Thursday, August 29, 2013

Love Still Stands by Kelly Irvin

Made Perfect in Weakness

It’s coming on winter, and a group of dedicated families is leaving Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being injured in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question . . . and romance seems a long-lost dream. Especially romance with Elijah Christner, the handsome young farmer whose very presence seems to set her heart racing.

Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won’t be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, will Bethel find the strength to face her many challenges? And can she find the faith to believe that God still has a plan for her life?


Bethel Graber longed for the fresh air of a buggy ride. She craned her aching neck from side to side, trying to ignore the pain that radiated from her leg after hours of watching the mesmerizing white lines on the black asphalt of the highway whip toward her and then vanish underneath the van. Pain accompanied her daily now. Crammed between her nieces’ car seats, she had no room to evade it. Instead, she breathed through it, inhaling stale air scented with diapers and little boy sweat. The girls’ chubby cheeks and sleepy smiles made her want to pat their rosy faces, but she didn’t dare for fear they’d awake and the squalling would begin again.
The drive from Bliss Creek across southern Kansas to a tiny town in Missouri called New Hope should’ve taken under five hours, but the children weren’t used to traveling in a car. Poor William suffered from car sickness. Joseph needed to stop for the restroom at every gas station along the way. Fortunately, their driver seemed to have a limitless supply of patience. Bethel, on the other hand, had plumbed the depths of hers.
“Are we getting close?” She leaned forward to make herself heard over the rumble of the van’s engine. She didn’t want to wake Jebediah either. The youngest of Leah and Luke’s brood had cried a good part of the first two hours of the drive. Blessed silence, indeed. “Shouldn’t we be getting close?”
“You’re as bad as the kinner.” Leah rubbed her eyes. Her older sister had managed to keep her chestnut hair smooth around her crisp prayer kapp and her apron spotless, but dark smudges under her eyes made her look bruised and weary. “We’ll be there when we get there.”
“Your sister’s right.” Luke adjusted his arms around Joseph and William, who slept burrowed against their daed’s chest, one seated on either side of him. “But, having made this trip a few times now, I can tell you we’re about to go around a bend in the road, turn right, and make our way down a long, bumpy dirt road. At the end, you’ll see our new home.”
Our new home. Our new start.
Leah’s nose wrinkled, and her lips turned down in a thin line. She faced the window, as if interested in the landscape, more and more different from the flat plains they’d left behind. Bethel did the same, anxious for a glimpse of this new home. Towering oak, hickory, and sturdy spruce trees vied for space along the road, which seemed to rise and fall as the terrain became more hilly. The trees were dressed in autumn colors, their orange and red leaves brilliant against a radiant blue sky overhead. The spaces between the trees had their own decorations, mostly in yellows, purples and pinks—brown-eyed susans, sunflowers, sweet clover, morning glories, and tall thistle that hadn’t given up their colorful blooms to autumn weather just yet. In comparison, her memories of Bliss Creek already seemed drab.
“It’s pretty, Daed, it’s pretty, isn’t it?” Yawning widely, Joseph wiggled from Luke’s grasp and sat up. “I can’t wait to see the house. Are the horses there? And the chickens and the pigs?”
“Hush, son, you’ll wake your bruders and schweschders.” Luke tipped Joseph’s straw hat forward on his head. “The livestock will be there, as I told you before—three times—and your clothes and the furniture. It’ll all be waiting for us to unpack and start working.”
His gentle tone and good-natured smile endeared her brother-in-law to Bethel as it had many times in the past. Luke was a good man, a good husband, and a good father. Leah didn’t seem to register her husband’s words or her son’s question. She returned to her knitting, the needles clacking, the blue and gray yarn sliding smoothly between them. God had showered the woman with blessings. Yet she seemed only to notice the half empty glass.
Bethel tried to stymie her thoughts. They served no purpose. God made her a teacher; her sister, a mother. She tried, as always, to ignore the niggling thought that attempted to worm its way into her mind. If only it were reversed. Stop it. She should be thankful for the short time she’d been honored to be in the classroom. Still, it hurt to think about her new circumstances. Now, with her injuries, she had neither children of her own nor scholars to teach and mold and shape.
God’s plan?
 What is it, Gott? What is your plan? Bethel slapped a hand to her mouth, even though she’d hadn’t spoken aloud. Sorry, Gott, I’m sorry. I don’t have to know your plan for me. I have faith in You. You have a plan.
Sitting up straighter, she smoothed her apron, determined to be content with her lot. Better she should focus on helping Leah, easing her burden, with five children and only the boys old enough to be of any help. They could weed or gather eggs, pick vegetables in the garden, do small tasks, but the laundry, sewing, cooking, and cleaning? Leah had her hands full. Somehow, Bethel would help.
“When we get there, I can get the kitchen clean so we can start unpacking pots and pans.” Bethel offered an olive branch in the unspoken fray. “That way you can make up the pallets of blankets. Tomorrow when the furniture is unloaded, we can start putting together the beds.”
“It only looks pretty now, Joseph. The leaves will drop soon, and the snow will start.” Her tone soft, almost resigned, Leah spoke as if she hadn’t heard Bethel’s offer. Her gaze didn’t waver from her knitting. “We won’t have time to plant a garden, much less harvest anything before it’s too cold. We should’ve waited until spring to move.”
“The bishop decided.” Luke’s patient tone mirrored the one he’d used with his seven-year-old son. “We’re a little late, but we can still plant winter wheat and rye.”
“You said yourself the later we plant, the poorer the yield—”
“There. There’s the turn.” Luke cut his fraa’s sentence short. He leaned in front of her and pointed. “Turn right, Michael.”
“I know. This isn’t my first time, remember?” Michael Baldwin, Luke’s favorite driver and a friend who would be missed when he returned to Bliss Creek, navigated onto the dirt road with ruts so deep the van bounced and rocked. “Whoa, easy does it.”
They slowed to a crawl. To a speed more appropriate for a buggy. Bethel smiled at the thought. She wished again she were in a buggy. Then she could take the time to enjoy this new scenery, to smell the smells of her new home and hear the birds that surely perched in these trees. She needed this new beginning. She needed to leave behind the images of the furious storm that sent school desks flying through the air. She needed to forget the sounds of the screaming children on the day her career as a teacher had ended and her life on damaged legs had begun.
 “For now, Joseph is right, it is pretty. And I like snow. We had plenty of that in Kansas too.” She managed to keep her defiance from her voice. “It’s a good new start.”
Her brother-in-law grinned at her. It made him appear much younger than his thirty years. Under the brim of his straw hat, tufts of his walnut-colored hair sticking out, he looked like Joseph, a boy enjoying an adventure. Bethel grinned back. She saw her hope and excitement in his face.
“You’re right. A new start.” He leaned toward Leah as if he would touch her, but he didn’t. She didn’t look up from her knitting, but her frown deepened. “Look out there, Leah, that’s the land we’ll farm in the spring. We’ll have a bountiful crop and all will be well.”
Still, Leah didn’t look up. The van rounded another bend in the road. Bethel strained to see the house and the barn and the land that would be their new home, their new start.
“What’s that?” Luke scooted forward on his seat. “What is that on the front of the house?”
Bethel saw the semi that held all their belongings first. She saw the animal trailers that held the horses and the buggies. Then she saw the house and the reason for Luke’s dismay.
At first she couldn’t understand. This house? For this place they’d driven almost four hundred miles? Someone had shattered the glass in every window, first and second floor. Neon orange spray paint marred the once white facade, the wide strokes winding their way between the shattered windows in wide arching loops like a snake in search of its prey. The loops ended in words written in huge cursive. The edges of the windows had been blackened by fire that appeared to have burst out from the inside. Trash littered the porch and the front door dangled from its hinges.
None of them spoke, the silence filled only with their ragged breathing.
Luke withdrew his arm from around William. The little boy rolled away, then sat up, his eyes wide at the abrupt awakening. “Daed?”
“We’re here.” Luke’s tone had lost its gentleness. His jaw worked as he undid his seatbelt as if to get out. “Stay in the van—all of you.”
Michael looked up at the rearview mirror. “Hang tight. We’re almost there.”
“I have to—”
“We’re almost there, Luke.”
“What’s it say?” Bethel managed to breathe the words even though she had no air in her lungs. Their precious new start had gone up in flames, it seemed. “Those orange words, I can’t tell what it says.”

