Saturday, November 19, 2011
Here is a picture of our whole family in July at Aimee and Luke's wedding.
I recently entered the "HIS Writers Flash Fiction Online Contest,"(www.hiswriters.afcwcolorado.com/flashfiction.php). And was so suprised to win first place. Basically, all who entered used the same first sentence, middle sentence and last sentence to write a short story of 1000 words. Here is my little story.
There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father. I sprinted toward them intent on executing a perfectly aimed splash. “Cannonball!”
When I came up for air, Amy was breathless—and dripping. She sputtered. “Why you little. . . ”
Come on, say it. If she’d actually admit I was a brat, my father would drop her like a weight and their relationship would sink into oblivion.
Amy managed a coy smile. “You little—future Olympian.” Then she slipped gracefully out of her shoes and into the water.
“Amy?” My father sounded as astonished as I felt. “What are you doing?”
She laughed. “Swimming. Join me.”
“But, I’m not wearing a swimsuit.”
“Me neither.” She glided effortlessly through the water and up the steps. “But I think this dress worked fine.”
My father looked like he agreed as he scrutinized her. Brother! I dove. You’re a sly one, Amy Gerstein, but not smart enough to get my father’s money. In honor of my mother’s memory, I’ll see to that.
I enlisted help from my best friend, Maggie. We sat on the porch. “I can’t get rid of her. She even ate the Spam and horseradish sandwich and then pretended to adore snakes when I released Slinky.”
Maggie spit a watermelon seed. “Maybe she’s not like the others, but just a nice lady.”
“My thoughts exactly. But, yesterday, on my bike and nearly ran over Lupe as she climbed out of Amy’s car.”
I leaned close. “Lupe found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car!”
I nodded. “Yes, and it’s supposed to be locked in the safe.”
“Did you tell your father?”
“No. He’s crazy about Amy.” I stood, took careful aim and spit my seed halfway across the lawn. “But I have a plan that’ll prove she’s a thief.” I faced Maggie. “Will you help?”
Three nights later, I smeared a glob of face paint across Maggie’s forehead.
“That’s enough, Ashley. No one will see us anyway.”
I zipped my black sweatshirt. “Remember, no talking when we’re in the study.”
“Right. We just wait for Amy to open the safe.” Maggie paused. “Why’s she doing that, again?”
“To put in the fake bracelet so no one will know she stole the real one.”
Maggie looked confused. “How do you know she’ll do it tonight?”
Sighing, I explained. “Tomorrow’s the first Saturday of the month when my father always checks the contents of the safe. Tonight’s perfect since he’s busy with all the dinner guests. Got it?”
I touched Maggie’s shoulder. “You scared?”
“Me neither but I have this just in case.” I held up the letter opener.
“Looks really sharp.”
“I’ll be careful,” I said, slipping it into my pocket. “Hurry, I hear someone coming up the stairs.”
We raced down the hall, into the dark study and crouched under my father’s massive desk. A moment later, the door opened and someone entered. They held a penlight and located the hidden button. The large painting that hung in front of the safe slid to the side.
My heart pounded crazily, more in pride than in fear. Tonight I would expose Amy as a fake. My father would be so grateful that he’d probably never want another girlfriend.
The thief opened the safe and I elbowed Maggie. We yelled and jumped up from our hiding place. That same moment the door opened and the lights came on. I lunged toward the thief who turned to face me. She held a gun.
“Lupe!” I shouted. She grabbed me, holding the gun to my temple.
Maggie screamed. My father and Amy rushed into the room, stopping when they spotted Lupe, the gun and me.
My father looked pale.
Amy stepped in front of him. She spoke calmly. “Lupe, you don’t want to hurt Ashley. Put the gun down. I understand that things are difficult for your family right now.”
Lupe began to tremble. “Yes.”
I slowly started to remove my weapon.
Amy’s voice was soothing. “Your husband is very sick . . .”
“It’s cancer—” Lupe’s voice sounded strained. “Treatments costs so much and my son . . . ”
“Manuel?” Amy asked gently. “He’s in trouble and so he took all your savings, didn’t he?”
