An Amish widow’s quilt classes lead to beautiful life lessons.
As Amish widow Emma Yoder contemplates the task ahead, her thoughts center on one: What if she fails? Longing to remove a burden from her family by becoming self-sufficient, Emma has offered to hold quilting classes in her home. But when she sees the patchwork of faces assembled for the first lesson, her confidence dwindles as doubt takes hold.
There’s Star Stephens, a young woman yearning for stability; Pam and Stuart Johnston, a struggling couple at odds in their marriage; Paul Ramirez, a widower hoping to find solace in finishing a quilt; Jan Sweet, a rough and tough biker doing creative community service; and Ruby Lee Williams, a preacher’s wife looking for relaxation amid mounting parish problems.
While Emma grows to realize her ability to share her passion for quilting and her faith, the beginning quilters learn to transform scraps of fabric into beauty. And slowly, their fragmented lives begin to take new shape—some in unexpected ways—with the helping hands of each other and the healing hand of God.
|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
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About the Author
Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.
When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.
Read an Excerpt
Three weeks earlier
As Emma stepped into the spacious sewing room her late husband had added onto their house, a sense of nostalgia settled over her. Ivan had passed away thirteen months ago after a massive heart attack. Emma still missed his cheerful smile and easygoing ways, but she was getting on with her life — keeping busy in her garden and flower beds, working on various quilting projects, and of course, spending time with her beloved family. One thing that bothered her though was feeling forced to rely on her grown children so much. Mary and her family lived on the property next door, and ever since Ivan's death, they'd been helping Emma with numerous chores, not to mention contributing money toward her financial obligations. But Mary and her husband, Brian, had five children to support, and Emma's oldest daughter, Sarah, who lived in LaGrange, Indiana, had eight children. Emma's sons, Richard and Ethan, had moved their families to Oklahoma two years ago, and they each had two boys and four girls. All of Emma's children had been giving her money, even though none of them could really afford it. Emma had sold only a few quilts lately, so with the hope of earning enough money to be self-sufficient, two weeks ago she'd placed an ad in a couple of local newspapers and put some notices on several bulletin boards in the area, offering to give quilting lessons in her home. So far, she'd only had one response, and that was from a woman who wanted to reserve a spot for her granddaughter. But Emma was hopeful that more reservations would come in.
Pulling her thoughts aside, Emma took a seat at her sewing machine to begin piecing a quilted table runner. Sewing gave her a sense of peace and satisfaction, and as her foot pumped the treadle in a rhythmic motion, she began to hum. While many of the Amish women in the area had begun using battery-operated sewing machines, Emma preferred to sew the old-fashioned way, as her mother and grandmother had done. However, she did have a battery-operated machine as well, which she would let her quilting students use when she was teaching them. She also planned to borrow one of Mary's sewing machines.
Emma had only been sewing a short time when she heard the back door open. "I'm in here!" she called, knowing it was probably Mary.
Sure enough, Mary entered the room. "Brian's off to work at the trailer factory, and the kinner just left for school, so I'm free to help you pull weeds in your garden or flower beds today."
"I appreciate the offer," Emma said, "but I'd planned to get some sewing done today. I also want to line out everything I'll need when my quilt classes begin."
Tiny wrinkles creased Mary's forehead as she took a seat in one of the folding chairs near the table Emma used to cut out material. "Are you sure you want to do this, Mom? What if no one else responds?"
Emma shrugged. "I'm not worried. If the good Lord wants me to supplement my income by giving quilting lessons, then He will send students. I'm trusting, waiting, and hoping, which to me are all connected like strands of thread that form strong stitches."
Mary's lips compressed as she twirled around her finger the ribbon strings attached to her stiff white head covering. "I wish I had your unwavering faith, Mom. You're always so sure about things."
"I just try to put my confidence in the Lord. Remember, Hebrews 11:1 says, 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.'" Emma smiled, feeling more confident as she spoke. "I believe God gave me the idea to teach quilting, and if my choices and desires are in His will, then everything will work out as it should. And if for some reason no one else signs up for this class, then I'll put another ad in the paper."
