Beth Quinn is struggling to find a place to belong in the Old Order Mennonite Community of Sommerfeld, Kansas. When she starts a business designing stained glass windows, two men-one a Mennonite, the other not-begin to vie for her attention. Andrew Braun, a member of the Sommerfeld fellowship, is dedicated to family and faith. Sean McCauley, the son of a successful businessman, may only be interested in Beth's talents. Will Beth look to her heavenly Father to fill the emptiness within, or will her desperate quest for love shatter more than one heart? Beginnings is book 2 in the Sommerfeld Trilogy. Other books in the trilogy include Bygones: Book 1 and Blessings: Book 3.
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By Kim Vogel Sawyer
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Kim Vogel Sawyer
All rights reserved.
A wash of melted colors splashed across the concrete floor of Quinn's Stained-Glass Art Studio, coloring the toes of Beth Quinn's white leather sneakers. She raised her gaze from the reflection on the floor to the windowsill, where a scene of a dogwood branch with a cardinal nestled among white blossoms perched. Backlit by the late-afternoon sun, each carefully cut piece of colored, leaded glass glowed like a jewel.
As always, Beth got a chill of pleasure from seeing one of her finished creations. "Ooh, yes." She hugged herself and gave a satisfied nod. "Perfect."
The back door to the studio burst open, bringing in a gust of chilly wind. Beth spun toward the door, her hand on her throat. She slumped with relief when she recognized Andrew Braun, her lone employee, stepping through.
Andrew held up both hands as if in surrender. "I'm sorry—the wind caught the door. I didn't mean to startle you."
Beth laughed, shaking her head. In mannerisms and appearance, Andrew reminded her a lot of her stepfather, Henry, who was Andrew's uncle. He was tall, with short-cropped brown hair covered by a billed cap that shaded his dark, walnut-colored eyes. He was so shy it had taken weeks before he would say more than Hi to her in conversation. But over the past two months of working together in the studio, they had finally formed a friendship.
At least, it was only friendship from her angle. She sensed a need to tread carefully. Getting romantically involved with Andrew Braun would open a can of worms the likes of which Sommerfeld had never before seen. And she'd already opened plenty.
"No harm done. And look!" She pointed to the stained-glass piece.
He carefully latched the door and glanced at the window. His eyes widened in surprise. "You got that cardinal one done already? I was going to solder the reinforcement bars for you."
Beth smirked. "All done. I didn't need'ja." She laughed at his crestfallen expression. "But you know if this one goes over well, there will be plenty of other opportunities for you to put the soldering iron to work." Oh, she hoped her statement proved true! Skipping across the floor, she grabbed his elbow and tugged him over to the window. "Well, look at it, and tell me what you think."
Andrew stood before the scene, pinching his chin between his thumb and forefinger. Beth waited, hands clasped in front of her, while he took his time seeming to examine every inch of the finished piece. Even though he had witnessed the creation of this window from her first drawings, there was always an element of excitement when pieces were viewed away from the worktable.
Finally, he gave a nod. "Yes. It's a well-done piece. I like the little yellow bits between breaks in the branches, which make it look like the sun is shimmering through. You were right not to put the cardinal in the center. Even though it's the focus of the piece, its placement to the lower right gives a better balance to the scene overall."
Beth smiled, basking in the approval of another artist.
"But"—he leaned forward, tapping one dogwood blossom with a blunt finger—"should this petal have been placed lower to give the illusion of lapping over the cardinal's tail feathers a little more? It would have added more dimension, I think."
She sent him a brief scowl. "I think it's fine the way it is. I've built in dimension with the varying background sky colors and the deeper green on the undersides of the leaves, which creates shadows." Defensiveness increased the pitch of her voice as she pointed to the elements she mentioned. "And look at the cardinal itself—the way it's positioned at an angle on the tree branch. There's plenty of dimension."
He looked at her with one eyebrow raised. "Yes, there is. But you asked me what I thought, and I think if the flower right above the cardinal had been brought down some—maybe a quarter of an inch—it would have enhanced the dimension."
Beth set her jaw, wishing she could return to the days when all he said was Hi.
