Read an Excerpt
A Life of Joy
By Amy Clipston
ZondervanCopyright © 2012 Amy Clipston
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLindsay Bedford smoothed the skirt of her purple frock as she sat on a hill with her best friends, Katie Kauffman and Lizzie Anne King. The gentle breeze blew back the ribbons of her prayer covering, and she watched a group of boys play volleyball in the pasture below them.
"It's hard to believe summer is almost here." Katie opened a folded napkin in her lap revealing a pile of chocolate chip cookies and handed a cookie to both Lizzie Anne and Lindsay.
"Danki," Lizzie Anne said. "Ya, it's nice and warm today. I love May. Such a schee time of year."
"The bakery is already busy," Lindsay said, breaking the cookie in half. "The tourists are already descending on Lancaster County." She glanced at Katie. "Are you planning to work at the bakery during the summer?"
Katie grinned while lifting a cookie. "Ya. Mammi Elizabeth asked me just the other day, and my mamm gave me permission."
Lindsay squealed and squeezed Katie's hand with excitement. "We'll have so much fun! I've learned so much that I'm baking by myself now. I can't wait to show you. I made the best shoofly pie the other day that Aenti Kathryn said—" She stopped speaking when she spotted Lizzie Anne's frown out of the corner of her eye. She turned to her friend and touched her arm. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you feel left out. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
Lizzie Anne shrugged and forced a smile. "It's okay. My sister Naomi asked me to work for her this summer. Millie is a handful, and she's expecting another boppli next year. I'll help her around the house and also do some quilting with Susie. I can't believe it's been more than one year since Naomi and Caleb were married. It seems like only yesterday that my sister met Caleb when he and Susie came to visit for Christmas."
"I'm certain we'll see each other plenty," Lindsay insisted, looking toward the volleyball game. "After all, we have plenty of youth functions coming up and we have our church ser vices every other Sunday."
"And classes start in a few weeks," Katie chimed in.
"Classes?" Lindsay asked before biting into the cookie.
Katie laughed. "Don't be gegisch, Lindsay." She nudged Lindsay with her shoulder. "Instruction for baptism." Her smile faded into a concerned frown. "Aren't you going to come to class? I thought we would be baptized together."
"Oh," Lindsay said, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. She knew that this issue would come up at some point, but she hadn't realized it would be this soon.
"You're not going to be baptized this year?" Lizzie Anne asked.
Lindsay shrugged. "I didn't say that. I just didn't realize that the classes were starting so soon."
"You know that if you don't take classes with us this year," Lizzie Anne continued, "then you'll have to take classes and be baptized in another church district next year."
"I know," Lindsay whispered. She glanced toward the volleyball game in order to avoid their concerned stares. Her eyes fell on her friend Matthew Glick, a handsome young man who worked in the Kauffman & Yoder Amish Furniture store with her uncle, Daniel Kauffman. While Matthew served the volleyball to the opposing team with a powerful bump of the ball, Lindsay contemplated Lizzie Anne's and Katie's words.
In Lindsay's church district, baptisms were performed once every other year before the fall communion ser vice in order to allow the newly baptized to commune with the rest of the church members. Communion was held twice per year—in October and April—as a special daylong ser vice.
Most Amish youth were baptized between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one; although, sometimes community members chose to experience the English world before joining. The ministers held the instruction sessions during the first thirty minutes of church ser vices over the summer months while the rest of the church members sang hymns. The ministers and bishop reviewed the eighteen articles of the Dordrecht Confession of Faith and emphasized aspects of the Ordnung.
Once Lindsay turned eighteen, there was more of an expectation for her to be baptized into the Amish community. However, she'd lived in the English world before coming to live with her Amish aunt four years ago. Although the Amish world felt like the right fit for her, something deep down in her heart was holding her back from making that final commitment.
"Lindsay?" Lizzie Anne asked, pulling Lindsay back to the present. "Was iss letz?"
"I know what's wrong with her," Katie said with a snicker. "She's staring at Matthew again."
Her friends giggled, and Lindsay rolled her eyes in response. "Stop it," she muttered. "Matthew is a friend."
"I've seen the way he looks at you," Katie said with a knowing smile. "He likes you."
"Please." Lindsay shook her head while looking at him. "We talk sometimes when I go to the furniture store or if he comes by the haus to see Onkel Daniel. And that's it—we're just friends."
Lindsay fiddled with the hem of her dress and grew serious. "How do you know you're ready to join the church?"
Katie shrugged. "I just am. My mamm was my age when she joined, so it just feels right."
"What about you, Lizzie Anne?" Lindsay asked. "How do you know you're ready?"
Lizzie Anne put her hand to her chest. "I can feel it in my heart. It's like God is telling me it's time."
