERAL ASSEMBLY! Do you desire success, respect, love? Do you feel unconditionally respected and loved?Eight months into my prison sentence I faced uncertainty. While I waited for employment I considered my failures. I hoped for relief, a better future! Distraction from the truth was easier to find.Discover God’s perfect will for you and learn how He performs it! We’ll uncover the secret of love as God defines it, and how you can experience it today. Listen to the end, you won’t want to miss it! This is General Assembly. Credits: Music by Mike Colefrom PixabayMusic by Grand Project from PixabayMusic from #Uppbeat (free for Creators!):https://uppbeat.io/t/monument-music/courage-insideLicense code: YOKSSJ9TSXY6QENQhttps://uppbeat.io/t/monument-music/majestic-whispersLicense code: Y4HICGAETJKKQDCT https://uppbeat.io/t/monument-music/majestic-whispersLicense code: Y4HICGAETJKKQDCThttps://uppbeat.io/t/stan-town/scratch-thatLicense code: VZC6BT6TCYM5Q6JBMusic from #Uppbeat (free for Creators!):https://uppbeat.io/t/soundroll/tik-talkLicense code: EZFIT34FR3SS16TDhttps://uppbeat.io/t/braden-deal/its-glowingLicense code: OBXMU8LNH2K0TLAK TRANSCRIPT It was November 2011. Incarcerated now 8 months, I finished the WoW program and became eligible to work again. I’d been fired from my last job so I could not choose the next one. Nervously I checked the mail daily, waiting for a job assignment. The prison would assign it to me based on the needs of the prison. It could be anything. Starting wages in prison varied from 25 to 50 cents an hour and top pay ranged from one to two dollars. A few jobs even allowed for $4-$6 per hour occasionally. Prior to incarceration I struggled to manage money. I saw this as a performance issue. Financial success that I could proudly demonstrate – and I enjoyed showing off – would give me the approval I craved. So, I struggled with what my apparent failure said about me. I did not budget; I hated the rigidity, the very concept! I sometimes engaged in “retail therapy” whether or could afford it or not. I never really could afford it. If I could, I would attempt to out-earn my over-spending. I had written bad checks in the past and also played beat the bank with a check. the anxiety of such behavior eventually became too much, and I stopped using checks completely. I remember the first time I saw the inside of a jail cell. My husband and I had moved to a small town and lived on his income. We struggled. It’s not hard to imagine. We had one car, used food shelves, saw our utilities frequently turned off, and were pretty skinny. On the flip side, we both smoked a pack a day. To purchase food, I’d written a check I was sure would clear…eventually. I spent it at the local grocery store. It did not clear, and we couldn’t afford to make it good. This wasn’t the first time this had happened. It was the first time I was arrested for such a thing. My parents and husband found money immediately to pay the fine and I was released within a
(08) RING TOSS & DOPPELGANGERS
Feb 13 2024
(08) RING TOSS & DOPPELGANGERS
Discover extra content in the blog post – Ring Toss & Doppelgangers! In November 2011 I was finishing my first year in prison. I had recently been on suicide watch in the prison’s segregation unit after my husband left the state with our children. A brief stay afterwards in the prison’s mental health program had brought me to General Assembly – my newest job. I share unique prison job experiences, unusual co-workers, supervisors, and guards I met in General Assembly and some unexpected life lessons I still use today in leadership positions I’ve been given. I discuss making an impact in the lives of others, loving those around us in profound ways, and the small steps that can be taken today that make a big difference tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT Are you seeking purpose and direction? Are you eager to make a difference? Join me as I navigate a prison job environment, encountering new challenges and unexpected lessons. Brace yourself for difficult coworkers and gripping tales of leadership. Discover the dynamics of power, revealing defiance and resilience. We’ll reveal the secret to making a profound impact for others. Listen til the end, you won’t want to it! This, is Ring Toss and Dopplegangers! I began my job in General Assembly at the end of November 2011. Also called Rubber, it was housed in a large warehouse building shared by several educational and industry job opportunities. There were 2 main jobs – ring inspections and cutting rubber. Rings were actually gaskets needing quality control inspections. Cutting rubber involved trimming excess rubber from molded car parts. The room was divided in half, each with its own supervisor and leads. I was assigned to rings. Base pay was 50 cents. It was an industry job though, and one could do “pie work” (work at non-prison wages) at $4-$6 per hour! I was eager for that privilege. Working rings started by retrieving a tub of gaskets and returning to your desk. You examine each for flaws, removing small imperfections and rejecting ones with cracks. Slowly the tub would empty, rejects and perfects identified. I was just getting settled when Danielle arrived, launching her new career in rings to my right. Danielle didn’t want this job. Why didn’t she take a sick every day until she was fired? “Sicking out” is an option. Danielle was determined to get fired for bad behavior. Her new supervisor seemed determined to keep her here. A bizarre power struggle unfolded. It soon became clear Danielle was a veteran in this type of war. Danielle employed several awesome bad behaviors with drama. She’d arrive at work and slap herself into her desk. Dramatically. Danielle was tall, in her 20’s, with long brown hair. Tossing her coat to the floor she’d stamp over to grab a tub of rings, much heavy sighing and shoulder heaving added for effect. Returning to her desk she’d begin a vigil. She slept at her desk with a blue prison coat tucked under her chin. Snoring was an option. She occasionally awoke. Waiting to catch her supervisor’s eye, she’d toss rings high into the air ’round the room like candy at a parade. Gaskets bouncing and rolling across the floor, she’d continued to empty her tub of rings faster than the rest of us. Intereste
(09) NO PIE & 6 MONTHS NO SHOWER: Depression & Prison Parenting
Feb 20 2024
(09) NO PIE & 6 MONTHS NO SHOWER: Depression & Prison Parenting
Discover extra content in the blog post – No Pie & 6 Months No Shower In 2012 I began my second year in prison. Facing another 7 years behind bars I wrestled with clinical depression as I struggled to maintain contact with my children while working a prison job. My oldest son, meanwhile, joined the Army and headed to boot camp, from where he sent frequent letters to me. I discuss serious depression and its effects, with complete transparency including my inability to even shower for nearly 6 months. I share the joy of parenting, even in a difficult situation and the importance of family connections. Are you struggling with serious depression? Are you a parent looking for support? You’ll find steps you can begin today to feel connected to your children in every situation. TRANSCRIPT: Are you parenting in a difficult situation? Do you need solutions and strength?   Join me on my journey through prison as I learn being mom despite distance and incarceration. From daily challenges to pride as I follow my son on his own journey through the Army, discover with me the secret to powerful parenting in any circumstance. Learn steps you can begin today! Listen until the end, you won’t want to miss a word. This is no pie and 6 months no shower. It was January 2012 and I worked in General Assembly inspecting gaskets at base pay, 50 cents an hour. PIE work, given out on seniority, paid $4-$6 per hour. I set my sights on top pay and planned. I didn’t have long to wait. One afternoon prison guards entered, strolled through the room and halted at a nearby desk. A co-worker doing PIE work peered up in surprise. I held my breath and waited. I was next in line for PIE work. All that stood in my way were the current employees doing the work. My hopes soared! Could this be the day coming sooner than I expected? “Stand up,” they told her. My co-worker set down her work, resignation on her face. As she stood a guard clicked handcuffs on her wrists. The room, quiet before was now dead silent. All eyes watched the drama. Work was boring and this was something to talk about. The guards led my co-worker out of the room and off to seg. Boy was I happy – delighted! I hoped she never came back! Thank God for the police! God, however, was about to teach me a lesson about rejoicing at another’s bad day. The next day I came to work, eager to start earning top dollar for the first time. I was already spending future paychecks on imaginary canteen. Clenching three boxes of work, my boss left his office and made a path towards my desk. Humming happily I watched him as he dropped the boxes on my desk. As he arranged the work in front of me, a phone began ringing behind him in his office. “Excuse me,” he mumbled, shuffling off to answer it. I stared at the work on my desk and waited, toes tapping, still shopping in my head. A few minutes later he returned and began scooping the boxes back up. Confused, I watched as he removed the boxes he’d delivered only minutes ago. Reading my expression he announced, “I’m sorry. Our vendor just called and cancelled the PIE work contract. Please continue your regular work instead.” Lurching back to his office, he stopped to pitch my dreams in the trash by the door. shocked, my head felt wooden. I could not believe that had just happened. What are the odds of that timing? It felt like a cruel joke.  Next I thought, What are my options? I quickly discovered the other half of General Assembly still earned PIE w
(10) SEX OFFENDER (S0) TREATMENT: Personal Growth and Transformation
Feb 27 2024
(10) SEX OFFENDER (S0) TREATMENT: Personal Growth and Transformation
During my prison experience in 2012, I initially resisted a sex offender treatment program, feeling misunderstood and defensive. Embracing change, I pursued a new job and healthy lifestyle, losing weight and feeling better. I share difficult experiences such as a misunderstanding in jail, and I describe parenting from behind bars and my joyful reunion with my children after a year and a half. I discuss my difficult journey in personal growth and relapse into deeper depression. Are you working towards change today? Are you fearful it won’t ‘stick?’ Learn the difference between behavior modification and permanent life transformation and how you can start today. TRANSCRIPT Are you interested in extraordinary personal growth? Do you want to feel great and live a transformed life? Join me as we explore my prison experience, navigating a sex offender treatment program, a new job, and newfound opportunities. Discover unexpected moments of hope and profound lessons learned along the way. From resistance to redemption, we’ll uncover the secret to permanent total life transformation and how you can begin today! Listen until the end, you won’t want to miss a word! This is sex offender treatment. Told sex offender treatment would remove barriers and open doors to privileges, I nevertheless began in December 2012 with an attitude problem. I’d asked repeatedly over the past year to be admitted to the program as early as possible, yet now that I was here, I felt vulnerable. Intake began with hours of psychological testing, both written and interviewed. Afterwards I sulked in the treatment director’s office, arms crossed, sullen. Noticing my posture she pointed out, “You look upset.” Miserable, I explained, “I don’t understand why I need sex offender treatment. This is stupid. I am NOT a pedophile!” Having voiced my concern, I glared at the wall. My face burned. I felt hostile, defensive. I was ready to do anything necessary to remove barriers for myself as a parent, but I was outraged at the requirements. The director leaned over and responded, “We don’t think you are a pedophile. That’s not the purpose of the treatment.” Surprised, I removed my glare from the wall and shifted my gaze to her desk, considering. My thoughts returned to a time nearly 3 years earlier. Recently arrested, I sat in county jail waiting for bail to be posted. One day I was told a psychologist was there to interview me for sentencing recommendations. “Ms. Aho, you have a professional visit. Come with me.” Sitting at a table I looked up in surprise. The guard nodded and pointed at the door. I turned to follow her gaze. Another guard waited outside the red door, his face visible through the window. I stood, smoothed my shirt, and walked to the entrance of the pod. The door clicked open, and I joined the guard in the hall. We headed for a small legal visiting room. As we neared, I could see a woman waiting for me inside. A metal table sat in the middle of the small room. The door clicked open, and I was led inside. I studied the woman as I sat. She was medium everything, medium size, medium coloring, medium age. She didn’t smile as the guard left us alone, the door clicking behind him. Nervously I looked around and waited. I began to feel shaky, anxiety tightening my stomach up. The woman coughed and introduced herself, “I am here to ask you some questions, a psych evaluation,” she explained. I nodded slightly, wondering. The woman picked up a notepad from the table, clutching it in her arms. She studied it a moment. Waiting, my ankle suddenly itched. Mumbling, “Excuse me,” I leaned forward to scratch my leg. Startled, the woman jumped backwards, away from me in fear, stari
(11) UNINTENDED IDLE – AGENCY & DEHUMANIZATION
Mar 5 2024
(11) UNINTENDED IDLE – AGENCY & DEHUMANIZATION
Read the blog post for more content – Unintended Idle, Agency and Dehumanization In November 2013, my world was shattered when I received the gut-wrenching news that my youngest son, Tim, had been rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. I wasn’t by his side to offer comfort and support. No, I was locked away in prison, grappling with the overwhelming weight of emotional turmoil and isolation. I share emotional struggles I faced, from the agonizing wait for updates about Tim’s condition to the crushing weight of depression and loneliness that permeates every aspect of life behind bars. I discuss de-humanization and powerlessness and correlation it has on emotional wellness. Are you suffering from anxiety and stress? Do you have trust issues? I understand. Learn the secret of trust and discover steps you can take to begin healing today. TRANSCRIPT: Do you suffer from stress and anxiety? Have circumstances left you worried or scared? Join me on my journey through the prison system, where information is scarce, decisions are dictated, and agency is stripped away. From frightening news to the dehumanizing effects of prison, discover with me the secret of real power. I’ll reveal the secret of trust and steps toward peace you can take today. Listen until the end – you don’t want to miss a word. It is November 2013 – Prison staff retrieved and delivered me to my caseworker. Social Services in Washington state had called. My youngest son Tim, aged 11, was in hospital for emergency surgery. Scared, I had many questions. My caseworker had no information. It would be many days before I received an update. I entered prison with a strong sense of self-efficacy, which, according to the article Self-Efficacy: The Foundation of Agency, means believing in your own ability to plan and carry out actions needed to achieve certain goals. If people don’t think they can make a difference through their actions, they’re not likely to even try. So, believing in your effectiveness is the basis for taking action. I sought information and knowledge as keys to strategic decision making. Prison starves one of information. I’d now suffered data deficit for years. Are you in the middle of a challenging circumstance? Do you or a loved one have difficult decisions to make? How important is good information to your decision making? Prison, a small town, is designed holistically for lifelong care. Onsite can be found library, chapel, gym, clinic, education, cafeteria, job sites, and more. I had a daily work schedule, planning my day around it. Prison sabotages daily agency – daily plans, too. Appointments made for an inmate outside their work schedule are not usually told in advance to an inmate, in order to prevent the their ability to future plan. Future plan for what I have no idea. At first I found that odd. It is odd, dehumanizing. According to the research article The Impact of Power on Humanity: Self-Dehumanization in Powerlessness, “Power allows people to control outcomes with respect to both the environment and the self. This control is considered to be a fundamental human need; therefore, it follows that powerlessness will disrupt an individual’s sense of humanity… Daily interactions in an unequal relationship appear sufficient to cause us to see ourselves as less human. As the ability to make choices, have freedom, and be able to
(12) LAST CALL: Abuse, Alienation, and Spiritual Growth
Mar 12 2024
(12) LAST CALL: Abuse, Alienation, and Spiritual Growth
It was spring 2014 and I found myself trying to adjust to a new normal, again. My youngest son had been put in foster care the previous fall, taken from my husband due to neglect and abuse. I struggled to navigate the legal system and social services from inside prison walls. Each time I found myself experiencing hope, it would be crushed by a new pain. I didn’t know it, but this would be the last year I would have contact with my daughter, my husband lashing out in anger to destroy my relationship with her. Are you struggling with co-parenting or worse, parental alienation? This is a difficult episode to share, a difficult episode to listen to, but there is hope! This is another step in my journey towards lasting spiritual growth and transformation. Join me! TRANSCRIPT Have you experienced emotional abuse, legal system challenges or parental alienation? Are you hurting and in need of real help? In 2014 I was three years into my 8 year prison sentence. I would face all of these painful issues and more as I sought to remain connected to my family. Discover with me the secret of peace in any circumstance, and the issues that stand in our way. While this episode discusses difficult subjects, it points us to real hope for our future. Listen until the end – you won’t want to miss a word. This is Last Call. “Mommy? Do you still love us?” Vivi’s little voice sang out across the phone lines. It was the summer of 2014. Timmy, under supervision of Child Protective Services, was in foster care. My heart ached as each month new reports from Social Services arrived documenting their life. “Yes I do, Vivi!” I answered, surprised at her question. “I thought so,” she mused. “Brian visited and said you didn’t love us anymore, but I thought, ‘That can’t be true, or why would you send me new bracelets you made every week?’” Brian was Timmy’s social worker. Pride over Vivi’s critical thinking skills was drowned by outrage at Brian. How could any adult tell children their mother doesn’t love them anymore? I was shocked. “Vivi, I am so proud of you! You are so smart and I love you so much, yes I do. Thank you for asking me that question,” I reassured her. Privately I wondered how to stick it to Brian. Have you ever been confronted with uncomfortable questions at an unexpected moment? Have you ever wanted to resolve a painful issue but felt unsure how to proceed? Do you struggle with conflict in relationships today? I’d been incarcerated for 3 years and called my children daily. “Do you know why I answer the phone for you?” My husband snarled one afternoon. I did not know. We rarely spoke. My husband’s phone was my only connection to our young children. I called and usually they would answer. Occasionally my husband would answer silently, passing the phone over. I paid for all phone calls, so money was not on his mind. He didn’t wait for my response as he rushed on, “I answer this phone for you because our sons are old enough to remember you. They would be mad at me if I didn’t.” He sucked in a breath. “They want to talk to you,” he spit out angrily. Eerily his voice dropped, a man finding control. His next question was almost sing song, “But you know what?” This time he waited for my response. Frozen, I didn’t answer. I was almost afraid to. He snickered into the silence. Feeling more powerful he pressed, “Vivi was only 4 years old when you went to prison. Too young to remember you. It’s my mission to make her hate you as much as I do!” His voice had risen in volume as he s
(13) WHERE’S MY SON? An Astonishing Look At Foster Care
Mar 26 2024
(13) WHERE’S MY SON? An Astonishing Look At Foster Care
Are you curious about the Holy Spirit’s power? Do you desire a deeper connection with spiritual strength in the midst of life’s challenges? Join me on a transformative journey as I navigate a challenging new job and fight for my parental rights, all while discovering the profound influence of the Holy Spirit. In 2015 I would encounter new struggles as my youngest son Tim, in foster care, disappeared. I would face a lying social services caseworker willing to perjure himself in court to cover up his actions, and fight to find my son. As I embarked on this journey, a seed of faith was planted within me. Through exploring the teachings of the Holy Spirit, I uncovered a source of true power, ability, and resilience. In “Where’s My Son,” I’ll share my personal experiences and insights, revealing how you too can overcome uncertainty and adversity starting today. Are you facing anxiety, uncertainty, or challenges in trusting others? Do you long for a sense of peace and purpose in your life? This content is for you. Together, we’ll explore the transformative work of the Holy Spirit and uncover practical steps to find peace, healing, and empowerment. Join me on this journey of spiritual discovery and transformation. Together, we’ll unlock the power of the Holy Spirit and experience a newfound sense of purpose, resilience, and peace. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to transform your life from within. TRANSCRIPT How much do you know about the Holy Spirit? Do you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your own life? Join me as I start a challenging new job and fight for my parental rights. Amidst it all, a seed of faith is planted as I explored the teachings of the Holy Spirit, discovering the true source of power, ability and might. I’ll reveal how you can overcome uncertainty and adversity starting today. Listen until the end, you won’t want to miss a word. This is Where’s My Son. “Come work with me!” Jae urged me in the fall of 2014. “We need another tutor.” I shuddered at the thought. “Not a chance,” I answered. Jae was a tutor in Adult Basic Education (A.B.E). It could be argued that prison has neighborhoods with the unemployed its roughest and Education its angry twin. As one lives and eats with the people you work with, I had no interest in moving to that depressing neighborhood. I worked as a clerk in the mental health unit. I had a very flexible schedule which allowed opportunities to call my son Tim who was in foster care. Our phone visit times were dictated by Brian, Tim’s caseworker. As an inmate in prison, nothing could be counted on. Unexpected raids, riots and lockdowns often prevented me from calling Tim, however any failure to call as scheduled would be written up by Brian in his reports as intentional on my part. Sick of being described as an “uncaring mother who doesn’t bother to call her son when scheduled,” I’d obtained the most flexible work schedule possible. Soon I’d learn this job also had its drawbacks. I wasn’t making enough money to call Tim even when I was available. Students like Edith, however,kept me from a better paying job like tutoring. Her mental health needs meant she didn’t live with the other students. She was Thin and anxiety made her awkward. She often asked for help with homework outside of class. “I don’t understand this,” Edith jabbed at her paper. She was seated next to me in the day room. she crossed her arms. I leaned forward to study the work. Edith was learning basic math. I decided to help her, as I picked up a pencil and wrote a number. “This is how you start,” I answered. Tensing, her shoulders rose, elbows dug into her side. I set the pencil down calmly, smiled. <
(14) SURPRISED BY JOY: A Miraculous Journey from Doubt to Experiencing God
Apr 2 2024
(14) SURPRISED BY JOY: A Miraculous Journey from Doubt to Experiencing God
This is the episode you’ve been waiting for – and you won’t be disappointed! It was October 2015 and my life was about to take a dramatic turn. Soon my life would be filled with wonder, excitement and peace! Life didn’t get easier, in fact my circumstances would become even more dire. I was about to discover the “peace that passes all understanding.” I would never be the same, and thank God for that! Do you wonder what true transformation looks and feels like? Do you want it for yourself? Listen today, you’ll be glad you did! TRANSCRIPT Are your beliefs facing a storm of doubt? Do you fear that your connection with Jesus might be slipping away? In the fall of 2015, my oldest son began to deconstruct his faith, ultimately becoming an atheist. Challenged by his doubts, I began a quest to fix things. Join me as I explore the role of doubt and how it can lead to deeper understanding. Discover with me the secret to transformation through Scripture. Are you ready for a genuine connection with Jesus today? Listen until the end,  you don’t want to miss a word! This is Surprised by Joy. I think of this as the beginning. I was asleep, maybe dead all my life, before 2016. I was 40 years old. “Mom, I’m not sure I believe in God anymore,” my oldest son Noel explained on the phone. It was October 2015, and Noel had just turned 21. Trying to remain calm I asked, “Why do you say that?” Noel had gone to a Christian school, living with my parents after I went to prison. They had taken him to church every Sunday. “I’m not certain He exists,” Noel answered. “I’m not an atheist. I guess I just don’t know,” he finished. Are you uncertain about God? Are you looking for answers? The call left me tense; I considered solutions. I also went to a Christian school, was taken to church every Sunday. I wanted to fix this. Recently I took the Myers-Briggs personality test. I am the INTJ classification type, placing an emphasis on logic and fact rather than emotion, with a strong desire for competence and knowledge. The church I was raised in was intellectually stimulating, with biblical archeologists, theology professors, and interesting guest speakers. I felt confidence in this knowledge and was eager to learn. When I was very young, about 4 years old, my mother tells me she explained salvation to me. She shared that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that He had risen from the dead. Jesus is alive today. She showed me John 3:16 and Romans 10:9-10. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 She asked me if I believed. She prayed with me. I do not remember any of this. But she wrote the date in my Bible. At age 6 or 7 I was baptized at our church. This I do remember, a little. I remember having stage fright. Standing next to the pastor, staring out at the church, I was asked questions. Too terrified to respond I did nothing, said nothing. That’s what I remember. I was baptized regardless. This made me a member of the church. As I grew up and became a teenager, I would hear the message of salvation many times. Though told I’d been saved, with that note in a Bible, I didn’t feel saved.
(15) Breaking Bias: Challenging Preconceptions, Finding Faith
Apr 9 2024
(15) Breaking Bias: Challenging Preconceptions, Finding Faith
In this episode of ‘From Surviving to Living,’ it’s the beginning of 2016, and I discuss the challenge of special occasions like birthdays behind bars, and my journey towards spiritual awakening through reading the Bible. I touch on the difficulties of sharing my newfound faith with my family and the rejection I faced from them. In this episode I also dive deep into how scripture challenged my existing beliefs and led me to understand the concept of being chosen and loved by God. I encourages listeners to seek a real relationship with Jesus, and share how questioning and seeking answers from God led me to a profound sense of His Presence and understanding. Holly’s story is a testament to the belief that transformation is possible for everyone through a relationship with Jesus and highlights the alive and active nature of God’s word. 00:00 Welcome to From Surviving to Living00:53 The Power of Transformation and Faith02:17 Breaking Free: A Journey of Faith Behind Bars03:15 Discovering the Bible: A New Perspective08:05 The Challenge of Sharing New Beliefs13:09 A Deep Dive into Spiritual Understanding15:02 Experiencing God’s Presence and Lessons21:08 Closing Thoughts: Your Story is Never Over TRANSCRIPT Do you seek solace through spiritual beliefs? Does this method of comfort leave you resistant to questioning those beliefs? Early in 2016 God would begin to change everything in me. Despite these positive changes my family would soon reject and abandon me, offended by my new beliefs. Through it all, I would discover the secret to solace, which transcends mere belief, finding peace in an actual relationship with Jesus. We’ll explore the experience of knowing Jesus and uncover the secret to real relationship with Him. Listen until the end, you don’t want to miss a word! This is Breaking Bias. February 2016 and another birthday in prison for me. When I first arrived at prison it had been the month of March. Since my birthday is in February, I’d had an entire year before my first birthday there; I had watched other women celebrate birthdays all year, trying to make them special. Holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays, the hardest times in prison. They are typically spent with family and friends, happy, but can be stark reminders of loss when one is away from loved ones. Most women tried to make the best of it in prison. I saw this was not easy for them. I vowed to make my birthday special but just like them, it never turned out the way I wished. Is there a time of year that’s very special for you? How do you observe it? Have you experienced loss that makes holidays more difficult to enjoy? For the past month I had been reading the Bible constantly, everywhere. I didn’t jump in at the beginning. Instead, I began towards the end, hesitant and unsure. As I came to a teaching in the book of I Peter, I read a verse I remembered hearing when I was young: 20 knowing this first: that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in olden times by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. II Peter 1:20-21 I didn’t completely understand this but it did make sense that if God wanted to write a book, He could. We think of authors like Stephen King as having a good editor and publisher. We take for granted their books are as they, the author, intended. Why think human authors have abilities superior to God? Either God can do god-like things or He is not a god, not worth worshiping. I also found something in the book of Hebrews I’d heard before at church but had never felt was explained well: For the wo
(16) TASTE & SEE: Anticipation and Happiness
6d ago
(16) TASTE & SEE: Anticipation and Happiness
From Surviving to Living: Transformation Through Faith In this episode of ‘From Surviving to Living,’ Holly Bot shares her remarkable journey of transformation from a felon and sex offender who endured hard time, to being deeply moved by faith and the power of change through God. Holly opens up about the personal challenges she faced, including the battle to keep parental rights for her son, Tim, amidst financial struggles and personal growth while in prison. She recounts how embracing faith, practicing tithing, and putting others before herself led to unexpected personal improvements and a renewed sense of hope. Holly also delves into overcoming fear, anticipation of the future, and the importance of immersing oneself in God’s word to find happiness and purpose. The episode encourages listeners to face uncertainty with faith, seek transformation, and anticipate their future with joy through a relationship with Jesus, reflecting on prophecies and the promises of a joyful eternity according to the Bible. TIMELINE 00:00 Podcast Introduction: The Journey from Surviving to Living01:17 Episode Intro – Facing Uncertainty: Overcoming Fear and Finding Hope02:24 Taste and See: A Story of Battle, Survival, and Faith04:38 Financial Responsibility and Spiritual Growth in Prison12:55 The Power of Anticipation: Learning Happiness and Preparing for the Future13:32 Anticipating Eternity: Understanding God’s Plan for Our Future19:35 Conclusion: A Prayer for Anticipation and Joy TRANSCRIPT Are you facing uncertainty? Is fear of the future weighing on you? In January 2016, my parental rights were on the line for my son Tim unless I found him a home outside foster care. I would be confronted with financial challenges, unexpected weight loss, and new confidence from unlikely sources. Join me as we delve into overcoming fear, embracing hope, and triumphing over uncertainty. Discover with me the secret to increasing happiness and how you can begin today! Listen until the end, you don’t want to miss a word! This is Taste and See! A battle was on the horizon, one I hoped to avoid. Six months after I entered prison in 2011, my husband violated a restraining order and kidnapped my four younger children from my parents. He fled with them to Washington state. Life didn’t go well for my children in Washington. Court records show my husband’s violent behavior towards women resulted in new restraining orders, his arrest record grew, probation violations became ordinary, and homelessness was common. Our youngest son, Tim, had a challenging medical condition; if left untreated it could be fatal. My husband failed to care for him properly, and Tim nearly died. After receiving life-saving surgery he was placed in a foster home. I was given a lawyer by Washington state who encouraged me to sign a waiver of my parental rights. This was a very confusing time for me, a frightening time. Normally I’m assertive. Prison, however, is an information vacuum. It shrinks a person. Facing 5 more years in prison, I signed the waiver. I don’t think I understood what it was. Three years later, hardened, ready for battle, I was ready to learn. In January 2016 I asked my lawyer to revoke this waiver. I had become angry. I’d gone from scared to defiant. My release seemed closer, and Tim was having a hard time. I wanted to give him hope for the future and make plans with him in it. Social Services immediately responded by filing for termination of our parental rights. A trial date was set for September. Have you ever made a decision without feeling informed?