On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for January, 2018

A Purple Suede Jacket | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 30, 2018:

It’s said that confession is good for the soul, but for a writer, it can also make a good story. Like all stories, though, this one is best told from the beginning.

Over Filled ClosetBack during the holiday season, when the weather was just beginning to get cold, I stood in my closet one morning looking for a jacket. Finding a jacket was not the problem, but finding the right one was proving to be a challenge. I don’t remember exactly what I was wearing that day, but according to my rather limited sense of fashion, whatever it was required a black jacket. The only one I had was too light weight for the forecasted temperatures, so I had to settle for a wool work shirt from David’s Navy days. He outgrew it long before we met, but he kept it around for sentimental reasons. It fits me quite nicely if I roll up the cuffs, and it’s a dark enough navy color to pass for black, so I took it off the hanger while I hosted a mental pity party about my lack of heavy jackets. (more…)

Malcolm Corley – Superhero! | by Linda Brendle

Marias FamilyMaria Thompson-Corley is an amazing woman. She modestly describes herself on Facebook this way: “Busy! Single mother of two, musician, arranger, writer–well, that’s enough explanation.” On the contrary, that’s not nearly enough to explain the inner and outer beauty of this talented woman and her two talented children.

Maria is a gifted pianist, composer, and arranger who doesn’t simply dabble in music in her spare time but is in great demand on the concert stage. She is also a gifted writer. Letting Go, her first novel, and is a five-star read. She describes it as “a long-distance love story that also examines race, religion, and the difficult choices we make following our passions.” However, she would probably tell you that her greatest accomplishment is her two children. Kiana and Malcolm take after their mother in their love of the arts. Her daughter Kiana has used her talent as a singer and guitarist to develop quite a presence on You Tube. Her son Malcolm, like his mother and sister, loves music, but his first love is art, and this is his story.

At three years of age, Malcolm was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. There are long, involved Malcolmexplanations of those initials on the Internet, but the short version is that he is on the autism spectrum. Maria explains that he takes in and understands information, both verbally and the written word, but he sometimes has difficulty expressing himself – except through his art.

Around the time his challenges were recognized, he began to exhibit his strengths. His first drawings were recreations of pictures he had seen on Blues Clues, a children’s program that was popular on Nickelodeon at the time. With the encouragement of family and teachers, his art progressed, and in the 9th grade he began to decorate tiles.

Malcolms TilesIn 2015, Malcolm saw a YouTube video of Julianatoren, an amusement park in Amsterdam, and he became obsessed with the idea of visiting it. The people in his life do not believe in limits, and they set about helping him earn the money to go. Through a Facebook site called Malcolm’s Tiles and a website by the same name, he began to market exquisite hand-designed decorative tiles, and last summer, Malcolm, Maria, and Kiana visited The Netherlands.

Maria and I met several years ago through our mutual writing connections, and although we have never met in person, I consider her a dear friend. Early last fall, when I was beginning to think about Christmas gifts for my son and his family, I approached her with a question. As Malcolm continues to expand his artistic repertoire, he has painted several stunning oil portraits, and I asked Maria if he could do portraits on tiles. She said he had never tried, but she would ask him about it. He agreed, and I emailed several pictures of Christian, Amy, Mattias, and Zoe and waited for the results. They were amazing.

Piatt portraits

In Malcolm’s story as told on his site, there are some details about the creative process:

It’s difficult to overstate the care and precision required to finish these tiles. The colors can’t be erased, since they are oil-based. The circles are traced, but everything within them is done freehand. As a result, no two are exactly alike. They are never completely symmetrical, but I think there is a message in this: that “perfection” isn’t a requirement for beauty.

Malcolm is now 18 and, after making a huge dream come true, he continues to develop his gifts as a means of earning his way in life. In a world where heroes are valued, this young man who faces challenges each day and overcomes them qualifies as a superhero. If you need a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one, pay a visit to Malcolm’s Tiles. You might see something you like, or you might make a suggestion like I did and spark a completely different line of tiles. On the other hand, you might just need a little bit of inspiration from someone who knows what it means to overcome. Either way, everyone wins!



No Fear | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 23, 2018:

No FearNo Fear t-shirts, hoodies, and energy drinks were very popular from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s. The shirts usually featured the No Fear logo along with a slogan. Some quotes were more edgy than others, but most were related in some way to extreme sports or danger of some sort. I thought of the No Fear products Sunday morning as I listened to Pastor Jason preach about The Lord’s Prayer. (more…)

Going Home | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 16, 2018:

Rains County LeaderThe first couple of time I submitted an article to the Leader, my musings were published as Letters to the Editor. When I persisted in sharing my thoughts, Earl Hill gave me a column; and when I continued to complain about bugs, poison ivy, and other country-related hazards, he christened me “City Girl.” It was a fitting name since, until seven years ago, I had spent the majority of my life in metropolitan areas. My roots, however, were definitely not in the city.

