Authors: Mary Ellis
HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Scripture references taken from:
The Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL 60189 USA. All rights reserved.
The HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Cover photo © Abris / iStockphoto
Cover by Abris, Veneta, Oregon
A WIDOW’S HOPE
Copyright © 2009 by Mary Ellis
Published by Harvest House Publishers
Eugene, Oregon 97402
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ellis, Mary, 1951-
A widow’s hope / Mary Ellis.
p. cm.—(The Miller Family Series ; bk. #1)
ISBN 978-0-7369-2732-1 (pbk.)
1. Amish—Fiction 2. Widows—Fiction. 3. Widowers—Fiction. 4. Farm life—Fiction. 5.
Holmes County (Ohio)—Fiction. I. Title.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Printed in the United States of America
09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 / RDM-SK / 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To the love of my life and best friend…
I can’t imagine how dull life would
have been had I not met you.
Thanks to Mrs. Carol Lee and Mr. Owen Shevlin, who welcomed me into their homes and opened doors for me in the Amish community.
Thanks to Dr. Mike Longo, who pointed me in the right direction many times.
Thanks to my lovely proofreader, Mrs. Joycelyn Sullivan.
A special thank you to Mrs. Petersheim of the Swartzentruber Amish, and to Joanna and Kathryn, members of an Old Order Amish community.
Thanks to my wonderful agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who had faith in me from the beginning.
Finally, thanks to Kim Moore and everyone on staff at Harvest
House Publishers for welcoming me into their loving family.
And thanks be to God—all things in this world are by His hand.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
aa. Baa. Baaaaa.
Hannah Brown nearly dropped the clean dress she was hanging on the line into the dewy grass. But she couldn’t help herself. Every time she heard a sheep bleat, her heart jumped like a new human mom when her infant cried. Hannah pinned the garment to the clothesline and hurried to the pasture fence. Seeing nothing amiss, she breathed a sigh of relief. It was only a couple lambs energetically vying for their mother’s attention. One never could completely relax with a flock of sheep. A lamb might escape the pasture and get lost, drown in the swiftly flowing creek, become entangled in the blackberry briars, or wander into the road. Then there was the possibility of a hungry predator selecting one of her beloved creatures for his evening meal.
Hannah lifted her long Plain dress and stepped up on the bottom rail so she might survey the orderly farm her late husband had so cherished. Two years had passed since his death, yet hot tears still stung the backs of her eyes when she remembered what a kind soul Adam had been. There was much to be said for a girl marrying a childhood pal and later her best friend as they grew to adulthood. She came to love the quiet man who had loved his God, his farm, and his wife…in that order. Hannah wasn’t complaining. Romantic love with heart-pounding sensations and runaway emotions was for fancy people. Practical Hannah had her house to run, a man who worked his land with deep faith, and their thriving business. Taxes must be paid on Amish farms same as on any other, and the sale of wool and spring lambs adequately supplemented the farm’s income. Her nightly devotions had been filled with praise and thanksgiving for all she’d been given.
Only one prayer had gone unanswered during their six years of marriage, the prayer for a baby. No sons had come to carry on her husband’s name and someday help with the plentiful chores. No baby for her to cradle in her arms and sing lullabies to in the evening. No little girl to teach to sew and knit and bake delicious cookies. No child to fill a heart that overflowed with love. Now that she was widowed, she might never know the joy of hearing a little one utter “mama.” Would she spend the rest of her life alone and die a heartbroken old woman?
There were worse things in life,
she remembered as she willed herself not to cry.
She was reminded of Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Hannah blinked several times to help her stop wallowing in self-pity and turned her attention on two rams squaring off in the far pasture. She didn’t hear the footsteps until the person was right behind her.
“They are not going to do anything different than be sheep, even if you watch them all afternoon, sister.” Her younger brother, Thomas, stepped onto the rail beside her and pulled a long blade of Timothy grass to chew.
“Must you sneak up on a person like that?” Hannah asked, a little peevishly. She tried to wipe away her tears discreetly before her observant brother noticed.
“I thought surely you would’ve heard my buggy coming up the lane. That right rear wheel must be out of round. It makes an awful
lot of racket.” He swatted at a pesky gnat and then peered down at his sister. “Say, why are you crying? Is it because you’re selling me your farm? It doesn’t have to be so. I told you that. I can move here from
’s, and we’ll manage things together. We always got along reasonably well growing up.” He tugged on one of her
Hannah hopped down from the rail and slipped an arm around her brother’s waist. “And when you get your courage up to ask a certain red-haired gal to ride home from a singing with you? Maybe even ask if you might court her? What then? No newlywed wife wants to share her household with a bossy sister-in-law.”
Thomas jumped down too and placed a hand on Hannah’s shoulder. “You’re not bossy—maybe a little opinionated, that’s all. And I do believe you’re putting the horse way before the buggy.” He gazed off across the rolling pasture and distant hayfields. The sun’s rays reflected off the golden heads of winter wheat like fire. “You’ve got no call to move to Ohio to live with Julia unless it’s what you really want. Your home will always be here on this farm, with
down the road, and me—even if I end up a bachelor all my days.”
Hannah chuckled to herself. Her handsome brother needn’t worry about finding a wife. She’d seen too many female heads glance in his direction during Sunday preaching services. “
Thomas, but I miss Julia. Her
are growing up quickly, without their loving aunt offering her two cents’ worth. And Julia could use my help in the garden with canning and herb drying. Her hands are growing stiffer each year. Besides, the sale of my wool could help Simon buy land for his two sons. They’ll need their own farms someday, and land isn’t getting any cheaper.”
Hannah started walking toward the house. “Are you hungry?” she asked over her shoulder, wishing to change the subject. “Let’s have some of the stew I’ve been simmering all morning.” She didn’t want Thomas to see how uneasy she was about her relocation to Ohio. She wanted to help Julia with her four lively children—two boys and two
girls. And Julia had assured her that the sheep would be welcome. But Julia’s husband was a deacon in their district—a district a bit stricter than Hannah’s own in Pennsylvania. He’d found her opinions too liberal during her rare visits in the past. Could she meld into the Miller household and offer assistance instead of disruption?
“And what about Simon Miller?” Thomas asked, easily catching up to her with his long strides. “He’s a stern man and rules his household a bit firmer than your Adam did, I reckon.”
It was as though her little brother had read her thoughts, something he’d done often while they were growing up. She stomped up the porch steps a bit noisily for a grown woman. “It’s not my place to judge my brother-in-law, Thomas, nor yours. Julia writes nothing but positive things about what a good husband and father he is, and what a good deacon he is in their district.” She pushed open the door and entered the kitchen, fragrant with the smell of home cooking.
Thomas washed and took his seat at the table, looking abashed. “You’re right. Sorry.”
She patted his arm lightly after carrying over the kettle of thick stew. “Nothing for you to worry about. Simon and I will get along just fine.”
In her heart, Hannah wasn’t so sure, but what choice did she have? She’d run her home efficiently during her marriage and managed to keep the farm going with her
’s and Thomas’ help after Adam’s death. But she couldn’t depend on their kindness forever. Her father was getting old, and Thomas had his own life to plan. She had to trust—and pray—for a smooth transition into Simon Miller’s household. Picking up her spoon, she found her appetite had vanished.