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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Most Recent Stories
Little Miss Liberty
    Steven O'Dell
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Most Recent Chapters
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 58 -- On Wings of Angels
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    Ch. 61 The Music Within
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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 5 July 2007 - 4:26am. | | | | | | | |

Relative Size--(C) Steven G. O'Dell Nov. 2005

The warm sunshine felt wonderful on her arms and legs as she ran across the large open yard. The breeze was gentle, but more pronounced as she ran inhaling the fragrant air that wafted from the nearby lilac bushes and rose garden. The grass brushed her toes lightly with each bounding step and all was right with the world in this little girl's life. She felt so alive in this great big world that surrounded her.

With a sudden leap, she rolled to the ground and lay still for a moment, basking in the sunshine that bathed her naked skin and warmed her from head to foot. Catching her breath, she could hear the birds in the trees and in the sky overhead. 'Such a great big world,' she thought. Rubbing her arms back and forth across the blades of grass, as though making a summertime snow angel, the softness of the experience caused her to roll over onto her stomach, where she began to inspect the wonders before her.

Each blade, though seemingly at first glance the same as all its neighbors, was in its own way unique, even if only because the mower had shaved each in a different manner--some smoothly, some more torn, some angled and others straight as could be. She marveled that she had never noticed this before and as she stared closely at one particular blade she noticed the movement of some small creature that caught her eye. It was an ordinary ant, but she was in a state of heightened awareness today that led her to study this insect as she never had before. What a wondrous little creation this was and she marveled over it for several minutes as it went about its business in the grass before her. Until another movement caught her now sensitive eye.

It was incredibly tiny and she actually strained to come closer and focus upon it. What appeared to her fascinated gaze was an almost unbelievably minute creature, red and having all the appearance of a spider in its nature. She was now struck with a sense of wonder that she had indeed never felt. Here was something that she was discovering for the very first time in her young life--as if it were a new world, only now revealed to the eyes of mankind.

The detail she observed in this nearly microscopic creature was stunning. Every needful part was there to allow it to function in its own huge world and each worked to perfection. The young girl suddenly knew two things very clearly. First, large as her own world had seemed but a few short moments ago, there were things that must feel so much tinier than she. And secondly, she knew that she would never see her world in quite the same way ever again.

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 5 July 2007 - 3:12am. | | | | | | | |

Yours For A Wish - (c) Steven G. O'Dell Nov. 2005

The small boy stood eagerly on his porch, watching the deliveryman bring the large crate that he had wished for. Inside, he knew, would be all the wonderful things he had been told of and had come to desire so deeply. He opened the crate excitedly. It was so large. Out spilled all the wonderfully ornate, shiny baubles he expected. His eyes grew wide and he ooh-ed and ah-ed in complete amazement. These were all his and his alone, to do with as he pleased. Now they were all within his reach and his life could begin in earnest.

As he grew, the young man fondled and polished all the shiny accoutrements that he had wanted so early in his life. He noticed how some seemed to have lost their sheen with age. Others appeared to be cracked and nearly broken, but he was a prideful young man and nothing would take these things from him or demean them in any way while he still lived and breathed. They were still his and his alone.

The man grew older still. He was bitter now. None of what he had wished for in his life seemed of any consequence. Old habits die hard, however, and the tarnished baubles were still his and he still clung to them jealously, all the while hating them deeply.

The time came when the old man died and all of his worldly belongings were left behind to be sold cheaply to the next covetous young man who desired to accumulate all the world had to offer him. What the dead man took with him was a simple gravestone that marked his final resting place, soon to be forgotten by all but the groundskeeper.

Another small boy stood wide-eyed on his front porch. His box, too, had arrived. His mother and father handed it gently, almost reverently, to him. They took the time to explain the proper use of all the contents within his wonderful gift box and then bade him open it. With a sense of wonder and awe he carefully began to peel the ribbon from the small container that sat easily within one small hand. He could scarcely conceal his smile, so excited was he to be finally getting what he had been taught to so deeply desire above all else. The lid lifted away, the young man stepped into the full sunlight where he could more easily investigate the contents and to his great surprise, the light that was caught and reflected from the object within was nearly as bright as the sun itself. He shielded his eyes and squinted against the gleam of what appeared to be a beautiful cut diamond. His parents corrected him and explained that it was indeed a rare jewel, but no earthly diamond at all. It was far more valuable than anything so common as a diamond. The boy smiled, hugged his parents and promised to always cherish the gift throughout his life.

