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Marianna held back her questions. She wanted to know about his plans, about the wedding, yet she noticed other Amish milling around. This conversation was one to be shared in private, around family. Only after the engagement was published, a few weeks before the wedding, would they be able to talk about such things where others could hear.
Though it was far from ladylike, Marianna lifted her skirt and ran to him.
Levi opened his arms to her, and she stepped into them. His T-shirt was soft on her cheek.
"Thank you for coming, Mari. I can't tell you how much it means."
She swallowed hard and nodded. Her lips parted to answer, but the quiver of her chin stopped her words. She looked back. Aaron gathered their suitcases with one hand, as he leaned on his crutches tucked under the other arm. She should go help him, but first she needed a moment with Levi.
"Are you crying?" Levi's hands touched her shoulders and he nudged her back to see her face. "You don't have to cry. I'm all right and Naomi will be too. We're figuring things out." He wiped away a stray tear from her cheek with his thumb. Levi's touch was gentle. "Don't cry, Marianna."
"They're happy tears," she whispered. "Levi, you have to know that. The days to come, I can't even imagine, how full of happiness they'll be."
"Yes, Marianna." Levi hugged her again. "I suppose it's what we've always wanted. It's just that we didn't know."
"We do now, Levi." Laughter replaced her tears. "We do now."
Levi moved to help Aaron with their suitcases and boxes, but Marianna carried so much more deep inside. More than the clothes and her journal that she'd packed in Montana. She carried more sweet memories, more of God than she had when she'd headed out west.
She looked around the train station, letting it sink in that she was home. Other Amish families mulled around the station, bearing testimony that it was so. The lack of snow on the ground outside told her she was no longer in Montana. God had sent her there for a reason. Now, more than anything, she wanted to share what she learned with her friends and family in Indiana. She wanted them to know God as she did.
A child's pained cry split the air, and Marianna paused. A small girl, who looked to be about five had tumbled off the bench and sat crumbled in a small heap on the white, tiled floor.
Without hesitation, Marianna turned and strode over to the girl. She knelt and reached out a hand. "Oh, sweetie."
The girl accepted the help and within seconds the little one crumbled into her grasp. The cries stopped, but the girl's shoulders trembled. Marianna looked around. A young woman with red hair pulled back into a ponytail hurried toward her with a baby on her hip.
"Ashley, oh no!" The mom rushed forward, offering an open arm to replace Marianna's. "I told you not too goof around like that!"
The woman met Marianna's gaze. Her eyes widened as if for the first time noticing it was an Amish woman who helped her daughter. "Thank you. I—I just left her for a moment to make a bottle for the baby in the restroom. I told her to sit still and watch our things."
Marianna patted the girl's soft, blonde hair. "I understand. I'm not a mom yet, but I have five younger siblings. Turn your back for one minute—"
The sound of a man clearing his throat sounded behind her, and Marianna turned to see Aaron and Levi waiting. Aaron shifted his weight from side-to-side and looked toward an Amish family who sat straight-backed—lined up on a bench from oldest to youngest—all eyes on her.
Marianna swallowed as she rose. "Yes, well. She seems to be fine now. We must get going."
The stares of her fellow Amish resurrected the memory of how things were in Indiana. She'd been in Montana too long—had gotten too comfortable with Englisch ways, Englisch folks.
The girl's cries stopped, and the woman adjusted the baby on her hip. "Coming or going?"
"Coming. Just arrived home." Marianna took a step back, drawing closer to Aaron. "You have a lovely family. Have a gut trip ..." She turned to the doorway—but not before she saw the woman's wrinkled brow. Was she more surprised that Marianna had helped or that she'd backed off so quickly?
Marianna hadn't meant to be rude. She'd forgotten that Amish and Englisch didn't talk much in these parts. She pressed her shoulders back and lifted her chin as she followed Levi toward the exit. It took every ounce of strength not to look back, not to wave and offer one last parting smile to the little one, who still whimpered at her mother's side.
So much I've forgotten ...
Tightness formed around her chest, the same as when she tried on her childhood winter coat only to discover she'd outgrown it.
She looked to Levi and forced a smile. "It'll take some getting used to, being in these parts again."
