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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
The Christmas Dog
    Steven O'Dell
Barnaby and the Zilligong
    Steven O'Dell
    Steven O'Dell
The Greatest Christmas Gift Ever
    Steven O'Dell

Most Recent Chapters
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 58 -- On Wings of Angels
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 61 The Music Within
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 60 -- Lamb and Lyon
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 59 I Hate Christmas
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
Submitted by Steven ODell on 7 May 2013 - 12:53pm. | | | | | | | |

Little Miss Liberty
(C) Steven G. O'Dell 2010

Little Miss Liberty sat on her tuffet, with not in the world a care. Along came a spider and sat down beside her; she thought it no reason for scare.

"I see," said the spider, "that you have no silk to adorn yourself and look grand. If you wish, I could loan you some of my own. I suggest that we start with one strand."

Miss Liberty saw how it shone in the sun, how it glistened and glimmered so bright. She thought, "There's no harm, as he says it's a loan, and I'm not sure that now I look right."

So, accepting his offer, she willingly wound the strand about herself. Indeed it glistened and glimmered and shone, but she thought that a few more might help.

And putting aside all her conscience and pride, she asked if he'd spare her some more. The spider exclaimed, "It would be such a shame to hoard what I have in store."

And being a kind and giving soul, he gladly did bestow, one shining silk thread after another-- row after brilliant row.

How grand she looked, how glorious, how marvelous indeed; but then she noticed her arms were bound and she could not move her feet.

"Just one thing more," the spider said, "to add the crowning glory." Then tightly he wrapped her face and her head and ended her life's story.

Perhaps you see a moral here, that you could learn from, too. A man from the bank or the government may one day approach you.

An offer may be made to help; a loan, a gift or grant. Your liberties required in turn, but you should say, "I can't.

"The cost for what you give is high; your gift is one I fear. I will not sell to anyone--my freedom is too dear."

Believe life's struggle keeps us free--take not the easy road. Resist dependence on another, make freedom your abode.

Submitted by Steven ODell on 16 June 2012 - 5:56pm. | | | | | |

Barnaby and the Zilligong
(C) 2012 Steven G. O'Dell

Barnaby Brundage set out one Fall,
sailing his Yim in a raging squall.
He had no fear, for he needed to know
the answer to questions that bothered him so.
He'd tried all he could and didn't succeed,
but wouldn't give up; he'd find it indeed.

When all in his town had thought and were wrong,
they said, "No one knows but the Zilligong."
For the Zilligong had brains that made him real smart,
but far more than that, the Zilligong had heart.
And if answers were needed, then everyone knew
the Zilligong had them, they knew that was true.

As no one in town could answer his query,
young Barnaby left in somewhat a hurry.
He packed only things that would get him to where
the answers must lie, to hear if he dare,
for sometimes the truth will hurt, as he knew,
but nothing but truth for Barnaby would do.

The question he had that weighed on him heavy
was why there's no peace, when all seemed so ready.
They all said they wanted to be happy with neighbors,
but it seemed now and then they resorted to sabers.
And no one had peace while such ruckus ensued,
but no one had answers on just what to do.

The Zilligong had, the story was told,
once lived among them, through heat and through cold.
And everyone sought him for answers to questions
that they could not answer, to learn all the lessons
that made life more happy when folks live together,
that made them smile in all kinds of weather.

At some point in the past, and no one knew why,
the Zilligong packed bags, then waved them goodbye.
He said not a word as he went on his way,
and no one knew how long or where he would stay.
But one thing was sure, they all worried now,
when questions were quested, who would answer and how?

So Barnaby Brundage, alone and determined,
set out on his mission, through whales or through vermin.
His Yim sometimes rose and his Yim sometimes fell
on waves of the sea that had fishy smell.
The fishes jumped and the fishes splashed
alongside the Yim they dithered and dashed.

And sometime about the third day, he guessed,
Barnaby's Yim with a bump came to rest
and Barnaby woke to the sound of waves,
both crashing and bashing, but knew he was safe.
And looking up high to the mountain ahead,
he thought on the climb with some sense of dread.

But Barnaby knew, at the top of that peak
lay the answers that he had come so far to seek.
The Zilligong lived there, sure as could be
and the Zilligong, after all, was whom he must see.
With a huff and a puff, the boy pushed forth
and climbed where he could, for all he was worth.

