Its Good Friday. I think it is my favorite “Holiday.” I don’t know if it is the fond memories from when I was a kid or that its just a special time to celebrate our Saviors resurrection and the fact that I don’t feel pressured to commercialize this holiday.
My favorite memory of this holiday when I was a kid is, when I was about eight years old. My mom had taken my sisters and I to a Good Friday Service at First Assembly in Indianola. We lived in Lacona at the time, which is about thirty minutes away. Someone in the car had to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t me. My mom pulled over on a gravel road in our little red chevel. She didn’t get far down the road and we were stuck. I think it was a level b road. This was back when we didn’t have cell phones so mom had to get out and walk to find someone to pull us out of the mud. She gave me strict instructions that we were not to get out of the car.
I was the oldest and eight years old which meant I was to watch my two sisters, ages four and two. I’m pretty sure this was the only time I fully obeyed my mother. Being the obedient eight year old daughter I was at the time, my two year old sister said, “she needed to pee.” I remember putting her off for as long as I could. My four year old sister insisted the two year old could get out of the car and go. But no, I wouldn’t allow it. I did however tell her she could go in the car on the floor board. And that’s what she did. I can’t even remember my moms reaction. I’m sure I was praised for obeying.
We haven’t had many “Easter memories,” with our kids as we didn’t really attend Good Friday services. We always taught our kids what Easter is about and such. One memory that does come to mind happened when we had lived in our current home on the highway for a year or two. We had had a great Easter dinner and had settled in the living room with the family. We were watching the “Passion of Christ.” We had a knock on the door. Kent didn’t want to answer it and we tried ignoring it. The person didn’t give up. He was out of gas. Kent was thinking to himself, “its Easter, leave us alone.” The visitor told Kent he needed help.
Kent thought to himself, I’m here watching the “Passion of Christ, and I can’t just ignore this stranded traveler. He took the traveler to town and got him some gas which he had to pay for and sent him on his way. Kent won’t forget that night, because he was irritated that he was interrupted on a “Holiday” from his family and our time together. He later was irritated with himself for being irritated and realized that he was able to bless this passerby.
This particular “Good Friday,” I am thankful, scared and wondering. I am incredibly thankful for my savior saving me from my despicable self. I can’t help but be afraid that I am not able to be all that my kids need me to be while their dad is gone. I am wondering where my husband is. I got two emails this morning. The first one said, they are packing my stuff up and I am being moved. I don’t know where I am going. The second one said, my cousin Phil will be calling you. Phil? I didn’t know you had a cousin named Phil. I’m assuming Phil is a newly acquired cousin, in the joint. I haven’t received a call from cousin Phil or anyone else letting me know where my husband is.
I got these emails while I was getting one of the kids haircuts around 11:00. I was in the car on the way home from getting his haircut, when I contemplated for a short time driving to the prison that I’m hoping he went to. I figured if they left at noon and I left shortly after that I would at least be able to watch him being taken into the prison. I then decided that was a bad idea and waited for cousin “Phil’s” phone call. As evening approached and I hadn’t received a call I called the prison and asked if he was there.
The person I spoke to assured me he was. I have no idea if the person who answered the phone knew what he was talking about. I typically hear from Kent for very short times throughout the day. Since I haven’t today, and considering what he said in the email earlier I am hoping and praying he has been moved. If he has and its like I’ve heard it is when you go to a typical prison, it could be weeks before I hear from him. I am certainly hoping I hear from him or cousin “Phil” soon.
After writing this I decided to try to call the facility that he had been told two and a half weeks ago that he would be moved to. They told me he has been moved to their satellite camp. Praise the Lord! What a gift! The person I spoke to said Kent would be able to contact me by Monday. In the meantime I will print out the visitor forms and get them sent in so hopefully I can see my hubby soon.
I should say week, but it hasn’t all been bad. I have had many blessings this week. Sometimes things just get so trying. Today was supposed to be a quiet day. The youngest girls were babysitting their nephews for the day, and I was going to lunch with a friend. Then I had an alone day planned and I was going to get the house cleaned up which is sometimes difficult to get done with so many blessings living here.