He glanced over and nodded. "It does take adjusting going back, but it'll come to you, Mari. We can leave our home for a while, but our heart knows the way back." She read something in her brother's gaze. Thankfulness, in part. After all, at least they had a gut way of living to return to. Uneasiness too. She'd prayed for Levi to return to the Amish—yet questions, concerns muted her happiness.
Did he love Naomi? Did he feel returning to the Amish way of life is what God wanted him to do?
A silent knowing flashed between them. They were returning, but not the same. Never again the same.
Levi held the door open for them and pointed to a blue van waiting at the curb.
A biting wind nipped at her nose as Marianna, one hand on her kapp, hurried toward the waiting van. Seeing her approach, the driver opened the door and jumped out. Taking Marianna's satchel from her hand, he hurried around to the back of the van.
"I've got this. Get inside where it's warm. The front seat is the warmest. Don't want to fall ill on your return." The driver smiled, not only with his lips but with also his eyes, as he said those words.
Marianna narrowed her gaze. Did she know him? She didn't think so. Yet the Englisch driver, who appeared to be in his late forties, acted as if he knew her. Or more than that, as if he were excited to see her.
The wind picked up again, and she hurried to the van, climbing in the passenger's seat. He was right. It was warm. He'd kept the van running for them, which wasn't typical. In the cup holder was a paper cup of coffee from the Garden Gate Cafe, where her best friend Rebecca now worked. Marianna told herself to ask about this driver. She thought her family knew all the Englisch drivers in the community. Perhaps she'd been wrong.
She let out a low breath. A bit of tension released. Her feet again walked on the soil of Indiana—the place she knew best. She was to marry a good man who loved her. She had a home waiting for her. Her future waited too. Montana is behind me ...
Marianna bit her lower lip. For some reason that thought didn't give her as much comfort as she imagined it would.
She turned in her seat and watched the driver load their luggage. As the rear door slammed, her brother Levi guided Aaron to the side door. Aaron's limp intensified with every step.
For most of the train trip Aaron's leg had bothered him. Even though the doctor had given Aaron clearance to travel, Marianna feared he was up and around too soon. Since Aaron hadn't been able to sleep for more than a few hours at a time, she'd stayed up with him as much as she could. They'd talked about her siblings, about their friends they'd gone to school with. They'd wondered if anything had changed in Shipshewana, the town closest to their farms. They'd guessed it hadn't. She and Aaron talked about new calves and spring planting. What they hadn't discussed was their future, their home, their someday family. As the miles passed, their dreams yet unspoken, filled the space between them and sat heavy upon their laps.
Aaron climbed in first and Levi followed, shutting the side door. Marianna was thankful her brother had picked up her and Aaron at the train station, and she wished she and Levi could get away to talk. But not today. She'd save their deeper conversation for another time. Today she needed to rest. Adjust.
Marianna turned back toward the front. The driver's eyes studied her.
She sat back in her seat. Who is this man?
He buckled his seat belt and checked his mirrors. "You look like your mother."
She glanced over, daring to look at him from the corner of her eyes. "You know our mother?"
In the backseat, Levi cleared his throat. The driver looked into the mirror, making eye contact with him. "A long time ago." The man sighed, then pulled out from the parking space. "Yes. I know her. My family's farm is near her parents' place."
Marianna studied the man. Had she met him before, when she was a child? No, she didn't think so.
"So, Levi, how's work yet? The community?" Aaron's weary voice broke the silence. He said nothing about Naomi.
"Gut. Things are busy at the factory, and I am moving into the dawdi haus on Naomi's parent's property. She's been busy as a beaver fixing it up. Soon as we wed she'll move in too."
At the mention of beaver, Marianna thought about the beaver lodge at the pond behind her parents' Montana home. She closed her eyes and tried to picture the still waters. She remembered the peace she found reading her father's Englisch Bible there. Before Marianna left Montana, her boss Annie had given her a Bible of her own, but as the van continued on, a sinking feeling puddled in Marianna's gut. Would she find the same peace in Indiana? Had God joined her on this journey?
