So many changes!

You know it's been a long time since you blogged when even Google hardly recognizes you... haha!
Seriously though, there has been sooo many changes around my home lately, and this blog has suffered as a result. Sorry, guys. I haven't meant to neglect you, it's just been crazy. Here's an update that will hopefully make up for some of the silence. 

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)

A Flower Adventure

My little boy has a new favorite book: Mortimer's First Garden, by Karma Wilson. It's a neat story, I can see why he likes it. But honestly? I could have never dreamed where my son's fascination with that book would take us.

"You can do better," he said.

I’ll never forget the day Daddy threw down my newly-finished manuscript.

My father is usually a stately individual, one of the hardest people in the world to “ruffle”. But that day, he stood in front of me with fire in his eyes. I was definitely disturbed by the sight.
“What’s the matter, Dad?!”
“You can do better!” he declared. “You’re a wonderful writer! You can do better than this!”
I peeked at the part he had been reading. Then I asked, “What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s not descriptive enough. You’re holding yourself back. You can do better! Add some blood, add some emotion, add… something!”
He huffed and shook his head. I solemnly nodded. My parents are my main supporters in my writing adventures. I greatly value and respect their input, especially when so passionately given.

It didn’t take long. I reworked the passage. It was hard to admit it, but he was right. I had a problem with holding myself back during the most emotional parts of writing. I was worried about people rolling their eyes at the “flair”, or maybe shutting the book because it was too dark.
However, now I was determined to not let that fear rule me. 

Not long after that, I got a call from my mother.
“Jessiqua Dawn!” she nearly screeched over the phone. “How could you do this to me?!”
“What’s the matter?!” I worriedly demanded. (Mom hadn’t called me by my middle name in years!)
“This book! I’m so embarrassed! This part with Mercy is turning me colors on her behalf!”
I started laughing. Mom wasn’t really mad. She was just… involved.
“Have you even finished the sentence, Mom?”
There was a small pause before she confessed, “No.”
“Finish the sentence, okay?”
“Okay. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
We hung up the phone. Five minutes later, I got another call.
“It’s worse!!” Mom squealed as soon as I picked up. “Now I’m even more embarrassed! I don’t think I can handle this!”
I laughed and told her to keep reading.

The amusing cycle continued. To my knowledge, that manuscript was thrown down about four times before we finally got it published. The first time was because Dad was telling me I could do better, the other three times was because pre-readers got so involved in the story they pitched a fit during a dramatic plot twist.
Thankfully, each time the pre-reader threw the book down, they ended up picking it up again and finishing the story. And each one of them reported to me afterward that A Memoir of Mercy was one of the best, most thought-provoking books they had ever read. Music to an author’s ears.

I know it’s easy to be possessive and touchy about your precious work, no matter what it may be. But just because your manuscript looks a little beat up, doesn’t mean it’s worthless or unloved. It just might be made of the good stuff. Or it may have the potential for being made of the good stuff.
Therefore, even if it hurts to admit that you could do better, listen to some trusted mentors, and make sure your work is the very best it can be! It’ll be so, so worth the blow to your pride. Trust me.

You may be good, but you can do better.