Monday, February 18, 2013

Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl

Gentle and unassuming Hope Kauffman has never been one to question or try to make changes. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal her father arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite Hope's and other Kingdom residents' attempts to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, and when one of Kingdom's own is threatened by a mysterious outsider, Jonathon is one of the first to push for the town to arm itself. Hope's fianci, Ebbie, is at the forefront of those demanding the town stay true to its traditions of nonviolence.


     “All I know, Hope, is that you folks in Kingdom need to be careful.” Flo neatly folded the piece of fabric I’d just purchased, running her thin fingers along the edge to create a sharp crease. “Two nights ago a church near Haddam burned to the ground. Someone is targeting houses of worship in this part of Kansas, and they don’t care about the denomination. They just hate Christians.”
    “But Kingdom is so remote. Besides, when anyone new comes around, we know it. There’s only one road into town.” My words sounded reassuring, but the rash of recent attacks left me feeling troubled. Was our small Mennonite town in danger? The idea that someone was harming people because of their love for God was hard for me to understand.
     “Just yesterday someone tried to run a car off the road outside of town,” Flo said. “Folks had a Christian bumper sticker. That was all it took to get them into trouble.”
    “Was anyone hurt?”
    She shrugged. “No, I think they were just being hassled, but the car was forced off the road. Something like that could do a lot of damage to anyone in a buggy.”
    “Well, no one’s bothered us. Except for a few teenagers that drive past our buggies too fast and spook our horses, most people are very respectful.”
    Flo sighed. “I know you think Kingdom is special, that you have some kind of unique protection, but whoever is behind these acts of violence has shown nothing but ruthlessness. I’m afraid you’re sitting ducks out there, alone and without a way to get help if you need it.”
    She put my purchases into bags and handed them to me. “Please, even if you think I’m being paranoid, speak to your church leaders. Urge them to take precautions.” Flo, usually a rather dour person, gave me a rare smile. “You’re very special to me, Hope. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
     I smiled back, rattled by her words of caution, yet appreciative of her concern. Flo and I were as different as night and day, yet over the years we’d developed a deep friendship.
     “What is your church doing to protect itself?”
     She shook her head, causing the dyed red hair she’d piled on top of her head to tilt to the side. “We don’t take chances. Mixing faith with firearms doesn’t bother us a bit. We’ve also added an armed security guard at night when the building is empty.”
    “I guess we’ll just have to trust in God’s ability to keep us safe. We don’t believe in using violence for any reason.”
     Flo’s right eyebrow shot up. “Not even if you have to defend your lives?”
     I stared at her, not quite certain how to answer. “As far as I know,” I said finally, “we’ve never had to face a situation like that. But our leaders would never bend our beliefs to suit our circumstances.”
     “Forgive me for saying this,” Flo said, shaking her head, “but that sounds pretty stubborn.”
     “We’re not trying to be stubborn,” I said slowly, “but we are firm in our convictions. Changing our faith because of our circumstances isn’t an option.”
     “I’m trying to understand,” Flo insisted, “but what if life of someone you loved was at stake? Would you alter your doctrine to protect them?”
     I shook my head as I picked up my bags. “All I can do is hope I never have to find out.”
     Flo frowned. “Look, I realize you’re trying to live by your teachings, but I can’t accept the notion that God wants you to stand by and let evil men do whatever they want.” She reached out and grabbed my arm, her eyes bright with worry. “Please don’t blow this off, Hope. The Methodist church on the other side of town was vandalized one night while a young man was inside cleaning the carpet. He was beaten up pretty badly.”
     I patted her hand. “All right, Flo. I’ll talk to one of our elders when I return.”
    “Do you swear?” Her grip on my arm tightened.
     I laughed. “Now you’ve asked me to do something else I can’t do. Mennonites aren’t supposed take oaths.”
     Flo’s eyes narrowed as she stared at me. “Following a bunch of rules doesn’t make you any closer to God, Hope. You know that, right?”
     “Yes, I do. But at the same time, why should I swear to something when I’ve already told you I would do as you asked? Isn’t my word good enough?”
     Her expression relaxed as she thought this over. “Yes, your word is good enough.” She finally let me go. “But next time you come in, I’m going to make sure you followed through.”
    She came around the side of the counter, and I put my packages down to give her a hug. “You’re such a blessing to me. Thank you for caring so much.”
    Most people would probably think we looked odd. An older woman with bright red hair and overdone makeup hugging a plain Mennonite girl wearing a long dress with a white apron and a white prayer covering on her head. But Flo and I had moved beyond seeing our differences.
     She let me go and swiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. “You take care of yourself, and I’ll see you next month.”
    “I will. Do you think that royal blue fabric I ordered will be in by then?”
    She snapped her fingers. “Well for pity’s sake, I forgot all about it. It came in yesterday. You wait here a minute, and I’ll fetch it.”
     I smiled. “Thank you. My friend Lizzie and her new husband are fixing up a house they bought on the edge of town. I want to present them with the quilt before they’re completely moved in.”
