My new eBook, The Amish Women of Lawrence County, was just released on July 31st. Today I am sharing an exclusive excerpt from the story of “Rebecca,” PLUS giving away a set of my Amish Notecards.
How do you enter? Make sure you read the whole excerpt. I have hidden a sentence within the text on how you can win. Good luck, happy reading, and be sure to share this giveaway with your friends.
Giveaway starts today, Friday, August 30th and ends Friday, September 6th and is only open to US residents. One winner will be selected at random and announced on Saturday, September 7th, in the comment section of this blog post.
Here’s an excerpt from The Amish Women of Lawrence County:
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles.” -Proverbs 21:23
The sun was rising above the horizon when Rebecca and her sisters Emma and Anna left for their springtime job at Yoder’s Strawberry Acres. The dew was still heavy in the air, and the birds were starting to wake from their nighttime slumber. Relishing the first warm day of the year, the sisters left their shoes behind. To them, nothing meant spring as much as walking in bare feet. As Rebecca lagged behind her sisters, she tried to talk herself out of her sour mood.
Anna’s mood was far from sour. “Don’t you just love the smell of spring,” she chimed out, tilting her head to the morning sun and twirling in front of them. “Quit being so silly,” Rebecca snapped. “Why do you have to be so chipper in the morning? You’d think you’d be tired after staying up half the night playing games with Simon. He didn’t leave until five o’clock this morning. I’m sure he’ll be no use to his family today. What were you thinking letting him stay so long?”
Anna knew her sister was poking fun at her, and she wasn’t going to let her have the last word. She stopped walking and let Rebecca catch up to her as she put her arm around her shoulder and whispered.
“You’re just jealous.”
Rebecca threw Anna’s arm off. “I’m anything but jealous of that skinny red-headed boy you’ve got eyes for. I don’t know what you see in him anyway.”
Emma stepped in front of them. Hands on hips, she halted the conversation.
“Would you two stop it? I swear you fight like two barn cats over a mouse! Can’t we enjoy our walk in peace?”
Rebecca knew she was being ornery and wondered if Anna might be right. Was she jealous that her sister had a special friend? It did bother her that both of her sisters had been asked if they wanted a ride home from a Sunday night singeon, while she hadn’t been asked even once. All she dreamt about these days was getting married and having a family of her own. The last thing she wanted was to be an old spinster like Tenna and Lizzi Fisher.
She was sure Eli Bricker might ask her last night, but when she looked his way, he turned and walked away. At times she felt Eli acted a little too big for his britches. She wasn’t sure what it was about him, but she had a soft spot for him, and it didn’t matter that every time he opened his mouth she cringed at his know-it-all attitude. She kicked a stone on the road, considering the idea that maybe he just wasn’t interested.
The sun had crested the horizon by the time they reached the small hill that separated their parents’ farm from the neighbor’s strawberry fields. The sun would feel good on their backs as they picked strawberries in the dew-covered rows. Shielding her eyes from the sun, Rebecca saw Katie Yoder standing at the end of one row, a stack of baskets beside her.
“Good morning,” Katie greeted them. “Are you ready to start picking? We have an order for fifteen baskets to fill before the stand opens to the public.”
Rebecca gaped. “That only gives us two hours,” she protested. “We’ll never get them all picked by then.” Anna piped up. “Sure, we can; it’s only five baskets apiece, plus the one mamm wants us to bring home so you can make a strawberry pie for datt. Come on — we can do this.”
Katie counted out three stacks of five baskets and placed them at the end of the rows.
“I have reinforcements on the way,” she said excitedly. “My datt told me to round up a few extra hands, and it wasn’t hard to find a few kids who wanted to earn some extra cash.”
She nodded to the field. “You can start on these three rows, and when they get here, I’ll start them at the other end.”
Rebecca grabbed a couple of baskets and sat down at the beginning of the row. She was still grumbling under her breath when a noise behind her caught her attention. Surprised to see their neighbor Mary Bricker standing in the row behind her, she watched as the older woman used her cane to steady herself to the ground. She was humming a tune Rebecca didn’t recognize, a smile as big as the sun on her face.
“For heaven’s sake, Mary, what are you doing here?” Rebecca quizzed. “If you wanted strawberries, we could’ve picked them for you.”
“I love picking berries, and Eli said they needed some help picking this morning, so I figured there was no better way to get these old bones moving than by sitting in the middle of a berry patch.” Mary retied her blue headscarf, pushed up her sleeves and settled into picking and said. “Anyways the Yoders pay by the basket, and it’s good for me to add a little extra money to my rainy-day fund. You never know whose needs might be greater than mine, and I like to be prepared.”
Rebecca turned back around and started picking, listening to Mary talk. She tried to push her sour mood out of the way and be extra nice since Mary was Eli’s grandmother. She’d hate for Mary to tell Eli she was anything but pleasant.
