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The Narrow Path is a story about a couple who must face their differences and learn to work together as they look toward a lifetime of love. Miranda Klassen’s Mennonite church is big and modern and she loves the mixture of faith, action, and activity. But in order to follow her dream she moves across the country to a small town to organize the 75th anniversary celebration of an Old Order Mennonite church. Ted Wiebe has been assigned to assist and guide Miranda, feeling good that his church has chosen another ...
The Narrow Path is a story about a couple who must face their differences and learn to work together as they look toward a lifetime of love. Miranda Klassen’s Mennonite church is big and modern and she loves the mixture of faith, action, and activity. But in order to follow her dream she moves across the country to a small town to organize the 75th anniversary celebration of an Old Order Mennonite church. Ted Wiebe has been assigned to assist and guide Miranda, feeling good that his church has chosen another Mennonite. But except for sharing the same basic faith and denomination, their churches have nothing else in common. His church embraces old-style roots, so Ted expects to find someone similar at the airport: a woman who never wears pants, no body piercing (including pierced ears), no makeup, and wearing a head covering as a sign of modesty, someone else who lives in accordance with old-fashioned values. But the woman who acknowledges him is wearing unreasonably high and outlandishly expensive shoes, denim jeans, and makeup, including bright red lipstick. As she gets off the plane she’s fiddling with an iPod and yapping on the cell phone. When Miranda enters Ted’s church and community she feels like she’s been transported back into Little House On The Prairie. Ted is supposed to help Miranda fit in, and Miranda is supposed to help his church reach out into the community. When it’s time to start planning and organizing for the celebration, then the fun really begins.
As passengers began to exit the security area, Ted Wiebe raised his sign showing the name Miranda Klassen written in bold, black ink.
A group of chattering women rushed by, their coats billowing open to display skintight T-shirts, which left their midriffs exposed above jeans that were far too tight.
Ted lowered his head so the brim of his hat shielded his eyes. None of these would be Miss Klassen. Being a modest Mennonite woman, Miss Klassen would not dress in the ways of the women from the cities. Pastor Jake had researched her background before examining her portfolio. Miss Klassen came from a highly regarded Mennonite church with a large membership in Seattle.
Miss Klassen would be wearing a sensible ankle-length skirt or dress with heavy black leather boots. In the photo she had sent, her hair was dark brown and combed back. Here, in public, her head would be respectfully covered, probably using a casual veil instead of a prayer covering.
However, the only woman Ted saw wearing a head covering was Sarah's grootmutta, who had gone to visit Sarah's cousins in Pennsylvania and was now going to visit more relatives in Minneapolis before returning home. He nodded and smiled graciously to acknowledge the older woman as she walked past him, then returned his attention to the dwindling crowd.
Nearly everyone had already disembarked, yet he still didn't see Miss Klassen. If she had missed her connection, then he would have to wait for two hours until the next flight, which he didn't want to do. Despite often being required to travel for business meetings, he always hated the congestion of large, crowded airports, including the busy Minneapolis airport, even though it was the closest one to home, and therefore the most familiar.
He continued to hold the sign until the last straggler passed through the security walkway. This woman wore jeans, but they weren't as tight, so he continued to watch her while hoping Miss Klassen would soon appear.
This young lady definitely wasn't dressed for Minnesota winters. Her open, waist-length jacket showed a thin, non-padded lining, and she wore only a bright red T-shirt under her lightweight jacket. As she crossed into the exit area, she tottered on insanely high shoes—open-toed high heels. Not boots. When snow lay a foot thick on the ground outside.
A jingling electronic tone sounded. Entranced, Ted watched as the woman slowed her steps while she fumbled with a paperback book, tucked an umbrella under her arm, pulled out her earbuds, and still managed to balance a satchel strap on her shoulder. She nestled her purse under her chin as she patted all her pockets, then reached into the back pocket of her jeans and pulled out a ringing cell phone. As she answered it, she hung her purse strap on her pinky finger, flipped her hair away from her cheek, and stuffed an iPod into her jacket pocket.
Ted started to lower his sign and was about to leave when the woman laughed, capturing his attention. Instead of turning away he stood transfixed, with the sign at half-mast, staring while she talked into an intensely red cell phone, an exact match to her fire-hydrant-red lipstick. Her hair bounced as she nodded, causing her huge, dangling earrings, also shocking red, to swing.
With another laugh, she snapped her phone shut and tucked it into her red purse, which was so small he didn't know how her phone fit into it, even if all she carried was her wallet. The woman shuffled to the side of the walkway and scanned the now nearly empty area.
Ted's breath caught as her eyes locked on his sign, then his face. Her movements froze. For a second, her eyes flitted to his hat, then she blinked and looked him straight in the eyes. At the searing contact, Ted's stomach dropped to the bottom of his boots.