His climbing was long and his climbing was hard,
but Barnaby knew he must push on, though tired.
More puffing and huffing and wheezing and more.
He had no idea what ahead lay in store.
But he knew if he stopped then he never would know
the answer he'd traveled so far to take home.

When Barnaby thought he could just go no further,
he gathered his wits, renewed all his fervor,
and taking a breath, gathered courage to climb
the last several feet to get there in time.
The sun was just rising, he'd climbed all the night,
and Barnaby Brundage was near out of fight.

And as the boy fell in a heap at the top,
stopping 'cause this was where he must stop,
gasping and groaning from the strain of the climb
he'd made getting here, with no thought in mind
but asking for truth he knew must be near;
he'd conquered his worries, his shyness and fear.

And as he lay there, too weak yet to move,
he felt a soft touch on his shoulder, in truth.
He lifted his gaze to behold such a face
as never he'd seen in all his young days.
A word hit his ear that calmed his concern--
"Welcome, my boy! Some answers you've earned."

Barnaby knew that this must be
the Zilligong that he'd come to see.
The Zilligong gave him some water, some bread,
then patted the young boy on top of his head.
"Just rest here a moment, you'll need it indeed,
and later we'll talk of the answers you seek."

"Yes, I do need to rest here awhile."
"Then please do," the Zilligong said with a smile.
So Barnaby sat and he drank and he ate
just as much as he could from his overstuffed plate
and when he had eaten and drunk to his fill,
he lay back and slept as exhausted boys will.

When Barnaby woke he heard music so sweet
that his ears wiggled happily as he tapped his feet.
The Zilligong played on a Tweedler and Frump,
squeezing on one while the other he pumped.
It made the boy sing at the top of his lungs
and dancing and twirling, he jumped and he spun.

When at last all the music had faded away,
Barnaby found himself having to say,
"I've never heard music that sounded so nice.
It made my heart leap twice as high as the sky.
Did you play such music when living in town
or learn it up here, not when you were down?"

"I did it down there, but the folks wouldn't dance.
I did it each day and I gave them the chance,
but they didn't hear me on Tweedler and Frump.
They went on their way, looking down in the dump.
Watching their sadness just made me sad, too,
so moving up here was the wise thing to do."

Barnaby looked at the ground as a tear
escaped from his eye and it fell very near.
Hitting the ground and soaking in fast,
he knew in an instant that sadness can't last,
for where it had fallen, so teary and wet,
up sprang a Borple plant, radiant and red.

Surprise covered Barnaby, from head to toe,
"A tear hits the gound and Borple plants grow?"
"Oh, yes," said the Zilligong, dancing for glee,
"It means that you're heart's like the one that's in me.
It means you have wisdom, your answers are sure,
for deep in your heart lies just what will cure."

"But I'm just a boy, so how could I know
the answers they need and which way to go?"
The Zilligong gently touched Barnaby's cheek.
"The fact that you ask shows wisdom, you see.
The others don't ask, they just carry on,
ignoring the questions 'til wisdom is gone."

Barnaby now scratched his head for a few,
he wrinkled his brow, thinking, 'What shall I do?'
Then something inside him clicked nearly out loud
and Barnaby smile, then laughed and was proud.
"Because I just ask, it leads me to learn,
'cause I never let opportunity burn!"

"That's right!" said the Zilligong, proud as can be.
"Now you have wisdom, now you can see.
The fact that you ask will cause you to find
the answers you seek, expanding your mind.
The others don't ask, so how can they know
when they won't go looking--they won't; oh, no-no!"

And with that the Zilligong stood up so tall
on his toes so high the boy thought he might fall.
He reached for the sky and he smiled at the sun
in a way that told the boy it was just fun.
And dancing in circles, then jumping in glee,
the Zilligong said, "Now you can be me."

"What?!" cried the boy, "How can that be?
I can't be you and you can't be me."
The Zilligong lifted the boy in a hug,
he turned 'round in circles, then reached for a jug.
"Let's drink now some Gurka juice. You'll love it, I'm sure.
It's great with the Borple fruit and this juice is pure."

