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.
Read an excerpt:
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 have a thing for Amish literature. There is something so raw and inspiring in their ordeals. While obviously far from being Plain, I can often find myself relating on some level to the characters. Most of my Amish reading has been Beverly Lewis, so it is nice to find another author to read.
Nora went through a traumatic ordeal as a teenager. As a result, she left the family and life that she knew, to start over again as an Englisher. Now, several years later, she finds her heart calling her home again. She longs for family and others she left behind. Her faith is also no longer satiated, so a spiritual need also pulls her back to her community. She is very different than she had been as a teenager, and brings a new worldliness about her. I admire her for listening to her heart and following it.
It is not easy to come home again. People have changed, but ideas have not. Nora has to prove to herself, and to her family, that her intentions are real. She has to find a way to become a part of them all again, while still remaining true to herself. She is very courageous, yet knows when to concede and to compromise. That demonstrates how strong she is as a woman.
She is also able to find some romance in her life, something unexpected after the men she has dealt with in her past. The banter between her and Luke is refreshing and special. It's a great story of faith and redemption. I will have to read more by Charlotte Hubbard.
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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.
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Charlotte.Hubbard1