Years ago V Jeffers of Portland, Ark., became fascinated with the Monarch Butterfly, the most recognizable of non-detested insects. With their orange-brown wings and black veins and borders, Monarchs are found in New Zealand, the Canary Islands, Madeira and North America. In the Southeast Arkansas hamlet that V and husband Carl call home, V raises caterpillars in her spare time.
V and Carl have witnessed tens of thousands of classical metamorphoses. Before their eyes clumsy, earthbound crawlers are transformed into colorful, graceful flyers. One day the metaphor struck V full in the face of her brain: The Monarch’s larva-to-imago journey was not unlike another journey with which V was familiar.
Long story short, with no particular prior experience, V sat down and wrote a book. That’s what others saw, at least. As V tells it, the book was “entrusted to her by God.” In the book Meri Monarcha meets Wormy Willy and mentors him through the morass of inferiority to which he believes his life of lowly crawling has doomed him.
To tell much more would give away the plot. Suffice it to say there’s a happy ending. And that prayer, Jesus and a “gorgeous jade green jumpsuit” are involved along the way.
Somewhere in the process V encountered one Stephanie McDaniel, a budding artist whose age was in double digits, but just barely. Stephanie drew and colored some pictures for V—one for every page of the book and one each for the front and back covers. To say that she stays within the lines would be an understatement. The illustrations are top-notch.
Manuscript in hand, working title “I’ll Fly Away,” V consulted with a few folk who had experience with writing and publishing. After weighing her options, she chose to spend her own money on a limited run of a few hundred copies. This was in December 2011.
Sharing the book with friends and family was about all she had in mind. Surely, though, deep down, she harbored hope that her little book would touch someone’s heart somewhere. That maybe it would help a person through a tough patch or inspire him to move a tad closer to God.
Enter Operation Christmas Child, a “global Christmas gift exchange project” that is operated by Samaritan’s Purse, a branch of Franklin Graham Ministries. Having just had the book printed in December 2011, V sent them a copy of “I’ll Fly Away” as a Christmas present. A few days later a man from this organization called V and allowed as how he’d like to order about 100,000 copies.
Each year around November, OCC opens branch offices at churches, schools, etc. to collect shoeboxes filled with school supplies, toys, other gifts and Christian literature. The boxes are distributed as gifts to needy children worldwide. They want “I’ll Fly Away” in 2012’s shoeboxes.
V says that “Pulaski Baptist Association … has established a non-profit organization, Operation Monarch (P.O. Box 828, Bryant, AR 72089), where donations may be sent.” Ten bucks, she says, puts 40 books in boxes for the kids. The book may be ordered in bulk from Wahoo Publishing, P.O. Box 1092, Keller, TX 76244; 817-584-1430; wahoopublishing.com.
Well done, V!
Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at email@example.com.