And Barnaby said, as he turned up his snout,
"Won't you please tell me what this is about?"
The Zilligong looked down with love in his eyes,
a look that was deep and he couldn't disguise.
"Zilligong isn't a name, don't you see?
It is a title; that's how you'll be me."

"I'll be the Zilligong? That's what you mean?"
A nod and pat, "My boy, now you've seen.
I've been here so long and no one has come
to ask me for answers. They want to stay dumb.
And even a Zilligong needs now and then
a little vacation to make some new friends."

Now Barnaby grinned as he thought of the honor.
It wasn't so much as he'd thought--it's not power.
It's loving and learning throughout your whole life,
and sharing with others, with husbands and wives,
with children who ask all the questions they can,
so they can grow up into women and men.

"I'm proud to accept your humble request.
I promise you this, that I'll do my best.
I'll even learn to play Tweedler and Frump,
to keep other folks from feeling down in the dump."
The Zilligong stood and unzipped his disguise
and revealed to the boy a surprise to his eyes.

"I'm not what I seem, young Barnaby boy.
I've been here so long that I almost lost joy.
As you see I'm a man, which is what you will be.
I was once you and now you'll be me.
I'll tell you my name, write it down and don't lose.
The Zilligong really is ol' Doctor Seuss."

And Barnaby said, "Well, I've heard of you!
You're kind and you're funny, you're wonderful, too.
Your stories were read to me while I was small
and now that I'm older, I love them all."
The Zilligong smiled for at last he was sure
that his legacy was safe and his tales would endure.

And there is the story, although it's quite long,
how Barnaby Brundage learned a new song,
and got a new name and made a new friend
and started a mission he knew wouldn't end,
for if there were even one girl or one boy
who wanted to learn, then there'd always be joy.

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 14 January 2009 - 2:33pm. | | | | |

A Letter to America, In Verse – © Steven G. O'Dell 2008

Goodbye, America; goodbye--'tis bittersweet to see thee die;
yet, it seems, there is no choice. You no longer hear the pleading voice
that cries for justice, sure and true, as once so long ago did you—
when tyrants' hand upon you heavy, did a burdensome weight so levy
and patriots were traitors called, who more than man by God were awed
and loved their land and freedom so, as only God above could know.

And valued was the right to fail, for honest effort was no jail.
We were not spared of consequence and learned how daily to repent.
Yea, truth was cherished most of all—we reveled in its hallowed hall;
Yet, along the path we somewhere strayed and step-by-step we left the grade
That led to peace and happiness and taught the humble soul to bless
A land of opportunity with no promise, but to be free.

We traded for 'entitlements', 'til all our freedom is near spent
and find we still are not secure as when uncertainty endured,
for we gave our feathers to make our nest and now we find we heavily rest
in sorrow that we made ourselves—we shall not fly without God's help.
We must return to our first love—remember Him that sees above.
Oh, follow tenets tried and true; to freedom, America—I pray you do.

For only repentance can remove this blight, replacing darkness with full light.
In the end, the choice is yours; God will not force through any doors.
He only begs that you give heed—the choice was always yours indeed.
Oh, do not say He doesn't care, has forgotten us or isn't there;
The proof is easy as can be--a humble heart and bended knee.
No disposition to do wrong, but only filled with joyous song.

If Justice has a mighty claim, know, too, that Mercy can have the same.
Will you not tire of eating crumbs? Think back on what you have become,
and how you came to be so low; by inch and step you wandered so.
If happiness is to endure, it only springs from souls so pure;
the righteous only know true peace, when hatred, strife and malice cease.
And God's true city will arise to banish all deceit and lies.

Deep down, I think you've always known that mankind reaps what man has sown.
For all things have their opposites; both good and evil do exist.
And so, my friend, I'll pray for you. There's little else that I can do,
'til you desire to make true change and institute a Godly age,
when you care for neighbor, too, as much as you have cared for you.
I only pray you change your fate--before it's lastingly too late.

Submitted by Steven ODell on 8 July 2007 - 10:45pm. | |

In section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses 98-102, the reference is made to a new song that will be sung in the day when the Lord reigns on the earth. I have been blessed to hear and know that song and will be sending it to the Church as a gift. For your blessing, here is that song:

D&C 84: 95-102

The Lord Hath Brought Again Zion

The Lord hath brought again Zion, according to His grace;
He hath freed His people Israel, as brought to pass by faith.
The Lord hath gathered all in one, above and from beneath;
By cov’nant with our Fathers, His people hath redeemed.