How silly! Of course He had—but she needed to feel it, not just know it. Maybe ... she would find a special place here where she could pray to God, where she could expect Him to meet her. If so, where? Someplace private, where she could pray about sharing with her family and friends the hope she found in God. Would they listen? They knew the Ordnung, but would they cling as fiercely to God? Would they tend their souls as diligently as they tended their farms?
She released a breath. She needn't worry about that now. She'd returned, but not alone.
Marianna looked back to Aaron. He offered a weary smile. A peace she hadn't seen in months radiated from his eyes. How brave of him to journey to Montana for her. Only a man who truly loved a woman would do such a thing.
The thrumming of her heart filled her ears. And she reached back her hand. Aaron's eyes widened, and he grasped it, entwining his fingers with hers. She turned her attention to the road ahead, but he didn't release his hold. They took separate journeys to Montana but returned together. This drive was the beginning of good things to come.
He squeezed her hand tighter, and joy rushed through her, prickling her skin and making her skull tingle under her kapp. They returned not only to a place, but a history. Their history.
As they traveled over familiar roads, and the Amish farms passed outside her window, the spoken rules of her childhood played in her mind. And the unspoken ones. From an early age their parents taught them about the plain dress code. They could use no electricity from the public grid, and travel was to be by horse and buggy. Additional "rules" were taught more by action than word.
Your dress and kapp must be pressed and neat.
Neighbors help neighbors.
The earlier you're up for chores the better, lest anyone think you to be lazy.
In Montana, the Amish way of life had been relaxed. Although most of the rules were enforced, folks didn't watch each other too closely. In Indiana, eyes had followed her all the time.
Would it be that way again?
She brushed a stray hair into her kapp, then adjusted the kapp, making sure it was just so.
They drove down the highway and passed the sign that read Shipshewana City Limits. Another rule swirled in her mind: Amish must marry Amish. That was an easy one.
She'd marry Aaron.
They drove through town. Shipshewana was ready for Christmas, with tree lights, wreaths, garlands, and other ornaments trimmed everywhere. Some Amish families decorated with greens and a few candles, but most focused on family gatherings and the religious meaning of the holiday. No decorations would grace Aunt Ida's home. One thing her aunt would celebrate with was special cookies and candies. Marianna guessed making plenty of both would fill her time next week.
This would be the first Christmas for her and Aaron in their new relationship. Last year she couldn't have dreamed they'd be this close. If his accident back in Montana had done anything, it had given them more time together. It also showed they could handle trials with grace and care.
If you had never tasted the bitter you wouldn't know what is sweet. The familiar, Amish proverb made her smile.
Thankfully they were on the sweet end of this journey—not only their journey back to Indiana, but also in their relationship.
They passed a small house tucked in a thicket of trees just outside city limits, and a new thought stirred. The cabin. Today it was too late to travel to the place Aaron had built for her, but tomorrow ... tomorrow she'd see evidence of his love, displayed in wood, nails, and glass.
They spoke of simple things as they drove two miles past Shipshewana to her Aunt Ida's farm. As they approached, Marianna released the breath she'd been holding. Once inside her aunt's warm house she could forget about the Englisch driver and why he seemed to know her. She could take her mind off Naomi, and even off her own upcoming marriage. She could simply enjoy seeing her aunt again and partake of a good meal in front of the fire.
The van parked. The driver would take Aaron home next. They'd been together for so long, it seemed strange to be going separate ways.
Her eyes met his. She could see his weariness, but she also noted love.
"I can walk you to the door."
"No need ... you've been on your leg too much as it is."
Aaron nodded. "Tomorrow then?"
She tilted her head. "Ja, I'll see if I can borrow my aunt's buggy." She sighed. "I just hope I can sleep. I'm eager to see our house."
Aaron's face brightened. Joy bubbled in Marianna's heart seeing how those two simple words—our house—brought so much happiness to the man she cared for.
She opened the van door and climbed from the front seat. Around back, their suitcases sat on the gravel driveway. Levi was paying the driver, but neither turned as she approached. Tension froze the air around them, and a shiver raced up Marianna's spine.
Levi slapped a tip in the man's uplifted palm then narrowed his gaze.
"So, just how well, sir, did you know my mother?"
