How the Ashtray Saved the Day


I had seen him before, although I had not “noticed” him. He was just the class clown of-a-guy with bleached white tips in his hair, the one who was really loud and always drew a crowd. Not my type.  We were in a class of 107 students going through YWAM’s “Discipleship Training School” in 1998 and I was more of a wall-flower girl.

I remember once, the girl from Pennsylvania mentioned him; “You know who I think is really cute?” she asked to the group of us sitting around doing each other’s hair. “Nathan Fair.” “Are you serious?” was my reply, “That guy needs WAY too much attention.” And I was serious. I had just seen him do a flip off the stage that night at the end of our program at a church and was annoyed by his audacity. Had you told me he would be the father of my children, I would have laughed and said “no way. No how.”

And if it hadn’t been for the ashtray, I might have been right. Let me back up.

A couple of years before I went to YWAM my little red Honda Civic had been broken into. My window was smashed out and all of my CD’s, along with my CD player were missing, oh and the ashtray. Why anyone would steal the ashtray still baffles me, but they did. So I drove in silence and without an ashtray for the next two years. At some point I saved up enough money to purchase a new CD player and have it installed, but didn’t waste the money on replacing an ashtray I would never use.

By the time Nathan and I returned for our secondary YWAM training school we were acquaintances. We had mutual friends and always seemed to get grouped together on local ministry outreaches. We spent time serving at a local hospice house for HIV infected people and even spent a week in New Orleans together learning about urban ministry, though we seldom interacted or even noticed each other. And then we unknowingly signed up for the same ministry outreach team that would travel across the western states and up into Canada for over a month. We spent the next several weeks in a 15 passenger van becoming friends. I was fasting from make-up in an effort to seek God only and His opinion of me without regard to what guys thought and God was setting me free in a lot of ways. For the first time, I wasn’t trying to impress anyone or seek my identity in a relationship.

And that’s how he became impressed with me.

All I knew, was that he was the funniest person I had ever met. I mean snot and tears kind of funny. I had never laughed so hard in my life as I did with Nathan Fair. And then I noticed how he loved people. All of them. The lovely, the unlovely, the underdog, the loner; he made everyone feel important. He made everyone feel like he was excited to see them. And he was kind to children and animals. And did I mention he was funny? His heart was beautiful, simple, straightforward, love. And he became my best friend.

And we were friends. And we talked and laughed and got to know each other and it never occurred to me that I might be talking to my future husband. Because we were “buddies” you know, but he was just the class clown sort of guy and I was expecting…what was I expecting?

And then one day I was sitting across from him at lunch and it was as if God removed a blindfold. I was looking at Nathan as he talked about whatever thing he was talking about and I realized I loved him. I realized that he was the first person I wanted to tell when something exciting happened, he was the one I thought to call first and relive my day, he was the one I went to when I was struggling or feeling down, and he was the one who made me laugh like no other. It hit me that he ALREADY was everything I wanted in a husband, and he was sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. And it scared me and made me feel like Jell-O on the inside and I was overcome with the whole revelation.

So I stayed away for a few days while I prayed about what to do. I was in agony. My thoughts went something like this: ” What if I tell him I have feelings beyond friendship and he turns me down? It will ruin our friendship and things will be akward forever!”  or “What if he says he feels the same way and then something goes wrong and it ends badly, then I will lose his friendship..” , “No, I can’t say anything, I’ll wait for him to say something.” “No, if I don’t say something he might not say something…then what?” So, I tormented myself like this for a few days, then came out with it. Yep, I did.

And he said he felt the same way. J And then he said he was glad I told him because he never would have spoken up for fear of losing our friendship.

And then we took a month apart and prayed. Because we had both done things the wrong way before and we had both had our hearts smashed to pieces and we knew we didn’t want to start this deal if it wasn’t for forever.

And right about now you’re wondering about the ashtray.

So, we were apart and I freaked out. And my thoughts went something like this: “He is too valuable to me as a friend to lose, I don’t think we should chance it because one of us will probably get hurt, so I am going to tell him when I see him that I’ve changed my mind.” And I decided that would be best. He was coming back from out of town the next day and I had resolved to tell him all of this.

When I got off work the next day I was dreading confronting Nathan. My only hope was that we would still be able to maintain our friendship despite this blip in the road. I walked down to my dorm room on the base and plopped down on my bed and there was a box.

It was from Nathan. I opened the box and was perplexed to find a 1995 model Honda Civic ashtray. What in the world? And then the note fell out, and this is how it read:


Love…how can it be quantified, expressed, tamed or achieved? This wonderful, horrible thing, love; haunts, drives and controls us. So how can love be expressed? A flower, a kiss, romantic words?

NO I SAY!!! One thing throughout the ages has remained true. This one thing brings an intimacy unrivaled by all else. It bridges the seemingly insurmountable gap between man and woman, puts to rest the endless battle of the sexes and joins the two as one.

The ashtray, overlooked by many, utilized by few, is a true expression of love in its purest, unmolested form. Love it, cherish it, and true oneness will be attained.


WOW. What a weirdo. I LOVED IT!!! And it was then that I knew I wasn’t going to have that conversation with Nathan after all. We were going to be okay. I just needed to trust God and follow His lead. And so I did, and I have never regretted it even once. And that is how the ashtray saved the day.

Happy Twelve year Anniversary Nathan! I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.


About Amey Fair

I am Amey Fair, wife to Nathan, and home-educating Mom to Benjamin (9), Averic (7), Deacon (4) and Phoebe (2) . Phoebe was diagnosed with a rare childhood malignant brain cancer called Atypical Teratoid Rabdoid Tumor on January 1, 2012. She had complete resection surgery to remove the tumor on January 4th and began chemotherapy using the Dana Farber protocol on January 26th. A few weeks ago I was sleeping in the chair next to Phoebe's bed in the hospital when I heard her little voice drawing me out of sleep. It was 3 am and it took me a minute to shake off the slumber. "Mommy I'm a mean girl" I thought she said. "No Phoebe, you're a nice girl!" I replied. "No Mommy, I'm a MIRACLE!" Phoebe said. "I'm a MIRACLE, I'm a MIRACLE, I'm a MIRACLE!" she continued on. My tears welled up and spilled over as she made her declaration. Phoebe doesn't know the word "miracle" nor the concept, she's only 2. It was as if the Lord was speaking through her like a prophetic utterance. She fell right back to sleep and I sat there awake, lingering in the magical moment. Less than 40 children are diagnosed with Phoebe's type of cancer in the U.S. each year. This is why it's called "ATYPICAL Teratoid Rabdoid Tumor". So, I have titled this blog in honor of Phoebe, our "Atypical Miracle". We are YWAM'ers, serving in missions through Youth With A Mission since 1998. Before returning to the states 1 year ago, we lived near Guadalajara Mexico for 3 years. It was during our year of agricultural missions training in Waco, TX that Phoebe began exhibiting symptoms from the pressure of the tumor on her brain. Weight loss, lethargy, extreme thirst and vomiting were her symptoms. We have been granted sabbatical during this time to focus on Phoebe's intensive chemotherapy treatment and are renting a home in Dallas near the Children's hospital where Phoebe is being treated. Like the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' robe in Luke chapter 8, we cling to Him, knowing that He is Phoebe's healer. If we can just touch Him, be near Him, bring Phoebe to Him each day, we have hope. He is our hope. Thank you for coming along on this journey with our family. It's therapeutic for me to write it all out, and in so doing, I hope God will use it for His glory.

30 responses »

  1. Amey and Nathan,
    I absolutely love reading your posts. This is one that I want to keep reading; I want to turn the page 🙂

    Happy Anniversary! Wishing you another 12 years!


  2. What a GREAT story!! Gave me goosebumps! You are two very amazing people and your love for one another pours over into the love you have for your children. You guys rock!! Praying that 2013 will be a fantastic year for all of you and that Phoebe will be completely healed! Happy Anniversary and a happy New Year to all of you!

  3. “True love lasts forever,” someone said in a movie, as if the only way to gauge the authenticity of God’s endorsement is whether the relationship remains intact. What I loved about your story is the fact that you didn’t have a burning bush or an angelic messenger, you listened to your heart.