     Flo chuckled. “Well, if anyone can put it together quickly, it’s you. You’re the fastest quilter I’ve ever known.”
     “I suppose it’s a good talent to possess since I run a quilt shop.” We laughed, and Flo went into her back room to get the material. She’d just left when I heard the bell over the front door ring.
     I turned around and stared at the young woman who’d just walked into the store. She was beautiful, with long blond hair that fell softly over her shoulders. She wore jeans and a white cotton blouse with stitching around the neck. Bright red toenails peeked out from her sandals. The color on her toes matched her long fingernails. A little makeup accented her thick, dark lashes and large blue eyes. I’d seen beautiful women before, but there was something about this girl that caught my attention. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was.
    I couldn’t help but glance down at my ordinary dress and my hands with short, unadorned nails. Quilting and sewing forced me to keep my fingernails trimmed, and none of the women in my church ever painted their nails. For just a moment, I found myself wondering what it would feel like to be the attractive girl who seemed so happy and carefree.
     The fleeting thought left me feeling confused. I grabbed my packages and hurried toward the door. As I passed the young woman, we locked eyes. Hers widened with surprise as she took in my dress and prayer covering. For a brief second I felt a flush of embarrassment, but it quickly turned to remorse. I wasn’t ashamed of God, nor was I ashamed of my Mennonite heritage. I made sure my packages were secure and almost ran from the store.
     As the door closed behind me, I looked back and saw the girl watching me. At the same time I saw my reflection in the glass door. A girl from the world and a girl from a small Mennonite town both stared back at me. The reason for my overreaction became clear. We could have been twins. The look on her face told me she’d seen the same thing.
    I turned and walked quickly toward my buggy. Daisy, my horse, waited patiently outside, tied to a post near the door. I put my sacks in the storage box under the buggy seat, and then I unhitched her. “You are such a good girl,” I said, rubbing her velvety muzzle with my hand. She whinnied softly, and I climbed up into the carriage seat. “It’s time to go home, Daisy.” I wanted to glance back toward the store to see if the blond woman was still watching me, but instead I kept my eyes focused on my beloved horse. Lightly flicking the reins, we headed toward the street.
     As Daisy and I turned toward Kingdom, the odd reaction I’d had to the woman in the store dissipated quickly. I had no interest in living a different life. Although several of my friends had left Kingdom at one time or another, I’d never had the urge. I’d been born and raised in the small town, and I loved it. Papa and Mama settled there not long before she became pregnant with me. Then Mama died after a severe asthma attack when I was only seven, and Papa had become both mother and father to me. I loved him with my whole heart. He would spend the rest of his life in Kingdom, and unless God told me to leave, I would do the same thing.
     I loosened my hold on the reins and relaxed back into the seat. I could nod off to sleep and Daisy would still be able to deliver us safely home without any direction from me. We’d been making this monthly trip for a long time, and I was confident she knew the way as well as I did.
     The main road toward Kingdom was never very busy. The few vehicles that used the road stayed pretty close to Washington, and after a few miles away from the city, I might not see any cars or trucks at all before taking the turnoff to town. Most of the traffic I dealt with was in Washington itself. Although a lot of the people who live there were used to their Mennonite neighbors, there are some who liked to drive past us slowly, gawking, and sometimes even taking pictures.
     I took a deep breath, filling myself with the sweetness of spring air and deep, rich earth. The wheat in the field was tall enough to wave in the gentle wind, and I was struck once again by the beauty of Kansas.
     From the other direction, I saw a buggy coming my way. As it approached, I recognized John Lapp, one of the elders who’d left our church over a disagreement with our pastor and some of the other elders. Kingdom was moving away from a works based culture. Our pastor taught lessons about the importance of grace and how Christ had set us free from works of the law. This didn’t sit well with some of our members. John Lapp being one of the most vocal opponents.
     I nodded at him as he drove past, and he returned my gesture with a barely discernable tip of his head. John’s wife, Frances, had been ill for quite some time. Poor John was constantly driving to Washington for medicines and supplies his wife needed.
     As Daisy’s hooves clip-clopped down the dirt road that led home, the buggy swaying gently in time with her gait, my mind went back to my conversation with Flo. I couldn’t help but wonder who could be behind these vicious attacks. Perhaps I should take her warning seriously, but this kind of hate was beyond my experience. Kingdom was a special place, safe and protected from the outside world. The idea that we were in danger seemed extremely unlikely. However, since I’d told Flo I’d mention something to our leaders about the situation, I began to rehearse exactly what I would say.
    Suddenly, the roar of an engine shook me from my contemplation. I automatically pulled Daisy as far to the side of the road as I could. Glancing in my side mirror, I saw a bright red truck barreling down the dirt road, a wave of dust behind it. Only seconds before it reached us, I realized with horror that it was aimed straight for the back of my buggy.