The earth hath ended her labors and now brings forth her strength.
With the truth established in her, Heaven smiles upon her reign.
With Satan bound and time no more and all see eye to eye,
Let us lift our voices together, here never more to die.

Our God hath shown us His mercy and all now know His way.
The earth clothed in His glory and men behold his face.
God’s glory, honor, power and might, within his people’s midst.
Through justice, grace and mercy, His truth hath brought us peace.

Words and music: Steven G. O’Dell, b.1951

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Submitted by Raymond L. Step... on 5 March 2007 - 12:53pm. | |

I could hardly believe how windy it was today
Much too windy to let the children go out to play
Limbs of the big ol' trees were waving left and right
Yes, for man or beast, it was really quite a sight

Most people think the wind controls branches of the trees
But I'd like to provide you a little insight if you please
The trees are really quite intelligent and devious you know
They learn self preservation the very minute they begin to grow

In times of drought they can get downright mean
Woe to the critter who against the trunk doth lean
It's during those desperate times they conjure up the wind
Waving limbs and branches lure the dogs, their water to lend

But one dogs full load, to the tree is just a trickle
Trees need many more to get them out of this pickle
A good shady spot with a wide sturdy trunk, an offered invitation
I've seen two or three waiting in line, give that tree an ovation

But things sometimes get really tough for the trees
Some turn extremely mean, you can't tell which by their leaves
But I saw the proof, I knew what happened, I could hear the tones
When a big st. bernard lifted his leg, the tree sucked him dry, leaving only
a hairy bag of bones

So before you wander in the woods during a drought
Make sure your bladder's empty enough to get you all the way out

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

Submitted by Raymond L. Step... on 26 February 2007 - 4:35pm. |

It's cold outside and I have a plastic straw
They should outlaw plastic until after the thaw
I have a three quart cooler which I fill with water and ice
A straw down the neck of this cooler makes drinking quite nice

Have you ever noticed in time of need or great stress
The very thing you need to fix it has left you in a mess
Most of the time it's broken, or maybe it's just lost
You dearly need a replacement, no matter what the cost

I was eating jalapeno chips, a taste I truly love
But the heat exuded by those chips, hotter than the sun above
I reach back for my cooler, my mouth needs help a bit
A little bump on the tip of that straw completely shattered it

My mouth aflame, it's hard to breathe, what a pickle
I tilt the jug, put spout to my lips, immediately felt a trickle
Ice water runs down my neck, but my mouth is still on fire
How quickly I found myself in the straits called dire

My truck careening down the road, others dodging madly
Making attempts to soak up the cold, succeeding very badly
Simultaneously I do my deep-breathing first aid try
It could eventually cool of my poor oral cavity by and by

Eventually I regain my composure, even smile at passersby
So when you hear the merits of plastic, be wary of a lie
My solution to the problem to which I've been alluding
Was very simple, you see, I've a length of surgical tubing

Submitted by Raymond L. Step... on 26 February 2007 - 4:28pm. |

The trooper saw me speeding
And weaving just a touch
Driving a little erratic
But really not too much
I saw the flashing lights behind
I heard the siren's wail
At first I didn't pay much mind
But my attention was soon centered
My foot came down hard on the brake
The squad car couldn't stop
We soon ended up, he on the bottom, me on top
we two only cuts and bruises had
Me in handcuffs, he shaking his head
As we waited for transportation
Finally he raised his eyes to me
And this is the question he asked
Are you drunk? What possessed you to drive so?
I looked right back, and in all honesty replied
I've not had a single drink sir, A little smile I tried
The simple explanation is, I broke my shoelace
It was an extra long lace I had on
Somehow it became wrapped in the throttle linkage
Every time I raised my foot, my car became a rocket
The swerving you saw was my feeble attempts
To try to free my foot by hand
I couldn't see when my head was down
But I corrected As soon as could be
At long last the shoelace finally broke
I only braked so hard when my foot came down free
That was why you ran into me
See, that's the culprit, that darn shoelace

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