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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life As We Know It..

I haven't been blogging much this Summer. One big issue was and still is getting my photos on my blog posts. I use Photobucket to store my photos and I have been having a ton of issues getting their new software to load so I can add watermarks to my pictures. It's been a VERY slow process and very frustrating at the same time. So with that, I've been hesitant to sit down and write up a post and not be able to get my photos added.

We've been plugging along here at our house just enjoying the sun and warm temps here in Big Sky Country. It's been in the 90's for most of July but we have a nice breeze and a little break from the heat today which is in the mid 80's. We've pretty much kept close to home this Summer. Hubby built an additional shed and is almost complete. Just need to add a bit of siding to the front and paint it. I would like to post pics of it when he's fully done. fingers crossed..wink...

My daughter arrived back in mid June and we've been really enjoying her stay here. She toured a couple of colleges here in town and she's looking into dual enrolling for the Fall at the College of Technology for her Senior year, while homeschooling. She only needs a couple credits to graduate so she'll spend most of her time doing college classes. It's a great opportunity for her. It's a lot cheaper to go this route while she's still attending high school and will be able to get some basic classes for college out of the way for when she starts full time in the Fall of 2013.

We also have her looking and filling out applications for her first job and back on Saturday she opened up her first checking account. She's growing up right before my eyes and I'm so blessed to be able to see all of this. I've missed so much of her life as she lived with her father for many years in another State. I'm just so happy that God is blessing my family and that she will be with us this year. I just pray now that she will be able to find the right classes that will fit for her career, whatever that may be and whatever she chooses. She's still undecided but that's ok. I feel this year with her dual enrollment will allow her to get her feet wet and look into something that interests her at a fraction of the cost of full time college.

I still will have her look into as many scholarships she can apply for this year to help with her full time school in the Fall 2013 if that is the path she chooses for herself. She will be 18 already in October.. WOW! Where has the time gone..

Other than this, we've been pretty quiet around here. I just now got all my copies made for my folders I'm putting together to organize my homeschooling better for this year. I found some areas that needed adjusting to streamline my school day and will get this all finished up hopefully by tomorrow so I can set this all aside until school officially starts here on August 20th. I hope to post about my organization once I've completed it all..

Sorry I haven't posted much. I hope to get more posts in as the Summer winds down and I don't have so much to do outside keeping the grass green, helping with projects etc..

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman Book Review


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Almost Amish
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
by
Kathryn Cushman



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all her life she knew that she wanted to write a novel “some day”. For her, “some day” came in 2003, when she started writing and never looked back.

Her first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of her closet (the dust bunnies tell her they really are terrific!). Her third attempt became her first published novel.

A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

On the homefront, she has been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for nearly twenty-five years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.

They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feel blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)

When she's not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find her trying her best to keep up with her daughters in their various theater, softball, dance, and filled-with-activity lives.


ABOUT THE BOOK
Proving the Simple Life Isn't So Simple After All

Overcommitted and overwhelmed, Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She knows she should feel blessed as a mother and wife--but she just feels exhausted. And then, the miraculous happens. Her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series about trying to live like the Amish and needs another family to join her. It's just the break Julie needs.

But the summer adventure in simple living soon proves anything but simple. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or dressing differently, each new Amish challenge raises new complications...and soon each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Almost Amish, go HERE.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Dearest Naomi by Jerry & Tina Eicher Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies.

Tina Eicher was born and married in the Amish faith, surrounded by a mother and sisters who were great Amish cooks. At fellowship meals and family gatherings, Tina’s dishes receive high praise and usually return empty. She and her husband, Jerry Eicher, author of several bestselling Amish fiction titles, are the parents of four children and live in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Jerry Eicher's many devoted fans will be enthralled by this endearing novel in letters based on Jerry's letters to and from his future wife, Tina, and their discovery that, indeed, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

When Eugene Mast leaves his Amish community in Worthington, Indiana, to teach in faraway Kalona, Iowa, he also must leave the love of his life, Naomi Miller.

For the next nine months of the school term, Eugene and Naomi keep their romance alive through love letters from his heart to hers, and from hers back to his.
Eugene writes of his concern that in his absence Naomi may find the attractions of another suitor to her liking. Naomi worries that Eugene may fall prey to the "liberal" Mennonite beliefs in the community where he now lives. Both can hardly wait until the school year is up and they're finally reunited.
A poignant and tender love story that will warm the hearts of readers everywhere.



Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736939423
ISBN-13: 978-0736939423

My Thoughts on this Book:
What a very lovely story to read. I've never read an entire book like this before. It's completely written in letter form of Naomi and her fiance' Eugene since they are separated for 9 months due to Eugene's job out of state as a teacher in a Mennonite community they are needing to write letters back and forth while they await his return home. I really enjoyed this and couldn't put it down..

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Naomi Miller stood beside the buggy, the corner of the front wheel inches from her side. Eugene Mast’s fingers were wrapped around hers. She looked up at him, the shadows from the moonlight hiding his blue eyes, leaving only the sides of his face visible.
“Do you really have to go?” Naomi whispered.
Yah,” Eugene said. “It’s something I need to do. But I’ll be back before you know it, and things will be like they always were.”
“Nine months is an awfully long time.”
Yah, but Da Hah will be with us. He will help us bear the pain of absence. And we are promised, you know.”
“But what will Bishop Enos say about this? We are both members of the church.” Naomi’s hands shifted in his. “What if there is trouble?”
Eugene laughed. “I don’t think there will be trouble. Bishop Enos knows I have no plans to forsake the church.”
“Even though you are running off to Iowa to teach at a Mennonite church school? It’s a terribly long way from Indiana.”
Eugene leaned forward, kissing her cheek. “I will write often, and that will help with the loneliness.”
Naomi pulled away. “Will you miss me? Perhaps a little?”
Eugene laughed again, causing his horse to turn his head to look at him. “I will miss you terribly, Naomi. I just believe this has to be done. If I don’t take the chance now, I’ll always look back and wonder.”
She sighed. “But it’s so dangerous out there. And the Mennonites can put all kinds of ideas in your head. Then you’ll never come back.”
He shook his head. “Please, Naomi, don’t make this harder than it is. I’ll come back. I promise.” He glanced at the envelope she had given him earlier. “Thank you for the card. I’m going to save it to open when I get to Iowa.”
“Okay. I think you’d better go,” she said. “I can’t stand this much longer.”
“I’m not much at goodbyes anyway,” he said. “I will always love you, Naomi. Goodbye…for now.”
“Goodbye,” she said, stepping back as Eugene climbed into the buggy. He slapped the reins against his horse’s back, waving once on the turnaround in the lane, his hand a brief movement from the dark interior. Watching the buggy lights move down the road and fade out of sight, Naomi stared long into the darkness. She then turned to walk back toward the house, pausing to look over her shoulder once more.


AUGUST
Monday evening, August 30
My dearest Naomi,
Greetings from Iowa. This finds me installed in the upstairs bedroom of my new home. The time was a little past eleven o’clock the last I looked. We pulled into the driveway of this little farm around nine, but I couldn’t see much in the darkness. We were met at the front porch by Lonnie and Luella Hershberger, the older Mennonite couple I’m staying with. The school board members who brought me out said their goodbyes and drove off in their van. I was shown around the house by Lonnie and Luella. After the tour, we ended up in the living room talking.
They seem like very nice people even though I’ve only just met them. Their house is a white bungalow with everything inside neatly arranged and in order. The kitchen is by the front door, with the living room in the back. I’m in the front bedroom, upstairs, overlooking the lawn. They said I could see the schoolhouse from my bedroom window, but it’s dark right now.
I feel strange and a little frightened to be out here alone. I’m missing you, of course, and the community. This awful sensation is wrapped around me, as if all the familiar props are knocked out from under me. In the meantime, I have to act as if everything is okay and be full of smiles. I can imagine right now you’re saying “I told you so,” but then maybe not, being the nice person you are.
I can’t thank you enough for the card you gave me before I left. It means so much to me. If I didn’t have your love to fall back on, I don’t think I could stand it right now. I know part of my problem is that I’m just so dead tired I could fall off the chair. The trip was long and more tiresome than I expected.
I suppose I’d better be off to bed. I won’t even start unpacking tonight. The suitcase is still open on the floor with only the things taken out that I need immediately. And that’s good enough for now.
Tuesday morning…
Good morning. I awoke to Luella hollering up the stairs. We had decided last night she would be my alarm clock since I didn’t bring one along. There is an electric alarm clock sitting on the desk, but I told Luella I didn’t know how to run one. And I sure wasn’t going to take the time to figure it out last night. She laughed and said hollering would be the Amish method anyway, and that it should make me feel right at home.
I smiled and said yah, but I didn’t mention that any reminder of home causes more pain than comfort right now.
I came downstairs to a breakfast of eggs and bacon, which I ate quickly. Then I stepped outside for a look around. The weather is nice, and I can indeed see the schoolhouse down the road. It’s a large, white, wooden structure with tall windows on the side. There’s a bell tower on top, placed toward the front. There’s a single tree in the yard.
Back upstairs, I started to unpack until I saw your second card. That brought a halt to the unpacking for a while. Who would have thought being away from you would be this hard?
As of now, the plans are that I will take the rest of the week to settle in at the schoolhouse. They only have a half-day scheduled for school on the first day, Friday. Then no school on Monday, since it’s Labor Day. Beats me how I’m supposed to keep myself occupied all that time with so little work to do.
The chairman of the school board told me the teacher who taught last year will be at the schoolhouse today by 10:00. She will give me details on the lesson plans and other pointers she might have on how to do things around here. I’ve been told it shouldn’t be that different from the year I taught at our Amish school, but I shall see.
While I think to mention it, I forgot to give you the other dove from my farewell cake at our families’ going-away supper. Somewhere in all the goodbyes it slipped my mind. I have the one, and you were supposed to get its mate. My sisters have it now and are supposed to pass it on to you. Hopefully we can match them up when the school year is over.
Luella said the mailman goes past at quarter till nine, so I’d better get this letter out. Here’s my address and a little rhyme. I know it’s not much, but it lets you know how much I’m missing you.
When the new moon hangs in the starry sky

