From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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.