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A Voice from the Inside

I’ve been trying to find the words to write since Kent left early Tuesday morning.  I heard from him fairly quickly.  I’m assuming this is because the place he is at is designated as a pass through facility, because we had been told I may not hear from him for several weeks.  We took the week off school not just because of spring break, but to try to regroup and see what this life without Kent is supposed to look like.  Its actually been pretty hard.  Yesterday, the girls were gone babysitting so I had the day to myself which I was looking forward to.  I tried motivating myself to do some cleaning that desperately needs done to no avail.  I thought I would go see a movie, but ended up falling asleep for a long  needed nap.

Kent has been able to email me throughout the day.  The things he is telling me are really hard to hear and really break my heart for him and others who are there.  He has been threatened to keep silent about the conditions he wrote to me about.  The assistant warden said he was going to get his privileges taken away if he continued so we will see if I continue to hear from him.  So here is what he had to say today.

As I write this its well past midnight, in fact I think it could be closer to 2am.  I have no way of knowing.  That has to be one of the more frustrating things to deal with.  The time and days are already running together with no clocks or calendars readily available.  There’s one clock on the floor, but after 10pm I am unable to see it.

At 10pm we have our final standing count which means you stand next to your bunk waiting for two guards to walk by and physically count you.  Then typically by 10:30 the lights go out.  As I write this I am hunched over at t he foot of my bunk trying to get enough light to write my thoughts down.  I am so thankful that someone loaned me a pen so I can accomplish this.

To be honest as I write this I am thinking about how when I was in the legislature I was viewing things and making decisions through the filters of our good little life.  I had no understanding of the life that people in a facility like this lived.  While society would look down on many of the people I’m serving time with.  I have a different perspective and view them quite differently.  Some of the names would sound like something out of a fiction novel to the average small town Iowan.  Names like New York, Whiz, Tuck, Cookie and King.  On our floor we have people that many average small town folks would walk across the road to avoid.

I am seeing a different side of them, like the transvestite who worked as a prostitute on the outside.  He was the first one to show me good will by giving me a few packets of coffee when I first got got here.  When he did that I didn’t realize the sacrifice he made because I was just arriving and had no idea what to expect.  The guards for the most part are friendly.  There’s a few bad eggs, but I am able to get along with just about anyone.  They say respect is the most important thing in prison…I am sure many people who may read this would say that about being on the outside, but it is even more important here because a man or woman doing time has been stripped of most basic things.

When I first arrived here I was checked in and went through the process of being strip searched and asked to bend over and cough.  I understand that they are trying to ensure the safety of both the inmates and guards.  What I don’t understand is how they take someone that has never been to prison before and just throw them on a unit or cell block and not give them simple things or explain how to get them.  You have to just figure it out.  It took me two days to get a piece of paper and I have yet to get a pen, so last night an inmate that sleeps a bunk over loaned me a pen.

I am amazed at how the inmates take care of each other and help each other.  I don’t believe the officers or guards are to blame for this.  It is a much bigger problem.  I find that so many of them are  not able to help you with tasks on how to fill out forms or how to maneuver through processes because they are not trained or they are understaffed.  That is only part of the problems here.

For dinner last night we were given a small spoonful of chicken and noodles, small spoonful of mashed potatoes and a tablespoon of mixed vegetables.  People are going through the trays as people bring them back looking for more food.  It is abundantly clear that Chicago has a gang problem and many are locked up here.  But here I see them sharing apples and kool-aid with everyone .  Bread and butter are a premium because its easier to get full on them.  When I was checked in I was given underwear that were three sizes to big and I am still trying to get a clean pair after five days.  We didn’t tie our laundry bag properly so our clothes didn’t get washed.

I have learned so much about the character of people and the hearts of individuals in the short time I have been here.  I am able to see past the hard exterior and see the softer side of the people I am serving time with.

God Bless

Kent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I refuse to be just inmate 15000-030

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As I begin writing this I am hours away from leaving the most important thing on this planet to me… My family. I am not even sure where to start. As I look over the next 15 months I realize how many important things I will miss. My mother will turn 77 just seven days after I leave. Just the other day she called me frantic that she had locked her keys in her car. I rushed to her as quickly as possible to open it for her. We lost my dad 2 1/2 years ago and I am concerned about not being there for her and I also do not want to be away from her for the next few months because at this time in her life everyday is important to me.

While looking at my kids and grand kids I am filled with grief over what I will miss out on. My son Noah will turn sixteen.. this is possibly his most formative and crucial years for him to grow into a young man and I will not be with him physically. Maddie will be graduating and turning 18. I am sickened that I will not be here with her to celebrate her accomplishment. Sami will be turning fourteen and I was excited at the thought of teaching her to drive, but I will have to help her finish up those lessons. Our youngest Chloe will becoming a teenager turning 13 which has always been a bit of a right of passage in our house. I am saddend that I won’t be here to sing happy birthday to her. My son Kent jr just bought a jeep and will be fixing it up, I wish I could be there for that. My oldest daughter, Makala, has been going through a difficult time and we have grown closer. I am truly struggling at the idea of getting into the car  Tuesday morning and leaving them behind.

