Friday, February 20, 2015

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall Book Review

I had reviewed Book Three in the Ada’s House Series by Cindy Woodsmall in 2011, so I was glad for the opportunity to read “the rest of the story” in Hope Crossing, the complete Ada’s House trilogy, containing The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of Grace.

Book One was an introduction to the characters in an Amish community in Pennsylvania.  All of the characters have some connection to Ada, a widow who mentors young women and starts a bakery business.  Ada’s only son has left the community suddenly, leaving his fiancĂ©, Deborah, without answers. Deborah’s brother, Ephraim Mast befriends and rescues an outsider who has family roots in this community.  Due to lies told about her mother, Cara Moore did not get to grow up Amish.  When her young mother died and her father abandoned her, Cara was abused by the foster care system in New York.  She ran away from that abuse and ended up being stalked by a “brother” from one of the foster homes.  When her husband and protector died, she and her child had to keep running from the dangerous stalker.  Through God’s mercy, she found her way to Dry Lake where her mother’s family still lived.  Because she was a worldly outsider, everyone but Ephraim treated her with suspicion and distrust.  Ephraim’s befriending her led to his being shunned.  He felt God directing him to show Christ to Cara, no matter what consequences he suffered. 

Book Two continues Cara and Ephraim’s story, but also focuses on the local Amish school teacher, Lena, who suffers from low self-esteem because of a prominent birthmark on her face.  She cares deeply about her students, but sometimes bends the Amish rules to get help for them.  She is on probation with the school board when a young man in the community decides she needs to be removed from her position.  He plots, harasses, and escalates into sabotage to cause harm and even death, for which Lena gets blamed and loses her job.  Lena goes through much pain, but continues to reach out and help others, while learning to accept the disfiguring birthmark without allowing it to define her.

The themes of forgiveness and restoration are prominent in Book Three.  Sylvia Fisher has violated her own code of conduct.  She feels no forgiveness from God, so she runs away to have a new life in another community.  Keeping her guilt a secret, she buries herself in hard work.  She comes into conflict with a man who has found forgiveness from God, but is trying desperately to receive forgiveness and restoration with his parents.

At the same time, Cara Moore, who has found safety and love among the Amish community, finds it difficult to “measure up” to the Amish requirements of learning Pennsylvania Dutch and being a submissive, quiet-spirited woman so she can marry Ephraim Mast.  One requirement is that she forgives and has a relationship with her father who abandoned her when she was a child.

Cindy Woodsmall is an excellent writer.  There are so many characters to meet in these books, and it really helped to read the trilogy through at once to be able to get to know all their connections and keep them straight.  Along the way, I learned more about how the Amish community functions.  Woodsmall has Amish advisers for each book, so that gives me confidence that she knows what she is writing. 

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this e-book for my Kindle free from the publisher through the Blogging for books program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CRF, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Early February

Every other week, Randy and Joy bring Joanna up to spend a few days with us because of Bright Lights Bible Study Emily and Joanna attend every other week.  So we get to play games with the kids and have time together.  Beth and Jonathan are playing a matching colors game.
 Emily and Joanna playing Trouble with Quil and Micah
 Grandpa, Beth, and Jonathan playing Go Fish with I Spy cards
 Now they are playing Hi Ho Cherry-O.
 Jewelyn is learning how to make the train go around.
 Jewelyn ready for Night-night!
Joanna does school at our house.
 We've had nice weather a lot lately, so we have gotten some walks in.
 We have had gorgeous sunsets (and sunrises) lately.  God is so creative!
 Rowen's sister Esther visited on 2-7.
 Sometimes Grandpa falls asleep on the job...Jewelyn doesn't mind.
 Micah and Quil love for Aunt Beth to read to them.
 The girls wore their dresses alike on 2-8.
 Emily had her next to last orthodontic appointment today.  She is scheduled to have her braces removed on March 26!

Other January pictures

I'm not sure what the grandsons are doing with all their animals on the stairs--church? a crowded bus?  I thought it was cute.
 I made Rowen an apple pie for his birthday dessert.  He turned 57 on January 21.  The picture on the wall is a canvas print of one of Emily's photos that she added the scripture to and gave him for his birthday.
 Jewelyn and Grandma snuggling after the birthday supper.
 Grandpa reading to Jonathan.  He was in pajamas because it was almost time to go home and go to bed.
 On January 25, Joanna and I coordinated our colors without even knowing what the other would wear.
 We celebrated Micah's 6th birthday which was January 26.
 Both of the birthday "boys".
 Aunt Beth, Micah, and his birthday cake, which was a snow covered mountain with a plow truck trying to clear the road.
 Jonathan looking contemplative.
 Jewelyn has four teeth:  two on bottom, and two on top.  The top ones are not the middle ones.  This is the same pattern that Beth did when she was a baby.

January 2015 Visit from the Grouts

It was our great privilege to have Richard and Judy Grout overnight with us a couple of times in January, when they were coming and going from Idaho via airplane.  They set up a display in our family room and we had Bob and Catherine Desmond and Randy's family come for a missionary service.
 This Russian nesting doll set had extremely tiny dolls.  We got them all out, but put the littlest ones safely nested away before our grandchildren got here.  The pointing finger gives perspective to how tiny the littlest one was!
 Richard had a power point of Russian pictures playing on our computer while he talked about each one, then Judy talked about their orphan ministry.
 Afterwards, we moved to the living room and they sang and played a Russian song for us.
Jewelyn was attentive to the camera person.  Funny how young they learn that skill!  :)