  4. Amey, I love you…I don’t even know you, nor your family, but I love all of you. You are so precious and honest and you have become a part of my life all because of your Phoebe and what she and you all have gone through. God is using you in so many peoples lives because you are able to share where you’s are and what is going on. His faithfulness is ever present and you allow others to see inside you and your heart and hurt. Thank you. And even you sharing your life beginning with the ashtray story…you are an amazing woman and I thank God for you and for Nathan and for each of your beloved littles. God be with you everyday as He has been. He is ever Faithful, even when we are weak. Thank you for becoming my friend. Carol in PA

  5. God does indeed work in mysterious ways!
    Happy Anniversary – one of many more to
    I can truly understand the rare and unique objects God uses (like ashtrays) because I knew I loved Tom one day as we waited at a railroad crossing watching the boxcars and reading the art scribbled on the sides. There was a break in the boxcars and several flats of freshly cut wood rolled by. My Tom, with a rapturous look on his face, quietly,
    reverently, sighed “Ooohhh, look at that wood!!” I knew then l would marriy this man who so loves to work with wood, who built me two houses, a man who never notices another woman, a man who is, as he says “just a simple man”. I can rest in his strength and love and trust his commitment to love only me. But above all others, he is a strong Christian .😍
    Oops, Amey, after your ashtray story, I had to share ours. Sorry 😇
    Cousin Carol
    Still praying, both Tom and I, alwaysh!

  6. I love to hear your awesome love story!! I know it will end happily ever after, since we know that we are in the family of God and His love story assures of of this happy future.

    Still are praying for your sweet girl and family. We are assured of our future through Christ, and I know that He is helping you through this time in your life. Always remember He is in control as your beautiful love story shows us.

    God bless and happy New year,

  7. What a wonderful love story God has written for you! Thank you for sharing it! Continuing to pray for all of you as the pages continue to turn.
    Lynne Curtis

  8. Congradulations to you and Nathan! It is so hard to realize all that has happened to your family in the past year!
    I would love to put that testimomy in my blog. Please email me if you would be willing. You can check it out

  9. Great post!!! Great Story!!! Great God who is in all the details. Thanks for sharing this story of your lives. We would welcome more. 😉

  10. Happy Anniversary, Amey & Nathan! What an AWESOME story of how God brought the two of you together and have blessed you these 12 years 🙂 May God BLESS you together today and for many years to come!!!!

  11. Absolutely beautiful love story! Congratulations! I wish all marriages were as inspiring as yours. God bless and thanks for sharing.

  12. I love your story. Not just the one above (although it’s wonderful), but all that has been shared since I have known about you and Phoebe. I’ve never met you, but I share your tears and your prayers and the occaisional laughter. Thank you for sharing your hurts, triumphs and heart by way of your gift of writing. I know that many lives have been touched. Your faith and strength, which I am sure are both challenged daily, are an inspiration. Thank you.

  13. I too fell in love with my husband on that very same ranch! So it was a lot of fun to read your story as my emotions from that wonderful and frightening time mirrored a lot of what you wrote, although there was no ashtray in our story! Happy Anniversary to you both and may the Father pour out his richest blessings on your family in this coming year!!

  14. Perfect analogy and beautiful writing. May you both always have that unique awareness of what’s important in a relationship and may it sustain you through life. And my personal wish for you is that the challenges you face so well will be insignificant compared to the joys life brings you. I hope the new year will bring lots of the joys!

  15. I love it!  Keep writing always…you are so gifted.  I pray for you and Phoebe and all your family often. I tried and hope to have succeeded in attaching a picture of our two golden doodles for Phoebe.  The redhead is Ruby and the blonde is FeBe…our ditzy blonde to say the least.. Happy New Year dear ones with lots of Love Eema (also known as Barbara Booker) 

  16. Happy Anniversary Amey and Nathan!!! Don’t you love the mystery of Love?

    Happy New Year, too! Praying for God’s continued blessings and provision for you and your family. May this be the year of complete healing for Miss Phoebe!! xoxo, Jeannie

  17. That was awesome.. God always has a plan for us.. Sometimes it takes some of us to let our sheilds down and let him take the lead…

  18. That made me cry !!! What a beautiful story. Sending you anniversary blessings. Thank you for allowing us into your world. I continue to hold all of you in prayer.

  19. What a wonderful story! It gave me goosebumps! May 2013 bring the healing you pray for and allow you to enjoy some emotional peace and quiet with your loved ones. Although I’ve never met you, both of you are truly inspirational. Thinking of you and your beautiful Phoebe everyday. xx

  20. Happy Anniversary! Love your love story. I’m looking forward to seeing you more now that we are both back at ywam tyler at the same time! Reading your story brought back some great memories of DTS, laughs in the red honda and the best roomies we all were! Hugs and Love:)

  21. Your as perfect for him as he is for you! I loved reading that!!!! Your an amazing couple. Happy anniversary (a little late)

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