An Amish Gathering: Life in Lancaster Countyby Beth Wiseman
Three heartwarming tales of old friends and new beginnings that span one year in an Amish community.
A Change of Heart by Beth Wiseman
Leah is no good at cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardeningthe skills that young women need to make a proper Amish wife. All she wants to do is write stories, but she's sincerely tired of being a/b>/b>/i>/b>… See more details below
Three heartwarming tales of old friends and new beginnings that span one year in an Amish community.
A Change of Heart by Beth Wiseman
Leah is no good at cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardeningthe skills that young women need to make a proper Amish wife. All she wants to do is write stories, but she's sincerely tired of being a disappointment. Will she ever find someone who accepts her just as she is? And can an almost-Amish angel in red polka dots help her find her way?
A Place of His Own by Kathleen Fuller
When Josiah left Paradise the first time, he didn't even say good-bye. Now he's back, ten years later, and he's changed. Why is he so distant and bitter? Where is the boy who used to be Amanda's best friend? Amanda is learning that there are things even a capable Amish girl can't fix. But can she stand there and watch him walk away . . . again?
When Winter Comes by Barbara Cameron
It's been too long since Rebecca has done what she lovesput on her skates and fly across the ice. Five years have passed since a winter accident took her twin Lizzie and left Rebecca heartbroken. And Ben has waited for her all that time. At last she's starting to heal. But has too much time passed for their hearts to reconnect?
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An Amish GatheringLife in Lancaster County
By Beth Wiseman Barbara Cameron Kathleen Fuller
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Beth Wiseman, Barbara Cameron, and Kathleen Fuller
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLeah folded her arms across the spiral notebook and held it close to her thumping chest. She was late for supper. Again.
She eased her way up the front porch steps of the farmhouse and peered through the screen door. Her family was already seated at the long wooden table in the kitchen. She sucked in a breath and prepared for her father's wrath. Supper was always at five o'clock, and preparations usually began an hour before that. Leah was expected to help.
Her eldest sister, Edna, cut her eyes in Leah's direction as Leah closed the screen door behind her. Mary Carol scowled at Leah, too, and blew out an exasperated sigh.
"Sorry I'm late." Leah tucked her chin but raised her eyes enough to catch a sympathetic gaze from her youngest sister, Kathleen. Leah forced a smile in Kathleen's direction.
"Wash for supper, Leah." Marian Petersheim didn't look at her daughter but instead glanced at her husband, a silent plea for mercy on her face.
"Yes, ma'am." Leah rushed upstairs, stored her notebook in the top drawer of her nightstand, and quickly washed her face and hands. She tucked loose strands of brown hair beneath her prayer covering, smoothedthe wrinkles from her black apron, and walked briskly down the stairs.
She slid in beside Edna on the backless wooden bench and bowed her head in silent prayer as forks clanked against plates. When she was done, she reached for the chow-chow and spooned a small amount of the pickled vegetables onto her plate. She helped herself to a piece of her mother's baked chicken and then eyed her favorite casserole. Leah loved the way Kathleen prepared the green bean mixture with buttered Ritz cracker crumbs on top, but the casserole was on the other side of her father, and she wasn't about to ask him to pass it.
Daed didn't look up as he swallowed his last bite of chicken and reached for another piece on the platter to his right. The father of four teenaged girls-Edna, nineteen; Leah, eighteen; Mary Carol, seventeen; and Kathleen, sixteen-James Petersheim ran the household with steadfast rules and imparted strict punishment when those rules were disobeyed. Every one of the girls had been disciplined with a switch behind the woodshed at some point in her life. Leah wished she were still young enough for the switch. It would surely be better than what her father was about to unleash on her.
She pulled a piece of butter bread from the plate nearby and glanced toward him. Leah knew he would finish his meal before he scolded her for being late. She dabbed her forehead with her napkin, unsure if the sweat gathering on her brow was due to nervousness or the sweltering August heat.
