From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where is the News, of Thousands of Tanks in the Streets of Iraq

 Where are the reports in the media that thousands of tanks are rumbling through the streets of Baghdad?  Where is the news of large crowds of demonstrators?

Comfort Comes From the Lord, or When God Sends a Woman Flowers, He Calls Walmart!

It seems to me that often media leads the way in the strangest of behavior; I am speaking of the vilification of American companies who achieve great success.  Sometimes when men and women conceive of great companies and then personally, through hard work, sacrifice, and dedication, lead them to the greatness that was their vision, thus achieving the “American Dream,” they become a target.  As I said, for some strange reason, they always draw at least a few vocal critics.  It does not matter that they provide along the way to their success, good paying and secure jobs with benefits, for literally thousands of American citizens, or that they give back to the communities in which they conduct business, as well as pay taxes into these communities.  Often that beautiful American principle that enables one to become, as my mother and father always instructed me, “anything you want to work hard enough to become,” makes them targets of criticism.  The particular irritant for some seems to be people getting rich while achieving the “American Dream.”  That to them is just not acceptable, and in their minds must involve something sinister and evil.  When this flawed thinking became acceptable to anyone but the seriously in need of medication, and extensive mental health services, due to being haunted by paranoia, I cannot recall.   However,  the thinking is accepted by more people than one would think these days.  I could at this point share some of the highlights of the integrity with which Sam Walton lived, all he gave back, and stories that reveal his heart and intent, which will I think contribute to his going down in history as the remarkable person he was.  Instead, I would like to focus on my own personal experience with Wal-Mart, in particular the Sealy, Texas Wal-Mart, and the people who work and earn their living in this company in that same spirit with which Sam Walton first envisioned his company.


When we first moved to the Sealy/Bellville area we bought our dream place, 42 plus acres, partial ag exemption, big pond, 13 heavily wooded acres, a 126 year old antique barn, and a big three year old Solitare double wide with 2X6 exterior walls. (Colonel LeCompte balked at the “double wide” thing, but since he trusts me in all things, when I told him in a year he would never know it had ever been anything but an authentic Texas working ranch house, he bought it for me.)  It had some challenges, the previous owners had 9 children between the two of them, 7 still at home.  I did not know that bubble gum came in that many colors, that anyone ever let chickens roost in a bathroom inside their home, nor that weeds could become 9 foot tall.  It was explained to me that it was a variety of ragweed called “blood ragweed.”  I was soon to learn how it got its’ name.  In order to meet and actually exceed the flood plain requirements, as the pond was originally dug, the dirt had been piled higher and higher, and packed by the heavy equipment as they went, thus building the pad on which the house was to sit.  It resulted in a pad 9 feet above the flood plain, and the house was placed on that hill of dirt with only about six feet to spare at the widest area all around the flattened top.  That produced so many unique landscaping challenges.

  Arriving at our new little ranch, we had a push lawn mower, a weed eater, and a machete that Randy had used in the Malaysian Jungle Survival School.  As most of you know, my husband is Colonel Randy LeCompte, a West Point honor graduate, as well as an honor Army War College graduate, and currently serving in Baghdad, Iraq.  He and his little machete began clearing weeds, but soon we realized we needed a little more equipment.   Of course, we went to Wal-Mart on many trips for needed materials, seed, and tools, not to mention the food to fuel both of us, substantial clothing, and gloves.

My husband so cherishes every moment spent at Soldier’s Heart Ranch, which we quickly dubbed our little paradise in the making.  Soon, his mind began to realize what release he found in being home, working on the house and barn, working with the horses, or just loafing on the 1100 square feet of wrap-around porch I added.  Much of the success of my husband’s life is found in his ability to completely focus on everything he puts his hand to, and today the ranch is a reflection of that.

The human mind can do that.  It can also rehearse the horrors of war, even when a man or woman struggles to prevent that from happening.  My husband has always had a heart for his Soldiers who encounter problems with PTSD, the name for the biological condition that develops for some serving in war zones.  As he enjoyed using all the new tools he bought at Wal-Mart, and worked to make our property our home, he began to realize what release from the thoughts of work and soldiering he found, and what complete peace he experienced.  That was when the idea for our 501-C began.  The idea of sharing with members of the military a place to stand down, rest, and refresh from the work required from those serving along with their families began to take shape along with the rose bushes from Wal-Mart.  

 Planting and growing things was for me the best of all the good things at Soldiers Heart, because I love all forms of self-expression.  Gardening is something that renews me.  I was soon going to need things that renewed me.  

My husband deployed for Afghanistan, and the original year he was to be gone turned into eighteen months, then two years.  Life got a little harder, and as time went on harder still.  Every week I made trips to Wal-Mart, and Texas Wal-Mart people being who they are, soon I was sharing with them that my husband was “gone to war.”  They responded the way Wal-Mart people do, with words of encouragement, and by asking me each time they saw me how I was doing.  Each responce was a genuine expression of care. 
Deployments, especially extended deployments, can become lonely and depressing for those holding down the fort.  That happened to me, and one day as the deployment stretched seemingly endlessly before me, I complained to God, asking why so much was required of me.  I moaned and groaned, cried, and wondered to Him how I would ever survive.  A series of events happened that afternoon which reminded how little I really was sacrificing, compared to the suffering that goes on in this world, but that is a whole other blog…  I repented for my weakness, asked the Lord to forgive me, and then God, being my Loving Father, sent me flowers to remind me just how much He loves me, and that He is always there.

Of course, you are thinking I am speaking metaphorically, I am not.
From the time we moved to Sealy, I frequented that garden center at the local Wal-Mart.  The people who worked there had come to know me quite well.  They knew when my husband was home on leave, because he came in with me, and as my special Wal-Mart friend said… “my face was different, smiling as it used to be.”  I had left my business card for the work we do with the military with the garden center, and Carla had taken note.  After my session with the Lord, I had gone outside to work in the yard, where I always went when I needed solace.  The fact that our fledgling efforts as a 501-C had many more of those we were serving, than support from any who were giving, so I was a little short on money to spend on anything to plant during that late summer.  I took the phone from the house and laid it on the porch in case my husband called from Afghanistan, where at that time he was serving.  Need I say it was the phone I had bought at Wal-mart?  It rang and I answered, it was the manager of the garden center, asking if I would like some plants that were no longer fresh enough to sell.  She said that she thought that with some tender loving care they could be revived, and she knew of our 501-C status, and the work we were doing.  She went on to say if I could pick them up, they were mine.  When I went to pick them up they completely filled the back of my truck, and my heart.  I lovingly planted my flowers from God, and several times since I have received a similar call from her, each time on a day when my heart was faint, and I have been petitioning heaven for strength to do what is mine to do.  To remind me  once again he loves me and will see me through this, God just calls Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Forgive Me, but I Have to Go Here

I think that there were very few people in the days immediately following 9/11 who did not feel that the United States going to war was a needful thing.  When Pearl Harbor was attacked causing the country to enter into WWII, it was not a state, and therefore technically not a part yet of the homeland.  New York City and Washington D.C. were without question the very embodiment of all that America represents.  So as our troops boarded various methods of transportation and gathered to march in and occupy the place where it was determined that the terror operations had first been planned, and later orchestrated, we cheered.  We cheered because we believed just as had happened in the Gulf War, we were going to make short work of two missions, delivering pay back, and ensuring that never again would we wake to the sights and sounds we did on September 11, 2001.  We were going to take them out in short order, and eliminate the threat.

No one was excited about having to fly anywhere there for awhile, we were threatened, and I would venture, every citizen in this country knew it.  Then the years began to pass, we entered Iraq in search of WMD, everyone for the most part believing that there was a critical threat in the tyrant of that country having those kinds of weapons, especially when he had executed an advance into Kuwait and its' occupation not that long ago.  At the time of the invasion, Iraq possessed the fourth largest Army in the world, with over one million men and 850,000 reservists.  They possessed around  5,500 tanks, 3,000 artillery pieces, and held 53 regular divisions, 20 special-forces brigades, and several regional militias.  Along with those resources,  they had 700 combat aircraft and helicopters, and a strong air defense system.  I am continually amazed at how many people still feel the Gulf War was just about oil.  Like magpies, their mantra exists, even when under Saddam, Iraq was such an aggressive nation that the United Nations sanctioned the war against the country and thirty four Coalition Nations sent resources to meet the threat of Iraq's war machine under the direction of a mad man.  He had already taken Kuwait, and was threatening Saudi Arabia, who paid almost one half of the expenses of the conflict, realizing exactly what a threat Iraq was under the leadership of Saddam Hussein.  No one believed that in the years following the Gulf War, Suddam had become a kinder gentler, less prone to global aggression kind of a guy.  Murdering his own citizens was a hobby, and to me what more evidence is needed of mass destruction of innocent human lives than the graves of his own countrymen in the deserts of Iraq.  He was believed to be developing WMD, which in fact he was, I don't care who makes an argument to the contrary.  I know people of unquestionable authority who were literally and physically there.  The recliner quarter backs of national policy of this country are deluded, and really never have availed themselves of enough information to comment.  They just don't know enough people serving in our military, or who are residents of Iraq and possess first hand knowledge, and they aren't looking to.  Their agendas are self serving and have to do with their own agendas, probably involving their tax schedule.  I suspect that some are those persons who believe that all people are good, and if we just leave the vile ones alone, they will be content to torture and murder their own, and will not aggress against another nation.  The warped mind of such tyrants is a treachery waiting to happen.  I can see the mind of Hussein as he licked his chops at the attention diverted from his activities and saw the possibilities.  Those who don't see that make fools of themselves by insisting that what the news media puts out, is always based in fact, and without error, and there were no WMD.

The opinion of those in error would be of little consequence to me if it were not now influencing national policy.  (Many of them do vote, and career politicians listen to their uniformed opinions for their own reasons.)  Their influence, along with many other factors is a driving part of the withdrawal of forces from two highly unstable countries.  This brings questions to my mind.  One of which is, do the present circumstances and influences present in these countries no longer pose a threat to the interests of the United States and other free nations of the world?  Just as important to me are the questions of honor and integrity which pose the query; will leaving these nations too soon put at risk citizens of either nation who aligned their allegiance to the Coalition Forces, believing their own country would be liberated from ruthless control by dictators, terrorists, and tyrants who had long murdered, raped, robbed, and abused them?  Most important in my mind is this burning thought; will those who have served so long, so faithfully, and borne so much for this country wind up being required to retake ground on which they have already left their blood?  I am thinking about these issues, researching the opinions of leadership which I know to be honorable, viewing what academic experts have to say, and recording my thoughts.  Again, forgive me, I know we have a financial crisis in this country, but I understand that the day we as a nation no longer place as our highest priority the defense of this country, I will no longer be free to make such considerations, and then freely express them.  


Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Win the Heart of a Pretty and Smart Cheerleader...

It isn't what you think!!!

This little rabbit captured the heart of my best friend Brenda's grand-daughter.  She will be a senior in high school next year, just got through with cheerleading for this year and is participating in theater as her main school activity now.  When she just heard that I had the rabbits, she pleaded.  Brenda, being the grand-mother she is, folded like a cheap tent in just one afternoon, and made Grand-daughter soooo happy!


Made me happy too!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Fellow Americans, Sometimes You Make Me So Proud!

There are Americans working in our government whom you never hear of.  They are not politicians, but public servants.  Truly, they work for the people.  Monitoring contracts, overseeing the fulfillment of obligations of the contractors serving American interests around the world, and watching our tax dollars, some are serving in war zones tonight.

My husband is one of them, he served thirty years in the military, and then went on and is now serving in the State Department.  He is the kind of man who will waste nothing he owns, or anything belonging to anyone else.  That makes for a great public servant.  As the footprint of America is being greatly reduced in Iraq, many resources are being left behind, including personal items of those who have served with the Department of State.  It is simply too expensive to ship it home.  These public servants being who they are have organized donation stations, and everything usable is being donated to those of the Iraqi people who are in need.  The heart of our nation is revealed in these kinds of actions.  

One of the great blessings to both my husband's life and mine, which has come from his service in the Middle East, has been the opportunity to come to know Canon Andrew White He has served as my husband's chaplain while he has been in Iraq.  Through Brother Andrew we have come to know personally many of the wonderful people of Iraq.   They are good men and women, who love their country and their families, and who strive to bring a good life to both.  

Brother Andrew serves as the pastor of St. George's Church in Baghdad, where a wonderful and significant ministry is made to the people of Iraq.  When St. George's Church could not afford to hire a driver for a large transport truck to move the items my husband had arranged to be donated to the church for distribution, the word spread through the Embassy Chapel members.   Soon the one thousand dollars needed was raised to hire the truck and driver.  These items will now go where my husband and the others know they will meet tremendous need among some of the Iraqis with the greatest struggles.  Americans are for the most part some of the most generous and good people in the world.  God speed to those unsung heroes serving around the world!

 May these donated items find their way to the hearts of the Iraqi people, and may they understand the people, and their motivations, who gave them.


Where There is a Will, There is a Way

As you can see, Brenda and I have been hard at work fixing the baby bunnie problem.  An extensive program to find homes for the ten, make that nine, Brenda finally agreed to let her grand-daughter have one, bunnies has begun in earnest!  This is just three of the special Easter Baskets we have created to sell while we find good homes for the rabbits, and to draw traffic in.  As a matter of a fact, we have now added baby chicks, ducks, and geese to our entrepreneurial endeavor on behalf of the rabbits.  More details to follow!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Open Letter to My Husband

Dear Sir,

I know that you are aware that my natural gifts and talents do not lie in area of the higher math skills, such as statistics and probabilities... Sir,... that stuff just flew right over my head in college.
Do you remember how cute those two little rabbits were that I brought home last  summer when the grand-children were here visiting?  You know they just had 5 little baby bunnies that are so cute about six weeks ago.  We've been enjoying them so much!


Here's the thing... it seems those two original little rabbits are enjoying the romance of the century. Frankly Sir, they are madly in love...

We now have 5 more NEWER baby bunnies, just as cute as that last bunch, of which I have not given any away yet... and I have been reminded of the limited level of academic success I had in that Statistics class I took in college...

So I am thinking while you are home on leave next, the first project should probably be a new and bigger rabbit hutch.  Also we should actively try to befriend all the small children with gullible parents that we can, and invite them to visit the ranch.  Preferably their parents should have my same level of skill and talent in higher mathematics.   

Sir, however I don't want you to worry that the rabbit feed bill is going to increase...  Brenda and I are making up Easter baskets, putting the rabbits in them, and thus making the rabbits more marketable.  We are going to sell them in the Walmart parking lot in Sealy.  We do not wish you to take Wade Cashion up on his offer, and let him have them to train his retrievers.  They are just as cute as that last batch as you can see.  Have a good day Sir, we will take really good care of your rabbits!  I will get all the tools out, and some lumber and wire just before you get home on leave, so you won't have to work so hard.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rodeo Outfit for This Year

The Houston Rodeo is in town, and it calls for just the right outfit!



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Am Attending a Conference on Military Sexual Violence in April

On April 17th, I will attend a conference in Washington D.C. that is so important to many women who have served our country.  We failed to protect them from the enemy within.  The difficulty of overcoming this betrayal is unimaginable to those of us who have never known it.  The complexities of the unseen wounds haunt these women, taking a toil long after they returned from war.  Often they were not heard when they made an outcry.  Even worse, often they were heard, and then crimes committed against them were hidden, and they went unpunished.

I am so looking forward to this conference, I believe that when people gather together, look into each others faces, share a time of learning, and collect resource contacts so that we may join our "woman power," great power is generated. It is generated to reach out in help to those who have things to overcome. I am the wife of a Soldier, the mother of a Soldier, (a daughter,) the daughter of a Soldier, and my grand-father served in WWI. I also have two son-in-laws who have served, one who was seriously wounded in 2003, and can no longer serve. This cause is very dear to my heart, those of you who have sustained injury are dear to my heart. There is healing, there is strength and confidence, there is justice to be had, and change which the power of our collective efforts will bring.

In honor of the brave women who have endured the unthinkable, I offer words to honor the progress they have made, and the progress they will continue to attain.

I See the Sad Eyes 

I see the sad eyes of women who have been betrayed,
By those who from honor should never have strayed.

They could not have known what would come to them,
      Integrity was pledged and they believed without whim.

In a dark hour their faith and loyalty was shattered.
Their lives, without regard, left broken and tattered.

Time seems strangled and unable their injuries to mend.
To go on with life seems to have nowhere to begin.

Then in chorus the sad eyes look around in panic and pain,
In a moment they know other eyes reveal the same stain.

Hearts unite, and power and change come with more ease,
The weakest are lifted first by the women from their knees.

Words and tears are shared and bring balm to soul wounds.
Slowly in unity they overcome, and the living of lives resumes.

I saw the sad eyes of women who had been betrayed.
By those who from honor should never have strayed.