* * *
Ruth Sommer eyed her husband and fingered the letter in her hands. Abe had brought a small stack of mail home with him, and she knew he had paid no attention to the letter from her sister, Betsy. Ruth hadn't paid much mind to it, either, until she started reading. Now her sister's words burned through the envelope, all but charring her fingers.
You'll never guess who I saw in town today. Who's moved back to care for his parents and set himself up as a driver for the Amish ...
Ruth hadn't needed to read any more to know Betsy wrote of Mark. Her Mark. She and Betsy had shared the same room—the same bed—for eighteen years. Her sister alone knew the depth of Ruth's feelings for Mark—and of Ruth's struggle to stay with the Amish and not go with him.
Outside the snow fell. The three boys built another snowman, complete with an Amish beard made of pine needles they'd dug up from under the snow. Ellie sat content, playing at Abe's feet with her doll. Like all Amish dolls it didn't have a painted-on face, but that didn't bother Ellie, who dressed and undressed it with the numerous dresses and kapps Marianna had made for it.
Ruth clutched the letter to her chest. "I'm going upstairs yet to check on Joy."
Abe nodded but didn't lift his eyes from the Bible. Ruth moved to the staircase and hurried upstairs. Joy would be sleeping for another thirty minutes at least. It would give Ruth time—time to read the letter and time to sort through her feelings before she finished up dinner.
Ruth reached the top of the landing and moved to her girls' room, sitting upon the bed that Marianna had shared with Ellie. She missed her oldest daughter, but the fiery nervousness moving through her limbs took all of Ruth's concentration. She opened the letter again, reading its message. Betsy had written the letter just for her, but had also not written names—or a specific name— in case Abe or one of the children picked it up.
Excerpted from Beyond Hope's Valley by Tricia Goyer Copyright © 2012 by Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 27, 2012
Marianna will finally follow her heart's desire and see what God's plans are for her life!
Life is finally coming to a conclusion for some of the residents in Indiana especially for the Sommer family. Now that Marianna and Levi have come back to Indiana after moving to Montana, they are ready for some major changes in both their lives.
For Levi, he left Indiana looking for what he dreamed the perfect woman would be and after careful consideration realized that the woman he was looking for was the one he left behind. The only problem is that Naomi is pregnant and it's not Levi's child. However, seeing that he's in love with her, he is willing to do whatever is necessary even if it mean letting everyone else believe he is the father. The only problem is that Naomi won't tell him who the real father is and he won't pressure her to tell him. The wedding won't happen until after Naomi has the baby to assure that both Naomi and Levi are making the right decision.
Marianna is here to help with the planning of the wedding and to help both Naomi and Levi with the preparations of having a baby soon. Now that she's finally coming to realize just how much she loves Aaron, once the wedding for her brother Levi and Naomi have taken place, she can begin planning their wedding. She is still struggling with her new found faith in God, reading the English version of the Bible instead of the High German one, most Amish families use. Her relationship has grown and even her Mam and Dat in Montana have begun to embrace some of the changes from the old Amish order to a blend of the English and Amish ways.
The only thing that still remains in her old life is her heart still belongs to Ben, an English musician who introduced her to a personal relationship in God! Now that she finds herself growing in that relationship, she fears that she won't be able to pursue that once she returns home back to Indiana and to the Amish ways of her family and friends. It isn't something that the Amish do is question the authorities of their church in what the Bible has to say but now that Marianna can read it for herself, she finds herself conflicted with what her people believe.
What will happen in each of these relationships? Will Naomi finally tell Levi who the father of the baby is before they get married or will the father step in and do the right thing and take responsibility for the baby and marry Naomi himself? Will Marianna end up marrying Aaron and go back to her Amish roots or will her love for God bring her to realize He may have other plans in mind for her?
In the concluding book in the Big Sky series, Beyond Hope's Valley by Tricia Goyer brings to a close the relationships we have come to love since the beginning. I am so happy to know the outcome of Marianna's life and how her family would deal with their knowledge of the Bible and a personal relationships with God being raised in the Amish Order. I have always wanted to know how the Amish would deal these types of situations and how that would impact their relationships on both sides of the fence. I think Tricia did an outstanding job at answering all the questions I had through this series in this final novel in this series. I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend this series for those of you that would love to see the Amish and English blend together in some interesting ways.