Like a scene from a childhood nightmare, she began to approach him.
"Ted Wiebe?" she asked.
Ted's heart pounded so hard he could feel it beneath his heavy coat. This was wrong. This could not be the woman he had been sent to fetch back to their church. He had come for a quiet, gentle woman of the same traditional Mennonite heritage as his own—a woman who had been blessed with a special gift and lived to serve others. Even though it was unusual for a Mennonite woman to be a musician and composer, her references stated that her love for God shone through in everything she did, especially the songs she wrote for God's glory. Even though she came from a big city, she had been born and raised in a Mennonite home and community. Her father was a pastor. Surely this could not be her.
Ted stared at the woman before him, dressed not much differently than the group who had just passed him, one of whom had made an immodest display of her belly button ring. Even though this woman's midriff was covered, she came equipped with all the latest city trends—a nonfunctional purse, a brightly colored cell phone, a collection of electronic gadgets, plus a laptop computer slung over her shoulder, and showgirl shoes.
She extended one hand. "Thank you for picking me up."
His mind went blank as he slowly accepted her handshake. He'd never shaken hands with a woman before.
Ted cleared his throat and tried not to stammer. "Miranda Klassen?"
"That's me." She grinned from ear to ear and gestured down the walkway. "It's snowing out there!"
"Do not worry," he said, as he tried to focus all his attention on her face, not her snug clothing and plethora of accessories. "It is windy enough that the highways are still clear. The forecast said it would not become heavy until midnight."
Yet, even though the roads would be clear, the blowing snow would drift and accumulate against the houses and existing piles of snow at the sides of the driveways and sidewalks. By the time he got home, he had a feeling he would welcome the exertion of shoveling his driveway before he could park his car in the garage.
"Is there lots of snow in Piney Meadows?"
"Ja. It is February, after all."
She blinked at his confirmation, as if this was a strange concept. "Oh." She released his hand and then jerked her head to the sign directing travelers to the baggage claim area. "Before I pick up my luggage, I need coffee. Do you have a Starbucks here?"
Starbucks. Not just ordinary coffee. She wanted the expensive, specialty kind. "I am not sure. I do not drink coffee."
"If I don't get some decent coffee soon, I think I'll die. Oops, but first, can you hold this for a minute?" She slipped the satchel off her shoulder and thrust it, the book, and the umbrella at him so fast he feared he might drop them. Things were not quite secure in his arms before she turned and dashed toward the ladies' restroom, her heels clicking as she sprinted off. Unable to take his eyes off her until she disappeared through the doorway, Ted's cheeks burned red. While he stood cradling her belongings, people shuffled past him.
He turned slightly so he wasn't staring at the entrance to the ladies' room, then shook his head so he could think.
How could he bring this woman back to his people? Of everyone in his church, he had the most experience with people from the cities, but she would be a shock to everyone else. More importantly, she couldn't possibly understand or relate to the project in their church. His people had chosen to remain distant from the ways of the world to maintain their Old Order tradition. Some modern conveniences had crept in, but out of necessity. He was one of only a few people who owned a car, and many depended on him because of it. But wherever they could, they protected themselves from the contamination of the world around them.
Miranda Klassen appeared to be entrenched in her city ways and actually enjoyed them. Starbucks!
He didn't know what to do. His inclination was to take her to the ticket counter instead of the baggage claim area and put her on the next plane back to where she came from. But he had been sent by his church, his people, and his pastor. Even though no one had experienced her yet, it wasn't his place to judge her.
Ted had promised to drop her off at the home of Leonard and Lois Toews, who had graciously invited Miss Klassen to live with them for the next year, and he always kept his word.
But first, he would take her to the one person who could make the decision to send her back to Seattle—Pastor Jake.
For the first time in his life, Ted wished he owned a cell phone.
Hoping to find a pay phone and make the call before she reappeared, he looked around for a map of the terminal. Before he could find one, Miss Klassen emerged from the entrance to the ladies' room. As she walked she draped her jacket over one arm while she rummaged through her miniscule purse. With the movement, the shoulder of her red T-shirt drooped, exposing a black bra strap.
He turned his head. The heat in his face meant his cheeks were probably as red as her lipstick, which she must have retouched because it was even brighter than when she had walked off the plane.
"I'm so sorry," she muttered. "This is going all wrong. Can we start over? I'm Miranda Klassen, but my friends call me Randi. Thank you for driving all this way to pick me up."
Ted's mind went blank as he turned back to her, keeping his eyes fixed on her face until she adjusted her clothing. "Randy? But that is a man's name."
Miss Klassen shook her head as she tugged her T-shirt back into its proper place. "No, when I write it, that's Randi, with an 'i.'"
"I have never heard of that."
