Many lives were changed the day a fire burned down Faith Community Church, devastating the small town of Sugarcreek, Ohio.
Now a young Amish widow, Lydia Gruber faces an uncertain future. Her husband, a craftsman and volunteer firefighter, always took care of everything, keeping her isolated from others in their community. Without anyone or any skills, how will she survive?
With the death of her beloved aunt Rose in the fire, single mom Jessica Holtz inherits Rose’s Knit One Quilt Too cottage. Though determined to keep the shop open in her aunt’s memory, she doesn’t know the first thing about knitting and quilting and begins to see her aunt’s dream slip through her fingers.
When Liz Cannon lost her dear friend Rose, she also lost her partner in the Secret Stitches Society—the name they gave themselves while delivering gifts of hope to troubled folks in the dark of night. Liz convinces Jessica to keep the anonymous society going, despite the younger women’s inadequacy with knitting and sewing needles. But soon Liz has problems of her own as the life she has rebuilt for herself begins to crumble again.
When Liz and Jessica choose Lydia for their first mission, the three women cross paths and form an unlikely friendship in the aftermath of tragedy. As they walk together through triumph and heartbreak—through grief and new chances at love—they begin to discover that with friends by your side, a stitch of hope can be found anywhere.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
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Read an Excerpt
The Sisters of Sugarcreek
By Cathy Liggett, Sarah Mason Rische
Tyndale House PublishersCopyright © 2017 Cathy Liggett
All rights reserved.
Be strong in the Lord, Lydia.
Strong in the Lord ...
With not a tear in her eye, Lydia's maam had whispered those parting words eight years earlier as she gave Lydia's teenaged shoulders a hasty hug and sent her off in a buggy with Henry, the husband she barely knew.
Too shy and bewildered to have much to say to the far older Henry Gruber, Lydia had focused on her mother's words instead. She'd repeated them over and over, trying to ignore the homesickness seeping into every part of her. Trying to be as brave as she could, she had kept her head raised and her eyes fixed on the black roads that wound all the way from Pennsylvania to Sugarcreek, Ohio.
Now, as Lydia sat in a chair at the farthest end of the white canopy tent set up on her and Henry's property, her mother's chant came back to her. Just as she'd needed to hear the words at the beginning of her life with Henry, she needed to hang on to them again as she watched Englischers traipse in the drizzling rain across her lawn to their cars, clutching her deceased husband's belongings.
She'd been trying so hard to contain the emotion welling up inside her, not wanting to do the unthinkable and break down, that she hadn't even noticed the auctioneer who approached her.
She turned at the sound of Mr. Cohen's voice. He tilted his head in a kindly way toward her.
So it really was time, wasn't it? The auction she'd been dreading was over. Could it really be so?
Mr. Cohen stood holding a bulky, cream-colored envelope in his hand, and there was no denying it. The empty tent was full of empty chairs. The auction was finished. Complete. The last public rite of Henry's passing was done with. Nearly all his life's possessions carried away by others. Mostly strangers.
The finality of it all brought on another wave of dread, more weighty and numbing than the first. Although she was much too young for her legs to feel so weak, her limbs felt as unsteady as a newborn foal's as she strained to push off the folding chair to stand face-to-face with the stout-bellied auctioneer.
"Everything's here. In the envelope," Mr. Cohen said softly, slowly, his rapid-fire banter gone as if it never existed. "Mostly cash, but a few checks too."
Days ago, sitting across from Henry's empty chair with her Bible in her lap, the Scriptures all a blur, she'd imagined this moment and how it would unfold. But she'd never imagined how losing all of Henry's belongings would feel. Could've never known how it would feel.
The span of years had linked her to Henry more than the small confines of the buggy ever could in their first days together. Her heart wrenched sorrowfully and a sick taste rose in the back of her mouth. How was it possible? The measure of her husband's life on earth reduced to a small envelope of money?
She swallowed hard, wishing she could put off the moment forever. Even paused to smooth the wrinkles from her long black skirt, as if erasing the toll that hours of sitting had taken on the freshly ironed dress were so vitally important. And yet she knew she couldn't hesitate any longer. Long-held-in tears burned the back of her eyes as she forced herself to reach for the manila envelope the auctioneer held out to her.
Even in the damp stuffiness of the air beneath the canopy, the envelope felt noticeably cold in her hand. Lydia tightened the shawl around her shoulders and tried to find her voice. A danke stuck in her throat along with the lump of emotion lodged there. The best she could manage was to bow her head in silent thanks, her kapp shielding her face from his gaze.
