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The Gifts of Faith – Bouquets and Rainbows (Ch. III)

Updated on January 24, 2014
Faith today
Faith today | Source
The inspiration behind Faith's profession
The inspiration behind Faith's profession | Source

20 years later

The fragrant scent of Lily of the Valley always takes Faith back to that day 20 years ago when she met the soul of her sister Hope. Thinking back, she knew the day would be memorable when she witnessed a rainbow arcing its way to the earth mere yards from where she stood in her favorite meadow. The events of that day would forever change her life, although she was unaware of it at the time.

Today, Faith Montgomery runs a small flower shop in town. It seemed natural to surround herself with the rainbow of colors, delicate textures and the array of fragrances that had her entranced as a young girl. Faith named her shop Bouquets and Rainbows in commemoration of the day that changed her life so many years ago.

She remembers it as if it were yesterday.

Mama's favorite flower:  Lily of the Valley
Mama's favorite flower: Lily of the Valley | Source
Daddy spent most of his time in the barn hand-crafting furniture
Daddy spent most of his time in the barn hand-crafting furniture | Source
Mama and Daddy's bed
Mama and Daddy's bed | Source

Flowers for Mama

After picking the bouquet of Mama’s favorite flower, Lily of the Valley, Faith and Kitty took their time strolling home. Faith was absorbing what had just transpired in the meadow. Meeting her sister had been magical. No one would believe her, of course, so she relished the memory knowing she would have to keep the experience to herself. She couldn’t even tell Mama and Daddy. They were aware of her ability to see souls, but telling them she’d met Hope would probably bring them sadness. Her parents had been through so much; the last thing she wanted to do was cause them to relive losing their daughter before she had a chance to come into the world.

“Mama, I brought you a present!” Silence echoed Faith’s joyous words.

“Mama? Daddy?” Daddy must be in the barn working on the rocking chair he’s making for the O’Malleys. Mama’s been tired lately. I’ll just put these flowers in a vase and see if she’s napping.


Faith placed the vase in the center of the kitchen table. Immediately, the modest home was filled with the sweet fragrance of Lily of the Valley. While making her way to her parents’ bedroom, Faith’s tummy began to flutter with butterflies. Earlier today, the butterflies brought a miracle into her young life. This time, she was filled with trepidation.

As she entered the room, the floral fragrance from the kitchen became overpowering. Mama looked so peaceful resting on the canopy bed with its white eyelet bedspread. But something was wrong. It took a few minutes for Faith to figure it out. Then she saw it – or didn’t see it. She could no longer see Mama’s soul! No! she screamed inwardly. Moving toward the head of the bed, Faith noticed a faint rainbow shimmering through the window, taking a stance above Mama’s pillows.

Mama was gone from this world. Faith paused to reflect on the moment in the meadow when Hope appeared to her. It was now clear why she chose this day to come into Faith’s life. Hope was the angel chosen to bring Mama to God, whom she so loved.

Faith remembered Hope’s words: As you know, my name is Hope. What you don’t know is I was the child that Mom and Dad never knew. I was stillborn; however, a part of my soul lingered in the womb. Mom and Dad grieved, but God has a special assignment for me.


As Faith leaned over to kiss her mother’s cheek, the rainbow brightened and remained hovered over Mama, as if to say, It’s ok. I’ll stay here. You go find Daddy.


Faith could barely make her way to the barn as tears flooded her eyes and stung her cheeks. The butterflies had ceased, only to be replaced by a vice wrenching her heart.

Her grief was too heavy to allow another step. Faith stood in the doorway of the barn sobbing. “Oh, Da-a-a-d-dy! M-m-m-mama’s g-g-gone!”

Hal Montgomery hand-crafted furniture
Hal Montgomery hand-crafted furniture | Source

The town in which this fictional family lives

A markerFlowery Branch, Georgia -
Flowery Branch, GA, USA
get directions

Faith's town has about 5,600 residents

Faith and Sarah plant their dream
Faith and Sarah plant their dream | Source
The Dream Machine
The Dream Machine | Source

The next few years

Life without Mama was hard for both of them. Daddy kept himself busy with his hand-crafted woodwork. Hal Montgomery was known throughout the state of Georgia for his handiwork; he always had plenty to keep his mind off his broken heart. And then there was Faith. She was only 6 when she lost her mother. Faith spent as much time as she could with Daddy, but the meadows and fields were where she felt the most comfortable. She and Kitty spent most of their days identifying flowers, listening to the birds sing their songs of joy and marveling at God’s rays streaking through the heaven-reaching boughs of the trees. Her heart was calm when she was with God and Mother Nature.

Faith made it through school without any friends until the Barnes’ moved to town. Sarah was new to the school and wasn’t readily accepted. Most of the residents had been in Flowery Branch all their lives. People were born there; they didn’t move there. Sarah and Faith were both outcasts and soon became best friends. They told each other their deepest secrets. Having a real friend was something neither had ever had before; Sarah because her family moved a lot and Faith because – well, Faith could see souls and that scared the bejeezus out of the townsfolk. But it didn’t scare Sarah. In fact, she thought it was downright cool!

