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 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Headless Chickens and Other Early Childhood Memories

I saw recently on Facebook where someone asked, “What is your earliest memory?” I posed the question to my husband that evening and we spent the next hour bouncing our earliest childhood memories back and forth.

I was born on a small farm located at 51st Ave and Indian School Rd in Phoenix, AZ in 1948. The city has long ago grown and overtaken that land. We moved from there when I was five years old, so I tried to recall all memories from before we moved, making me five and younger.

  • ·        Probably my earliest: We had relatives staying with us, so a crib was pushed into the living room for me to sleep in. I remember hating it because I felt “too big” for a crib. I have no recollection of my real bed or bedroom. My advice to parents: if your child thinks he/she is too old for a crib, do NOT make the little darling sleep in one. Do you want that to be their earliest memory?
  • ·        My older brother, Gerald, and I going with Dad to fields (usually along the canal) to cut Johnson grass for our cows. I fell or jumped into the bed of the truck loaded with the grass, and the blades had sharp edges that cut. Lesson learned: Do not jump into a pile of grass no matter how cushy it looks.
  • ·         The property to the north of us had several houses where a multi-family Mexican family lived. Nice people, except they had turkeys. We played with their kids frequently and we were visiting and/or playing with the kids one day when a turkey came at me gobbling and flapping its wings. I ran in circles screaming and crying while the possessed-by-the-devil turkey chased me. The kindly neighbors roared with laughter while chattering to each other in a language I didn’t understand. Obviously I survived. Perhaps an exorcism took place, casting Beelzebub out of the turkey. Or did he become dinner?
  • ·         The neighbors to the south of us were Ed and Rose – I think that was their names. I do know they had teenage boys. For some reason I was terrified of the song “Three Blind Mice,” or perhaps those boys made me terrified of it. Because I would cry and try to hide whenever they sang that song, their mother yelled at them. So they would sneak up to me and whisper it in my ear. Note to adults: not all children’s songs and nursery rhymes are cute, funny and endearing. Mice chasing a farmer’s wife who cuts off their tails with a carving knife? Obviously my little-girl-self found that quite frightening. 
  • ·         I remember my mom, grandma, and aunts churning butter in our kitchen with that wooden barrel-like thing with the pole sticking out that you see in movies. Memory: nothing tastes as good as fresh churned butter on warm, freshly baked bread and biscuits.
  • ·         We always had chickens. When Mom needed a chicken for dinner, Dad would grab one by the neck and swing the chicken around until its head detached from its body. For a little girl who cringed at the song, Three Blind Mice, I had no problem watching this happen. In fact it was quite entertaining how that the headless chicken could hop and run around the yard for seconds or minutes until it keeled over. My brother and boy cousins loved to run around with the headless chicken screaming, “It’s chasing me,” while I, and my equally intimidated girl cousins, found a spot high and away, lest the crazy headless chicken chased us. I do recall that a headless chicken (and a puffed-up desert horned toad) made me queasy. The dead chicken would be thrown in a pot of boiling water, feathers and all. This loosened the feathers so we children could pluck out the feathers. The chicken could be cooked once the feathers and insides were removed. Sometimes, once the feet were chopped off, we danced the feet around with our hands. I have never been able to make fried chicken quite as mouthwatering as my mom and Aunts Viola, Nola, and Esther. FYO – we ate chickens, but not desert horned toads, who puffed up because they were getting ready to spit blood from their eyes – at least that’s what Gerald and my boy cousins told me. These creatures, like the turkey, are devil-possessed.
  • ·         A skunk was called a polecat by my family. I am not sure why. Our farmhouse set on cement blocks. A small person could easily crawl around on their belly under the house. But so could critters, which is exactly what a polecat did one day. My grandma and grandpa Brooks were at the house the day this happened, and Dad and Grandpa tried to chase the skunk, er… polecat away. He rewarded them with a smell that lingered for days. Lesson: Just because it’s cute doesn’t mean it’s nice.
  • ·         Being awakened in the middle of the night so my dad could drive my Mom to the hospital to bring my brother, Clifford, into the world. I was four. I did not connect my mother’s bulging belly that disappeared to the birth of my brother. I’m not sure when I realized parents didn’t just go to the hospital to pick up a baby when they wanted one. Parents: It’s okay to let childhood innocence linger. 
  • ·         I remember riding my tricycle in a circle throughout the house – living room, kitchen, bedroom, bedroom, it’s how the rooms opened to each other – and drinking from a can of evaporated milk. I thought it tasted yummy and Mom let me, so that made it okay.  Today: I think I would gag if I drank it straight from the can. Our taste buds really do change as we get older.
  • ·         Gerald always stood to go pee. He even peed in the yard. It looked so simple. He didn’t have to sit or squat. What made him able to do that and not me? So I tried it. I had on a pair of coveralls. I unzipped the fly and peed – all down my legs and the front of me. What? That never happened to Gerald. Apparently I didn’t know or understand the difference between boy and girl anatomy. When I went in to tell Mom, she took one look and asked, “Did you try to pee like your brother?” I was amazed. My mother was genius. How could she know that?  She didn’t even yell at me for ruining my clothes. In fact, I don’t remember my mother ever yelling at us. Or spanking us. Now Dad was a different story. Parents: Do your children remember you as a screamer and punisher? It’s okay if it’s balanced and tempered with love and kindness. That’s how I remember my parents.
  • ·         Mom had us all cleaned up to go somewhere. Across the street there was a ditch, so Gerald and I ran across the street to look at the water while we waited on Mom. Either I slipped or Gerald pushed me – what say you, dear brother? – and I was in the muddy water. I tried to climb up and out on the slippery, muddy bank, but kept sliding back. I did get out, and Mom was not happy to have to change my clothes. Nor was she happy on another day when I went running into the house waving the mail I’d gotten for her from the mailbox, only to be told to put it back because it was outgoing mail. Memory: I was never afraid to tell my parents, especially my mother, anything for fear of the consequences.
  • ·         My mother collected dishes from boxes of Quaker oatmeal. Cups, saucers, and other dishes that all matched. She told of the time she pulled a cup from the oatmeal box and my baby fingers reached for it. She gave it to me and I immediately swung it in the air, hitting her in the mouth and chipping a tooth. The cup survived. My mother and aunts also made diapers and clothes from flour sack material. It was a common thing to do then. Lesson: I learned frugality and resourcefulness from my mom and aunts.
  • ·         While riding that tricycle in the house one day, I was chewing on the metal spring that is inside the stem where we pump air into a tire or inner tube. Do you know what I’m talking about? Somehow I swallowed it, and started to choke. Tears ran from my eyes as I gagged and tried to cough it out. It was lodged there and I was choking, and soon I saw spots before my eyes. I was frantic for someone to help me, but then I reached my own fingers down my throat and pulled it out.  I was so shaken that I ran to find Mom and flung myself sobbing into her arms. I don’t recall if I told her what happened. Revelation: God keeps us on this earth until our purpose is fulfilled. I could have died, but He gave the ability to a toddler to save her own life.
These are a few of my early, before-I-turned-five-years-old memories. I think I had a pleasant childhood and was blessed with good parents. I've included a picture of Gerald and me on the porch of the farmhouse. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Words That Paint A Picture

