Courage to Forgive Chapter Two

CHAPTER TWO

Cara woke up to Hope’s cries and the smell of coffee brewing. For a moment she wondered if she had overslept, and Adam was cooking breakfast. That had happened once last summer.

It only took a moment to remember that it was Philip in the kitchen.

For the first time since she could remember, she had the luxury of taking her time to feed Hope and get dressed. The only other times that she had someone cook breakfast for her had been after she had Hope, when Adam’s ma had stayed with her.

She put on the new dress Adam and Dinah had given her for Christmas. She remembered the look in his eyes when he saw her in it for the first time. She had known then that he loved her.

She covered her mouth with her hand to stifle a giggle. She didn’t want to wake the girls and Remmie up. Maybe when Adam came in for breakfast she could have a few minutes alone with him.

It didn’t work out that way. Philip stood at the stove frying hotcakes when Cara walked into the kitchen. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

He turned and grinned. It was obvious that he was enjoying himself. “I guess there’s nothing left to do but set the table.”

Cara set the plates on the dining room table in the order that they had been sitting these past few days. The girls on one side, Remmie and Adam on the other. Herself at the foot of the table, and the head of the table left empty. They had taken the chair and put it in the master bedroom, so Philip could sit with Ayla.

She moved Adam’s plate and chair to the head of the table.

Adam walked in, and her heart skipped a beat when she saw the tenderness in his eyes. He held her in his arms and kissed her. “That will probably be the only chance I get to do that all day.”

As she stepped back, he looked at the table. She knew he noticed that she had moved his plate.

His eyes met hers warily. “I thought you weren’t going to tell the children yet.”

“I don’t think Remmie is old enough to understand.”

“Are you sure?” She nodded, and he put a hand on her shoulder. “I will do my best to lead this family, Cara.”

“I know you will be a wonderful—”

She stopped, and Adam dropped his hand as they heard the children coming. They were still in their new nightclothes that Dinah had made for them. Cara always served them breakfast before they changed into their clothes for the day. She hoped that Rose would not make a mess.

Philip brought in a pan of scrambled eggs and a towering platter of hotcakes.

“Is Ayla getting up for breakfast?” Cara asked.

“No. She felt pretty tired this morning. I think she overdid things yesterday.”

Philip poured Cara’s coffee first. Then he looked at where Adam was sitting. As if to stop him from pointing it out, Adam shook his head slightly. Philip nodded, and asked, “Would you like some coffee, Adam?”

Cara could hardly contain a giggle when Adam met her eyes and winked as Philip leaned down to pour his coffee. She knew he was remembering, as she was, their tender moments when they were alone last night. She had offered him coffee, and ended up with kisses, instead.

“There’s something different about these hotcakes,” Remmie said.

“There is a little different flavor,” Adam agreed.

Philip laughed. “It’s my secret ingredient. Do you like them?”

“They are very good,” Cara said, and meant it. They were even better since she had not had to stand at the stove cooking them.

“What is your secret ingredient?” Remmie asked.

 “I don’t mind telling you that it is nutmeg. It adds a hint of spice to the batter.”

            After Philip left the room, Remmie looked at Adam. “You’re sitting in my pa’s chair.”

            “Yes, I am. Do you mind?”

            Remmie shrugged and shook his head. “No, he’s dead.”

            Cara waited for Remmie to say something more, but that was it. No emotion, no regret. His pa was dead. It broke her heart a little to realize that Lem’s passing had no noticeable effect on his emotions.

Doc came by to check on Ayla. When he walked in, Cara greeted him with a smile.

            “Do you have something new to tell me?” Doc asked.

            Her face grew warm, but her smile widened. “You know that Adam was going to ask me to marry him.”

            “I do, I saw him on my way out and he asked if I minded.”

“Do you mind?”

Doc walked over and hugged her. His eyes were teary when he stepped back. Cara felt her eyes well up with tears at the happiness he showed. “I couldn’t have picked a better man for you if I had tried.”

“Didn’t you pick him out?” she said teasingly.

He laughed, the trace of tears gone. “I picked him out for your hired hand. But it wasn’t until after I saw you together, and the way he was with your children, that I realized he would make a good husband for you.”

“Do you think he is too young to be a good father? His pa does.”

“Adam is a godly man, Cara. And God will show him how to raise your children. And you will teach him also. I have never seen another woman who is better at being a mother than you are. You will do well raising them together.”

After breakfast, Adam decided to walk down to his parents’ house. Although he and Cara were not saying anything to the children yet, he knew his ma would want to know if he had proposed to Cara, and if she had said yes. “Do you mind if Remmie and I take a walk to my ma’s?” he asked Cara.

“No, of course not. You will be careful what is said in front of him, won’t you?”

“Of course. If Eliza is there, I won’t go in.”

It was cold out. Adam walked at a slow pace so Remmie wouldn’t have to hurry to keep up.

He heard the familiar sound of chopping firewood when he neared the barn. Seth and John were there.

            “Is that to sell, or for home?”

            “Pa said we might sell some,” Seth answered. “I need the money.”

            “You got a wedding to prepare for?” Adam asked.

            “She said yes,” Seth said with a grin. “Did Cara –“ Seth stopped when Adam shook his head. “What? Did she turn you down?”

            Adam shook his head. “No, she said yes.”

            “I knew it!” Seth clapped him on the shoulder. “Congratulations.”

            “What does he mean, Adam?” Remmie asked curiously.

            “Nothing,” Adam replied, with a warning glance at Seth. “Is Ma around?”

            “She’s in the house, but so is Eliza.”

            “Maybe we won’t go in, then. Eliza will have a harder time holding her tongue around the boy.”

            “She doesn’t like it, you know.”

            “Who? Ma or Eliza?”

            “Ma seems all right with it. Eliza was pretty vocal about her opinion after you left. Pa told her to keep quiet, and Obed took her home crying.”

            “Is that so? Well, she’s going to have to get used to the idea.” Adam turned to Remmie. “Do you want to see the rope swing I used to play on?”

            “So now that you’re your own boss, you can just take the day off and play?” Seth asked, half-in-jest.

“It doesn’t hurt once in a while.” He took Remmie up to the hayloft and showed him the heavy rope that was tied around the rafters. He caught hold of it and tried to swing like he had when he was younger, but he was too tall now.

            “Do you want to try it?”

            He showed Remmie how to jump up and grab onto the rope. Then he moved him back onto the rafter. He noticed that Remmie looked down and was afraid. “I’ll hold you,” Adam said. He kept his arm around Remmie as he jumped off the rafter and swung out on the rope.

He didn’t go far, but he was happy and laughing. “That was fun.”

Adam did it a few more times, but stopped before Remmie could get rope burn on his soft hands.

            When they came down from the hayloft, Adam’s pa was standing there.

            “Showing the boy your own foolish ways, I see.”

            “He needs to have a little fun.”

            “Too much fun and he won’t know enough to work hard.”

            “I’ll teach him to work hard,” Adam said firmly.

            “You’re making it your job to teach the widow’s son?”

            “Remmie, why don’t you go and watch Seth chop wood?” After the boy left, Adam said, “He’ll be my son soon enough.”

            “You’re too young to be a good father to a growing boy. You’ll be too soft on him.”

            “I know how to be firm when I need to be.”

            “You learned that from me, I suppose?”

            “I didn’t say that.”

            “But that’s what you meant. You think I’m too strict with you boys.” Evan didn’t give Adam a chance to respond. “Teach a boy to work hard, and he will grow up to provide for his family. Let a boy be lazy, and he will be lazy all his life,” Evan quoted a favorite saying of his. “You’d do well to remember that, yourself.”

            A boy needed time to be a boy, Adam thought, but he knew it was no use arguing with his pa. “Yes, Pa,” he said in a respectful tone.

            He saw Eliza walk back to her house across the road, the baby bundled up in her arms. It was safe to go in and talk to his ma without Eliza’s listening ears.

“Do you want to go in and see if Mrs. Kenley has cookies, Remmie?”

            Remmie nodded vigorously, and Adam chuckled. “Maybe she will make us some hot cocoa, too.”

            His ma was surprised to see them. “Why Adam, Remmie. It’s good to see you.”

            “Hello, Mrs. Kenley,” Remmie said, remembering his manners.

            “Do you have some cookies and hot cocoa for a couple of boys?” Adam asked.

            Dinah’s eyes were full of questions. “I think I can round up some. Remmie, why don’t you play with the blocks while Adam helps me?”

            Remmie found the box of blocks, and Adam followed his ma into the kitchen.

            “Your pa won’t be very happy to see you today,” Dinah told her son grimly.

            “I already saw him.”

            “What did he say?”

            “He thought I ought to be out working, setting a good example for the boy.”

            “And what do you think?”

            “I have plenty of wood cut, the animals are well fed – And it’s a time of celebration,” he finished with a grin.

            “She said yes, then.”

            “Yes, she did. She loves me.”

            “I knew she did.” Dinah did not seem very happy.

            “I know you care for her like a daughter, Ma. So why don’t you want me to marry her?”

            “You’re so young, Adam. She has four children.”

            “She’s younger than I am.”

            “But in life experiences, she’s way older than you.”

            “I don’t agree. Pa raised us up to be responsible men. I barely had a childhood.”

            “He meant well,” Dinah defended her husband.

            “I know he did what he thought was best.” Admitting that did not mean he agreed with his pa’s parenting ways.

            “You turned out all right.”

            “So will Cara’s children.”

            She changed the subject. “Have you set a date for the wedding?”

            “Not yet.”

            She handed him a steaming cup of cocoa.

Before he called out for Remmie, she asked, “What do the children think of it?”

            “We aren’t telling them yet. Cara said it will be hard for Remmie to wait patiently until we are married, because he will be excited about it.”

            Adam and Remmie drank the cocoa and ate cookies.

            “May I have another cookie, Mrs. Kenley?” Remmie asked.

            “I think two cookies are enough, Remmie. I don’t want you to spoil your appetite.”

            “I think we should head back. Why don’t you go and get your boots on?”

Remmie went off to do as Adam bid. When he was out of earshot, Adam asked, “Do you think you could handle having Remmie as a grandson?”

            Dinah looked surprised. “I had not thought of that.”

            “You’ll have four more grandchildren when I marry Cara.”

            “Well, then, that will be a blessing.” She sounded sincere, and Adam hoped that she was.

            “I’d better get back home.”

That he called Cara’s place home did not go unnoticed by Dinah. She felt as though she had lost her son.

That evening, the Bible story that Adam read for family altar was about the first children born in the Bible, brothers Cain and Abel. Like the story the night before, it did not have a happy ending, for Cain killed his brother, Abel.

To make the story more meaningful, Adam said, “You know, I’ve been pretty mad at my brothers before, and they have been pretty mad at me.”

“But you would never kill your brother!” Remmie looked horrified at the thought.

“No, I would not, and they would never do that to me. You see, whenever we got into a fight, we would get a stern talking to from our pa. If we had actually been fighting with our fists, and not our words, he would give us a whipping and send us to our rooms without supper.”

Remmie looked as if he wasn’t sure what was worse, killing his brother or getting whipped and sent to his room without supper. Adam met Cara’s eyes and saw her amusement. It was possible she was thinking the same thing. She didn’t comment, though, and he went on to finish what he meant to say.

“I always forgave my brothers, and they always forgave me. We went on about our business and forgot what we had been fighting about. Nothing is more important than being a family.”

“I wish I had a brother,” Remmie said with a sigh.

Adam didn’t dare meet Cara’s eyes. He didn’t know if she were amused by that, but the thought of giving Remmie a brother brought thoughts to mind that didn’t belong at the family altar.

“You never know what lies down the road, Remmie,” Cara told him.

After the children were tucked in bed, Cara joined Adam in the front room. “Would you like a cup of coffee?” she asked.

 Her eyes were dancing, and he paused for a moment, wondering what she had in mind.

 She laughed at his apprehension. “I do mean coffee, and a piece of pie.”

“You know, that sounds pretty good.” He started to stand up.

 She gestured for him to remain seated. “I’ll bring it in here. It is so nice and peaceful with the fire going.”

Adam watched the flames flicker and dance in the fireplace. She was right, it was peaceful in here. When he reached up to take the cup and plate from Cara, he saw the firelight reflected in the glow of her cheeks.

He took the coffee and pie. “Thank you, Cara.”

His soft words brought a smile to her face that lit her eyes. He was a lucky man, he realized, sipping the hot coffee. Not that he believed in luck. He believed that God worked in all things to bring about the good.

“You know I feel very blessed to be a part of your life,” he said, watching her take a sip of her coffee.

“That’s a very nice thing to say.”

“I mean it. I’ve had a pretty good life. My pa was strict, but he provided for every need. My ma raised us with kindness. I’ve never had anything bad happen to me. I thought I was blessed before, then I met you. Now I realize that I have everything I’ve ever wanted in life, in you.”

Her eyes lit up with happiness. “I had so much bad happen to me in my life, as you know. God brought you into my life, and you brought the goodness with you. I feel blessed, also, that you have chosen me to be the woman you love.”

“Seth proposed to Louisa yesterday, and she said yes,” he said.

“Both brothers proposed in the same day,” she said. And looked suddenly apprehensive. “That didn’t have any bearing on you proposing to me, did it?”

“Do you really think that?” He was disappointed that she would think that of him.

She blushed. “No, I don’t think you are like that. Did he say when they were getting married?”

He shook his head. “I don’t think they have set a date yet.”

The unspoken words hung between them. “Neither have we.”

Cara finished her pie and set her plate down. Adam waited for her to speak and was disappointed when she didn’t right away.

“I’ll wait for you as long as you want, Cara.”

She smiled and looked pleased with his answer. Then her smile turned teasing. “Are you and Seth going to have a race to see who gets to the altar first?”

He was surprised by her teasing and then burst out laughing. He was so glad that she felt comfortable enough with him to joke around. Life with her was going to be amazing. “You know us pretty well, don’t you? I’m older, so I should go first,” he added, and she still smiled. He was relieved that she didn’t think he was pushing her for an answer.

“I’d like to wean Hope before I marry you, Adam.”

He felt his cheeks grow warm. It was a natural thing, but not something he was comfortable talking about. “I don’t know much about that.”

“I nursed the other children until they were between six and nine months old. It all depended on how busy the season was, and how soon the babies were ready.”

Adam counted in his head. Hope had been born at the end of August. “Six months would be February.”

“Do you think the end of March would be all right?”

“A spring wedding,” he said, nodding his head. “I like that idea.”

She breathed a sigh of relief. “I know that will make Philip unhappy. He thinks we ought to marry now to make our living arrangements appear right.”

“I know you don’t feel that way, and neither do I. Rushing into marriage isn’t going to stop the rumors.” In fact, Adam thought it might only prove that the rumors were trued, which they were not. He and Cara had done nothing untowardly. And would not.

“I don’t think so, either.”

Adam rose and picked up his plate. Cara did the same. “Do you want to tell the children yet?”

“Let’s think about how we can tell Remmie so that he can be patient until March. Then after we tell him, we can make the announcement.”

Adam wanted to hug her and kiss her right then, he was so happy that he was going to be able to announce to the world that he was going to marry her. He waited until they had put their dishes in the kitchen. Then he turned and drew her into his arms. She came willingly and smiled up at him.

“I’m so happy,” she said. He could see the happiness in her eyes, and it rang in his heart as well.

“So am I.” He showed her how happy he was with a few sweet kisses

As he left her and walked out into the night air, he immediately missed the warmth of the farmhouse, and the warmth of her smile. It seemed to him that the next three months were going to go by very slowly. God was going to have to help him remain strong.

Courage to Forgive Chapter One

For those of you who don’t know, I wrote and self-published the first five books of an historical series, Legacy of Courage.

Last summer I was able to invest in new covers and design and re-published the first three books on Amazon for Kindle and in print.

I had hoped by now to get a new cover and inside design for the fourth book and publish that as well. I know there were a few readers who were waiting on it.

However, I don’t have the finances to do so right now.

I decided to make the fourth book, Courage to Forgive, available on my blog with a chapter each Friday.

You may have already purchased and read the older style paperback of this book that I sold locally. When I worked on the series in 2021, I updated books 3 and rewrote parts of book 4. It had never seemed like a complete story to me. When I edited it, I ended up with several chapters at the beginning that had been “missing” from the original text.

I like the way the new version came out and that is the one I am posting here on my blog.

If you haven’t already read it or want to read the revised version, please enjoy this first chapter of Courage to Forgive, Book One of the Legacy of Courage Series.

Chapter One – Courage to Forgive

Adam and Cara stood near the porch steps, their arms around each other. He had just proposed to her, and she, of course, had said yes.

“You’re shivering,” he said with a smile, brushing a curl back from her cheek.

“I don’t feel cold.”

He kissed her again, a sweet, tender kiss that she had been dreaming of for so long.

“I’m glad to know that you return my love, Cara.”

The corners of her mouth turned up in a wry smile. “You’ve known for a while now how I felt about you.”

“I’ve had my suspicions that you cared about me. At one time, that scared me.”

“And it doesn’t scare you now?” Her serious question demanded an honest answer.

“No, not anymore. I love you. I promise that I will always be here for you.”

His words made her heart sing, but the practical side of her made her wary. “I have four children, by another man, Adam. Are you ready to be a father to them?”

“I love your children, Cara,” he said without hesitation. “I don’t know much about being a father, but I know I want to be one to them. I want to help you raise them. I want to be around to watch them grow up.”

Her eyes sparkled with joy. “I know you will be a good father to them.” 

“I will try,” he promised solemnly. “Do you think they will be happy to have us get married?”

“They love you already. I don’t think Rose realizes that you haven’t always been a part of our family. And Hope will never know another man as her father, other than you.”

He had longed to kiss the corner of her mouth where the smile began. Now, he had the right to do so. He placed his lips against that spot, and then captured her lips in a sweet tender kiss. Having her in his arms felt so right. He wondered why he had waited so long to tell her how he felt.

 She must have wondered, too. “I’ve waited so long to hear you say you love me.”

“I should have told you a long time ago.”

“It’s okay that you did not speak about it sooner. I know you weren’t sure you were ready to be a husband and father.”

“Now I can’t wait,” he said, with a wide grin. “Will you marry me, Cara?”

“I will, Adam. I will be so happy to be your wife.”

“I can’t wait to see Remmie’s face when we tell him.”

Her smile faded, and she looked serious. “I don’t want to say anything to them yet.”

“What? Why not?”

“I love you, Adam, but I don’t want to rush into marriage.”

It felt as though she had punched him in the stomach. The wind was knocked out of him and he stared at her incredulously.

“You do want to marry me, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do. More than anything.”

“That’s a relief. We can work out the details later. Right now, it’s cold, and we need to go in. They will wonder what has happened to us.”

But he couldn’t help kissing her one more time before they went back in the house.

When they walked into the front room, the children came running up to them, as though they had not seen them for a very long time. Cara rejoiced when Rose held out her arms to Adam and watched as he picked her up and swung her up into the air. She unbundled her wraps and stooped to kiss Charity on the cheek. Remmie looked at both of them as though knowing that something was different.

“Do you have cocoa ready for us, Remmie?” Cara asked.

“Yes, Ma, we do. Reverend Ackerby helped us make it.”

His innocent remark made Cara smile. Her eyes met Adam’s and saw his amusement.

She heard Hope cry out and glanced self-consciously at Adam. “I’ll need to feed the baby,” she said in an apologetic tone.

“But, Ma, the cocoa is ready,” Remmie protested.

“Why don’t you and Adam drink your cocoa, and save a cup for me? I’ll join you after I feed Hope.”

Remmie’s disappointment vanished at the mention of drinking his cocoa with Adam. When Cara turned to leave the room, Charity followed.

“Don’t you want to have some cocoa, Charity?” Adam asked. She looked unsure of herself, as though she wanted to follow him but was too shy to do so.

“She can come with me.” Cara patted Charity’s curls. “We’ll have our cocoa later.”

Sitting with her back against the pillows while Hope nursed, Cara felt like she was in a dream. Adam loved her. He loved her! Of all the blessings these past few weeks, that was the greatest one of all. She had fallen in love with him what seemed like so long ago. She had known he had feelings for her, and that he struggled with the idea of becoming a father to four children. She had not dared think that he would really tell her he loved her and wanted to marry her.

So why did she feel so hesitant about it? It was what she had dreamed of, marriage to Adam. Having him become a permanent part of her family. Sharing her life with him. Why wasn’t she ready to tell her children, to tell the whole world?

There was so much of the past that she had not been able to put behind her. She still nursed Lem’s child. Her year of mourning had just ended today. When she married Adam, she did not want any of her memories to stand in her way of becoming his wife.

Adam’s grin stretched across his face when he saw Cara walk into the dining room with the baby in her arms. Her answering smile was just as wide. He felt so much love and joy in his heart. How could he contain it and not share it with her children? She passed Hope into his welcoming arms. This little one would be his daughter. Adam could hardly believe it was true. She would only ever know him as her father.

“Come sit down, Cara,” Philip said. “I will bring you some hot cocoa.”

“I can get it,” Cara said.

Philip shook his head and ushered her to a chair. “I don’t mind, please, sit down.”

Cara sank into a chair, watching the baby in Adam’s arms. He looked up and caught her eye, and the tenderness in his eyes made her catch her breath. Her heart was almost singing with joy.

Philip cleared his throat. Cara looked up and took the cup of cocoa from him. “Thank you, Philip.”

He looked from one to the other as he sat down in his chair. “Have the two of you something to tell me?”

The older children were in the other room occupied with their new toys, Adam replied, “Yes, we do.”

“But I don’t want to say anything to the children yet,” Cara said quickly.

 “Have you told anyone yet?”

“No,” Cara said.

“I kind of have,” Adam admitted. Her surprised expression made him sheepish. “My brothers were really giving me a hard time at dinner. Somehow, they all figured out that I was in love with you. Even my ma knew that I was coming back to ask you to marry me.”

Cara blushed. “How did they know?”

“How could they not know?” Philip asked. “We have all caught the looks between you two these past few days. It’s no surprise to any of us that you have fallen in love.”

“I’m not sure I want everyone to know yet,” Cara said.

“Why not? Aren’t you planning to marry Adam?”

“Yes, but—” Adam and Philip both waited for her answer. “The children will be so happy, especially Remmie. I know he will not be able to stand it until we are married so he can call you ‘Pa.’ I don’t want to tell him until we’re ready.”

“How long do you think you will wait to get married?” Philip looked at Adam, and Adam looked at Cara.

“I thought we would get married right away,” Adam said. “I want to become a permanent part of Cara’s life.”

“You are a part of my life, Adam, even if we don’t get married as soon as you would like. I need time to get used to the idea of you being in love with me, to get used to being together as a couple.”

“So do you want a long engagement?” Adam asked.

Philip interrupted. “I think under the circumstances, with Adam already living here and eating meals with you and the children, a short engagement would be best.”

That was just it. There were no circumstances which made them have to get married right away. Adam and she had not been living in sin. She was not expecting his child, as she had been with Lem’s. The only reason she could see for rushing was to satisfy the gossips.

She didn’t want to say that, though. Especially not in front of Philip, who disapproved of their living arrangement.

“It’s all right, Cara.” Adam’s voice was reassuring. When she looked in his eyes, she saw no disappointment, only tenderness. “We don’t have to rush. I’m just so glad that you said yes.” He reached over and covered her hand with his.

 “So your brothers, and your parents, all know. That means Eliza will know as well.”

“They knew I was going to ask you, and they will assume you said yes, unless I tell them otherwise.”

“And if Eliza knows, then everyone will soon know.”

Adam grimaced. “Yes, unfortunately that is how it is with Eliza.”

“Then we will have to tell the children soon.” Although it troubled her, she could see that it pleased Adam to announce their engagement.

Philip spoke up. “It should be a happy occasion, not a troubling one.”

Cara couldn’t help smiling as she met Adam’s eyes. “It is a happy occasion. I have been waiting so long for Adam to say he loved me.”

“I wish I hadn’t waited so long.”

Neither of them noticed when Philip left the room.

 The children walked into the room, and Adam reluctantly stood up. He passed Hope back into Cara’s arms.

            “I hate to leave this warm house, but I have chores to do.”

            “Can I go with you?” Remmie asked.

            “Yes, of course.”

            After Adam and Remmie left the house, Philip came back into the room, “Wouldn’t you like to go and talk to Ayla? I’m sure she would enjoy hearing what has transpired between yourself and Adam.”

            Cara’s face grew warm with embarrassment, but the thought of sharing her news with someone made her happy. “I think I will, but then I best be getting supper.”

            She carried Hope into the bedroom. Ayla was holding Caleb and singing to him. She looked up and smiled as Cara entered the room.

 “Cara, come in and sit down. I’ve wanted to get up and join you, but Philip thought I should rest.”

            “He’s right.”

            “Philip told me you have news for me.”

Cara’s joy bubbled over. “Adam loves me.”

            “Didn’t I tell you so? Philip and I thought Adam’s feelings for you ran deep.”

            “It’s more wonderful than I had imagined. He wants to marry me.”

            “Cara, I’m so happy for you.” Ayla added, “Adam is a good man. And handsome.”

            A giggle escaped Cara’s lips. “Yes, he is.”

“We’ll have a wedding soon.”

Cara’s smile faded almost immediately.

“What’s wrong, Cara?” Ayla asked. “I thought you wanted to marry Adam.”

“I do. I do want to marry him. I just don’t want to rush into marriage.”

“Why do you feel like you must rush into marriage?”

“Adam’s family knows he was going to ask me to marry him. When he tells them I said yes, his sister-in-law will tell her ma. Then within a short time everyone in the community will know we are getting married, and we will have to tell the children.”

“Why don’t you want to tell the children?”

“I’m afraid they won’t be able to contain their excitement, especially Remmie.”

Ayla’s mouth turned up in a gentle smile. Cara wondered if she were being foolish, but Ayla didn’t say so.

“I think you are worrying too much about it. This should be a happy day for you, not one to cause concern.”

Cara sighed. “I know. I don’t understand what’s wrong with me.”

“You and Adam will figure it out, Cara,” Philip said from the doorway. “I know you feel rushed, but God does not rush us. His blessings come in His time, not in ours. Ayla and I will be praying for you and Adam as you seek God’s will and direction.”

Ayla added, “Rejoice for the moment, Cara. Enjoy the newness of your love for Adam. And the two of you should pray together, too. You will know when the timing is right.”

“I’ll get busy with supper,” Cara said, rising.

“Have you thought about what you wanted to fix for supper?” Philip asked.

“I thought we would eat leftovers. There is so much left from dinner, and all the pies the preacher brought.”

“If you don’t mind, I will go and see what’s left, and put together a meal,” Philip offered.

It would be a welcome relief for her, but it didn’t seem right to have someone else fix the meal.

“Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Philip enjoys cooking,” Ayla said. “And he is a good cook.”

“I have seen that, with the pies, and the taffy. It’s all been delicious.”

Philip sat down on the edge of the bed and covered Ayla’s hand with his. “We’ve been talking about this very thing today.”

“About cooking?”

“Yes,” Philip said. “You have been working so had to make sure we all had three meals a day this past week, and I know you must be tired.”

“I am used to preparing three meals a day,” she said. “I have done it for a long time.”

“I would like to take over the cooking and baking for a few days, if that is all right with you.” Philip’s unusual request came as a surprise. “It will give you more time to spend with Adam, and the children.”

The thought of not having to plan, prepare and serve three meals a day sounded like a blessing. To have time to sit with Adam and the children would be a welcome change.

Ayla added, “You have been taking care of all of us, preparing our meals, helping out with Caleb—”

“Oh, but Ayla, I have been so blessed to have you here. I haven’t minded the extra work. And Adam’s ma has helped out so much.”

“It’s our turn to help out,” Philip said. “And I must tell you, I have looked over all of the supplies that Reverend Mathers brought over. There are some really good things in there that I can’t wait to use.”

“They were very generous, weren’t they?” Cara was still surprised by the amount of food the women had donated.

“So do you think you could give up your kitchen for a few days?” Philip asked.

“Yes, I can. And thank you. It will be a real blessing for me.”

They heard Rose’s voice call out, “Adam!”

“Well, I think the chores are done. Shall I go out and get supper ready, so you can spend time with Adam and the children?”

Hope started to fuss.

“Or so I can feed the baby,” Cara said as Philip left the room.

“Why don’t you close the door, and you can nurse Hope in here. It will soon be time for Caleb’s next feeding.”

The baby in Ayla’s arms started to whimper.

Cara rose and shut the door, then settled into the chair. She leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes for a few moments. Then she opened them and smiled. For the first time in a long time, she did not have to prepare supper.

“I do appreciate Philip’s help with the cooking.”

“I was talking to him about it earlier this evening. You are a very beautiful woman, but I can see that the extra care you have given everyone has tired you out.”

“You can see it on my face?” Could Adam see it, too? Cara wondered.

“As another woman, I can tell that you have been under a strain. I did not realize how taxing it was to nurse an infant, and you did that with two for several days.” Cara started to speak. “I know you were happy to help out, but it doesn’t change the fact that you put your body under additional stress to wet-nurse Caleb.”

Cara knew Ayla was right. She hadn’t realized how tired she was, until she sat down a few minutes ago. The excitement of the last few days, the Christmas baking and shopping, decorating the tree, and the wonderful celebration this morning with everyone, had all been overwhelming. She had put a lot of work into making Christmas dinner, and it had gone over so well. She had felt tired when she started picking up the dinner dishes. Then Adam had come back, and proposed. She had forgotten how tired she was.

Philip set the dining room table simply for their supper. There was a large pan in the middle of the table, and all Cara could see were mashed potatoes in it. A loaf of bread from the church donations was sliced on a plate, and there was butter to go with it.

She wondered where the rest of the meal was. Philip seemed pleased with himself, so she sat down and waited for his direction. As they bowed their heads to pray, she peeked at Adam. He had a confused look on his face that echoed how she felt. “I’d like you and the children to pray your prayer tonight,” Philip said.

Cara started the prayer, and Adam and the children chimed in. Even Rose knew some of the words now, and what she didn’t know, she made up, to their amusement.

Philip took a large spoon and scooped out some mashed potatoes. As he put it on Cara’s plate, she saw that it was like a shepherd’s pie. The top layer was mashed potatoes, the bottom layer was stuffing. In between there were pieces of turkey and gravy.

“Oh, this looks delicious!” she exclaimed.

Philip served everyone, before putting some on a plate. “I’ll take this so Ayla and I can share it, if that is all right with you.”

“Of course.” She took a bite of the pie. “This is so good.”

“This is really good, Ma,” Remmie said after taking a few bites.

“It really is. Did you come up with this?” Adam asked Cara.

“No, Philip did. He volunteered to prepare supper tonight. He also offered to do the cooking for the next few days.”

Adam was glad to hear it. “That will give you a much-needed break.”

“Do you think I have looked tired the past few days?”

“Why no, I have thought you looked very happy and excited with all that has been going on.” Adam grinned, and the look in his eyes warmed her clear to her toes. “And beautiful.”

“You think my ma is beautiful?” Remmie asked.

Cara met Adam’s eyes and shook her head slightly.

Adam was careful how he answered. “Your ma is a very beautiful woman, Remmie. And since she has been saved, her beauty comes from the love of God within her heart.”

Remmie studied Cara’s face, but it was Charity who spoke.

“I think you are very beautiful, Mama.”

“Thank you, Charity,” Cara said gently. She finished the last couple of bites. “I am tempted to take another scoop. It was so good.”

They heard Hope’s cries from the bedroom. Cara brought her out into the dining room, where she looked around and beamed at everyone. Her eyes rested on Adam, and she wiggled as though she would jump out of Cara’s arms and into his.

Adam pushed back his plate. “I’ll take her.”

“I’ll get started with the dishes. Remmie can help me.”

Remmie looked like he was about to grumble, but Cara’s stern expression stopped his complaint.

As Cara started to pour water into the basin, Philip brought in his plate. “Oh, no, Cara. I don’t expect you to do the dishes tonight.”

“But you cooked.”

“I meant to give you the whole evening off from kitchen duty, and for the next few days.”

“I can’t let you do that.”

“You can, and I expect you to.” The look he gave her was as stern as the one she had given Remmie.

Just as Remmie had obeyed her, Cara didn’t refuse. “You are a blessing, Philip.”

“Ayla and I had a reason for giving you the Bible story book. We thought it would be a nice way for you to start a family altar with your children.”

Cara was not sure what that meant.

“We had that growing up,” Adam said. He had followed Philip into the kitchen. “Pa read from the Bible. Ma led in singing a hymn, which we all sang as we grew old enough and learned the words. Then Pa he would say a prayer.”

“That is what I am talking about,” Philip said. “It would be a very good habit for you to start.”

Cara hesitated. Philip did not know about the struggle she’d had in school. Even Adam did not know what a poor reader she was. And she had never prayed out loud.

“I know you are nervous about leading it, Cara. Now that Adam and you—” He glanced at the children, especially Remmie, who was listening with great interest. “Now that you and Adam have an agreement, I think it would be a good idea if he would lead it.”

“I don’t mind,” Adam said, “if Cara doesn’t.”

“It would be a relief for you to do it, as you are familiar with it,” Cara said. “And you are a better reader.

“Are you comfortable praying aloud, Adam?” Philip asked.

“Only in front of my family. As soon as John started school, we stopped reciting the grace that Cara and her children say. Then Pa made us take turns praying before meals. Even John, as young as he was, had to take his turn.” Adam chuckled. “In fact, I think John is the one that prays out loud the best.”

            “Then it would be a good time to start praying with your future—” Philip stopped abruptly as Cara shook her head. “With this family.”

Adam and Cara walked into the front room.

“What do you think about having a family altar, Cara?”

“I think it’s a lovely idea.”

            “And the Bible story book is a good idea, too. I remember how long it felt to sit and listen to the Scripture when Pa read, especially in the Old Testament.”

            Cara was aware that there were two parts in the Bible. Yet when Adam spoke, she realized how little she knew about the Bible and the things of the Lord.

            “I don’t know if there is room enough for all of us in here to sit comfortably,” Adam said, looking around the front room.

            Cara sat in one of the straight-backed chairs. “You go ahead and sit in the rocker,” she suggested. “Remmie can push the other chair up next to you, and he and Charity can share it.”

            “Where do I sit?” Rose asked, her hands on her hips.

            “On my lap,” Adam said. “Is that all right?”

            “On Adam’s lap.” Rose smiled happily and giggled when Adam lifted her onto his lap. “Read book?” she asked, touching the book as Adam opened it.

            Adam opened to the first story. It was the very beginning story of the Bible, about how God created the world and everything in it. The picture showed the sun in the corner, with rays coming down from it, and the earth in its shadow. There were stars in the dark sky. Adam showed the picture to the children, then started to read.

            Cara had started to read the Bible several times, beginning with the first book, Genesis, and she knew the story of creation well. But she had not heard it read in such simple terms that even the children, at least Remmie, and probably Charity, understood. She was almost sorry when the story was over.

            “Read another one,” Remmie begged.

            “I was only going to read one tonight,” Adam started to say. Looking at the hopeful faces surrounding him, his eyes met Cara’s. “Do you want me to read another one?”

            “It’s so cozy sitting here, and the stories are very easy to understand. I feel as the children do, I would like to hear another one.”

            The second story had a picture of a beautiful garden and in the center was a tree full of beautiful fruit. “The Garden of Eden,” Adam read the title. “This is a book about the first man and woman God created. They were named Adam and Eve.”

Remmie exclaimed, “That’s the same name as you!”

“Yes, it is. My ma picked it out for me because it was in the Bible, and she liked it.”

He read how Adam of the Bible and Eve, his wife, lived in the garden and walked with the Lord in the evenings. The words were almost like poetry, and then the story of the serpent came. Adam changed his voice when he read the words of the serpent, and the children giggled. The story was not funny, though, as they soon realized. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit of the tree that he had told them not to eat, they were punished and banished from the garden of Eden.

            “That’s not a happy story,” Remmie complained.

            “Oh, but it has a happy ending,” Adam said. “Do you remember what we talked about the day you were saved?”

            “Some of it,” Remmie admitted, embarrassed that he did not remember it all.

            “We talked about how we are all born sinners who need God’s salvation. This story is about the very first sin. Sin means to disobey God, and Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit that he told them not to eat. Later in this book, we will read about God’s plan to save us from our sins.”

            “I’m saved,” Remmie declared. He looked at Cara. “And Ma is saved now, too.”

            “Yes, Remmie. I am so glad I am.”

            “Charity and Rose are not.” Rose wasn’t listening. Charity looked like she was falling asleep.

            “They are too young to understand, but someday it is our hope that they will also accept God’s salvation.”

            “Then we will all be God’s family!” Remmie said excitedly.

            Adam and Cara exchanged smiles that showed how much they rejoiced in Remmie’s excitement. Would he be even more excited when they announced the changes that would come into their family sometime soon?

            “I think we will skip the hymn singing,” Adam said. “Until we can all sing them together. Now let us pray.”

            Cara was happy when all three of her children bowed their heads and closed their eyes, as she had taught them to do when they prayed at mealtime. Gran would have been happy that she had done that much. Now they would learn how to pray from Adam.

            “Our Heavenly Father,” Adam began in a clear, strong voice, “We thank You for Your gift of salvation. Thank You for the blessings you have given us this day, as we have celebrated Your gift with our family and friends. We pray that in the coming days, we will be guided by Your presence—”

            “Presents!” Rose shouted. “I want presents!”

            Adam choked and coughed and tried not to laugh. Cara was silently shaking with mirth.

Remmie was disgusted. “Not Christmas presents, Rose. God’s presence.”

            “In Jesus’ name, Amen,” Adam quickly finished. He did not dare to look at Cara or he would burst out laughing. Family altar was going to be quite interesting.

            Charity’s head dropped to her chest and Cara saw that she had fallen asleep. “Maybe we should have had family altar after I put them in their nightgowns,” Cara said.

            She gently shook Charity. “Charity, let’s go and get your nightgown on.” Charity got up and stumbled. “Come along, Rose. We’ll get you ready for bed.”

            Remmie took the lamp and started up the stairs.

Adam wasn’t sure if he should leave or stay. He wanted to stay. He hoped to have some private conversation with Cara. He stood near the fire, watching the flames.

            Cara walked back into the room after the children were in bed. She was not ready for Adam to leave. As much as she had enjoyed their family altar time, she wanted to spend some time alone with Adam.

 “Will you stay for coffee?”

“Glad you asked.” He winked at her, and she blushed.

 Philip walked past Cara holding a steaming cup. “Warm milk for Ayla. I think we will turn in now.”

 “Goodnight, then. Goodnight, Ayla,” Cara called, and heard Ayla’s cheery response.

 “See that you don’t tarry long, Adam,” Philip called out.

When Philip was gone, Adam walked towards Cara, and they met in the middle of the room.

“I feel like I’ve just been scolded by your pa,” Adam said.

Cara giggled. “I feel as giddy as a teenager tonight, so maybe he was wise.”

“Now about that coffee—”

She had forgotten she offered coffee. “I can make another pot.”

He leaned closer and grinned. “Do you really think I want coffee right now?”

Her mouth formed an “O” as she caught his meaning. Suddenly there was no laughter as he leaned down to kiss her.

It was hard to move away from Cara’s sweetness, but Adam dropped his arms to his sides and stepped back.

“Philip told me not to tarry, so I will go on down to the cabin now. I hope you have sweet dreams, Cara.”

Her heart was filled with joy. “My dream has already come true.”

God is on the Move!

God is on the move!

He’s inspired some new lesson ideas for children’s church, which we are now calling Kingdom Kids Arise. It’s a morning “talk show” where we will discuss Bible truths. Some weeks will we will have object lesson demonstrations, some weeks we will interview “people from the Bible.” There will be skits and memory verses and tickets to earn prizes, as well as fun activities and crafts that tie in with the Bible lesson. Some ideas came from other sources, but the dialogue and lessons come from Scripture and from the heart. Sometimes I just have to look at a picture or read a couple of sentences, and I am inspired to write.

I wish that I were writing some fiction but right now that isn’t coming to me. And maybe it is not God’s timing for fiction right now.

A couple of weeks ago I felt like I was losing my purpose. Then I’m not sure how it transpired, but God gave me a spurt of inspiration that has progressed into an exciting new lesson series. The Woods Church is generously allowing me to use their children’s program as an outlet for putting the lessons into practice and I can see if there are any glitches or things that need to be changed. Eventually I would like to publish some of the curriculum I’ve written. But again, that will be in God’s timing.

On a sad note, I am giving notice to my day job today. Although the physical therapy helped me overcome the back and hip pain, the work that I do as a homemaker aide is hard on my back and I’m not able to do it. That means I will be looking for a job closer to home that I can do physically.

In the meantime, I’m praising God that my mind is vibrant and functioning well. I haven’t always been in a good place mentally or emotionally but am in a good season right now. I think the six or seven weeks that I was home, the first few weeks pretty much confined to my recliner, gave me the time I needed to grown in God’s grace, to slow down from life and listen for His calling.

God is good, all the time. Even through the hard times.

Welcome to 2023!

Every New Year’s Eve as a teenager/young adult found me alone, usually babysitting. And with a journal or fresh notebook and pen in hand.

I would set goals for myself.

And they would quickly be forgotten as the New Year swept in.

Just yesterday, I resurrected the habit of writing down my goals.

I came up with one.

No Kindle purchases.

I would use a free library app and Kindle Unlimited and do all of my reading that way.

Last night I got swept up in a series.

This morning I paid for and downloaded a Kindle book.

Chagrin.

It seems I can’t keep up with the simplest goal.

No self control?

Too high of expectations?

Impractical?

Impossible?

Maybe all of the above?

I love to read.

I don’t own a television.Or use a streaming service. By choice. There are so very few things I like to watch. And my attention span doesn’t hold for a two-hour movie.

So I read.

On my phone. On my Kindle app.

And read.

Oh, and for entertainment?

I read.

God has blessed this world with wonderful authors. Authors of inspirational romance and secular romance. Sometimes the same authors write both.

I like a variety of genres, but my favorite is also the genre I write in.

I write mostly Christian fiction, but I have also written a couple of sweet romances also.

Once upon a time, I had 70 story ideas in my head.

I have written 13 complete novels.

And two novellas.

I still have many stories and characters inside my head.

In 2022, I didn’t write any fiction. Instead, I decided to dedicate 2022 to what God wanted me to write.

That seemed to be focused on children’s church curriculum.

It was an amazing year. So many blessings and good things came of those efforts.

Now that 2023 has begun, I want to return to my fiction-writing roots.

Like my goal of not purchasing Kindle books, I am not sure how much fiction writing I will get done.

But I’d like to think I will stick with it more than 4 hours, which is how long after midnight that I waited before purchasing a Kindle book, thereby breaking my one and only New Year’s Resolution.

As this new day, new week and new year begin, I’m not making any promises

to myself, or to my readers, or even to God.

Instead, I will meditate on God’s promises to me.

The word “Promise” is recorded over 200 times in the Bible. That makes it pretty clear that promises are important to God.

God kept his promises to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob, to Joseph, Moses and all of the Israelites. They settled in the land of Canaan, the Promised Land.

God promised the Israelites that He would never leave them nor forsake them.

What are some other promises God has made to us?

Let’s look at Jesus’ words in the New Testament:

The promise of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit in our hearts:

“If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.” John 14:15-16

The promise of heaven:

“There are many homes up in heaven where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3

The promise of peace:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 

The promise that Jesus will return to earth one day:

“Remember what I told you—I am going away, but I will come back to you again.” John 14:28

How do we receive these promises?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31