This morning one of these great blessings I live with was refusing to give a ride to one of the other blessings. Then the blessing who was being denied a ride to school noticed their shirt on an older blessing. That blessing decided to cut it off not just go take it off they got the scissors out and said,”here you can have your shirt.” I think blessing number three was so upset because the complaining blessing number four is often seen wearing the clothing of blessing number three. As I was trying to calm down all the blessings, like five blessings chasing each other down, a cup of coffee went flying across the garage. Thank God we all made it out alive. And no one was cut by flying glass or flying scissors.
After awhile things got settled down. I went to lunch with my friend and spilled my guts and balled right there in the restaurant. Then I got a call from Kent, I stepped outside and took it. He hasn’t been able to call or email much this week. The prison is on lockdown and has been all week.
The reason the prison is on lockdown is a female guard was either stabbed and either raped or the inmate attempted to rape her. I am not sure which. This did not happen on Kents floor, but when something like this happens the entire place is put on lockdown. Lockdown means they get no or very limited phone and email privileges. They don’t get to go outside. They do not get commissary. Not getting commissary is especially hard in this facility because portions of their food provided by the prison is being controlled by the gang bosses. As in, the gang bosses take a portion of the food which makes the other inmates portions smaller. This is a period of time that is supposed to cool everyone down.
Instead of things cooling off it seems everyone is very tense and on edge. Most of these people are career criminals and have nothing to live for. They don’t care about trouble. They don’t have families that are awaiting their dismissal from prison. So they cause trouble. They take what they want, they do what they want and don’t care who they hurt in the process. For a person like Kent he walks the straight and narrow because he doesn’t want trouble he wants to do his time and come home to his family. He is so worried someone will plant something in his locker or start another fight he can’t walk away from and get more time. An inmate in his area lost twenty some days of good behavior over something he had no control over.
Today when Kent called he was asking me to call the Assistant Warden and ask him what was going on with Kents transfer. Kent was being told by a counselor that they now didn’t know what they were going to do with Kent. I hung up with Kent, finished my lunch and came home to start finding out what I could do to help him.
I tried calling the prison. The phone rang for five minutes before the receiver was lifted up. No one said,”anything,” I finally hung up. You can’t get to a person unless they either answer or you have a extention to put in. I didn’t have an extension and I couldn’t find one anywhere on the internet. I tried calling the BOP in Washington D.C. The voicemail says if you are trying to find out information about a particular inmate call the prison they are in. I called back, this time someone answered. Of course the Warden is not available, call back. I called back a couple hours later this time I had an extension as I had asked for it in my previous phone call. I had to leave a voicemail.
I called Senator Grassley’s office once again. I told them the dangerous situation Kent is in. They said, “call us next week if he doesn’t get moved and they will contact the prison.” Ugh…Ok…So I will wait. I’m filling myself up with Gods word, praying and listening to Godly teaching.
“Let suffering be the door you walk through that draws you to deeper intimacy with Jesus. Let it play its sanctifying role.”
“He will use pain to expose our false beliefs about our hearts and about his heart. He will use it to prick a place in us that has been wounded here before, to reveal our brokenness so that God can heal it. He will use suffering to reveal Jesus’s faithfulness, kindness, and unending love for us.”
Excerpts From: Stasi Eldredge. “Becoming Myself.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/Fxl1L.l
We have a pig, she doesn’t have a name. I just ask the kids what she said when they feed her, so I know for sure they walked up the hill and gave her food. She always says the same thing, “thank you, snort snort.” That’s how I know they fed her, they are able to tell me she said, “thank you.”
She got out last summer while Kent was working in the garage, he looked out the window and realized something was amiss. There should not be a pig walking in the front yard. The kids were all gone, he came and got me and I jumped on the four wheeler to help him out. He was out trying to lasso her at the same time our American Bulldog attacked her.
She proceeded to return to her cage. She said, “the world was not safe and would not venture out again.” She lied.