Today was dedicated to family time. I shared a lot of memories, played games, had a lot of laughter and shared some tears. I wouldn’t trade the time I had with them today for anything. I was sitting and looking at them when I had this thought of doing this in 15 months knowing that this terrible time had finally passed. For a brief moment I imagined myself in the future, I had this feeling of joy and peace come over me. This is just for a season.

One of the toughest things I have been dealing with, is the thought that I will have to go 15 months without having my wife in my arms or being able to gaze into her beautiful blue eyes. We have been through so much as a couple I know we can persevere through this and we will come out on the other side stronger in our relationship with God and with each other. I have decided I am going to do my best to dedicate my time to getting to know God on a more personal level. I am going to spend every waking moment developing a prayerful life, a lifestyle that’s filled with knowing Him better than ever before. I feel this will make me a better husband, father, grandfather, son and brother to the ones I am leaving behind.

I have been very open about the mistakes I have made.  I truly believe the sentence I received was unjust. The judge was politically motivated, his wife is an activist for the liberal movement and donated to my opponent. I can see how if I focused on this injustice I can rob myself of this amazing opportunity to know God as I never have before. I cannot alow space for bitterness in my heart. I need to fill myself with the love of Christ to ensure there is no space for sin to take root again in my life. Please pray for me in this area.

I am hopful that people will come along beside my family and help us bare each others burdens. I know we can’t do this alone, but I am confident God will provide the people we need to fufill His purpose. We are truly  living like the scripture that describes  the birds of the air that do not know where thier next meal will come from.

While I will be in the goverments eyes, inmate 15000-030, I know that Christ actually determines who I am. Thank GOD.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

P.S.Thank you Mom, Becky, Makala, Kent jr, Angela, Maddie, Noah, Sami, Chloe, Oliver, Remington, Brantlee and my beautiful wife Shawnee for making today wonderful. I love you all very much. We will always be a family!

 

 

 

Carry Your Head High and Live Life

fullsizeoutput_394I believe we wouldn’t be going through this if we had passed trials of the past five years. We get a big fat F for that trial. But, like my title says we will keep our heads high and keep on keeping on. We are determined to surrender all and not fail this trial. This trial is going to be the one to bring us to victory. I think sometimes we have to surrender moment by moment and not look to anything but today. What are you struggling with today? Is it a struggle to submit to your spouse or your boss? Or is it food or pornography? Are you being judgmental, angry and hurtful towards someone inwardly or outwardly holding on to some resentment? Are you lusting after someone or something. I have found that lust is so prevalent. And not even in the sexual sense. For us women I think it starts with having the perfect pinterest clean and organized home. I could sit for hours looking at pinterest just wasting away my day. Where is that going to get me in the whole scheme of things? It has helped me escape things I didn’t want to deal with, which has gotten me in a whole lot of mess. But, it could have been prevented if I just would have surrendered all those years ago. I hear people talk about everything is okay in balance. I think our scales need to be tipped towards God not balanced with everything else we do in life. He has to be truly first. Everyone has to work out their own salvation. So what does that look like for you? For me, right now I have found someone to be accountable to. I am committing to attending church two times a week and doing a Bible study with a friend. I’m on overkill filling myself up with the word if there is such a thing. If I don’t I’d be a hermit that would find a cabin in the mountain and never come out. But, I believe living out and working out my salvation requires a community of God loving and fearing people around me. I have to seek those people out. It took me awhile to figure out God wouldn’t just drop them in the middle of my living room like I thought he should. I guess I have to do some of the work.

As my new mentor said the other day, I am to be my hubbies help mate. I’ve been a fairly good helpmate if I do say so myself. LOL! Now I get to help the hubs be the best prison inmate he can be. Not sure there is anything I can read about doing that. Maybe I can help someone else be a good helpmate to their prisoner spouse. As I make light of this right now, our hearts are heavy with a friend whose spouse has been diagnosed with a ALS. She has maybe three years to live. What would I do with those last three years? How would I live differently? I think it sure helps show us what is important.

Like with me, I think to myself how Kent and I love to do things around our house. No matter how broke we are I find something he can improve around our house for free or with junk laying around the property. Its hard spending time looking at the instagram photos and pinterest or my own lists of things I want to do around here and think, will we even be able to stay in our house?

My priorities instantly change to okay I can live without this or that I just want to be able to stay here with the kids, the home they have known for the past six years and a place for Kent to come home to. Those pictures and projects don’t seem so important, in fact, they don’t matter to me at all.