Nudging her with his elbow, he grinned. "I made you mad."
She jerked away. "I'm not mad!" But even she recognized the irritation in her voice. Taking a deep breath, she said through gritted teeth, "Thank you for your opinion. I'll take it under advisement if I choose to duplicate this piece. Now ..." Tipping her head, she pushed her long ponytail over her shoulder. "What are you doing here again? I thought you went home."
He shrugged. "I came back to do that soldering. But I guess I don't need to."
She grinned, satisfaction filling her as she looked once more at the cardinal. "Nope. You don't." Much work went into the completion of a stained-glass project, but Beth enjoyed each step of the process, from drawing the design to adding the reinforcement bars that prevented buckling of the leaded-glass piece. Yes, whether creative or structural, she relished every facet of stained-glass art.
With the tip of her gloved finger, she traced the line of soldered zinc that bordered the cardinal's wing. She shook her head, chuckling to herself. Never would she have thought when she made the journey from Cheyenne, Wyoming, a little over a year ago that she would stay in Kansas. Her goal had been simple—sell off the unexpected inheritance from her great-aunt, collect as many antiques as possible from the Old Order Mennonite community citizens, and return to Cheyenne to open an antiques boutique.
But those three months in Sommerfeld had turned everything upside down.
Clamping her hands around the edges of the glass, she lifted the scene from its perch on the windowsill. She grunted with the effort. The piece was larger than any others she'd made so far and heavy from the metal that bordered each glass segment. Andrew reached for it, but she shook her head.
"I can do it." She shuffled across the floor to the display bench along the back wall of her small studio. Sweat broke out across her forehead and between her shoulder blades. Once the scene was secured behind the wood strip that kept the finished pieces from sliding, she wiped her forehead and sent Andrew a triumphant grin. "See?"
His frown let her know he wished she would let him handle the heavier tasks, but Beth was determined not to depend on Andrew too much. Beth was determined not to depend on anyone too much.
She offered a suggestion. "As long as you're here, you could put away the shipment of glass that came this morning."
Andrew shrugged and turned toward the crate in the corner. Beth removed her gloves and put them in the top drawer of her storage cabinet. This cabinet is really too pretty to simply house supplies, she thought as she ran her hand over the smooth pine top. Two of her mother's cousins had built the cabinet for her, varying the sizes of the drawers and inserting dividers to keep everything organized. A quick glance around the steel building that served as her studio brought a second rush of appreciation. Watching the building go up in one day, reminiscent of an old-fashioned barn raising, had been thrilling—and scary.
She still marveled at the support she'd received from the community after their initial mistrust. Yet she realized their willingness to help didn't indicate approval of her. Since she hadn't joined their meetinghouse, she was still an "outsider." But Mom had rejoined, so they offered their newly claimed member's wayward daughter a helping hand. And now that they'd all had a hand in getting her studio up and running, she felt a real obligation to make it a success.
Her gaze returned to the dogwood and cardinal scene, her heart pounding with hope. A gallery in Wichita had commissioned the piece—her first real commissioned work after nine months of selling smaller, copper-foil pieces at craft fairs. If the gallery owners were pleased, it could lead to more work, and eventually she would be able to establish herself as a bona fide stained-glass artist.
So far, the response to her work had been favorable—her unique blending of colors that created a three-dimensional effect was unique to the stained-glass community—and she credited God with giving her the special talent. She longed to glorify Him through this gift.
Heading for the corner to retrieve the broom, she couldn't help smiling at her thoughts. A year and a half ago, she wouldn't have considered including God in her conversation, let alone being concerned about pleasing Him. But so many things had changed for Beth, both inside and out, and God was the most important addition to her life.
Andrew paused in transferring glass squares to felt-lined shelves, his brows puckered. "I swept just before I left at noon. You're sweeping again?"
"Did you run the cutter while I was gone?"
"Nope." She ignored his sour look and drew the broom's bristles across the floor, collecting tiny shavings of glass. No matter how many times they swept, they could never get it all. The carbide cutter sent out miniscule fragments, and they had a way of traveling to every square inch of floor rather than politely staying beneath the cutting table. The small pile of multicolored bits took on the appearance of sugar crystals, but eating them would be a huge mistake. She'd have to exercise caution when the babies her mother was carrying were big enough to come visit.
