Can I ask you to remember the family of my dear friend, Hope Shull, in your prayers this week? She won the victory over the disease of cancer earlier today as she went home. Her sweet husband Donald and her boys, Will and Allen, need our prayers, as well as her daughters-in law and her two sweet (and well-loved!) grandchildren. May they all live for Him so the reunion one day can be complete. In her last few days of life, Hope took the time to write me a long letter in her own hand. Her letter was crafted to encourage me, something she did frequently, and always successfully in her life. I treasure that letter I received last week and I will sorely miss her encouragement. I love her parents, the Barbers, too, and I am keeping them close in prayer.
This installment of “Bless Your Heart” is different from most previous posts. It’s the second installment of a young lady’s fictional story.
During the past three years or so, I have come to know a budding young writer named Ally L. Cole. Ally lives in Missouri and is thirteen years old. She loves to sing and play the guitar and has a keen interest in all things World War Two. She’s home-schooled, loves her co-op group and her family in the Lord. She loves her pot-bellied pig (in a different way, of course) and she doesn’t like to eat pork (Now why does she not like bacon?). She’s an inventor, artist, paintball prodigy and amateur movie producer. She loves Polishing the Pulpit and this year she plans to attend Horizons at FHU.
I have taken the liberty, with Ally’s permission, of doing a little editing of all three chapters of this story. Some of you moms (with kids around the ages of 7-12) might want to continue this tonight for your Family Bible Time. Let me know if your children enjoy it and we may share another story at a later date. Find the topics for discussion that I (cc) added at the end of each segment. I hope they are valuable in making practical applications for your home and family. You may want to save those for a second night or maybe even discuss them for the next two or three nights. May God bless Ally and all of the children and teens who are growing up in Him! Thanks for the story, Ally! Remember me, your first publisher, when you are rich and famous!
Next time…the exciting conclusion!
Finally, it was time for recess. “Why don’t we go meet Amelia and Alice?” Lacie asked.
Beth. Amelia and Alice were sitting under the oak tree in the schoolyard, and they seemed rather excited to meet the two friends. “Don’t take us all wrong. We’re so glad you are here,” Lacie said. She wanted to make sure Amelia know she and her siblings were welcome.
“Oh, I know that. We are glad to be here, too. And, believe me, my brother doesn’t always behave this way. He’s a fine brother, really.” Amelia pointed to Donald, who had been walking toward the dirt road. Alice’s eyes widened. “Now where’s he a-goin’?” By then, her brother was running down the road, and almost out of sight.
“Excuse me,” Amelia sighed, “I need to get my brother.”
As she and Alice chased after Donald, Terry had been observing the scene. “Hey! Tell your no-good brother that I said to keep going and to never come back! Hahaha!”
Everyone in the schoolyard wished Mrs. Colley had heard Terry’s cruel statement, because she would have put a hickory switch to him so hard it wouldn’t have been funny.
“Poor Donald,” Beth suddenly said. But Lacie had absolutely no pity for him. It was, in fact, Donald who had punched Terry over a silly incident, and now he had run away like a coward.
“Really, Beth,” she smirked, “I think he’s a faker. I can’t imagine his accent being real. I mean, nobody can talk like that for real, can they?”
“Lacie, you are ever so prejudiced! Why, we haven’t even met the man!” Lacie loved how her best friend referred to people of all ages as adults and how she used such big words. Beth’s best subject in school was English, whereas Lacie was better at World History. The two had so many dissimilarities, yet they were the best of friends. Both of them were just plain sick of Terry Mauldin’s rude behavior. He and Jeanette were never going to leave school, as Lacie’s six year-old cousin Darla would often comment.
A while later, Amelia and Alice came running back to the schoolhouse, gasping for breath. Lacie and Beth were on their way to ask what had happened to Donald, but the two sisters bypassed them.
“Mrs. Colley! Oh, Mrs. Colley!” They hurried to the picnic table where Mrs. Colley was enjoying the Good Book. “I hate to tell you this, but—–Donald ran home and said he wasn’t going to be here for the rest of the day. I am ever so sorry, ma’am.” Luckily for Donald’s sake, Mrs. Colley was a kind and sincere woman.
“Well,” she put her hand on Amelia’s shoulder, “Just be sure he is back by Thursday. I know he wouldn’t want to miss our annual Harvest costume party!” Parties were rare at the schoolhouse, so everyone usually made an effort to go.
“Oh. Then—-alright.” Amelia was faking her smile. She was indeed, surprised. Alice, being amazed as well asked, “What’s the matter, ma’am? Ain’t you gonna punish my brother?”
“No, Alice,” Mrs. Colley chuckled, “I believe I have punished him enough for the day!”
Thursday had finally come, and the twins were excited! So excited. Kacie told her sister she was going to wear her Aviator hat. “Oh, don’t be ridiculous!” Lacie sighed, but Kacie didn’t seem to understand. “Oh, come now, Lacie. It’s Harvest time! Why don’t you wear yours?” By the time the twins went out the door into the crisp autumn evening, they both were wearing their Aviator hats!
They met Beth at the end of the road, where she, too, was wearing a rather comical hat. “Oh, how adventurous you two look!” she exclaimed. The twins and Beth lived three miles from the schoolhouse. Their greatest fear was coming back from the party through the tree-lined grove near the cemetery—–on the darkest, scariest night of the harvest. There was no telling what would pop up out of the shadows after dark.
“Now, I know there are no such things as ghosts, but how can you be sure?” Beth quietly asked. They were about to go through the bright and sunny tree-lined grove that would turn into Haunted Grove at dusk. “Well, I-I’m not sure, but one night I looked out my window and saw this gossamer-looking creature floating around in these woods, screaming as if it were in such horrible pain. I bet it was a ghost from Bradley’s cemetery over there.” Beth, hearing this bit of scary news, hid behind Lacie.
“Really?” Kacie, on the other hand, had no fear whatsoever. “Oh, come now! Be realistic won’t you? I do not see a single gossamer-looking thing anywhere, sis! Now come on! We are going to miss the party and we will have to face this so-called Haunted Grove in the dark!” Kacie, being fearless, marched through the grove as if she were leading a parade.
When the girls had arrived at the schoolhouse, there were dozens of children wearing costumes of something festive for the occasion. But Donald, Amelia and Alice. just had on their regular, everyday school clothes. “Hey, don’t worry. You guys look good enough to scare anyone!” Terry snickered as he served himself a big piece of chocolate cake.
“Count Dracula,” Lacie whispered to Beth, “That’s who he is.”
Mrs. Colley noticed the girls had arrived at the scene and she came to them. “Oh, it’s so good to see you all! Would you like some cake?” There were so many treats on the table, and they looked delicious. “Here you are,” Mrs. Colley handed each girl a slice of cake. “Oh, I need to get the Pershing children some!” Amelia and Alice grabbed a fork and ate their pieces of cake, but Donald took out his handkerchief and wrapped it tightly around his slice of cake.
“What’s the matter, Rebel? You too good to have your cake and eat it too?” Terry joked. Donald was uncomfortable already. “No. I’m saving it…..for……never mind.”
Lacie didn’t understand Donald. He seemed as if he wanted attention constantly, and yet, at other times, it seemed he wanted to just blend into the woodwork. But Beth said, “You know, we really need to meet him and find out about him instead of writing out his character in our imaginations like a storybook.” Deep down inside, Lacie knew her friend was right. But she didn’t want to admit to herself that she was wrong. She hated to be wrong!
“Well,” Lacie finally said, “why don’t we? But I am warning you, Beth, that boy is going to be a big problem in out school!”
Beth , being such a kind and considerate person, greeted Donald with her cheerful and jolly smile with Lacie dragging along behind her. “Hello there. I don’t believe we have introduced ourselves,” Beth curtsied, and Lacie rolled her eyes, “I am Bethany Marie Wheeler, but you may call me Beth.” She paused and waited for Lacie, who had gotten distracted by some other kids playing across the way. Beth hit Lacie in the ribs with her elbow and smiled again.
“Ow! Oh, yeah, and I am Miss Winters.”
“Nice to meet y’uns. I guess you know my name. I didn’t catch yours. Is it Lace?”
Donald did in fact seem like a rather nice person, but Lacie didn’t want to take any chances. “It’s Lacie, and that is what you may call me.”
After Beth and Lacie raced back to the willow tree in the school yard, Beth sighed, “You know, he does seem alright. He is much better than the description you painted!”
But Lacie didn’t think her best friend was all that funny. “Oh, really, Beth! I know he is up to something. I can just feel it!” But even to Lacie it seemed too nice an evening to spoil with bad feelings about other people.
“You know,” Beth giggled, “Sometimes romance begins in the strangest ways. I wouldn’t be surprised, when you grow up, if you marry the man.” Lacie was not in the mood for this kind of humor.”