Lindsay considered Lizzie Anne's words. She'd prayed about her faith nearly every night since coming to live with Rebecca and Daniel, and she thought God had wanted her to stay with the Amish. However, now her mind was assaulted with doubt, even though she had the opportunity to be baptized and join the church with the young members of her church district. She knew that once she joined the church, it was final and there was no going back to being a non-member. Her future as a member of the Amish community was sealed, and if she left, she'd be shunned.
"Matthew's a member of the church," Lizzie Anne said with a grin. "If you want to date him, then you need to join the church."
Lindsay glowered. "That's not a reason to become a member of the church, Lizzie Anne."
"I know," Lizzie Anne said. "I just meant that it was a ... perk for joining."
Lindsay shook her head and tossed a cookie crumb at Lizzie Anne while her friends laughed. "You two are gegisch."
As she joined in their laughter, Lindsay glanced back toward the volleyball game. Matthew met her gaze and waved, and her cheeks warmed as she returned the greeting. After turning to say something to Katie's older brother, Samuel, Matthew served the ball with a mixture of grace and masculine athletic ability while his dark brown curls danced in the warm spring breeze. While studying him, Lindsay wondered how Matthew knew when he was ready to be baptized.
* * *
Later that evening, Lindsay stood in the doorway of her little cousin Emma's room while her aunt Rebecca hugged Emma and said good night.
Lindsay smiled, and her thoughts turned to when she'd found out that Rebecca was going to have her second baby. The news was a miracle since Rebecca, who'd waited years to have a child, was blessed with two children in less than two years. Although Lindsay didn't know much about pregnancies, she'd learned from Elizabeth Kauffman, Rebecca's mother-in-law, that babies were always a blessing, especially when a woman was past the age of thirty-five.
Watching her aunt and cousin, Lindsay absently wondered if this was the future she was meant to have—a simple life with a family in Lancaster County. Did Lindsay want to join the church, marry an Amish man, and raise children in the faith?
Emma giggled, and Lindsay turned her attention back to her cousin.
After kissing Emma, Rebecca crossed to the doorway. "I believe she wants to say good night to you. I'll go check on Junior." She patted Lindsay's shoulder on her way to the bedroom across the hallway.
Lindsay stepped over to the crib and smiled down on her little cousin. At eighteen months of age, Emma had big brown eyes, rosy cheeks, and a smattering of light brown curls on her little head.
"Gut nacht, mei liewe," Lindsay whispered. "Ich liebe dich." She kissed Emma's cheek.
Emma smiled, and Lindsay's heart warmed.
Stepping out of the room, she gently closed Emma's door behind her before stepping into Daniel Junior's room, where she found her three-year-old cousin sitting up in his bed and smiling. While his younger sister had dark hair and eyes like Rebecca's family, Junior had blond hair and blue eyes, resembling the Kauffman side.
Lindsay sat on the edge of the bed and touched his cheek. "Gut nacht," she said. "I'll see you in the morning," she told him in Pennsylvania Dietsch.
"Ich liebe dich, Lindsay," he said.
"Ich liebe dich," she echoed before kissing his head.
After tucking him in, Lindsay made her way down the stairs to the kitchen. Rebecca was sitting at the table, yawning and flipping through a cookbook.
Lindsay opened the refrigerator door and pulled out a pitcher of meadow tea. She loved to have the spearmint-flavored drink. "Would you like a drink?"
"Ya, danki," Rebecca said, yawning again. "Excuse me. I can't stop yawning lately. I don't know what's wrong with me."
"I hope you're not getting grank." Lindsay poured two glasses before returning the pitcher to the refrigerator.
"I don't think it's that." Rebecca cupped her hand over her mouth to stifle another yawn. "I may go to bed early tonight."
Lindsay put a glass in front of Rebecca and then sat across from her. "That may be a gut idea." She took a sip of the tea and then pointed toward the cookbook. "What were you looking up?"
Rebecca took a drink and then placed her glass on the table. "I was trying to decide what to make for supper tomorrow night, but nothing appeals to me." She yawned again and took another drink of tea. Lindsay studied her glass while the conversation she had with her friends earlier in the day rained down on her.
"What's on your mind, Lindsay?" Rebecca asked gently. "You look as if you're pondering something important."
Lindsay met her aunt's concerned stare. "Lizzie Anne and Katie told me that they're starting instruction for baptism in a few weeks."
"Oh?" Rebecca asked.
"They asked me if I was going to be in the class." Lindsay ran her finger across the cool wooden table.
"What did you tell them?"
Lindsay shrugged. "I didn't know what to tell them. The three of us had said that we would take the class and be baptized together. I sort of made a promise, but now I don't know if I can keep that promise."
