Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

but it was not The Tale of Two Cities.  It was my weekend.  But in order to understand the weekend, I must first take you back to the weekend before it.

Pete has not been doing very well health wise for a while now.  But he and Bug had managed to do a couple of little projects around the house and he was in one of his "up" mood cycles.  Last Sunday, he noticed that my tires on the front of the truck were wearing bad on the inside.  I heard him tell Bug that she and he would change out the tires the next weekend.  Heard him mention it again on Monday.  By Tuesday he was starting to feel worse again physically and was slipping into one of his "down" mood cycles.  By Wednesday and Thursday, he was self absorbed and I might as well have been a sack of flour.  (This is what happens to a man who has always done anything for himself and then finds himself being able to do less and less, less often.  Who can't find answers for why or help to feel better.)

By Thursday night we were only co-existing.  He told me that I'd better put some more tires on that truck this weekend or I'd end up having a blow out, wreck and die.  Like I could do anything about that?  He also muttered something about my son not caring or having the time.

Friday, I came home with groceries and expected to find him starting to cycle out of his down.  But instead I found him curled up in the lazy boy.  Too quiet and sullen.  Hoping a list of options for a quick supper would bridge the gulf, I offered him his choice of baby-back ribs, hamburgers or hamburger helper.  He refused to choose...said he didn't care.  So, I turned to Bug and asked what she would like to have.  She jumped on hamburger helper.  So I started that and warmed some green beans to go with it.  Soon as he realized what the choice was, he retreated to the bedroom.  Besides, I was wanting to read and he hates the lamp on when he watches TV.  

He later came out, opened a can of ranch style beans because he didn't like my choice of green beans and made himself a plate.  I was feeling thrown away, wore out, ignored, unappreciated.  There wasn't much conversation between us from then until bedtime.

Saturday, I focused on making myself catch up the laundry and worked in the kitchen.  I read when I paused to rest.  He stayed to himself and I let him fend for himself.  Wondering to myself if the tires were really that bad, wondering what to do and repeatedly coming to the conclusion there was nothing I could do myself. I prayed Pete's mood would lift.  Told God I was leaving it in His hands.

Bubba and Candi came so he could get something he needed and I got to play with Baby Ruth some.  That was a bright spot.  Dark, heavy clouds loomed overhead and as it was getting very late in the day I didn't even bother to mention my dilemma to Bubba.  He had worries enough to attend to.  Soon they were leaving and the bottom fell out of the sky right as they were driving off.

Pete and I still weren't really speaking.  He went into the kitchen and starting frying deer meat he had defrosted earlier in the week.  I thought of offering to do something to go with his meat, rice and gravy as a gesture toward reconciliation...but knew I didn't have the heart to handle it if my offer was thrown back in my face.  So I determined to just go ahead and cook the supper I had planned.  As he was finishing his, I went and started my ribs, potatoes sauteed down with onion and beans.  We each ate our own meal. Bug happily enjoyed some of both.  Another estranged bedtime.

Sunday morning I was up in time I could of hurried to be ready for Sunday School, but didn't feel like rushing.  I told Bug I'd run her around the corner to the church and meet her there for worship.  When she was ready, we left.  Pete was still feeling lousy and his mood did not appear to have improved.  I pulled into the church parking lot, pushed my break peddle down and THUNK!!  The truck leaned to the drivers side front.  I told Bug to look when she got out and tell me if the tire was still on.  Yes, but the truck is sitting on it.  Dejectedly "Great!"  Then inwardly, "Praise God!  I happened in a safe place, off the road, not going 70mph on my sixty-seven mile round trip to work and back each weekday!"  I asked Bug to fetch one of the ladies to run me home to the house.  Two of the gentlemen walked over and confirmed that the lower ball joint had fell out.  Pete's cousin's wife came to run me home.

When I walked in the house, Pete was in his lazy boy.  I told him what had happened.  And without asking, I text Bubba to tell him we'd need his help that afternoon and why.  Without saying much, Pete got in the shower and I could tell he was making preparation to join me for worship.  We took the jeep over.  In worship, I still didn't know how it was all going to work out or how Pete would be about it all, but I couldn't help making a praise report about God's watch care.

After worship others offered Pete a hand with it.  One even offered me the use of a vehicle to go to work in if it couldn't be repaired in time.  By old testament standards, we considered the truck to be and ox in a ditch and perfectly acceptable to our Lord to fix it on a Sunday afternoon if possible to do.  Bubba called in answer to my earlier text and he and his daddy made plans to meet at the church after Pete had some lunch. I warmed him a plate of the supper I had cooked the night before.  Being at church always lifts his spirits, but he still wasn't all the way out of the dark.  But his gritty determination was kicking in.  