I received Beyond Hope's Valley by Tricia Goyer compliments of Litfuse Publicity for my honest review and now the only sad part is that is done. I will miss the Sommer family, especially Marianna but know that she will be just fine after finding her true heart's desire in the end. This can be read as a stand alone but TRUST me, you'll want to read the entire series from the beginning. It's simply that great a series for Amish fans everywhere.
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Posted May 21, 2012
I have so enjoyed my visit with Sommer family and have loved Marianne, and her sweet giving personality.
We begin this book on our way back to where we started in Indiana. You will wonder if Marianne is about to finally wed Aaron Zook, a wedding she has planned in her mind forever. We also wonder about her feelings for Ben...if we all could look ahead down the future road. I love the reliance on God!
We have been following these beloved characters through three books and this one being the final. I hate to say goodbye, you will have to read through a lot of heartache, and love.
Although you can read this book alone, I wouldn't miss reading Beside Still Waters and Along Wooded Paths you will "Love" them.
Be ready for a great conclusion to this wonderful series, and wish I could have more visits. Enjoy!!
I received this book through Litfuse Book Tours, and the Publisher B & H Books, and was not required to give a positive review.
Posted May 18, 2012
In book #3 of her "Big Sky Series," Tricia Goyer brings Marianna back to
Indiana. Aaron, the man she loves, courts her and we find out they will
marry. But as exciting as this news is, there is a roadblock to their
wedding. Her brother Levi is getting married, but before that wedding, they
find that Naomi (his fiance) is pregnant. As the families face the wait,
changes seem to occur within Aaron. Is he the same man the Marianna fell in
love with? What is causing these strange moods and actions? Faith and love
are put to the test in this series ender. When Ben Stone enters the
picture, how will Marianna react and what will be the outcome? What will
happen to all of the wedding plans? Come back to Indiana one last time, and
see how this wonderful story ends! Even though readers will say goodbye to
the characters, no one will be disappointed.
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers everywhere. I do,
however, suggest reading the first two books in the series for context. The
characters and scenes come alive with Ms. Goyer's words, creating pictures
in reader's minds. The series would make for wonderful discussions in book
Get ready for a heart-pounding rush of emotions as Marianna returns to Pennsylvania with the love of her life, Aaron Zook. Her mother had invited him to Montana to steer her away from Ben Stone, an Englisch man from the area. Upon arrival, Aaron was in a car accident, and ended up recuperating at the home of Marianna’s parents.
After spending time with Aaron there, Marianna chooses to marry Aaron, her childhood love. They hope for a quick wedding once her brother Levi and Naomi are wed. What they find is Naomi pregnant before marriage. Marianna and Aaron’s hopes of a quick marriage come to a halt, at least until Naomi’s baby is born, and Levi and Naomi are allowed to marry.
As Marianna is courted by Aaron, strange behaviors and attitudes shoot forth from Aaron, something Marianna hasn’t ever seen before. Surely it’s because they have been apart for so long. Right?
As secrets and rumors are exposed, a whole new dilemma occurs, sending Marianna into upheaval. The return of her parents for Levi and Naomi’s wedding stirs up additional rumors and innuendos, as Ben is with them with a large trailer.
Trisha’s characters are real, deep and complex, and the emotional roller coaster rides in Beyond Hope’s Valley are real, difficult and exhaustive. Trisha really digs into the meat of the issues and they are presented in a way that she truly masters. Twists and turns keep you wondering how anything can work out. Love is tested. Suspicions reign. The storyline keeps the pages turning!
Having given her heart to the Lord in Montana, Trisha has Marianna traveling the fine line of Pennsylvania Amish life and truly following the Lord. Her exuberance in sharing her newfound joy isn’t always accepted, though the Amish ways are delicately woven in her life. With this rejection, Trisha brings out the travesties of Marianna’s friends back in Pennsylvania.
You will want to read Beside Still Waters and Along Wooded Paths to get a better feeling for the angst in Beyond Hope’s Valley. Trisha has written books in several genres, and I’ve loved them all. These included. You won’t be disappointed with her Montana Big Sky Amish series!
This book was provided by Amy Lathrop of Litfuse Group in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was received.
