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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: For the Birds
By Mo


Of all the days to have jury duty… thought Martha.

But she’d passed the year before because she was still nursing Emily. Now I have no choice. I have to go today.

And little Emily had a cold. She’d not eaten much the day before. What if she still won’t eat well? What if she gets dehydrated while I’m gone? What if I’m stuck there all day?

Martha was washing her breakfast dishes in the kitchen sink while her mother-worry went into overdrive. She’d gotten up extra early in order to be at the courthouse on time.

Marc had better take good care of them while I’m gone… He’s not used to doing it all. She’d left him detailed instructions.

What if I get put on a trial? What if it lasts, like, days?

And then she saw a great blue heron fly by, almost right outside her window.

Thank you, God she thought.

The kids were still asleep. I can’t even hug them goodbye… As she walked out to her car she thought, Remember the heron…

And she had hope.

The other jurors were complaining. Martha felt a little guilty to be almost glad to have some uninterrupted reading time. Still, she was impatient to get back home.

She called Marc from her cell phone on every break. At least he said Emily had a good breakfast…

After hours of sitting around, the potential jurors were finally led into the courtroom. She was in panel number one. Great. What if I get picked? She sat nervously on the hard bench, sandwiched between the other grumbling citizens.

Martha was surprised, and pleased, when the judge didn’t start with panel number one. But she waited not so patiently while they went through almost every other panel and called -- and excused -- a bunch of other people.

Having never served before, it was slightly interesting to her, but mostly she just wanted to leave.

Finally, they had enough jurors. The others were sent back to the jury pool room, not sent home.

After one last break it was determined that they didn’t need any more jurors that day. She was free to go!

As Martha walked back to her car, a pigeon flew by, just missing her head. She swerved on the sidewalk. It almost seems mad, thought Martha. I didn’t really trust the message of the heron, did I?

Martha was home for lunch. The kids were happy to see her. -- And Emily was just fine.


“Look!” exclaimed Martha, “Over there, on that road sign.”

There was a red-tailed hawk sitting on a sign on the shoulder of the highway just before their exit. They often saw hawks in the trees bordering the highways, especially when the trees were naked. But this was a much shorter sign.

Her husband liked birds, particularly the raptors. Red-tailed hawks were his favorite.

“What a funny place to see one,” said Martha. (They never saw another bird perched there.)

They had just been discussing her recently deceased mother-in-law. “Didn’t your cousin tell you the other day not to worry, that your mother is still watching over you? Just like always?” Martha said to her husband. “Watching you like a hawk?”

Marc nodded -- and grinned.

That would be just like her...

And they were comforted.


“Mom’s in the hospital,” Martha told her husband and son.

They were on their first vacation in more than five years, a last minute trip, for just one night. And now this… “I told Dad we’d be back sometime tonight,” she said.

Her Mom was doing better and there was nothing they could do. But as they headed to a different section of the amusement park Martha thought, God bless Mom.

Just then a great blue heron flew overhead, briefly touched down in a nearby pond, flew back up as Martha took a snapshot of it, and then flew off.

Thank you, God, she thought. She felt calm. -- She just knew her mom would be ok.

It had been a very long day. The kids crashed in their car seats before they’d made their way out of the parking lot.

God bless Mom… prayed Martha as their car putted down Main Street, stuck in tourist traffic.

And she saw a large red-headed woodpecker fly from tree to tree in the woods just beyond her window.

Martha smiled. Thank you, God. And she knew her Mom would be ok.

And she was.

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.” Job 12:7-8 (NIV)

Except for a few details, this is true.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 09/21/07
You've captured every mother's anxiety in the beginning of your story. Sometimes all it takes is something from God's creation to remind us to be calm and that He is still in control. I enjoyed reading all your different events tied together with the bird sightings. The verse from Job is perfect for your entry. Good work on your writing.
Sheri Gordon09/25/07
I love your use of birds for God's message and peace. Really nice connection between the scenes. Good writing.
Catrina Bradley 09/26/07
God is always sending us messages, if only we are open to see them. I enjoyed your tales of your messages from God in the birds. An engaging read. Great job!