Mary leaned over, and her fingers traced the edge of the beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt draped over one of Emma's wooden quilting racks. Emma planned to give it to a friend's daughter who'd be getting married this fall, and it was nearly finished. "You do such fine work, Mom. Thanks to your patient teaching, all the women in our family have learned to quilt, and I'm sure the younger girls will learn from you as well."
Emma started the treadle moving again as she pieced another strip of material to the runner that was nicely taking shape. "It gives me pleasure to teach others, and if teaching quilting classes will add to my income so I won't have to rely on my family for everything, then so much the better."
"Families are supposed to help each other," Mary reminded. "And we don't mind at all, because we love you."
"I love you too, and I appreciate all the help you've given me since your daed died, but I feel guilty taking money from all of you when you have growing families to raise. I really want to make it on my own if possible."
"If you're determined not to let us help you financially, then I suppose you could consider getting married again. I think Lamar Miller might be attracted to you, and from what I've seen, I believe he'd make a good —"
Emma held up her hand. "Please, don't even go there. I loved your daed very much, and I'm not the least bit interested in getting married again."
"You may feel that way now, but someday you might feel differently. Lamar's a lonely widower, and I don't think he'll wait forever to find another fraa."
"I'm not asking him to wait. Maybe he'll take an interest in Clara Bontrager or Amanda Herschberger. I think either of them would make Lamar a good wife."
"Aren't you interested in him at all?"
Emma shook her head.
"Well, I'm sure he's attracted to you. Why, it wasn't more than a few weeks after he moved here from Wisconsin to be close to his daughter that he started coming around to see you."
"I know, and I wish he would quit." Emma peered at Mary over the top of her metal-framed glasses, which she wore for reading and close-up work. "It's time for me to make a new start, and I'm excited about teaching the quilting classes. Fact is I can hardly wait to see who God sends my way."
The mournful howl of the neighbor's dog caused Ruby Lee Williams to cringe. The infuriating beagle had been carrying on all morning, and it was grating on her nerves. Of course, everything seemed to irritate her these days: the phone ringing, a knock at the door, long lines at the grocery store, the TV turned up a notch too loud. Even a simple thing like the steady hum of the refrigerator could set her teeth on edge.
Ruby Lee poured herself a cup of coffee, picked up the morning's newspaper, and took a seat at the kitchen table, determined to focus on something other than the dog next door, now alternating its piercing howls with boisterous barks. It was either that or march on over to the neighbors' and demand that they do something with their mutt.
"But that wouldn't be the neighborly thing to do," she murmured. For the past two weeks, the Abbots had attended the church Ruby Lee's husband, Gene, pastored, and she didn't want to say or do anything that might drive them away. It was bad enough that Ruby Lee felt like running away.
Inside their newly purchased home, everything was finally in its place after moving a month ago from the parsonage, which was owned by the church. Both Ruby Lee and Gene were in their late forties, and thinking a new house would be where they would retire, they'd decided that a one-story home would be the most practical. But they'd instantly fallen in love with this older brick house, even though it was a two-story and would mean climbing stairs to their bedroom. Compared to all the homes they'd looked at over the winter months, it was hard to pass up a place that was in such good condition and so reasonably priced. The house was solid, and the freshly painted rooms cheerful — not to mention the hardwood floors that shined like a basketball court. Ruby Lee was thrilled with the large windows throughout the house and the charming window seats that had been built into most of the rooms. With the exception of the kitchen and two bathrooms, she could sit on the seats in any of the rooms and enjoy looking out at different parts of their yard. The front and back yards were neatly manicured, and the lovely flower beds were weed free — at least for the moment. With the exception of the sometimes-noisy neighbors' dog, this house was perfect for her and Gene's needs. Now if everything else in their life would just fall into place as nicely as the moving and unpacking had done, Ruby Lee could finally relax.
