FIRST Wild Card Tours presents Katie’s Journey to Love by Jerry Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry Eicher
and the book:
Katie’s Journey to Love
Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In book two of Amish fiction author Jerry S. Eicher’s new series, Katie Raber’s journey of discovery continues after her mamm’s marriage to Jesse Mast. Drawn back from the Mennonite world briefly by the miracle of Mamm’s changed heart, Katie finds she can’t totally abandon her new Mennonite friends.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I was excited to read more about Katie Raber and her mom. Life in the Jesse Mast home in a challenge, just as Katie thought it would be,  especially with Jesse’s oldest daughter, Mable. Katie continues her friendship with her new Mennonite friends because they treat her like a human, and she especially needs their friendship now with Mable and her attitude. And Katie was estatic when Ben Stoll shows up at one of the Mennonite gatherings, and he even speaks to her. As their friendship continues, even Katie’s mom starts warming up to the idea. But things change when Katie has the opportunity to go on a big trip with several other friends. Ben has a huge secret that he failed to tell Katie, or anyone else for that matter. Wonder how this will affect their relationship?

I really enjoyed this second book in the Emma Raber’s Daughter Series. The characters are believable and realistic, and I enjoyed reading more about them. And even Mable is realistic, but she does act like a total jerk, even though she is going through a difficult time. But then that is what makes the story interesting! The ending left me really hanging though. But there is another book coming in October, so we will find out the ending of the story then!

I highly recommend this book by Jerry Eicher. I love his writing style, and the way he gives us an insight into an Amish community and family. This is a story of love, hope, forgiveness, and grace, and how God directs our lives when we give Him the chance.

A copy of this book was provided by FIRST for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions here in this review are mine only.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736952535

ISBN-13: 978-0736952538

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Katie Raber awoke well before dawn in the stillness of the old Amish farmhouse. Something seemed wrong…unfamiliar. Where was she? The question raced through her mind. The familiar shape of her upstairs bedroom was gone. Where the dresser should have been there was a window, and where the dark outline of the dresser was there used to be a closet door. She sat up in bed, listening as a door banged downstairs. The sound was soon followed by the muffled voices of people stirring below. There was also a soft clatter of dishes being moved and Mamm’s voice being overlaid with the deeper tones of a man.Katie lay back in bed and smiled. Of course! Mamm had married Jesse Mast last week. The wedding had been held at Bishop Jonas Miller’s place, with all the relatives and friends gathered for the great day. In the evening, the community youth had sung old hymns until after nine o’clock.

Today was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the whole family was together for the first time since the wedding. They had given Mamm and Jesse some time alone, including Thanksgiving Day. The newlyweds hadn’t gone off on some honeymoon like an En–glisha couple would, so they were entitled to extra consideration—what with children from both sides of the families joining the new union and with a farm to take care of. Katie had also taken the week off from work at Byler’s Store and had spent Thanksgiving Day with her Mennonite friend Margaret.

Mabel, Jesse’s oldest daughter, had thrown a royal fit about being bossed around by Mamm last night when they’d all arrived after supper. And all Mamm had said was “It’s time for bed, children.” But thankfully Mabel had eventually calmed down. She’d been a wild card ever since Mamm had accepted Jesse’s offer of marriage. At first Mabel had refused to even consider Mamm as her new mamm. It wasn’t until Mamm was well into her engagement with Jesse before the feelings between Mamm and Mabel thawed out even a little. And even then Mabel gave in only after her daett brought great pressure to bear on her.

Katie took several deep breaths. The feelings of hope and joy that had been rushing over her at the memory of Mamm and Jesse saying their vows were fast disappearing. She really had to stop letting thoughts of Mabel’s bad attitude affect her this way. After all, this should be a wunderbah new beginning for all of them. For one thing, she would no longer be known as odd widow Emma Raber’s daughter, the strange girl with a yet stranger mamm. The wedding would surely change all of that.

Certainly Jesse and Mamm were persuaded things would turn out well for all of them. The past was behind them. Even Mamm’s past that had caused her to be thought strange by the Amish community—all because of that crush she’d once had on Daniel Kauffman, the most popular boy around when she’d been a teenager. Mamm had held on to her foolish hope that Daniel would return her affections right up to the moment he said his vows with Miriam Esh. Mamm had dashed out of the services and drove her buggy right past the couple and the astonished eyes of the bishop himself. She’d never lived down that action or gotten over the bitterness of the memory of Daniel.

Mamm had frozen her heart. In fact, she’d married Ezra without expecting she would ever again feel love for a man. When her heart had opened to Ezra after their daughter’s birth, it was made all the worse when he’d died suddenly. His early death had driven Mamm back into her shell. That Jesse Mast had been able to break through was a miracle indeed.

Now the joy was coming back. Katie belonged in this family—Jesse’s five children and her. Yah, it was still a little unfamiliar, just like the room she hadn’t recognized this morning. But she was here, and she was part of this family now. True, it didn’t seem quite right that she should have this room that had been Mabel’s. But Jesse had insisted. Katie was the eldest, so she deserved her own room. Katie dared not look at Mabel when he’d made that announcement.

At the wedding, everything had seemed to fall into place. There had been great love flowing from everybody. Mamm’s brothers from Lancaster had all taken time to speak with their niece, and they wished her well in her new life. “You’re a Mast now,” they’d teased, even though she really wasn’t. She was still a Raber. Mamm marrying Jesse wouldn’t change that. Only her own marriage would change her name.

That thought turned her mind to the dashing Ben Stoll, the boy she had her heart set on. He hadn’t paid her any attention at the wedding. He’d taken Tina Hochstetler to the table at the evening hymn singing. Katie had been left with no choice but to sit with her young cousin James, who lived in Lancaster. At sixteen, he was too scared to take a strange girl to the table. She mustn’t think about Ben now, Katie told herself. There were other boys in the world besides him, even though her heart would never be quite convinced of that. Maybe she could get over her crush on him if she tried hard enough. Mamm had found love beyond Daniel Kauffman, had she not?

Right now what she could be thankful for was that all of Jesse’s children—except Mabel—had accepted Mamm and her with open arms. The change had been slow at times. Mabel hadn’t been the only one of Jesse’s children unwilling at first to accept the idea of a new mamm keeping house for them. But they had eventually come around. And Mabel had also—sort of—after she’d been told by her daett to straighten out her attitude and accept Emma as her mamm.

Well, even if Mabel made trouble for her, Katie was still much better off than she had been before. She now knew what it felt like to be included in the Amish community and spoken to as if she were a normal human being. Of course, it hadn’t been just the wedding that had accomplished that. It had really started when she accepted an invitation to a Mennonite youth gathering. There she’d become friends with girls like Margaret Kargel and Sharon Watson. Both girls had come to Mamm’s wedding at her special invitation. They were the only Mennonites there besides Esther Kuntz, who worked at Byler’s Store with Katie.

Neither Jesse nor Mamm had any Mennonites in their immediate family. All the brothers and sisters on both sides of their families were Amish. That had made Katie’s relationship with the Mennonite girls a troublesome matter for Mamm. Jesse too seemed a bit concerned about it, though not as great as Mamm.

She would continue to leave that matter in Da Hah’s hands, Katie decided. Much gut had come out of her friendships with Margaret and Sharon. And Da Hah had blessed them in spite of Mamm’s fears. How that all made sense, Katie still didn’t know. And she might never know. It was enough that both Mamm and she were finding their way out of a life lived alone with closed-off hearts.

Back in the “old” days, Mamm had forbidden Katie from participating in the usual rumspringa the rest of the Amish young people in the community took part in. But to Mamm, rumspringa was a mild offense compared to attending Mennonite youth gatherings. But Katie had continued to go to them. She sighed and threw off the bedcovers. She knew Jesse and Mamm wanted her to stop attending, but she would have to see. Da Hah had been with her so far, and she would keep believing He would be in the future. It was true that living with Jesse and his family was going to be a great joy in its own right. Jesse had told her before Mamm’s wedding, “I love you, Katie. Just as much as I love Mabel and Carolyn or any of my boys. You’ll be living at my house as my own daughter.”

She was so thankful for that, and she appreciated the man from the bottom of her heart. That wasn’t something a person just walked away from. She now had the chance to grow up for a few years with a daett who cared about her. There might now be less reason for her to attend the Mennonite youth gatherings, though she would always keep up her friendships with Margaret and Sharon.

Katie walked over to the unfamiliar dresser. She opened the top drawer and ran her hands around the front edge. She found the matches and lit the kerosene lamp. The flickering flame had just caught when Jesse hollered up the stairs, “Time to get up, boys!”

Katie smiled at the sound. Mamm sometimes yelled up the stairs at home, but she’d never heard a man yell the morning wake-up call. It sounded gut. She pulled on her work dress as footsteps rushed past her bedroom door. She finished putting in the last pin and took the lamp with her as she stepped into the hallway. The light played on the walls as she found her way downstairs. No one was in the living room, so Katie peeked into the kitchen. Mamm had her back turned toward her as she worked over the stove.

“You should have called for me,” Katie told her.

Mamm turned around with a smile on her face. “Gut morning, Katie.”

“Gut morning to you.” Katie set the lamp on the kitchen table. “May I help with breakfast?”

A look of uncertainty replaced Mamm’s smile. “Perhaps we’d better wait until Mabel comes down before we get too far along. I don’t want to take over her kitchen on the first morning she’s here. Not without talking with her about it first.”

Katie sat on a kitchen chair. This was an unexpected turn of events, although she really shouldn’t be surprised now that she thought about it. Mamm had always been in charge at home, but now she was in another person’s kitchen—Mabel’s kitchen. “But you’re Jesse’s wife,” Katie protested. Everything has changed, she wanted to add, but she didn’t. Mamm looked troubled enough without adding undue pressure, and obviously everything hadn’t changed yet. There still would be bumps in the road. She could handle it.

Mamm was trying to smile. “Yah, I know. It takes some getting used to.”

“You should call Mabel,” Katie said. “She shouldn’t sleep in on the first morning we’re all together.”

Mamm lifted her head from the stove, seeming to ponder the suggestion for a moment. Then she went to the bottom of the stairs.

Yell loudly! Katie wanted to say. Wake the girl up!

“Mabel!” Mamm called up the stairs, her voice gentle.

Long moments passed, and Mamm looked ready to call again when the sound of a door opening came from upstairs.

“What do you want?” Mabel’s voice sounded irritated.

“I need your help in the kitchen,” Mamm said.

The door closed upstairs without an answer.

Katie watched Mamm’s face as she turned back and went to the stove.

Mamm glanced at Katie. “Perhaps you shouldn’t be in here when Mabel comes down.”

Katie looked away. Had she heard correctly? Mamm didn’t want her in the kitchen? Mamm must have seen the look on Katie’s face because she came over and gave Katie a quick hug. “It’s not what you think, Katie. I’m not rejecting you. It’s just that we must think about the larger picture right now. Mabel is used to running the household, and we need to give her an opportunity to adjust. It might be difficult enough for her with just me in here. And she might think ill of us if she finds you here too, both of us working in her kitchen. Especially because we didn’t take the time to call her before we started breakfast.”

Katie kept her eyes on the floor. What in the world was she supposed to do now? The pain was throbbing something awful in her heart. She’d never been told to leave the kitchen at home.

“Come on, Katie,” Mamm whispered. “We need to think about how Mabel will see things. If we’re both here, it will look like we’ve taken over.”

“Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do?” Katie got to her feet.

Mamm looked around but didn’t offer a suggestion.

“I’ll slip outside for a bit,” Katie finally said, opening the washroom door. Already she could hear Mabel’s quick footsteps coming down the stairs. Katie walked past the faint outline of the washbasin and towel in the darkness, and then she stepped outside. She stood on the porch with her arms folded and looked up at the splash of stars still visible in the heavens. Toward the east, dawn was breaking, the light still hidden in part by the corner of the house. In the other direction, the barn windows were lit with the glow of gas lanterns as Jesse and his boys worked on their chores. Katie looked at the soft light spreading across the dark lawn for a long time as tears stung her eyes.

Not that long ago she would have been out in the barn with Mamm doing the few chores they had at their place. Their two cows, Molly and Bossy, had been brought over and would be milked along with Jesse’s herd. She wouldn’t be going to the barn again for chores anytime soon. Jesse and his boys would take care of the farm jobs. So much had changed, Katie thought. And so quickly. She hugged herself tightly as she heard faint sounds of laughter coming from inside the house. That was Mamm’s voice laughing with Mabel. They were hitting it off big, apparently. Katie felt shut out. How could this be happening with all the hope that had filled her heart only moments ago? Surely Mamm hadn’t planned on sending her out of the kitchen on the first day they were all here after the wedding. Katie told herself she needed to think the best possible thoughts right now or she was going to burst into tears and totally embarrass herself when she did go back inside.

Was all this part of Da Hah’s way? No doubt He was continuing to lead her on paths she was unfamiliar with. Instead of being bitter, she should be thankful that Mamm was adjusting so well in her new role as Jesse’s wife and as mamm to his five children—especially Mabel. Wasn’t Mabel the hard case? Any progress in that area was all the more reason to give thanks. In the end, Katie decided, she would fit in somewhere. Mamm wouldn’t forget her own daughter.

One thing was for sure. Mamm and she would never slip back into what they used to be. That was in the past—and would remain so. No more feelings of being passed over by everyone or going unnoticed in Amish youth gatherings. Some of that would still happen, but she now had her wonderful memories of the evenings spent with the Mennonite youth to counter the aloneness. Margaret and Sharon had accepted her so quickly, and she’d met many others who were friendly too. Even the Mennonite boys who played beside her at the volleyball games—young men she’d never met before—had taken the time to say a few words of greeting and inquire how she was doing. They were all nice people who had welcomed her into their homes and hearts.

She had them to go back to in addition to whatever new blessings Da Hah had waiting for her with her new, expanded family. Mabel was the thorn with the rose, but Katie didn’t wish to destroy the flower because of the pain that stung her hand. Nee, she would not. She took deep breaths of the cool morning air and gathered her courage to return inside.

First Wild Card Tours presents….Katie Opens Her Heart

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry Eicher
and the book:
Katie Opens Her Heart
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Jerry Eicher (nearly half a million copies sold) returns with the first book in another of his delightful series centering on Amish life.

Here is the story of a young Amish girl, Katie Raber, who finds she wants more from life than to be known as simply “Emma Raber’s daughter.”

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736952519

ISBN-13: 978-0736952514

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK
This is such a heartwarming book. A mother taking care of her daughter they way she knew best after the death of her husband. Katie’s mom Emma was known as the weird one in their Amish community and Katie was known as Emma’s daughter. Katie longed to be herelf, have real friends that didn’t look at her as her mom’s daughter but her mom wanted things to stay the way they had been for years, just the two of them. Then Jesse Mast comes along wanting to marry Emma, but Emma wants no part of Jesse either, until Katie decided to go against her mom’s will and go out with friends outside of their Amish community.
This story has a lot of twists and turns that will capture your attention and keep you reading. Will Katie and her mom change their way of living and be open to others in the community? And will the community and Jesse’s family accept them because of their reputation?
I loved this book and can’t wait for the other books in this series. In Jerry Eichers unique way with telling Amish stories, he pens
Katie Opens Her Heart
and gives readers a wonderful, clean, heartwarming Amish read that I highly recommend!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through FIRST Wild Card Tours. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions here in this review are mine only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The early morning sun was rising over the well-kept farms of Delaware’s Amish country as Katie Raber drove her buggy toward Byler’s Store near Dover to begin her day’s work. She squinted when she spotted an approaching buggy in the distance. The horse had its neck arched high in the air. Katie didn’t have to think long before she decided who was coming toward her. Ben Stoll would be holding the reins. It was his buggy. She was sure of that. Ben was one of the best-looking Amish boys around. Blessed was any girl who was invited to ride with him in his buggy—something Katie figured she would never experience. Ben was without a doubt the catch among the community’s Amish young men. A cloud crossed the sun, and Katie held the buggy lines tight as she kept her eyes glued on the approaching buggy. Perhaps she could catch a glimpse of Ben this morning. That was all she could hope for. He was from another world. Ben never spoke to her, and she only saw him at the Sunday meetings and the Amish youth gatherings Mamm allowed her to attend. There he would be laughing and talking with someone else—someone more suited to his taste than “plain Katie,” the out-of-step daughter of the odd widow Emma Raber. Katie could walk right under Ben Stoll’s nose, and he wouldn’t even know a shadow had gone by.Yah, she was Emma Raber’s daughter. That’s how most people in the community thought of her. She even thought of herself that way—just an extension of her mamm. Mamm was nice enough, and Emma really loved her. So, nee, she wasn’t really complaining. But sometimes her mamm did unusual things, and that made Katie seem so…well, weird to the other young adults in the Amish community. For one thing, there would be no rumspringa for Katie. Everyone else she knew among the Delaware Amish would have their time to run around and try out the ways of the world. But not Katie. Emma Raber wouldn’t even consider such a thing for her daughter. And the Amish youth gatherings were few and far between. Mamm was suspicious of even those. “Too much socializing,” she had said.

She could live without rumspringa. Or without Ben Stoll, for that matter. So what, Katie told herself, it might even be best for her if Ben were unobtainable. He might not be all that wunderbah if she ever got to know him. Katie sighed. These were desperate excuses, and she knew it, but lately Mamm’s restrictions were becoming harded and harder to bear. She was only trying to make herself feel better. Ben was wunderbah. Even her friend Arlene Miller wasn’t above stealing a glance at Ben—and that with her boyfriend, Nelson Graber, sitting right across from her at the Sunday night hymn singings!

Katie wondered if all the girls were as taken with Ben as she was. She was aware of everything about him. She noticed when he wore a new black suit at communion time every spring. She noticed the way his buggy shone when the sun rays bounced off the sides at the Sunday meetings. The boy must spend hours waxing the black vinyl of his buggy, she thought. And most of all, she noticed the way Ben smiled when he was happy, which seemed like most of the time. What would it be like to be the kind of girl who made Ben smile that smile? Ha! Certainly a simple, plain soul like Emma Raber’s daughter couldn’t be such a girl…ever.

Katie tried to look away from the fast-approaching buggy. She was way too fascinated with the boy. If Mamm knew her feelings, Katie knew she’d be given a lecture the size of the state of Delaware and right at the kitchen table after supper. Yah, Mamm would not understand how she felt. Life had been hard for Mamm, especially when it came to men. Hadn’t Daett passed away when Katie was still a young girl? The loss had been so painful for Mamm that she might never marry again.

The beat of horse hooves on pavement grew louder. Katie eased open her buggy door just enough to make sure that whoever was in the passing buggy could see it was her in case a greeting was forthcoming. With her hands on the reins, Katie held her breath as the buggy approached and passed without its buggy door opening even an inch. Katie saw the unmistakable outline of Ben’s face through the small window. His hat was tight on his head, and his eyes were looking straight ahead. The moment passed in a flash without the smallest flicker of a hand wave through the window. And then the buggy was gone.

It was the sun in his eyes, Katie told herself. That’s why Ben hadn’t slid open the buggy door or bothered to wave. But she knew better. Ben wasn’t being mean. No, she just wasn’t worth the effort. He had greater and better things on his mind than paying attention to Emma Raber’s odd daughter. Now if she were beautiful, or charming, or funny, or even talkative at the Sunday-night hymn singings, it might be different. With such qualities, perhaps her plainness could be overcome. But all that was a dream that would never come true. She couldn’t be what she wasn’t.

Perhaps she should settle for Joe Helmuth from down the road. Joe walked with a limp from a hay wagon accident when he was five. He would take over his daett’s farm someday, but the scars from that long-ago day would never leave him. The problem was that Joe didn’t pay Katie any attention either.

Well, at least thinking about Ben Stoll helped ease the pain a little, Katie decided. She was only Katie Raber, after all. The girl who could barely open her mouth without dumb words falling out all over each other. If she could only be more like the rest of the Amish girls in the community. But that could never be either, not with how Mamm felt about things.

Katie slapped the reins against her horse as her thoughts swirled through her mind. She couldn’t remember much about Daett. He’d been gone since she was three years old. She could remember happy times though. Going to the barn with him when they did the evening chores. But that was so long ago. If she only had a daett, Katie decided, life would be different. If Mamm married again, Katie figured both of them would be better accepted in the community and Mamm might change her ways. The most obvious possibility was widower Jesse Mast. And he’d come calling on Mamm again just the other evening. Mamm hadn’t said anything about the visit, but Jesse had surely spoken of marriage.

Yah, Mamm should marry again, Katie decided. Mamm’s sorrow over losing her husband was still written on her face after all these years. Was it not high time things changed? Yah, and Katie would pray about the matter.

Da Hah must already be thinking the same thing if He was sending Mamm a suitor in the person of Jesse Mast. So why couldn’t Mamm see this and accept Jesse’s offer of marriage? Was she turning him down because he wasn’t much to look at? Yah, he was a little rough around the edges. But it wasn’t like Mamm to be so concerned with outward appearance. She went more by a person’s kind heart than how he looked on the outside. Perhaps it was the fact that Jesse’s frau, Millie, had died and left him with a family of five children. Was that why Mamm objected? She didn’t want her household increased so dramatically?

Nee, Katie decided that couldn’t be the reason either. Mamm didn’t mind hard work. And if a large family was the problem, she should have been happy after turning down Jesse. Instead, Mamm had walked around the house with the lines on her face running deeper than ever. So why had she turned Jesse down? That was assuming Mamm had turned him down. The proposal of marriage was just a guess on Katie’s part, but she was sure she was right. It couldn’t have been anything else. The two had talked for a long time while sitting on the porch swing. Afterward, Jesse had stood in the yard for a few moments longer, still speaking with Mamm. He’d held his hat in his hand, the sweat ring in his hair still apparent from where the hat had been pressed tightly on his head. Then Jesse had walked back to his buggy, his head bowed. Even Jesse’s horse, Lucy, had looked depressed as they drove down the lane.

Katie had been ready to ask Mamm what Jesse wanted, but one look at her face caused her to change her mind. Mamm looked troubled and yet, at the same time, ready to give someone a piece of her mind. A question from Katie could easily have resulted in another lecture she didn’t want to hear. A lecture about being satisfied with one’s lot in life and not reaching for the stars. That was the standard lecture Mamm always gave when Katie dared complain about attending more of the Amish youth gatherings.

“You don’t know how nice you have it,” Mamm would say. “We have enough to eat, a roof over our heads, and horses to drive us to work and church. What more could we ask for?”

Well, Katie thought, there was plenty more to ask for. All kinds of things a young woman could want. Things that were out there just waiting to enrich one’s life—and, happily, things that were not forbidden by the Ordnung. Like liking a boy. Like someday loving a man who would love her back and consider his life empty without her. Someone who’s eyes would light up when he saw her. Someone who called her sweet things on Sunday nights as he sat on the couch beside her. Wasn’t that what dating couples did? Mamm wouldn’t say when Katie asked, other than muttering something about useless talking until all hours of the night.

How could such time be considered wasted? Katie wondered. It would be glory indeed to sit beside a boy—a soon-to-be man so near she could touch him. What delight it would be to hear his deep voice rumble when he spoke or feel his eyes watching her long before she looked up to meet his gaze. Nee, this couldn’t be wasted time. It would be a touch of heaven, and the most worthwhile thing a girl could set her heart on. Especially if the boy were Ben Stoll…

Katie sighed. So had Jesse Mast asked for Mamm’s hand? Had she turned him down? She’d sent him away looking disappointed, so something was going on. And then there was that look on Mamm’s face in the evenings after the sun had set and the house was quiet. Mamm didn’t like the loneliness of their house either—the hours without a man’s voice being heard. She’d been silent after Jesse left that night, staring at the kitchen wall and seemingly more troubled than usual.

What could she do to help? Katie wondered. She should do something, yah.

A car passed Katie’s buggy, its engine roaring. Katie forced her mind back on the road ahead. Her horse, Sparky, knew the way to Byler’s Store. He should after all this time she’d worked there. But even so, he mustn’t be allowed to go his own way.

Ahead of her, Bishop Jonas Miller’s place was coming up. His wife, Laura, was out in the yard hanging wash on the line. Katie leaned out of the buggy to wave, and Laura paused long enough to wave back before bending again to her work. At least the older Amish folk didn’t think she was strange, even with her Mamm the way she was.

Katie settled herself in the buggy seat again. If Mamm married Jesse, she might have to stay home from her job at Byler’s and help with the added work five children entailed. But that would be an attractive kind of work—more normal almost. And it could lead to other kinds of normalness in her life. And perhaps even to a boy sitting on the couch beside her some Sunday night after a hymn singing. Yah, somehow Mamm must be persuaded to accept Jesse’s offer of marriage.

Katie turned into the parking lot at Byler’s and pulled Sparky to a stop at the far end of the hitching rail that was located on one side of the store. She climbed down, unhitched the buggy, and led Sparky around to the back where he could munch at stray pieces of grass during the day. She tied him to the fence with a long rope before walking back to the buggy. She pushed both doors shut before heading to the employee entrance of the store.

FIRST Wild Card Tour presents My Amish Childhood by Jerry Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry Eicher
and the book:
My Amish Childhood
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Bestselling fiction author Jerry S. Eicher recounts his childhood in the Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario and his parents’ decision to move to Honduras. Jerry also tells of his eventual conversion to Christ and the reasons for his departure from the childhood faith he knew.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736950060

ISBN-13: 978-0736950060

 

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

I really enjoy reading anything Amish, and it was especially nice and interesting to read about Jerry’s life as an Amish. I felt like I was getting a front row seat into the Amish life. And after reading so many Amish fiction, this was a nice thing for me. I love Jerry Eicher’s books, and I enjoyed this one just as much. And being real life was even more special for me.

If you enjoy Amish, or are curious about the lifestyle of Amish people, this would be wonderful for you to read. Go out a grab a copy for your enjoyment! You will not be disappointed! I
rec’d this book from the publisher  through F.I.R.S.T. WildCard
Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions
in this review are mine only.

 

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

I can still see his face. Lean. Determined. Framed by his lengthy beard. I can see him running up the hill toward our house. He was carrying his bag of doctor implements.Mom was having chest spasms, and any real doctor was miles away—across four hours of the broken, rutted, dusty Honduran road we took only as a last resort.

The running man was my Uncle Joe. The smart one of the family. The older brother. The intellectual genius. When Uncle Joe walked by, we stopped talking and listened intently when he spoke. On this day, he rushed by, not paying any attention to us children.

I knew he was coming about Mom, but I recall experiencing no fear for her life. Perhaps I wasn’t old enough to have such a fear. To me, Uncle Joe’s haste seemed more entertainment than emergency. After all, Mom had looked fine to me a few minutes earlier.

When Uncle Joe left the house some time later, he issued a favorable report that I never questioned. Nor did anyone else. The mysteries of the Englisha world of medicine were even further removed from us than the four hours to town. Uncle Joe studied the books, and we trusted him.

Years later, when our little Amish community in Central America was on its last legs and held in the grip of terrible church fights over cape dresses, bicycles, singing in English or Spanish on Sunday mornings, and other horrors that the adults spoke of with bated breath, it was the look on Uncle Joe’s face as he talked with Mom and Dad by the fence on Sunday afternoon that made things clear to me. If Uncle Joe thought something was over, then it was over.

Uncle Joe lived below us, across the fields, in a house smaller than ours even though his family was much larger. How they managed, I never thought to wonder. Their house never looked crowded. It was kept spotless by his wife, Laura, and their oldest daughters Rosanna and Naomi. We didn’t visit often on Sunday afternoons. Mostly we children dropped by on weekdays, sent on some errand by Mom or we wandered past on our meanderings around the countryside.

They kept goats in the yard, all of them tied with long ropes to stakes. One of them was named Christopher. We didn’t have goats. Dad ran a machine shop, and Mom took care of the garden. Goats were foreign to us. Smelly creatures. Mom scorned goat’s milk, even when Uncle Joe said emphatically it was far superior to cow’s milk.

We all lived near each other in those days—part of a grand experiment to see if the Amish faith could survive on foreign soil.

My grandfather, Peter Stoll, an Amish man of   impeccable standing, had taken it upon himself to lead an Amish community to the Central American country of Honduras. He wasn’t an ordained minister, and I don’t remember seeing him speak in public. Still, the integrity of his life and his ideas so affected those around him that they were willing to follow him where few had gone before.

At the height of the experimental community, we ended up being twenty families or so. We all lived on two neighboring ranches purchased in a valley below a mountain. Most of us had come to Honduras from the hot religious fervor of the small Aylmer community along the shores of  Lake Erie in Southern Ontario or from the detached coolness of Amish country spread over Northern Indiana. Plans were for the two to become one in mind and heart. And for awhile we did.

Those were wonderful years. The memories of that time still bring an automatic gathering of hearts among the Amish who were there—and even some of us who are no longer Amish. All these years later, most of us are scattered across the United States and Canada—except for the few of the original group who stayed behind.

Some of the people credit the joy of those days to the weather in our Honduras valley. And lovely weather it was. Balmy. Hardly ever above ninety or below forty. Others credit the culture. Some attribute our happiness to being so far from the States that we only had each other. I don’t know the full reason for our happiness. Perhaps it isn’t possible to know. But I do remember the energy of the place—its vibrancy. I do know the years left their imprints on us all.

This was my childhood. Those hazy years when time drags. When nothing seems to come soon enough. And where everything is greeted as if it had never been before. To me that land—that valley—was home. I absorbed it completely. Its sounds. Its language. The color of the dusty towns. The unpaved streets. The pigs in the doorway of the huts. The open fires over a metal barrel top. The taste of greasy fried beans. The flour tortillas and meat smoked to perfection. In my heart there will always be a deep and abiding love for that country.

Around us were mountains. To the north they rose in a gradual ridge, coming in from the left and the right to meet in the middle, where a distinctive hump rose into the air—officially named Mt. Misoco. But to us it was simply what the locals called it: La Montaña. The Mountain. Our mountain. Which it was in ways we could not explain.

To the south lay the San Marcos Mountains. At least that’s what we called them. Those rugged, jagged peaks lying off in the distance. I never climbed those mountains, but I often roamed our mountain—or rather our side of it—from top to bottom. On its peak, looking over to the other side, you could see lines and lines of ridges running as far as the eye could see.

A party of courageous Amish boys, along with a few visiting Amish youngsters from stateside, once decided to tackle the San Marcos Mountains. They threw their forces together and allowed two days for the trip. I was much too young to go along—and probably wouldn’t have anyway. But I waited for news of their adventure with interest. They came back soon enough— defeated and full of tales of dark jungles and multiple peaks that disoriented the heart. No one even caught sight of the highest point, let alone the other side.

In the summer, around five in the morning, the Southern Cross—that symbol of Christianity—hung over the San Marcos Mountains. Its haunting figure made of stars swung low in the sky. I would stand for long minutes gazing at the sight, caught up in the glory of it.

I was eight when we arrived in Honduras. We were one of the first families there after Grandfather Stoll had purchased and settled on the Sanson ranch. Dad seemed driven to the move by motives other than adventure. He was unhappy with the ordnung rules in the Amish community at Aylmer, and he wanted change. Change that didn’t include the great sin of joining a more liberal Amish church, of course.

In time Dad came to love the land along with the rest of us. And strangely, he came to love what he didn’t expect—the old ways, imperfect though they had been. My most enduring memory of Dad in those days is hearing him sing the old German songs at the top of his voice over the roar of his machine shop motors. And in the end, it came down to that question for all of them. A choice between what they loved and what they loved the most.

I grew up surrounded by men dedicated to an old faith. I saw those men, most of them my uncles, tested to the core. I saw them wrestle with the old and with the new, trying to figure out where everything fit together. I lived among giants of faith. I saw their agony and their sacrifice. I saw their choices, and it affected me deeply. Their faith had been hammered out back in the sixteenth century, in the old town of Zurich, Switzerland. Back during the time Ulrich Zwingli thundered his sermons in the old Grossmunster Church.

But in the days of my childhood, those stories of   long ago were not mine yet. Those gallant tales of deeds done under fire and sword. Of imprisonment in noblemen’s castles. Of narrow escapes into the Swiss countryside from the murderous Berne Anabaptist hunters. Instead, my memories are of men in my own time. Men who believed that life was not worth living if you didn’t believe in something worth dying for. I was surrounded by men of passion. And if someone should make the claim that these men were misguided, I would insist the fault lay not in caring too much about religious matters. For I learned while growing up among them that this is how a person should live. That true believers follow God with all of their hearts and souls.

First Wildcard Tours presents Susanna’s Christmas Wish by Jerry Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry Eicher
and the book:
Susanna’s Christmas Wish
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From the pen of bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher, (more than 350,000 books sold), comes a truly delightful and inspiring Christmas novella. A perfect holiday delight for lovers of Amish fiction…and those who love a heartwarming and tender Christmas tale.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736951512

ISBN-13: 978-0736951517

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I really enjoyed this book my Jerry Eicher, but it was just too short. By the time I really got into the story, it was over! But I have to say that it is a really nice fast Christmas read, and it gives readers different views on how two Amish families celebrate Christmas. And as the story unfolds, the author shows readers a real deep love that grows between a couple when they trust the Lord and really try to make a lasting marriage.

 

I love Amish fiction, and a Christmas story about an Amish family is especially enjoyable. Their plain way of celebrating Christmas is overlooked and commendable when you read their love for each other as a family. And they truly have a wonderful and enjoyable time celebrating the birth of Jesus in their own unique way. Jerry Eicher does a wonderful job of taking this twisted family and their problems and demands, weaving them all together and coming up with a story that will leave you with that warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling. I highly recommend this one for your Christmas enjoyment. Pick up your copy soon though, so you can read it before the Holidays!
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Susanna Wagler stood by the living room window watching Herman’s broad shoulders as he guided the team of horses into the field. Was he really her husband? The thought raced through her mind, and she pushed it away. These were not the thoughts a woman of God should have. Of course Herman was her husband. They had said the marriage vows in front of Bishop Jacob not three weeks ago. She could still hear Bishop Jacob’s voice intoning, “Do you, sister Susanna, believe Da Hah has given our brother Herman to you as your husband?”The words had hung in the air only for a moment before she whispered, “Yah.”

Herman was the husband Da Hah meant for her. She had been certain of it. As certain as she could be. He was a man deeply loved by the community for his honest ways, his open face, and his dedication to the faith of the fathers. This was why she had said yah to Herman’s first timid request when he’d asked her home from the hymn singing. And so far Herman Wagler hadn’t let her down. Not like someone else had…Susanna also pushed that thought away.

She had forgotten about him—shut his memory from her mind. But even now she shouldn’t think badly of Matthew Yoder, though he had broken her heart. The truth had come out, and it was better this way. How awful would it have been if the truth had waited to appear after they were married? That was what her sister Mary told her, and she was right. Mary was wise about Matthew, having married his brother Ernest. Even before Matthew had left, Mary had seemed unsure of his intent. Older sisters were good for something after all, it seemed.

Still, Susanna tried to give Matthew the benefit of the doubt. He must have had his reasons for leaving the community. Even though she couldn’t understand them…or follow him into the Englisha world. And his reasons were obviously greater than his love for her. That was what hurt the most when he’d informed her he didn’t plan to stay in the Amish community. He hadn’t been able to tell her before, he’d said, though he’d assured her he hadn’t been playing her along all those years.

But a man didn’t suddenly make up his mind to leave, she figured. Such a desire had to have been there for a long time. Matthew had known something, regardless of how much he insisted he hadn’t. If she had loved him enough, she would have gone with him, she supposed. But how could a woman love a man who loved the Englisha world more than he loved her? Still, she had wavered for weeks over the matter. Struggled with the agony of it. Was she at fault? Did love require the sacrifice of everything…of all she held dear? Things like this land of her people? These open fields she’d grown up in? This place where she’d been born?

Matthew seemed to have no problem leaving all of it, and he’d soon put his words into action, getting himself placed in the bann in the process. As if she could face something like that. The cutting off of all contact with her past. This couldn’t be love, she’d finally told herself. She could not choose this.

So Matthew was gone.

And slowly she had put the fragments of her heart back together. Finding a piece here and a piece there that fit. Herman, with his tenderness, had helped. And her heart had healed somewhat, hadn’t it? She wouldn’t have married Herman if it hadn’t, would she?

She loved Herman. She did. Herman was the kindest man around. She should be thankful he had even considered her. Especially after Matthew left and caused such a stir in the community. No Amish young man would have been blamed for avoiding her completely, like she was a second-rate, cast-off shirt. And yet Herman hadn’t thrown her away. He had asked her home from the hymn singing and eventually asked if she would be his frau. Someone to love and cherish forever while they lived on this earth. Herman had done that, and was that not love?

Susanna’s eyes lingered on Herman’s face as he turned the team of horses around. The prancing hooves left tracks in the light dusting of the overnight snow. For a moment Herman glanced toward the house, and she ducked behind the drapes. It wouldn’t be decent for him to see her staring at him from the window. Not yet. Even if he was her husband. They should learn to know each other better first.

When Susanna stole another look, Herman was headed out over the open fields, hanging on to the lines. He is a handsome man, she told herself. And one she was thankful to have as her husband.

There was at least one brokenhearted girl in the community that she knew of. Herman had left behind Ruth Byler. She sure hadn’t kept her desires to have Herman take her home from the hymn singing a secret. And if there was one who did so openly, there had to be others who had hid their feelings. Yet Herman had chosen her.

Susanna turned back to the kitchen with a sigh. This had to stop. This wondering and puzzling over things. She had expected it would be over after the wedding. In fact, there had been plenty of signs during the weeks before the wedding that her doubts had flown away. Now they apparently were back in force.

But they would live through this, Susanna told herself. Herman loved her and she loved him. He had made that plain enough in the days since the wedding. And she had no reason to complain. She was sure Herman was aware that her heart hadn’t totally healed from Matthew, but he was being kind and understanding. What woman wouldn’t love such a man?

Susanna ran hot water into the kitchen sink while she brought the last of the breakfast dishes to the counter. Herman’s plate was sopped clean—it looked almost washed, like it always did. Even though it had been a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, and home fries she’d fixed him. Herman would have made a gut bachelor, that was for sure. The way he kept everything tidy around himself. And yet he felt the need of her, felt it necessary to bring her into his life.

But why?

Because he loved her, of course, Susanna told herself. There didn’t need to be a reason beyond that. Perhaps it was the conversation at the breakfast table this morning that was bringing this indecision up again. Well, it was more of an argument, really. Their first timid disagreement. And she had been shocked at the feelings that rose up inside of her. The insistence that Herman see things her way. And she had even grown angry, though Herman hadn’t, even as he remained firm. There would be no celebration of Christmas in their new home. And they wouldn’t be going to her parents’ place to celebrate either. It was not the way of his family, and it would not be their way.

Susanna washed the dishes and stared out the window at the snow. Soon the snow would be falling in earnest, the flakes floating past this very window. The joy and hope of Christmas would be in the air. The celebration of the Christ child in the manger would be coming. Was this feeling just an Englisha thing, like Herman claimed? He said her family had given in to worldly influences and his family had not.

Yet how could this be true? Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas like the Englisha did, with their Christmas trees and lots of store-bought presents. Nee, their celebration was simple. They began by gathering on Christmas morning for breakfast. In his deep voice, Daett would read the story of the Christ child’s birth. Then the day would be spent together visiting, eating candy and goodies galore, and letting the children race around the house. Maybe that was a little like the Englisha, but she would be willing to adjust something, like leaving early, if that helped Herman get used to her family’s ways.

But Herman had said no. No hesitation, right out, flat no.

And she had gotten angry. Even her cheeks flushed and her fingers tingled. She had stood up from the table to get a drink at the sink even though her glass was still full of water. His eyes had followed her as he seemed to be waiting for harsh words from her.

But she had not spoken them. She knew that Herman, being her husband, was in the right. And she knew what he would say further on the matter—that she knew before the wedding what his feelings were. He had made no secret of them. And there had been the talk with his mamm. Herman’s mamm had made two or three special trips to the Keim farm before the wedding to visit Susanna. From that first visit, it seemed as if his mamm was sizing her up as a daughter-in-law. Would she be good enough for her Herman? That was her purpose in that first visit. She must have passed the test because there had been the second visit. That’s when Mrs. Wagler told Susanna what Herman’s favorite dishes were and how important it was to honor their family traditions. That was when she mentioned their longstanding abhorrence of the celebration of Christmas that had somehow infiltrated the community. Those visits had been uncomfortable enough, but then only two days after the wedding Herman’s mamm had showed up to help her organize her kitchen. Hadn’t it occurred to her that if Susanna needed such help she would have asked her own mamm?

Nee, she couldn’t say she  didn’t know how Herman and his family felt about Christmas, Susanna acknowledged. And now with their first Christmas together approaching, Susanna was realizing it would also be her first Christmas without the joy she had experienced at home. Nee, she would never get to be at Mamm and Daett’s for Christmas morning again.

Knowing about his objections beforehand wasn’t making it any easier, no matter how often she’d told herself it should be. She had thought maybe there was some sort of compromise possible. Surely there had to be. Susanna sighed. It was useless, really. She already knew that. Hermann was handsome and nice and calm, but he was “Amish stubborn.” That was just how it was. And she was his frau.

Well, she could imagine that Christmas was no big deal. Perhaps she was being silly about such a small matter. They would find something else to do on Christmas morning.

Susanna dried the plates and placed them in the cupboard above her. She would have to learn submission, that was the only answer. This was the first big test being placed before her by Da Hah, and she would have to pass somehow. Oh, if she only could. Who would have thought she would have trouble with being a gut frau? That had been the least of her expectations. A sloppy housekeeper, perhaps, or being unable to keep up with the sewing once she had a bunch of kiener. Those things had worried her, but letting her husband have his way about Christmas had not been on her list.

Susanna closed the cupboard door. She would learn this lesson by Christmas morning. She still had time. Thanksgiving was this week, and that left nearly a month until Christmas. Yes, that’s what she would do. She would set her whole heart to the task. This would be her gift of love to Herman. She would learn to keep her mouth shut, and even if she didn’t succeed right away, it would happen. She would apologize until it did happen. Surely by Christmas the task would be done. Herman would see on that morning how much progress she’d made in fitting herself into his family’s lifestyle.

By Christmas Day she would love him fully, with all of her heart. What better wish to aim for than to live in total harmony with your husband, she decided. And love would keep growing in her heart for him. Perhaps not exactly the love she used to feel for Matthew, but a better love. A higher love. One that would grow from suffering.

Hadn’t Matthew shown her how shallow their love used to be? He’d sure been able to cast it off as if it didn’t matter.

Running to the window again, Susanna peeked out. Herman was a dim figure now, almost lost from view in the distant field. He looked intent on his work, his head bent toward the ground as his plow turned up the black dirt. Susanna turned away. How like plowing her plan was. Turning her old life under like Herman was doing to the ground today. Preparing for the spring when things come alive again. She would do the same. Plow under her selfish desires to plant a future spiritual harvest. Here was the sign as to what she should do as plain as day and right before her eyes. How like Da Hah to show her so quickly that He liked her plan. He would surely be answering her wish soon.

FIRST Wildcard Tours presents The Amish Family Cookbook by Jerry and Tina Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card authors are:
Jerry and Tina Eicher
and the book:
The Amish Family Cookbook
Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (October 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Tina Eicher was born and married in the Amish faith, surrounded by a mother and sisters who were great Amish cooks. At fellowship meals and family gatherings, Tina’s dishes receive high praise and usually return empty. She and her husband, Jerry Eicher, author of several bestselling Amish fiction titles, are the parents of four children and live in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

 

My Thoughts on this Book

This is just one amazing cookbook by Jerry and Tina Eicher. I have had so much fun looking through this book several times, reading the recipies and picking out ones I want to try. Because of surgery, I didn’t get to try any ond these recipes yet, but I have several picked out to try. And I also found some new Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes to try. If you love cookbooks, then you will absolutely love this book. And if you kinda like them, well this is one you need to try. The recipes are fun, easy and oh so yummy! You may find some recipes like old favorites of yours, but they may have a little different twist. That is what makes this book fun. And if nothing else, I just like the fact that I am cooking like the Amish cook! I love anything Amish, and sitting down to a table of Amish food, well its just exciting for me.

I highly recommend this book for you to pick up for yourself. And it would make a wonderful Christmas gift for that favorite cook on your list.

This book was provided by Harvest House through FIRST Wildcard Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From bestselling author Jerry Eicher (more than 350,000 books sold) and his wife, Tina, comes this warm and inviting peek into an Amish kitchen, complete with recipes, Amish proverbs, and a dash of Amish humor. Readers will laugh, pray, and eat robustly with The Amish Family Cookbook at their side.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99

Spiral-bound: 272 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (October 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736943773

ISBN-13: 978-0736943772

AND NOW…A FEW RECIPES FOR YOU TO TRY (CLICK ON PICTURES TO SEE THEM LARGER):

FIRST WildCard Presents…Where Love Grows by Jerry S. Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry S. Eicher
and the book:
Where Love Grows
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In Jerry Eicher’s conclusion to his popular Fields of Home trilogy, readers will be delighted to attend the wedding of Teresa, the young Englisha girl who has come home with Susan Hostetler to learn the ways of the Amish—and in fact to become Amish herself.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736939458

ISBN-13: 978-0736939454

 

MY COMMENTS

Ok I haven’t read this book yet, but I can tell you this. Anything Jerry Eicher writes is gold in my book! Where Love Grows is the third book in his series Fields Of Home, so I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Where Loves Grows, as well as the first two books in this series, Missing Your Smile and Following Your Heart for your reading enjoyment. You will not be disappointed!

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Susan Hostetler made her way to the barn to hitch the horse for the drive to the small farmstead where James and Teresa would live after their wedding next week. Susan smiled as she thought of Deacon Ray’s struggle to get used to the idea that his son James was marrying an Englisha girl. Nee, it had not been easy for him. Of course, Teresa was Amish now. In the months since she had arrived with Susan, Teresa had turned into a model of submission and humility. Deacon Ray shouldn’t complain even if Teresa’s baby, Samuel, had been born out of wedlock before she came to the community. Yah, in an unwed state, but wasn’t changing one’s life for the better a commendable thing to do? Of course it was.And Teresa was now properly baptized. She knew how to cook, wash clothes, and sew with the best of the women. She even had her own quilt completed and stashed in the cedar chest upstairs awaiting the day she and James would marry. She would spread the quilt on their bed and be able to say with complete honesty that she had done much of the work. There had been help from Mamm, five of Susan’s eight sisters who lived nearby, and Susan herself. Between the work on the quilt, helping Teresa adapt to her new life, and now the plans for the upcoming wedding, the months had sped by.

Summer was waning, and it wouldn’t be long until snow would be covering the Amish farms spread among these rolling hills of southern Indiana. But now was not the time to think of snow. The rest of summer lay ahead, followed by fall, and perhaps a glorious display of Indian summer. How appropriate that would be for all of them. And Teresa deserved a wonderful stretch of gut weather, both before and following her wedding day. It would be fitting after the hard road she’d traveled after arriving in the Amish community.

Mamm hadn’t seemed worried back then by the attempt to match Yost Byler and Teresa. But Susan had been ready to panic before Yost finally decided, with Susan’s daett’s help, that marrying Teresa wasn’t a gut idea. Such a marriage would have been a disaster for Teresa and probably also for Yost. Yah, he needed a wife who had been born Amish to cook and clean for him. The gut news floating around the community was that Yost may have finally found an older widow as a potential frau.

Only a few days remained until Teresa’s wedding to James. It would take place here on the Hostetler home place, just like Daett had provided for all Susan’s sisters. How could things be more awesome than that?

Perhaps the icing on the cake was the love that was now beginning to stir afresh in Susan’s heart for her old flame, Thomas Stoll. Who could have imagined such a thing? Yah, she had loved Thomas since their school days, but that love came to a halt the day she caught Thomas kissing Eunice outside a hymn singing one Sunday night. Thomas had claimed he’d just had a “weak moment.”

After escaping into the Englisha world for a time, Susan was back now. And despite all the fuss, she and Thomas were getting together again. Of course, it hadn’t hurt that Teresa had encouraged her to restore the relationship after Thomas’s repeated apologies and continued attention. Mamm and Daett also gave their encouragement at every opportunity. But it was Teresa’s opinion that had carried the real weight. How strange that an Englisha girl should have such sway in her life. But that was how things had turned out. Teresa was now the friend closest to Susan’s heart.

Since Susan had returned from her flirtation with the Englisha world in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Thomas was the picture of repentance. Had he wanted to, he could be married to Eunice by now—or to just about any other young woman in the community. But Thomas hadn’t pursued anyone but Susan in the months since her return. The result was that Susan felt some trust returning in her heart for him. Perhaps someday soon her heart would be fully restored.

In the meantime, there was no need to rush into setting a wedding date, even with Thomas’s pleadings that they do. Yah, he loved Susan and wanted to marry her, but he also wanted to begin the work of taking over the farm from Susan’s daett. In fact, he wanted it very badly. Thomas had no background in farming since his daett was a cabinetmaker, but he was anxious to learn.

Mamm and Daett were older now and tired. They both yearned for the comfort of the dawdy haus, which would be built as soon as the matter between Thomas and Susan was settled by marriage. Until then, Daett had hired young Steve Mast to help with the farm. He’d started in the spring and was a hard worker—no doubt due to his being raised on an Amish farm over in Daviess County. During the days he worked Daett’s farm, Steve took his supper and lodging at Susan’s sister’s place. Ada and her husband, Reuben, lived just down the road a piece.

Steve was a rare find, Daett said. A real answer to their prayers. Not many Amish men were available for hiring out once they became of age at twenty-one. Either they were married, were planning to get married, or had work on their own family places.

Steve didn’t have work on his daett’s place, neither did he have a girlfriend or a prospect that anyone knew of. He was the second boy in a family of ten—six of them being boys. He wasn’t that handsome or forward about himself, a good quality for an Amish man.

Susan stopped just short of the barn and looked up at the swaying branches of the old oak where she’d once had a swing and had climbed to its highest limbs. She sighed to think she was too old for that now. But at least she was here. She was home, hopefully to stay.

It was here she had played in the front yard with her cousins and older sisters during many a summer. Here she had watched Daett harness the horses in the first light of dawn. Here she had watched him take the teams to the fields, where his tall form moved in and out of view all day. Here her heart had taken deep enough root that she was pulled back after her time in Asbury Park. Susan sighed again. Was this why she was giving in to Thomas? Was this why she was allowing him to bring her home on Sunday nights again? Was she accepting his attentions although still feeling a little uncertain about their future?

No, it was more than that. It was high time she made up her mind and settled down with a husband. Steve couldn’t work for Daett forever. And Daett was getting up in years. He and Mamm deserved to move into a dawdy haus and not work so hard. Was that how her love for Thomas would grow? Her desire to stay here in her childhood home, Thomas’s desire to farm, and Mamm and Daett’s desire to settle in a dawdy haus?

It was possible, Susan supposed. Hadn’t Mamm said love could grow anywhere? Anywhere it was allowed to, that is. Then Susan would allow it for everyone’s sake. If love came slowly for her, then so be it. She and Thomas would have a lifetime for her love to grow stronger. That it was beginning small and uncertain for her would be her secret.

As Susan reached to open the barn door, a man cleared his throat behind her. Susan jumped and whirled around.

“Umm…I have the horse ready,” Steve said. “He’s tied up in the first stall.”

Susan relaxed. “You didn’t have to do that, Steve. I would have done it.”

A hint of a smile crossed Steve’s face. “It was no trouble. Happy to do it.” He looked up at the clear sky. “It’s sure a beautiful morning.”

“Yah, it is,” Susan answered. “Well, thanks for getting Toby ready. I wasn’t expecting that. I know you’re busy with the usual chores Daett gives you.”

“Your daett is a gut man and a gut farmer.” Steve tugged the hat rim down over his eyes more. “He’s done a gut job keeping things up on the farm, even with his age.” With that, he turned to go.

Without thinking, Susan asked, “Do you have any secrets, Steve?”

He stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “Me? Secrets? I’m a pretty ordinary fellow. No secrets.”

“Really? I thought everyone had secrets.”

“Not me. I’m pretty much what you see. No secrets and no roots. I’m kind of like the dandelions in the field. I grow where Da Hah blows me.”

“So why don’t you have a girl?”

His eyes twinkled. “Maybe I haven’t found the perfect one yet.”

“Is that why you moved to a new community? To…”

“Scout the land?” He finished her sentence. “Perhaps. Do you have anyone in mind?”

“Nee,” Susan said. “And I don’t know why I even asked something like that. Maybe it’s that type of morning.”

He smiled. “I’m afraid you’ll have to look someplace other than myself for secrets. And no offense taken.”

“Thank you,” she said. “What do you think of Teresa and James?”

He raised his eyebrows. “They seem like a nice enough couple. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason,” she said. “I suppose you heard about all the ruckus before they got together.”

Steve shrugged. “I don’t pay much attention to rumors. They look like they’re in love with each other. That should be gut enough for anyone.”

“I want nothing more from life,” she said, “than to settle down to a boring sameness, day after day, night after night, living in peace and love. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’m not much into boring. I’m surprised you are. I heard you’d been with the Englisha for a while. That’s not something a person does who’s looking for boring.”

“So now you’re paying attention to rumors?”

Steve laughed. “I didn’t really hear that much. People seem to think highly of you. And I’m sure your mamm and daett will be happy if you plan to stay. And Thomas, of course.”

“What do you think of him?”

“Thomas?” He paused for a moment. “You want me to comment on your boyfriend?”

“Yah, I’m asking you. Coming from another community, you might have an unbiased perspective.”

“What if I don’t like him? Can I continue working here?”

She laughed. “I’m not going to chase you off.”

“Well…”

“Come on now. Tell me the truth.”

Steve tilted his head sideways. “Thomas comes from a good family, as far as I can tell. Of course, I don’t know what secrets lie in his past. Maybe he ran off to the Englisha world for a while too. You know, something wild like that.” His eyes twinkled as he spoke the last line.

“So you think that’s a character flaw? You keep bringing it up.”

“Depends on why a person did it, I guess.”

“Let’s just say I had my reasons.”

“Fair enough,” he said.

They stood silent for a moment.

Susan finally said, “Well, I better get busy or Teresa will wonder what’s happened to me.”

“And I better get busy in the fields before your daett thinks I’ve gone lazy on him.” He turned and left.

Susan went into the barn thinking about the exchange. Steve hadn’t given away much about his past. Not that it was any of her business. But a person just couldn’t help wondering. Had some girl dumped him? He’d probably had his heart broken, and the wound was healing slowly and out of sight of the people who knew him.

She’d done much the same thing by moving to Asbury Park. True, it had been time spent among the Englisha. But Da Hah had brought good things out of the experience. That time of her life was nothing to be ashamed of.

Susan untied Toby and led him outside. Lifting the shafts of the buggy, she swung him underneath and fastened the tugs. Holding the bridle, Susan looked toward the house and waited. There was still no sign of Teresa.

Thoughts of last Sunday night buzzed through Susan’s head. Thomas hadn’t tried to kiss her yet. In a way she wished he would. It might hurry things along. But apparently Thomas wasn’t willing to rush things until she agreed to a wedding date. To his credit, he seemed to ignore the fact that Eunice still made eyes at him almost every Sunday night at the hymn singings. Mamm was right though. Susan needed to trust Thomas and believe he wouldn’t fall again just because Eunice batted her eyes at him. After all, Thomas claimed Eunice acted that way toward all the boys, which was partly true. To his credit, Thomas really didn’t want Eunice. He was choosing her—Susan. That was worth something, wasn’t it? Surely his persistence would arouse some of the old feelings she used to have for him.

And now here came Teresa, running across the yard, her face glowing with happiness. At least somebody had things figured out in this world.

FIRST WildCard Tours Presents Jerry and Tina Eicher and My Dearest Naomi!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card authors are:
Jerry and Tina Eicher
and the book:
My Dearest Naomi
Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies.

Tina Eicher was born and married in the Amish faith, surrounded by a mother and sisters who were great Amish cooks. At fellowship meals and family gatherings, Tina’s dishes receive high praise and usually return empty. She and her husband, Jerry Eicher, author of several bestselling Amish fiction titles, are the parents of four children and live in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Jerry Eicher’s many devoted fans will be enthralled by this endearing novel in letters based on Jerry’s letters to and from his future wife, Tina, and their discovery that, indeed, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

When Eugene Mast leaves his Amish community in Worthington, Indiana, to teach in faraway Kalona, Iowa, he also must leave the love of his life, Naomi Miller.

For the next nine months of the school term, Eugene and Naomi keep their romance alive through love letters from his heart to hers, and from hers back to his.

Eugene writes of his concern that in his absence Naomi may find the attractions of another suitor to her liking. Naomi worries that Eugene may fall prey to the “liberal” Mennonite beliefs in the community where he now lives. Both can hardly wait until the school year is up and they’re finally reunited.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

This book was very different than other books I read, but I really enjoyed it. Eugene and Naomi were separated for nine months, and during that time, they wrote to each other faithfully, keep their love going strong during their separation. The unique thing I found it that these letters were based on letters actually written by the authors, Jerry and Tina Eicher during a time in their lives when they were separated.

I think you will enjoy this beautiful love story, even though it is not written in the traditional style. It is kind of nice to have a change of reads sometimes, and I found this one warm and refreshing.

Why not go out and grab a copy to read and enjoy for yourself. It makes for a super great summer read!

A poignant and tender love story that will warm the hearts of readers everywhere.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736939423

ISBN-13: 978-0736939423

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Naomi Miller stood beside the buggy, the corner of the front wheel inches from her side. Eugene Mast’s fingers were wrapped around hers. She looked up at him, the shadows from the moonlight hiding his blue eyes, leaving only the sides of his face visible.
“Do you really have to go?” Naomi whispered.
Yah,” Eugene said. “It’s something I need to do. But I’ll be back before you know it, and things will be like they always were.”
“Nine months is an awfully long time.”
Yah, but Da Hah will be with us. He will help us bear the pain of absence. And we are promised, you know.”
“But what will Bishop Enos say about this? We are both members of the church.” Naomi’s hands shifted in his. “What if there is trouble?”
Eugene laughed. “I don’t think there will be trouble. Bishop Enos knows I have no plans to forsake the church.”
“Even though you are running off to Iowa to teach at a Mennonite church school? It’s a terribly long way from Indiana.”
Eugene leaned forward, kissing her cheek. “I will write often, and that will help with the loneliness.”
Naomi pulled away. “Will you miss me? Perhaps a little?”
Eugene laughed again, causing his horse to turn his head to look at him. “I will miss you terribly, Naomi. I just believe this has to be done. If I don’t take the chance now, I’ll always look back and wonder.”
She sighed. “But it’s so dangerous out there. And the Mennonites can put all kinds of ideas in your head. Then you’ll never come back.”
He shook his head. “Please, Naomi, don’t make this harder than it is. I’ll come back. I promise.” He glanced at the envelope she had given him earlier. “Thank you for the card. I’m going to save it to open when I get to Iowa.”
“Okay. I think you’d better go,” she said. “I can’t stand this much longer.”
“I’m not much at goodbyes anyway,” he said. “I will always love you, Naomi. Goodbye…for now.”
“Goodbye,” she said, stepping back as Eugene climbed into the buggy. He slapped the reins against his horse’s back, waving once on the turnaround in the lane, his hand a brief movement from the dark interior. Watching the buggy lights move down the road and fade out of sight, Naomi stared long into the darkness. She then turned to walk back toward the house, pausing to look over her shoulder once more.
 
 
AUGUST
Monday evening, August 30
My dearest Naomi,
Greetings from Iowa. This finds me installed in the upstairs bedroom of my new home. The time was a little past eleven o’clock the last I looked. We pulled into the driveway of this little farm around nine, but I couldn’t see much in the darkness. We were met at the front porch by Lonnie and Luella Hershberger, the older Mennonite couple I’m staying with. The school board members who brought me out said their goodbyes and drove off in their van. I was shown around the house by Lonnie and Luella. After the tour, we ended up in the living room talking.
They seem like very nice people even though I’ve only just met them. Their house is a white bungalow with everything inside neatly arranged and in order. The kitchen is by the front door, with the living room in the back. I’m in the front bedroom, upstairs, overlooking the lawn. They said I could see the schoolhouse from my bedroom window, but it’s dark right now.
I feel strange and a little frightened to be out here alone. I’m missing you, of course, and the community. This awful sensation is wrapped around me, as if all the familiar props are knocked out from under me. In the meantime, I have to act as if everything is okay and be full of smiles. I can imagine right now you’re saying “I told you so,” but then maybe not, being the nice person you are.
I can’t thank you enough for the card you gave me before I left. It means so much to me. If I didn’t have your love to fall back on, I don’t think I could stand it right now. I know part of my problem is that I’m just so dead tired I could fall off the chair. The trip was long and more tiresome than I expected.
I suppose I’d better be off to bed. I won’t even start unpacking tonight. The suitcase is still open on the floor with only the things taken out that I need immediately. And that’s good enough for now.
Tuesday morning…
Good morning. I awoke to Luella hollering up the stairs. We had decided last night she would be my alarm clock since I didn’t bring one along. There is an electric alarm clock sitting on the desk, but I told Luella I didn’t know how to run one. And I sure wasn’t going to take the time to figure it out last night. She laughed and said hollering would be the Amish method anyway, and that it should make me feel right at home.
I smiled and said yah, but I didn’t mention that any reminder of home causes more pain than comfort right now.
I came downstairs to a breakfast of eggs and bacon, which I ate quickly. Then I stepped outside for a look around. The weather is nice, and I can indeed see the schoolhouse down the road. It’s a large, white, wooden structure with tall windows on the side. There’s a bell tower on top, placed toward the front. There’s a single tree in the yard.
Back upstairs, I started to unpack until I saw your second card. That brought a halt to the unpacking for a while. Who would have thought being away from you would be this hard?
As of now, the plans are that I will take the rest of the week to settle in at the schoolhouse. They only have a half-day scheduled for school on the first day, Friday. Then no school on Monday, since it’s Labor Day. Beats me how I’m supposed to keep myself occupied all that time with so little work to do.
The chairman of the school board told me the teacher who taught last year will be at the schoolhouse today by 10:00. She will give me details on the lesson plans and other pointers she might have on how to do things around here. I’ve been told it shouldn’t be that different from the year I taught at our Amish school, but I shall see.
While I think to mention it, I forgot to give you the other dove from my farewell cake at our families’ going-away supper. Somewhere in all the goodbyes it slipped my mind. I have the one, and you were supposed to get its mate. My sisters have it now and are supposed to pass it on to you. Hopefully we can match them up when the school year is over.
Luella said the mailman goes past at quarter till nine, so I’d better get this letter out. Here’s my address and a little rhyme. I know it’s not much, but it lets you know how much I’m missing you.
When the new moon hangs in the starry skyI think of love, of ours, of you and I.
With all my heart,Eugene

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