Tagged: redemption

Prompting Inmate Bloggers Promotes Deeper Thinking

 

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Blogging is such a great tool for rehabilitation. That is one reason why Suzie and I created Stone City Blog. We want all inmates to have access to this new and effective rehabilitative tool.

I’d like to encourage everyone who reads Stone City Blog, to reach out to the bloggers, and prompt them. Ask them critical questions that will inspire deeper thought and self reflection. By doing so, you could be that one thing that inspires great change within an inmate and his rehabilitative efforts. Stone City Blog gives you access to over 1,000 posts written by over 100 inmates. All of these inmates can be contacted via email (JPay).

In this post I will respond to THREE PROMPTS from Sandra Rogers.

 

PROMPT #1) How will you achieve a balance between redemption and rehabilitation?

This prompt is awesome. It brings a whole new dimension to my thought process. Until now, I’ve never ever even considered such a question. Redemption and rehabilitation go hand in hand. For me personally, I can’t achieve one without the other.

My rehabilitation efforts are a daily process. Everyday I’m focused on love, compassion, and understanding as I live in an environment full of hate, conflict, and turmoil. It’s my job to rehabilitate myself while in the belly of the beast surrounded by demons. I do not react to negativity with negativity. Instead, I remain focused on my goals and dreams as I use my energy in a positive productive manner.

On a scale of 1-10, if my Rehabilitation is at a 8, well then my Redemption has to be at least a 4. Because Rehabilitation is Redemption to some degree. 4 and 8 is not balanced. Therefore, I need to get my Redemption up by at least 4 points. I can do so by contributing to society in a positive way. Such as saving dogs and doing volunteer work. Hey, I do that.

 

PROMPT #2) How will you find a balance between Selflessness and Selfishness?

By keeping in close contact with mentors I trust and respect. Such as Suzie, Alana, Sandra, and maybe even professional counselors. They will help show me the way and keep me focused. They will prompt me to a deeper level of consciousness and self awareness.

If it is brought to my attention that a segment of my life is unbalanced, then I will do whatever it takes to balance it out. To simply answer this question: I will seek the advice of all those who are educated, and those who have great perspective and insight.

Meanwhile, in here I enjoy great balance between working out, eating healthy, watching football, and reading & writing. (Selfishness)

And then (Selflessness), helping others, sharing, and volunteering.

 

PROMPT #3) What are the markers of the above mentioned kind of balance?

Happiness. The ultimate marker is happiness. When my life is truly balanced, I’m at my happiest. Regardless of my environment. When aspects of my life fall out of balance, my happiness is the first to suffer.

Another great marker is the opinions and perspectives of my mentors and the people I love, and how THEY view me. If they are happy with me and proud of me, that is a great indication that I’m achieving a high degree of balance in my life.

 

Thank you Sandra for such thought provoking prompts. The insight and self analyzation that it takes in order to answer these questions are very valuable. Your on-going prompts have taught me more about life and myself. They invoke deep thinking and self reflection that is critical to any type of rehabilitation.

It is my prayer and hope that everyone can recognize the significant value that is hidden within inmate bloggers and critical thought-provoking prompts.

 

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Steven Jennings

How To Engage Those Who Continue With Misconduct

 

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For years I engaged in misconduct. As a matter of fact, I pretty much wrote a book on it. It’s called, “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary.” Today I reflect back to those sad days (and beyond) and I ask myself, “What could’ve reached me? What would’ve it taken for me to change my negative lifestyle?”

The answer is clear: meaningful activities that inspire intrinsic motivation, guidance, mentoring, and I needed mental practitioners who would’ve constantly provided positive reinforcements.

I dream and hope for a program that could change countless lives all over the country. The details are complexed, but the concept is simple:

PHASE ONE:
Offer programs that inspire intrinsic motivation. Every state has multiple correctional facilities. So implement specific programs in the facilities that are best suited for those specific programs. For example, one facility could specialize in automotive and mechanic programs, while another facility specializes in animals and veterinarian programs. Lessen the criteria of these programs and make them available to those who have never had such opportunities.