"There aren't many items left. Just a few that didn't sell," Mr. Cohen went on to say. "Your husband's tools from the lumberyard and the lawn ornaments he made all went very fast. I'm sure you noticed."
But she hadn't noticed at all. She'd forced herself not to watch or to listen, not wanting to know which of Henry's whatevers went where. Or what things left their property with whom. She'd only been on hand to answer questions about his belongings if need be. But there hadn't been any questions from the few Amish and mostly Englisch who had dropped by.
If there were any questions at all, there were hers. All the whys and the hows that kept taunting her mind. Torturing her heart. Interrupting her sleep for the past weeks. And as of yet, Gott hadn't seemed to be filling in the answer to a one of them.
"I can take the remainder of your husband's things to Goodwill if that would help," he offered. "I've got my pickup truck here."
"Nee, nee, Mr. Cohen." She quickly found her voice. "I appreciate it. But I shouldna be having you do that. I should do it myself."
Drawing in an uneasy breath, she wondered how many trips it would take to haul the remaining items to town. She wasn't much accustomed to driving the buggy. Henry had typically taken the reins, as he had done with most all things in their marriage.
But the job had to be done. It had to. The living weren't meant to hold on to the possessions of those who passed. Weren't meant to treasure them. Or store them. For fear of turning their loved ones into idols. Though it wouldn't be easy on her nerves — or her heart — she would just have to manage.
"Well, if you're sure ... Josh and I will move the remaining items into your barn." The auctioneer nodded to his older son, who was already gathering up the rest of Henry's things. "Then we'll take the canopy down and be out of your way."
"That would be gut, Mr. Cohen. Thank you."
The auctioneer nodded in reply, his eyes offering one more look of sympathy before he turned to walk away.
"Oh, Mr. Cohen!" she blurted, suddenly realizing Henry wasn't there to take care of business anymore. "You did take your fee out of the money, jah?"
"Honestly, Mrs. Gruber, under the circumstances ..." The auctioneer paused to rub his chin. "I just wouldn't feel right about taking a fee. It's the least I can do. I mean, your husband — I didn't know him. But, well, he was out there volunteering with the rest of those firefighters. Trying to help. And if the fire had gotten beyond the church ..." He puffed out a relieved-sounding sigh. "We're all just thankful it didn't."
She'd heard someone say that if the fire had spread, it could've set the entire Main Street of Sugarcreek aflame. But even so, she wasn't used to getting something for nothing. It didn't feel right.
"But you've spent your entire day here," she reminded. "And we agreed on a fee, and —"
He held up his hand to stop her. "It's all good."
It was a very kind gesture, and one she should've felt at peace with. Yet her mind and insides twisted with indecision. Henry had never been one to do such a thing. He would have protested and would've demanded to pay. But at this minute she was beyond tired. Far too weary to argue. "Then thank you again for your services, Mr. Cohen."
"If you need anything ..."
His parting offer brought another sting of tears to her eyes. People had been saying that to her since Henry died. People she didn't know. People who had shown up on her doorstep with a meal or condolences, whose faces weren't familiar to her. So many strangers after living in the small town all this time.
But in all honesty, she didn't know what she needed. Besides Henry. He'd organized every minute of her days. Every year of her life. And right now, all she knew how to do was to figure out a moment at a time.
As the men began to take down the canopy, the rain started to come harder. And in that moment what Lydia needed couldn't have been clearer — she needed to get out of the rain. But the muted sound of car engines stopped her legs from moving. As she watched the last of the Englischers pull away in their vehicles, a deep, gnawing yearning tightened her chest.
Oh, if only she could be one of them. If only she could drive. If she could, she'd drive far away. So far, to some place where there might be comfort for her hurt. Where the unbearable aching inside her could flutter right out the car window and be left behind.
But then ... that was a silly notion, wasn't it?
Because no matter where she went, Henry wouldn't be there. He was gone from her forever. Forever gone. And no matter where on earth she was, no matter how far she went, there was no escaping that truth.
Be strong, Lydia.
Be strong. ...
Finally letting the pent-up tears flow freely down her cheeks, she turned from the sight of the cars. Making her way over the wet grass, she headed back to the only place she knew. To the house she used to share with Henry.
Excerpted from The Sisters of Sugarcreek by Cathy Liggett, Sarah Mason Rische. Copyright © 2017 Cathy Liggett. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
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
Hope Cathy writes several more books and makes it a series. There is so much that needs to unfold both in the town and the people of Sugarcreek.