Rebecca leaned forward, her eyes sympathetic. "Lindsay, do you want to join the church?"
"I don't know. I used to be so certain that I wanted to. But now I don't know." Lindsay shook her head. "I'm so confused."
"If you feel confused, then it isn't time," Rebecca said, reaching over and touching Lindsay's arm. "You'll know when you're ready."
"How did you know you were ready to join the church?"
Rebecca rubbed her chin. "I think I just knew in my heart that it was right for me."
"But my mom didn't ever feel that way, did she?" Lindsay asked.
Rebecca nodded. "She joined the church because our daed pressured her to, but she always knew that she longed for a different life. She wanted to go to college, and she felt as if she belonged in the English world instead of here."
"Like Jessica," Lindsay whispered.
"Yes and no," Rebecca said, folding her hands together on the table. "It was a little more complicated since we grew up here and our parents were raised in this community as well. Jessica has only ever known the English world. She's driven and determined to get her education, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you want more than this life, Lindsay, you're entitled to live it. Don't feel like you have to stay here."
The sadness in Rebecca's eyes betrayed her words.
Lindsay cleared her throat against the lump threatening to steal her voice.
"I know you'll make the right decision for you," Rebecca said, taking Lindsay's hands in hers. "God will lead you if you ask for His guidance."
Meeting her aunt's warm gaze, Lindsay's lip quivered. "I think I'm going to get ready for bed."
"Gut nacht, mei liewe," Rebecca said. "Don't let this burden you. Let the answer come from God." "Ya. Gut nacht," Lindsay answered. She stepped into the doorway leading to the family room and spotted her uncle in his favorite easy chair reading his Bible. She leaned on the doorway.
"Gut nacht, Onkel Daniel," she called.
Glancing up, he smiled. "See you in the morning, Lindsay."
Lindsay climbed the stairs and walked softly to her room at the end of the hall. While she undressed, she contemplated how much her life had changed during the past four years. Lindsay and Jessica had come to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, after their parents were killed in a car accident.
When Lindsay and her older sister first arrived, they both felt as if they'd entered another world, or perhaps another century, since Rebecca, Daniel, and the rest of the community lived simple, plain lives without modern clothes, television, electricity, or other up-to-date conveniences that Lindsay had taken for granted.
Lindsay had embraced life in the Bird-in-Hand community, quickly becoming a member of the Kauffman family. By contrast, Jessica protested and fought against the changes until she was permitted to move back to Virginia and live with their parents' friends, Frank and Trisha McCabe.
Lindsay stepped into the bathroom and climbed into the shower while she thought about her sister. Jessica was Lindsay's polar opposite, beginning with their appearances. Jessica had dark hair and eyes, and Lindsay had deep red hair and bright green eyes. Jessica had finished high school, graduating with honors, and then moved on to college, but Lindsay kept with Amish tradition and didn't continue her education beyond eighth grade. Instead, she began working in the Kauffman Amish Bakery, owned by Elizabeth Kauffman, with Rebecca and her sisters-in-law.
Standing under the showerhead, Lindsay allowed the warm flowing water to rinse her wavy, long hair that fell to the middle of her back. Suddenly a thought struck her: Although she loved living in Bird-in-Hand, she felt as if she were at a crossroads—she had to decide between her former English life and her new Amish life for good.
As she finished her shower, the same question echoed in her mind over and over again: Should she join the church with her friends this fall or should she wait and make sure this was the life God wanted her to live?
Closing her eyes, she held her breath and sent a fervent prayer for guidance up to God.
* * *
Rebecca crossed the family room and sank onto the sofa across from Daniel's chair. She smiled as she watched him read. In their twenty years of marriage, they'd faced many obstacles together, from seventeen years of infertility to the challenges of bringing her nieces to live with them. Yet, despite their ups and downs, she still cherished him now as much as she did the day they'd married.
He glanced up, his deep blue eyes meeting her stare. "How long have you been sitting there, Becky?"
"Just a few moments." She folded her hands in the lap of her plain blue frock. "I was wondering if we could talk for a minute before I head up to bed."
He closed his Bible and set it on the end table next to his chair. "Of course. What's on your mind?"
She yawned and covered her mouth with her hand. "Excuse me," she said. "I've been yawning nearly nonstop all day."
He tilted his head and studied her with concern. "Are you feeling well?"
"Ya." She shrugged. "I guess I just need to go to bed earlier." She pushed the ties of her prayer covering back from her shoulders while she gathered her thoughts. "Lindsay told me that Katie and Lizzie Anne are beginning instruction classes soon."
Excerpted from A Life of Joy by Amy Clipston Copyright © 2012 by Amy Clipston . Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. 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.