The young man had kept his promise and found that as he shared the beauty of his wonderful gift, an amazing thing happened-the shine seemed to get even more brilliant than before and would cast its light to greater and greater distances around him. All who came within the influence of his precious gift were touched and improved in some strange way. What tremendous delight this brought to the young man and all who knew him.

An old man had lived a long and fruitful life. He smiled as he thought back on all that had meant so much to him in this world. It seemed that everything he cherished most could not be bought with money or traded for insignificant worldly goods. What he most treasured were the moments of love and friendship with family and acquaintances. The memories of a lifetime graced the pages of his mind in the last few hours of his mortality, but before he went, he called to his side all of his children and grandchildren and with a shaking hand held aloft the same small box that his mother and father had delivered to him so many years ago. With wide eyes and awe-opened mouths, the family received from his lips the story that his parents had told him in his childhood. When he passed, they were sad to see him go, but knew that to a wonderful and very real extent he remained with them as much as ever. When he passed he took with him no more than the first man had taken. However, far more than the groundskeeper took notice of his passing. His name continued to be spoken within his town and in an ever-broadening circle, for generations thereafter.

The two men came into this life with the same opportunities. Neither had the advantage over the other, except in one thing. What made the difference? The teacher. The first young boy was turned loose without guidance to desire what the world would teach him were things to be prized above all else. He found later in his life that these were but empty and meaningless things that brought no comfort to him or to anyone else that he came in contact with. The second boy, so similar to the first, was taught that what he held was the power to make the world around him a better place, if he would but do so. He was taught that the power he wielded could be used for good or for evil and that it must be used wisely or it would destroy him and all who came into contact with it. He was shown that as he used wisdom, the gift would reach out to enlighten and guide the lives of others, who in turn would enlighten then more lives beyond theirs. So great was the love of this young boy for his first teachers that he carried that gift with reverence all his life, simply to honor their names with each use. And so great was the joy that it brought, he could not help but pass it on to those who had come to love him for his shining example of beauty and benevolence.

You see, we are all placed in this world with the self-same promise-that "nothing shall be withheld from them which they shall imagine to do". We hold within our hands the same gift, though to some it may appear large and to others small. Some trade it for baubles and beads that become mere trash and bring no lasting value to anyone, even their owners. Others learn the priorities of life and become a shining city on a hill, where none can hide the light from all who would draw near and truly see for the first time. You have that power to choose what you value most in life. You also have the power to become a revered teacher in your own right-to anyone you may touch in this life. The choice is yours. What do you wish?

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Submitted by Raymond L. Step... on 27 February 2007 - 1:41pm. |

I passed by the elementary school playground today
It must have been luck, for the children were out to play
What a pleasant surprise, as I beheld a magnificent sight
They were running, playing, laughing and singing, not a single fight

White, Black, Hispanics and Asian, playing together, having fun
Oh, why do we adults find it necessary to keep each other on the run
These beautiful children, faces aglow in their innocence
It’s too bad they must be subjected to grownups’ utter nonsense

I walked across the street, the middle school is there
Things here were different, and it’s not just the length of the hair
Silly little social cliques had already begun to form
Picking on the smaller or less fortunate had become the norm

Small groups of children, laughing and pointing fingers
Laughs not just fun and innocence, still the memory lingers
I could see the targets of those humiliating, taunting jeers
I felt the deepening pain and saw tender faces flow with tears

Yes, the children are being taught, the lessons they learn well
Another twenty years or so, imagine the tales they will tell
On now, to the high school, prejudices are firmly set
Someone slightly different will have a tough row to hoe, I’ll bet

Cheerleaders, jocks, bookworms, nerds, lines of battle have been drawn
I look for the signs of innocence, but those are now long gone
Oh, we’ve taught really well, the tunes of unrest and discontent
But the energy to develop hatred of all, is horribly misspent

Still mere children, yet they carry guns and knives
The seed planted is now grown, playmates fear for their lives
As if someone declared the hunting season is open today
And the children die, floors run red, why must it be that way

Why must we learn to hate and despise, it does no good at all
Our Savior had no qualms, He loves us one and all

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Submitted by Raymond L. Step... on 26 February 2007 - 11:53am. |

The home I grew up in was an Inn for travelers back in the horse and buggy days. It was an old English, salt-box style house. It had a parlor, front room, kitchen, dining room, and seven bedrooms. We had recently added an indoor bathroom and plumbing. There was a huge, black, wood-burning cookstove, that also provided heat for us. We eventually purchased a coal-oil stove to heat the parlor, then another to heat the front room. The bedrooms would get so cold in the winter, we would heat adobe bricks on the top of the stoves, and put them in the beds where our feet would be, to get them warm. We would pile heavy quilts on top of us. A person didn’t toss and turn much with all that on top of him. Somehow, we lived through it.