A lot of friendships begin over tragedy, and the premise of this story is just what happens. I enjoyed the way Leah got her job at Rose’s Knit One Quilt Too Cottage, and that job fell in her lap, along with the new friends, and again with a lot in common, sad in the fact they have lost loved ones. We also get to enjoy two different cultures that pull together, Amish and the local residents coming together to help one of their own. There is also a bit of romance here, and it comes in different forms to all three of them. Although you don’t know if any of these couple will end up together, or should, we get to enjoy the immersion into their everyday lives. I got to walk in each of these amazing woman’s shoes, and watch what happened in their daily lives, and cringed at some of the happening. You are going to be chuckling, although I guess it isn’t funny, when we have a meal at Liz’s and her scrumptious meal is ruined, but that in it self is a blessing in disguise. I would love to be able to continue with theses sisters of choice, and be in Sugarcreek with the people there, except for the banker. I received this book through Edelweiss and Tyndale House Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ~1 Thessalonians 5:11 Having friends is important. Having girlfriends that you connect with, share with, and love as if they’re true sisters is priceless. I related to this story so much. I have a small group of girlfriends that are there for me, not only during the highs. When difficulties hit, we need a support system that helps us heal and grow. Kindness, when given away, keeps coming back. ~Amish Proverb The Sisters of Sugarcreek, by Cathy Liggett, puts the reader through a gambit of emotions, and the struggles within are significant and genuine. When the church is Sugarcreek burns down lives are displaced and damaged, and has a ripple effect on three women (Lydia, Liz, and Jessica) who differ in personalities and troubles. I enjoyed getting to know each one. This is a heartwarming story that deals with friendship, faith, recovery, and hope. 4 Stars Cover: Love Title: Love Pages: 400 Publisher: Tyndale House ISBN: 978-1496404893 First Lines: Be strong. Be strong in the Lord, Lydia. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale, with no obligation to review.
I did not want to put this book down. I laughed and cried during this book. I loved Lydia , Jessica and Liz. Two Englishers and an Amish woman. They became very good friends once Rose passed away and Lydias husband died. All three women learn to live their lives again in new ways. This is a great book. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale blog network and am giving a review of my own free will.
There They Are—My Friends! The day the church burned in Sugarcreek, two lives were lost. That put in motion a chain of events that ultimately caused three very different women to find friendship with each other. Jessica Holtz has left a job she loves after the unexpected death of her beloved Aunt Rose makes her the owner of Rose’s Knit One Quilt Too Cottage. This knitting and quilting shop is an icon in the small town of Sugarcreek. Suddenly finding herself without her aunt who raised her and a small business owner is traumatic enough. The stress really increases because the business involves a skill that Jessica has never been able to master. She is really out of her comfort zone. Jessica is pressuring herself to make this succeed as her livelihood, and to support her son Cole. The same fire that took the life of Aunt Rose made Lydia Gruber a very young Amish widow. Her husband Henry perished when trying to fight the fire. Lydia is left to ponder the mystery of why her husband kept her isolated from the Sugarcreek community along with the Amish families all around them. Henry never interacted with her much, and showed her very little affection. Lydia wonders if it was because of some lack she has. She also questions how she will pay the bills, and support herself. Liz Cannon is a 50 something, upbeat widow whose best friend was Rose. She tries to recruit Jessica to take Rose’s place in some secret activities the two of them were involved in. Lately, the loneliness of being a widow has really caught up with her, despite how busy she keeps herself. Having Liz’s only child, and her grandchildren, living hundreds of miles from her doesn’t help. Plus her job as real estate agent has suddenly started fizzling out, causing Liz to have money problems. Additionally, at her age, might she have an admirer? The story of these three women, along with their mutual friendship, has a lot of feel good moments, things that will bring a smile to the reader’s face. But serious topics are also woven into the tale as well. Each woman has had the unwelcome visitor of grief in their lives as a result of the fire. That incident causes some of them to really question God. All three are also facing life-changing events that are putting them in uncharted waters. This book also addresses the serious topic of child abuse. I really enjoyed this book. It has the right balance of everyday situations, fun and seriousness to make this story seem very realistic. There is even a bit of romance, but everything is kept clean, and done from a Christian point of view. It was a real joy to see the friendship that developed between these three. I recommend this 5-star book to anyone who likes stories about friendship, the Amish, or tales of overcoming difficult situations. Tyndale House Publishing has provided bookreadingtic with a complimentary copy of The Sisters of Sugarcreek, for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.