“Just look at the way the sun is bouncing off the strawberries,” Mary exclaimed, holding up an unusually large berry for Rebecca to see. “Isn’t it pretty?” (To enter to win the Amish Notecards, leave a comment on this post. That’s it! Good Luck!)
Rebecca couldn’t understand why Mary was always so happy. She’d lost her husband a few months ago, all of her children had moved away, and the leg she’d almost lost in a buggy accident kept her in constant pain. The only thing she had going for her was her grandson, who had moved back to Willow Springs to take care of her. Watching Mary out of the corner of her eye, Rebecca saw her lift her face to the sun. Soon she heard her whisper:
“Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this season. Thank you for all you’ve provided for me today, the warmth of the sun, and the sweetness of these berries. But most of all, help me spread some of your sunshine to someone who may need your warmth today.”
Rebecca kept on picking. Then, her curiosity got the better of her.
“How do you stay so happy, Mary? You always have a smile on your face.”
The older woman just smiled. Pausing for a few minutes, she finally answered. “I guess I believe if you can’t have the best of everything you make the best of everything you have. As I see it, Gott wants us to see the good around us, and there is no sense in being unhappy; it’s not going to change anything other than make me blue. And I don’t like to feel that way.”
Mary stopped talking long enough to pop one of the juicy red berries in her mouth and turned toward Rebecca.
“I feel blessed, and to me, that’s enough to keep a smile on my face,” Mary continued. “I may not have a lot of money, but I figure a smile is free, and I give them away whenever I can. You never know when someone you meet might be having a rough day. A friendly smile could be just what they need.”
Rebecca didn’t say a word but instantly remembered the Bible verse she read last night. “This is the day the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. PSALM 118:24.” She knew she needed to keep that verse fresh on her mind and thought she’d write it down and carry it in her pocket to help her remember it. Just being around Mary made her feel better. She didn’t like being in a foul mood, and furthermore, she didn’t like thinking so much about herself that she failed to appreciate all the beautiful things Gott put in her path.
They didn’t say another word to each other as they continued to fill their baskets. Mary hoped her attitude had rubbed off on her young friend, and Rebecca felt a sense of appreciation for what Mary had shared.
Standing up to stretch her back, she looked down the row she was picking. At the opposite end of the row, she saw Eli. He was looking her way, and instead of turning away, she gave him her warmest smile and waved a friendly hello. The curious look he had on his face changed to a big smile when he saw her smile at him.
She felt her face get warm as he smiled back. She couldn’t help but think that maybe it was her attitude that was keeping Eli from talking to her. She tried to be more friendly, but every time she got around him, he opened his mouth and what came out usually made her shake her head in disbelief. He was quick to voice his opinions, and plain and simple he thought he was right about everything. Maybe Mary had helped her see more than the way the sun bounced off a strawberry; perhaps she had shown her that a happy, cheerful heart could be seen as much as it could be felt.
When she turned around to thank Mary for her wisdom, she was no longer in the row behind her. She looked across the field and saw the older woman, cane in one hand steadying her steps and a half-filled basket in the other. She closed her eyes and turned her face to the sun just as she’d seen Mary and Anna do. Instantly she felt the warmth of the sun fill her soul, and she knew Gott had sent Mary to remind her how important a smile and a friendly conversation could be.
Picking up a new basket, she inched her way up the row, trying to pick faster in hopes that she would eventually end up closer to Eli. Looking out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Eli picked up the basket he was working on and carried it and sat directly across from her.
“I’m gonna pick beside you if that’s okay with you.” Rebecca heard the sarcasm in his voice.
“If you have to.” The words spilled out of her mouth before she had a chance to think of something nice to say. Ugh! She thought. Why did I say that? Turning her attention back to picking berries, she tried to play it off, hoping he didn’t pay any mind to her snippy reply.
To read the rest of the story of “Rebecca” and nine other short stories about The Amish Women of Lawrence County check it out on Amazon for Kindle by clicking HERE. If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can get this eBook for free here.
Tracy Fredrychowski is a country girl, author, homesteader and everything simple living. She has a passion for writing about the simpler side of life, much like the life she lived growing up in rural Pennsylvania.
Her life has always been intertwined with the Amish, and it’s only fitting that she has a genuine passion for their simplicity, sense of community and God-centered lives.
Growing up in Northwest Pennsylvania she spent her childhood immersed deep in Amish Country. The clip-clop of horse and buggy woke her each morning as Amish men drove past her childhood home on their way to work. As a young woman, she was traumatized by an Amish murder that involved a family member and changed her life forever.
Even though she currently lives in South Carolina her travels take her through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin’s Amish Country every year. During those stops, she researches the communities she visits and prides herself on writing Amish fiction that truly represents the Amish culture. She considers herself very fortunate to have made friends in those communities and values the information they share and wants nothing more than to represent their lifestyle as accurately as possible.