From words that we read, we form a visual image. Boy. An image of a boy pops into our mind. Ocean. We instantly see an ocean. Tree. We see a tree, although we'll all see a different tree unless the author calls it a pine or mesquite.

John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We know that the Word here refers to Jesus. When you hear or see the word Jesus, what image comes to mind? A baby in a manger? A suffering Jesus on the cross?  The blue-eyed, long-haired, fair-skinned, smiling Jesus depicted in many portraits? 

Revelation 1: 14-16 (ESV) describes Jesus like this. "The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength."

That image is vastly different than a baby Jesus or a beaten, suffering, dying Jesus. This is a victorious, powerful warrior Jesus. John the Revelator made it very clear by his words who this resurrected Jesus is. He's not a helpless baby or a dying man. He is strong and powerful. 

As writers, we should give people a clear, precise image with our words. When an author describes a love scene, we should be able to feel the beating hearts and the passion of the kiss. When an author describes a walk on the beach, we should not only picture the water, but the waves, the sand, the sound. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Christian Cougar? A Valentine Story

Valentine’s Day 2015. I am Christian. I am cougar. I am woman, hear me roar.

In1964, I was a nice Christian girl. I always excelled in school. So why did I drop out of high school and get married when I was barely 16?  And, no, I wasn’t pregnant.

Several teen couples in our church got married that year. By the time I realized there was no fairy tale ending, no happily-ever-after, I had brought five children into this world. When most girls my age were doing homework, I was having babies, cleaning and cooking, and doing laundry. I stayed in church – actively involved in church, he didn’t. I pasted a smile on my face and pretended things weren’t what they were. I was dying – both figuratively and literally. I have scars on my wrist to prove it.

Sometimes our prison becomes our comfort zone. It’s what we know; what we’re familiar with. We know how to function within the parameters of our prison. Freedom frightens us because it’s unfamiliar. I wanted to be free, but I couldn’t leave. I fasted and prayed for something to happen. Restoration. Release. God could restore and rebuild but only if my husband chose the help God offered.   

He chose to leave in 1986 after twenty two years. I blossomed. I healed. I had five beautiful children and grandchildren. There many people within and without the church who loved and nurtured me and my children.

I wanted to experience a Christian marriage. I wanted to be loved and cherished. I wanted to fall in love. I was thirty-eight and I’d never been in love. I prayed. I headed up our singles’ group at church where there were plenty of women my age but not men. Houston, we have a problem.

Jeff joined our singles’ group. He was younger. We quickly became good friends. But, hey, I had several younger guy friends in the group I hung out with. It was never romantic. Cougar? If it was a term to describe an older woman with a younger man back then, I’d never heard it. If I had heard of it, I wasn’t interested.

Grrrrrowl! Don’t call me cougar. It suggests stalking prey. That’s not me. So….while I watched Jeff and plotted how to make a move. Nope! It wasn’t like that. When I got married in September 1964, Jeff wouldn’t be born until two months later in November. He’s seven months older than my firstborn. But we did date. Off and on. For almost four years

Marriage? It wasn’t happening. He had little kids. I had raised mine. I had visions of being cast aside later when it truly hit Jeff what all our age difference entailed. Rejection and hurt? No thanks. Been there, done that.

Love doesn’t know age. In October 2014, we celebrated our twentieth anniversary. We are still in love. We respect and appreciate each other. I have some grandchildren older than his children. He became a father-in-law to two of my sons-in-law who are older than him.

It has been an adventure. Lots of hilarious situations have happened. Someday I’ll finish my book How Can A harmless Housecat Be A Cougar? You can read all about it then.