The one thing I didn’t think I would live through was the ‘long-room’. It was upstairs, and ran the entire length of the house. Travelers stored their trunks and baggage in there, while they rested from their long journey. Now, the room was a catch-all for everything not currently in use.

My brother is eight years older than I, and loved to tease me. “You better stay out of the ‘long-room’, you’ll disappear, it’s haunted.”

I already knew it was haunted. I was nine years old; I had been reading for four years now. I had a collection of comic books that any kid would envy. I guess I could recognize the signs of a real haunted house.

I wasn’t there while the house was still in use as an Inn, mind you, but the bedrooms still had the numbers over the doors. The longroom had no number, it was as if it wanted to be a mysterious unknown. The room was very dimly lit by two small bare lightbulbs; shadows were in abundance.

There might be anything hiding behind the shelves and wardrobes. The thing that really pushed my panic button, and stood those old goose-bumps right up, was the dark,

forbidding hole in the back wall. I figured one of the old time travelers got so tired of traveling, he decided to just stop, and make his home right there, through that hole, in the attic. You see, at night, and sometimes even during the day when I was home alone, I could hear him moving around. He must be quite old, and probably had a long grey beard.

His teeth would surely be rotten by now, and he was sure to smell bad. His clothes would really be ragged, but his knife would be sharp, and his guns well-cleaned.

My bedroom was right across the hall from one of the doors to the longroom. I had tried every way I could think of to lock the two doors, mine from inside, the other on the outside. I used ropes, wire, wedges, chairs and anything else I could get up there.

Old Bill, as I had taken to calling him, always found a way to get out. As I lay in bed, I could hear the old floorboards creaking. There were other sounds I couldn’t be sure of, but just as sinister. I wasn’t about to get up in the dark to check them out.

Sometimes during the day, I would muster my courage, and sneak into the longroom. Invariably I would feel my knees start to shake as I neared the black hole. As I looked around, I was sure things had been moved,

nothing too obvious, but it was as if I could sense differences. As I went out the door, I couldn’t help but hurl back, ” Ha, old Bill, you didn’t get me that time.”

I don’t know why I wanted to taunt him. I figured he would get me soon enough anyway.

One night I heard the floors creaking, other things rustling, and even the window panes rattling. I thought, “He must really be mad this time, I shouldn’t have been so mouthy, this afternoon.” I dove under the covers, burrowed to the bottom of the bed, and curled up shaking, as I waited for him to come for me. Those big old quilts were so heavy, I almost suffocated. I had to have air! I slithered towards the top of the covers. I speared my hand under the pillow, and made a sort of air passage. It was kind of like a submarine snorkel. I probably sounded a lot like a submarine, as I gasped air into my lungs.

I realized old Bill still hadn’t grabbed me, so I eased the covers down past my eyes. There was nothing near the bed. It took me quite awhile, but I finally fell asleep.

I had a huge breakfast of wheaties the next morning, and was beginning to feel like a champ myself. I tried to make light of the episode the night before, as I related it to my father. I didn’t realize how perceptive he could be.

I had just started in on a really good comic book, when dad came up to me, “I need your help, son. When we installed the new water heater, I forgot to tag the wire in the attic. I need you to take a flashlight in there. The

wires are back toward the east wall. I’ll tug on the heater wire, and you put this tape around it.”

Have you ever had that sick feeling, like when your heart has followed your veins right down to your toes? Well, my chin must have followed my heart. Dad looked at me closely. He put his hands on my drooping shoulders and said, “Son, I know you can do this.”

That hole looked like the mouth of a dragon. I put the flashlight in first. Nothing happened. I stuck my head in, and followed the beam of the flashlight as far as I could, then crawled all the way in. There was nothing, and nobody in sight, no signs that anyone had ever lived in there. This time, I almost passed out from relief. I forgot all about the wires, and crawled back out.

I found dad in the exact place I had left him. The slight nod of his head told me. I had won a major battle that day.

The longroom was just for storage, and that dark hole in the back wall, that I had feared, merely accessed the attic.

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