That's the reaction I often get when I tell people that I'm getting ready to finish my certification and become a doula. Apparently, here in the Midwest, doulas are still pioneers working to carve a niche in the birth landscape. Hardly anyone knows offhand exactly what they are! I sure didn't know much about them, when I first started studying down this line of work.
A doula is a labor coach, someone dedicated to making the birth experience as positive as possible.
Yes, that was a hint as to what's been causing the blog silence lately...
You see, strangers usually think my new job is pretty cool. After all, what woman doesn't want extra help, kindness, knowledge, and spoiling during one of the most intense times of her life? (childbirth)
But readers of my books? Yeah, from what I understand, they aren't so thrilled, because apparently I can't juggle homeschooling, housecleaning, studying for my DONA, and writing all at the same time. So my writing has taken the hit and I haven't worked on book four in the Memoirs of Life series all year. *wince*

However, as my friendly reader in Belgium reminded me last week, and another friendly reader from Singapore reminded me again this morning, my writing can't go ignored for very much longer. That's why I'm typing this blog post instead of tackling the basket of laundry at my feet.(!)
So, with that in mind, I thought I'd drop a note to you all, saying I haven't forgotten you. My certification workshop is this week, and after that I'll be officially able to practice as a doula, and I should have a wee bit more time on my hands to slip you tidbits of the stories brewing in my head. (YAY!)
Also, I put up some fresh family photos on my "about me" page over on the sidebar. Feel free to click on my picture and check them out. (Although I look very realistically sleepy in one of them. Haha!)

Blessings on your journey! Hopefully our paths meet again soon!

A Pigeon Parable of Perspective (Part 2)

(You can read Part 1 of this parable by clicking here)

Dodah breathed prayers as they reached the stairwell to their apartment building. She could hear water lapping and splashing down below them on the stairs. Cold air rushed up from there, as if from a icy monster's mouth. D'Anjou's voice echoed on the walls as he excitedly asked, "Where are we going?"
"Up to the roof," Dodah told him.
"But what about down-" he started to shine the flashlight downstairs, but she quickly took it away from him. "No, no, don't look there. We have to hurry. Come on!"

A Pigeon Parable of Perspective

People rushed out of their rooms and stampeded up the stairs in frantic herds. None of them would tell Dodah what it looked like outside, they were too busy. The wail of several unattended storm alerts emanated from rooms that she passed. She wondered if her mother was safe at the hospital.
Suddenly, the thin yellow beam of their flashlight fell on something gruesome. Someone had fallen on the steps. A young man a little older than Dodah was splayed out in an awkward, painful-looking position, completely still, with his eyes closed.
"What's the matter with him?!" D'Anjou squawked.
Nausea swept over Dodah in hot waves, along with anxious, horrible feelings connected to her father's death. She started to hurry her brother past the sight. But then another memory suddenly came to her. She remembered the pigeon that had busted itself against her window. Compassion tamed the former surge of anxiety. She slowly turned back to the young man and shone the flashlight on his face. He seemed to squint the tiniest bit, then he moaned in pain. Dodah quickly knelt beside him and touched his shoulder.
"Hey! Hey, are you alright?!" she asked.
"My... head..."
The young man shakily reached up and touched a bruise on his face, then he opened his eyes and looked around. "Where am I?"
"On the stairwell. We need to get to the roof," Dodah started to tell him before D'Anjou suddenly pointed downstairs.
"Look, Dodah! Water! Why is there water in here?!"
"We have to get out! Hurry!" she replied, straightening to a standing position again.
The young man was slightly dizzy as he stood, but remembering the danger had given him an unexpected burst of energy. Dodah steadied him as he gained his footing. Soon the trio was scrambling up the stairs together. There was a short exchange where they learned that the stranger's name was Eric, but the situation was too pressing to allow any more conversation than that.

. . . . .

Dodah had just noticed a dim grey light at the top of the stairs when D'Anjou suddenly slipped and fell down. He landed on his hand wrong while trying to catch himself, and his whole face wrinkled up as he started loudly crying. Dodah immediately scooped him up and tried to comfort him, but he wouldn't let her touch his hand at all. It hurt too much. Dodah's big sister heart hated to see her brother in pain, but she knew that there was a greater danger down below. The water was still coming. Eric had paused with them and was nervously watching their surroundings. Sweat beads of anxiety and exhaustion dribbled down his brow.
"It's not much farther to the roof," he reminded her.
Dodah knew he was right. She set D'Anjou on the steps again and tried to get him to hurry like before. But the little boy was still very upset and one of his knees were badly scraped. He screeched and whined until Eric reached down and picked him up, then he whimpered instead.
The trio began to hustle to safety again. Soon they reached the source of grey light up above them, a half-open door leading to the roof.
Soggy rain and fresh gales of air greeted them up on the roof. Their fellow apartment dwellers were huddled nearby, trying to make enough noise to attract a rescue helicopter in the distance. Dodah dropped to her knees beside D'Anjou as Eric set him on his feet.
"Can I see your hand now?" she asked.
"It hurts," D'Anjou wearily sobbed, holding his arm with his other hand to support it.
Inspiration suddenly came to Dodah.
"Remember that pigeon with a broken leg that I helped?" she told him. "It felt a lot better after I made a splint for it. What if I try to find something to make a splint for you? Would that help you feel better?"
D'Anjou's loud cries toned down. Raindrops flooded down his face as he nodded at his big sister.
"What do you need? I'll try to find it," Eric quietly volunteered.
"We need some rags and a stick or something," Dodah halfway turned to tell him.
He was already handing her his pocketknife. After she took it, he trotted off to go find something long and light.
While Dodah was cutting strips of fabric off the bottom of her pajama pants, she heard something familiar.
Coo coo... coo coo...
"Look!" D'Anjou squealed in delight.
Dodah raised her head, then smiled. A whole flock of pigeons was up on the roof with them, staying dry under a piece of scrap metal.
"Are those your pigeons? The ones you've been helping?" D'Anjou asked.
"I guess so, little pear," Dodah replied, thankful for the look of excitement beaming off his face instead of pain.
Eric came bustling back to her, holding a couple different sizes of metal rods. Dodah thanked him, but hardly saw him, instead she was distracted by a gentle feeling in her soul. She felt as if God was talking to her somehow.
Those pigeons, they had purpose in her life. They weren't just random trials, they were preparation drills for something greater. The same way that King David had been trained by a lion and a bear to fight the mighty giant Goliath, she had been coached by these feathery grey visitors to her windowsill so that she would be prepared for this present trial.
Tears joined the raindrops dripping down Dodah's face as the rescue helicopter made it to the roof and started loading people.
"Thank you, Lord," she whispered. "I didn't understand, but You knew best all along."

A Pigeon Parable of Perspective (Part 1)

Dodah jumped, startled, and looked up from her schoolbook. Something had slammed against her bedroom window and now was lying in a disheveled heap on the sill outside. Thankful for a chance to get a break from algebra, she cautiously went to investigate.

A Pigeon Parable of Perspective

"Mom! A bird smashed into my window!" she yelled shortly thereafter. "I think it's dead!"
"Take a stick and push it off the ledge!" her mother called from the next room.
Armed with her school ruler, Dodah opened her window, looking down at the street a couple stories below her apartment with a shudder. She didn't like this city, the traffic and the hoards of people, the new smells and sounds. However, since her father had died, her mother had struggled to find a job to support the family, so they had moved here.
Dodah lightly prodded the dusky-feathered bird with her ruler. It unexpectedly twitched. She froze, then very gently prodded it again. The bird's eyes fluttered as it sorely wriggled. Dodah's heart squeezed inside her chest. Her cold emotions thawed a little. She noted that the bird was a pigeon, a large one, and that part of its head was wounded from the impact with her window. For the first time since her father died, she felt true compassion for something.
When the bird saw her, it panicked. Its wings fluttered and it started flopping around. Dodah was afraid that it would fall off her windowsill. She quickly spoke to it in a soothing voice.
"No, no, little guy! It's okay! You don't have to worry. Just take your time and rest a little."
When the bird heard her, it settled down and cocked its head, looking at her with glinting eyes. Very carefully, Dodah reached out and stroked its feathers. They were warm, soft, and slightly wet from the misty sprinkles of rain outside.
The tender moment passed. The bird suddenly fluttered and hopped to its feet before flying away. The girl sighed while shutting the window, feeling abandoned.

. . . . .

That weekend, the pigeon showed up again, this time with a very skinny companion. Dodah could hardly believe her eyes when she saw the two birds standing on her windowsill, staring at her.
"Is that your bird friend?" her four-year-old brother, D'Anjou asked.
"I think so, little pear," Dodah replied.
The pigeons watched as Dodah and D'Anjou slowly approached the window. As soon as the humans got too close, the birds took off and flew away. They didn't stay gone though. Soon they cautiously returned and landed on the window sill.
"Run and get some crackers from the kitchen," Dodah whispered.
D'Anjou scurried off, squealing, "Mom! Mom! The bird friend came back!"
Dodah, her mother, and her brother all fed the birds, and after that, pigeons were regular guests at Dodah's window. They both cheered her up and worried her. It seemed like almost every bird that came had something wrong with it. Dodah had to ask her mom, who was a nurse, for advice with some of the more scraggly cases. Late one night, while working on a splint for a teeny tiny broken leg, she got so frustrated she burst into tears.
"God! Why are you doing this to me?! I don't understand!"
She didn't get an answer from Heaven. But somehow the outburst helped her feel able to finish her work on the bird's leg.