This morning Ruby Lee had emailed her friend Annette Rogers, who lived in Nashville. She'd intended to unburden her soul but had ended up sending a casual message, asking how Annette and her family were and mentioning the beautiful spring weather they'd been having in northeastern Indiana. Ruby Lee had been there for Annette when she'd gone through breast cancer surgery five years ago, but things were now going well in her friend's life, and Ruby Lee didn't want to burden Annette with her own problems. Besides, she hoped the issues they were facing at church might soon work themselves out.
Maybe I just need a diversion, she thought. Something other than directing the choir, playing the hymns and choruses every Sunday, and heading up the women's ministries. What I need is something fun to do that's outside of the church.
Ruby Lee turned to the ad section of the newspaper and scanned a few columns, stopping when she came to a small ad offering quilting lessons. Hmm ... I wonder if this might be something I should do. I could make a quilt for one of our elderly shut-ins or maybe a quilted wall hanging for our home. Now that all the boxes are unpacked and I've arranged the rooms, I need something — anything — to take my mind off of the church troubles.
* * *
"Hey sweet girl," Paul Ramirez said to his nine-month-old daughter, Sophia, as he carried her from the Loving Hands Daycare Center out to his van. "Were you a good little girl today?"
Sophia looked up at him with her big brown eyes and grinned. "Pa-pa-pa."
"That's right, I'm your papa, and I love you very much." Paul smiled. He knew Sophia was pretty young to be talking yet and figured she was probably just imitating him because he said Papa to her so often. Then too, from what he'd read in her baby book, some children started saying a few words at an early age.
Paul opened the back door of the van and secured Sophia in her car seat. Then, handing the little girl her favorite stuffed kitten, he went around to the driver's side. With just a few weeks left until school was out for the summer, Paul was looking forward to the time he'd have off from teaching his second-grade class. He could spend more time with Sophia and more time with his cameras as well. Perhaps he could combine the two. Maybe when he took Sophia to the park or out for a walk in her stroller, he'd see all kinds of photo opportunities. It would be good not to have to worry about who was watching Sophia during the day when he was teaching too. It'd be just the two of them spending quality time together.
Paul swallowed around the lump in his throat. If Sophia's mother were still alive, it would be the three of us enjoying the summer together. Lorinda had been gone six months already. Every day he missed seeing her pretty face and listening to her sweet voice. Yet for Sophia's sake, he'd made up his mind to make the best of the situation. Thanks to his faith in God and the support of his family and friends, he'd managed to cope fairly well so far, despite his grief over losing his precious wife. The hardest part was leaving Sophia at the day care center every day. This morning when he'd dropped her off, the minute he'd started walking across the parking lot, she'd begun to cry. By the time they'd reached the building, Sophia was crying so hard, the front of Paul's shirt was wet with her tears, and it was all Paul could do to keep from shedding a few tears of his own. It nearly broke his heart to leave her like that. He wished he could be with her all the time, but that simply wasn't possible.
Paul looked forward to spending this evening with his sister, Maria, and her family. Maria had invited Paul and Sophia to join them for supper, and he was sure that whatever she fixed would be a lot better than anything he could throw together.
By the time Paul pulled into Maria's driveway, his stomach had begun to growl. He hadn't eaten much for lunch today and was more than ready for a substantial meal. If not for Maria's frequent supper invitations, he would have almost forgotten what a home-cooked meal tasted like.
When he stepped into his sister's cozy home a few minutes later, he was greeted with a tantalizing aroma coming from the kitchen.
"Umm ... Something smells awfully good in here," he said, placing Sophia in the high chair Maria had bought just for the baby to use whenever they came for a meal.
Maria turned from the stove and smiled, her dark eyes revealing the depth of her love. "We're having enchiladas tonight. I made them just for you."
Paul gave her a hug. "I know I've said this before, but you're sure a good cook, Maria. Your enchiladas are the best. All I can say is gracias for inviting Sophia and me here for supper this evening."
"You're more than welcome." Maria patted Sophia's curly, dark head. "It won't be long and she'll be off baby food and enjoying enchiladas, tamales, and some of our other favorite dishes."
