Harvest of Blessings
Seasons of the Heart, #5
Genre: Amish Inspirational Romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Date of Publication: February 24, 2015
Number of pages: 351
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. So, 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.
Nora focused on Miriam through her tears. “I’ve really, really made a mess of things, haven’t I?”
Miriam stepped forward to wrap her sturdy arms around Nora’s shoulders. “Now you’re talkin’ like the gentle, sweet Nora I remember,” she murmured. “You’re on the right path, but it’s not gonna be a walk in the park. When ya left, your dat insisted that none of us speak about ya ever again, and he’s maintainin’ that silence now. Your mamm, bless her heart, is out of bed for the first time in months, so excited that she saw ya.”
Nora eased away from the embrace that felt so heavenly, so welcoming. “She knew me?”
“For sure and for certain.” Miriam’s face creased with her smile. “You’ll always be her little girl, Nora. And your little girl is the spittin’ image of ya when ya went away.”
While that information formed a sweet, sentimental picture in her mind, it didn’t make her situation any easier. “What’ll I do?” Nora whispered. “How can I tell Millie about why I left her with Atlee and Lizzie? And what if she won’t have anything to do with me, or—”
“One thing at a time,” Miriam murmured. “If God has brought ya to this situation, He’ll get ya through it. Ya believe that, don’t ya?”
Nora sensed she was being tested, yet hadn’t she known she would have to deal with the Old Order faith if she was to reconcile with her family? “He’s about the only chance I’ve got left, ain’t so?”
The words sounded lame as they tumbled from her mouth, yet Miriam’s lips quirked. “Most of us find ourselves in that position at some time in our lives. But when you’ve landed at the bottom of the pit, the only way to go is up.” She glanced toward the back window. “Ben just went into the smithy. Let’s go introduce ya.”
Nora wasn’t all that comfortable with spilling her story to a total stranger, but she didn’t argue. “Ben’s your husband now—Luke and Ira’s brother, right?” she asked as they stepped out into the pale daylight. “Some of the stuff those guys told me yesterday might not have sunk in. I was pretty tired by the time the moving van pulled out.”
“That doesn’t mean Ben’ll have any control over what they’ll say this morning,” Miriam added with a short laugh. “He’s a gut man, though. He’s a preacher now, on account of how your dat’s retired because of his failin’ health—”
Nora sighed as they approached the small white smithy she remembered from her childhood. “I had no idea he and Mamma were doing so poorly,” she remarked. “I wondered about them and Millie the whole time I was away, but one thing and another kept me from getting here any sooner.”
I’ve always been adept at language arts, but I started noodling with the idea of writing for publication while I was still a school librarian. Back in the day, school librarians usually inherited study hall duty. When that after-lunch slump hit, while I sat at the circulation desk maintaining law and order, I began scribbling stories for something to occupy my mind. I was in my late twenties then; enjoyed working with the kids but was not so interested in all the politics and administrative stuff you had to do as a teacher.
When one of my dearest girls graduated, went on to college, and then died of an asthma attack in a PE class, something kicked loose inside me. Carolyn was bright and blonde and bubbly—just coming into bloom. She always joked that she wanted to write trashy novels when she grew up, and I guess I mentally coped with her death by writing a confession story about a teacher whose star pupil had died. All the names were changed and the circumstances rearranged, of course, but when I had typed it out (back then, I was working on a portable electric typewriter—remember those?) I sent it off to True Story magazine.
Months went by, and I sort of forgot about submitting it. Then I received a letter with a rubber-stamped return address and I almost threw it away, thinking it was junk mail. It was a contract! And it was incentive to keep writing those stories and submitting them to what was then a fairly receptive, lucrative market that paid by the word. Over the next several years I sold more than 70 stories to the confessions mags. None of them had a byline, but my family was tickled for me all the same. It was a great way to learn the elements of storytelling, because—no matter what a lot of the reading audience believed—those confessions were not true! A lot of big-name writers anonymously earned money writing them between book contracts.
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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.
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