Words from the Heart

Words from the Heart

by Kathleen Fuller
Words from the Heart

Words from the Heart

by Kathleen Fuller

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Overview

A sweet Amish romance with lost love letters, a determined matchmaker, and finding love where and when you least expect it.

“Her fingertips brushed against something else in the box of doilies. She lifted a bundle of letters, neatly tied with a thin red ribbon . . .”

Ivy Yoder hasn’t heard from John King in over a year. She knows it’s time to let go of the idea that they will one day marry, but she’s humiliated to be one of the oldest single women in her Amish community of Birch Creek. When quirky Cevilla Schlabach asks her to help clean out an attic, Ivy is grateful for the distraction.

Noah Schlabach isn’t from Birch Creek or even Ohio. His job as an auctioneer takes him around the country and away from a typical Amish life, but he still remains devoted to his family. So when his aging aunt asks him to help clean out her attic, he agrees. Plus, who knows what curious items he might find up there?

 As Noah and Ivy work side by side, they come across a different kind of treasure: a packet of letters written during the Korean War. Soon they are swept up in the story of two young people falling in love—even as they remain determined not to fall in love themselves. 

  • Third book in the Amish Letters series (Written in Love and The Promise of a Letter).
    • The books do not need to be read in order.
    • Part of the larger Birch Creek Amish community with the Amish of Birch Creek series and Amish Brides of Birch Creek series
  • Full-length novel, approximately 75,000 words
  • Sweet, clean Amish romance with happily-ever-after ending
  • Includes discussion questions for book clubs and list of all the author’s books by series

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718082574
Publisher: HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Publication date: 08/22/2023
Series: Amish Letters Series , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 303
Sales rank: 209,238
File size: 1000 KB

About the Author

With over two million copies sold, Kathleen Fuller is the USA TODAY bestselling author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, and the Amish Letters series as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at KathleenFuller.com; Instagram: @kf_booksandhooks; Facebook: @WriterKathleenFuller; Twitter: @TheKatJam.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

December (one year later)

Ivy Yoder stood on tiptoes as she reached for the dark-green dress she'd chosen to wear today. She had a stepstool in her room, but most of the time she didn't bother to use it. At four feet eleven, she was used to having to reach for things. Once she was dressed, her hair tucked neatly into a stiff white kapp and warm stockings covering her legs and feet, she grabbed her purse and then went downstairs to help her mother with breakfast.

"Gute morgen," Mamm said, scrambling what Ivy knew had to be a dozen eggs in a large cast iron skillet. She adjusted the gas burner underneath.

"Morning." Ivy set her purse on the kitchen counter near the mudroom and then started setting the table. Her father and three brothers were feeding the animals and milking their two dairy cows, and as usual they would be hungry for a big meal when they finished. Her brothers were all strapping boys who burned a lot of calories working on the family farm. After several lean years, the farm was a success. They had plenty of food, not only for themselves, but to share with other families as well. None of them took for granted the bounty they were experiencing after so many years of struggle.

Ivy quickly finished with the table, and then she started cutting a fresh loaf of bread into thick slices.

"Everything okay?"

Ivy looked at her mother, not liking the expression on her face. Mary Yoder was usually a happy-go-lucky woman, optimistic even in the worst of times. But occasionally she made that face, her eyes looking at Ivy with a mix of worry and confusion. "Ya," Ivy said, placing the bread slices on a plate and carrying it to the table. "Why?"

"Today's yer last day at the Millers'. I know you've enjoyed working for them."

Ivy nodded. She'd been working part-time at Miller's Bookbinding over the past couple of years. Her younger sister, Karen, had also worked there before she married a little over a year ago. Now David Miller had told Ivy he and his wife were closing their business and moving back to Holmes County, where they were from originally. "I'll miss them a lot, but they're happy to be moving closer to their extended familye."

"That seems to be a trend around here." Mamm slid the scrambled eggs onto a large platter and handed it to Ivy. "The older people here when Emmanuel Troyer started the settlement are moving away." She smiled. "Meanwhile, our community is filling up with yung folks."

Ivy returned her mother's smile with a halfhearted one of her own. Yes, there were plenty of younger residents in Birch Creek now. Unfortunately, most of them were children, teenagers, or men who came to marry women in the community. Over the past three years, since Emmanuel Troyer left under a scandalous cloud and her father became the new bishop, a lot of changes had been made. But one thing remained the same. Ivy Yoder, at nearly twenty-six, was still unmarried — and had zero prospects.

Well, there'd been one. She thought about the letter from John still in her nightstand. The one and only letter she'd received from him, even though he'd promised to write to her every day. She hadn't been foolish enough to hold him to that specific promise, but she had expected him to write. At the very least to respond to her letters. Instead, she hadn't heard from him in over a year.

"Ivy? Are you sure you're all right? You seem a little preoccupied."

"I'm okay." And she was, except when she thought about John. Or her single status. Two things she preferred not to dwell on.

Mamm opened her mouth, but then she closed it — another sign that her mother was concerned. Mamm rarely failed to speak her mind.

Ivy knew she should let the matter drop, but after a few seconds and against her better judgment, she said, "What?"

"It's just ..." Mamm swirled soapy water around her spatula in the sink. "I wondered if maybe you were having some trouble adjusting to Karen not being here."

"Karen moved out months ago. Besides," she said, shoving one of the kitchen chairs farther under the table, "there's nix to adjust to."

"But we've never really talked about ..." Mamm sighed, dried her hands, and walked over to her. "I just want to make sure you're okay. And if you want to talk about anything, I'm here for you."

Ivy nodded, touched that her mother, even in her uncertainty, wanted to be sure Ivy was all right. But a small part of her knew if she had a boyfriend or even the prospect of a husband and a future, her mother probably wouldn't be worrying so much. Maybe not at all. Still, she appreciated her offer. "Danki," she said. "That's gut to know."

Her father and brothers entered the kitchen, and after they took turns washing their hands, everyone sat down at the table.

When they'd finished eating breakfast, Ivy cleared the table and started filling the sink with fresh water.

"I'll do the dishes," Mamm said, turning off the tap. "You geh on to work."

"Are you sure?"

"Ya." She wiped her hands on her apron. "Are you still planning to geh to Phoebe's after work?"

Ivy nodded. Phoebe Chupp had invited her and Karen over to make Christmas cards. Many Birch Creek residents sent homemade cards this time of year. Ivy's best friend, Leanna, who was also Phoebe's sister-in-law, was coming as well. Ivy was looking forward to spending time with her friends, even if she sometimes felt like an outsider because they were all married. And, in Phoebe's case, had two children.

"Do you want to join us, Mamm?"

She shook her head. "I've got plenty to do here. You have fun."

"I will." She went to the mudroom and put her navy-blue scarf around her neck, noticing the small hole at one end. She kept putting off darning it. Sewing wasn't her favorite activity. But she needed to tend to it before the hole grew bigger and ruined the whole scarf. She slipped on her coat and boots before making her way outside.

As she headed to the barn, she wrapped the scarf more tightly around her neck. It was a crisp morning, and she looked up at the rising sun as it peeked out from behind puffy white clouds. Tucking her chin deeper into her scarf, she entered the barn, nodded at her sixteen-year-old brother, Ira, who was cleaning out the stalls, and hitched up the buggy.

By the time she reached the Millers', the sun had fully risen and the clouds had disappeared. She parked the buggy, unhitched the horse, led him to the fenced-in pasture behind the barn, and then went inside the small, modest Amish home.

The Millers had been in the bookbinding business for almost thirty years, bringing it to Birch Creek when they moved here ten years ago. She found it hard to believe this was her last day working for the kind couple. She'd miss them, but not necessarily the work. She found it tedious, especially the book repair orders that occasionally came in. David worked on the most valuable and delicate repairs, but Ivy had learned how to replace and repair pages in books that had more sentimental value than monetary value.

In the Millers' mudroom, she removed her boots and hung up her scarf and coat before going to the back room where the Millers had set up their workshop. When she walked in, David was hunched over his desk, the scent of glue, old books, and fresh paper hanging in the air.

"Gute morgen," Magdalena Miller said from her usual position at a large table in the center of the room. She was packing spiral-bound cookbooks into a small box. She paused, her lips forming a slight smile, deepening the wrinkles at the corners of her mouth. "I have something for you."

"For me?" She watched in surprise as Magdalena turned, picked up a large hardcover book, and walked toward Ivy.

"For you." Magdalena handed the book to her.

Ivy's surprise grew as she ran her hand over the beautiful linen cover. "What is this?"

"Open it and see."

She did, and what she saw nearly brought tears to her eyes.

She'd worked on a genealogy project for her father for the last three years — another tedious job, but one she found more interesting as she delved into the histories of her family and others in Birch Creek. She'd brought it in last week to be bound, but she'd been expecting a simple, plastic spiral binding with a soft cover. "It's beautiful," she said as she turned the high-quality pages.

"Our gift to you, for doing such wonderful work." David joined his wife at her side.

"I wasn't expecting anything so lovely." Ivy closed the book and hugged it to her chest. "Danki. Daed will really like this."

"You put a lot of hard work into that project. It deserved a special binding." Magdalena smiled. "We're going to miss you and all of Birch Creek. But the time has come for us to retire and move closer to familye."

David removed his glasses and wiped the lenses with a handkerchief. "The business isn't what it used to be, with so many people now using those fancy e-readers." He put his glasses back on and pushed them onto his high-bridged nose.

"But we've made a gut living doing what we love and for that we're blessed." Magdalena took a deep breath. "Now, let's get to work. We still have plenty to do today."

Ivy set the book aside and started packing up the last shipments of books from Miller's Bookbinding. She also spent a few hours helping Magdalena pack up the workshop. "Don't worry about the rest," she said when Ivy's usual quitting time had come. "We'll finish it ourselves."

"Are you sure you don't need any help?"

"Nee, our sohn and his familye are coming tomorrow to help us." Magdalena looked around the workshop. "We'll have everything ready to geh by Saturday."

Ivy hugged her now former employer. "Danki for the opportunity to work here."

Magdalena hugged her back, and after Ivy said good-bye to her and David, she headed to Phoebe's. Phoebe and Jalon Chupp didn't live too far from the Millers, but the drive still gave Ivy some time to think. She'd been trying to find a new job ever since she learned the Millers were closing their business and moving away, but she hadn't had much luck. Either the jobs were temporary or she couldn't work the hours they required. Tomorrow she would have to step up her efforts. She didn't want to be without a job for very long.

But this evening she was spending time with friends. She pulled into the Chupps' driveway and mused about how much had changed in such a short time.

A little over two years ago, this residence had been a small, not-so-successful farm where Jalon and Leanna lived alone after their parents moved back to their hometown in Mesopotamia. Now there was an addition on the house, and Phoebe's family, the Bontragers, had built a house on the property next door. The modest dawdi haus behind Jalon and Phoebe's home was now a large house, where Karen and her husband, Adam, lived. Since Adam's legs had been paralyzed in an accident when he was twelve, the house was equipped to accommodate his wheelchair. Leanna and Roman now lived in a new house near his brother, Daniel, and his wife, Barbara.

Ivy parked the buggy and got out. A large Maine coon cat trotted toward her on the fresh snow. As he curled around her legs, she bent down and patted his head. "Hey, Blue. Where's yer shadow?"

"Right here." A seven-year-old boy with pale-blond hair and striking blue eyes scampered to them. "Aenti Leanna and Karen are already here helping Mamm with supper."

"I better hurry inside and give them a hand."

Malachi picked up Blue. "See you later," he said, waving as he walked away, the huge cat snuggled in his arms.

After caring for her horse, Ivy went to the back door and knocked, but instead of waiting for an answer, she walked inside and kicked off her boots in the mudroom. The scent of apples and cinnamon filled the air as she hung up her coat and scarf. When she poked her head through the kitchen doorway, Phoebe was pulling a pie out of the oven, Karen was brushing butter over freshly baked rolls, and Leanna was setting the table — the best task to give her. Despite being married for more than a year, she was still hopeless in the kitchen.

"What can I do to help?" Ivy asked.

Leanna set down the last fork. "Nix. I think everything is done." She smirked. "Yer timing is impeccable."

Ivy grinned and looked up at her best friend of many years. Leanna Raber was unusual in several ways, starting with her six-foot height and very slim body. She was also the only female Amish mechanic in Birch Creek — and anywhere, as far as Ivy knew. She was quirky and outgoing and confident, traits Ivy had always appreciated. Years ago they'd vowed to be friends forever, and as they grew older and their friends were consumed with interest in boys, they also vowed never to do something as silly and conventional as getting married.

Ivy's smile dimmed. So much for keeping that last vow.

"Where's Hannah?" Ivy asked Phoebe.

Phoebe slipped the potholders off her hands. "With Mamm. She wanted to take her for the night." Phoebe shook her head. "You would think twelve kinner in the haus would be enough for her, especially since Hannah's starting to walk now."

"Twelve buwe," Leanna pointed out. "Yer mamm needs a little female balance, don't you think?"

"And we all know how she dotes on her granddaughter," Karen said as she put the rolls on the table.

The back door opened, and Jalon walked in from the mudroom, Adam close behind in his wheelchair and Malachi bringing up the rear. "Geh wash up for supper," Jalon ordered, looking at his young son.

"I'll geh with you," Adam said. Then he swooped Malachi up and parked him on his lap. As he wheeled out of the kitchen, he looked up at Ivy. "Hi," he said. "We'll be right back."

Ivy turned to look at Karen, and from the softness in her sister's eyes, Ivy could tell she'd been watching her husband with Malachi. She wondered how long it would be before Karen and Adam had their own child. Ivy knew Karen wanted to be a mother, but although she and her sister were close, Karen hadn't shared anything that personal with Ivy since the wedding. Which was fine with Ivy. Married couples deserved privacy, and she wouldn't pry.

She took in the scene in the kitchen — Jalon washing his hands in the sink as he talked to Phoebe, Leanna pouring the last glass of cold tea as Karen set Malachi's cup of milk in front of his place setting — and not for the first time, she felt like a seventh wheel. That feeling only increased as they all sat down at the table. She was seated next to Malachi and across from Leanna. Roman was working late on a broken generator, but even though he wasn't there, Ivy felt his presence.

The tiny stab of envy paled against how she'd felt when she returned from Michigan and learned Leanna and Roman were dating. Ivy had spent a few weeks with her cousin while she was on bed rest, and she'd had no idea Leanna and Roman had fallen for each other while she was gone. She hadn't known Leanna was even interested in Roman. She was happy for her friend when she told her of their unexpected romance, but a part of her felt betrayed — which was ridiculous since Ivy had been considering breaking her own vow to remain single.

Thanks to John, she didn't have to consider it anymore.

They all prayed and then ate the delicious meal — corned beef and cabbage, buttery mashed potatoes, fluffy rolls, and apple pie for dessert. After supper, the men cleared out while the women quickly cleaned the kitchen and then brought out the supplies to make cards — folded card stock; a few rubber stamps with simple Christmas designs; red, green, and black ink pads; and envelopes. Ivy chose a holly berry design and started stamping.

"Today was yer last day at the Millers', ya?" Karen asked. At Ivy's nod, she added, "I'm going to miss them. I enjoyed working there."

"They're happy to be moving closer to familye." Ivy examined the stamped image. A little crooked, but hopefully no one would notice.

"Do you have another job lined up?"

She shook her head. "Tomorrow I'm going to start getting serious about mei search."

"Funny you should mention that." Leanna tapped one slender finger on the kitchen table. "Aden came into the shop this morning. He mentioned offhand to Roman that he'll need to hire someone to work in the store soon. He's taken over running it since Sadie is in a familye way. None of the Schrock women are working in the store anymore, so they need another employee besides Barbara."

"It's hard to believe that just a couple of years ago all three sisters were working there." Karen inserted her finished card in an envelope.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Words from the Heart"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Kathleen Fuller.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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.

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