Lupe looked sad. “How did you know?”
“We’ll help you. Please put down the gun.”
I clutched the letter opener and glanced at Lupe. She raised me. I can’t stab her.
Lupe’s eyes darted to my father. “Mr. Stone, I’m not stealing from you. I just need to borrow some things to take to the pawnshop, to help my husband. When Manuel pays me, I’ll return everything.”
My father stepped forward. “Why didn’t you ask me for help?”
“I felt ashamed about Manuel.” A sob rose from deep inside her.
My father continued. “When items began to disappear, I hired Amy. I never imagined it was you, Lupe. You’ve been our trusted friend for years.”
Lupe dropped the gun. “I’m sorry.” She covered her face and sunk to the floor.
When I lunged toward my father’s open arms I tripped. The letter opener in my hand slid through the blue fabric of Amy’s evening gown.
My father caught me. “Ashley! Thank heaven you’re safe.”
I smiled at him.
“What ever do you have on your face?”
“Camouflage.” I looked into his eyes. “You hired Amy?”
He nodded. “She’s a private investigator, posing as my girlfriend.”
“So, she was a fake?”
“Yes.” His eyes rested on Amy. “But it seems that in the midst of all our pretending, we’ve grown to love each other.” He smiled. I realized how long it’d been since I’d seen him that happy.
My father lifted my chin. “In fact, I’ve decided I never want another girlfriend. It’s time you had a new mother.”
Amy blushed at his words. I smiled at her. She’s smart, pretty and fun. And she didn’t even get mad about the tear in her dress.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
When you take a walk, you see and hear beauty.
In Sunday school we were challenged to find time this week to take a walk with our spouse. While we all agreed this simple activity is more complicated for those with little ones, we also acknowledged the value of actually walking together.
Why is taking a walk good for couples? It’s cheap, easy and takes us away from the normal tasks of life, which take us, and our attention, away from each other.
We found examples of those who took walks. It all starts in Genesis where we read that God walked in the garden in the cool of the day. Wow. So, when we walk, we’re imitating God. Now if anyone in the universe is busy, it God. He takes time to walk, so what’s our excuse?
We also read about how when a man named Enoch walked with God, the Lord simply lifted him out of this life into the next without the usual annoyance of having to die. This event sets Enoch (and Elijah ) apart from all other people ever born yet the only real description we have of this unique man is that he walked with God. I guess that’s all he needed to do in God’s eyes for it to be recorded in His Book.
Then there’s Noah. Now there’s a famous name. When I think of him a song comes to mind, “The Lord said to Noah, build me an arky arky. . . ” He’s a guy who spent many years building an ark, while being ridiculed by others. He also ended up running a zoo and somehow persuaded his family to join him inside just before the door was locked from the outside. Noah impresses me. And while all that he did is recorded in Scripture, the description of who he was as a person is: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” That is what the defining feature that made his life different than those around him.
So, I’m thinking that God delights in those who take the time to walk with Him. Not those who preach to others, not those who build elaborate buildings in His honor, not those who record songs or write books (or blogs) – even though I might like to hear the Lord say, “Sue Cameron blogged for me,” it doesn’t seem like that matters all that much to Him.
What pleases God? What delights Him? What quality in us does He seek? It seems to be those among us who take time away from our normal tasks to go walking with Him. It’s being accessible, present and available to Him as He is ever to us. In relationship with Jesus, or with our spouse, this is time to focus on just being together, to talk, to listen, to walk. It’s simple, cheap, easy—and life changing.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
THIS IS A PICTURE I TOOK WHEN WE WERE IN KAUIA
On a recent flight I listened as the lady sitting next to me talked for several hours. She felt passionate about the fact that cancer and diabetes result from parasites and that curing them simply requires ingesting the right supplements. She didn’t know that Robert died of testicular cancer or that six-year-old Ethne has type 1 diabetes. It was evident that she had invested a lot of time doing on-line research to uncover these hidden facts, which, according to her, have been suppressed by pharmaceutical companies and the US government.
I did not question her sincerity or even her conclusions, since she has as much right as I to choose her beliefs. But now that I’ve thought it all over I am wondering if she has ever felt the need to consider her spiritual health. Sooner or later, even with the right supplements, she will die--maybe of illness, old age, violence or an accident. And, I’m wondering what my life would look like if I felt as concerned about my eternal life as she does her temporary life.
Gaining and maintaining health is important, in fact I believe it is a matter of stewardship. God has given us this life and our bodies and minds to bring Him glory. So, making decisions to honor our bodies and to do our best to stay, or get, healthy is a part of acknowledging God’s ownership of us.
What would my life look like if I spent more time thinking of my eternal health? What if I considered every decision in the shadow of eternity? Would my days look differently? What if, instead of shopping for the best deal on airlines, car rentals, clothes or gadgets, I invested those hours in seeking first the kingdom of God? Jesus did promise to take care of the things of this life for me. Wouldn’t my time be freed up if I actually let Him? What if I spent those hours seeking Him with all my mind and heart, wouldn’t I be more passionate about eternal things and about bearing the light to a darkening world?
Would I perhaps be so convinced about God’s love for each person, that I would be the one sharing that passion to my seatmate on the next flight I take?
Thursday, May 05, 2011
This month marks one year since our son-in-law, Robert, went on to heaven. This was one of the last pictures I took of him with his girls. We have no doubt that Robert is now with Jesus, waiting for us to join him in heaven. Meanwhile, life on earth continues and we are experiencing God's gracious love. He has brought Aimee a new husband, and the children another daddy. Their wedding is in Austin in July. Luke is a blessing to us all, and an answer to the prayers of so many. Thank you for praying and for rejoicing with us!
About 6 weeks ago, Robert's godfather, Frank Feuille, also went to be with the Lord. Shortly before his death, Frank had an amazing vision of heaven. His wife, Elizabeth, recorded it and gave permission for me to share it with you.
This is Elizabeth Feuille’s last post on Caring Bridge…
MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2011 8:30 PM, MST
Today Frank left this earthly world and walked joyfully into eternity. His entry was marked by a beautiful conversation that he had with me in the early hours of the Sunday morning preceding his death.
Around 1:45 AM on Sunday, March 13th, the Lord awakened me from a deep sleep. I went to check Frank's blood pressure, and as he was becoming weaker and weaker, his voice was soft, yet the words were definitely recognizable.
I want to share with each of you the following as I feel it will fill your hearts with hope knowing that we have the invitation of eternal life though our Lord Jesus Christ.
Frank's first words were "the countenance of heaven" which he repeated several times. He then said, " I see it now, I see it now, the other side, I see it now, it's just beautiful." He also said, "I do see Jesus, it's exactly like you would expect, exactly as God, so wonderful, Jesus is through God, God through Jesus".
When I asked if they knew him, he replied, "I feel like they know me, I feel each of us is part of a plan they planned." I asked if he were scared, to which he replied, "Oh no, I am not." He told me that, “this is real."
After asking if he had talked to Him, he said, "I feel like I have, I've talked to him."
I told him, “We love you and we’re behind you – go.”
Then he said, " I feel like I have passed through. And I am so happy to be with Jesus. I am so much at peace."
He then told me the names of many family member who he saw, including our dear cousin and our godson Robert who died recently at 28.
I ask if he wanted to be with them and he said, " Of course, I want to be with them."
He told me that I, as well as all of our children, and grandchildren would be there. He said they are going through God just as I am about to do. They are going to die, just as I am about to die, they are going there. Not everyone who believes, only those who believe in Jesus.
When I asked him if he was confused, he assured me he was not (and he sounded completely clear to me) and told me that this was absolutely real, again saying "wonderful, wonderful" and reconfirming that there is a God and there is a Jesus.
He told me that, "I am here and you are coming, and we are going to be a family together."
My final and most important question before he again slept was "How do I get there?"
His answer was definite, "Through Jesus Christ—believe—that is the one and only way to go."