“It says GO HOME.” Leah’s voice barely rose above a whisper. “This is our new start?”

About The Author

Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series, which includes To Love and To Cherish,  A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. Her new series, New Hope Amish, debuts with Love Still Stands, on September 1.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, published by Five Star Gale in 2010 and 2011.

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. She also serves as secretary of the ACFW San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She has worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for nineteen years. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-five years, and they have two young adult children. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

Purchase Love Still Stands at:

Kelly Irvin is giving away a copy of Love Still Stands. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email 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.


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel ;)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Emma said...

Love Still Stands sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.

Cindi A said...

This looks like a great book. Please enter me in the contest to win a copy.


apple blossom said...

thanks for chance to win this Amish book love reading Amish

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Amy C said...

Looks like Kelly has written another awesome book! :)

Diana Flowers said...

I would love to win this! Thank you for the opportunity! This will be the first book I have read by this author if I win. :)


Library Lady said...

We have Kelly's books in the church library.
I would love to win this book to add to our collection.
Janet E.

Brittany said...

Please enter me in this giveaway for Love Stands Still.
Brittany McEuen

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I love Amish fiction and this sounds like a great book. A good introduction to a "new" author for me to read.

Wendy Newcomb said...

I love your books Kelly and you have such 'attracting' covers, yes I'm guilty of judging a book by it's cover most of the time.


sm said...

This is a new theme with Amish fiction- bad injury and therapy for recovery. Hope to win and read it. Thanks for the contest. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

KayM said...

I loved that Kelly named her character Bethel. I've always loved that name for a place, but haven't heard it before as the name for a character.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an excellent book.

Katie J.

Anonymous said...

Looks like another good book from Kelly. I love stories about the Amish. I know they really work hard and long hours, but I love their simple life and community closeness. I would love to win this book. Thanks for the chance. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Patsy said...

I love reading anything Amish. It is my favorite reading.

Patsy said...

Would love to read this book.

Patsy said...

Would love to read this book.

Lane Hill House said...

Back to sign up to win this book! Thanks, Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

bonton said...

Hi, Kelly!

I love anything Amish! I didn't realize there were so many Amish settlements in the USA, & enjoy touring them any chance I have.

Would love to read Love Still Stands!


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