PHASE TWO:
Strategically place mental practitioners around the facility to offer positive reinforcement, mentoring, encouragement, etc.

PHASE THREE:
Work with outside companies that will hire some of these highly skilled men the second they’re released.

If this simple, realistic concept was properly implemented nationwide, I guarantee the recidivism rate would be lower than the current 66%.

Please read: How To Keep Juvenile Delinquents From Coming To Prison

 

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Steven Jennings

Q & A

Consequences of My Crime Inspire Great Change

 

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Back in 1994, I was in a drunken rage and shot 4 innocent young men. It is only because of their strong will that no one died. I got what I deserved: 43 years in prison. I’ve never appealed it. I’ve never seeked clemency. And I have no desire to be paroled.

I take full responsibility for my actions and I accept my sentence in full. I have about 13 years left to serve. I refuse to take my incarceration in vain. I am determined to match and exceed all my negative behaviors of the past, with present and future actions of love & compassion towards all of humanity.

My crimes of the past has set my bar extremely high for the present and future. As of today, I’m nowhere near where I need to be. I know I can never right my wrongs. But I can and will use it as motivation to give it my very best.

With Every Hardship Comes An Equal Seed of Opportunity

My setback is a 43 year prison term, and the fact that I hurt 4 people and all their friends and families, and all the bystanders and their friends and families, and all of my friends and family. Therefore, my equal seed of opportunity has to be extraordinary. And that’s exactly what I’m striving for.

The consequences of my crime has and will continue to inspire great change.

 

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Steven Jennings

How I Was Affected By Occupational Deprivation

 

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“I think it would be helpful for the audience to understand how you personally were affected by Occupational Deprivation.” ~Sandra Rogers

That single sentence stood out to me and is where the title of this post came from. First, I had to understand the meaning of Occupational Deprivation (OD). As far as I can tell, it means: The lack of meaningful activities. Hmmm…all of my activities have had some type of meaning behind them.

I hustled, gambled, sold drugs and tobacco.
The Meaning: to make money.

I got in fights.
The Meaning: to earn respect and to release pent up frustrations and aggression.

In a Penitentiary, or a Correctional Center, these truly are meaningful activities. If I want to spend the rest of my life locked up and miserable! Early on in my incarceration I knew I had to change. I wanted to change! (For an in-depth look, please read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary)

The cure to Occupational Deprivation is Meaningful Activities. But for years, I was denied. I asked numerous DOC employees for help. The answer was always the same, “No. Those programs are for short timers…you have too much time.”

My misconduct would continue and I’d end up in the hole. Again! I shed many tears in The Hole. Because that’s when & where reality really hit! Prison. 43 years. The pain I’ve caused others. Isolation. Being a failure. A loser. The list goes on…

One time when I was in the hole they cuffed me and escorted me to the recreation enclosure. On the way there I saw a flier advertising Anger Management and Victim Awareness. These classes were available in the hole. Two classes I desperately needed. So I submitted a kite requesting them.

To my surprise, they denied me. The reason: I wasn’t doing enough time in the hole.

That pissed me off! While in population I’m denied for having too much time. And in the hole I’m denied for not having enough time. But if I seriously hurt someone and get, let’s say,12 months in the hole, then I’ll get the classes and my long prison sentence is no longer a factor.

It’s logic like this that’s so discouraging.

Lucky for me, I have a strong will and a burning desire for redemption (see: Redemption, It’s My Choice). Despite set back after set back, I continued to seek understanding as I took moral inventory of myself. As I write this and reflect back, I now see that I had the desire to get better, but I severely lacked in the “meaningful activity” department. Therefore, I struggled.

Occupational Deprivation was my program! And I suffered greatly because of it.

Today, my life is full of “meaningful activities.” And as a result, I’ve never been happier or more productive.

 

I go to NA Meetings, which I gain so much wisdom & knowledge from.

I’m in The Dog Program and I have the privilege of loving a dog named, Yahoo.