The day Kent left for prison she came for another visit. Fortunately, Noah got her back in her cage. This past Monday, she came for another visit. Noah was not home. I was in the kitchen cleaning out the refrigerator. I saw her out the back window eating the trash my daughter left outside the back door that was supposed to be in the trash can at the top of the driveway. Miss Piggy was eating “said trash.” Since I was cleaning out the fridge I just started throwing food out to her trying to keep her busy until Noah would get home two hours later.
A bit later I think I heard a knock on the door. Not wanting to answer it I pretended I didn’t hear it. I went to the bedroom and put my bra on because I knew sooner or later I was going to have to face the fact or chase the fact that was missing from the cage up on the hill. The phone rang. It was so in so at ……s23 hwy staying at so in so’s house. Someone had knocked on her door and asked her about Miss Piggy.
Somehow …..s23hwy got my number and inquired if I had a pig that was missing. I said, “yes I know shes out. I’m not sure how I’m going to get her until my son gets home because my grandson is sleeping and I can’t come fetch Miss Piggy.”
It just so happened Miss Piggy was causing the gals dogs and horses quite a commotion. I apologized and assured her I would fetch her as soon as my son got home. She said she would attempt to walk Piggy home. Must not have worked because I didn’t hear from her again.
Thankfully, Noah arrived home shortly after. As in about an hour. I filled him in on the adventure our gosh darn pig had been on that morning and asked him to go look for her. He happily helped out as I allowed him to drive around the corner unaccompanied by me. He is just a boy of 15 years. He found her and his dog politely asked her to return to her cage, in which she refused. So doggie brought her home by force, by the ear. Literally, this dog got her home dragging her by her ear about a quarter mile.
Noah called me and said, “bring the gun.” He had chased her for an hour by then and had had it. He said,” I’m killing her, I can’t keep chasing her.” We live on the highway and she was causing problems. I took him the 9mm and he proceeded to chase her around our acreage with his dog attached to her ear. That made it somewhat difficult to get a bullet in her head. Noah didn’t want to shoot his beloved dog. Somehow piggie got away from doggie and ran across the highway into the nearby field owned by someone that we do not know because they are from Des Moines and there was no time to notify them that we needed to chase down piggie.
Noah and I decided to follow her into the field and chased her around. She got out of the field and back by the highway. We went onto the highway in which Noah attempted to shoot her from my window, and causing the rest of my hearing to go with the shell casing flying into the backseat. I asked him to please not shoot the pig from my car and to get out and shoot her. She took off into the field once again. This time he got out and ran after her. A short time later he did take her down. He called me as I was on the road watching and said, “get a log chain so we could bring her home.”
That had to be quite a site. We dragged a 350 pound pig behind my SUV with a log chain. Noah asked me to make sure no one was coming on the highway, he was a little embarrassed. I made sure no one was coming down the highway. I didn’t know the mailman was going to come from the dead end the other direction. So the mailman got to watch me drag a pig down the highway. I’m sure we were quite a site.
This is typical of what happens in my crazy life. That’s the one word that can sum this life up. I am so incredibly thankful for Noah, he not only shot the pig, he hooked her up dragged her home, and then he butchered her. He had her hanging in the garage all by himself. I couldn’t believe he got her up to hang all by himself. All this took about four or five hours. The next thing I know he says, “can I go mudding.” I let him go with his friends thinking I don’t even care what happens with the pig now. I’m soooo done with this day.
He comes home after a couple hours with his friends and starts butchering her. He gets her skinned and comes in and is like, “mom I’m not sure what to do now.” Fortunately, a friend who had butchered hogs came and told him what to do.
Noah did bring me larger than normal parts then Kent would have brought me, but he did an outstanding job. He’s fifteen going to public school for the first time since kindergarten this year. He’s lost his dad, his mentor, his hero, but is really stepping up to the plate and providing what he can for his mama and four sisters. He’s an amazing kid with an amazing heart. And I am so incredibly thankful for him.
I have been on cloud nine since about two this afternoon. I got a call from Kent saying the assistant warden of the prison came to him and said he is to much trouble. They are moving him to Thomson Prison in Thomson, Illinois. Just three and a half hours away right over the Mississippi. That’s where my hubby is being moved to. I am beyond thankful ecstatic. No words for what I am feeling right now.