He changed clothes, loaded the jack and tools he thought he might need and went to the church.  He was back shortly, looking for transmission fluid as his jack was low and wouldn't lift the truck.  He said there was no sign of Bubba.  I started toward the phone to call, and he sternly said not to call him.  Leave him alone.  Not because he knew he'd show, but because he was writing him off.  Surly and mad he said Bug would have to come back with him to help.  At that moment the phone rang!!  It was Bubba!!  He and his friend Parker were at the church wondering where Pete was.  They had already changed out the ball joint!!  But the truck had bent a tie-rod when it fell, so he had called and had Candi on the way to the parts store to get that and a ball joint for the other side, which he deemed also needing changing!!  Thank you dear Jesus!! Thank you for vindicating and redeeming my son in his father's eyes!  When they got here with the truck and Candi with the parts, I offered to cook hamburger steak and cream gravy for supper for everyone.  The offer accepted, I went to work in the kitchen, playing with my delightful Baby Ruth on each break.  

When the guys were finished with the truck, including changing out the tires, Pete had me test drive it.  I brought back a good report and praised Bubba and Parker and asked God to return their good to them three-fold.  Pete, smiling, added his amen.  We went in and enjoyed our meal together around the kitchen table.  Pete's mood, though tired, was once again up.  This road we are on is hard, so I don't doubt that circumstance will once again turn his mood to the dark.  And although we missed Sunday night worship service, my heart was as full of worship and praise as it has ever been inside the walls of the sanctuary.

God knew our many needs, including those that went beyond the problem with the truck.  And He met all those needs in this afternoon.

Barbara in Caneyhead
  

Monday, August 13, 2012

There is no Hank Kimball in Caneyhead!!!

Even Green Acres had a County Extension Agent, but Hardin County Texas has none.

After three days of Pete in the hospital, we came home Wednesday evening (Aug 1st) to find that Precious, our four year old horse was sick.  Would not eat Wed night.  Had drank almost no water Tuesday on one of the hottest days of the year, and was extremely wobbly.

Her eyes however still looked focused.  So after consulting with other horse people we were hoping it was heat exhaustion.  She had been in a covered stall, with plenty of fresh water.  Bug moved her to an open pen.  Tried to entice her to eat feed or hay.  Offered her water.  No luck.

By morning, she was down.  Laying flat out on her side and then sitting up.  Often trying valiantly to stand.  Then laying flat again.  We held her head up and offered her clean, cool water.  Rubbed it all over her muzzle.  No dice.  Grinding her teeth.

Immediately we began trying to find help for her.  First the local vet at Silsbee Animal Clinic.  We were told he was out until Monday.  The woman who answered knew nothing.  He has/had a woman who knew almost as much as him, but this wasn't her.

Then we tried Buna Animal Hospital.  Their doctor was out, but the woman there tried to give us information.  Sounded like West Nile or Equine Encephalitis to her.  Not much could be done if they had it.  Due to the distance, it would cost $140 to confirm that was what it was.  Forty-seven dollars a piece to vaccinate the other two.

Single income household, a man who just got out of the hospital....no way that was happening.

So we called the Hardin County Extension Agent's office....only to find there is currently no agent?!?!  And no offer as to where to turn for help.

Then we tried the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.  Not their thing either.  No idea who's thing it was.  But since Hardin Co. doesn't have an agent, maybe Jefferson County will assist.

People we need to know what this is!  We need to offer her the best help we can!  We need to know what to do about the other two!  And, Lord help us, we need someone to help us if she needs to be destroyed!!!

So, Jefferson County's Extension Agent's office is called.  They can't do anything.  Not their area.  But they did give us a number to the Texas Animal Control office for our region in Hempstead.  There a very nice man answered.  Seemed truly concerned for our plight.  But said he had only one vet who happened to be in Austin today!  He'd try to contact him for us.

So I call up 211.  All the information for your area you need they say....but nothing like this is listed in any option.

Finally the vet with Animal Control calls us back.  Bless him!  He concurred that's what it sounded like, but being out of the area, couldn't offer us any concrete help.  But did say he'd call back and check on the situation.

I had to leave for an appointment, and Pete and Bug were left on their own to deal with this.  By now Pete is so mad he could spit nails.  All you hear and see on the news makes it sound like the authorities are so worried about West Nile and Encephalitis!!  There was recently a human case of West Nile in Vidor, not far from here.  But it is looking like they don't give a shit about the sick animal, the ones who may be at risk, or the human population.  Over the years, there were hogs in this area dying...someone came and drew blood from ours, they did call back and say ours showed to be okay.  Pete told them periodically we have chickens die out for no explainable reason, they said they would come back and test them...but they didn't.

So, sick and miserable as Pete was, just out of the hospital, he kept trying!  He called the Humane Society of Southeast Texas.  They didn't handle stuff like that.  But they did give him a number to the Southeast Texas Emergency Clinic.  They were closed.  A woman did answer, but said they couldn't help either. 

Where to turn!  Precious was even worse.  The sun was high in the sky.  No shade.  Lord help her.  Help us to help.  Pete and Bug manage to rig a make shift shade with a tarp over her.  Pete is starting to think she'll have to be destroyed.  He calls Sheriff Ed Cain's office.  They will have a deputy call.  Suggests you call you closest local city.

Pete calls the Silsbee Police Dept.  NO!  You need the city animal control.  Here's the number.  There you only get a message that voice mail if full.

Hardin Co. Deputy calls.  Sorry, we can't do that.  Hardin Co. Pct. 2 might be of help to you.

Pete tries Channel Six news.  They often feature stories of folks facing a plight, a problem.  They often feature the SPCA helping and intervening.  Help us!  Give me a number to call.  The man asks him "who's horse is it?"  Pete tells him, "Mine!!"  He asks, "who's land is it on?"  "My, damn land!!", Pete exclaims.  "We can't do anything...all we do is follow the authorities out if they are called out.  We don't give out numbers."  Well!! 

Someone suggests Sherwood Animal Clinic.  There a wonderful woman would give Pete a number to call and then would soon call back with another suggestion.  But no where was there a helping hand. 

But by now...Precious was down...and not getting up.  She was making kicking motions with her legs...and digging a hole where they were.  She's having tremors and her mouth is blooded from the times she has tried valiantly to stand or sit up, up fell down hard.  It was a horror!  He didn't feel he had it in him to shoot her.  Wasn't sure what we'd do once he had.  He could borrow a backhoe, but was much too sick to operate one in this heat.

He gets through to Precinct 2.  They tell him to call Dalton Morrow.  He does.  Dalton says he won't destroy her, but he'll have equipment there within 30 minutes to bury her if Pete has her ready.

Bug tells him she'll do it if it has to be.  But he can't put her through that.  He makes the decision to do it and do it himself.  The woman from Sherwood gets back to him with a number to the SPCA...but as valiant as her efforts were, what use was it now?!?

He tries to make it quick and painless.  I arrive back home in time to find her there dead under the tarp.  A six inch deep hole dug out where her legs had kept working, trying to fight, striving to live.  Pete tells me Dalton is on his way.  I had barely got comfortable when he and his man were here.  They got to it.  He told Pete they had been called out to bury a lot of animals of late.  More than either man wanted to really consider.

The vet with the Regional Animal Control was true to his word.  He called back to check on the situation.  We truly believe that if he hadn't been in Austin he would have tried to help us.  Bless him and them Lord!

So, tell us people, when every where you turn on television it as all about helping animals....when over and over you hear stories of them putting animals ahead of people....when our society is so righteously politically correct....where was the help when you needed it?!?!?!?!  Why do they keep tinkering with phone books and making them harder and harder to use?!?!  Why can't you easily turn to the SPCA's number in our local phone books?!  In hindsight, if we could have found a number, we should have had a friend to "call in on us".  Even though our animals have food, clean fresh well water, grass, hay, brushing, love and talking to......if we were portrayed as cruel and uncaring, perhaps ?!?!?!!!!!!!

Epilogue:  In the days since Precious untimely death, we found vaccines for Prissy & Stanley for $35 a piece at Silsbee Animal Clinic.  Hannah & Pete scraped up the money for one, his sister Mary gave him the money for the other and they have both been vaccinated and are so far healthy, frisky and spoilt rotten as ever.

Now we wonder what danger lurks in our beloved pine forest for us.  Mosquitoes are rampant here.  No one sprays here.  We are rural.  Not a city.  Not of consequence.  Wonder if the US Government might care to know that West Nile is alive and well in their game preserve?

Barbara In Caneyhead

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Wonder of My Children & My God: My Joy

Six years passed.  Me & Bubba faithful to God and to our church.  During this time God grew me spiritually both in my private time with Him and in service and worship through my church.