I graduated from my Redemption and Roots of Success classes because I wasn’t told, “No. You have too much time.”

I’ve started reading Influential Books, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I mentor those who are ready to hear positive messages. I lead by example so my words have greater impact.

I’m the nations leading blogger from behind bars.

I have meaningful relationships with the people I call Friends.

I have a job passing out commissary to thousands of guys.

I prepare healthy meals for myself and I workout regularly.

The list of “meaningful activities” goes on and on….and my most treasured one is my marriage. I have the most caring, loving wife any man could ever hope to have. Suzie has blessed my life beyond what I thought possible. The love I feel for her in my heart is stronger than any other feeling I’ve ever known.

 

All these “meaningful activities” have completely wiped out OD. Perhaps I should’ve titled this post, “How I Am Affected By Meaningful Activities.” Because this is where the beauty is. This is where true transformation is realized.

Its great to learn new terms and articulate my journey under the umbrella of Occupational Therapy. But the truth is: If someone wants change, they must want it for themselves, then relentlessly pursue it everyday for the rest of their lives.

It is now, after I am well on my way, that I make the connection between “meaningful activities” and rehabilitation. It would’ve been nice to learn all this years before I did. Better late than never.

 

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Steven Jennings

My 12th NA Meeting

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I am learning that NA is so much more than Narcotics Anonymous. It offers practical principles to EVERYONE…even those who’ve never touched a drug in their life.

What you’re about to read is my translation and interpretation of the 12 principles in Chapter 4 called, “HOW IT WORKS.” (for the original version, read Chapter 4 in the blue NA book)

HOW IT WORKS – If you want help with personal problems, and are willing to make the effort to get that help, then you are ready to apply these 12 principles to your daily life:

 

1. Admit that you have a problem that needs fixing.

2. Understand that there is a POWER greater than yourself that can and will help you.

3. Make a decision to learn about and understand this POWER. Then commit your life to IT.

4. Make a honest inventory of yourself and your deepest thoughts.

5. Admit to yourself, another human being, and your higher power, the exact nature of your wrongs.

6. Be entirely ready to remove all defects of character.

7. Look yourself in the mirror and humbly ask yourself to remove your shortcomings.

8. Make a list of all the people you’ve hurt, and be willing to make amends to them all.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except for when doing so would cause more harm.

10. Constantly take personal inventory, and when wrong promptly admit it.

11. Through prayer and meditation seek a deeper level of consciousness. Seek the knowledge of the righteous and develop the power to convert that knowledge into wisdom.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening, try to pay it forward to those who are ready. And always practice the art of LOVE in all your affairs.

 

As I wrote these, I realized I’m in compliance with most of them. And I have a desire to apply them all.

So right now I’d like to address #8. I know there’s a lot of people I have hurt in the past…and for that, I am truly sorry (Saying Sorry Isn’t Enough). I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make amends to all those I’ve hurt.

Forgiveness and love are powerful tools that help to rebuild and heal. Don’t forgive me for my sake. Forgive me because you deserve the healing and inner peace that forgiveness offers. And please know that your forgiveness will not be taken in vain or for granted.

If you should decide to choose forgiveness, you’ll be forgiving a man who is constantly striving for redemption and who has a desire to serve everyone with Love and compassion.

Please forgive me.

 

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Steven Jennings

My 7th NA Meeting

 

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Every meeting starts off the same way. Someone will read the ”INTRODUCTION”. Followed by:

WHO IS AN ADDICT
WHAT IS THE NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS PROGRAM?
WHY ARE WE HERE?
HOW IT WORKS
THE TWELVE TRADITIONS OF NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS

All these readings are on laminated cards scattered among addicts. The text is from the sixth edition book of “Narcotics Anonymous.”

The opening ceremony also includes the Serenity Prayer, followed by a moment of silence to recognize the addicts who still suffer. During this moment of silence, I thought of my old friend, Jessi Phillips.

Jessi wrote me back in the mid 90’s when I was in the county jail facing 43 years in prison. She wrote me a lot at first. But eventually the letters slowed down and then stopped. Little did I know that she was suffering from addiction.