I think of love, of ours, of you and I.
With all my heart,

Eugene

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Outside Makeover

My hubby has been working hard on making our yard awesome in the back. While I've been 'slaving' over the lawn he's been building me things..wink wink..... When we bought our home back in Spring 2007 our entire yard (front, side and back) was nothing but weeds. Since 2007 I've been working hard getting a lawn established. It's looking awesome by the way!! Front is all done, I just did some touch up or spot seeding two days ago and now just watering it so it will fill in these small areas both front, side and back lawns. But I'm so happy to report that it's all really green and looking great.. YEH!

Hubby built a deck two years ago off the side of our home and loving every square inch of it. It was nothing but a big dirt spot with lots of rock and a really poor set of wood steps.. and last year we added a special coating over it to protect it and give us grip in the winters. Now this year we wanted to give it a final touch on the outside. Hubby built two garden boxes. One up against the actual deck and the other to cover up our electric wires, boxes, hoses etc.

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Doesn't it look beautiful! I think it really gives our deck a final touch and also cleans up our backyard. Since we live on the corner and 80% of our fencing is chain link we don't really have a lot of privacy so everyone can see pretty much every inch of our yard so this really brings some beauty to our yard.
In the front yard hubby replaced our ugly black metal mailbox and metal stand with this nice BIGGER mailbox and nice post. This mailbox now fits all my bigger packages that I get on a regular basis from book reviewing, curriculum and sending off my Paperback Swap books.. I'm REALLY liking it!

Untitled

Now hubby is working on a second shed. We have a nice big section on the otherside of the house where we have more privacy since it's a wood fence over there. He's putting in a good size shed from scratch since it's a whole lot cheaper than buying a kit and this will house our garden stuff. He will then be able to use the shed by our deck for his 'man cave' since we don't have a garage. He'll be able to build things and work on his knife making etc. It's going to be really nice for him to have this space all to himself.. He certainly deserves it! I'll post pics of the shed when it's all completed. He just has the shingles to put on.. It's looking awesome!!

Co-op Decision

A couple months ago we decided that we wanted to join our local co-op. We signed up, and then purchased the necessary curriculum to make it work starting the Monday after Labor Day. We were excited about taking this new adventure in our homeschooling. So why am I writing about this topic again?

Well, after a lot of prayer we decided it wasn't right for us after all. Last year we decided to take on a new way of homeschooling by changing our curriculum. With my youngest we started Heart of Dakota which I fell in love with from the start. We really want to continue with that.. ALL OF IT! This is a complete curriculum so there really isn't room to add anything else.

Also with my middle child DS13 he's been our guinea pig as far as homeschooling has gone over the years as he was our first to start. Well, last year 2011-2012 we found something that we liked and worked for him. I don't want to change anything. Mainly because it disrupts the way he learns if I change anything and I just can't do that anymore. So with the words of my wise husband "Don't fix something that's not broken", we've decided to keep everything the way it is.

I truly feel at peace with this decision. I've been back and forth for to long trying to make the co-op work for us and ultimately God has other plans for our home and our schooling. We are now finalizing some things since I had to put things aside to make the co-op work. I had to exchange a couple things as far as curriculum and then we'll be back on track.. It's coming along nicely and look forward to starting our school year mid August..

The Deposit Slip by Todd M. Johnson Book Review


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Deposit Slip
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
by
Todd M. Johnson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of
International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. The Deposit Slip is his debut novel. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife Cathy, and children Ian and Libby.




ABOUT THE BOOK
$10,000,000 Is Missing.
Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper--a deposit slip--with an unbelievable amount on it. Only the bank claims they have no record of the money, and trying to hire a lawyer has brought only intimidation and threats. Erin's last chance is Jared Neaton.
How Far Will One Lawyer Go to Find the Money?
When Jared wearied of the shady ethics of his big law firm and started his own, he never expected the wheels to fly off so quickly. One big loss has pushed him to the brink, and it's all he can do to scrape by.
And How Far Will Someone Go to Stop Him?
He's not sure if Erin's case is worth the risk, but if the money is real, all his problems could vanish. When digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats, both Jared and Erin must decide the cost they're willing to pay to discover the truth.
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Deposit Slip, go HERE.

My Thoughts on this Book:

This is a great suspense book. I did take me a  little bit to really grasp the story as it kind of went into too much detail at the beginning and some of the lawyer talk was a bit to grasp but please don't let that deter you from wanting to read this because once he got going I couldn't put the book down until the end! I think it's well worth the read if you like a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.. Great debut book. I hope to see more from this author in the future!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review of this book. No other compensation was given.

A Promise for Miriam by Vannetta Chapman Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!


You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author's website.

My Thoughts on this Book:

This is the first time I've read something by this author. I really enjoyed how she writes. I was drawn into the story and the characters right away and really wanted to know how things go for Miriam. Following the story of Gabe and his daughter Grace as well as Miriam, the schoolteacher. I love how the author intertwines these characters but also allows you to enjoy each character separately. I look forward to following this series in the next book.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Amish schoolteacher Miriam King loves her students. At 26, she hasn’t yet met anyone who can convince her to give up the Plain school at Pebble Creek. Then newcomer Gabriel Yoder steps into her life, bringing his daughter, an air of mystery, and challenges Miriam has never faced before.








Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736946128
ISBN-13: 978-0736946124

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Pebble Creek, southwestern Wisconsin
Three years later
Miriam King glanced over the schoolroom with satisfaction.
Lessons chalked on the board.
Pencils sharpened and in the cup.
Tablets, erasers, and chalk sat on each desk.
Even the woodstove was cooperating this morning. Thank the Lord for Efram Hochstetler, who stopped by early Mondays on his way to work and started the fire. If not for him, the inside of the windows would be covered with ice when she stepped in the room.
Now, where was Esther?
As if Miriam’s thoughts could produce the girl, the back door to the schoolhouse opened and Esther burst through, bringing with her a flurry of snowflakes and a gust of the cold December wind. Her blonde hair was tucked neatly into her kapp, and the winter morning had colored her cheeks a bright red.
Esther wore a light-gray dress with a dark apron covering it. At five and a half feet and weighing no more than a hundred and twenty pounds, Miriam often had the unsettling feeling of looking into a mirror—a mirror into the past—when she looked at the young woman who taught with her at the one-room schoolhouse.
In truth, the teachers had often been mistaken for family. They were similar in temperament as well as appearance. Other than their hair, Esther could have been Miriam’s younger sister. Esther’s was the color of ripe wheat, while Miriam’s was black as coal.
Why did that so often surprise both Plain people and Englischers? If Miriam’s black hair wasn’t completely covered by her kapp, she received the oddest stares.
“Am I late?” Esther’s shoes echoed against the wooden floor as she hurried toward the front of the room. Pulling off her coat, scarf, and gloves, she dropped them on her desk.
“No, but nearly.”
“I told Joseph we had no time to check on his cattle, but he insisted.”
“Worried about the gate again?”
Ya. I told him they wouldn’t work it loose, but he said—”
“Cows are stupid.” They uttered the words at the same time, both mimicking Joseph’s serious voice, and then broke into laughter. The laughter eased the tension from Esther’s near tardiness and set the morning back on an even keel.
“Joseph has all the makings of a fine husband and a gut provider,” Miriam said. “Once you’re married, you’ll be glad he’s so careful about the animals.”
Ya, but when we’re married I won’t be having to leave in time to make it to school.” Esther’s cheeks reddened a bit more as she seemed to realize how the words must sound.
Why did everyone think Miriam was embarrassed that she still remained unmarried? Did it never occur to them that it was her own choice to be single?
“Efram had the room nice and warm before I even arrived,” she said gently. “And I put out your tablets.”
Wunderbaar. I’ll write my lessons on the board, and we’ll be ready.” As Esther reached to pull chalk from her desk drawer, Miriam noticed that she froze and then stood up straighter. When she reached up and touched her kapp as if to make sure she was presentable, Miriam realized someone else was in the room.
She turned to see who had surprised the younger teacher. It was still a few minutes before classes were due to start, and few of their students arrived early.
Standing in the doorway to the schoolroom was an Amish man. Pebble Creek was a small community, technically a part of the village of Cashton. Old-timers and Plain folk alike still referred to the area where the creek went through by its historic name.
Miriam was quite sure she’d never seen the man standing in her classroom before. He was extremely tall, and she had the absurd notion he’d taken his hat off to fit through their entryway. Even standing beneath the door arch, waiting for them to speak, he seemed to barely fit. He was thin and sported a long beard, indicating he was married.
In addition to clutching his black hat, he wore a heavy winter coat, though not the type worn by most Wisconsin residents. The tops of his shoulders, his arms, and even parts of his beard were covered with snow. More important than how he looked standing in her classroom was the fact that he held the hand of a small girl.
Gudemariye,” Miriam said, stepping forward and moving past her desk.
The man still didn’t speak, but as she drew closer, he bent and said something to the girl.
When Miriam had halved the distance between them, he returned her greeting as his somber brown eyes assessed her.
The young girl next to him had dark-brown hair like her father. It had been combed neatly and pulled back into a braid, all tucked inside her kapp. What was striking about her wasn’t her hair or her traditional Plain clothing—it was her eyes. She had the most solemn, beautiful brown eyes Miriam had ever seen on a child.
They seemed to take in everything.
Miriam noticed she clutched her father’s hand tightly with one hand and held a lunch box with the other.
“I’m the teacher of the younger grades here, grades one through four. My name is Miriam King.” The girl’s eyes widened, and the father nodded again. “Esther Schrocks teaches grades five through eight.”
He looked to the girl to see if she understood, but neither replied.
“And your daughter is—”
“Grace is eight years old, just this summer.” Almost as an afterthought, he added, “I’m Gabriel Miller.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Miriam offered her best smile, which still did not seem to put the father at ease. She’d seen nervous parents before, and obviously this was one. “You must be new to our community.”
Ya. I purchased the place on Dawson Road.”
“Dawson Road? Do you mean the Kline farm?”
Ya.” Not quite rude, but curt and to the point.
Miriam tried to hide any concern she felt as images of Kline’s dilapidated spread popped into her mind. It was no business of hers where this family chose to live. “I know exactly where you mean. My parents live a few miles past that.”
“It’s a fair piece from here,” he noted.
“That it is. Esther and I live here at the schoolhouse during the week. The district built accommodations on the floor above, as is the custom in most of our schoolhouses here in Wisconsin. We both spend weekends at home with our families.”
“I don’t know I’ll be able to bring Grace in every day.” Gabriel Miller reached up and ran his finger under the collar of his shirt, which peeked through the gap at the top of his coat.
Miriam noticed then that it looked stiff and freshly laundered. Had he put on his Sunday best to bring his daughter to school on her first day? It said something about him if he had.
“A man has to put his farm first,” he added defensively.
“Some children live close enough that their parents can bring them in the winter, and, of course, most everyone walks when the weather permits.” Miriam paused to smile in greeting as a few students began arriving and walking around them. “Others ride together. Eli Stutzman lives past Dawson road, and he would be happy to give your dochder a ride to school.”
“It would be a help.” Mr. Miller still didn’t move, and Miriam waited, wondering what else the man needed to say.
She looked up and saw one of the older girls, Hannah, walking in the door. “Hannah, this is Grace Miller. She’s new at our school. Would you mind sitting with her and helping her this week?”
“Sure thing, Miriam.” Hannah squatted down to Grace’s level and said something to the girl Miriam couldn’t hear.
Whatever it was, Grace released her dat’s hand and took Hannah’s. She’d walked halfway down the aisle when she turned, rushed back to where they stood, and threw her arms around her father’s legs.
One squeeze and she was gone again.
Though it was fleeting, Miriam saw a look of anguish pass over the man’s face. What could be going through his mind? She’d seen many fathers leave their children for the first time over the last eight years, but something more was going on here.
“She’ll be fine, Mr. Miller. We’re a small school, and the children look after one another.”
“It’s that…” he twirled his hat in his hands once, twice, three times. “Before we moved here, Grace was…that is to say, we…well, her grossmammi homeschooled her.”
“I understand. How about if I write a note letting you know how Grace is doing? I’ll put it in her lunch box at the end of the day.”
Something like relief washed over his face.
Danki,” he mumbled. Then he rammed his hat on his head and hurried out the door.
Esther caught her attention from the front of the room and sent a questioning look toward the man’s retreating back, but Miriam shook her head. She’d explain later, at lunch perhaps. For now they had nearly forty children between them to teach. As usual, it would be a busy morning.

