Friday, April 24, 2009

Taught By a Nosegay

Welcome to Fiction Friday! Today's hostess is Vonnie at My Back Door Ministry. Be sure to join us there for links to more fun fiction.

This has been a busy week for me, and when I sat down to pick a story for today, I needed something to pick me up. As I scrolled through my file, I was very surprised to see I hadn't posted this story yet. Not only is it one of my all-time favorites, but it was also my first Editor's Choice at Faithwriters, which makes it pretty special to me.

Taught By a Nosegay

For ten years I’ve been the chief craft-lady at my church and I’ve made the centerpieces and favors for the Ladies’ Spring Banquet, but not this year. Oh no, they went and asked some new lady that no one knew very well to do them. Secretly I hoped the banquet would come close to a flop so they’d see they needed me. But there was no such luck. Inside the Fellowship Hall, all was calm and peaceful. Most of the seats were taken, too.

“You who! Vickie, you can sit with us!”

I stifled a groan and painted on what I hoped was a pleasant smile. “Mrs. Milligan, how nice to see you tonight!” Mrs. Milligan was truly a dear soul, but she loved to talk. As I thought about it, I realized that was just what I needed: a chatty table so I could just sit and stew.

“Aren’t the centerpieces lovely? I was so disappointed when I heard they’d asked that new lady, Paula Whats-her-name, to do them this year. They say she’s had a hard time settling in, but that she’s doing much better now. You’ve always done such beautiful arrangements, dear, and it’s become a highlight of the banquet for me! I still have some of the favors that you made!” Mrs. Milligan may like to talk, but she did make me feel better. “But look at these favors, Vickie-Dear! What do you make of these?”

They were darling silk nosegays, tied with a bow so you could put them in a vase at home, but there was something glaringly wrong with them--right in the middle was the ugliest little flower. I was astounded! Was Paula out of her mind? Did she think that flower was pretty? How could she think to camouflage that with even a hundred other pretty ones?

Mrs. Milligan was interrupted by our pastor’s wife who was opening the banquet. “Good evening, ladies! Isn’t it wonderful to be here tonight? Now, I don’t want to keep dinner waiting, but I heard the buzz and thought I’d take care of one little thing before we go any farther, since I’m sure you’ll enjoy the dinner more once it’s taken care of.”

She held up a larger version of the favors and pointed to a similarly ugly flower tucked in with all the pretty ones. “This is what’s had y’all buzzing since you came in, isn’t it?” There was a loud murmuring as ladies agreed. “Well, do you know what this is?”

I could imagine hearing every lady screaming, “Yeah! It’s an ugly flower!” But no one said a word since Paula Whats-her-name was in the room, too.

The pastor’s wife said, “This is an ugly flower!” The ladies let go of the breaths they’d been holding. “Well, it is, isn’t it?”

This time there was no holding back, “Yes!”

“Can all these other pretty flowers hide this one? No, they can’t! When I look at this nosegay all I can see is this ONE UGLY FLOWER, and I know that’s all y’all see, too.” The ladies all laughed and agreed with her.

“We’re all like this nosegay, did you know that?” The room quieted down. “We can have all the pretty flowers in our lives, but if there’s bitterness or wrath or anger or clamor or slander or any malice in our life it can never be camouflaged, no matter how many pretty flowers we use. If we don’t get rid of the uglies that’s all that will be seen--the ugliness. So, y’all do everyone a favor now. Get ahold of that ugly flower in your nosegay and pluck it out. Just ease it right out and toss it away.” She pulled the ugly flower out of the large nosegay and tossed it over her shoulder. Throughout the room ladies pulled out their ugly flowers and laughingly tossed them over their shoulders, too.

“There! That’s so much better! A life without bitterness, or slander, or WHATever is a beautiful life! Now, let’s pray and ask God to do the same in our hearts and to bless this dinner!”

“Oh, Father,” I silently prayed, “forgive me for becoming bitter and angry over not making the centerpieces and favors! Please remove that bitterness and anger and make me beautiful.”

**Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31 (NASB)


Be sure to join us at My Back Door Ministry for links to more Fiction Friday!

Also, on Tuesday will be an interview with Linore Rose Burkard and there will be a drawing for her newest release The House in Grosvenor Square. We need to have 10 comments to hold the book drawing, so be sure to stop by and tell a friend!

I will be drawing for Cheryl Wyatt's book, Ready-Made Family Saturday evening, and posting the winner on Sunday, so you still have time to leave a comment on the interview with Cheryl Wyatt and be entered in that book drawing.
Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. What a wonderful object lesson! I may just use it sometime, if you don't mind.
    Thanks for sharing this.


  2. What a wonderful object lesson! I may just use it sometime, if you don't mind.
    Thanks for sharing this.


  3. What a subtle, yet not-so-subtle, illustration of a most important fact of life.

  4. Patty, I "just happened" to read that very scripture this morning in my quiet time. Lovely story!!!

  5. What a very believable and very effective illustration of a solid principle. This was well-deserving of the EC, and a pleasure to read.

  6. This is SO Peej - and I remember it fondly (and your excitement for that first EC!!). GREAT stuff, girlie!! Wonderful.

  7. What a wonderful story laced with a message of forgiveness!

  8. Ugliness, illustrated beautifully -that's what this is. I loved this object lesson.

  9. Oh perfect!!!! Wow, this is WONderful. You know I love fiction with a message, and you always deliver it!

  10. Wow, I read this just after having a rather ugly exchange with my children (who are being skunk cabbages right now, if I may say so...)

    Anyway, the message was quite the little punch in the nosegay for me. I needed it!

  11. I love this! And what a wonderful idea to use for a Mother's Day banquet or Ladies Lunch! Great story, Peej!

  12. I can see how this was easily an EC. Great story with a powerful message. Loved it!


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