Finally, the party was over, and the twins and Beth were strolling down the road. “Huh!” Kacie looked up at the sky, “Imagine that? It looks as if it will be dark by the time we hit—–The Haunted Grove!”
Beth was worried half to death. “Oh, no! I hope we don’t run into anything scary. I mean—the dark is scary enough as it is!”
Kacie was right. The moon had just come upon the girls when they saw the cemetery sign and the tree-lined grove up ahead. “Okay, you big chickens, let’s go.” Kacie began to walk through the silent grove. Of course Beth and Lacie didn’t want to stay behind, so they slowly followed Kacie through the Haunted Grove.
They were just about through the grove when they suddenly heard a loud and haunting wail. “Ohhhhhh!” Beth exclaimed, “It’s the gossamer-looking creature! Oh, I can’t look!” She hid behind Lacie and Kacie, who were a bit frightened as well. The noise kept getting louder and louder, coming closer each minute, when, all of a sudden, they saw something white…sort of a floating cape. “It is the gossamer creature!” Beth screamed.
Suddenly, there was a snickering sound and the girls recognized the laughing voice. It was Terry, hiding up in a tree and dangling the sheet. “Haha. Man, girls are crazy! You should have seen your faces!”
But Beth was angry. She grimaced and stomped over to the tree. Looking up, she shouted, “You don’t know how anxious we are to get home, and then you show up! I do believe you are a fine haunting monster.” For once in his life, Terry was speechless, and the girls walked on.
“What is he doing down here? He doesn’t even live down this road!” Lacie asked.
Beth shrugged. “I know what he’s about! He wanted to scare me. He knows how much I am afraid of noises in the night!” Knowing Terry, Beth was probably right. He loved to pick on kids who lacked confidence in something or expressed fears.
“Someday,” Kacie shook her head, “…just someday I am going to retaliate and he will learn his lesson. I sure wish his parents would teach him with a hickory switch!” How relieved Lacie and Beth were when they reached the and of the Haunted Grove.
“Well!” Beth sighed, “I’m glad to see that scary place behind us! I was getting a bit worried. Where are we? I can’t see a thing!” Lacie shaded her eyes from the bright moonlight. Far ahead were Mrs. Colley, Caleb, Hannah and their friend Ben in a carriage.
“Mrs. Colley!” Lacie exclaimed, “Wait up!” The three girls rushed to their friends.
“Why hello!” Mrs. Colley’s carriage came to a halt. “Hop on. What are you girls still doing out this time of night?” Lacie looked at the ground. “Well….we kind-of stayed a bit too late at the party. But we sure enjoyed it!”
Hannah, who had been listening to the conversation, asked, “So, how do y’all like the Pershing’s? I sure do!”
Beth answered, “Yes, I do, too…even their brother, unlike like some people I know who won’t give him a chance…” she looked at Lacie.
“Oh?” Mrs. Colley raised her eyebrows, “do you know someone who has mixed feelings about Donald?” Firstly, she looked at her children, then at Ben, then the girls. How embarrassed Lacie was when, by the looks on everyone’s faces, they came to know that she was the one who wished Donald had never come!
“Why do you not like Donald?” Hannah asked.
“I didn’t say I didn’t like him, I am just afraid he is going to be a bigger troublemaker than Terry. “
“Oh, I don’t know if there could be anyone worse than Terry!” Caleb laughed. “You should give him a chance, Lacie. Remember what my dad often says in his sermons:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
That Caleb. He was always quoting Bible verses in conversation. Hannah and Ben, too. Caleb and Ben had a knack for quoting scriptures, so everyone who knew them predicted they would grow up to be evangelists. Lacie thought about that as Mrs. Colley volunteered to take the girls home in her carriage.
Topics for Discussion:
1. What is “hospitality”? Use a dictionary to define the word. How do you know that Lacie was a person who would be good at hospitality?
2. What does 1 Peter 4:9 say about our use of hospitality? Which girl do you think was a bit more “grudging” with her hospitality?
3. Use your dictionary again to define the word “prejudiced. There are lots of different ways we can pre-judge people in a way that is unfair and displeases God. Can you list some ways? Have you ever been prejudiced against someone before really knowing him or her?
4. Do you know anyone who hates to be wrong like Lacie? What does James 5:16 tell us we should do when we are wrong? Do you do this? Do you pray for others when they confess to you?
5. Once again, using your dictionary, write a definition of “retaliate.” Now turn to Romans 12:19, Whose job is it to retaliate?
6. According to verse 20, what is our responsibility toward those who may mistreat us?