Mom and Dad were both raised on farms in West Texas. Before you begin picturing

Granny Hagan and family she has ruffled dress in front

My maternal grandmother is the little girl in the front with ruffles on her shoulders.

gentlemen farmers, let me explain that both my grandfathers were tenant farmers, following rumors of the best crops and working the fields on the halves. By the time I came along, Mom and Dad had moved to Merkel, Texas, about sixteen miles west of Abilene. The town was approximately two square miles and had a population of around 2,000. It was so small that Dad used to tell me he got me at the hardware store. I was really born in the Sadler Clinic which was upstairs above the local hardware store, so his tale wasn’t far from the truth. (more…)

The Princess and the Kitty Bed | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 9, 2018:

Pretty Kitty 062015It’s no secret that Kitty is spoiled and that she reigns in the Brendle home, but I don’t think I realized how true that is until this past weekend. The fairy tale of the “Princess and the Pea” is not much of a tale compared with “The Princess and the Kitty Bed.”

When Kitty first began to sleep in the laundry room on cold nights, I folded an old mattress pad and put it in a laundry basket on top of the dryer for her. It gave her a place off the cold tile and away from the draft that crept in under the door. There was always a Kitty shaped depression in the middle of it along with an abundance of her excess fur each morning, so I assumed it met with her approval. (more…)

Book Review: One Night in Tehran: A Titus Ray Thriller by Luana Ehrlich

One Night in Tehran Cover

About the book:

 CIA operative Titus Ray is searching for answers. Meanwhile, an assassin is searching for him.

Learning the truth . . .
Veteran CIA officer Titus Ray–on the run from the Iranian secret police–finds shelter with a group of Iranian Christians in Tehran. While urging Titus to become a believer in Jesus Christ, they manage to smuggle him out of Iran to freedom in Turkey.

Dealing with the past . . .
Returning to the States, he discovers his Iranian mission failed because of political infighting within the Agency. In a hot-tempered outburst, he delivers a scathing indictment against the Deputy Director of Operations, and, as a result, the deputy forces Titus to take a year’s medical leave in Oklahoma.

Facing the future . . .
Before leaving Langley, Titus learns he’s been targeted by a Hezbollah assassin hired by the Iranians. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Norman, Oklahoma has ties to the man who’s trying to kill him, and if Nikki Saxon, a local detective with an intriguing past, can be trusted with his secrets.

Can a man trained to lie and deceive live a life of faith?

Should he trust the beautiful young detective with his secrets?

Was the bullet that killed his friend meant for him?

My review:

 Luana Ehrlich’s novel, One Night in Tehranfell short of my expectations, and that’s a good thing. Lately I have read a number of independently published novels, and I have come to the conclusion that creating a well-written suspense thriller is not as easy as the big-named authors who crank out annual best sellers make it look. Mrs. Ehrlich, however, has done just that.

The main character of the first Titus Ray Thriller Series is multi-faceted – tough enough to go head to head with the most vicious enemy assassin but an easy mark when a stray dog shows up at his door; wary enough to be a successful CIA operative but open to a special friendship with an attractive Oklahoma detective. The story line can hold the interest of the most die-hard thriller fan, and it leaves you wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed One Night in Tehran, and I look forward to reading the rest of the Titus Ray Series.

 About the author:

Luana Ehrlich Head Shot Luana Ehrlich is an award-winning author, minister’s wife, and former missionary with a passion for spy thrillers and mystery novels. She began her series of Titus Ray novels when her husband retired from the pastorate. Now, she writes from an undisclosed location, trying to avoid the torture of mundane housework, grocery shopping, and golf stories. However, she occasionally comes out of hiding to visit with her two grandsons or to enjoy a Starbucks caramel macchiato.

A resident of Norman, Oklahoma for the past twenty-five years, Luana has also lived in Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas, and Michigan. For several years, she and her husband were missionaries in Costa Rica and Venezuela.

In addition to being an avid reader, Luana is also a news fanatic, following events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East. She loves to hear from her readers! Contact her through email, Author@LuanaEhrlich.com.

To learn more about Luana, visit her websites: www.LuanaEhrlich.com and www.TitusRayThrillers.com.

All books in the series are available on Amazon here.



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