Twice Blessed: Two Amish Christmas Stories

Twice Blessed: Two Amish Christmas Stories

by Barbara Cameron

Paperback

$15.72 $15.99 Save 2% Current price is $15.72, Original price is $15.99. You Save 2%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Want it by Tuesday, November 20 Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630881115
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 559,605
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the best-selling author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Her books have been nominated for Carol Awards and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award from RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love chapter. Barbara resides in Jacksonville, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

Twice Blessed

Two Amish Christmas Stories: Her Sister's Shadow and His Brother's Keeper


By Barbara Cameron

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2015 Barbara Cameron
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63088-112-2


CHAPTER 1

Rosie plucked the last ripe red strawberry and dropped it into the bucket near her. She wiped the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand and got to her feet. It would be gut to get out of the sun and take a brief rest on the front porch.

She glanced around the large fruit and vegetable garden she and her twin schweschder Katie had planted on the side of the house. A bounty of corn, zucchini, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, peas, and more had been planted, nurtured, and prayed over. They'd been busy harvesting them as they ripened, and their work continued as they washed, chopped, and canned them for sale.

Before she could get up she glimpsed a movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head and saw the long black snake that lay a couple of feet from her. She smiled. "Hi, Blackie. Haven't seen you in a while."

The snake flicked its tongue. People might not be able to distinguish between her and her sister, but Blackie did. He never came around when Katie worked in the garden.

Rosie popped a strawberry into her mouth and savored the sweetness. "I know, I know, I have to stop eating them. But they're so gut."

She found a few she'd missed and tossed them into the bucket. "Well, I'd like to stay and chat some more, but I have to get going. Some of us have to work you know."

When she climbed the steps to the porch she saw that Katie had set a tray with a pitcher of lemonade and a glass on the table between two rocking chairs. She dropped into one of the chairs and sighed, then poured herself a glass of lemonade and drank it thirstily. A light breeze ruffled the ribbons of her kapp and cooled her a little. This was a busy time, but she loved it. She and Katie had been picking and canning and cooking for weeks, and they were almost done with the summer fruits and vegetables.

Katie came out of the house and sat in the rocking chair next to her. Rosie studied her twin and knew at that moment that it was not like looking in a mirror — Katie sat there looking so cool and collected, and she was sitting here sweaty and grubby, dirt under her fingernails.

"You found one more bucket of strawberries?"

Rosie nodded and swallowed the last of her lemonade.

"I finished the preserves. That's not enough to make another batch."

"So we'll have strawberry shortcake for dessert after supper tonight."

Katie laughed. "Your favorite. Then again, anything strawberry is." She studied Rosie. "Didn't eat any while you were picking, did you?"

"'Course not."

"Uh-huh. Pass me a glass of lemonade and go get yourself a shower. Our driver will be here in half an hour to take us to work."

"We've already put in a long morning," She poured her sister a glass of lemonade and handed it to her.

Katie nodded and sipped lemonade as she rocked. "Let's not debate whose job was harder — or hotter this morning."

"You know, if we keep going the way we are, one day soon we're going to have to talk about not working at Saul and Elizabeth's store several afternoons a week."

"I know. I like our business, but I like working for Saul and Elizabeth."

"I'm going to go shower. I'll be quick."

"I laid out your dress."

Rosie grinned. It would be the same color as Katie's. Her schweschder loved it when they dressed alike. She stopped in the kitchen to set the bucket of strawberries on a counter. Dozens of jars of strawberry preserves, lined up there, attested to Katie's work that morning. Rosie picked up one of the jars and ran a fingertip over the label. Katie had come up with the idea of calling their business Two Peas in a Pod, because for years people had been telling them that they looked so alike they were like two peas in a pod.

She loved being a twin — not that there was anything she could do about it if she didn't. But sometimes she wondered what it would be like to not be a twin and not be considered part of a unit. What was it like to have someone look at you, recognize you, and not wonder if you were the other schweschder? To be really unique — not one of two?

When she passed by the dresser in her room she stopped and chuckled when she saw her reflection. No wonder Katie had known she'd been sampling strawberries in the garden — red juice covered her chin. She stripped off her clothes and took a quick shower, all the while knowing Katie had probably added some time onto the expected arrival of their driver. Rosie didn't know why, but she'd struggled with being on time all her life. Katie loved to tell everyone she was the oldest (by a whole five minutes) and had always arrived ahead of Rosie.

Older siblings could be so annoying.

Thank goodness their older bruder, ten years their senior, could give Katie her due when she became too ... overbearing.

She'd just finished dressing and pinning on her kapp — in record time — when Katie called up the stairs, warning her that she had ten minutes. Rosie rolled her eyes and started down the stairs.

"You're nagging," she told her mildly.

Katie lined up their insulated totes on the kitchen table. "I packed some snacks — half a chicken salad sandwich for each of us, an apple butter bar, and some iced tea."

Her favorites, mused Rosie. Her sister's smug smile told her she knew what she was thinking.

"I stacked the boxes on the front porch," Katie told her as she gave a last glance around the kitchen.

"You should have waited for me to help."

"It's allrecht. I'm going to go wait on the porch."

Lock up, Rosie thought.

"Lock up," Katie said as she plucked up the lunch totes and sailed from the kitchen.

Their driver showed up ten minutes later and helped load the boxes into the van. "Looks like you two ladies are having a good harvest."

"Very good," Katie said. "I made up a box for you and your wife since you're always so good about helping carry boxes for us. It's got your name on it."

He grinned as he shut the van door. "You didn't have to do that. But thank you very much."

"Beautiful day," Katie said as she settled back into her seat and turned to Mary Rose, a fellow passenger.

Rosie smiled as she listened with half an ear while she watched the passing scenery. Sometimes she wondered if Katie would ever run down. Rosie considered herself to be pretty energetic, but her sister could run rings around her.

Charlie pulled up in front of Saul Miller's store. Rosie frowned as she found herself wishing she could have stayed home in her garden today. As much as she enjoyed working here several afternoons a week, she wasn't as outgoing as Katie and preferred being a homebody.

"Rosie?"

"Hmm? Oh, I'm coming." She stepped out of the van, took a box from Charlie, and started into the store.

A man she'd never seen before hurried up to her — a very handsome Amish man with chestnut brown hair. She found herself staring into his dark blue eyes and smiling shyly as he grinned at her.

"Let me take that for you," he said. "Saul? Where do you want this?" he asked, not taking his eyes from her.

"Hi, Rosie. I see you've met Jacob," Saul said as he came to her side. "You can put that in the storeroom for me, Jacob."

"I'll do that." But Jacob didn't move. Only when Saul cleared his throat did Jacob tear his gaze from Rosie's, and he turned to take the box into the storeroom at the back of the store.

He emerged just as Katie walked in carrying a box. "Well, well, there are two of you," Jacob said, and his eyebrows shot up in surprise. He looked at Rosie, then Katie. "Here, let me take that box for you."

"Danki," she said, smiling. "And who might you be?"


* * *

Katie watched Jacob leave, admiring how strong and muscular this new man looked as he walked out the door of Saul's store.

She turned to Rosie. "Interesting man. He knew Elizabeth when they lived in Goshen. He bought the Marlon Zook farm, and he'll be moving here permanently in two weeks."

Rosie put several jars of strawberry preserves on the shelf near the front of the store where Elizabeth liked to display Two Peas in a Pod goods. "You learned all that while Jacob was carrying the box into the storeroom?"

Katie glanced at her. "You may be right" She studied the display. "I think it would be better if you lined up the strawberry preserves to the right." When Rosie turned and gave her a bland look she shrugged. "Well, just trying to be helpful."

"Maybe you could go help that customer."

The bell over the door rang as a woman walked into the store. Katie greeted her with a big smile. "May I help you?"

"I think I'll browse for a few minutes."

"Enjoy. I'm here if you need help." She busied herself dusting a display of carved wooden birds and stayed close in case she was needed. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the woman had a question about some candles.

Katie extolled the fine craftsmanship of the candles made with natural ingredients with a no-lead wick. By the time the woman left, she'd sold her half a dozen candles and two candle holders.

"You're quite the saleswoman," Elizabeth said. "Saul was so lucky to find the two of you when we needed more help."

"The candles are so well made they sell themselves," she said modestly.

She watched as another customer came into the store, and Rosie sold her a dozen jars of their Two Peas in a Pod preserves. Rosie was quieter than she was, but she sold just as well.

"Since things are a little slow this afternoon I thought maybe you and I could do some inventory," Elizabeth said.

"Schur," Katie said as she followed her into the storeroom. She took the clipboard Elizabeth handed her. "So, tell me about Jacob."

Elizabeth looked up from her own clipboard. "I don't know him well. I didn't get out much except to church when I lived in Goshen."

"Well, he would have attended church," Katie reminded her patiently.

"Ya, but I only got to go to services, never things like singings and other social activities. I always had to help my mamm with my schweschders and bruders."

"So you don't know anything about him."

"Nee, sorry. But I overheard you earlier, and it sounded like you were doing well getting information out of him," Elizabeth teased.

Katie grinned. "I'm not the shy schweschder."

"True." Elizabeth hesitated. "Katie, before you walked in and started talking to him, he and Rosie seemed ... interested in each other."

"Really?"

"Why does that surprise you?"

"Rosie just isn't interested in dating."

"That's not true."

Katie spun around at the sound of Rosie's voice. "Nee?"

"Nee. I just don't date as often as you," she said quietly. She turned on her heel and walked away.

Elizabeth lifted her brows.

"Hmm." Katie stared after Rosie, then shrugged.

"Katie? Maybe Rosie's interested in Jacob like I said."

"Maybe. Did you want to inventory those boxes over there?"

"Ya. You may be right."

Saul came to get his wife a few minutes later and left Katie alone in the job of inventory. She didn't mind although she much preferred helping customers.

Rosie came in a few minutes later. "Elizabeth said I could come help. She'll let us know if customers come in."

"I'm nearly done. Saul's pretty good about not ordering too much and having it sit unsold. I've already listed the boxes of preserves and stuff we brought in this morning." She set down her clipboard and dusted her hands. "Saul will be ordering for Christmas before long. He has to think ahead in retail."

"Us too. I have some ideas for some new things we can sell."

"Allrecht. We'll talk tomorrow. I'm going out for supper tonight."

"I know. You told me last night. Katie —"

Elizabeth poked her head in. "We just got busy."

"Wunderbar," Katie said, plunking down the clipboard. She dusted off her hands and started for the door. "C'mon, Rosie."

The afternoon was a blur of shoppers streaming into the store and back out again, hands full of loaded shopping bags — just the way Katie liked things to go. Elizabeth fussed about them taking a break, but there just wasn't time and Katie insisted that if Elizabeth wouldn't take one, she and Rosie wouldn't either.

The day finally came to a close. The work day anyway. Katie and Rosie left to go home and as their van pulled away from the store Katie saw another van arrive for Elizabeth and Saul.

"You look tired," she told Rosie.

"I am tired. Aren't you?"

"Nee. I feel a little wound up."

"Don't know where you get all your energy," Rosie muttered. She relaxed into her seat.

"I wonder where we're going to supper tonight," Katie mused. "I can't decide if I should wear my blue dress or my rose one."

"I like the rose one on you."

"Why don't you come with us?"

Rosie wrinkled her nose. "Danki, but I don't think Daniel would appreciate me coming along."

"You need to get out more."

"About that," Rosie said. "I thought Jacob seemed nice this afternoon."

"Ya, I did, too."

"You did?" Rosie asked, sounding subdued.

Katie gave her a sharp glance. Hmm. Was Rosie finally interested in someone? She opened her mouth to ask, and their driver braked to a stop to pick up Ada. A plump woman in her forties, she climbed into the van and settled herself comfortably.

There went the opportunity to ask Rosie about Jacob. Katie didn't need the warning look Rosie shot her. Everyone knew Ada was sweet, but she loved gossip like she loved sweets.

Daniel was already waiting in his buggy when they arrived home. Katie ran upstairs to change while he talked with Rosie in the kitchen. When she came downstairs he grinned at her. "Ready?"

Katie nodded. Rosie stood at the sink rinsing the strawberries she'd picked that morning. "You're having something other than strawberries, right?" she asked and realized she sounded like a mother.

Rosie just gave her a mild look. "Thought I'd make a strawberry and spinach salad, have some of that chicken salad that's left, too."

"She's making me hungry," Daniel announced. "But a man wants more than some leaves and berries. Let's go, Katie."

"I feel like having more than leaves and berries, too," she agreed and followed him out the door.

CHAPTER 2

Guder mariye."

Rosie turned as she knelt in a row of lettuce to see Jacob standing near the fence. "Why, Jacob, what are you doing here?"

"I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd say hello."

"Uh, hello." Rosie brushed at her cheek then remembered she was wearing gardening gloves. She took one off and wiped dirt from her cheek. Honestly, she must look like a mess. "I didn't hear you."

"You looked like you were talking to someone," he said, unlatching the gate. "Oh, Rosie, don't move." He approached cautiously. "There's a snake a few feet from you. Don't worry, it's harmless."

Rosie grinned. "I'm not worried. He comes to see me every day I'm out here."

"And you're not scared?"

She shook her head. "Of course not. Like you said, he's harmless. I call him Blackie. Silly, I know. But he seems to enjoy my voice."

Jacob squatted down beside her. "Interesting. Most women scream and run from snakes."

"Well, this is really more his territory than mine. And if a mouse darts out, you'll probably see me react the way you describe."

"Quite a garden you have here. This is where you grow the things you can for your business?"

"How'd you know about our business?"

"I carried two boxes of jars labeled Two Peas in a Pod into the storeroom at Saul's store the other day, remember?"

She remembered. She'd stared into those eyes of his then and now, with him so close found herself doing it again. The sun beat down, dusting his hair and turning the chestnut strands reddish. It was so quiet she could hear a bee buzzing nearby.

"I — we grow most of what we can, but we do buy some fruits and vegetables from other local gardeners and farmers. I was about to stop for a cold drink. Do you want one?"

"Sounds good, Rosie."

Her head jerked up at his use of her name.

"It is Rosie, isn't it." He grinned at her, making it a statement instead of a question.

"Ya," she admitted. "But how did you know that? Even people who've known us for a long time sometimes get us confused."

"I paid attention the day we met."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Twice Blessed by Barbara Cameron. Copyright © 2015 Barbara Cameron. 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Twice Blessed: Two Amish Christmas Stories 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
These were a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved Her Sister's Shadow, but wasn't a thrilled with His Brother's Keeper. Her Sister's Shadow is all about the shy twin finding her way to happiness and love. There was a lot of really great story in this one. Katie and Rosie were both fun personalities, but completely different. Katie is outgoing and flirty - loves to be in the middle of everything. But Rosie prefers to be at home, working in the garden or kitchen. But they both find a way to find love and happiness in Her Sister's Shadow. They also both get a look at tragedy and people aren't always what they seem - but it works out great in the end. This was my favorite of the two stories. His Brother's Keeper just didn't have the best trope for me. A twin pretending to be the other one is all fun - when you're kids. But when your twin is in the hospital in a coma, pretending to be him so you can spend time with his fiance is just creepy. Now it starts as a genuine case of mistaken identity, but he doesn't bother to correct anyone. The ending....well it just confused me. Some people knew and they talked about telling other people, and I'm not entirely sure the whole thing came out? I highly recommend the first story, Her Sister's Shadow, but you can skip His Brother's Keeper. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
lolly-pops More than 1 year ago
Her Sister’s Shadow: Identical twins Katie and Rosie Stoltzfus couldn’t be more different: Katie is outgoing and gregarious—so much so that Rosie feels unattractive in comparison and retreats to the background. The girls split their time between working in an Amish store and their own business, Two Peas in a Pod, where they raise and can their own vegetables and fruits. Then an unexpected business opportunity…and one very special man, allows Rosie to see the unique and striking woman God meant for her to be. My thoughts: Her Sister's Shadow was a sweet romance involving two sisters. Ms. Cameron did a very excellent job writing two very different character personalities, one sister was shy and quiet, the other louder and more outgoing. I liked that the "one very special man" saw Rosie, noticed the differences, and courted her alone. I also liked Daniel who was understanding of Katie and knew when to step back. I enjoyed reading this story. 4 stars. His Brother’s Keeper: Ben Fisher can’t remember a time when he hasn’t envied Mark, his more adventurous brother. Now that Mark is engaged to Ruth, Ben is more jealous than ever. A terrible accident on Christmas Eve results in mistaken identity with everyone believing Ben is in a coma, when in actuality, it’s Mark. Ben can use this twist of fate to finally have the life he’s always wanted—and with Ruth by his side. But can Ben find real happiness if it means deceiving his brother…and trying to ignore God? My thoughts: This is a sweet romance involving twin brothers. They both love the same woman and want what the other has. When an accident results with Mark being in a coma, Ben sees the opportunity to date Ruth. I don't like the way the characters lied, especially regarding identity, but it did make for an engaging story that I couldn't put down. 4 stars. Overall, this is a good collection of two novellas involving twins by talented Amish author Barbara Cameron. Fans will not want to miss these never published before novellas under one delightful cover. This would be a great book to give to the Amish fiction reader on your list.
Dianne57 More than 1 year ago
With each story being approximately 140 pages long the author didn’t really have enough time to fully develop her characters but she did have enough time to develop the plots and I think the author just chose not to do so. Don’t expect two Christmas stories –what you will be getting is more of a spanning of the seasons, starting with spring (the traditional strawberry picking season) with “Her Sister’s Shadow” and culminating with Christmas in “His Brother’s Keeper”. It was an awkwardly written spanning of the seasons and you never really knew where you stood. The idea behind this novel is a good one –how does it really feel to be part of a twin and is more difficult for Amish twins when they don’t really have the ability to separate from their twin like Englishers do (college, jobs etc) Each novella does give us a start and a finish – it is the middle of each novella that I have issues with. There was a lot of repetition instead of development. There is a lot of discussion on food instead of more plot or character development. Each novella got a ‘happily ever after’ but not each character does. The novella - His Brother’s Keeper deals with an even more important issue and that is one of being a liar…even if the reason is sort of a good one (actually only in the characters mind would his reason of lying be a good one!) These are not what some of us would consider traditional Amish – they use cell phones and iPods. But I can see this leniency easier when I meet the Bishop and read about his youthful hijinks. My biggest problem is trying to keep Mark and Ben straight and keeping their character differences straight. Not a bad read, but not one that I would re-read on a regular basis.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Twice Blessed by Barbara Cameron is two Christian Christmas stories in one book. The first story is Her Sister’s Shadow. Katie and Rosie Stoltzfus are identical twins who live on their family farm. They have started their own business called Two Peas in a Pod. They take the items from their large kitchen garden (also items they buy) to make jams, jellies, and preserves. Katie is the more outgoing sister while Rosie is quieter and prefers working in the garden. Katie has always made the big decisions for the pair. Rosie, though, has decided it is time to live her own life. She would like different things. It will be a test to their relationship, but there will be more strain on their relationship as Rosie finds a beau. His Brother’s Keeper is the second story in the book. Mark and Ben Fisher are twenty-two years old and they do carpentry work (make beautiful pieces). Mark is engaged to Ruth Stoltzfus (no relation to Katie and Rosie). Ben met Ruth first and fell in love with her. The couple had a little disagreement and Mark was there to comfort Ruth. A few days before Christmas Mark and Ben are doing the last of their deliveries when a snow storm hits. A truck veers over into their lane and they are tossed into a ditch. Neither of them had their wallets in their pockets, so the hospital staff were unable to identify them. Ruth identifies Ben as Mark because he was wearing the gloves she knitted. When Ben wakes up, he does not clear up the dispute. He wants to be able to spend time with Ruth (he loves her). Mark is in a coma. What will happen when Mark wakes up or when Ruth figures it out? I enjoyed both of these short stories, but they were really too short. The characters were not fully developed and both stories ended abruptly. In the first story we do not get many details on the girls (including their last names). I think an epilogue would have been great to finish off the stories and see what happened after Christmas with the two set of twins. I thought the first book had very little to do with Christmas. It happened before Christmas and some people were doing Christmas shopping, but that was about it. His Brother’s Keepers had more Christmas (took place before and during the holiday season) in it which made it more enjoyable. The book was nicely written and was easy to read (just flowed beautifully). I give Twice Blessed 3.75 out of 5 stars. I just felt that both stories needed a little bit more work (a little more character development and eliminate the abrupt ending). I received a complimentary copy of Twice Blessed from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.