Beth paused in her sweeping, her heart skipping a beat with the thought of the twins who would arrive in another four months. That was a change to which she still hadn't adjusted. After twenty-one years of having her mother to herself, she now shared her with a stepfather, a host of relatives, and soon, a new brother and sister. Although it had once been Mom and her against the world, now Beth often felt as though it was Mom's world against her.
Pushing the thought aside, she whisked the glass bits into a dustpan and dropped the broom. She crossed the floor and held the dustpan out to Andrew. "See? Glass sugar. I could sweep again right now and find more. I think it comes up through the concrete."
Andrew chuckled—a deep, throaty sound that always made Beth feel like smiling. "Oh, I doubt that."
She shivered as she dumped the glass fragments into the trash bin right outside the back door, lifting her gaze briefly to the crystal blue sky. No clouds, which meant no more snow. At least for now. She had discovered the weather could change quickly here where the wind pushed unhindered across the open plains.
After clamping the bin's lid back in place, she scurried through the doorway and nearly collided with Andrew, who stood right inside the threshold. His nearness made her pulse race, and she took a sideways step as she slammed the door closed with her hip.
He reached into his pocket. "I almost forgot. I got you some horseshoe nails like you wanted." Holding out a small, crumpled, brown bag, he added, "There's a dozen in there, but if you need more, I can get them."
Beth took the bag and unrolled the top to peek inside. "Thanks. I'll probably need more eventually, but this will get me started." She offered a smile. "This will work so much better for keeping the assembled pieces in place when I work with larger sections. The lead scraps are fine for holding my smaller works, but as I try to enlarge ..."
Andrew nodded. "Just let me know when you want more." He started for the door, then paused and turned back, giving his forehead a bump with the heel of his hand. "Oh. Uncle Henry and Aunt Marie are coming to our house for supper tonight. My mom said to ask if you'd like to come, too."
Beth rolled the bag closed as she considered his question. While she appreciated the efforts made by her stepfather's family to include her, she always ended up feeling out of place with her worldly clothes and pierced ears. Andrew's father was one of the worst—his scowling disapproval made her want to disappear. Not once had the man smiled at her, even in her mother's presence, and Mom was his sister-in-law!
As she sought an answer, she felt a yawn build. She gave it free rein and then pushed her lips into a regretful pout.
"I'm sorry, Andrew. Tell your mom thanks for the invitation, but I've been putting in some long days finishing up the cardinal piece. I think I'll just head home, eat a sandwich, and turn in early."
Andrew shrugged. "Okay. Have a good evening then." He stepped out the door, leaving her alone.
* * *
Andrew pressed his fork through the flaky layer of crust topping the wedge of cherry pie in front of him and carried the bite to his mouth. His mother made the best pie of anyone in Sommerfeld, where every girl learned to bake as soon as she was old enough to wield a wooden spoon. If he could find a girl who cooked as good as his mother, he'd marry her in a heartbeat.
Heat filled his face at his bold thoughts, and he glanced around the table at the visiting adults. They seemed oblivious to his flaming cheeks, and he released a small sigh of relief before digging once more into the pie.
Lately his thoughts turned too frequently to matrimony. Part of it, of course, was his age. At twenty-three as of a month ago, he was old enough to assume responsibility for a wife ... and children. He chewed rapidly, dislodging that thought. Part of it was being the only son still living at home, his brothers all having established homes of their own. And part of it was Beth.
His hand slowed on its way to his mouth as an image of Beth Quinn filled his mind. Her long, shining ponytail, her bright blue eyes, the delicate cleft in her sweet chin, the way her slender hands held a pencil as she sketched her designs onto butcher paper ...
Mother's voice from across the table brought him out of his reverie.
She pointed at his fork, which he held beneath his chin. "Are you going to finish that pie or just hold it all evening?"
A light roll of laughter went around the table. Andrew quickly shoved the bite into his mouth, certain his cheeks were once again blazing. On his right, Uncle Henry gave him a light nudge with his elbow.