. . . . .

Months later, early in the morning, Dodah was awakened by the weather alert unit beside her bed.
Flash Flood Warning. Move to higher ground immediately.
Dodah lived in a coastal city, so she had heard of the rare times this had happened in the past, but she had never seen it for herself. Adrenaline pumped through her as she sat up and quickly looked towards her window. It looked as if a typhoon was raging out there. Dark clouds murkied the atmosphere and rain poured in torrents. Dodah hopped out of bed and plodded to her mother's room. The electricity was out, so she had to feel around in the semi-dark to find her way around.
"Mom? Mom?" she whispered as she went.
"Dodah?" D'Anjou's squeaky voice replied. He was curled up in their mother's bed, cuddled with a pillow.
"Where's Mom?" Dodah demanded.
"At work."
Dodah's eyes widened as the weight of responsibility pressed on her. She bounded to the bedroom window. It was still hard to see, but if she strained her eyes, she thought she could discern a black floor of water rising up in the street.
"We have to go upstairs, little pear," she quickly told D'Anjou.
"It's... an adventure! Come on!"
She grabbed his hand and a flashlight, then they hurried out the door.
(Click here to read Part 2 of this parable)

Memoir of Hope PRINTED

It's printed!

And oh what an adventure this has been! It took four years to write this book, and eight months to edit it, and now the printer messed up my first twenty copies. Meeehhhhh...
That's okay though. Because the mess-ups weren't too bad. Only the first couple pages or the last couple pages have some font issues, like this:

Looks weird, huh?
So you get to save a couple dollars if you want to buy from this first batch of books. *smile*
Annnd... thankfully the pictures weren't messed up. So you'll be able to still check out goodies like this family tree:

Isn't that the coolest family tree ever?! It looks almost like a flame to me.
Anyway, there are a few pictures in this book, just like the others. And they're neatness.

So if you're interested in buying your own copy, tell me! You can purchase one of my imperfect copies of A Memoir of Hope right here:

Or you can go to the buy page for Hope on my website:
Oh! And extra credit? (For those of you that like extra credit) Pull out your copy of my second book, A Memoir of Mercy, and comment here what that Latin Quos Deus quote at the top of that dingy photo means. No Google-cheating!

Brother Bravery

It's thunderstorm season in Oklahoma, and I've observed something lately. My oldest son is still scared of thunder. We had hoped that we had helped him over this fear, however, it ends up that he still has to press through it sometimes.Thankfully, along with the reemergence of fear, we've seen progress.

my boys

It was one of those noisy storms. My daughter didn't mind it so much, but my oldest son was sticking to me like glue. The baby was a bit of a random event generator, as usual. Most of the time he's pretty placid, but his midwife laughingly says that we forgot to cut the umbilical cord. If I get out of his eyesight, then he gets fussy.
So, we were all in the kitchen, making lunch or something. And suddenly my daughter declared that she had to use the potty. The storm completely left my mind. I told my oldest to watch the baby in the high chair and I whisked my daughter to the bathroom.
Barely a minute passed before an especially loud crack of thunder sounded.
The baby got spooked and started crying. 
"Mom!" my oldest squealed.
"Hold on, I'll be right back!"
"I'm scared!"
He started crying. I sighed, but couldn't leave my girl doing her business.
A couple moments passed, then I noticed something weird. Both of my boys' crying seemed to be slowly coming closer. Another crack of thunder sounded. The crying got louder and quickened its approach.
By that time, my daughter was finished with her business. I led her out of the bathroom and was surprised to find both of my boys in the hallway, bawling. My oldest had inch-by-inch drug his little brother's high chair through the entire house. They both looked immensely relieved to see me.
"Why'd you do that?" I asked, a little awestruck.
"I didn't want the thunder to get him!" my oldest declared. "I was bringing him to you!"
Suddenly, I realized how very brave he had been. Instead of running to me and leaving his baby brother behind in the kitchen, he had faced his worst fear and done what he could to protect him.

My boy has inspired me. When I look at what my oldest did for my youngest, then I think that that's what I want my life to look like. When faced with a tough, scary situation, I want to constantly be dragging those weaker and less-able than me to the Throne, where real safety is.
That's what true bravery is, isn't it? Bravery isn't the absence of fear, it's doing the right thing despite your fear. That's also the stuff that true love is made of. True love forgets itself and helps others despite the fearful dangers round about.
I think I'm prouder of my boy for his bravery than I would have been if he hadn't been scared at all.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NKJV)