"Abner's mamm is giving us her fine china as a wedding present," Edna said after an awkward moment of silence. Edna and Abner's wedding was scheduled for November, after the fall harvest, and Edna often updated the family about the upcoming nuptials during supper. "It belonged to his grandparents." Edna sat up a little straighter, and her emerald eyes shone.
"Wonderful news," their mother said. "I've seen Sarah's china, and it's lovely."
Leah waited for Mary Carol to chime in. Her wedding was scheduled to take place in December.
Leah recalled her father pointing his finger at her and Kathleen. "I reckon the two of you best not be thinkin' of marrying until at least next year," he'd teased after hearing Mary Carol's news two months ago-news that came on the heels of Edna's announcement only one week earlier.
Mary Carol smiled. "I have something to share too," she said, glancing back and forth between their mother and Edna. "Saul's parents are giving us twenty acres to build a new home. Until that time, we'll be living with his folks."
Here we go, Leah thought. Jealousy is a sin, but Mary Carol was translucent when it came to her feelings about Edna. And if Leah were honest with herself, she 'd admit that she, too, had often been jealous of their oldest sister. Edna was the prettiest of all of them, with silky dark hair and stunning green eyes. She'd gotten her figure early, too, and all the boys took notice of Edna by the time she was fourteen. The other three Petersheim sisters were much plainer, with mousy brown hair and nondistinctive dark eyes, and without the curves Edna was blessed with. And Mary Carol battled a seemingly incurable case of acne, always trying some new potion the natural doctor suggested.
"That's very generous of Saul's family." Their mother nodded toward the green bean casserole. "Kathleen, could you please pass me the beans?"
Kathleen complied, putting Leah's favorite dish within reach. After her mother scooped a spoonful onto her plate, Leah helped herself.
"Abner and I will be livin' in the daadi haus, since his grandparents have both passed on. Then when Abner's brothers and sisters are grown, we'll move into the main house, and his parents will move to the daadi haus," Edna said.
"Our haus will be new." Mary Carol flashed her sister a smile.
"But we will be able to live in our haus right after we're married," Edna scoffed. "We don't have to wait for a home of our own, and-"
"Girls ..." Their mother's voice carried a warning. "This is not a competition."
They all ate quietly for a few moments. Leah could hear their dog, Buddy, barking in the distance, presumably tormenting the cows. The golden retriever was still young and playful and often chased the large animals unmercifully around the pasture, nipping at their heels. Several cows voiced their objection, which only caused Buddy to bark louder.
"Aaron asked about you," Edna said sheepishly to Leah.
"Why?" Leah narrowed her eyes. Abner's brother ogled her enough during worship service every other week. Now he was conversation for suppertime?
Edna shrugged. "It's the second time he's asked how you are."
"Ach. You can tell him I'm mighty fine." Leah squared her shoulders and raised her chin, hoping that would put an end to the subject of Aaron Lantz. He was Edna's age, a year older than Leah. He was Abner's only brother, and Leah could smell a fix-up from a mile away. She'd had plenty of them lately. Just because Mary Carol was getting married before Leah didn't mean Leah would end up an old maid at eighteen.
Just the other day, Amanda Graber had stopped by to personally invite Leah to attend a Sunday singing coming up this weekend at her home, mentioning that Abram Zook might be there. Abram Zook? No, no, no.
Her own mother had invited Stephen Dienner for supper two Sundays ago. What was she thinking? Stephen was a good six inches shorter than Leah. While her mother insisted that it was only a friendly gesture, Leah suspected otherwise.
"Aaron is such a fine boy," her mother said. She smiled warmly in Leah's direction. "And very handsome too."
Leah swallowed a bite of bread. "You've always taught us that looks don't matter."
"That's true, Leah. But we're human," her mother answered. Then she glanced at their father-a tall man with sharp features and brilliant green eyes like Edna's. His beard barely reached the base of his neck and didn't have a single gray hair amid the thick whiskers. He was handsome, indeed.
Her mother refocused on Leah. "I hear Aaron attends the Sunday singings. Maybe you should go this Sunday."