Mathew 6:31-33

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you

trying to stay busy

IMG_8222Today ended up being a whirlwind of a day.  Started out going to the gym for two swim classes.  I injured my knee back in September and have hardly moved.  I decided it was about time I did something so I joined some swim exercise classes at the local Y.  Our two youngest girls have had the pleasure of being formally tortured by me as I make them attend “the old people classes” at the Y.  Half the fun of the class is watching my 12 and 13 year old making fun of me and the rest of the class.  In which I would be the youngest if I didn’t force them to go.

After some errands I had a long conversation with my daughter in law in which I ended up being overwhelmed with emotion so I dropped the girls off and went to my dads house.  I figured I needed someone who could cheer me up and I needed to run to Des Moines anyway.  The visit went as expected, my dad is a follower of our savior and he pointed me right to him.  I hope I was able to do the same as I have come across a new resource for studying the Bible that looks really exciting.  It is verse by verse international.org  The Pastor goes through the bible just like it says verse by verse.  You can listen to his sermons and follow along with his outlines.  This is awesome as Kent won’t have access to sermons, but I can print these out and send them to him.

This is so hard for me as a wife to see the one person I love more than anyone or anything in the world to go through.  I’m staying behind while he is gone.  I can still go to the gym and get what I need there.  I can go to church and get what I need there.  I have all the resources at my fingertips.  But, my other half and I would say the one that has made me a better person in this life doesn’t have the same privileges.  My heart breaks for him missing out on this next year.  While I am looking forward to this next chapter in our lives and what I can do to improve myself and my relationships with the kids and growing in my relationship with God he will be alone. And while he is physically alone, he will not be alone.  I will be with him in his heart.  I hope he will surrender more and more each day to the creator of this universe.  I hope he will grow into what God has intended for him in this life, because he is an amazing man raised by an amazing family.  And I have faith that the best is yet to come.

Joshua 24:15

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

 

 

 

Time is Dwindling

fullsizeoutput_3a6Shortly after we found out Kent was going to prison for 15 months we made a list of things we needed to do.  We put together a list.  We knew a short list of things that just needed to be done.  We also tried to think of what mine and the kids needs would be for the next 15 months in order to take care of our home and  them.  We’ve made lists of things Kent could do with each of the kids before he left.  Trying to pour into each of them, so they would know how important they each are to their dad.

We waited nearly a month before being told where and when Kent would go.  Even though we were told he would have that information within days.  That first month was just unbelief and waiting for the dreaded letter to come.

Then nearly three weeks ago the letter arrived.  Another blow, expecting to go to a white collar camp with other minimum security inmates wasn’t going to happen.  He was going to what I think is best described as an over crowded county jail in the heart of Chicago that houses all security prisoners ran by the federal government.  People awaiting pretrial, people awaiting a bed at another prison.  Not meant for a 15 month stay.

So the unbelief haunted several days although Kent continued to go to work each day.  That seems to help the waiting time go by.  When he gets home from work we try desperately to make each moment count.  Working on those lists.  Spending time with each of our kids.  Having family dinners.  Those lists have gotten harder and harder to work on no matter how important it seems that those things get done.

We did request an extension  of three weeks, but of course it was denied by the same Judge that gave him this sentence.  Just asking for that extension was emotional.  Each and every step is high and low.  Trusting God to work all things together for us.  Practicing with the kids writing to their dad with our family therapist.  Making therapy appointments knowing tomorrow will be our last appointment before Kent leaves and not making an appointment for the next week because I’m not sure how we all will be feeling.

Even when life is making no sense, we will submit to the Lord.

James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

We will persevere for the glory of our Lord,

 

 

 

 

ReAl lIfE

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Writing a blog while going through such a painful experience is proving to be quite daunting.  I’ve been thinking all day about exactly two weeks from tonight.  It will be the eve before Kent leaves.  I go back and forth between wanting to hide in my reclousive self and wanting to tell people how this all feels.  I’m truly dreading that night while in the same breath wanting it to be over.  I want to hold and keep Kent as close as I can, while wanting him to go and just return to me as quickly as he can.  We’ve briefly talked about how he will get to the prison.  I want to drive him, he doesn’t want me driving back alone.  We are making plans for a date night for each of the kids with dad as time dwindles.

I believe it feels like a death in someways.  Its grieving the loss of what should be to come, but is on hold.  Yet I still have to live in the real world raising kids.  I have so many questions.  Like how do I provide a stable environment that isn’t wrapped up in my own depression over our loss? What will each day look like?  Day in and day out real life as a stay at home, home school mom.  I read all these blogs, watch some youtube videos.  I always like the cleaning, organizing, home decor blogs.  The ones that either motivate me or take me away for awhile into the fake perfect life of the blogger.  I always wanted to try writing one of those blogs.  Problem is I’ve got the perfect home that I can’t show in its perfect state because the unimaginable is happening in our lives.  Total chaos, total loss, total unimaginable life.