Posted May 3, 2012
This novel begins where book two in this series left off, with Marianna on a train with her future husband Aaron Zook. They have just left Montana and are headed for their childhood hometown of Shipshewana, Indiana where Aaron has built them a new home. Before they marry Marianna has promised to help her brother Levi and his future wife Naomi prepare for the unexpected birth of their baby. Naomi's parents have asked they wait to marry until after the baby is born. So Aaron will get to court Marianna properly before they set a date for their own wedding.
I can't help but use the old saying that this little Amish community has turned into a regular Peyton Place. The town folk seem to know everyone's family secrets, even some secrets that folks don't even know about their own relatives. Even though the Amish do not approve of gossiping, things sure do get spread from house to house like a wildfire.
So many secrets, temptations and past guilt are alive and abundant in this novel. But so is Love. Love and Faith in God's will and a new desire to read God's Word from the English Bible. Also praying and talking to God which created a personal relationship between God and themselves.
This book was definitely the icing on the cake, as some say. I couldn't put it down.
I highly recommend this book.
I received a free copy of this book from B & H Publishing Group for review. I was in no way compensated for this review it is my own opinion.
Posted April 30, 2012
This is book three and the final book of this series. The book starts with Marianna coming back to Indiana with her soon to be husband Aaron. She can’t wait to get back and settle in. She looks forward to welcoming her brother back into the fold as well as a new niece or nephew. But as she settles in with her new faith in Jesus she finds her community not as willing to listen to her beliefs and everyone is watching her closely. Also after seeing the house that Aaron build for her and spending time with him she starts to wonder if he really is the one and she finds herself thinking about Ben more then she wants to.
Meanwhile Ben is on tour for his hit song he wrote about Marianna but he finds himself not enjoying it as much the second time around and wishes he could go to Marianna and convincer her they belong together. We also get the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to Marianna’s mom and dad. Will a man from her moms past threaten to shatter the peace they had found in Montana?
I was excited to read the 3rd book and see who Marianna ended up with and was pretty satisfied with the outcome.
What I liked: For a final book in a series I was happy with how the book wrapped up and it did not feel like it was not finished. I liked how Marianna was strong in her faith and knew what she wanted. Even though the community in Indiana was not overly happy with her at times she stuck to what she believed. I also really enjoyed the spiritual message about her personal relationship with Christ I thought it was well written.
What I did not like: Like the other two books in the series the first half of the book seemed to drag for me. Once I got around 70% it started to pick up.
Over all I enjoyed this book. I was happy with the ending and glad to see everything resolved from the previous two books.
Posted April 26, 2012
I remembered the other series "Beside Still Waters" where two of the Sommer's daughters were killed in a buggy accident and this hurt the family so much alone with other things that they moved to 'Montana from Indiana in a rented house.
Marianna's old boyfriend came to Montana to see if he could talk her into getting married, she found out that she still had feeling for him even after she had met an English boy and really liked him, but he had gotten into trouble and wrote and sang songs. Something the OLD ORDER AMish didn't want. The Sommers found out that the English Bible told them more and explained it to their understanding more that their old German one. They begin to be friends with the English and started to believe more in their way of worshiping.
One of their sons Levi had gone back to Indiana and was going to get married to Naomi and rejoin the old Amish faith. Marianna had also come back with Aaron after he came to Montana to see if she still loved him, so they were planning on getting married also and this was the first time she saw the house that Aaron had built just for her.
Naomi was expecting a baby out of wedlock and everyone thought it was Levi's so the parents wanted them to wait until the baby came to be married. Abe and Ruth and some of their children were hiring a driver to go back with them to get the remainder of their household items also to go too Levi and Naomi's wedding. But the driver that was going with them was the famous singer and song writer Ben Stone, Marianna's English boy friend. He had been on tour but something came up and the tour was canceled so he was back home. What is Marianna going to say when he shows up with her parents?
When they all arrived in Indiana that is when things begin to take shape in this story. Good story line and if you have read the previous books then you will really enjoy this one, so that you can see just how the family is doing and what is going on in their lives.
Thanks so much to Jeane at Wynn Wynn Media for sending me this book for my thoughts.
Posted March 27, 2012
Posted May 1, 2012
No text was provided for this review.