Leah rolled her eyes and immediately wished she hadn't. Her father's expression blazed with annoyance at her display. She dropped her head. "Maybe," she whispered.
"Actually ..." Edna cringed a bit. "He's coming over with Abner for a visit later."
"Why? Do you and Abner need a chaperone?" Leah pulled her mouth into a sour grin.
"No, we don't. I thought maybe-"
"You didn't think. I don't care anything about dating. I never want to get married! Everyone needs to stop-"
"Enough!" When their father's fist met with the table, everyone froze. Leah didn't even breathe. They all watched as he pulled himself to a standing position. He faced Leah with angry eyes, but far worse for Leah was the disappointment she could see beneath his icy gaze. "Leah will clean the supper dishes," he said after taking a deep breath and blowing it out slowly. "Every night this week."
"Yes, sir." Leah pulled her eyes from his and laid her fork across the remainder of her green bean casserole.
"I'll help you," Kathleen whispered to Leah when their father was gone.
"No. It's all right. I'll get it." Leah began to clear the dishes.
"You girls will learn not to behave in such a way during the supper hour." Their mother rose from the table and carried her plate to the sink. "Your daed works hard all day long, and he doesn't want to listen to your bickering during supper." She turned her attention to Leah. "Brew a fresh batch of tea for Abner-and Aaron."
After their mother headed upstairs, Mary Carol and Kathleen went outside to tend to the animals. Edna lagged behind.
"You know, you might like him," Edna said. She cleared the few dishes left on the table and put them next to the sink. "Like Mamm said, he's very handsome, and he seems to have taken a liking to you."
"He stares at me during worship service. But other than that, he doesn't even know me." Leah rinsed a plate and put it in the drying rack. "He was shy in school, barely talked to anyone."
Edna reached for a dish towel, then picked up a plate and started to dry it. "That was four or five years ago. He 's quite talkative when I have supper with their family."
Leah sighed. She'd much rather spend her free time upstairs working in her notebook, not making small talk with Aaron Lantz. Her story was coming along nicely, and she was anxious to get back to work on it.
"You missed a spot." Edna handed the plate back to Leah and grabbed another one from the drain. "Leah ..." She put the plate back in the water. "This one is still dirty too." Edna shook her head. "I'm going to go clean up before Abner gets here. Maybe you should clean up a bit too, no?"
Leah blew upward and cleared a wayward strand of hair from her face. "I'm fine, Edna."
Her sister shrugged and left the room.
Leah finished the dishes with dread in her heart. Why couldn't they all just let her be? Now she'd be spending the evening with Aaron, a young man she barely knew and didn't really care to know.
Chapter TwoMarian pulled her long white nightgown over her head, then removed her prayer covering and allowed her wavy brown hair to fall almost to her waist. She folded the quilt on their bed to the bottom. It was much too hot for any covers ... maybe just the light cotton sheet for tonight.
Rays of sunlight beamed through the window as the sun began its descent. It was too early for bed, but Marian wanted to give the young people some time to themselves. She was glad when James followed her upstairs after their evening devotions. As much as she 'd like to read for a while, she suspected James wanted to talk-about Leah.
Marian sat down on the bed and applied some lotion to her parched hands, then smoothed it up her arms, the cool cream a welcome relief from the heat. She was still wringing her hands together when James walked into the bedroom, his dark hair and beard still damp, his eyes filled with tiredness and concern.
"I don't know what to do about Leah." He stood in the middle of the room in only his black breeches.
Marian eyed her husband of twenty-one years. His broad shoulders carried the weight of his burdens. It was a sin to worry so much; that was one area in which James could learn from Leah. Their carefree, spirited daughter tested the limits at times, but Leah seldom allowed her worries to press down on her for long.
James inhaled a long, slow breath, and muscles rippled across a chest reflective of many years of hard work. "It's not fair to the other maed when Leah shirks her responsibilities."
"Ya, I know, James." Marian patted a spot on the bed beside her. "Sit. And we will talk about it."