When Pete & I had faced our trial, I had told the Lord I would honor Him for what he had done for us.  I had also found a need to pray for all the members of our family, that came from my rainbow experience on Dam B.  He blessed my feeble efforts in a mighty way!!  I was honored to get to share what he had done with my MIL and FIL and they rejoiced with me in that.  I saw all three of Pete's sisters and a sister-in-law come to Christ and join a church.  Another sister-in-law started coming to church with me every chance she had.

I started back to work during those years and He allowed his light and love to shine through me there, as well.  I saw promise and hope everywhere, even as the burden in my heart for the unsaved grew.  As Bubba grew older, he learned so much of scripture and spiritual things!  We could converse and rejoice together...what a special time and blessing!  But my heart was heavy for him for all the times he was so torn between whether to help his daddy or spend time with him or to go to church.  He balanced it all as well as any child could.

In 1998, feeling victorious and full of hope and faith in all God was doing, it seemed only right to celebrate His faithfulness and our bliss with one more child before we grew too old.  It seemed everyone in the family was so excited!  Pete being the baby boy in his family, us being in our late thirties, all lent itself to a sense of joy and celebration.

We were blessed with the most beautiful, perfect baby girl.  She slept in my arms and I began to call her my Snuggle Bug.  I would often sit on the front porch to nurse her and rock her.  Many times I used these quiet moments to pray.  One day, when my soul was very burdened over the fact that Pete still didn't know Christ as Savior, I was filled with the assurance that my whole family one day would be a Christian family, a Christian home, and that this happy baby was proof of it.  Hence, Bug was my joy.

One day after coming home from Church, Bubba come and told me that he had prayed and accepted Christ in the woods near our home.  God is true to His Word!  Thank you precious Savior!  We all saw Bubba baptised.  But Bubba was the only one standing with me the day Bug was dedicated to the Lord.  Me and the kids were faithful to church...but Pete still wouldn't come with us.  He began to fall back into old habits that had always caused discord and pain in our home.

More and more, after we had moved to Caneyhead with the passing of Pete's father, I began to feel led to move my letter to a church home in our community.  Bubba and I began to visit Wiley Mae Community Baptist  and soon felt that's where God wanted us both.  After coming there, God began to deal with me and lay on my heart to start a children's church program there.  I did and it flourished for the size of our little assembly.  Well, it flourished in children...not in workers.  Save one or two.

Pete's health issues began to raise their ugly head.  We lost Pete's mother and my closest confidant.  That led to an ugly bought of depression for me.  Still, God granted me the strength to continue.  Then, finally, a couple come forward to help with Children's Church.  What a blessing I thought.  But he wouldn't listen to anything I tried to tell them, wouldn't take a Sunday off to gather with the members in Morning Worship....torn between setting things right and causing discord or harming a new Christian's walk I simply withdrew from service in that area.

Yet, still Bug was the joy filled, happy baby.  The effervescent child with a heart of gold, that tried to give her money away because she didn't need it.  The soul that loved young and old just the same.  That was blessed with a special way with creatures great and small.

Pete's health problems became steadily more apparent.  I decided to go back to work on a part time basis to help our suffering income and to force me to get back out around others and out of myself.  Over the next four years things just got darker and darker.  I pulled away from the fellowship of the church, seldom going.  Between work and increasing demands at home and a growing feeling of helplessness, my private time with God next began to suffer. 

Where was God's promise in all of this?!?!!!!!  Lord, I believe you...still.........but I'm just too damn tired to continue on my own.  I'm tired of being the strong one, the faithful one, the dependable one.  You can bet that Satan knew exactly how I was feeling.  And he was more than willing to dangle in front of my eyes a false offer of escape.  A pretend way to start over.  And it wrecked havoc in all our lives.

But for once in 25 years of marriage it did cause Pete to sit up and take notice.  To declare his love for me and to show me sides of himself he had always kept hidden.  It was while we were still in the midst of this storm that Pete and Bug both decided to start attending church.  I was surprised and happy...but not about to get my hopes up. 

Yet, somehow, some way that I still do not know or understand, Christ reached Pete and saved him and claimed him for His own!  Little precious Bug also made a decision for the Lord!  Bubba, who had been through the angst of the turbulent teen years found a sweet young girl to take as his wife and had the privilege of leading her to the Lord and I had the privilege to be in the House that day!!

Now, my walk is still not fully recovered from where it had been.  My steps are still not as steady as they should be.  The fellowship I share with my Lord is still not yet where it has been but I'm still "pressing on the upward way, new heights I'm gaining every day;  Still praying as I'm onward bound, Lord plant my feet on higher ground."

So, I leave you my friends and those who drop by with this one resounding truth:

God is ALWAYS FAITHFUL, even when we aren't!!!

Barbara In Caneyhead
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