Hubby has and will continue to be delivered from the hands of the enemy. He and me and we will bring glory to God and help those who are forgotten and unwanted in prison. God is bringing our ministry into fruition and I am beyond words.
Earlier today, I was beyond frustrated for the millionth time. You see I have the immense pleasure of watching my youngest grandson each day. My frustration comes from not knowing where the gosh darn wipes are when I need to change him. They are never anywhere to be found. I had for the millionth time in my brain said, “I’m going to text Makala and tell her I want a plethora of wipes in this house.” I didn’t text her, just as I hadn’t texted her the million other times I was frustrated because I can’t find the gosh darn wipes.
God has a sense of humor. I hadn’t told anyone of my frustration with this situation as it is quite petty. I went to my dads tonight and he had a huge box of diaper wipes for me. Yes, he got injured carrying them into his house-two broken fingernails and a hurt shin from dropping them on himself. But, I got the wipes and Brantlee will have a clean toosh! I can’t quit laughing. I know its silly. I just know it was God working on my behalf and I am so thankful, giddy grateful for the wipes and that Kent is getting moved. Praise God. That’s all I can say or think right now.
Thank you all for your donations, prayers and kind words. You are so appreciated. I love you all.
It is so incredibly hard to sit here at the acreage taking care of here… The kiddos Kent and I have and just being here for their needs as I have always been. Some times better than others. I’ve definitely been a better parent at particular times, then at other times. The last five years sucked for me as well as my beginning years as a parent. Oh heck, I guess I just pretty much suck at the parenting thing. I know many people feel that way at times and so it goes…
I’ve tried figuring out the parenting thing without any real role models. I’ve tried being upset with God for not sending a mentor into my life to teach me to be a parent. I’ve tried blaming god for the bad parent I have been. In the end I have to take responsibility and just say I didn’t surrender to God. If I had done that he would have shown me a better way. So here I am. The one who did not surrender for many years. And so it goes I’ve helped land my husband in federal prison.
Here is his story for the past two weeks:
This week has been filled with lessons of learning many of the unwritten rules you should know while serving time in federal prison. To be completely honest they started the first day I arrived, but there has been enough this week I thought I would write about it.
To anyone on the outside, it may seem a little comical or sound silly the importance of such trivial things. Much of it has to do with the way one is conditioned upon entering an environment like this. You see things differently when a man is stripped of everything that freedom allows. You have to find ways to find respect, value and honor. By the time the typical person arrives at a federal facility, they have lost so much. Most have lost their income, homes, cars, relationships and a whole host of things that you can’t imagine. Many people that society would deem as “gang bangers” had jobs on the outside.
Following an expensive and lengthy legal battle that lands you in the prison environment, the first thing that happens when you arrive to the location you’re designated to is, you’re strip searched, asked to turn spread your butt cheeks squat and cough. While I didn’t experience this, I have heard many stories from other inmates where the guards mocked their physic. I must of had a nice guard when I was processed because I have plenty I could of been mocked about, but wasn’t. Once your through R&D your assigned to a unit or cell block depending on the location you’re at.
My first night on the floor I was given one pair of underwear, one orange jumpsuit, one pair of socks and a pair of orange slip on dollar store style shoes. The next morning around 5:30am the guard belts out it was chow time. I woke up and went to the main floor of the unit. There’s approximately 120 people assigned on our floor, but only room for about 60 to sit and eat. The other 50-60 men either find a spot on the floor or are forced to eat standing up. Every morning we have had the same breakfast. It consist of a small portion of plain grain flake cereal between 6-8 oz, two cartons of milk like we were given in grade school and small cake about the size of a twinkle, around 7:30 a.m. daily the guard calls out for “new commits.” At this time any new people go down to laundry and are assigned 2 jumpsuits, socks and underwear. This was my first experience of being spoken to like I am the lowest form of scum. The C.O. I dealt with was a middle aged, overweight guy that obviously isn’t happy in his personal life. He comes to work and verbally assaults the inmates he deals with to make himself feel better. They only had 5X underwear I needed a 2X so I went a week without being able to change into a clean pair.