Today, March 14, 2011, I lost my love, my husband, my prayer partner, my best friend, the father of my children and a huge part of my life that can never be replaced. We have been married almost 45 beautiful years, and I can honestly say, Frank Feuille is the finest, most honest, caring, loving, ethical and perfect person I have ever known. I have been richly blessed to have had him now and forever in eternity as my husband. Our separation will be only brief in eternal time, but during this earthly time, it will be unimaginably long for me. I know my days will be filled with great sadness for Frank. I shall try in every way to be the person he would expect me to be, and I shall love him "until" forever. Our words to each other were punctuated by "until" rather than goodbye.
As yesterday grew long, Frank's time on earth grew short. He became weaker, and we realized the time was near. Dear cousins kept the vigil with Cinco and me and left our home around 10:30 PM. Around 3:00 AM, Frank breathed his last breath and while we held his hands, he took one step over into eternity into that beautiful place he had so joyously described to me earlier.
My sorrow is great, my loss is unimaginable, but I rejoice in the faith and love that this blessed man gave during the 68 years he was on this earth. Thank you Lord, and may your name be praised for sustaining me during this and the future time of my grief for Frank.
I would like to express my deepest thanks to all of you have shared this special walk in our lives, and I pray that all that happened in these last brief 5 weeks will be to the Glory of God.
I am not bitter or angry. My only emotion is that of great sadness. And I know this is part of God's great plan.
Frank's memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 19th at 10 AM at the Church of St. Clements. Frank founded and served as the president of the St. Clement's Mission Board, which serves the poor, and requested that any memorials be sent to serve this wonderful outreach. His service will be one of praise and celebration.
May God bless each and all of you and keep you in His loving care...."until."
With heartfelt love and appreciation,
Friday, February 25, 2011
We watched the three little ones while Luke whisked Aimee off to propose. I tried to act nonchalant as if it were just another normal day of ‘going to Grammy and Granddad’s house’. But after dinner, before we tucked them in bed, I mentioned that Mommy would have a surprise waiting for them in the morning.
I wasn’t there to hear it, so this story is how Luke told it to me.
Early in the morning, Luke went over to talk to the children before they left for school. Ethne leaned against Luke as they sat in the lounge chair.
He said, “You know how your first daddy loved you very much?”
“And now your first daddy is in heaven with Jesus, right?”
“Well, God has arranged it so I can be your new daddy and I will love you for a very, very long time.”
“You’re going to marry my mommy?”
“Oh! I think Emeline and I would be good flower girls. And Egan-- he can be the ring bear, because he is very bearish!”
That’s when Emeline said, “Where is my surprise?”
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
We are so thankful to our faithful Lord for answering our prayers and bringing Aimee a wonderful godly husband and providing the children with a new dad who already loves them! "Thank you, Lord, thank you."
This is a picture of the ring and of Aimee with Luke Barnes (our soon to be son-in-law)
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
We've just returned from a fablously fun trip to Kauia where we watched whales leap from the ocean. We enjoyed long walks
along reddish sands -- and a hike to a waterfall with an amazing view. There was the ride in the helicopter without doors and
a kayak trip up a river. Lots of yummy food and time to just relax. We didn't want to leave because it is a place of such beauty.
We even looked at property and dreamed. We really taked about living there, moving there, retiring there but each time we
said, "If we actully move here, we'd be so far from family."
Then we came back home and Aimee picked us up at the airport. Egan was with her but we needed to go and get the
gilrs from pre-school/kindergarten. They threw themselves into our arms procliaming how much they missed us. Then they
thanked us (sincerely) for the simple shell necklaces we brought them. And Egan laughed when he threw his new ball (inside
the van) and Granddad caught it. The girls were full of news and had many stories to tell us. Ethne begged me to tell them a
Fariy story. So explained that there are fairy mermaids (who can swim and fly) who live in the ocean near Kauia. They worked
very hard to gather many tiny beautiful shells and joined them together to form necklaces for two very special girls who live in
Texas where there isn't an ocean. The girls were delighted with the story which added to my joy of being with them again. And
as I sat there looking at them and listening to them As I looked at them and listened a truth rose in my heart. Kauia is beautiful but not as beautiful as these children. They are even more beauitful than Kauia