Jessi was a beautiful and kind person who had a desire to work with children. Addiction robbed her of that! She fought her addiction. She had a desire to be clean and sober. But her sickness was too strong. She lost custody of her baby. She lost the trust and respect of her close friends and family. And she lost her life. To addiction!

Throughout her battle, she would have moments of sobriety, and I would get a letter or two from her. Here is the last email I got from her before she relapsed and was murdered by her addiction:

 

Steven,
Hello sweet stranger! I received your email. Thank you so much. I’m always so happy when I see you are doing well…. it honestly makes me smile. Life for me has not turned out the way I planned. I never knew addiction would have the power it has had over me but the one thing is that I never stop fighting it though I often lose that battle. My beautiful daughter Madisyn turned 2 on January 17th. I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures but man I don’t know how I produced that gorgeous drop of heaven. I haven’t seen her since October due to the fact that I gave temp custody to my aunt and my visits with her need to be supervised and cost $60 an hour and its messed up that because I didn’t have funds to pay we had to go without seeing one another. My aunt is making it very difficult, I believe to teach me a lesson but she needs to think of Maddi’s needs. I’ve made many mistakes but not in the way I’ve been a mom. So tell me what you are up to? How is life and when the hell are you getting out?
Xoxoxo Jess

 

Every time I go to NA meetings, I get something extremely valuable…ADDED PERSPECTIVE! These meetings stimulate me into a deeper level of consciousness. I think about things on a deeper, more indepth level. NA is helping me understand PRIORITIES and what’s really IMPORTANT in life.

PRIORITIES:
*To keep nurturing my mind in a positive manner by continueing to read powerful and influential literature.
*To continue to do what works for me.
*To love everyone.
*To treat everyone with dignity and respect…no matter what.
*To keep going strong down the path of right action.

IMPORTANT:
*Love
*Family
*Friends
*Good Health
*Happiness
*Success

These are the things I focus on. Life is all about the choices we make. You reap what you sow.

“If you don’t like the situation you’re in, change it! If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

At first I was skeptical about going to NA. I didn’t think I needed it. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to go. But then I changed the way I thought about it. I kept an open mind and approached it with a positive attitude. Now, I actually enjoy these meetings. I appreciate what they offer and how they affect me.

If it wasn’t for NA, none of these ”NA posts” would exist. And that means all the specific thought process that it takes to write these posts, wouldn’t exist. This entire element of NA would be non-existent within my mind.

NA has helped me to grow and evolve as I continue my journey of self-discovery, self-improvement, redemption, and rehabilitation.

I am thankful for all this good. I am thankful for NA. And for my loving wife, Suzie…I am thankful for all her love and devotion. For without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I love you baby! MWAH!!!

 

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Steven Jennings

Newsletter 2015

 

December

 

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

I love this time of year. Sure, I wish I could be out there with my family & loved ones, but that just isn’t possible for me. So I choose to focus on all the good food and wonderful events that are in my world.

Here is what happened this month here at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC):

 

Family Winter Event – Dec. 11, 12, & 13th from 11am -5pm. These visits are centered around holiday music, crafts, games, and food. Inmates are required to do two workshops to attend this event. The workshops offer informative statistics regarding children of incarcerated parents and also teaches ways that will reduce the child’s risk.

Family Fun Night – Dec. 18th 5-8pm. These visits are awesome! This one was centered around: Winter Crafts. My mom came to this event. Thanks mom, I love you!

Holiday Door Decorating Contest – I love this! This year my wife helped decorate my door! She sent several sketches, paper cut-outs and all sorts of fun things for me to put on the door. Her creativity is amazing! She and I have entered this contest over the last two years, too. (Christmas Door Decorating Contest 2013 & Christmas Door Decorating Contest 2014)

Christmas Joy Concert –  Presented by Tom Flaskerud Evangelistic Association on Dec. 6th at 8am.  The guest speaker was Donell Archer. For more you can visit JoyConcert.org.

The Redemption Project – Violence Prevention…changing the culture of prison.