James sat down and turned to face her. He ran a hand through her hair and twisted a few strands within his fingers. "So soft," he whispered.
For a moment his eyes suggested that they not speak of Leah, but instead communicate with each other the way only a husband and wife can appreciate. But no sooner did the thought surface than Marian saw two deep lines of worry form on her husband's forehead.
"I don't like these stories she writes," he finally said. His eyes narrowed. "They are of no use to her. I don't understand why she tinkers with such nonsense."
"James ..." Marian cupped his cheek, raked a hand through his hair. "It's not nonsense to her. She has an imagination. That's all."
Her husband sat taller and scowled. "It will do her no gut, this imagination of hers. These tales she pens are a waste of time, Marian." His eyes widened. "And did you hear her at supper? She doesn't even want to get wed." He hung his head. "No fella I know would want to marry her."
"James," Marian huffed. "That's a terrible thing to say about your maedel."
He leaned back on his hands. "I worry that she will live with us the rest of our days." He grinned at Marian. "You, me, and Leah."
Marian chuckled, glad that he was making light of his worries. "No, James. She will not live with us forever. Leah is finding her way. You must give her time."
"She is eighteen. Of proper marrying age." He sat tall again and twisted to face Marian. "And what kind of fraa will Leah make?"
Marian shared her husband's concerns about Leah and thought about it often.
"She cannot cook. She does not sew well." James brought both hands to his forehead. "Leah has no hand for gardening, nor does she do a gut job cleaning haus. These are all things a fine Amish fraa must do. Instead, she writes fanciful stories that have no place in our world."
"Now, James. You know that there are several people in our community who are writers. A few of them have even sold stories to people who print such tales. And it is allowed by the bishop, as long as the stories are wholesome and in line with our beliefs."
"It is a waste of time and will not help Leah to find a gut husband."
Marian heard the clippity-clop of horse hooves. She stood up and walked to the window. Abner was pulling onto the dirt driveway leading up to the house, and Aaron was with him. "Maybe she and Aaron will come upon a friendship," Marian said. She twisted around and smiled at her husband.
James joined her at the window, and they both watched as Edna met the boys at the buggy. "Edna will be a fine fraa," James said. "And Mary Carol too. Even young Kathleen will make a gut wife."
Marian patted James on the arm. "Leah will make a home with someone when she 's ready."
"Where is Leah?" James pressed his face close to the window and peered against the sun's bright rays.
"Hmm. I don't see her."
James grunted. "Probably writing in that notebook she takes everywhere. Maybe you best go tell her that company is here."
"There she is." Marian was relieved to see Leah slowly making her way across the yard toward Edna and the boys. "Everything will be fine, James."
James twisted his mouth to one side. "I hope so."
* * *
Aaron stepped out of the buggy, waved at Edna, and then fixed his eyes on the lovely Leah. She was taller than most of the women he knew, but Aaron still towered over her by several inches. Her soft brown eyes, always brimming with curiosity, met briefly with his. He loved the way her two tiny dimples were visible even when she wasn't smiling, a detail that softened her expression even when she was deep in thought.
He remembered when he saw her walk into the small schoolhouse on their first day of class, her eyes twinkling with wonder and awe. She asked more questions than any of the other students, and everyone wanted to be her friend. It stayed that way until their graduation from the eighth grade, but Aaron never seemed to be in her circle of friends, nor did she seem to notice him at the Sunday singings when they got older. But he wasn't the shy boy of his youth anymore.
If he took into account everything that he knew about Leah, he should not be considering a courtship, no matter how much she intrigued him. From what he'd heard from his sisters, the girl was flighty and irresponsible, couldn't cook, couldn't garden, couldn't even use a needle and thread successfully. Yet his heart skipped a beat at the mere mention of her name.
Excerpted from An Amish Gathering by Beth Wiseman Barbara Cameron Kathleen Fuller Copyright © 2009 by Beth Wiseman, Barbara Cameron, and Kathleen Fuller. Excerpted by permission.
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