About the Author

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored fourteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Road to Kingdom series, “Inescapable,” came out in July of 2012. The second book, “Unbreakable” released in February of 2013.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”
Unbreakable is available at:


Nancy Mehl is giving away a copy of Unbreakable, Book Two in the Kingdom SeriesTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Anonymous said...

Karen, I really want to win Nancy's book. It sounds so good. Good to have a mystery making you not want to put the book down for a minute. Please enter my name.
Thanks Nancy and Karen for this chance.
MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Teela said...

I've seen Nancy's name before but not had the chance to review any of her books. Mysteries are my favorite to read and I love what Nancy says about how she weaves her testimony of God's love throughout her books. Thanks for the chance to win UNBREAKABLE, I would LOVE to read it!

Jo said...

i've not had the opportunity to read Nancy's books before and this sounds like such a good book. Thanks for the giveaway!


Sharon A. Lavy said...

I have this book and I can assure you it is wonderful!!!

Patsy said...

Would love to read this.


Wendy Newcomb said...

This sounds like a book the will keep me reading all night.


Anonymous said...

I don't think I have read any of Nancy's books. Not only does this sound like a good read, it is a timely story as I am hearing more and more stories of 'plain' people being sought out for vengeance. I would LOVE to win this book. I would love to win ALL of her books!! Thanks for the giveaway.
Elizabeth neadnitromom@aol(dot)com

ann said...

I would love to win this book. It sounds like one I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the giveaway

lgm52 said...

Enjoyed the to read the entire book!
Thanks for the giveaway.

Deborah Spaulding said...

Would love to read this book, I have not had a chance to read Nancy Mehl's books yet.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

This went to moderation and I accidently clicked on delete instead of publish.

I am reposting the message so this name will still get entered into the drawing!

Unknown has left a new comment on your post "Welcome to the Book Loft!":

Would love to win Nancy's book.
I am an Amish book junkie.

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

ngspitznagle said...

Love the excerp! Would really love to win a copy!

ngspitznagle said...

Love the excerp! Would really love to win a copy!

Cyndi said...

Hello to a fellow Kansan... I grew up in Hutch! :) Looking forward to reading this series!

cjajsmommy said...

Living in an area that is very influenced by the anabaptist traditions, I am interested in reading this book as it seems to deviate from the stereotypical story of people with those roots. Please enter my name to win a copy. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

Nancee said...

I'd love to win a copy of "Unbreakable." Nancy is an awesome author! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

beckie said...

Would love to win and review Unbreakable!

KayM said...

I enjoyed the excerpt. Thank you for offering a copy of Unbreakable.
may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read nancy's latest novel

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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