HARVEST OF BLESSINGS
by Charlotte Hubbard
The tranquil little town of Willow Ridge is facing a startling challenge. Wealthy Nora Glick Landwehr is determined to make it her home again—and put her past to rest. Cast out by her own family, Nora can’t reconcile with Old Amish ways or her strict father. But she’ll do anything to help her community embrace the future . . . and make amends to the daughter she had to give up. She certainly has no time for her reckless new neighbor Luke Hooley. They disagree about almost everything. And how can she trust him if he always seems to believe the worst about her? Somehow, though, his unexpected support and passionate heart are helping her find her own way in faith. And Nora will discover that even in the face of insidious lies and unyielding judgment, God creates unexpected chances for forgiveness—and love.
As Miriam pulled seven loaves of bread from the oven early Saturday morning, she savored the silence of the Sweet Seasons kitchen. This time before her partner Naomi Brenneman and her waitresses arrived was always her chance to think things through, and the past twenty-four hours had given her quite a lot to consider.
Lord, I hope You’ll hold Nora and Lizzie and Wilma and Millie in Your healin’ hands, she prayed as she measured flour for the day’s pie crusts. And I hope You’ll open Gabe and Atlee’s hearts, as well. But Your will be done.
Miriam chuckled, at herself mostly. It seemed that telling God what to do rather than asking Him was an easy habit to fall into. Her visit with Nora yesterday, followed by the unfortunate scene with Gabe in the dining room, had made her think a lot about whether some of the Old Order ways came more from men’s insistence on control than from consulting God about the right way to handle their childrens’ mistakes. In some districts, expressing such an idea out loud might be considered reason for requiring a member to repent. But that didn’t stop a lot of Plain women from wondering if things couldn’t be different. Kinder. More loving.
“Miriam, when I die and go to heaven, please God, I believe it’ll smell a whole lot like your kitchen,” came a voice through her open window.
Miriam laughed. “Tom Hostetler, I believe you’re beggin’ for a sample,” she called out. “My stars, I can’t think you’ve already milked your cows.”
“I get up earlier when I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“Jah, I know all about that.” As the bishop walked in, Miriam gestured toward a tall stool near her work area. “And between you, me, and this countertop, my heart’s achin’ for the Glick women. Every one of them had their lives turned upside down sixteen years ago when Gabe sent Nora away, and now they’re goin’ through it again.”
Tom smiled ruefully. “I knew you’d see it that way, just as I could’ve predicted Gabe’s reaction when Nora asked for his forgiveness,” he murmured. “That’s where the fish bone gets caught in my throat. She did ask. And her father flat-out refused to even give her the time of day.”
“And then there was Hiram, appearin’ from outta nowhere to get right in the thick of it,” Miriam said with a grimace. She passed Tom a serrated bread knife and went to the refrigerator for a stick of butter. “Somebody’s gotta see if this bread’s fit to eat. Might as well be us.”
Tom chuckled and selected the round, golden-brown loaf nearest him. “How much do ya recall from all those years ago?” he asked as he positioned the knife on the bread. “Hiram was the bishop then, and Gabe and I were preachers, with your Jesse servin’ as our deacon.”
“It was all so hush-hush. Nora’d already been gone a week or so before I realized it,” Miriam replied in a far-away voice. “Wilma looked like she’d been hit by a truck, and wouldn’t—couldn’t—let on about the details Gabe forbade her to discuss. So we were left to assume that Nora was pregnant. Then, when Atlee and Lizzie suddenly had a red-headed baby—as newlyweds, without her bein’ pregnant—that pretty much told the tale.”
“Gabe insisted that the less folks knew, the less they could gossip—and other girls wouldn’t follow Nora’s sinful path.” He slathered butter on a generous slice of dense, grainy bread and handed it to Miriam. “And while Hiram and Jesse and I went along with that age-old strategy, I wondered what would become of Nora . . . how she would ever join the church or reunite with her family.”
He paused to close his eyes over a big bite of bread. “But I was the youngster—hadn’t been a preacher very long, so I didn’t make waves,” he went on. “Eventually the whole episode faded away, and Millie grew up as Atlee and Lizzie’s child.”
“Well, our days of sweepin’ it under the rug are over. Mmmm,” Miriam murmured as she took a big bite of the warm bread. “Your fresh butter almost turns this bread into dessert, Tom.”
“Nah, it’s your way of puttin’ the ingredients together that makes it special,” the bishop insisted.
Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.
Harvest of Blessings by Charlotte Hubbard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When it comes to Charlotte Hubbard’s books, they always hold a special place in my heart. They were amongst the first Amish books I ever read, and this series has always been a favorite of mine. I have said that Charlotte is my favorite Amish author, and she is. In fact, she is quickly becoming one of my top ten authors of all time. I always think her books can’t get any better, and then she surprises me. In this book, I believe she has truly “come into her own” and written such a perfect book in every way. Whether you like Amish books, Christian book, romances, or just a nice quick read with a great story, this book is definitely for you!
The thing I appreciate most of all about Charlotte’s Amish books is that they deal with real issues. She does not hide the fact that bad things happen in every community all over the world. Instead of not dealing with issues like divorce, rape, and the like, she goes at them head on. And she always has them handled in such a way that no one reading the book would be embarrassed or feel like she has overstepped her bounds. I like the progressive way she deals with the Amish people, and you can always count on the gospel message being presented in a totally relatable style. She never forces the tenets of the gospel; they are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the story.
I also particularly like the way she handles the villain of the story! So often there is no real “bad guy” within these Amish books. Or the bad guy is an “Englishcher.” Not so in her books. Actually, Hiram is one of my favorite characters and can always be counted upon for the much-needed comic relief!
If you have not read the other books in the series, I highly recommend you begin with the first in the series. Although this is a stand-alone, it will make more sense if you read the books before this one. In fact, I recommend you read all of her books as they are well worth the effort, and you will be blessed.
I was sen
Seasons of the Heart, Book 5
Zebra (February 24, 2015)
ISBN-13: 9781420133097 •• ISBN-10: 1420133098
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