HARVEST OF BLESSINGS
by Charlotte Hubbard
The tranquil little town of Willow Ridge is facing a startling challenge. Wealthy Nora Glick Landwehr is determined to make it her home again—and put her past to rest. Cast out by her own family, Nora can’t reconcile with Old Amish ways or her strict father. But she’ll do anything to help her community embrace the future . . . and make amends to the daughter she had to give up. She certainly has no time for her reckless new neighbor Luke Hooley. They disagree about almost everything. And how can she trust him if he always seems to believe the worst about her? Somehow, though, his unexpected support and passionate heart are helping her find her own way in faith. And Nora will discover that even in the face of insidious lies and unyielding judgment, God creates unexpected chances for forgiveness—and love.
Seasons of the Heart, Book 5
Zebra (February 24, 2015)
ISBN-13: 9781420133097 •• ISBN-10: 1420133098
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The moving van hadn’t yet arrived, so Nora pulled back onto the county highway where she’d begun her trip down memory lane. While everyone in town was at Annie Mae and Adam’s wedding, she had the perfect chance to revisit her childhood home. To prepare herself for the ordeal she would soon face.
She pulled into the lane and parked behind the house, somewhat surprised to see the surrounding pastureland planted in tall corn that shimmered in the breeze. Knowing it wouldn’t be locked, Nora slipped into the back door. The kitchen appeared smaller and shabbier than she recalled, as though it hadn’t seen fresh paint since she’d left. How odd to stand in this hub of the house and not detect even a whiff of breakfast.
Nora moved on before she lost her nerve. She felt like an intruder—and she wanted to be long gone before anyone came home from the wedding. She peeked into the small downstairs room where she and her mother had sewn the family’s clothes on an ancient treadle machine—
Nora gaped. On a twin bed lay a motionless female form, like a corpse laid out in a casket. Is this what Hiram had meant by implying her parents were barely alive? Did she dare approach, or would this woman pop up like a zombie from an old horror movie and leer at her with hollowed eyes and a toothless grin? Nora wanted to bolt, yet she felt compelled to look this woman—surely her mother—in the face. If Mamma was so far gone, why wasn’t someone sitting with her? Or was she merely napping, too tired to attend the wedding? The way Nora had it figured, her mother was in her early seventies now—several years younger than her dat. Why did she look so far gone?
Holding her breath, Nora slipped to the bedside. The room felt stuffy in the July heat, yet a faded quilt covered her mother’s shriveled form up to her chin. A kapp concealed all but the front of her white hair, so all Nora saw was a pallid face etched with wrinkles. The eyes were closed, and again Nora felt she was observing a stranger in a casket rather than looking at her own mother. Last time she’d been here, Mamma’s face had been contorted with indignation as disgust hardened her piercing hazel eyes—
And suddenly those eyes were focused on her.
Nora froze. Not a muscle moved in her mother’s face yet Mamma’s gaze didn’t waver—until her eyes widened with recognition. Or was it disbelief, or fear?
Nora didn’t stick around to figure that out. Hurrying from the airless room and through the kitchen, Nora burst through the back door. She couldn’t gulp air fast enough as she climbed into her car and sped down the lane. She felt as though she’d stared Death in the face and Death had stared right back.
Do you write about what turns you on?
How about if I rephrase that? “Turns you on” brings back shades of the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” era I grew up in—which isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t represent the genre of Amish romance I’m writing right now!
I do write what I’m passionate about in these stories: faith and family. My stories won’t whack you upside the head with a Bible or a lot of preaching, but for my Old Order Amish characters, faith in God comes first and love of family runs a close second. I married into an Iowa farm family nearly 40 years ago, so those are values I relate to.
Do I write about a bunch of holier-than-thou goody-goodies? Nope. My stories have dealt with unwed pregnancy, an arrogant (oh, so arrogant!) bishop who feels he is above the law, young men who hide cars—or motorcycles— from their parents, and young women who defy their parents by dating guys twice their age.
My characters have also endured heartache and grief and the sort of real life we all go through. The heroine of my current release, EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST, loses her mother and would probably remain a homebody for the rest of her life if it weren’t for Jerome’s insistent belief that she deserves to have some fun. Amanda Brubaker has dealt with blending her three kids with her new husband’s five—and Wyman has been taken advantage of by the crooked contractor who’s building his new grain elevator.
You’ll also see a lot of down-home food in these stories, served up around the kitchen table, where families talk about important issues in their lives. You’ll meet men and women who work very hard—and then enjoy their time off. They don’t work on Sunday except to tend their livestock or put a meal (mostly cooked the day before) on the table. They don’t have phones or electricity in their homes, and they don’t drive motorized vehicles.
Does this sound old-fashioned and outdated? It is! But for the Amish I write about, remaining unplugged and out of cars keeps them close to their families and neighbors. I strive to portray my characters’ guilt and forgiveness, their resourcefulness when God doesn’t grant them what they pray for, as well as their sense of humor and their knack for getting around the rules and regulations their faith dictates.
The Amish fascinate me. I try to portray my respect and admiration in every book I write about them.
What is your favorite joke?
Hah! I have an uncle who has a joke for every occasion, and some that don’t really fit any occasion, but he tells them anyway. If I could remember any of them, I’d tell you one!
What song would you choose for karaoke?
You know, I’ve sung in some church choir or another since I was 8 years old, so I can carry a pretty decent tune—and I would rather sing harmony than melody. I’m what I consider a “utility” singer, though, rather than a soloist, although I’ve done a few solos over the years. I’m great in a group.
I have never sung karaoke. But if I were to choose a song, it would most likely be
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” or some other torch song with which I’d thoroughly humiliate myself and vow to never pick up a microphone again.
Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.
Facebook page: https://facebook.com/Charlotte.Hubbard1
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