Winter Blues Concert – Performed live on Dec. 8th from 12:30 -3:30 pm with guest speaker, Dr. Beth Zeigler.

Commissary – Our facility commissary offered special holiday treats. The special items are: holiday hard candy mix, Hershey’s white chocolate bars with peppermint, red velvet crème filled cupcakes, Lil Dutch Maid holiday shortbread cookies, holiday pound cake, Lil Dutch Maid mint crème cookies, Queso Cotija Mexican style grated cheese, peppermint mocha coffeemate, & bridge mix.

Since I have conjugal visits rapidly approaching in 2017, I cannot wreck my physique by indulging in the above items. However, I did order some of the bridge mix. 🙂

Mega Packs – These were sold as a fundraiser for $7.50, with $0.50 going towards a program involving at-risk kids. These mega packs consist of: cookies, candy, chips, cereal, crackers, etc.

 

OTHER NEWS:

  • SCCC has a new Superintendent. Her name is Margret Gilbert.
  • As of Dec. 1st, ALL inmates are required to either be standing or sitting up during the 3:45pm count. NO MORE SLEEPING!

 

Prison doesn’t have to be all bad. For those who want it, there is ample opportunity and resources for positive growth, education, rehabilitation, and healing. No matter where you are or what your circumstances are:

 

Life Is What You Make Of It!

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SOCIAL MEDIA:

Real Love Letters – Suzie & I have decided to share our journey from the very beginning. We will be posting our personal letters to show the world how we met and fell in love. A lot of people wonder how a good wholesome Mormon girl could fall in love and marry a man in prison serving a 43 year sentence. This blog will answer many questions as Suzie and I share our transparent back & forth dialogue.

Stone City Blog – A collection of blogs written by men in prison. If you have a loved one in prison, give them the gift of blogging. Our services are free. (For more information, please read: Submitting Blogs)

Suzie M. Jennings – What’s it like to be the wife of an inmate? Follow Suzie’s blog about love, life, & success. Everyone is on a journey…all are the same, yet all are different.

Steven D. Jennings – I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars! I share my journey towards rehabilitation & redemption. Please follow my blog as I share my experiences with you.

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Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary – Please show your support by buying my ebook.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for all the love & support!

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Steven Jennings

2015 Newsletter

 

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SCCC EVENTS:

The Inside Out Group hosted a fundraiser on Aug. 8th. Inmates got to order outside food, such as: chicken, pie, ice cream, and soda.

Seminar – An “Overcoming Life’s Addictions” seminar was held on Aug. 19th. This seminar was based on the book, “At The Altar of Sexual Idolatry” by Steve Gallagher. Inmates had to read the book in order to attend. Fifty books were available for this, on a first come first served basis.

Back To School Event – This event fostered positive relationships between children and their incarcerated fathers. Fathers were able to give their kids back to school supplies, and spend the day playing fun educational games with their kids. This special event was held on Aug. 22nd.

Violence Prevention Field Day – I attended this event last year and it was awesome! Last year was such a great success that SCCC did it again this year in September.

Diversity – The Cultural Diversity Committee is made up of a diverse group of inmates. They aim to bring awareness and educate individuals in fun and exciting ways, and to teach the intricacies of different ethnical cultures and backgrounds. The goal is to create a more united community by throwing out false stereotypes. On Aug 6th, the Diversity Committee hosted a European Heritage Event.

Redemption – A new 21 week Redemption Self-Awareness class began in August. This class is available to all inmates who want to live a positive lifestyle. I highly recommend this class. I just recently graduated and I found this class very beneficial.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) classes are on Sundays and Tuesdays.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) classes are on Mondays and Thursdays. I will be taking these classes to help me gain back some good time.

Anger & Stress Management – This is a six week discussion group on Mondays and Fridays. Areas of discussion include: identifying anger, dealing with stress, communication skills, conflict resolution, family & celly issues. After I complete my NA classes, I will enroll in Anger Management classes.

Family Fun Night – This event took place in the visiting room on Sept. 18th. The activity was BINGO! There were prizes to be won and cupcakes to be eaten. The love of my life, Suzie Marie, made a special trip up for this event. We had a wonderful time together!

Sustainability In Prison Project – On Sept. 17th there was a lecture conducted by scientists and community members who are active in conservation & sustainability. The lecture topic was: Earthships – Reusing society’s byproducts into houses and that take care of you and the planet.

Flagging Program – This program allows inmates to earn a certificate that will qualify them to become a roadside flagger in construction zones. It’s a one day class and costs $45. Inmates must be one year or less to their release date, and they must also be six months infraction free.

College Readiness Program – This allows inmates and counselors to build a college readiness referral. The Greys Harbor Community College helps with this program by providing the following: skills to help transition from prison to college, free applications for FAFSA student loans, career info, admissions assistance, transcript requests, credit transfers, money management, study and test taking skills, etc. To participate in this program, inmates must be 18 months or less till their release date and they must have their high school diploma or GED.

 

 

Life is what you make of it.

Even in prison there is an abundance of opportunities! 

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SOCIAL MEDIA:

 

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Real Love Letters – Suzie & I have decided to share our journey from the very beginning. We will be posting our personal letters to show the world how we met and fell in love. A lot of people wonder how a good wholesome Mormon girl could fall in love and marry a man in prison serving a 43 year sentence. This blog will answer many questions as Suzie and I share our transparent back & forth dialogue.

 

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Stone City Blog – A collection of blogs written by men in prison. If you have a loved one in prison, give them the gift of blogging. Our services are free. (For more information, please read: Submitting Blogs)

 

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Suzie M. Jennings – What’s it like to be the wife of an inmate? Follow Suzie’s blog about love, life, & success. Everyone is on a journey…all are the same, yet all are different.

 

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Steven D. Jennings – I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars! I share my journey towards rehabilitation & redemption. Please follow my blog as I share my experiences with you.

 

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Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary – Please show your support and buy my ebook.

 

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Help Unite Steven & Suzie – Please take a look at our GoFundMe campaign. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

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Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.    

Thank you for all the love & support! 

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Steven Jennings

Inspiration Rocks

 

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What are they? They are small rocks from the prison yard. I bring them to my cell and paint them.

Inspiration Rocks keep me focused throughout my day. It’s so easy to get caught up in some kind of BS in here. But with an Inspiration Rock constantly in my pocket, on my shelf, or on my desk, it serves as a constant reminder to stay focused and on course.

These rocks really work! They help me incorporate positive attributes into my daily living. They act as a simple reminder to smile more, to be kinder, honest, and appreciative.

They give me clarity on whatever I want to remain focused on. If I’m struggling in an area, I’ll grab that specific rock and it’ll help me be mindful to do the right thing.

Each Inspiration Rock is hand crafted with love and care. Each word may inspire people in different ways. Here’s how they inspire me:

 

PeaceInspires me to be at peace with everyone in my life.

Redemption Inspires me to always look to redeem myself by conducting my actions in a kind, loving manner.

Understand Inspires me to be understanding towards all.

FocusInspires me to stay focused on my conduct, goals, and well-being. Stay focused on my inspiration rocks.

Integrity – Inspires me to conduct myself in a way that’s morally sound.

CommitmentInspires me to always finish what I start.

TrustInspires me to be trustworthy.

SpiritInspires me to keep a loving spirit about myself, to say & do kind things, and to create a positive aura about myself.

MindInspires me to keep good, wholesome, productive thoughts in my mind.

SoulInspires me to examine how I really feel below the surface. Are my unspoken thoughts morally sound?

PrincipalInspires me to stay focused on the morals & values that I base my life upon. Why am I doing something? How will it affect myself & others?

TruthInspires me to always be honest. Lying is a form of weakness.

LifeInspires me to cherish life one day at a time. Life is short. Keep what’s really important in perspective. Don’t sweat the small things.

LoveInspires me to look for opportunities to display love.

HonorInspires me to conduct myself with personal integrity.

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Steven Jennings