Paul gave a nod. "How well I know that. She's growing much too fast."
"That's what kids do," Maria's husband, Hosea, said, as he strode into the kitchen, followed by three young girls. "Just look at our muchachas." He motioned to Natalie, Rosa, and Lila, ages four, six, and eight. "Seems like just yesterday and we were changin' their pañal."
Lila's face reddened as she dipped her head. "Oh Papa, you shouldn't be talkin' about us wearin' diapers like that, 'cause we don't wear 'em no more."
"That's right," Maria agreed. "And can't you see you're embarrassing our girls?"
"Aw, they shouldn't be embarrassed in front of their uncle Paul," Hosea said with a chuckle.
Maria handed him a platter full of enchiladas, and he placed it on the table.
"You know, Paul, you're absolutely right about Maria bein' a good cook. She's always liked spendin' time in the kitchen, so I knew soon after I met her that she'd make a good wife." Hosea winked at Maria, and she playfully swatted his arm.
"Lorinda enjoyed cooking too." Paul's throat tightened. Watching Hosea and Maria together and thinking how much he missed his wife made him almost break down in tears. Even during a pleasant evening such as this, it was hard not to think about how Lorinda had died after a truck slammed into their car. Paul had only received minor bumps and bruises as a result of the accident, but the passenger's side of the car had taken the full impact, leaving Lorinda with serious internal injuries. She'd died at the hospital a few hours later, leaving Paul to raise their daughter on his own. Fortunately, the baby hadn't been with them that night. Maria had been caring for Sophia so Paul and Lorinda could have an evening out by themselves. They'd eaten a wonderful meal at Das Dutchman in Middlebury and had been planning to do a little shopping on their way home to Elkhart. That never happened.
"Paul, did you hear what I said?" Maria gave his arm a gentle tap.
"Huh? What was that?"
"I asked if you've talked to any of Lorinda's family lately."
"Her mama called the other day to see how I'm doing, and said she'd be sending a package for Sophia soon," Paul replied. "Ramona sends a toy or some article of clothing to Sophia on a regular basis. I know it's hard for her and Jacob to be living in California, with us so far away, but they're good about keeping in touch, same as our folks do."
"Yes, but Mom and Dad only live in South Bend, so you get to see them more often," Maria said.
"Are Lorinda's folks still planning a trip here sometime this summer?" Maria asked.
Paul nodded. "As far as I know."
"That'll be nice." Maria smiled. "It's good for Sophia to know both sets of her grandparents."
"What about Lorinda's sister? Have you heard anything from her since the funeral?" Hosea asked.
Paul shook his head. He wished Carmen's name hadn't been brought up. "I doubt that I'll ever hear from her again," he murmured.
Excerpted from "The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club"
Copyright © 2012 Wanda E. Brunstetter.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Amish Emma Yoder didn’t like depending on her children. To earn some money, she advertised that she would teach quilting. She didn’t expect the motley crowd who stood on her porch for the first class—all suffering invisible hurts. The bickering couple, the biker whose parole officer suggested he find a creative outlet, and the African-American minister’s wife have little in common. Emma feels she might have more to give than quilting lessons. Emma Yoder and Ruby Lee ring true. I believed Stuart and Pam. But Jan, the biker, and Star, the Goth teenager weren’t quite believable. They should have had a few rough edges. I don’t know any bikers except the Christian Motorcycle Club, who probably aren’t typical. However, my impression is that though they might love their dogs, they might also have to watch their language (for example), and troubled teens aren’t this wholesome. They suffer from cutting, Bulimia, disrespect for adults, or other symptoms of their pain. This book is a pleasant read for a Sunday afternoon when you don’t want the world’s problems to disturb you. It also gives a peek in to the Amish life for those of us who wish we could live that simply for God. A phone shack? My grandson texts in his sleep. I received this book from NetGalley. It is an honest review.
I enjoy a good relationship book. Add a Christian story line with good character development and I have a winner. Widowed grandmother, Emma, decided to run quitting classes to help support herself. Her first class has an unusual group of people beginning with a bickering couple who can barely speak a civil word. The other students are a burley biker dude named "Jan Sweet"; a gothic dressed somber young girl attending via the wish of her recently diseased grandmother; a young widower, toting his nine month old daughter; a seemingly normal young black pastor's wife; and a non-student Amish widower who keeps showing up unexpectedly. With the classes and developing relationships of these folks we get problems, joys, and God-directed coincidences. I hope there might be a follow-up to this book in the future!
This book really portrays where people really are in life ... not just some made up romantic happenstance. You can feel each person's issues ... and how a simple project and unconventional group of people really help each other. Read it. You will be pleasantly surprised.
An interesting mix of characters In an effort to support herself widow Emma Yoder decides to teach quilting so she posts signs and advertises for students. She accepts six students and oh what a mixed group of students they are, three women and three men including one couple trying to save their marriage, a pastors wife, a biker who lost his drivers license and has to ride a bicycle, a widower with a young baby and a very troubled young girl who's grandmother actually signed her up for the class before she died. Emma misses her husband terribly and has no interest in remarrying but she is being pursued by Lamar, a widower who doesn't want to live the rest of his years alone. When Emma gets shingles, Lamar fills in for her one Saturday and shares his interest in quilting with the students. Emma continues to brush him off though. While they are learning quilting the students are all going through their own personal turmoil, will the quilting club students ever finish their wall hangings? Emma finds herself wondering if this was a good idea when she finds personalities clashing more than she feels comfortable with. This was a pretty interesting story. With the differences in the students personalities, even the couple, you wonder if they will all continue to the end of the course and will they every find peace for themselves. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Cute story with a quiet message. Loved how all the characters came together in the end. One of these days, I'd like to try to make the quilt from the pattern in the book.
Easy to appreciate all the quilters and their different levels of faith. This book reaffirms that we are all valuable in God's eyes!
The blending of two cultures in a clean, multi-emotional book. I think the story was great.
Oh My!!! It was such a great book!! Could not put it down.The way everyone's lives came togather was awsome! Do not like to say a lot because it would give away the story,everyone needs to read it for themselves.
I have fallen in love with this Amish stories from Mrs. Wanda Brunstetter. She incorporates Bible verses very well within the story. Almost as a quilt. I have to say that this book captured my attention completely. And although I have enjoyed and loved reading all of her other stories this one by far was a true grabber. Once I started I wanted to read more. Maybe because in a way or/and two, I could relate to some of the characters in the story. And I just wanted to read it fast to see what their ending was but I didn't want it to end because I would meditate once or twice in the story and the characters in it. The Half-Stitched Quilting club was a gathering to learn to quilt but at the same time they learned within themselves that they can be different but stitching together their difference in agreement they can create and build something strong and beautiful. You will enjoy this story and get to know that even though you come from a different background and we look different we can surprised to see how we really are. Like Jan and Star, Pam and Stuart. You can also see how strong you can become or better yet how strong you really are like Paul and Ruby Lee. Characters that will touch you in their journey in one way or another. And you also can learn like the teacher Emma Yoder, that once you open your heart and see people for who they really are you can be surprised on how much your hearts are the same. I don't want to spoil your reading on this story but you need to read it I highly recommend it. Is a story of Learning, Accepting, Forgiving and that with God's help and Love you can get to the finish line and goal in front of you. Inside the book there is pictures and detail information of each quilt.
I loved this book and read it a little over a day (unfortunately, I had to go to work during this same period or I would have finished it sooner). An Amish grandmother wants to be able to support herself without relying on her children. She decides to teach a quilting class for beginners. Her new students turn out to be a mix-up bunch, each with a heart ache and a story that comes out during the weeks of their classes. Without being preachy or overly evangelistic, this book highlights the spiritual healing each person needs. It also shows that even the most devout person can have a time in their life where they don't have the attitude toward others that they should.
Emma Yoder is an Amish widow who has decided to supplement her household by giving quilting lessons. Her first group of students is a far flung group, including a young widower with a baby, a biker, a "goth" girl, a minister's wife, and a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. While Emma struggles to teach this bunch to quilt, she also finds herself ministering to her personal issues, while working through some issues of her own. This is the first book I have read by Wanda Brunstetter that was not strictly "Amish Romance," and I am very pleased with it. While some of her descriptions and plot lines don't exactly align with the majority of Old Order Amish beliefs, this story is believeable and entertaining to read. It is a quick, uplifting read that leaves the reader satisfied with the progression and conclusion of the story. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys a positive story, not just fans of "Amish" fiction or "Christian" fiction.
Fun, Tender Story of Changing LivesEmma Yudor, an Amish widow determined to keep her children from having to subsidize her life, decides to hold a quilting class that is open to the community. She is totally shocked when the small group of women she expected turns out to be three men, two women, and very young woman. Each participant seems to have some emotional problems that become more apparent as the class continues. Emma prays that God will give her the wisdom and the words to help each student. The story follows each person throu the six weeks of struggles, surprises, and growth to make up the Half Stitched Amish Quilting Club. This lighthearted look at a group of unlikely quilters is fun to read with lots of surprises and an emphasis on their growth in the Lord. I enjoyed meeting the characters and following the surprises in the story. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a light hearted, fun story. Received Galley from NetGalley.comReleased April 6, 2012
This is my 2nd time reading this book. I won this book from a giveaway on the author's facebook page an di loved it so much the 2nd time around. I wish she'd do a reunion book in this series cause i'd love to see where all the characters are now. Love that its set around a quilting class especially since my Grandma taught me how to quilt :) Star was my favorite in the book.
The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club is a wonderful relaxing read. Amish woman Emma has lost her husband and decides to teach a quilting class for a little income. She has no idea who will be signing up and is in for a surprise when her class is comprised of not only a diverse variety of individuals, but three men to boot! Emma has doubts as to her ability to be a good teacher of quilting, but plunges ahead and begins sharing her passion for quilting as she gets to know these folks. She wonders if she can be of help to her class takers with their personal problems as well and vows to be a good listener and encourage them with God’s Word. As the classes proceed, Emma has a few issues of her own to work through and there is a surprising reveal within her students. Emma goes and gains confidence in her abilities as a quilting teacher while her student’s lives and situations grow and their quilt projects come to completion. A nice bonus in the book is a recipe for the Angel Cream Pie that Emma serves to her class as a snack. If you are looking for a pleasant story, this is a great one.
This was one of the first of Wanda Brunstetter's books that I read. I loved this story and the ones that followed. In this story Emma, a Amish Woman decides to hold quilting classes in her home. Little does she know what a impact these classes will have on her and her students. I highly recommend this book and the others in this series.
Wonderful Series of Books I love them so nice to have good clean books to read.. I love the details and the inside info about the characters and how they come together beautiful read!!
I’d love to be able to give this book more than 5 stars! I really like to read Amish fiction. The whole lifestyle is so much slower paced than mine. I find them to be not only entertaining but relaxing as well. I enjoy Wanda Brunstetter’s books very much. She has a very clear writing style that adds to my enjoyment. This book is no different. I love the cast of characters that she has developed for it. They are all vastly different and yet most of them are very likeable right from the start. Even those that annoyed me at the beginning eventually turned out to have some wonderfully redeeming qualities and I liked them all by the end of the book. Each family represented has their own problems that they are dealing with. Wanda does a fabulous job of working each of them through their problems individually and yet with the support of the others in the quilting class. She shows that it very possible for those who are struggling to be just what someone else needs to help them through their own difficulties.
What a great story of love lost and found with families comimg together. Great read.
I really enjoyed this light read. It took me awhile to see.how the author was going to get me to like a couple.of the characters, but, that she did. I'm thankful for happy endings :-) There are strong moral messages throughout the book, one being, to not judge people by surface appearances, which can be a real struggle for me! I recommend this book!
I enjoyed the book. Great characters all.