Archives For Christian living

This was one of the first articles I wrote when I began blogging. I’m reposting it today because it goes along with the theme at the Women of Faith blog. And because it’s a much needed reminder of God’s grace in my life.  I’ve been feeling a bit dry and didn’t even realize I was thirsting for some living water. If you could use some refreshing, spend a moment soaking in an old, old story . . .

I’ve always loved the story of the Woman at the Well.

I first experienced it as a teen, during a summer spent teaching Backyard Bible Clubs. Once a week for ten weeks, I told the woman’s story. Each time, in a different backyard to a different group of children. The kids and I especially appreciated the visuals, in which a sweet-faced Samaritan woman gazed at Christ from eyes filled with questions.

I remember thinking, She looks just as uncertain about letting this Stranger into her life as I was!

During the fall of my junior year in high school, I gave my life to the Lord. I’d been attending a teen Bible study taught by a young Christian man, who won our hearts with his gentle friendliness and clear teaching. Through the influence of our teacher and my older sister, I became a believer.

Soon, I began attending church and spending time with fellow Christians. Though the folks I met at church and study and youth events were always encouraging and kind, I couldn’t help but feel I’d entered a strange new world.

I wonder if that’s how the Samaritan woman felt on the day she encountered Christ.

It began like any other day. Since she was an outcast, she approached the well late in the morning, after the daughters and mothers and grandmothers of the town had returned to their homes. The passage in John 4 lets us know that she’d been divorced or put away by five different men and now lived with a man who was not her husband. Either the man had refused to marry her, or he was already married to someone else. No respectable woman would have wanted anything to do with her.

Most men, too, would have shunned her. In spite of the fact that some of them should have publicly shared her guilt. They took refuge in a culture which under-valued and demeaned women. Little did they know how far they’d strayed from God’s measure of the value of each individual.

Jesus ignored these social mores and did something completely shocking and revolutionary. He approached the woman in public and spoke with her. Not only did He speak with her, He asked her to give Him a drink.

I think it’s interesting that He asked her to serve Him.

Being needed is a powerful motivation within a woman’s heart, but few of us enjoy all the daily chores that come with being caretakers. However, our relationship with the ones we serve transforms performing those household duties into acts of love.

The Bible doesn’t say what events set this woman on her lonely path in life. But however it began, I can imagine she’d gotten to the point where she looked on the homes around her, homes filled with friends and relatives and precious children, with envy. Perhaps she wished she were drawing water for just such a household.

Instead, she was asked to draw water for the Lord, Himself.

Then Jesus used something the woman would understand, thirsting for water, in order to introduce spiritual truths to her. Their initial interaction went like this:

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

She said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?”

At first, she related to Him on a concrete level. She couldn’t understand why He’d asked her for a drink if He was hiding some secret stash of fresh water.

As their conversation continued, He threw out what seemed to be a completely irrelevant request, “Go call your husband and come here.”

Now Jesus was stepping into even more controversial territory. The woman responded, “I have no husband.” Not exactly the whole truth, but all she wanted Him to know.

Jesus said, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.”

And, surprisingly, she didn’t walk away.

They talked further, and the woman mentioned being told of the Messiah, who would come to explain all things to them. At that time, Jesus fully revealed Himself to her with the statement, “I who speak to you am He.”At those words, the woman ran to get the people she knew best, some men of the city.

And here’s the part I find truly amazing. She said to them, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

Why was it a good thing that Jesus knew everything about her?

Not only the damage six men had done to her heart, but her own sinful thoughts and acts, too.

I’m convinced that somehow—through the look in His eyes or the tenderness in His voice or the respect in His manner—Jesus communicated this thought:

I see all that you are, the good and the bad, and I cherish you anyway.

He doesn’t join the ranks of our critics, who unfairly judge our words and actions. He doesn’t need to create some false image of us as saints who never do anything wrong. He clearly sees the reality of the true us: all that He intended us to be and how we have both fulfilled and fallen short of His vision.

And Jesus loves us anyway. I love that about Him!

The Bible account ends with, “Many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman.”

So she served Him well that day. And I’m sure her life was never the same.

Perhaps she could have echoed the words of this beautiful poem by Nancy Spiegelberg:

I crawled across the barrenness
To You
With my empty cup,
Uncertain in asking
Any small drop of refreshment.
If only I had known You better,
I’d have come running
With a bucket.

I recently wrote a post about the joys of walking the road where all who love the Lord have walked. One of the benefits of such a journey is that we can borrow the songs of the Christians who have gone before us when we know not what to sing.

So today I’m soaking in the words of George MacDonald, Scottish author, poet, minister, father, and fellow Christian. Two of his books have meant much to me: The Curate’s Awakening and Unspoken Sermons. My copies are dog-eared, marked by highlighter and pen, well-worn and well-loved. MacDonald’s words have helped open my eyes to both God’s truth and God’s heart.

His words can be heartening, as they are here, when he explains how God can take something meant for evil and turn it into good: “Christ takes our sins on Himself . . . He defeats our sins, makes them prisoners, forces them into the service of good, and chains them like galley slaves to the rowing benches of the gospel ship. He makes them work toward salvation for us”

George MacDonald’s words can paint pictures in my mind. Like here, where one of his characters relays the story of a prodigal son’s second chance: “He came to himself in the arms of a strange woman, who had taken him up, and was carrying him home. The name of the woman was Sorrow—a wandering woman, a kind of gypsy, always going about the world and picking up her lost things. Nobody likes her; hardly anybody is civil to her, but when she has set anybody down and is gone, often a look of affection and wonder and gratitude goes after her. Yet even with all that, very few are glad to be found by her again.”

And his words can make my heart sing. In this passage, he is talking about all that makes us who we are–our thoughts, feelings, imaginations–and how those things are revealed through earthly bodies. He then imagines what it will be like to see our loved ones again in their resurrected bodies:

“Every eye shall see their beloved, every heart will cry, ‘My own again! More mine because more himself than ever I beheld him.’

For do we not say on earth, ‘He is not himself today,’ or ‘She looks her own self,’ or ‘She is more like herself than I have seen her for long’? And is this not when heart is glad and the face is radiant?

For we carry a better likeness of our friends in our hearts than their countenances, save at precious seasons, manifest to us . . . When the mortal puts on immortality, shall we not feel that the nobler our friends are, the more they are themselves? That the more the idea of each is carried out in the perfection of beauty. The more like they are to what we thought them in our most exalted moods. The more like that which we beheld through the veil of their imperfections when we loved them the truest?”

I love that reminder. Not only that through Christ we’ll see our loved ones again, and they’ll be whole, happy, and radiant. But that we view our friends now through a “veil of imperfections.” Yet through Christ, we see the shadow of all God meant them to be. And one day, no veil of imperfections will separate our hearts from truly understanding each other, rejoicing in each other, appreciating each other.

Let’s practice looking beyond the veil today to see all that another person has to bring to this life we’re living together. And I’ll so appreciate it if you look beyond my veil of imperfections to see all that I hope to be when Jesus rips my veil away and frees the real me!

Whose words have encouraged you today? If you share in the comments section, I’ll be sure to answer you!

No ordinary bloggers

Renee Ann Smith —  January 7, 2011 — 25 Comments

I love meeting women from around the country and learning about their lives, goals, hopes, and dreams. So I plan to do some linking up in the weeks to come. How ’bout you? . . .

One of the best things about blogging is the sense of community to be found among the countless women bloggers who frequent cyberspace. Whatever your interest may be, you can find bloggers who share it. I’ve perused blogs centered around the themes of living out your faith, homeschooling, crafting, cooking, raising special needs kids, living with chronic illness, home decorating, frugal living, product reviewing, writing, blogging, and, of course, reading. (Love the book bloggers!)

While surfing through these blogs, I happened upon a site called No Ordinary Blog Hop. This site was started by three bloggers who wanted to highlight the everyday things we say and do that uplift and encourage each other. NOBH featured my little blog this week. So if you’d like to read about how, when, and why I began blogging, you can link to the main page here.

The three hostesses who founded the site, Anna-Marie, Lynda, and Tracy, are homeschoolers who would like to connect with more of you. So take a few minutes to visit NOBH. From there, you can visit each gal’s individual blog through separate links. And if you’re a blogger, maybe you’ll think of some posts you can link to their blog hop that will encourage all the rest of us.

Another great inspirational site for both bloggers and non-bloggers belongs to poet and author Ann Voskamp.

She describes her blog, A Holy Experience, as a “place about finding the beauty and quiet, slowing to see the sacred in the chaos, the Cross in the clothespin, the flame in the bush.” Each Wednesday she hosts a meme where Christian women share posts about the spiritual practices that draw them nearer to the Lord. You can read about her Walk With Him Wednesdays here (scroll to the end of the post). Maybe you’d like to link up a post of your own there soon. If you’re not a blogger, you’ll still gain much from Ann’s site.

The last site I’ll mention is called Seeds of Faith Women, hosted by thirteen or so Christian women in various stages of their lives. Each Wednesday they host a blog hop called iFellowship to give Christian women a place to get to know each other. And you don’t have to host a blog to be part of the gang. You can link a Facebook page or Twitter account. The link goes live late Tuesday night. You can read all about it here.

I also enjoy jumping into general family-friendly blog hops–like Feed Me Friday at From Chalkboards to Strollers–link here and button in my sidebar.

What other great sites do you know about for bringing folks together?

Poet and missionary Amy Carmichael spent years in India working to help the poor, widowed, and orphaned around her. She wrote a book called His Thoughts Said; His Father Said to record conversations between a child of God and his/her Heavenly Father. In this excerpt the Son [Christian] can find no words with which to praise his Beloved [God]:

Amy Carmichael

The Son greatly wished to make a song of lovely things to sing to his Beloved–but he could not find singing words.

He heard the voice of his Beloved saying, “You are walking on the road where all who love Me walk. Some of them walked this way singing, and they’ve left their songs behind them.

Find their songs. Sing their words. They will be your song to Me.”

In 2011, let’s celebrate the Songs of Those Who Love Him wherever we find them.

In great lives from the past. In the words of talented authors. In songs and hymns and spiritual songs. In the lives of inspiring people we meet online. In the lives of everyday folks we find next to us in the pew at church. In whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and excellent.

And let’s encourage each other to stay on the right path–the Road Where All Who Love Him Walk.

I once read a great testimony but could not find the source from feeble attempts at research. A certain hard-living artist/painter came to Christ late in his life. But the bad habits he’d formed over the years proved difficult to break. He often slipped from his resolutions and fell into his old ways. His friends began to ridicule his attempts to share Christ with them. They questioned his Christianity and whether or not his faith was real. His reply went something like this:

If we were all lost in the woods, searching for some way out of the labyrinth of trees and thorns and thickets, and I found the way that led to safety, peace and happiness–whether I walk that road with vigor and purpose or stumble along it drunkenly

It’s still the right road.

Forgive my poetic license and keep that in mind whenever you stumble along the way or fear what lies ahead or feel tempted to find an off ramp.

Perhaps we’ve made bad choices that we cannot undo. Perhaps happy days have passed that we cannot recapture. Perhaps the way forward holds change and uncertainty. Or perhaps the way forward holds too much of the same old thing, and we’re losing our enthusiasm for enduring it.

Take heart, friends. If we’re following the Savior, it’s still the right road!

Happy, happy 2011!

Quote of the day

Renee Ann Smith —  October 24, 2010 — Leave a comment

Of all powers He forgives most, but He condones least; He is pleased with little, but demands all.

C. S. Lewis, novelist, essayist, academic, Christian apologist

Darlene and Russell during the happy days of language study in Holland

A continuation of Evidence Not Seen, the memoir of Darlene Deibler Rose.

Following Pearl Harbor and the sinking of two British warships, the Japanese attacked, invaded, and occupied island after island—Guam, Wake Island, Hong Kong. They surged onto the mainland through China, Korea, and French Indochina. They conquered the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, and the Malay Peninsula. Then they began work on the Netherlands East Indies. Russell and Darlene Deibler occupied a guestroom at the mission headquarters and waited to see what would happen next.

Darlene writes of her first meeting with the Japanese: “On March 5, while working in the garden, I was attracted by a noise in the yard and looked up to see a Japanese soldier wearing black tennis shoes rounding the corner of our house. The soldier pointed his gun, with fixed bayonet, at me, motioning me toward the house. As I was being propelled reluctantly forward, Russell, the Jaffrays, and more soldiers joined me and my escort.”

“We were herded into the living room. While we stood at attention (a soldier with a gun pointed at your back tends to make you do that), the commanding officer announced that we were prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Russell was standing in his customary way, with his hands in front of him, the palm of one

Soldiers taking prisoners

hand resting on the back of the other. It would have been impossible for him to be holding anything in his hands, but the posture nevertheless infuriated one of the officers, who snapped a brisk command in Japanese.

A soldier strode forward, raised his sheathed bayonet, and began to beat Russell’s hands again and again. Russell dared not resist. I was appalled. Finally, another missionary said, ‘Russell, they want you to put your hands down at your sides.”

“I was helpless with anger . . . This senseless maliciousness had its desired effect; we were greatly subdued.”

“Finally, making preparations to go, they impressed upon us that we were to have contact with no one outside the premises, nor were we to leave the conference grounds. If we did we would be shot!”

Those men were just the harbingers. Eventually, the Japanese troops completely overran the island, and the city officially surrendered. At first, the folks at the missionary headquarters seemed safe enough. They spent their days cooking, eating, studying the Bible, praying, gardening, and walking the perimeter of the property. But soon the day came when the trucks arrived to take the men.

Vehicles of war

When Darlene heard the neighbor men being herded into the trucks, she ran to her room for a pillowcase. Into it she put Russell’s Bible, a notebook, a pen, shaving gear, clothes, and a few other items. Once finished, she dashed into the yard searching for Russell. Then she saw him—already in the truck with the other POWs.

She felt terrified for him and feared he would be executed. Darlene said, All the other separations we had endured gladly, for those had entailed the cause of Christ’s kingdom. But this—this was different. The thought of this separation was excruciating.”

She writes: “I handed Russell the pillowcase and looked into the face that had become so dear to me. A cry of protest, of fear, strangled itself in my throat. I swallowed hard and clenched my fists.”

She decided she would not give the soldiers the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Russell leaned over the tailgate and very quietly said, “Remember one thing, dear: God said that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

The truck started with a jerk and disappeared down the road.

It was Friday, March 13, 1942.

Darlene remembers: “When the sun set and the night came on, the full import of my loss hit me again. Russell was gone.

Mounting the steps into God’s presence, I prayed and He came to me with the gift of remembrance of a little girl saying, ‘Lord, I’d go anywhere with You, no matter what it cost.’

Was that just an expression of childish enthusiasm resulting from an emotion-packed presentation of the mission field?

‘I meant it then, my Lord, to the level of my understanding. With greater understanding I confirm to You tonight, it is still anywhere—I leave the costing to You.’

He took my hand, and together we walked into a future yet unknown. But from that moment, the sting was gone from the wound.”

Soon after the surrender of the city, the soldiers forced entry into the main house and

Trying to survive in the ruined city

stockrooms to take what they wished, leaving no food supplies behind. Darlene’s trunks of wedding presents were also dragged into the yard and the locks forced. Whatever the soldiers didn’t want, they scattered about the drive.

Darlene testifies: “Bit by bit treasured keepsakes and souvenirs were being wrested from me. I was being taught to live so that my most treasured mementos took the form of beautiful memories stored in the file of my heart, where moth and rust—and soldiers—could not corrupt or destroy.”

The remaining occupants of the mission, several women and one older man the Japanese left behind, entered a period of privation. The soldiers gave them no rations, but the people they had led to the Lord risked their lives to bring them food (sometimes flying ants fried in coconut oil!) and, as often as possible, news of Russell and the other men.

Being on their own in the midst of a conquered city, took its toll in other ways. One night Darlene hopped out of bed, thinking to kill a rat which had found its way into the house, and came face to face with a Boegis bandit. With one fluid movement, the bandit extricated his knife from his belt and held it in striking position.

Surprisingly, Darlene rushed at him! And even more surprising, he turned and fled, down the hall, across the porch, and over the mountainside with Darlene in hot pursuit. Until she saw his comrades emerge from the jungle. She stopped dead. He yelled something at his companions, and they all ran away together.

Darlene recalls: “From that night on we slept with clubs at the foot of our beds and small milk-can squawkers under our pillows, but we never had to use them. We heard bandits return several nights after that, but they never again entered our house. It wasn’t until after the war that I learned why. I had suspected the gardener, who was Boegis and knew the layout of the house.

When I asked him why they had never entered the house again, he answered incredulously, ‘Because of those people you had there—those people in white who stood about the house.’”

“The Lord had put His angels around us. He had delivered.”

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them. Psalm 34:7

If you’re new to this series, follow this link to read part 1 of Darlene’s story. (Part 1 will then lead you to succeeding episodes.)

Quote of the day

Renee Ann Smith —  October 18, 2010 — 2 Comments

Certainly in our own little sphere, it is not the most active people to whom we owe the most. Among the people whom we know, it is not necessarily those who are busiest, not those who, meteor-like, are ever on the rush after some visible charge and work. It is the lives, like bright stars, which simply pour down on us the calm light of their bright and faithful being, up to which we look and out of which we gather the deepest calm and courage.

No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure, and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.

Phillips Brooks, American clergyman and author, 1835-1893

Emily with daughter Bella

Here at Doorkeeper, we celebrate those who are opening doors for others, either through mentoring, mothering, teaching, writing or more. From time-to-time I’ll be interviewing a faithful Doorkeeper—especially if she’s a fellow booklover—and giving away a book by her favorite author.

You’ll find giveaway details for The Thorn by Beverly Lewis at the end of this post. But first, take some time to get to know a fellow Christian fiction enthusiast!

This week’s booklover, Emily DiRenzo Steele, wanted to be a Broadway singer when she grew up, but God, it seemed, had other plans.

You won’t find Emily on a New York City stage, entertaining an adoring crowd before flitting off to sample the night life. But you just might find her driving the back roads of her quiet hometown, singing a duet of Mighty to Save

Emily and daughter Gabi

with her three-year-old daughter Bella, while fifteen-month-old Gabbi looks on. Two beautiful daughters are all the adoring crowd this young mother needs!

Emily and her husband Jon are members of First Baptist Church of Rhinebeck, New York, and together they head up the youth ministry. Emily also teaches the teen girls’ Sunday school class.

Emily’s take on church life: “Being in the Youth Ministry means that Jon and I are always busy. But it also means that my girls get to have the influence of some awesome, Godly young people. We like when the teens are in our home, eating, and hanging out. It brings all that we do together.”

True Life Romance

Emily on her wedding day

Emily first met Jon on a Word of Life Youth Mission trip to South Africa. They became fast friends, along with two others on the team. After the trip, Emily returned to high school in New York, and Jon returned to Michigan.

On a long weekend, Emily traveled to Michigan to visit her new friends. That was when she and Jon began dating.

Emily says, “I don’t know that there was one single moment where I thought he was ‘the one.’ I just knew in my heart that this young man loved the Lord. That serving God was important to Jon.”

Emily and Jon today

“And,” she adds, “I think being ten hours apart was the best part about dating. It truly made us get to know each other. I remember getting snail mail from him and smiling from ear to ear, just reading about his week. He was my best friend.”

Present Joys
Emily describes their family life as crazy—in a good way. Jon works second shift at the Dutchess County Jail (on the Corrections Emergency Response Team). So it’s an event to have him home for dinner, and a special treat for the four of them to pray together before putting the girls to bed.

Since Emily was saved at age four (cousin Tara prayed with her to receive Christ during a sleepover), she understands how vital those first years are in a child’s faith journey. She

Mom and Bella explore the world

loves when life offers an opportunity to open the “faith” door with her girls—and not just through church, AWANA, Scripture memory, or praise music. And her efforts are paying off. Recently while watching the Narnia movie, Bella exclaimed, “Aslan is like Jesus. He died and came back to life!”

One of Emily’s special joys is hosting Thanksgiving for her siblings, a job which she inherited from her grandfather. “I would sit with Poppy and memorize how he made the stuffed mushrooms and prepared the turkey. Now I make everyone’s favorites, and it literally makes my heart happy when we all sit down to eat. I love it!”

Past difficulties
Though Emily’s life is presently rosy, it hasn’t been without its thorns. (Notice the title of the book giveaway!)

Emily with girls from her youth group

During her high school years, she realized she’d gotten in with the wrong crowd and needed to flee the bad influences. The insightful teen begged her mother for a chance to attend Northern Dutchess Christian School, and Mom made it happen. Emily enrolled, blossomed, and stayed for three years before graduating.

During her adult years, Emily has also had to work through some residual issues caused by her parents’ divorce, which she sees as hugely impacting her life. Emily comments, “I know my parents love us kids so much, and I have a great relationship with both of them. Praise God that He’s been so good to us . . . The divorce has shaped me, though.”

Everyday Struggles
Emily wrote, “Last week I sang a song in church, and one of the lines said, ‘When anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord, just watch and see. It will not be, unredeemed.’”

“God is so much more capable than I am! Yet I always try to do things on my own. I am a worrier, and I am borderline obsessed with getting things done yesterday.

God uses those weaknesses to bring me to my knees often! Whether it is my shattered attempt at conquering the world, or my shattered attempt at being humble and asking forgiveness, He is always able to redeem, and always able to do it FAR beyond what I have ever imagined.”

Family vacation photo

Future Goals
“I would love to see my kids firmly rooted in the Lord! I want the same for my marriage. I don’t know that I can think of any other goals for myself. Though, opening my own hair salon and keeping my laundry from piling up would be wonderful!”

Favorite Books
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers: “This book illustrates how the weight of our sins was removed by Christ, our Last Sin Eater. I loved Cadi, and her desire to understand God’s forgiveness. This book grabbed me with its characters.”

This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti: “I love the way that he paints a picture of the war for our souls! Incredible book!”

Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury : “Covers the topic of abortion and all the healing that God can do through even our sinful choices. I read this one in two days—couldn’t put it down!”

Emily enjoying snow camp with youth group

The Centurion’s Wife & The Hidden Flame by Janette Oke & Davis Bunn: “This is the latest series I have read, and I’m so glad it’s not finished! An awesome look into the time of the disciples. It brings Scripture to life!”

ANYTHING by Beverly Lewis: “I have read everything she has written! I think she is one of the greatest authors ever. I have NEVER been disappointed.”

Book Giveaway:
In honor of Emily, I’m giving away a brand new copy of The Thorn by Beverly Lewis. If you haven’t read this, sign up today and get reading. Then you’ll be ready for the sequel, The Judgment, which will be out in April!

Steps To Enter the Giveaway:
1. Join this blog through email or Google Friend Connect. To join by email, enter your email address in the space provided on the sidebar. But you’re not done yet! Look for an email from Feedburner in your personal email account. Follow the link provided to verify your subscription.

2. Leave a comment here to let me know that you are a follower or subscriber. Be sure to put your email address in your comment. However, write it like this jenniebee [at] yahoo [dot] com and NOT like this (This helps keep your email safe from spammers!)

Confused? For blog newbies, if you’re reading this on the main page, look for the tiny words “Leave a comment” in the notes at the end of this post. If you’re on the post page, you should see a large box in which to leave a reply.

So whether you’ve known Emily a long time or just met her today, why don’t you leave a comment to encourage her? And if you’d like to view more of her photos, check out the Sidebar Photoblog. Simply click on the cover photo so view the rest of the pictures.

How about you? Do you have a list of favorite books you’d like to talk about, some family photos to share with us, a life story you’d like to tell? Maybe we’ll be reading about you here at Doorkeeper in the future!

Follow this link to view the website of author Beverly Lewis.

Follow this link to view or pre-order The Judgment by Beverly Lewis.

Follow this link to read an excerpt or to purchase a copy of The Thorn by Beverly Lewis.

If you’re new to this site, follow this link to read the inspiring true story of A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II! book summary of The Thorn:
Lancaster County, with its rolling meadows and secret byways, may seem idyllic, but it is not without its thorns. THE ROSE TRILOGY is the stirring saga of two Amish sisters on the fringes of the church, and the unforeseen discoveries that change their lives.

Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop’s foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble, too. Rose’s sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, and so dismisses the warnings. Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding?

Rose’s older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband. Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire–and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband’s wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?