I’m not saying all the guards are this way there are some very kind ones. The few that are nasty make it a very demeaning experience. So after experiencing what I have described… I understand why you don’t reach over someone’s tray even if you’re offered something, you wait for them to pass it to you. You don’t openly sit on someone else’s bunk while talking to others. You get in line making sure everyone around you isn’t ahead of you even if they don’t appear to be in line. If your getting ready to enter into the shower area you shout “all clear” before and be sure no one is dressing outside the individual shower stalls. You don’t pass an item across the front of anyone that is talking even if it just a package of salt and a host of many other small gestures.
I was apparently having an issue with a particular inmate. I say apparently because I didn’t know I was having an issue until four days in a row this particular person was accusing me of cutting in the pill line, spit on my head, shoved me two days in a row. After the fourth day I was concerned something was going to happen. I called my wife and let her know if she didn’t hear from me it was because I got into trouble with this individual.
That’s when Shawnee put out on my face book that I needed immediate prayer. I was trying to diffuse the situation by walking away, but it kept getting in my face. God quickly worked on my behalf. Two gang members (separate gangs) I had helped with some situations went to the inmate on my behalf and made him apologize and shake my hand. They had taken my walking away as a sign of respect for the gangs. You aren’t allowed to fight unless you have permission because any fighting ends up affecting everyone on the floor.
I am so thankful for all of your prayers at my intense time of need. Thank you and please keep praying for me and my family.
I absolutely love this song by Tim Mcgraw and Tracy Lawrence…its so true in my life. The words to the song. Everyone wants to pat you on the back on your way up the ladder. They want to shake your hand. I remember hearing this song driving out to the farm in the middle of nowhere that I had the privilege of growing up on. You could drive that last eight miles to the farm in rural Madison county as fast as you wanted because there was no one to stop you. I thought when I heard that song that I had those friends. My best friend of many years promised that we had been friends before politics and we would be afterwards. I had never as an adult, had a close friend like that. Amazing how something that wasn’t even important to someone before they met you became the end of your friendship, take credit for helping you up to the top. What’s the top of the mountain? Where is that? Was it when Kent was published in Focus on the Family Magazine? Was it when Senator Grassley took us to dinner? Was it when Steve King looked me in the eyes and told me we were going to be life long friends, yet he never called to check on me while Kent and I were going through all of this? Was it getting to decide which Presidential Candidate Kent would work for because they were all courting him?
The lyrics to the song summarized: this is where the rubber meets the road, somebody’s gonna drop everything, not stopping to think whats in it for me. They just show up with their big ole heart. Losing someone who meets all the words in this song is one of the hardest things in the world to do. And I don’t mean they left the universe. They decided the bandwagon stopped and they got off. And that’s okay, sometimes that’s just what has to happen.
It took me awhile to get over that scenario. Actually, it took me a long while to get over that scenario. It was a process that I am still working through. At first I just ran. Running is in my DNA, just ask my mom….sorry you can’t, shes running too fast. That was a bad joke, but it is my mo (method of operation) I’ve been wired to run. So that’s what I did. I ran from facing what I was going through. I ran from what I had caused. The way I ran was I escaped. I escaped into sin. Having a good time. Fulfilling my flesh anyway I could. I hurt everyone around me. I just had to get away from myself and the problems I had caused.
Running to sin made me realize although I thought I had broke those family curses my parents had passed on such as, I had overcome the divorce curse, the leaving curse, the curse of no woman wanting to be a mother in our family. I had kept my family together, I had mothered my six children, even home schooled them, I had stayed married to the father of my children no matter the cost. I thought I conquered life’s problems.
Oh boy, have I learned. I surrender. I can’t say I have surrendered all, but I am working towards that. I don’t want to do it on my own anymore. I want to do it God’s way. I want to give in. I want my kids to learn from my mistakes. I don’t want them to go through the heart aches I have had to go through to get through this life. I don’t want them to have to live through the regrets I have had.
