Sunday, January 18, 2015

Remembering Mom: 12/2/1926 - 1/17/2014

I lied to my mother. Frequently! In fact, almost every time I saw her for the past two years of her life. I became adept at it. I never felt guilty either, not even as a Christian. The lies kept her happy.

Yesterday, January 17, 2015, marked a year since Mom went home to heaven. She was preceded by my father and ten siblings. She was the last one left. Those last two years, she was in a care facility and had health issues typical for someone in their eighties.

The worst to deal with, though, for me as a daughter was her dementia. She would cry and beg to go home with me. I learned to lie and say, “Maybe another day, Mom.” She would stop crying and smile. She wouldn’t remember that I told her that, but for the moment it alleviated her sorrow.

She would ask about her brothers and sisters, some who had departed this life many years ago. I would hug her and say, “No, I haven’t talked to Uncle Paul lately. (or Aunt Nola or other aunt or uncle).” She would smile and say, “Me either. Maybe tomorrow.” 

The first time I told her my Uncle Allen had been dead for years, she cried like the loss was fresh. So I started lying when she asked these questions about her siblings. I didn’t tell her when her last living sibling, my Aunt Esther, died.

Mom always remembered I was her daughter but she had no idea what my name was. Sometimes I was Shelly or Judy or Carol. She didn’t remember my children or grandchildren, and the many faces confused her and made her cry.

She was a simple woman with only an eighth grade education. She wasn’t very smart intellectually, but she was one of the most creative and resourceful women I knew.  I learned from her how to stretch a dollar, how to make a tasty meal from leftovers, and how to find resourceful ways to make money. I learned that hard work and honesty are virtues to be proud of.

I miss you, Mom. The picture is of me and my sister with Mom on Thanksgiving 2013. It was less than two months before Mom passed away, and the last time I got to bring her to my house. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Books I've Read So Far in 2015

I love to read, but sometimes I hate to start a new book. Why? Because I can become consumed with reading, letting things fall to the wayside so I can finish a book. Sound familiar to anyone?

One of my favorite suspense authors is Brandilyn Collins. I just finished her book Dark Pursuit. Before that I read her book Exposure. She is a Christian author, but Christianity plays a subtle role in her suspense novels. Her suspense, though, keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages. If you like good, clean suspense, try any of Brandilyn's books.

Also, if you like suspense and want to read Christian authors, try Ted Dekker and Colleen Coble.

I'm currently reading a few books, Finding Mr. Write by Carol Moncado, Double Vision by Randy Ingermanson, By The Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer. I know I'll finish Tricia Goyer's first because out of the three, this has held my interest the most.

Yesterday I purchased for my Kindle a short story/book Red Skies by Shari Broyer. I got it because it was free and I know Shari. I finished it in about an hour. It was a decent, short story and held my interest. I wouldn't give it five stars, though, although I like Shari and feel bad for saying that. I have to be truthful.

Also, so far this year of 2015, I read When We Were On Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over by Addie Zierman. I got this -- and paid over $10 for the Kindle version, and I NEVER pay that much for a Kindle book -- because someone I trust in the community of writers gave it five stars and a glowing review. I have to be honest, this book disturbed me.

I found Addie to be shallow. She made herself the "victim" in every chapter. Over things that weren't that traumatic. Maybe it's just me, and many who read her book will criticize me for criticizing Addie, but that's how I felt.

I plan to do a blog about the book. But for now, I encourage you to read. Read for entertainment. Read to study how other authors wield their style of writing. Read because all good writers are readers.

My pile of books to be read -- both literal and in my Kindle -- make me groan!

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions: Bah humbug!

So here I am, the 5th day into this new year of 2015. As usual this time of year, my thoughts go to New Year Resolutions. I love making them, setting goals and plans, dreaming of something more for me and my loved ones, determined to accomplish more. Always declaring: This will be my year!

I want 2015 to be my year!

Alas, life always gets in my way and thwarts my noble intentions. Every single year! Oh, and I do get distracted so easily. Sidetracked! Knocked off the path! It's like I have dual personalities. One is named Want-ita. She wants to do certain things - follow the to-do list, pursue goals and passions. The other is Looky-lou. She says, "Looky, need to do this instead." And Want-ita and Looky-lou are polar opposites, pulling me in different directions. I should create a new character.  After all, I AM a writer. I'll call her Lou-ita. She'll (I'll) be as perfect as possible in her/my flawed and imperfect humanity.

My 2015 resolutions follow the same trend as many years: read my Bible more and pray more, lose weight and exercise more, embrace a healthier lifestyle. But this year I feel that embracing a healthier lifestyle is a must. I'm not young. I need more energy. I felt like I had to drag myself around last year. I need to stay medically as healthy as possible. I NEED to do this. So I am going to be determined this year to accomplish this.

In 2014, I felt stagnant with my writing. I had ideas, plenty of ideas, but no motivation. When I did write, I forced it. There wasn't any joy or pleasure in it. That has got to change this year. I want it to change. I am praying for fresh passion and motivation.

I have many "wants" for 2015. I want my son to be delivered from alcohol and quit sucking life from all of us with his self-centered drama. I want all of my family to serve Christ. I want to pay off some nagging debt. I want to be so consumed with Christ that the troubles of life pale in comparison.

Life rolls on, folks. You can roll with it or let it roll over you. Me: I'll get my skates and roll on. Or I'll let Lou-ita do that. But let's all declare to do everything within our power to make 2015 our year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Village Without Books: Ashling, The Dreamer

**This is a story I wrote earlier this year from the writing prompt "Reading."

Ashling’s eyes were large and watchful, his muscles taut with caution. He had never seen a stranger before. The old man’s snores filled the air like the buzzing of bees. The breeze through the window lifted strands of his silver hair causing wisps to sway like the tall grass in the meadow.

“Oversee him,” King Eldredge had told Ashling. Perhaps the king’s assignment would silence the naysayers in the isolated, but goodly kingdom of Serendipity. As a boy he had been ridiculed, called ne’er-do-well, silly heart, fanciful, and dreamer. Indeed, Ashling means dreamer or visionary.

King Eldredge was kind but he wasn’t a dreamer or visionary. He was content. For decades, none had entered Serendipity or left. The people were happy because they knew no other existence. Their minds were not cluttered with wonderings like Ashling’s.  

Ashling was no longer a boy but not quite a man.  He spent his days climbing trees, meandering through the forest, wading in the river called Mighty, and frolicking with the animals. He was in awe of his surroundings, but he had many questions. Where did the waters of Mighty journey to and from whence did they flow from? By what miracle did apples grow on trees and berries on vines? Who gave birds their song? How did the moon and sun change places? What caused females to give birth? What lies beyond Serendipity?

He pondered this and much more. When he asked questions, people answered, “It is the way of things. Only a fool and dreamer would ask such questions.” Their answers left him with an aching desire to know more.

As he approached manhood, his father said, “You must find your purpose, Son. Your head is in the clouds. Will you be a fisherman? Hunter? Planter? Carpenter? Healer? There are many choices, but you must decide.”

 Instead of thinking about his purpose, Ashling lay in the meadow in the evening. He wondered about the moon and stars. Why didn’t they fall to the ground? How did the moon change shapes from night to night?

It was the next day, while he sat in an apple tree that the old man arrived. Ashling heard braying and watched as two donkeys slowly approached. One carried pouches and crates. The other carried a man who was slumped forward. His hair was silver and his skin like burnt leather.

Ashling plucked two apples, offering them to the donkeys as he called softly, “Sir.” The old man didn’t respond. Ashling saw blood dripping to the ground and the awkward angle of the man’s right leg.

He alerted his father who summoned King Eldredge. The king’s face reflected his perplexity. “We shall care for this stranger until he is well, then send him on his way. You, Ashling, will be his overseer while my healers tend to him.”

Ashling kept his eyes watchful while his fanciful mind spun tales of the stranger. The sound of the old man’s snoring lulled Ashling into slumber. Later Ashling was roused by a hand on his shoulder. The old man’s eyes probed deeply into his as if dissecting his mind and soul. “I am Sage. My travels take me wherever I feel led. On my journey to find the dreamer, a snake frightened my donkey, who pitched me to the ground, wounding my leg. Are you the dreamer?”

“I’m Ashling. I have been called a dreamer.” Ashling’s voice trembled.

“Fetch my pouches and crates, Dreamer.”

Ashling did as he was told. He removed the objects as Sage instructed, making neat piles.

“These are books, young Ashling. They contain answers to your many questions. I am here to teach you to read.”

“I know nothing of books or what it is to read.”

Sage smiled. “Ah, my young dreamer, hand me the book on top. It is a collection of best loved poetry. It’s exquisite.”

Sage caressed the book before opening it. As Sage began to read, Ashling felt his heart sing and dance. In the words, he heard the song of birds, the rushing waters of Mighty, the growl of the lion, the symphony of forest creatures, the laughter of children. Oh, if he could do as Sage and make words from the pages burst into the air.

Sage lovingly touched each book. “This book explains the oceans, lands, and skies. This one tells of great men who have done marvelous deeds. This tells of animals, this of herbs and spices and plants. This reveals secrets of the human body.”

Sage explained each book. Every question Ashling had was answered in the books. “And you will teach me to read, Sage?”

“Yes, young dreamer, I will teach you. Reading will be your gift to share with this kingdom.”

There was one last book – old, worn and shabby. “And this book? Is it least important, Sage?”

Tears filled Sage’s eyes as he cradled the book to his bosom. “This book is life. It tells of the One who created everything you have wondered about. It tells of a love like none other. This is greater than all books combined.”

“But why is it so shabby? Have you not cared for it properly?”

“Young dreamer, this book shows the wear of many hands who have loved it with their lives, but also, the hands who sought to destroy it. It is my most treasured possession.”

From that day, the legend is told of how books and reading came to Serendipity.

(© 2014 Do not use without permission. Property of Leola Ogle.)

So keep dreaming. dear friends. YOU, like young Ashling, may have a gift for your kingdom.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship With Christmas: Confessions of a Christmas-holic

It is two days after Christmas and I have been reduced to a drooling, mumbling, pajama-clad couch potato. In December a few years ago, I made a trip to the dermatologist where my daughter, Stephanie, works. I had burning, itching hives covering my neck and chest that felt like a hundred stinging ants.  “Well, looks like you were here last December for the same thing,” said the doctor.  “That’s it! It has been confirmed. I’m allergic to Christmas,” I replied.

I love Jesus. I serve Him as closely and faithfully as I can, but I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love everything about it. I hate the amount of work that it entails. I confess, I am responsible for much of my Christmas to-do list. All those cookies I bake – dozens and dozens – to give to neighbors, family and friends. And my family reproduces like sex-starved rabbits, so my gift list is a continually growing, demanding parasite.

Thank God gift giving is my love language. Otherwise, I would eradicate that leech-list – set fire to it and cackle like the Wicked Witch of the West. Even though I purchase sale items all year long, I find myself scrambling and searching in a psychotic frenzy at the last minute every December. This year I had tons of little boy gifts, but many more little girls than boys in the family. Seriously, though, why can’t a three-month-old baby girl get a set of Hot Wheels as a gift? Who makes these rules anyway? I have a confession: little boys are easier to buy for than little girls, but men are harder to buy for than women. That is my truth, so there!

Then all the meals! Somehow I manage to keep up my usual “everyone-comes-to-my-house-for-lunch-after-church-every-Sunday” ritual. I had not fully recovered from all that cooking/baking I did for Thanksgiving when the kitchen fairy – that cursed, wretched, slave-driving creature – reminded me I have much to do in December.

And don’t ask me why I drive myself to be the Queen of Christmas Decorating. I even do the front yard d├ęcor with lights and everything. But I have learned a valuable, sanity-saving secret. Let there be no item set out at Christmas – or any other time – that is more precious to you than the tiny hands that may break it. My younger self was not so gracious about this. But now I let my grandkids and great-grandkids rearrange my village, take baby Jesus out of the nativity, touch Santas with not-so-clean fingers….you get the idea. And every year, something gets broken. And I always ask the tearful offender, “What do I love more? You or (that thing) you broke? Of course, I love you more.”

To make this December worse, I started off the first week with some coughing, achy, sneezing, fatigued virus from hell. It lasted a week. Then the Sunday night before Christmas – after having thirty plus people here that day for lunch and to play that steal-the-gift game – I got a horrid bug that kept me up most of the night with some demonic minion twisting a burning knife in my stomach.

I had to babysit a grandson Monday and Tuesday before Christmas. To top that off, my youngest daughter, Heather’s, husband ended up in ICU, so I had those three grandkids too. I was facing a Christmas Eve meal and festivities for 20-30 family, plus preparing a complete meal to take to the in-laws in another city on Christmas day.

Heaving a heavy sigh while every bone and muscle in my sixty-six year old body groans in protest, I am forever grateful for Jesus Christ, Incarnate God, who chose to be born as a helpless newborn with a destiny to sacrifice His mortal, human body because of His profound love for mankind. Words are inadequate to express the depth of my love for my Lord and savior.

This Christmas, I am especially grateful that my son-in-law, Bobby, got released from the hospital to be with his family for Christmas. Also, my sweet grandson, Nathanael, and his wife, Jessica, handed me a box of Cerrata’s Chocolates, and said, “Our other Christmas gift is that we’re going to have a baby.”  A miracle I have been praying about for almost two years. Only a handful know the significance of that announcement. 

And because I love my family and friends, I will always look forward to Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 at My House

Ah, Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving 2014 is now a thing of the past. I trust yours was filled with family, friends, food, fun, fellowship, and gratitude for all the many blessings in your life. Please don’t say you have nothing to be grateful for. The fact that you are alive is a blessing.

My family is huge. Okay, I know I’ve said it before about my huge family. Make no doubt, I KNOW I am blessed and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But the human dynamics when you get so many people together usually has an element of stress for me and my sweet husband, Jeff. We are peace-loving, no drama, let’s-just-all-get-along people. Conflict keeps us awake at night.

Forty two people were at my house for Thanksgiving and we all did get along. We usually do. BUT….there’s always that potential for fireworks. The majority of my family is Christians, but we welcome all family whether they’re believers or not.

We also have some drama lovers, some who struggle with drugs and alcohol or other issues. Every family has those. We even have a couple of ultra liberals. That’s like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole when you come to my house.

Well, the alcoholics stayed sober, the drama lovers kept their actions and attitudes in check, and the ultra liberals kept their mouths shut. It was a very blessed day, indeed.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

It’s not the great food that people will remember when they come to my or your home. It is the love and acceptance they feel. Always be kind and loving, even when it’s thrown back in your face. Love covers….everything.