Gabe did stop to talk to Eli Stutzman. He wanted to make sure he trusted the man.
It helped when three girls and a boy who were the last to climb out of the long buggy stopped to wish their father a good day. The littlest girl, probably the same age as his Gracie, wrapped her arms around her daddy’s neck, whispered something in his ear, and then tumbled down the steps into the chilly morning.
“That one is my youngest—Sadie. Always full of energy, but she’s a worrier. This morning it’s about a pup she left at home in the barn.” Covering the distance between them, the older man removed his glove and offered his right hand. “Name’s Eli Stutzman. I take it you’re new here, which must mean you bought the Kline place.”
“I am, and I did. Gabriel Miller.” Gabe stood still in the cold, wishing he could be done with this and back on his farm.
“Have children in the school?”
“One, a girl—about your youngest one’s age.”
Eli nodded, and then he seemed to choose his words carefully. “I suspect you’ll be busy putting your place in order. It will be no problem giving your dochder a ride back and forth each day.”
“I would appreciate it.”
Stutzman told him the approximate time he passed the Kline place, and Gabe promised he’d have Gracie ready at the end of the lane.
He turned to go and was headed to his own buggy when the man called out to him.
“The Kline place has been empty quite a while.”
Gabe didn’t answer. Instead, he glanced out at the surrounding fields, covered in snow and desolate looking on this Monday morning.
“If you need help, or find something that’s worse than what you expected, you holler. We help each other in Pebble Creek.”
Gabe ran his hand along the back of his neck but didn’t answer. Merely nodding, he moved on to his buggy.
He was accustomed to people offering help. Actually delivering on it? That was often another story, though he wouldn’t be judging the people here before he knew them.
Still, it was in his nature to do things on his own if at all possible.
Was his new home worse than he had expected?
Ya, it was much worse.
The barn was falling in on itself, and the house was not a lot better, but he knew carpentry. He could make them right. At least the woodstove worked. He’d been somewhat surprised to find no gas refrigerator, but he had found out who sold blocks of ice carved from the river. The icebox in the mudroom would do.
Gracie would be warm and fed. She’d have a safe place to sleep and to do the drawing she loved so much.
He didn’t think he’d be calling on Eli for help.
He’d see that Grace Ann made it to school and church—he’d promised her grossmammis as much. But other than that he wasn’t looking to make freinden in Pebble Creek. He wanted to be left alone. It was the reason he’d left their community in Indiana.
He could do without any help.
His parting words to his parents echoed back to him.
“I can do it on my own.”
As he drove the buggy toward home, Gabe looked out over high ridges and low valleys. Dairy farms dotted the snowcapped view. Running through it all was Pebble Creek, no doubt a prime place for trout fishing most of the year. He’d heard the call of wild turkeys and seen deer. It was a rich, blessed area.
Pebble Creek ran through the heart of Cashton, the closest town. It also touched the border of the school grounds and meandered through his own property. It bound them together.
As he approached home, Gabe’s mind was filled with thoughts of the day’s work ahead of him. He wondered where he’d find the energy to do it all, but somehow he would.
For Gracie he would.
His parents had offered to send his youngest brother along for the first year, but Andrew was needed on the family place. And, truthfully, Gabe preferred to be alone—just he and Grace.
“I can do it on my own.”
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” his mother said. She had reminded him as he was packing their things that pride was his worst shortcoming, though the Lord knew he had many to choose from when it came to faults.
Was it pride that scraped against his heart each day? He couldn’t say.
He only knew he preferred solitude to company, especially since Hope died.
Hope.
That seemed ironic, even to him. She had been his hope, his life, his all, and now she was gone. Her death had happened so quickly—it reminded him of one of the Englisch freight trains barreling around the corner of some bend.
A big black iron thing he hadn’t seen coming. A monstrosity with the power to destroy his life.
Which wasn’t what the bishop had said, or his parents, or his brothers and sisters.
He slapped the reins and allowed his new horse, Chance, to move a bit faster over the snow-covered road. He’d left Indiana because he needed to be free of the looks of sympathy, the well-intentioned words, the interfering.
So he now had what he’d wished for—a new beginning with Grace.
If it meant days of backbreaking work, so much the better. Perhaps when he was exhausted, he would begin to sleep at night.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Inescapable by Nancy Mehl Book Review