"If a man's not eating, he has something important on his mind. Want to share?"
If the two had been alone, Andrew probably would have asked his uncle's advice on how to cope with these odd feelings he harbored for Beth. After all, Uncle Henry had loved Beth's mother for years—even during the period when she wasn't a part of the fellowship of their meetinghouse. Surely he, of all people, would understand Andrew's dilemma.
But they had an audience—Henry's wife, Marie, and Andrew's parents. So rather than approach the topic that weighed heavily in his thoughts, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"Beth got that commissioned cardinal scene finished, and it's a beauty."
Both Uncle Henry and Aunt Marie smiled, their pleasure apparent. Equally apparent was Mother's worry and Dad's disapproval.
Dad cleared his throat. "One picture doesn't make a career, son. Don't put too much stock in it."
The cherry pie lost its appeal. He pushed the plate aside. For as long as he could remember, his father had discouraged his interest in artistic endeavors. How many times had he been told in a thundering tone that a man couldn't make a living with pictures, that he needed to set aside such foolishness and choose something practical? More times than he could count. The only reason Dad tolerated his time at the studio now was because during the winter months he wasn't needed as much on the farm. Yet Andrew knew that even when spring arrived he'd want to be in the studio. Unlike his brothers, his heart wasn't in farming or hog raising.
Mother put her hand on Dad's arm. "Andrew's doing Beth a big favor by helping in her studio."
"I know that," Dad countered, his gaze fixed on Andrew. "And I'm not telling him he shouldn't help her out. It's a Christian thing to do. We've all offered Marie's girl assistance in that undertaking of hers. I'm glad she's enjoying it and doing well. But neither should he start thinking that one commissioned stained-glass art piece is going to lead to a career that could take care of a family, which is what Andrew needs to consider. I want him to think."
Mother's hand gave several pats before she pulled it away. She sent Andrew an apologetic look. Andrew gave her a slight nod to show his appreciation for her attempt at support, but he knew any further talk would only lead to an argument with his father. He'd endured enough of those in the past. Didn't need one now.
Pushing his hands against the edge of the table, he said, "May I be excused?"
Excerpted from Beginnings by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Copyright © 2007 Kim Vogel Sawyer. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was such a beautiful story, hated for the read to end.
In Beginnings: Beth gives up her dream of running an antique store about the same time she realizes her gift of working with stained glass. Her grandfather and grandmother Koeppler as well as her mother encourage her in this endeavor. But Beth's new venture struggles with time constraints, supply problems and two other men trying to run her life. Kim Vogel Sawyer's stories have a healing touch. The family relations thread that touched me was the concern Beth had that she was losing her mother, since Marie had returned to the faith of her childhood. The take home value of Beginnings, for me? Priorities. By getting her priorities straight Beth pricks the heart of another man old enough to be her father. He thought he was doing right, until Beth taught him that in order to truly honor God, our priorities must be right.
I read kim's first book first 'bygones' which was a excellent book. This second book is every bit as good. you won't be disappointed if you read this book. I wish Kim would write more books like this one. I am anxious to read her other books.
Beth Quinn feels like the misfit of Sommerfield, Kansas. She moved there with her mother to claim her inheritance. In the process, she found faith and an unknown talent in stained glass making. Her mother embraced the life of the Old Order Mennonite, married her childhood sweat heart and is pregnant with twins. Beth feels loved but left out. The only place she belongs is in her stained glass studio. She dreams of using newfound Christian faith by using the talents God has given her to operate a successful stained glass studio. Enter Andrea Braun, member of the Sommerfield fellowship and Sean McCauley, of McCauley Church Construction. Andrea works beside her in the studio and longs for her success to give him the opportunity to stop farming and follow his love of art. Sean contracts her to do stained glass windows for the churches they build. Can Beth forget her painful past and trust these men for who they are and not what she fears they want from her? Or will she be swept away like the tiny glass dust on her studio floor? This book will draw you in and keep you reading as you root for all of the characters. And when you close the book you will be eager to read the next one.
So sorry i was reading
As always, I love Kim¿s writing style and vivid characters. In the continuing Sommerfield trilogy, Beth Quinn shares the faith of the Mennonites, but still feels like an outsider, especially now that her mother is married and expecting twins. She feels like she is standing on the outside looking in on their sweet happy family and feels a little sorry for herself. Beth is a stained glass artist and opens a shop that becomes a lucrative business after a shaky start, with long hours in her studio away from family. Andrew Braun works for her and not only shares her loves of designing stain glass, but conveys his affection to her. Her designs catch the eye of businessman, Sean McCauley, and they strike a deal for stained glass windows for churches that his dad¿s construction company builds. He becomes more interested in Beth each time he visits her studio, and Andrew openly shows his displeasure. Beth has been hurt before and is very cautious to both men¿s attentiveness. A crisis paves the way for Beth to finally feel a part of her mom¿s life again. When she puts family first, she finally learns to trust God in all areas of her life. What can I say? Great read, Kim, reflecting your Gentle Stories of Hope. I can¿t wait for the third book. Thanks Kim!
Returning to Summerfeld and the lives of Beth Quinn and the Braun family was like going home again! Their lives are fascinating, Beth's stained-glass windows business is intriguing, and Kim Vogel Sawyer's writing is fresh and wonderful! A definite winner!!
BEGINNINGS, By Kim Vogel Sawyer Review by Marion Kelley Bullock Beth Quinn relocated to Sommerfeld, Kansas with her mother, Marie, but she doesn¿t fit in with these Old Order Mennonites. Marie has married Henry Braun and settled down. But Beth¿s business zeal and her way of dressing don¿t suit Sommerfeld¿s ideas of propriety for women. She feels out of place. Henry¿s nephew, Andrew Braun, works for Beth in her stained glass studio. He wants to be more than an employee, but Beth doesn¿t feel she can give up her independence. She¿s not sure she can trust Andrew with her life and her heart. Then Sean McCauley enters her life. Sean, whose father owns a construction company specializing in building church buildings, offers Beth a fantastic business opportunity. Is his interest purely business, or is it also personal? As Beth, a new Christian, searches for a place to belong, will she rush headlong into plans she designs for her future or will she take time to seek God¿s guidance? You¿re sure to enjoy this second book in the Sommerfeld trilogy. If you read Bygones, you already know Kim¿s true-to-life characters. Now you can re-connect with them.
Following Bygones as the second in her Sommerfeld Trilogy, Kim Vogel Sawyers¿s Beginnings gives us the story of Maria¿s daughter, Beth. Having moved to the Mennonite community of Sommerfeld to fulfill the conditions of her inheritance, Beth searches for the opportunity to make her talent in creating stained glass art into a successful business. She is still the outsider, though, as she chooses not to follow the Mennonite ways. Not only that, but her newly remarried mother is expecting twins, and Beth struggles with the thought that her baby siblings will take precedence in her mother¿s new family. On top of those challenges, Beth is juggling with attentions from two very different men in her life. Quiet employee Andrew works steadily at her side, cutting glass and encouraging her business aspirations while dealing with awkward feelings of affection for his boss. Church builder Sean also sees her artistic potential and communicates daily about offers of work that would bring Beth into the forefront of her field and bring success. Kim has created a memorable protagonist whose struggles resounded with me. Her depictions of mother-daughter conflict in both these books are realistic and fresh¿there is love but no easy answers to the questions which Beth turns over in her heart. Yearning to know her place in God¿s world, Beth jumps in with both feet and hopes for a soft landing.
This story tells the poignant journey Beth makes as she tries to find herself and establish her business. The stress of starting a successful stained glass shop could push her over the edge. Then there are the two men who are suddenly vying for her attention. Or are they vying for control of the business. Because of what happened in her relationship in the first book, she finds it hard to trust again. Kim does a magnificent job painting the setting and characters that I care deeply about. When I pick up one of her books I fully expect to be swept into the story and characters' lives. She has never disappointed me. And the spiritual journeys of the characters are richly worded and woven into the very fabric of the story. I never feel like she's preaching at me, yet the seeds she plants stay with me long after I've closed the book.