So, to get through my days right now, I start with a sermon.  I read the word.  I’m filling myself with what Jesus says to focus on.  I make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be.  I help my two youngest with their videos that teach their school.  I watch my grandson for half a day.  That’s how I’m getting through right now.  Its pretty much minute by minute. Real life that’s all I have to offer right now.

Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Tools of Satan are often Gods Greatest Gifts

p1010322As Much as I would like to take credit for that title I just heard it in a sermon and it spoke volumes to me. One thing Kent and I have learned and personally witnessed is that sometimes  it takes great tidal waves to move us from our comfort zones in order to prepare us for something else. Kent has said and shared numerous times that if it took this to save our marriage or for him to realize how important his family is he would go through it again. Of course, he said that before he was sentenced to prison 🙂  Though I’m confident he still feels that way.When we got involved in politics Kent wasn’t really even that interested.  It was more my passion than his from listening to talk radio and the social issues that were hitting us at the time.  In fact, the first time we went to the capital I had to beg Kent to go with me.  Once Kent was involved and elected we thought it would be a family affair which turned out to be way more time consuming and taxing than anything.

We look back now and didn’t realize how far we had drifted apart just in the simple daily things in life.  We were going in so many different directions and when Kent was home he was never really here.  He was on the phone, the computer and people randomly showing up at our house.  We lost six years of wrestling tournaments, gymnastics, soccer games and down time as a family.  This may not be the norm for every legislator, but when Kent does something he goes all in.  Like the time I had him coach our older sons soccer team.  The next thing I know he’s coaching both older kids teams and president of the soccer club.

Once Kent left the Senate and we were being scrutinized by the public we fell into a state of nothingness.  Shortly after that we were raided by the FBI. Not really knowing what to do with our lives at that point,  we felt we couldn’t make plans for the future not knowing what was to happen.  Neither of us really left the house for several years unless necessary. Kent was working from home which was something new to get accustomed to.  Being together so much really helped us reconnect with each other.  That being said falling into such a state of despair and not turning to God immediately has come with a price.

I’m sure over the next several months I will talk about some things, but looking back now and finally focusing on God we can see this was all a tool of satan. Did satan want Kent in the legislature? I’m sure not.  But has leaving the legislature ruined our life? Definitely not.  In fact, we recognize now more than ever because of that experience how much our family and each other mean to us.  So that is the gift from God.

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

 

 

 

 

We have and We Will

fullsizeoutput_3a4We have and we will will is because Kent and I have overcome circumstances that most couples have not and could not overcome.  And we will because we will overcome our current circumstances and stand in victory once again.

Tonight is less than three weeks before my husband of 27 years has to report to a Maximum Security Prison.  Exactly three weeks from now, Tuesday March 14th at 9:00 pm I will have been without him for 7 hours.  That’s just the beginning of our long 15 month sentence.  Feelings are really raw right now.  Emotions are running high.  We are having many ups and downs in how we feel.  Its so weird to be excited for him to go to prison to see the miracles that God will have to perform for us to survive.  Then be crying and saying why must God strip us of so much.  So we are up and down as I’m sure we will be for some time.  But, his word says he will give us peace that surpasses understanding and I think that’s exactly where the excitement comes from.

Our lives have been on hold for over three years.  Kent began cooperating with the FBI in his case immediately.  He wholeheartedly cooperated in hopes that he would be given a lighter sentence than the others accused in his case. He did this because preserving his family is and always has been the most important thing to him.  That reality was dashed when we went to court before a politically active judge on January 17th, 2017.  Despite the prosecutions recommendations for probation only and arguing numerous times with the judge, Kent was sentenced to 15 months in Federal Prison.

While this was absolutely unfathomable to us after him being on probation for two and a half years and putting our lives on hold for longer than that, being promised a lighter sentence and then being given five times the sentence of the other guys.  Why did we cooperate?  What was our purpose?  Why didn’t he just get sentenced all those years ago? He/We have received no benefit for cooperating.

And now it just keeps getting better, while for the past month we have had to come to terms with him going to prison we get notice that he is being sent to a higher than maximum security prison.  The only thing higher is a super max which houses serial killers, child molesters, serial rapists, terrorists and high risk escapees.  Why on earth would someone never convicted of such heinous crimes go to the type of place my husband is being sentenced to? Could it be a vendetta? Was it the judges political views? Was it Kents work against the supreme court justices and his work to get three of them unseated?  It is God and God alone.  No one can touch us that he doesn’t allow.  No one can sentence him to anything that God doesn’t allow.  So for now we are following all avenues to have him moved and appealing the sentence, but we are fully aware that God has the final say.  Not us or any judge or Bureau of Prisons has the final say.  Just God.

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