She shrugged her shoulders. "It's just the short form of Miranda."
He had never known anyone by that name either, but at least it was clearly feminine. As to Randy, or Randi, he didn't care how she spelled her name, it would always be a man's name to him. He couldn't do it.
Not that he would have to. By this time tomorrow, after meeting with Pastor Jake and possibly the board of deacons, Miss Randi with an "i" would be on her way back to Seattle.
She looked down at the sign still in his hands. "The sign was a good idea. I had no idea who would be picking me up, and I wasn't sure you would have recognized me by the picture I sent."
He studied her face. She was right; he hadn't recognized her. He still wasn't sure this was the same woman as in the photograph.
"No, I did not," Ted replied.
She ran her fingers through her hair. "I just got my hair streaked a couple of days ago. Usually it's darker but this time she used a lighter shade, and I think she put a bit too much red in it. I hope it's okay."
Chemically dyed hair. He bit his tongue so he wouldn't ask if she had any tattoos.
If only he could save himself the gas and the wear on his nerves and send her back right now. But he couldn't. Only Pastor Jake could make that decision. "The luggage carousels are that way." Since his hands were still full, he jerked his head toward the right.
She reached toward him. "I'll take those now."
Her bright red nails caught the glare of the overhead lighting as he returned the umbrella and the book.
Because it was the heaviest of the three items, he retained the satchel containing her laptop computer. "I will carry this for you."
"Oh." She nibbled on her bottom lip. "Of course."
She reached up to flip a strand of bicolored hair out of her eyes, showing another flash of red—this time a narrow, single strand of red ribbon tied in her hair. The same red as her painted fingernails. And her phone. And her purse. And her earrings. And her T-shirt. He would never be able to look at anything red the same way again.
When her hands dropped to her sides, a glitter at her throat sparkled—a dainty gold cross that hung on a chain around her neck. Finally, an outward sign. But it didn't make up for the rest of her appearance. Nor did it change his mind.
He couldn't believe this Miranda Klassen was the person who had composed and directed the moving songs of faith and worship that had impressed the pastor and everyone on the church board so much that they had brought in a stranger to oversee the biggest event in their church's history. Especially without meeting her in person. Everything had been done over the phone, which was a mistake they would never repeat.
He crumpled the sign and tossed it in the nearby waste container. "Let us go retrieve your suitcase. The sooner we do this, the sooner we can go."
"Don't forget my coffee. I see a sign." She pointed down the length of the terminal. "That way. Starbucks. I need a venti mocha really bad."
Excerpted from The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler Copyright © 2010 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. 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 January 23, 2012
Posted April 29, 2012
Posted May 8, 2010
Miranda and Ted could not be more different. They are both Mennonites, but Miranda is from a Mennonite church in Seattle that is modern and Ted belongs to an Old Order Mennonite church in Minnesota. When Miranda is hired to lead the Christmas program for Ted's church, their differences are obvious. Miranda wears jeans, red t-shirts, red lipstick and reads the Bible on her cell phone. Ted believes in following the traditions of his Mennonite heritage. Despite their differences they are able to work together and put on a great show, and maybe even find love.
The first thing that struck me about this book was the instant chemistry between Ted and Miranda. It was so obvious it practically jumped off the pages. I thought Ted was adorable, even if he was a bit stuffy and rigid. He had a lot to learn about real faith from Miranda and she brought a lot of excitement and new forms of worship to this church that needed a pick-me-up. The people of this Mennonite community were very warm and welcoming and I liked how they accepted Miranda for who she was.
This is a cute story with a good romantic twist and a solid Christian message, although it was a little on the slow side at times, but not too bad. It is definitely a relaxing read, but I found the pages not turning very fast and my mind wandered sometimes. A story does not always have to move fast to be good, so if you are looking for a little romance, humor, and faith, then you will likely enjoy this story. The chemistry between Ted and Miranda, the community of Mennonites and the supporting cast help make this a very well rounded and charming romance.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 12, 2012
Witty, emotional, appealing and genuine, I raced through this book only to reread all my favorite parts. Very good!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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Posted October 4, 2012
Miranda and Ted's 211 page story was very sweet. Reading this book was just like watching the process of two people, with very little in common, except for their religion, learn to push away stereotypes, compromise, and fall in love with each other. Very clean and sweet romance.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 4, 2012
I enjoyed the book from beginning to end. The story line is interesting and leads to love between two unlikely young people. The use of PA Dutch language is interesting and informative. Because I was raised sixty miles from Lancaster, PA, I am very familiar with the places portrayed and the characters (people) themselves.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 27, 2012
This book was a light, enjoyable read. I read it one Saturday. A story involving the Mennonites and the differences in the religion in different parts of the country. Two cultures collide. However, basic beliefs and faith create new friendships.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 5, 2012