I want to teach them to be the friend to the friendless, a friend to the one everyone thinks is not worth it.
There are those who have come along side of us. Most don’t know the pain and sin and just crap that has happened since Kent resigned. Just people who are following the spirit. To whom I am eternally grateful. Just as I was earlier today using the gift card someone donated to us for a local gas station, filling up my large SUV. I thanked God for using his money to fill my car up allowing me to take my baby to her tumbling class. I thanked him for allowing me to take her, for giving me the money to buy groceries and for acting on my behalf to receive the gas card.
Maybe I should, after pretty much staying home for the past 27 years go get a job. Getting a job would be entry level for me not paying much at all. It would cost me initially to buy clothes to wear to work. My wardrobe consists of jeans and jeans. That’s two pair. One clean and one dirty. It would also be expensive to drive to work no matter where I was to go as I am at least ten miles one way from anywhere I could work. I would have to leave my four, well actually just three kids to themselves for most days. Yes, my 15 year old goes to school, but this year it is only part time. Who would be there to pick him up at noon when he got out of school. Who would take him to school?
Then there are the two girls I home school full time. Yes, we could work school around my job, but who would keep an eye out for them while I was gone forty hours a week plus commuting. I just can’t see the logic in interrupting my kids lives more than they already are at this time. I am at peace living on what God provides for me. And if I end up losing everything so be it. I have to be here, home with my kids as a support for them. And a support for my hubby who I literally wait by the phone eagerly awaiting the notification of an email or a ring of the incoming call.
I’m here breaking up the fights with the kids, here to comfort the kids who miss their dad terribly. Here to comfort Kent’s mama who lost her husband 2 and a half years ago and depends on us to be here when shes hurting. I’m here for the numerous people who are trying to figure out the complicated western union system to send Kent money. I’m here for a couple of prisoners Kent has become acquainted with that need my help and I am their only outside source. For now I have to be here. Steadfast. Taking care of here….
So I’m a wife, and my husband calls and tells me he’s in danger. I love this man more than anything in the world and would do anything to protect him just as he would me or any of his kids. But…I’m the help meet to a prisoner. How can I best be a wife to him at this time?
It all started at the beginning of the week. A man accused Kent of cutting in line. Kent let him go ahead. Yesterday, said man spit on the back of Kent’s head. Kent let it go. Today the man shoved him. Kent let it go. He was told by a guard that the guard had heard some people were going to take something from Kent and if he didn’t give it to them they’d take it by force. Not sure what this was going to be and why wasn’t said man stopping it?
The warden has sought Kent out three days after seeing my emails to Kent. He told Kent your wife shouldn’t be worried about you in here. Does anything I wrote in the above paragraphs warrant no worrying? Seriously, I just cried when he told me. I don’t know if this is the warden of the entire prison or the warden of the floor. I haven’t got to see Kent yet and we have to be very careful what we write as even those reading our emails may be corrupt.
I have no idea at this point who is good and who is bad. I’m just trying to keep all the characters of this story straight. We have the guard who warned Kent some guys were planning on taking something from him. But has offered no help in protecting him. We have the bank robber. We have the chaplain who explains he is the chaplain over the protestants and all that jazz. We have the nobody who answers the phone if you call because all the phone does is ring and ring and ring… We have the black guy messing with my husband. We have the latino gang that after receiving commissary made cheese cake in the microwave and shared with my honey, in which he was very grateful.
I was able to talk to Kent after I put out that last call for prayer. He said, “he will be okay.” I know he will be okay. But, I also know he’s just telling me that because I was crying when we hung up earlier. I am trusting God through all this. I love the verse that says, “vengeance is mine,” saith the Lord, because there are so many times I would love to just rip someone to pieces. I have literally clung to that verse. I ask God to help me pray even for those I would like to do that to. I have to tell you, sometimes its soooo hard. Especially, when you get a call two seconds before you received all this news that your daughter had wrecked her jeep that she was trying to sell in the morning to buy a more gas efficient vehicle.
We will prevail. We will overcome. Thank you Jesus, for our trials.
James 1:5-6 But,if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.