Sarah and Faith shared their dreams and together, they set a plan. Faith knew she wanted to open a flower shop when she grew up. Her mom had loved flowers so, and Faith embraced that passion. Sarah was always willing to lend a helping hand and shared in Faith's love of Mother Nature and all She has to offer.

When they were sophomores in high school they started a garden on the Montgomery property. Granted, the house was small and there was the barn to consider, but the Montgomery property encompassed 20 acres. Plenty of space to create gardens of all varieties! The gardens and the future became the girls’ focus.

The pair worked hard every day after school and on weekends planting bulbs, propagating seeds, talking cheerily and singing to their rows of beauty. They began selling their beautiful flowers at local farmers’ markets, church sales and school benefits. All of their profits went into a savings account they called “The Dream Machine”. They had a vision and they were determined to make it happen.

Interesting conversation with Stephen King regarding short stories

The dawning light

One day, as Faith and Sarah were pulling weeds from the gardens, Faith said, “You know, Sarah, I haven’t seen a single soul since I met you. In fact, now that I think about it, I hadn’t seen a soul since Mama died. That is, until I met you. But I haven’t seen one since.”

“Hmmm. I wonder why that is?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we’re spending so much time with our gardens that I have separated myself from Mankind. And I don’t mean to be funny. I know there’s a reason for it. I just don’t know what it is just yet.”

“Maybe that’s exactly what it is, Faith. We’re on a mission and it’s not yet come to fruition. Our focus is on your dream. Maybe not seeing souls is a sign that your talents are needed elsewhere or maybe you haven’t yet discovered the purpose of your gift.”

“Yeah, I think you may be right on both counts.”

Join me on my writer site/blog

Bravewarrior's Feathered Pen

This site is all about Life. Animal life, human life, the part Mother Nature plays and everything in between. Life is good! Life is a learning process leading us along the path to our individual purposes on this Earth. Join me in celebrating the gift of Life. With a niche as vast as Life, there is always something to talk about, to share - and yes, a gripe or two may be thrown in here and there.

The gift returns

The bell above the door of Bouquets and Rainbows tinkled, jarring Faith out of her daydreaming, bringing her back to today. As the patron came through the door, Faith saw the first soul she’d seen in years. And it wasn’t pretty.



Shauna L Bowling

Refining, Defining or Rhyming

If you're new to this story, here's how you can catch up

The Gifts of Faith

The ache in her joints was enough to foretell the impending weather. As if to validate her premonition, the smell of rich earth was emanating from the air. Rain was soon to come - and with a vengeance. Faith always seemed to prepare but never knew what to expect. She didn’t know why, but her ‘feelings’ never proved to be misgivings.


The Gifts of Faith - The Rainbow (Ch. II)

As the colors became more brilliant, the yellow hues seemed to separate from the rainbow, reaching to the earth in a gentle golden rain. Even Kitty stopped chasing butterflies as the earth-bound rainbow shower changed from gold to white then gold again before settling in the meadow just ahead.


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    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Mary, I'm glad you're enjoying the story. There's more to come, as you'll soon discover. Thanx for taking the time to go back to the beginning.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Sha, you know I've come late to the party but oh what a lovely party it is. Faith and now Sarah! Faith's background with its sadness and joy have brought us to this moment. A moment of surprise, perhaps apprehension? Getting to Chapter IV will certainly tell me.

      Voted all but funny.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx, John. I really appreciate you playing catch up with this story, even tho you don't like reading ongoing tales!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Another beautifully written instalment to this amazing story Sha. Voted up.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Ruby, I'm tickled pink you like my story. It (and I as a writer) evolves with each chapter. I think you'll find some unexpected twists and turns as you get further into the story. It was at about this point that I discovered The Gifts of Faith is destined to become a novel rather than the short story it was at birth.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is such a beautiful story, it gets better with each installment. Wondering whose soul she will see next? A flower shop is perfect for her. Her mother's death was sad to read. See you next time. You asked me to be honest, i love your story!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Kisses to you, Paula. My dream is indeed to be a writer. If I could make a living writing fiction I'd be a happy camper. Unfortunately, I need to write for others before I'm afforded that luxury..... :-(

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sha....You were right to stay so devoted to your dream of becoming a WRITER....all the hopes and dreams and hard work.....your dedication to your passion is blossoming before us!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Epi, this started out as a short story. Now it's a novel in the making. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. I look forward to your comments on the subsequent chapters.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 3 years ago

      Like I have said to you before Shauna, you are a true natural at this. It just flows from you and with such elegance and detail. I love the theme of each title and how you explore it through your characters and storyline. Yes sublime is the word of today - hubbravo from the Epi-man

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Ghost, I still haven't made up my mind about Nathaniel. Only time (and Faith whispering in my ear) will tell!

    • profile image

      Ghost32 3 years ago

      Aha! Zee villain makes zee appearance!

      Or...maybe not a villain but a project....

      Either way, nice cliffhanger. I'm hoping for villain, but then, I would. Projects are cool, too.

      I'm blathering, 'cause in my mind I've already turned the page, and....