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Inescapable
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
by
Nancy Mehl


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and their dog, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.


ABOUT THE BOOK
Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, Kingdom, Kansas, with plans never to return.

But five years later, the new life she built is falling apart. Lizzie knows she's being followed, and she's certain the same mysterious stranger is behind the threatening letters she's received. Realizing she'll have to run again, the only escape Lizzie can manage is a return to the last place she wants to go.

Once she arrives in Kingdom, Lizzie is confident she'll be safe until she comes up with a new plan. In reacquainting herself with the town and its people--especially her old friend, Noah Housler--she wonders if she judged her hometown and her Mennonite faith too harshly. However, just as she begins to come to terms with her roots, Lizzie is horrified to discover the danger she ran from is closer than ever.

No longer sure who to trust and fearful for her life and the lives of those around her, Lizzie finds she has only one place left to run--to the Father whose love is inescapable.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Inescapable, go HERE.

My Thoughts on This Book:

This new series begins in Kansas City following the life of young Lizzie Engel and her daughter Charity. After threatening letters, a man following her, and her employer suspeccting her of stealing, she flees to her hometown of Kingdom. A small secluded Old Order Mennonite town.

Her past comes rushing back to her as she re-enters her childhood home. Realizing the reasons she left five years earlier after feeling abandoned by her overly strict father, and the feelings of being shunned by the townfold when they find out she had a child out of wedlock.

All these feelings come back as she tries to start over in Kingdom. But can she? The man that was following her finds her in Kingdom and the notes continue. Is she safe? Her daughter's father returns in her life and her childhood best friend Noah does too. What will God have her do? Very well written, a good touch of suspense, a little romance and an excellent plot. Can't wait to read the next book in this series!

I recieved this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of this book. No other compensation was given.

Monday, July 2, 2012

His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons Book Review

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About the Book:

It isn’t until the Civil War comes to her doorstep that Amanda Bell must choose between love and family. It's the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amanda never thought she would marry because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.

When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel aligns with the Confederate States, while Kent remains with the Union troops.

Her heart is torn between the two men she is closest to and the two sides of the conflict. Amanda prays to God for direction and support, but hears only silence. Where is God in the atrocities of war—and whose side is He on?

Amanda senses her life is at a turning point. She must trust God to deliver her family through the chaos of war with her heart and her faith intact.

My Thoughts on this Book:

The author really captured the Civil War time period in this book. The storyline felt very real full of the emotions and feelings of this difficult time in American History. Intertwining the realness of war with the story of Amanda, her brother Daniel and her love Kent. Getting to see both sides of the war through the eyes of Kent as a Union officer and Amanda's brother, Daniel a Confederate soldier. You also get to see the distruction the war has on regular American citizens as you read about Amanda's family and friends in Southern Texas.

 I really like that love is born through this book but it's not a quick romance but one that stands through out. A much more realistic storyline than some I've read. I really enjoyed this book, couldn't put it down. I look forward to reading more from this author.

About the Author:

If you want an evening of deep plowing of the heart, moving from tears one moment to laughter the next for your women, Golden is the speaker you need. Her passion is to communicate the Word of God in a manner that will encourage people to take God seriously and trust Him.

Golden and her husband, Blaine, are retired from the pastorate and live in Waco, Texas, where they enjoy their three grown daughters and eight grandchildren. A two-time cancer survivor, her testimony and myriad of life experiences lend a touch of authenticity to her teaching