Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Brain Tumor That Turned Out to Be Shingles

Pain riddled through the right side of my head, and behind and through my right eyeball. Brain tumor? What else could it be? I don’t get headaches. Or I rarely get headaches and usually it’s sinus related when I do. After the pain waking me up for two nights in a row, I decide to drive myself to an ER (hospital emergency room) on a Monday morning.

Why would a sixty-six year old great-grandmother drive herself to ER? Because my mother-in-law had passed away four days before and my husband was in another city with his father, and my daughters were all at their places of work. Besides, there’s a tad bit of independence leftover from my days as a single mom.

Brain tumor was a mantra running through my thoughts as I drove myself to ER. But? What was the blistery things on my right forehead? Maybe I got bit by a scorpion or brown recluse spider? Wouldn’t that cause my head to hurt? But what about my eye pain? Was my head filled with some venomous insect poison?

Dear God, you do remember I am one of the speakers at a Single Moms Conference in a few weeks?  How can I do that when I can’t even think straight around the pain in my head and eye?

“Shingles,” the ER doctor tells me. Well, I suggested it first. “Please tell me this isn’t shingles,” I say. “Yes, I’m afraid it is,” he replies. “Noooooooo,” I respond, followed by, “At least it isn’t a brain tumor.” Doctor, “Or an aneurysm.”

I text my husband and daughters that I am in ER and have shingles. My youngest daughter, Heather, leaves work to join me. Armed with prescriptions, we leave the ER. Thump thump thump goes my van. I pull into a CVS parking lot and my front tire has a huge bubble in it. Seriously? This happened two weeks prior on the other front tire. Pow! Bubble pops and two women entering CVS come running over. “Are you okay? Were you shot at?”

If I was being shot at, why would you come running over? I wanted to ask them that, but I was in pain and extremely frustrated over another bubble-popped tire. Heather showed up to drive me home, then pick up my meds and some lunch for us. Her husband and sons (my son-in-law and grandsons) arrived to get my keys to retrieve my van after they changed the tire.

Heather and family left, granddaughter Hailey staying with me until her mom, my daughter, Denise, shows up to relieve her. By 9:00 PM, the pain in my eye had increased to a steady hot-knife-continually-stabbing-my-eye pain.

Denise drove me back to the ER where my daughter, Stephanie, and husband, Jeff, soon joined us. Unlike earlier that morning, the evening ER was crowded with people. After an hour or two, I was writhing in pain. “What ER lets a sixty-six year old woman in pain wait this long to get seen?” I whine.

Many pain-filled hours later with no relief from the knife stabbing my eye, they knock me out and admit me to the hospital. Tuesday is lost to me. I have vague memories of visitors (I was in isolation. Apparently my shingles was contagious for chicken pox), and numerous doctors and nurses checking in on me – taking my vitals, drawing blood, looking in my eye, adjusting my IV, injecting pain meds in my IV, giving me oral meds. On top of all that, I continued to vomit throughout the day and night.

On the fourth day I am sent home with eye drops, 4 pain meds and antiviral medicine in pill form. I see an eye doctor who prescribes more eye drops, one a steroid to promote healing and the other an antiviral drops. Mr. Eye Doctor came to see me in the hospital. He is not hospital staff. He was rude and rough. I vaguely remember and my family, several were there in my room, tell me how rude he was. I politely tell him how rude he was, and, sigh, he apologizes. At least he didn’t deny he was rude.

For over a week, my right eye oozed yellow gunk that stuck my eye together. But the good news is that the shingles virus that got into my eye did not cause vision loss.

I have not written or read anything for two weeks. My dear husband got me a new laptop for Mother’s Day and I have not felt well enough to play with it. God is good and prayer works. So many people were praying for me. I am blessed by amazing family and friends.

If you have NOT gotten a shingle vaccination, let me encourage you to do so. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Mothers. Mother’s day. The day we honor mothers everywhere. If you have been blessed with a wonderful mother, then thank God. Not everyone is so fortunate. My dear mother has been gone for a year and a half now. Was she a perfect mother? No, but she was a good mother and loved us.

There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Or a perfect person. We are all flawed and fallible. I was a young mother – very young – three children by the time I was nineteen years old and two more by the time I was twenty-five. I was a grandmother ay thirty two. I have a lot of failures and regrets as a mother and grandmother.

But God is faithful. When I look back at that young, frustrated, high-strung, frightened, overwhelmed young mother I was, I want to hug her for every time she cried herself to sleep in defeat. I want to tell her to do the best she can in the circumstances she is dealing with.

There’s no magic formula for being a good mother. Except prayer. Prayer is a vital key. Don’t overlook it and don’t underestimate it. God, through your prayers, will make up the difference in your lack of parenting skills. It may take years before you're aware of this, but it will happen. 

If you’re children are small, shower them with love and make wonderful memories. If your children are gown and you are now a grandmother and great-grandmother like me, let it go.  My advice is simply this – forgive yourself.

Healing came to me when I allowed God to get it through my heart and spirit that I did the best I could while struggling in an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage. So this Mother’s Day in 2015, celebrate mothers everywhere. Celebrate you! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Weeping Willow

Topic: Cup and Saucer (08/28/14)

TITLE: The Weeping Willow
By Leola Ogle

I am, and stand on a dairy farm, because of Aaron. Aaron’s grandfather planted me to commemorate his birth. Aaron is gone now but I will always be his tree. I am a weeping willow with deep roots. My trunk is thick and strong. My branches reach upward as if to beseech the Almighty, then droop so my leaves caress the ground in mournful surrender.

Now my branches sway in listless melancholy. Even the melody of birds that make their home in my branches can’t lift my sorrow. I miss the times of a little boy playing beneath my shade and climbing my branches. I was his fortress. He believed my drooping branches hid him from the world. My leaves danced with the sound of his laughter, then sagged with empathy during his tears.

My favorite memories are when his sister, Becky, was born. Aaron was five. Grandfather planted a peach tree near me to commemorate her birth. Although this tree would provide them with delectable fruit, I am the one both chose as their play area. 

Aaron was special, but Becky even more so. She was born with a mind that would always remain a child. Aaron loved her all the more because of it. Many days he laid aside his toy soldiers and cowboys, and cars and trucks to participate in Becky’s tea party. 

“Aaron, have a tea party with me.” He would sit at the wooden picnic table their father had made especially for Becky. Aaron would lift the plastic cup and saucer and pretend to sip. Sometimes Becky really did have tea or lemonade, and cookies on tiny plates. Tea parties with her brother were Becky’s favorite thing. Their giggles caused my leaves to vibrate with joy. Even the birds’ melody was sweeter. 

Aaron’s love for his sister never waned. As he got older and outgrew toys, he never refused to sit under my branches and sip tea with Becky. It’s what little girls do. It was something he understood and accepted. As she grew, her plastic cups and saucers were replaced by porcelain. For her sixteenth birthday, Aaron sent her home a set of Royal Albert fine china he bought in England during his tour of duty with the Army. 

When war broke out, Aaron’s plane was shot down. For months, his family didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Only Becky believed beyond a doubt that he would return. She set her fine china on the table under my branches and spoke to God. “When you bring Aaron home, God, we’ll have tea in my beautiful cups he sent me.” 

One day a fierce storm hit. The violence of the wind broke off some of my branches. I tried my best to shelter Becky. She had sat out her tea set and was having imaginary conversations with Aaron. By the time her family noticed she wasn’t in the house, she was soaked and chilled to the bone. 

She was very ill, and for many weeks she didn't come to sit beneath my branches. So somber was the countenance of everyone in the farmhouse, I feared she’d never return. One day, a man came slowly walking towards me. He had a limp, and was so thin. A young beautiful lady walked beside him.

As they drew closer, I recognized in that drawn face the vestiges of the boy I knew. The lovely lady was his bride, the daughter of the farmer who found Aaron and nursed him back to health after his plane was shot down. 

They chatted amiably as she, Paulette, set out the tea set. She arranged crumpets and scones on a plate and poured tea into cups from a teapot laced with delicate roses. Aaron’s parents helped Becky to the table, bracing her on either side. It was the most marvelous tea party ever. 

They’re all gone now, every one of them. Grandfather and Grandmother were the first to go, then Aaron’s parents. Even as an old woman, Becky had many tea parties with Aaron’s and Paulette’s daughters and granddaughters. When Aaron and Becky departed this earth, his sons sold the farm. No more children came to sit beneath my leaves or climb my branches. 

On nights when the howling wind rustles my leaves with a mournful sound, I can still recall the clink of cups on saucers as Becky’s giggles summon Aaron. I hear the sigh of acquiescence from a boy who understood the importance of tea parties with his sister.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Women Are Wordier! Sometimes!

Words! Words are life to a writer. We cannot communicate without words. Pictures and signs – as in charades – evoke words in our minds. That thought leads to this blog and the difference between how men and women communicate.

My husband teaches a small group Bible study at our church on Wednesday nights. Once a quarter we do a fun night. Usually it’s just a potluck and we sit around tables and talk. And eat. Two weeks ago my husband – who loves games – chose to play a Bible trivia game patterned after the television game show Celebrity Name Game.

He announced it for a couple of weeks. It would be men against women. Yikes. We women were biting out nails. Most of the men in our group are Bible teachers/scholars. We felt doomed to lose.

Not only did we NOT lose; we won by a healthy margin. It was because of the difference between how men and women communicate. First, let me clarify that it wasn’t all profound theological topics. It was any word found in the Bible. The game was played by a team member sitting in a chair with a screen behind him or her. A word was flashed on the screen, and a designated “caller” shouted clues (although the groups, men or women, got excited and helped call out clues. We weren’t too strict on that). The object was to get as many words as possible in 60 seconds. We rotated players continually.

The women won because we gave simplistic clues. The men….not so much. For example, the word donkey. The ladies’ clue: “Not a horse or mule, but like a mule.” The men gave a theological explanation which took longer to say: “Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Good Friday on one. Balaam had a talking one.”

Temple: The women’s clue: Points to temple on forehead, “What do we call this?”  Men: “People worship there and made sacrifices. The priests were there.”

King Jehoshaphat. Women: “We get the term Jumping blank from this king. (Jumping Jehoshaphat)”  Men: “He was a king in Judah. Had a son named Jerhoam who married Ahab’s daughter.”

Usually, by nature, women are wordier than men. We won’t tell you something using 6 words if we can use 60. But in the mentioned game, it was obvious women’s brains were quicker to grasp the clue than men. They tended to get more frustrated when the clue-receiver didn’t get the word immediately.

It was a fun game night for us, and just my observations. Maybe it’s why there are more women writers and readers. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pronunciation and Articulation is a Must!

Belied! It is a word. I used it in a story that was presented to a critique group several years ago. One of the gals told me it wasn't a word. Even when I insisted it was. Sometimes, though, we are misunderstood with a word that we don't articulate correctly, or it sounds so similar to another, or perhaps the hearer just doesn't know the word.

Have you ever had that happen? I'm sure most, or all, of us have. I have one incident that just came to mind this morning.

Years ago, I was a Women's Ministry Representative in the denomination I belong to. I was in charge of twenty-plus churches in the west central section of Arizona. This just meant I was one of several ladies who helped plan and organize state and sectional events for women.

At the time, I was also single after my twenty-two year marriage had ended. As such, I was the Singles' Director at my church. We had activities almost every week. I loved our singles' group. I met my husband, Jeff, there.

Our singles were having a potluck lunch at my house one Sunday after church, and we had a new gal there. I'll call her Linda since I don't remember her name. I was feeling a little nervous that day because on Tuesday I had an event where as a WM Rep I had to participate in a presentation before a few hundred people that included pastors and state leaders within our denomination. Gulp!

At the potluck I was sitting at the table with several of our single ladies. The men were watching sports on television. I mentioned to the ladies I was nervous. New lady, Linda, who wasn't familiar with me or our denomination, asked me what it was. I explained the best I could to her, but I could tell by the puzzled look on her face that she wasn't grasping it.

"You're nervous?" she asked.

"Well, yes. There will be pastors and leaders watching me."

"What is it again?"

"Sectional Council."

Her puzzled expression intensified.  "They're asking you, a single and divorced woman, to talk to the pastors and leaders about it?"

"Well, not talk exactly. It's a skit."

"That's amazing that they think you're qualified. What an honor."

Now I was puzzled. Qualified? Maybe an honor, after all, it was part of my job as a rep. But qualified?

"I'm not sure what you mean by qualified."

Her look said she thought perhaps she had offended me. "Oh, you know. That they think a single, divorced woman could give sexual counsel to pastors and leaders."

Sectional Council, not sexual council! I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fools' Day

I used to be the queen of April Fools’ Day jokes. Now? Now, I’m too tired to be creative. Huh? What? I cannot be too old and tired to have fun. I have all day to get my brain in gear.Can I come up with something? Oh, yeah, you bet I can. Jeff, beware!

The first memory of an April Fools joke that comes to my mind includes my husband, Jeff. We are a blended family, second marriage for both of us. We’ve been married 20 years. Because I am sixteen years older than him, I had grown – some married – children when we started dating.

We had dated for three months on April Fools’ Day 1990. My children, among other people, were still scratching their heads in disbelief that I, a level-headed, love-Jesus-with-all-my-heart woman was dating this much younger man. I had two teenage daughters at home still, so the joke started with them: “We’re in love and we’re getting married.” My five children’s responses were delightfully comical.

That went over so well, so I called Jeff later and told him I found a house I wanted to buy. The owner wanted to help me get a mortgage, but I couldn’t qualify on my own. “He said I need a co-signer. So I thought maybe you’d be my co-signer. Please, please Jeff! You know how much I want to buy a house. Please.”  Jeff hummed and hawed and tried not to say an outright “no.” He did agree to go look at the house with, but then I had mercy and told him, “April Fools!”

We did get married almost four years later, and of course, we did buy a house together. Laughter makes us feel better, so be creative with your April Fools jokes – as long as it’s not hurtful. Go forth, my fellow jesters, and bring laughter to someone today.

Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

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.”