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Ha ha. Yeah, I get it. What's ironic is, when I first started writing this story I had no intention of Faith and Hope being symbolic. But the story takes on a life of its own when I put fingers to keyboard. It pretty much writes itself.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 3 years ago from Minnesota

      This is such an amazing story. You are a natural for fiction Shauna. I am so captivated by this hope filled and faith filled story. (Get it?) I just love everything about it. You are bringing in symbols, imagery to life. On to the next chapter.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Aha, got you guessing! That's a good thing, Kim. I'm glad Faith has snared your curiosity.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 3 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      Oh, a bad soul? Now will this cause Faith a whole lot of trouble or is this it help from Faith that this soul needs. Time to read on!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx, Nell. Stay tuned....

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      This is such a good story, and its getting better! Can't wait for the next installment! love it!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      If it's more you want, more you shall get, Pearl! Thanx for the boost!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      okay, I'm hooked--you got me wanting more for sure!! I LOVE this story and how you are crafting it. Your passion and talents are alive and glowing, and I'm hearing you loud and clear, my friend. More Please ;) Pearl

      Voted Way Up++++

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for stopping by and commenting, Rasma. And thanx for sharing!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, you sort of got what I was referring to when you commented that the characters are real. It's taken 3 chapters but Faith now has an identity and a hometown.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. Really enjoyed this story. Looking forward to more. Thanks for this incredible journey. Passing this on.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I love the story. It is flowing beautifully and the characters are real to the reader; that is not an easy thing to make happen.

      Perhaps it's just because it is late and I'm tired, but I don't know what you were referring to in the email from earlier today. :) Just call me clueless and leave it at that. LOL

      love,

      bill

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Gotta keep it going, Liz. Faith is just now coming into her self. Glad you're enjoying the story!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      This is wonderful and glad that you are keeping this going. Awesome!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Same to you, Eddy. I'll email you shortly to get your blog address.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for reading and commenting, Monis!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A wonderfully beautiful hub Shauna; voted up and here's wishing you a great day.

      Eddy.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 3 years ago

      Awesome story... Well written.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Mom, you raise some good questions. Only Faith has the answers - or maybe not. We'll just have to see what she tells me next. Scared? For Faith? Faith is very strong. Kinda like someone else I know! :-)

    • profile image

      Barbara Cook 3 years ago

      So well done!! Spine tingling. I only hope that since Faith has gone through so much loneliness in her young life that the "bad" one appearing at the flower shop is someone needing her to right some wrongs and clear the air for her. Had she abandoned her mission of "seeing" in her searching for her own happiness in the flower growing? There are so many ifs going on in my mind. Must she only use her God given talent to "see" for others and not for herself? You have a big assignment to bring solace to those of us reading your story before we can close the book. I'm scared.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thank you Faith. I had no idea this chapter would go this way. I was lying in bed one night and the first paragraph came to me. Naturally, I got up and wrote it down. I didn't want to go thru each year of Faith's life and thought this might be a good way to touch on her life between ages 6 and 26 without boring the readers.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Anna, Faith does the guiding of this story. I'll have to wait for her to throw the next phase into my head. Hopefully, it'll be soon!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Really wonderful story, Sha! It is not easy to write transitioning from one time period to another, and you did it seemingly without effort. Very dramatic death scene and equally dramatic ending, which is really a start to something new ... keeps us wanting more.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      Congratulations, I think you may have found your first fictional novel. You switched beautifully through the different time eras. I really loved the twist at the end! I look forward to the next instalment and finding out how the dark soul fits in to the story. Don't keep us waiting too long :)

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx, Blossom. Stick around! I never know when Faith is going to speak to me.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      What a lovely story! Looking forward to the next instalment.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx, Crafty. Comments like yours keep me keepin' on!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Beautiful. I'm really enjoying your writing and can't wait for the next chapter!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Coming from a short story coach such as yourself, Martie, I couldn't receive a higher compliment. I hope you and BF are doing well. Thanx for taking the time to read, my dear friend.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Perfect! I look so forward to read the next chapter :)

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm working on it, Flourish! I love fiction. Maybe with enough practice I can make a living writing fiction someday. Thanx for the vote of confidence!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Glad you like it, Spy. Check out the first two chapters if you haven't already.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      DJ, I'm glad I fooled you! I haven't even thought about a prince yet. I decided she needed a friend tho. We're both happy Sarah moved to Flowery Branch!

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanks, Maria. Faith spoke to me yesterday. Her voice is becoming clearer to me and she's not waiting so long to speak. I'm glad you like this series.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Poignant telling of these girls' lives. You are coming into your own as a writer of fiction here. Keep up your momentum!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      I am hooked reading this Sha!! this is really great.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 3 years ago

      Oh, Sha, wonderful, really wonderful!

      I was so hoping that her handsome prince would be the one walking through that door. I did not see it coming when she saw a bad soul.

      You are writing more beautifully with each installment on this story.

      I am so happy for you!

      Can't wait until the next segment.

      Love,

      DJ.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Oh Sha,

      You are thriving in your passion...I hear your voice loud and clear and it is beautiful.

      This is a meaty installment that leaves me wanting to know more...and soon! I am still misty eyed from the scene of Momma's death...poignant and memorable style.

      Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria