Monthly Archives: December 2011

Words can change a life

I have been realizing how much words matter in our daily life. We sit down and we think many thoughts, but when we put those thoughts into words and voice them to others, we cannot know sometimes the irreparable damage we can do, or sometimes the great encouragement we may have been.

We may see a child acting up and we might say “You are going to have fun when they are a teenager.” Implying with subtlety that the child is out of control, or that could not be your meaning, but the parent takes it that way.

We may spread rumors that last a long time about someone, “Did you see what Megan was wearing last night, I wouldn’t be surprised if she is pregnant next year.” That girl if she hears the saying as usually they get back to the person, not only now knows that people do not expect better of her, but they expect her to fail. If she is pregnant next year, and you were the one who said that, it is somewhat your fault. What steps did you take when you saw her going down the wrong path to help her? Did you reach out to her? Encourage her parents?

When you have words remember that every word you say, you are responsible for. Words of judgement can hurt another, words of encouragement can build up and change lives. When we spout off our thoughts on others child rearing techniques, future predictions on what someone may or may not turn out in the future…but what if the child you think might not be going down a good path gets that person who believes they can do better and change.
The movie and book “Gifted Hands” about a troubled boy who was a student with learning disabilities, who because of a mother who believed in him, he went on to be a surgeon who changed people’s lives. All it took was one person, but along the way, imagine if there were 6 people who believed in him?

Look around you today. Think of the people that you could be doubtful of turning out as productive members of society and think of what you could do to change that around. You can change the world with words, both negative and positive ones. Let’s make this new year one where you have a positive impact, not a negative one!

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

Books for children to read this year

I am counting from Sept as that is when we start the year of reading. I have really enjoyed Patricia St. John’s books as they have history in them, we can incorporate geography, as well as character traits.

1. The Tanglewoods Secret by Patricia St. John- Done
2. Star of Light by Patricia St. John- Done
3. Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John- Done
4. Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John
5. The Little Green Frog by Beth C. Harris
6. Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
7. Distant Thunder by Ruth Nulton Moore
8. Searcher for God by Joyce Reason (Story of Isabel Kuhn)
9. Twice Freed by Patricia St. John

What are some of your favorite books for children that teach values, history and geography all in one?

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Goals for 2012

2012 goals for the year

1. Walk or bike at least 100 miles
2. Write 500 words a day for 6 months= 90,000 words
3. Write 150 book reviews
4. Read books aloud to children all year- Started in Sept. So far list of books for pleasure: Tanglewood’s Secret, Star of Light, Treasures of the Snow
5. Have tea with friend once a month
6. Volunteer my time for at least one year (I am already working towards that, started in Sept. once a week volunteering)
7. Organize the laundry room
8. Invite friends over for dinner two times
9. Fix a meal that is outside my comfort zone, either foreign foods or other
10. Eat a cuisine that is very different for us, more than once in the year.
11. Go to a writer’s convention
12. Get L. and H. to read an entire book on their own

3 Comments

Filed under Daily Happenings

Menu for week

Wednesday: – I think we may have skipped dinner, we had snacks before 5…
Thursday: Dinner at sister’s- Pizza party, salad, Root beer floats
Friday: Penne pasta with hamburger patties or meatballs in sauce, green salad
Saturday: Shredded beef enchiladas, salad- New Year’s Eve- appetizers
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Lasagna soup, garlic bread, carrot sticks
Tuesday: Shepherd’s pie

Leave a comment

Filed under Bargain Dinners

Menu for week

Wednesday: Leftover chicken cut into pieces sautéed with mushrooms and served with spaghetti noodles and salad
Thursday: Spicy peanut stir fry with rice
Friday: Chicken strips, mashed potatoes, and carrots
Saturday: Christmas Eve dinner with family
Sunday: Christmas day dinner with family-
Breakfast- Breakfast casserole – Deep Dish Egg bake, Fruit and Hot chocolate/tea
Antipasti Tray
Cheese Balls with crackers
Dinner: Homemade raviolis, Sauce, Green Salad, Garlic bread, Apple cake and Whipped cream
Monday: Salami Panini’s, Salad
Tuesday: Potato soup, bread

1 Comment

Filed under Bargain Dinners, Recipes

What is true Christianity?

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27, KJV.

I am curious since I have heard so much talk among people who believe that somehow since someone skips a church service they are denying their faith in God, or perhaps not as true as worshipers as the others.
I have an issue with that.
I grew up around people who were devout, went to church every Sunday, and many of them were very good, Christian people. But some of the worst people that I have come into contact with, went to church every Sunday.

So, what makes a Christian?
The Definition of Christian means:
5546 Cristianov Christianos khris-tee-an-os’

from 5547; TDNT – 9:493,1322; n pr m

KJV – Christian 3; 3

1) Christian, a follower of Christ

A follower of Christ….what did Christ do?
Did he attend a service every week? Was that the focus of his ministry?
“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32, KJV.

We see him target some of his parables to the ones whom “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:” Luke 18:9, KJV.”

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Matthew 6:5, KJV.

I think that church attendance is a wonderful thing! We are blessed to be able to worship and praise the Creator we are blessed to serve, but when we forget the reason why, and are judgmental, harsh and forget what is true religion, it is all nothing.

I was reading 1 Cor. 13 this week. These people had it all, they did all the good things, but they lacked love in doing it. It makes it all null and void.

I want to encourage you this year, no matter what you are doing for your day of worship to God, that you keep Him the center of it. You forget traditions, and worship Him, whether that means you go to a church service or spend time with your family, or you are on the road, in a truck, or on an oilfield, remember your Creator and praise Him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Heart Renewed by Karen

My Review:
Julia Colter, the little sister from the Book 1 in this Prescott Pioneers series, is alone facing her older brother Reuben’s demands on her. She had led a carefree life when her father was alive and when her brother Will left home, she was left to bear the brunt and expectations of her legal guardian. When his demands become more than she can bear, she makes a plan to get out of them, but the consequences are far reaching. Will she always bear the marks of the cruelty of someone who should have cared for her?

Adam Larson wants to be a horse trainer and when Will Colter offers him a job, he excitedly makes plans to head west. When his sister asks him to help her best friend and risk losing his dream, what will he do? Will he risk his dream and help someone else who is being abused or will he turn his back on her?

Ms. Baney does a good job of detailing the expectations that were required of women back in this time period of 1864. Women did not have choices all the time of whom they would marry and domestic violence was more common than we think, overlooked by law enforcement and even the church. I enjoyed how Ms. Baney took a beautiful story of pioneers, but also wove the real life hardships that faced people, including abuse.
This book does contain some adult related topics since it touches on abuse and so it would be advised for a parent to pre-read it before you decide if it is appropriate for your teen.
This series is one of the best western series of the old west that I have read, in realistic writing. Ms. Baney is a skilled writer and really draws you into the story! You may be up until 1 am. reading like I was, if you are not careful! -Martha

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:

and the book:

Karen Baney (April 17, 2011)


***Special thanks to Karen Baney for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer.  Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing.  Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs.  She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Headstrong.  Unconventional.  Until life turns upside down…

Julia Colter struggles to accept life under her controlling brother’s greed.  The suitors he selects would benefit him, but are far from the ideal husband for her.  When her rebellion against her brother puts her life at risk, she turns to her friend for help.

Adam Larson longs to train horses and plans to head west to the Arizona Territory to see his dreams fulfilled.  When his sister’s best friend shows up in the middle of the night, he agrees to help her flee.  The decision changes his life, in more ways than he expected.

Can Julia forget the pain from her past and open her heart to love?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Karen Baney (April 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983548625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983548621

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Star C Ranch, Texas

July 4, 1864

   “You cannot be serious, Reuben!” Julia Colter shouted, not caring that she might wake her niece and nephew from their afternoon nap.  Pacing back and forth across the length of the kitchen, she stopped in front of her older brother, her temper flaring almost as hot as the stove.  “He is balding and fat and twice my age!”
   “You will marry who I say!” Reuben thundered.  “I expect you to treat Mr. Hiram Norton with the upmost respect this evening.  He has shown great interest in you and the least you can do is be civil with the man.”
   “But, I could never love him!”
   As Reuben shoved her violently up against the wall, Julia’s breath left her lungs in a rush.  Digging his fingers into her arms, she could feel the bruises starting to form.  His brown eyes darkened with unrestrained anger as he glared down at her.  She swallowed in fear, stunned by his abrupt action.
   “Stop, you’re hurting me,” she said, trying to break free from his vice like grip.
   He raised his hand as if he meant to strike her—something he had never done before.  The action startled her to silence.  Instead of hitting her across the face, as she thought he might, Reuben returned his hands to her upper arms squeezing even harder.
   Leaning so close the heat of his breath warmed her cheeks, he said, “You have no idea what hurt is, Julia.  You are an insolent little whelp.  You will paste a smile on that tart little face of yours.  And you will do your best to win his affections or,” his voice menacing, “you will suffer my wrath, the likes of which you have yet to see.”
   Releasing his hold, he pushed her so that she tumbled to the floor in a heap.  As he turned to walk away, he added in a sinister tone, “It would be best if you get used to the idea of Hiram Norton and give up fanciful notions of love, dear sister.  You will not have that luxury.  The sooner you come to accept that, the better it will go for you.”
   She sat in stunned silence as Reuben stalked to his office down the hall.  Tears streaming down her face, Julia bolted to her feet, running out the front door of the ranch house to the nearby stables, still frightened by her brother’s brutal behavior.
   The smell of hay and horse assaulted her delicate senses as she selected a gentle mare.  Throwing her saddle on the horse’s back, she led her from the barn.  Once under the open blue skies, she shoved one foot into the stirrup, swinging her other leg over the mare, riding astride.  Nudging the mare into a full gallop, Julia fled to the one place she would always feel free—the back of a horse in the wide open pastures.
   Reuben may be her guardian now, but she had only to endure a few more years of this before she would be of age and in control of her life.  If only she could stop him from marrying her off before then.
   At seventeen, she considered herself too young to get married, though many women her age and younger married.  She wasn’t ready.  She didn’t pine for the responsibilities marriage entailed.  She liked her freedom.  But, when she was ready to marry, she would marry for love and not because Reuben wished it.
   Certainly, she would never marry Hiram Norton.  The thirty-seven year old rancher was the exact opposite of what Julia wanted for a husband.  His short stature and fading hairline made him look even older.  He had a reputation for loving excess.  When it came to food, his waistline showed the results of that love.  There were other unsavory aspects to his reputation as well which included rumors that he frequented the saloon and brothel.
   No, the man for Julia would be young and handsome.  His character would be impeccable, his honor undeniable.  Land, money, and wealth held no importance to her.  She only cared that her dream man would be able to provide for her and their family.
   As the wind tangled her long, sandy brown curls, she continued to press the horse for more speed—needing it to soothe her fear and anger.  In the distance she saw the herd of longhorns kicking up dust.  The sight sparked a memory of Will, the kinder, more honorable of the Colter brothers, sending her mind racing in another direction.  So many times he’d taken Julia out to the pasture, teaching her how to rope, ride, and work with the cattle.  Some thought such behavior unacceptable for a lady.  She was glad to learn these skills.  Should her handsome young dream man end up being a rancher, he might appreciate her ability to work the ranch by his side.
   Why hasn’t Will written?  The thought of Will brought fresh tears as memories of his hasty departure flooded her mind.  Not only had she buried her father, but she also lost the brother she was close to—all within a few short weeks.  Almost a year ago, following her father’s death, Reuben forced Will to leave the ranch when he had been deeded the house and ranch.  While Will and Reuben both received half of the herd and the financial holdings, Will was left with no home or land.  Unable to find anything close, Will moved to the Arizona Territory, leaving Julia behind.  Alone.
   The only time she heard from him was in November 1863.  Will wrote that he, his men, and his cattle arrived safely and set up their new home near the Granite Creek settlement in the Arizona Territory—wherever that was.  No other letters came.
   Despite the thirteen year age difference between Will and Julia, they adored each other.  She followed him everywhere, never far from his side even when he worked with the herd.  When she needed protecting, it was Will who came to her defense.
   Oh, how she could use his protection now.  If he were here, he would stop Reuben from forcing her to marry that awful Hiram Norton.
   But, he wasn’t here.  He was in a distant territory, far from Texas, far from her aid.  Her father left her in Reuben’s care—not Will’s—even though Will would have been the better choice as far as Julia was concerned.
   Their father never saw the evil that clouded Reuben’s heart and he knew nothing of his manipulative ways.  In her father’s eyes, Reuben was as good of a son as Will.  If her father knew of Reuben’s late nights in town or of his forceful tactics for bankrupting other ranchers and taking over their lands, he turned a blind eye.  She found it hard to fathom that father could have missed such thinly concealed behavior.
   As the mare started to struggle for breath, sides heaving with great effort, Julia eased up the pace.  She was so torn.  She had thought more than once to runaway to Arizona, but was afraid Reuben would find her and drag her back.  Now he wanted her to flirt with Hiram Norton and get him to marry her.  She had no desire to do what Reuben was asking.  Mr. Norton may be wealthy, but he was twenty years older than her.  There was something indecent in that alone.  Nothing about him or his character appealed to her.
   Realizing she was nearing the outer pasture, Julia turned the mare around to head back to the ranch house.  She did not want to risk angering Reuben further by being unprepared for their dinner guests.  Lord, please don’t make me have to marry that repulsive man.  Will always said you could work things together for good.  I am not seeing much good right now.  Please give me the strength to make it through this evening meal.
   As she pulled the mare to a stop in front of the stables, she slid off the horse.  One of the young cowboys, Bates, took the reins from her hand.
   “Miss Colter, you best hurry,” he said, nodding toward the lane leading to the ranch house.
   A cloud of dust at the far end of the lane indicated their guests were already arriving.  Julia shot a quick word of thanks to the friendly cowboy before picking up her skirts and running to the house.  As she threw the door open, panting for breath, she caught Reuben’s seething look.
   Rushing down the hall she slammed her bedroom door shut.  She splashed some water on her face, wiping away the dust from her ride.
   “Where have you been?” Mary’s panicked voice preceded her entrance into Julia’s room.  Reuben’s normally calm, quiet wife seemed rather anxious as she picked up the corset she laid out.
   “Riding.”
   “Whatever for?” came the squeaky, agitated response.
   Julia tore off her day dress, tossing it over a chair.  As Mary came to assist her with the corset, Julia took her last deep breath of the evening.  She hated the confining contraption.  Once the stays were tightened, she lifted her arms as Mary helped settle the lovely yellow silk down over her shoulders.
   “You should have been in here an hour ago,” Mary lamented.  “Now there is no possible way we can fashion your hair into ringlets.  The other women will think you don’t care about your appearance.”
   They would be correct, Julia thought.  “You fret, too much,” she replied, brushing out her tangled curls.  She would be content with twisting her unruly hair into a chignon, despite how much it fought against the pins.
   “Go on.  I’ll finish,” she instructed Mary, hoping to have a quiet moment to compose herself before entering the fray.
   Mary hesitated for a brief moment before softly exiting the room.  Taking as deep a breath as she could, Julia let it out in a heavy sigh.  Undoubtedly, Hiram Norton was already here, waiting for her in the other room.  Pasting a smile on her face, she squared her shoulders and left the solitude of her room.
    “Hiram,” Reuben said as Julia approached, “I do not believe you have met my sister, Julia.”
   It took every ounce of courage to hold her smile steady and extend her hand towards Mr. Norton’s rotund frame.  Taking her hand, he placed a sloppy kiss on top, before asking, “Reuben, where have you been hiding this lovely filly?”
   Filly?  The distasteful comment sickened her.
   “Mr. Norton, a pleasure to meet you,” Julia said with more decorum than she thought she possessed.  As soon as his hold lifted, she discretely wiped the back of her hand on her dress.
   “Miss Colter, you are absolutely stunning,” he replied, allowing his lustful gaze to rove over her neckline, down her curvy figure, making overtly inappropriate stops along the way.
   She fought to tamp down her mounting abhorrence.  As the guests were seated around the table, she eagerly helped Mary set out the food. 
   Still irritated by Mr. Norton’s uncouth comment, she decided to fight back as she took her seat.  “Mr. Norton, my brother tells me you have been very successful with your ranch, despite the Union’s blockade.  Tell me, how do you do it?”
   Reuben’s eyes narrowed slightly, letting her know he caught her barely hidden sarcasm.
   “My lovely Miss Colter, such matters are too complicated for your simple mind to understand.”
   Another mark against Mr. Norton—condescension towards women, she thought, keeping the sweet smile firmly in place.  Lobbing a spoonful of potatoes on her plate she waited for him to continue.
   “However, I shall endeavor to enlighten you,” he said with an air of superiority, snatching the potatoes from her hand.  “While the Union may have blockaded our route to drive cattle to the New Orleans market, they have made no such effort to stop us from driving to points north or west.  It seems that as long as we aren’t supplying the Confederate Army, they care little where we sell our cattle.  We have simply changed our route north to the railways in Missouri.  While I don’t care for the Union and their imposing ways, a profit is a profit.  And I have made significant gains by being one of the first Texans to sell to eastern markets by way of Missouri.”
   “Mr. Norton.”  As her irritation rose, Julia retorted, “If a large profit is to your liking, why not drive the cattle west towards the California market where prices are more than triple that of the eastern markets?”
   Reuben shifted in his chair uncomfortably.  His darkening eyes warned her to hold her tongue.  Julia knew she should have heeded the warning, but she preferred being forthright.  Let Mr. Norton find that out now.
   Mr. Norton laughed off her question, causing her to dislike the man even more.  “You are a spirited little woman, I will give you that.  But your comment shows your youth and your naivety.”
   Taking not one, but two large pork chops from the platter she handed him, he said, “While the prices west are much higher, so is the cost to drive the cattle such a great distance.  The length of time it takes to drive the cattle to California is almost three times as long as the northern route.  It is also much more dangerous.  There are many more Indians and cattle thieves westward.  It would simply not be profitable to drive the herd west.”
   His snooty tone grated on her nerves.  When she opened her mouth to speak, Reuben interrupted.  “Perhaps, dear sister, you should leave the business matters to men.  I’m sure you would be much more interested in knowing how Mrs. Withers’ new baby is faring.”
   Mrs. Withers quickly picked up the conversation, monopolizing both Julia and Mary’s time.  While Julia was surprised Reuben even knew the woman had a child, she was thankful for the opportunity to ignore Mr. Norton.
   As the conversation continued, she felt something brush against her knee then move away.  She kept her focus on Mrs. Withers’ overlong description of her young son and on eating the meal, until she felt the unmistakable presence of a man’s hand move above her knee.  She stole a glance and confirmed Mr. Norton’s hand rested most inappropriately on her thigh.  Angling her legs further away from him as discreetly as possible, Julia’s stomach churned.  When Mr. Norton pressed closer, she thought she might lose her dinner.  The man appeared to have no limits.
   Standing abruptly, she said, “If you’ll excuse me.  I’m not feeling quite myself.”  Without waiting for a reply she hurried to her room.

Your browser may not support display of this image.
   Reuben scowled after his sister.  Her behavior had been completely unacceptable, despite his attempt earlier in the day to reason with her.  This silly idea of marrying for love must have worked its way into her thinking from the stories their father told of their mother.  No one married for love.
   He certainly hadn’t.  While Mary was pleasant looking enough and easy to control, he did not love his wife.  He had married her to increase his social standing among the area ranchers—something his father never seemed to care about.  Her father had been one of the wealthier men in the area and he was easy to win over.  In fact, Reuben thought, most everyone he met was easy to manipulate—except Will and Julia.
   It didn’t matter.  Will was gone and out of the picture.  He was no longer a nuisance, even though it was Will’s fault that he was in such a financial mess.  The timing of Will leaving with half the herd and half the financial holdings was disastrous, leaving him unable to pay debts to some very powerful men—a situation he was desperately trying to resolve.
   The last bite of his pork chop churned in his stomach as fear gained a foothold.  He needed Hiram’s money from the marriage arrangement to Julia.  It was his only hope of turning things around.
   As his guests finished the meal, Reuben stood.  “Gentlemen, shall we retire to the front porch for some refreshments and cigars?”
   The men eagerly nodded, obviously wanting to be away from the women as quickly as he did.  As Hiram stood, Reuben pulled him aside.  Speaking loud enough for the others to hear, he said, “We’ll join you in a moment.  Hiram and I have a few business matters to discuss.”
   Leading Hiram back towards his office, Reuben hoped Hiram would still be amiable to the agreement they discussed several days ago at the saloon, despite Julia’s less than enthusiastic attitude this evening.
   Before he offered a seat, Hiram took one, starting the conversation on his terms.  “Julia is quite lovely, Reuben.  You’ve been holding out on me.  When you asked for such a large sum, I assumed she must be dreadful to look at.”
   “So you are pleased?”
   “To a point,” Hiram admitted.  “While she’ll keep me entertained well, she needs to learn to control her tongue, especially in front of guests.  I’m surprised you haven’t dealt with this already.”
   Reuben frowned.  If only Hiram knew what he was up against.  With any luck, he wouldn’t find out until after his wedding day.  “Well, father has only been gone a short time.  He doted on her, so it will take some time to get her to properly respect a man.”
   “Ah, there’s the catch.  I’ll have to train her myself then.”  Hiram laughed.  “It will be a fun challenge—breaking her.  Too bad you didn’t have more time to do the job yourself.  You could get a much higher price for her, as beautiful as she is.”
   The price he was asking was enough.  Normally prone to greediness, when it came to selling his sister’s hand in marriage, he felt it prudent not to get too greedy.  He was running out of time and needed to pay his debts soon.  Once that pressure slackened, he could focus his energy on rebuilding his wealth.
   A brief hint of remorse came over Reuben.  Had he stooped so low that he was selling his sister for money?  But, it was not as if he were selling her to a brothel.  No, he was just selling her to a wealthy rancher.  She would live in luxury.  What could be bad about that?
   He knew living with Hiram Norton would not be pleasant.  The man had a reputation for being ruthless to his business associates, to his women, and even to his mother.  He had no limits.  He made Reuben look like a saint.  Julia would undoubtedly be miserable married to him until she learned her place.
   Chiding himself, he refocused his attention back to what Hiram was saying.  He needed this man’s money, not a sudden case of conscience.
   “After we have our cigars,” Hiram was saying, “then, I will take Julia for a walk.  See if I still fancy her.  When I return, we will announce our engagement.  It will be short.  No longer than a month.”
   Reuben held back a gasp.  He hadn’t expected Norton to want a short engagement.  “You know what the townsfolk will say with such a hurried wedding.  They will think my sister has been compromised.”
   Pulling a large stack of bills from his coat pocket, Hiram slammed it down on the desk.  “I don’t think you will care too much what is said about your sister’s reputation.  Who knows, what they say may end up being true anyway.”
   The dark look on Hiram’s face sent shivers down Reuben’s spine.  Ruthless seemed rather inadequate of a word to describe the man before him.  He had to make sure Julia did not ruin this deal, for he did not want the added pressure of Norton’s anger.

Your browser may not support display of this image.
   Mary knocked on Julia’s door not more than ten minutes after she left the meal.  Her voice was timid when she spoke, “The men have retired to the front porch for cigars.  Reuben requested that you return to the parlor with the women.”
   Sighing, Julia did as instructed.  She listened to the gossip of the rancher’s wives and wished her friend Caroline Larson was in attendance, so she might actually be able to enjoy the evening.  The Larsons owned a ranch to the east of the Star C and they had been long-time family friends.  Up until last year, before father passed away, the Larsons were always invited for every social gathering—sometimes they were the only guests.  Since then, Reuben saw little use for Mr. Larson’s moral ways and only included them on rare occasions to pacify her or his wife.
   Not paying attention to the boring conversation, Julia missed seeing the men return from the outdoors.  Mr. Norton’s hand on her forearm jolted her from her thoughts.  “Miss Colter, I was hoping you might take a walk with me.”
   “And who will be acting as chaperone?” she replied curtly, not wanting to be alone in his presence.
   Mr. Norton laughed, a sound she was beginning to detest.  “Silly girl, I am much too old for a chaperone.  I assure you, your reputation will be safe with me.  I simply want to stroll for a few moments with a beautiful woman on my arm.”
   Julia thought a stroll might be too much for the man.  He was sweating profusely and seemed to have difficulty walking the distance to the door, as his breath came in short, heavy bursts.  She looked to Mary for support.  She smiled and nodded her approval, oblivious to Mr. Norton’s reprehensible behavior.  As Reuben stood next to Mary, his eyes narrowed with a silent warning.  Heeding the unspoken message, she stood and accepted Mr. Norton’s arm.
   Outside, the air barely cooled in the waning sunlight, causing Julia to grow warm in a matter of seconds.  She wished she thought to grab her fan when a sour odor wafted from the man at her side.  Averting her face, she tried to catch an untainted breath of air.  Unsuccessful, she decided parting her lips to breathe through her mouth might be preferable.
   Nearing the stables, Mr. Norton stopped abruptly, turning towards Julia.  The quick motion—seemingly impossible coming from the man who seemed to struggle walking much of a distance—frightened her.  Sucking in air quickly through her mouth, a slight tickle lingered in the back of her throat, almost bringing on a cough.
   When he spoke, his voice took on a sinister edge.  Even in the dimming light she could see the contempt in his eyes.  “Miss Colter, while I admire your feisty spirit,” he said as he grabbed her wrists, “It would serve you not to embarrass me again, especially by questioning my business practices in a room full of my peers.  I can make your life most unbearable if you cross me.”  Without warning he pulled her close and crushed his mouth down on hers as his hands took great liberty in exploring her body.
   The shock of his action took a moment to register.  Once it did, Julia brought her booted heel down hard on the top center of his foot, just as Will showed her.  He dropped his hold instantly, crying out in pain.  As he limped toward her, she ran for the front of the house to put some distance between them.  Tripping over something, she stumbled, giving Mr. Norton time to catch up.  He grabbed her bruised upper arms with surprising strength.
   “Do not ever do that again,” he said in a hostile tone.  “Do you not know that Reuben has promised you to me?  Make no mistake, Miss Colter, I am a powerful man.  If you want to live a decent, peaceful life under my roof, you best lose some of your haughtiness… Or, I will take whatever measures necessary to force it out of you.”
   Julia blinked, trying to absorb all that he said.  Was he saying that Reuben already agreed to her marrying this loathsome man?  An ominous chill swept over her as he continued his intense stare.  Her heart beat rapidly within her chest as her panic rose.  She could not—would not—marry this dreadful man.
   Dropping his hold on her, Mr. Norton extended his arm and placed her hand in the crook.  “Smile,” he commanded as he limped to open the front door.
   While her smile came insincerely, his seemed quite pleased.  He crossed the room slowly, still favoring his injured foot, before stopping in front of Reuben and Mary.  “Reuben, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Julia has eagerly agreed to accept my offer of marriage,” he said smugly.  “She was so delighted that she agreed to a short engagement.  We will be married in a month.”  His fingernails dug into her arm daring her to speak otherwise.
   The smirk on Reuben’s face told her this had been their plan all along.  Such a public announcement, even though it was completely false, would be difficult to break.  Lord, help me.  I cannot marry that man.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Menu for the week

Wednesday: Spaghetti and meatballs, salad
Thursday: Chicken and dumplings
Friday: Roast Chicken, Shell pasta, green salad
Saturday: Homemade pasta, sauce, homemade French bread
Snacks: 7 layer dip
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Ground beef taco rice, carrot sticks
Tuesday: Chicken legs, rice pilaf or baked potatoes, Coleslaw or salad, chocolate cake

1 Comment

Filed under Bargain Dinners, Recipes

Blindness

“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:39-41, KJV.

Last Sunday this verse was used in a sermon and I like to look at the Pharisees and compare t to my own life to make sure that there are no similar circumstances in our lives that we are living today.
This one struck especially close as I think often we have had times where we say “We see!!” when in fact, because we are proud of the fact that we know what we are doing. I found it a good reminder to be humble in our talk.
We cannot look at another family and understand all the why’s behind why they do the things they do. We may have different life circumstances than they do.
The Pharisees rejected the wisdom of the formally blind man, because as they said “You were completely born in sin, and do you teach us?”
I have had this happen, where older people, reject the wisdom of a younger person, simply because of their age.
I was listening to an older song by Michael Card earlier this week, called “God’s own fool” God's Own Fool
It makes me realize that sometimes in our church factions, group factions online now, and other conflicts, nothing is new! Jesus did not look like we think He probably did! The groups of people who judge others harshly for different beliefs, follow the list of rules that they believe are biblical to the point they forget that He did call us to love one another in our judgement.
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5, KJV.
Humbleness is hard….but Jesus was humble in even His “foolishness”, his judgement was righteous, his anger was just. Yet, who do we see His grace and mercy to? The blind, the sick, the sinners, the ones rejected by society and turned away from the religious leaders of the day. Where was his anger focused?
It was not on the sin among the tax collectors, the catamites who walked the streets, or even the Roman officials….it was on the religious leaders who believed they were right.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22, 23, KJV.

I think that humbleness is the key to this. We need to make sure we watch our hearts, making sure we search to see if there is something we can learn when someone comes into our lives.
I think when we think we are right, we have to search our hearts, because when we say “We see.” our sin can remain, but when we are humble, He can open our eyes and our hearts to be cleansed from sin.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

A Dream Unfolding by Karen Baney

My Review:

This new pioneer story drew me in from the beginning, I love old west stories and this one was no different. When Hannah’s husband is ostracized in the town where he is a doctor, he makes the decision to go west, in spite of his wife’s protests. The trials of the trail as they head to Arizona Territory have her frightened and she wonders if they will make it.
Will Colter has buried his father, but he is also forced to leave everything near and dear to him, including his sister, because of people who have evil in mind.
I had to think when reading this book, how many times people because of selfishness, and just evil hearts, can do things that have consequences that effect our lives, even when it is not our fault. I am excited to read the rest of this series by this author! -Martha

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:

and the book:

A Dream Unfolding
(Prescott Pioneers 1)

CreateSpace (December 19, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karen Baney for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer. Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing. Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The promise of a new life and a chance to start over…
Hannah Anderson had the life she always wanted, married to the man of her dreams. When her husband’s brother gets in trouble with the law, the town turns against them, shattering her perfect life. Now they are left with only one choice—to head west to the Arizona Territory in the hopes of creating a new life. Will the journey be worth the cost?

Will Colter, after burying his father, is forced to leave the ranch he has called home for nearly thirty years. The journey is dangerous, challenging him and his men. Will he find the new life he was hoping for?

Or, is there a new dream quietly unfolding before their eyes?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (December 19, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1456512315
ISBN-13: 978-1456512316

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Cincinnati, Ohio

July 15, 1863

“Gunshot wound!”

Hannah sighed at the tense sound of her husband’s voice filtering down the hall from the parlor to the kitchen. Though she clearly heard the urgency in Drew’s tone, she took a moment to remove the half-baked biscuits from the heavy iron stove, lest they burn before she returned. This would be the third batch of baked goods she would toss this week so she could assist Drew in his surgery with one medical emergency or another.

Biting back a second frustrated sigh, she removed her cooking apron to don a fresh one. Tying the apron strings around her back, she entered the chaos of Drew’s surgery room. The heavy shuffling of feet echoed in the small room as four men grunted under the weight of the injured man. The acrid smell of blood hit Hannah full force. She recalled the days when the odor and sight of blood caused her stomach to roil. Nearly two years working by Drew’s side cured her of some of that sensitivity. Heart pounding rapidly, she prepared the ether cone, anticipating the forthcoming request.

“Get him on the table.” Drew instructed the men carrying the wounded bank manager, Mr. Davis, in a calm voice. As he turned to face her, his tone remained steady, “Hannah, I need the ether now.”

Hannah’s breath caught in her throat as she looked into Mr. Davis’s panicked eyes—her earlier frustration vanished. Whispering words of comfort, she placed the cone over his nose and mouth, silently counting out the seconds. Around the third second, his thrashing stopped and his body relaxed into an unconscious state. She let out a shaky breath, relieved by the sight.

Drew’s lanky form bent over Mr. Davis’s left leg as he intently studied the blood soaked trousers. Hannah offered Drew scissors and he cut the pant leg to better see the wound. The bullet was lodged in Mr. Davis’s thigh. He placed a tourniquet above the gaping hole to stop the flow of blood. Hannah mopped up what she could with rags silently praying for their patient and for her husband’s skill. As he requested the small forceps, she handed them over. Watching, she could not help but admire his steady hand and careful movements as he grasped the bullet with the forceps. Gently he removed the bullet.

As she administered another dose of ether, Drew threaded a needle with his long slender fingers, seemingly unaffected by the gravity of his task. He doused the wound to clean it before starting slow deliberate strokes with the needle to stitch the hole shut. When sweat beaded on his forehead, he barely noticed her swift action to dab it dry, his concentration so intense. Once he finished with the stitches, he wrapped the leg in bandages before checking for other signs of injury.

“I don’t see any other wounds,” Drew said meeting her gaze as he washed the blood from his hands. His expression remained unreadable. “Please sit with him for a minute while I speak with the men who brought him in.”

As Hannah pulled up a chair next to Mr. Davis’s still form, she caught most of the conversation playing out in the parlor, though slightly muffled from the distance.

“Bank robbery,” one of the men replied in response to Drew’s query.

Gasps echoed in the small parlor that served as a waiting area for patients, followed by the hiss of rapid whispering. Hannah, knowing who was scheduled for appointments, imagined their shocked faces at the unexpected announcement.

“Will you let Mr. Davis’s wife know he is here and resting comfortably?” Drew requested.

The men replied affirmatively before the sound of their feet faded behind the closed front door.

“Bank robbery,” Hannah muttered, surprised someone attempted such in the middle of the day in their peaceful town. She chided herself for thinking of Cincinnati as a town. With the large number of German immigrants arriving daily to work in the meat packing factories, her childhood home was quickly becoming a large city.

She checked Mr. Davis’s pulse again which returned to normal. The faint smell of ether hung in the air, intermingled with blood, causing her to take shallow breaths. Drew returned to the room with a deep frown on his face, obviously concerned with the news. As he listened to Mr. Davis’s breathing, Hannah went about cleaning and sanitizing the room and instruments, trying to hold her emotions at bay just a little longer.

As soon as she finished mopping up the trail of blood from the parlor to the surgery room, she jumped at the sound of the front door bursting open again.

“Phillip!” called out Mrs. Davis as she ran into the room. “Oh, Phillip!”

The frail woman gasped at the sight of her pale husband sleeping. Hannah breathed a sigh of relief that she completed the cleaning before Mrs. Davis arrived, fearful for the woman’s constitution. Glancing down at her blood splattered apron, she hoped to go unnoticed, certain the sight would send Mrs. Davis into a fit of apoplexy.

“Mrs. Davis,” Drew said, speaking in calm soft tones as he clapped his hand over the older woman’s, “he will be just fine. He is resting now, but should be awake later this evening. I would like to keep him here for a few days to make sure he is doing well, and then I’ll send him home to your capable care.”

“Thank you, Dr. Anderson,” Mrs. Davis replied, blotting her tears with a handkerchief before taking a seat next to her husband.

Quietly exiting the room, Hannah paused inside the doorway of the kitchen. The intensity of the preceding hours drained her energy as the emotions rushed forward. Leaning her head back against the wall, she let the tears roll down her face. Please let the image of Mr. Davis’s fear-stricken face fade from my mind quickly. The look had been so intense that she felt his fear as if it were her own—not in the moment she looked at him, but now as she returned to the calmness of her kitchen.

Wiping the tears from her face with the back of her hand, she removed the stained apron and threw it into a bucket to soak. Picking up a clean apron, she returned to the now half crunchy half soggy biscuits next to the oven trying to push the morning from her mind. Knowing there was no way to salvage the biscuits; she threw them into the waste and started on a fresh batch.

Carefully, she measured out the flour and buttermilk. The familiar actions of baking soothed her edgy nerves. Using the technique her aunt taught her, Hannah rolled out the biscuit dough and cut round forms, repeating the steps until all the dough formed raw biscuits. Numbly she continued through the motions until lovely golden brown biscuits emerged from the oven.

As Drew saw his last scheduled patient for the day, Hannah started her afternoon routine of tidying the clinic. Starting in the parlor at the front of the house, she straightened chairs and dusted the furniture. From the parlor, she turned left into Drew’s office since both surgery rooms on the right were occupied, one by Mr. Davis and the other by Drew and his patient. Hannah dusted her husband’s desk and stowed the patient charts in the largest drawer at the bottom of the oak desk. Taking a seat, Hannah flipped through the stack of bills. There never seemed to be enough time to see to everything. She needed to spend some time updating the ledgers soon.

Hannah stood listening as Drew escorted the last patient to the parlor. She entered the now vacant surgery room, wiping down all the surfaces. Once the room was cleaned, Hannah checked on Mr. Davis again. He was still resting peacefully, his wife clutching his hand as she sat in the chair, her chin resting against her chest either in prayer or in sleep.

Walking down the hall to the kitchen at the back of the house, Hannah began supper preparations. She felt most at peace in her kitchen—her domain. Perhaps it was from the few years she spent by her loving aunt’s side learning how to bake and cook, those domestic skills her mother had not instilled before her passing.

Shaking off the mounting melancholy, she shifted her thoughts back to Mr. Davis’s care. Following the meal, she would send Drew upstairs to their bedroom to get some rest. She would take the first shift watching Mr. Davis and then, sometime in the middle of the night she would wake Drew to take over.

At times like these, she wished Drew would hire a nurse. Hannah barely kept up with the laundry, cleaning, and meal preparations without overnight patients. Whenever a patient required round the clock care, she fell woefully behind in other chores. What would she do when she had children to care for?

“Barnes,” Drew greeted, with some hesitation, as one of the city’s policemen entered the clinic alone. Being one of two doctors in town, Drew often patched up robbers or drunken brawlers before Barnes hauled them off to jail. Occasionally he even visited the jail when Barnes deemed it too dangerous to bring the criminal to the clinic.

“What brings you here?” Drew asked, still unable to shake his concern that Barnes accompanied no one.

Barnes, his voice low and serious, asked, “May I have a word with you and Mrs. Anderson?”

Drew showed him to his office where their conversation could remain private. Once the bulky man took a seat, Drew quickly fetched Hannah. The lack of sleep from the night before did not help his increasing nervousness about the policeman’s unusual behavior.

As Hannah took a seat, Barnes started, “We have your brother, Thomas, in custody down at the jailhouse. He was identified as one of the men in yesterday’s failed attempt to rob the bank.”

Drew felt his throat constrict and his heart started beating rapidly, distressed over his brother’s increasingly wild behavior.

Sinking into the remaining chair, he asked tensely, “What happened?”

“From what we pieced together,” Barnes’ deep voice added to his air of authority, “it looks like Thomas, along with Sam Rogers and Ed Rogers, stormed the bank yesterday afternoon as one of the patrons was leaving. They pulled their guns on Mr. Davis and forced him to open the safe in the back room. Mr. Davis kept a loaded revolver in the safe, so once he opened it, he turned the gun on Sam and shot him in the foot. Then Ed fired on Mr. Davis.”

Still stunned, Drew merely nodded. He did not want to believe his brother was party to this crazy affair, crossing the line from rebellion to crime.

“After Mr. Davis was shot,” Barnes continued, “all three men took off, leaving the money behind. A few pedestrians noted the direction. We followed the trail and it led us to the Rogers’ house. We arrested all three men. Like I said, they are in jail and will remain there until a judge decides what is to be done.”

Drew looked over at Hannah. Her eyes widened with concern. Thomas rebelled for years, though never so boldly. Disappointment washed over Drew, quickly follow by guilt. If only he had been able to get through to Thomas. Maybe this would not have happened.

Ever since their father died, Drew’s brother could not contain his restless spirit. Thomas started hanging out with the Rogers brothers and things went downhill from there. The Rogers brothers bullied classmates during their school days and as they aged, they got worse: petty theft from the mercantile, vandalizing businesses, and picking fights with anyone who would pay them mind. When Thomas started staying out late and carousing with Sam and Ed Rogers, Drew did not hesitate to warn Thomas of the dangers of his actions. Closing his eyes, Drew clearly remembered the day he confronted his brother.

Drew woke to a thudding sound on the stairs. Sitting upright, he remained completely still, trying to determine if what he heard was real or imagined as his heart pounded against his chest. Thud. There is it was again.

Slipping from the bed, Drew carefully crept to the closed bedroom door. Slowly he cracked it open, just as a muffled curse reached his ears. Thomas!

Stepping from the room, Drew pulled the bedroom door closed behind him, so as not to wake Hannah. At the top of the stairs he made out Thomas’s limp form lying prostrate across several of the stairs. The stale cigar smoke and sickening sweet smell of whiskey clung to his brother’s clothing. As Drew approached, Thomas looked up and cursed again.

At first, Drew thought Thomas was merely drunk again—a frequent occurrence. But when he tried to help him up, Thomas recoiled and moaned in pain. Drew led him down the stairs and into the surgery room for a quick examination. Lighting the oil lamp, Drew saw the extent of his brother’s injuries. Besides the swollen black eye, his face and knuckles were covered with numerous cuts and scrapes. His ribs were also bruised. This must have been his worst fight to date.

“You must stop this Thomas,” he warned his brother, keeping his voice low. “The drinking, the gambling—it is only going to lead to trouble.”

“What do you care?” Thomas roared.

He grew weary of the familiar accusation. Thomas always thought Drew did not care—Drew always tried to show his concern. He was letting him live here. Wasn’t that proof enough that he cared? As his anger rose, so did his voice. “Look at yourself. Night after night you come home drunk or—”

“You have no right to lecture me! I’m old enough to take care of myself and do as I please. Mind your own business!”

“It is my business, as long as you are living in this house!” Drew volleyed back. Taking his brother in had been a mistake. He thought providing a home and some structure would help Thomas give up his wild ways. Instead, no matter what Drew did, Thomas threw it in his face.

“Don’t act like you are doing me a favor, Drew,” the hatred poured from his brother’s lips. “I know what you are doing. You just don’t want to feel guilty for leaving me here while you went to medical school. But you should! Living with Uncle Peter was awful!”

“Uncle Peter did his best to help you grow up with some discipline,” Drew countered.

“Don’t defend that selfish old man!”

The argument escalated until Hannah appeared in the doorway. When she looked from Drew to Thomas and back again, Drew shut his mouth mid-sentence. Thomas frowned, cursed, then turned and stormed out into the night.

He never saw his brother again, except once in passing on the street.

Hannah’s dainty cough brought Drew’s attention back to the discussion with Barnes.

“Dr. Anderson,” Barnes continued as he stood and walked to the front door, “I suggest you consider getting legal representation for your brother.”

Closing the door behind Barnes, Drew snorted. He refused to bail Thomas out of trouble again. Aware of the waiting patients, Drew ushered Hannah back to his office and closed the door, wondering just how much they overheard.

“What are you going to do?” Hannah asked, her anxiety evident.

“What can I do?” Drew replied, acknowledging his own helplessness in this situation. “He is a grown man and he is not my responsibility any longer.”

“Will you get an attorney as Mr. Barnes suggested?” she asked, her voice full of compassion.

“No,” he answered angrily. Seeing the shock on Hannah’s face, he quickly explained, “At some point Thomas must choose his own way. Well…he already has. He made that clear more than a year ago. There is nothing I can do or say that will change anything.”

Drew ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. His heart broke again as he thought of how disappointed his father would be. Perhaps his father passing on was a good thing. At least he would not witness his youngest son’s destructive behavior.

Sunday morning, Hannah put the finishing touches on the roast and slid it into the oven. Bounding up the stairs she quickly untied the apron from her waist. Standing before the mirror she brushed out her long strawberry blonde hair then twisted it into a chignon at the base of her neck inside the decorative black netted hair piece. She smiled, pleased with her appearance.

“You look lovely,” Drew commented as his pale blue eyes surveyed the light blue calico dress before resting on her eyes. Color flushed her face with the intensity of his appraisal.

“Come here,” he added, pulling her close. “Your eyes look bluer than the sky in that dress.” He brushed lips lightly across hers in a brief kiss.

Releasing her, he asked, “Looking forward to Emily’s visit?”

“I can hardly wait,” Hannah answered giddily.

As Hannah preceded Drew down the stairs, she could not contain her excitement over the planned Sunday dinner guests—Levi and Emily Werner. It had been two months since Hannah had seen Emily. Earlier this week, Levi stopped by the clinic to let Hannah know Emily would be back to church this week, having sufficiently recovered from her morning sickness. Hannah quickly extended an invitation for dinner, missing her best friend dearly.

Emily and Hannah grew up on adjoining farms several miles outside of Cincinnati. Hannah could not remember a time when she and Emily weren’t friends, despite being such opposites in looks and personality. With her dark curls and flashing nutmeg brown eyes, Emily charmed everyone, from the most reserved students to the toughest bullies in their school. As she grew older and began filling out her dress, boys noticed her long before noticing Hannah—not that any had noticed Hannah in school. Walking to and from school together, Hannah often found herself in the role of quiet listener to Emily’s constant chattering about what Amanda Taylor wore that day, or how the pigs on the farm gave birth to a large litter, or who danced with who at the last barn dance. Perhaps if Emily had set her mind on memorizing her lessons at school and not on such things, she would have made higher marks and Hannah would have spent less time trying to help her catch up.

Besides helping Emily with her school work, Hannah found in her a friend with whom she could confide her deepest sorrows, especially following her mother’s death. Even when her father sent her away to live with her aunt, she wrote letters to Emily almost weekly. When Hannah moved back to the farm with her father, years later, she easily picked up her friendship with Emily. Sadly, she was the only constant person in her life.

As Drew pulled the phaeton carriage to a stop down the street from the large whitewashed church building, Hannah scanned the crowd for her tall friend. Spotting her, she threw her arm up for a quick wave after Drew helped her to the ground. Emily turned without acknowledging Hannah and entered through the large dark wood doors. Perhaps she just didn’t see me.

Placing her hand in the crook of Drew’s arm, Hannah smiled, confident nothing could ruin her good mood in anticipation of a wonderful afternoon.

Once inside the church, Hannah watched as Emily and Levi took their seats in their normal pew. Drew led Hannah to the same pew. As soon as Drew and Hannah sat, she leaned forward to greet Emily, who immediately, without word, stood and followed her husband out of the pew.

“Emily, wait—”

“We’ll talk later,” Emily hissed, glancing back over her shoulder with a frown.

When Levi and Emily took a seat on the other side of the sanctuary, Hannah couldn’t help but feel hurt by her friend’s angry response. Had she unknowingly done something to offend Emily?

Feeling Drew’s body stiffen, Hannah peeked his direction. The couple on the other side of Drew stood and moved elsewhere. Soon, the pew in front of them emptied, as long time friends scattered to the edges of the room like marbles spilled on the floor.

Looking up at Drew she saw the stoic expression etched on his face.

“What’s going on?” she whispered, still trying to determine in what way she or Drew might have offended so many people.

Drew shook his head curtly.

When the music started, she shifted her gaze to the words in the hymnal, not needing to read them, but needing to hide her growing sadness over the rejection of her friends. Her voice sounded forced as she tried to sing praises to her God. Inside, she felt anything but gratitude.

Hannah shifted in her seat as the service dragged on. Her attention waned, not really hearing the words of the pastor.

As the last strains of the final hymn echoed in the wooden room, the pastor stood and gave a blessing. The sound of booted feet heightened as the crowd exited the church. Not waiting for Drew, Hannah hurried to catch up with Emily outside.

“Emily, we’ve been sitting together for years. Why did you move this morning?” Hannah asked as her friend tried to dodge her for a second time. “Aren’t you coming to dinner?”

“No, we are not,” Emily replied emphasizing each word, not looking Hannah in the eye.

“Are you not feeling well?”

“I am feeling fine,” Emily said, glaring at Drew as he came to stand next to his wife.

Hannah held her breath, hoping Emily might elaborate on her strange behavior.

“If you’ll excuse us,” Emily snapped as Levi started leading her around Hannah again.

Confused and hurt by Emily’s behavior, she reached out, placing her hand on Emily’s arm. “Please tell me, what have I done that offends you?”

Emily’s dark eyes flashed with anger as she turned to face Hannah. Brushing Hannah’s hand from her arm, she said, “It was our money, Hannah. We sacrificed and saved for years for that money. Levi took on that second shift at the meat factory so we would have enough for a home of our own to get out of that horrible squalor.”

“I don’t understand—”

“No, you don’t understand. And neither did Thomas. He just thought he could walk right into that bank and take what we worked so hard for,” Emily wagged her finger in Hannah’s face, causing Hannah to involuntarily take a step backwards. “And him, a worthless, gambling scoundrel! Never worked an honest day’s labor in his life. But, he thought he could just take what wasn’t his.”

“I understand your anger with Thomas, but—”

Levi, who stood with arms folded across his barrel chest, finally spoke, directing his comments to Drew, “A doctor is nothing without his reputation and yours is tainted by your brother’s wild ways. Tell me, Drew, did he try to hide out at your clinic when his plan failed?” Anger shrouded his words.

Drew dropped his arms to his side, stepping closer to Levi. “How could you think such a thing?”

Hannah bit her lower lip, hoping Drew and Levi would not come to blows. She was certain Drew would not win against the much larger man.

“Everyone knows you’ve been bailing him out of trouble for years. Well, this time the people of this city are not going to stand for it,” Levi responded through clenched teeth.

By now, several other couples gathered around listening to the heated conversation. Friends, who greeted her with a hug and warm smile last week, looked on with hatred carved on their faces. Tears threatened at the corners of Hannah’s eyes as the pain of betrayal heightened.

“There is nothing to get upset about,” Drew pleaded, looking around the crowd. “I have not seen Thomas in over a year.”

“That’s not what Mrs. Pierce said!” one woman from the crowd shouted. “She said she saw a man who looked like your brother going into the clinic late that night.”

Hannah frowned, balling her fist at her side. How can they believe that busybody over my husband?

“If anyone did enter the clinic that night,” Drew’s voice boomed, “it was without an invitation.”

“So you don’t deny what Mrs. Pierce said?” Levi pulled Drew’s attention his way.

Running his hand through his short sandy hair, Drew said, “I’m saying that it is possible someone could have entered uninvited without our knowledge.”

Emily raised her voice above the growing murmurs, “It doesn’t matter to me if Thomas entered your house with your blessing or not. I for one,” she said, resting her hand on her protruding belly, “will not be birthing my child at your clinic or with your assistance.”

Hannah’s tears streamed down her heated face as Emily’s words pierced her heart. How could Emily say such a thing? She talked for months about how wonderful it would be to have her best friend by her side as she labored to bring her first child into this world. Now, the friend who stood by her in a school yard full of bullies was acting the part of instigator. Did their friendship mean so little?

“And I won’t be stopping at your clinic for Franklin’s medications!” another older married woman shouted.

“When my niece has her child, I’m telling her to go to Doc Henderson!” A typically quiet man shouted.

As others added in vehement voices their promise to no longer visit Drew’s clinic, Hannah watched his face harden. Closing his eyes, he bowed his head.

Don’t give up, Drew! Her heart shouted.

When he lifted his head again, he held out his elbow for Hannah wordlessly. With a firm nod to her, she read the silent message: it was time to go. In the midst of angry murmurs circling about them, Hannah followed her husband to their carriage. As he took the seat next to her, his eyes faced forward. His jaw set in a hard line. His shoulders slumped in defeat.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews