Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Quest

** This was my entry at FaithWriters for the Challenge topic Love.

Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: LOVE (agape and/or phileo) (03/12/15)

TITLE: The Quest
By Leola Ogle
~8th Place


In a land many years ago, when life was simple and almost everyone got along, there lived a man called Teacher. Teacher was known for his wisdom and knowledge. People came from near and far to ask him questions regarding all things concerning humanity. 

Alas, Teacher’s days were numbered. As he grew older and feebler, he sought someone who would be Teacher when his body expired and his spirit departed. He issued a decree requesting a gathering of young men with a thirst for truth. Out of those assembled, he chose three: Anwyl, Briant, and Eoin. 

Teacher’s gnarled finger pointed to the Tree of Light that grew in his garden. In a voice trembling with age, he said, “This tree grows special fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You shall each journey for one year and seek to experience these fruits in ways others may overlook. From your reports, one will be chosen to become Teacher when I am gone.”

Eoin was the youngest, smallest in frame, and least handsome. He thought he was the least likely to be chosen, for Anwyl and Briant were stronger and magnificent to look upon.

The three departed in separate directions. When the year ended, the countryside gathered to hear the mighty reports of the three. Who would become the next Teacher?

Both Anwyl and Briant spoke with eloquence and authority, expounding on profound and powerful experiences with all nine fruits. Their insights were keen and deeply theological. As each finished, the crowd gasped and murmured in awe. 

Anxiety welled within Eoin. His report wasn’t brilliant like theirs. Clearing his throat, he began to speak. 

“My first awareness was of faithfulness. Dog and Horse were my companions on the journey. Dog was a loyal friend, even to defending me against a poisonous snake. Dog brought comfort when I was lonely and discouraged. Horse faithfully carried me through good and bad weather, even though I often lacked enough food and water to sustain the three of us. Each day the sun faithfully rose and set, and the moon and stars appeared each night.”

“Goodness and kindness was shown by the many people who offered food and lodging to me, a weary stranger. They did it with no expectation of being repaid. I could not have made it without their help.”

“Joy surrounded me every day in the beauty of nature, and in the comfort of family and friends. Joy is a choice we make to concentrate on our blessings and not the negative things.”

“Peace comes from having a clear conscience. And when we’ve done wrong, peace comes from the assurance that God forgives if we only ask. Peace is the belief God is in control.”

Eoin looked at Teacher and saw affirmation in his eyes. He continued then with boldness. “I saw patience in a baby learning to walk. The baby tries again and again after each fall. Patience is a mother teaching her daughter the necessities for womanhood. Patience is a father teaching his son the skills he needs to become a man.”

“Gentleness is in the touch of those who care for one another. Gentleness is the breeze that cools us on a summer day. Gentleness is a mother’s kiss on a fevered brow. Gentleness is in the compassionate care of the feeble, infirmed, and elderly.”

“Self-control is the ability to behave wisely when we’re angry or have been wronged. Self-control keeps us from being greedy. Self-control gives us strength to overcome temptation.” 

The flow of Eoin’s words stopped and he surveyed the crowd. He saw the light of understanding reflected in their eyes. Smiles spread across their faces. A few applauded. Then the crowd went wild with their applause. Eoin turned to face Teacher and saw disappointment in his eyes. 

Teacher raised his hand to silence the crowd. Anwyl and Briant smirked at Eoin as Teacher walked to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. A hush fell over the gathering. 

“Eoin, my young seeker. The beauty of your discovery is incomplete. Have you forgotten about love?” 

Ecstasy swelled in Eoin’s chest. “Teacher, the greatest revelation on my journey was love. If our hearts are filled with love, the other eight fruits will freely flow. When motivated by love, the other fruits will be pure and genuine. We must seek love first. It is the noblest truth.”

Tears filled Teacher’s eyes. To the crowd, he said, “Eoin has done well. His name shall be Teacher.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Two Reasons Why I'm Against Abortion

March is a special month for me. In 1981 my fifteen-year-old daughter, Tammy, gave birth to my first grandchild, Ethan. Tammy is my oldest of five children. Ethan made me a grandmother at thirty-two. Although we were Christians and actively involved in our church, some people (not from church) suggested Tammy have an abortion. One lady said to me, "This will ruin her life." Financially and emotionally, it was not an easy time for us. But we never considered an abortion. And having Ethan did not ruin anyone's life. In fact, we all considered Ethan a blessing. 

Ethan turns thirty four in a couple of days. He has a beautiful wife, four children, and baby #5 on its way. See that picture? How could anyone think a blessing like that could ruin lives? Isn't that a handsome family? Ethan and his wife, Rachel, are both in the Air Force. He has been deployed twice to Afghanistan and Rachel once. 

Was it easy for a fifteen-year-old to have a baby? Life and the things that befall us isn't always easy. We make the best of it. Our character is developed and reflected in how we handle the difficulties in life. 

Today, March 25th, is my grandson, Jonathan's birthday. He was born in 1988 to my sixteen-year-old daughter, Denise. *sigh* I know you are probably thinking, "What's wrong with this family?" Nothing is wrong with us. I had a couple of other grandchildren between Ethan and Jonathan not born to unwed teenage daughters. But everyone of them, my grandchildren, was and is, considered a gift from God. 

Jonathan is married to Miranda and they have two beautiful daughters. My great-granddaughters, Emily and Ariana, walk into my house every Sunday for lunch. Before they fix a plate, they find me to hug and kiss me. I treasure those moments. Because of the Air Force, I see them more than I see Ethan and his family. 

Abortion would have robbed us of so many things. This post isn't aimed at anyone who has had an abortion. It isn't meant as a declaration of judgment. Others' choices are between them and God. I simply want to share what abortion would have meant to my family. 

Happy birthday, Ethan and Jonathan! Our lives have been enriched because you were born.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Books That Live On In Our Hearts

Have you ever had a dream where you are encountering something frightening, stressful or sorrowful and somehow, in the midst of the emotional upheaval, you tell yourself, “It’s only a dream. It’s only a dream?”

Most of the time, I don’t recall my dreams. Saturday night I had a dream, and because I woke up to use the restroom, I remembered it. In my dream my husband, Jeff, and I were on a mission trip in a foreign country.  I was in a building or church with other ladies helping to set up to feed people. Jeff comes in and tells me that the hotel we’re staying in is on fire. Suddenly I had an armload of clothes and our wallets with our money, ID’s and passports. I knew it’s what was salvaged from the fire, but I don’t know how it suddenly appeared in my arms. I put them in our rental car, but then everything got stolen from the car. I was panicked because without our passports, we were stuck in this country.  Feeling overwhelmed, crying to Jeff, I suddenly told myself, “It’s not real. It’s only a dream.”

As I relayed the dream to my husband – let’s face it, the dream wasn’t that intense – it reminded me of books I’ve read that captured me. Books that caused me to feel every emotion of the hero or heroine. Books that made me feel personally connected to the characters.  Books that washed over my emotions like a tidal wave. It didn’t help to tell myself it wasn’t real, it was only a book.

The first book I recall reading that affected me that way was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It drew me in so that I knew Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. I wanted Laurie (Lawrence, the boy next door) and Jo to end up together. I was crushed when they didn’t. For weeks, I carried this hurt.

As a teenager (a married teenager), I read Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It had the same effect on me. I lived in that book long after I finished it. I could not reconcile my emotions around the fact that Scarlett and Rhett did not stay together. How could Scarlett love Ashley all those years? I wanted to slap some sense into her.

Now….now I want to write books that move people like that. I want to create characters that live on in the readers mind once the book is finished. I want to reveal the best in humanity and the failures, weaknesses, frailty and imperfections we all encounter within ourselves. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” Psalm 139: 14. I want to show the heart of God for mankind.

That is my prayer. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

FaithWriters Editor's Choice 7th Place/The Ghost of Kale Adams

TITLE: The Ghost of Kale Adams
By Leola Ogle
~7th Place


The evening breeze caresses my face. My eyes drift to the mountain – always to the mountain. I sit outside in my wheelchair at Mercy Nursing Home. My one-hundred-year-old body is fragile and broken, but my mind is sharp and alert. 

“You’re always watching the mountain, Daniel. What do you see there?” asks the nurse, Ellen.

“The mountain has secrets,” I answer.

“Um, so I hear. My boys say it’s haunted by a man driven to live in a cave because of a broken heart. Now his ghost wanders the mountain crying for his lost love.” 

I laugh, my body trembling with the effort. I am delighted that the legend of Kale Adams lives on. “It was stubborn pride that drove Kale Adams up that mountain to live in a cave, not a broken heart.” 

“You knew him?” Ellen pulls up a chair beside me.


“Tell me. I’d love to know the story.”

I was ten when I met Kale. Everyone knew the stories about a man who had roamed the mountaintop for twenty years. Children whispered spooky stories of a fierce ogre who lived in a cave. My older brothers said he didn’t exist, but my friends and I believed he did. It was rumored that many had searched for him, but no one found him or his cave. 

One summer morning my friends dared me to climb the mountain alone in search of Kale. I was the scrawniest one in the group and often the butt of jokes. I set out to prove my bravery, although I really was terrified. 

Heart pounding, I journeyed for an hour, jumping at every sound. Then a storm rolled in that crescendoed into thunder, lightning, and blinding rain. I slipped, stumbled and became disoriented. Then I fell and hit my head on a rock.

I came to in a cave with a bearded man roasting a rabbit over a roaring fire. “I have to go home,” I whimpered, terror making my voice crack. 

“When it’s night and the rain’s stopped. Can’t have you knowing the way back here. Your head hurt?” 

“Yeah.” Then I shook my head when offered a hunk of rabbit meat. 

“Better eat, boy. You’re lucky I found you. Bet you were looking for me, huh?”

I took the meat. “Thank you. My parents will be looking for me, you know.”

“That right? Who might they be?”

“Charlie and Sarah Jones.”

Something flickered in Kale’s eyes, or maybe it was the fire’s reflection. “What do town folk say about me?”

“Nothing,” I squeaked, my mind conjuring ways to escape. 

“Don’t lie, boy.”

“Uh, they say you’re a monster or a ghost. Some people don’t believe you’re even here, that you ran off to the big city cause your heart got broken. People have looked for this cave, but can’t find it.”

“Yeah? I pray no one finds it. And I didn’t leave cause my heart got broken. T’was my pride sent me scurrying up this mountain. Pride keeps me here. Pride’s an awful thing, boy.”

Curiosity was driving out my fear. Kale didn’t look mean or scary – just a bushy beard and ragged clothes. Besides, he rescued me, didn’t he? “I don’t get how pride can do those things.”

“Well, I hope you never do. See, boy, I was the smartest, best-looking, best at everything in town. I was best at horseshoes, plowing a field, book learning, racing a horse, and getting the prettiest girls. I couldn’t stand to lose at anything. Heck, I even strutted around about how my daddy and me helped bring the railroad to town. Then I hooked me the prettiest girl in Colorado. But she left me and married the new school teacher. I thought folks were mocking me, whispering behind my back. So here I am. I reckon it wasn’t my heart that was broken, just my bull-headed pride.”

“You could come back, Kale.”

“And have people laugh. Nope. Won’t go back. Don’t tell you saw me either. Hear me, boy?”

When night fell, Kale led me through a narrow opening covered by vines. He took me just far enough to make it on my own. The town had been looking for me. I told everyone about Kale. They looked for the cave, but couldn’t find it. Some said I lied. 

But I knew the truth. Kale and the cave were there. And it was my daddy who stole my mama from Kale. 

I’d like to believe pride keeps Kale’s ghost roaming that mountain.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I Am American But I'm Not Rich!

We just returned from a lovely, relaxing 8 days in Cancun. Several times I mentioned to my husband, “Why do they assume that all Americans are rich?” My husband replied, “Because compared to most of them, we are rich.”

According to American standards, we are NOT rich. Far from it. We live from payday to payday. We aren’t foolish spenders. We have a budget and stick to it with very little wiggle room. We do have a nice home – in a borderline low-income area. We two decent vehicles. We have plenty to eat, nice enough clothing, and…well, we are blessed. But NOT wealthy! And I am humbled and grateful to God for meeting our needs.

It frustrates and irritates me when people in other countries try to milk money out of us for no other reason than they assume we are rich. The beautiful resort we stayed at – all a generous gift from loving relatives – tried to sell us a timeshare package. Despite our repeated statements that we could not afford it, all they did was send in another person to try to convince us to buy. A statement was even made to us, “But you have the money to vacation in Cancun!”  Seriously, I was insulted. We would not have been there if it wasn’t gifted to us. After we sacrificed our two hours of high pressure sales pitches, we had a fabulous time. The resort staff, food, and accommodations were so much more than we imagined.

I also have learned to not accept friend requests from anyone in foreign countries who I don’t already know. I have accepted many requests in the past, mostly from those claiming to be Christians and involved in ministry. I’ve had to unfriend them because I got private messages asking for money for them or their ministry. It was always a guilt-tactic presented as a Christian, I should help them. I feel I may have limited myself from some enriching friendships because I just delete all friend requests from other countries now.

I do have numerous writer friends on Facebook who live in other countries, but I have made their acquaintance, or know of them and their work. No wonder people flood our borders. They’re looking for the American dream of prosperity.

God help us to be grateful for our blessings, to not compare what we have with others more prosperous, to always be willing to help those less fortunate than us, and the wisdom to not be taken advantage of by others. To let our “no” be given in gracious kindness so that those like Estelle at the resort who was part of the high-pressure-sales-team who leaned over and ask me, “Are you Catholic?” When I answered, “We’re Christians,” she said, “I see the glow of love in your eyes.” Then Estelle left us alone, and someone more aggressive slid into her seat. LOL