Some Amish are making the trek to Colorado for cheaper land. Others are fleeing strict bishops with long memories.
For Emily Detweiler and her family, the move is more personal. Tragedy struck Emily in Ohio, shaking loose everything she believed was firm, including her faith. Her family took the bold step of leaving Ohio to resettle in a small Amish community in Canaan, Colorado, where they hope the distance will help erase painful memories.
David Stoltzfus’s family moved to Colorado for reasons he doesn’t understand. But Canaan is turning out to be something other than the promised land they all anticipated. Fearing that a health condition will cut his life short, David plans to return home to Paradise, Pennsylvania, as soon as he can. But then he meets Emily, who stirs feelings in his heart despite his apprehension about the future.
Emily’s growing love for David surprises her, but she fears that he will find out the truth about her past and reject her. But what if the truth is that they are made for each other? And that God longs to give them the desires of their hearts if only they will seek Him first?
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Seek Me With All Your HeartA Land of Canaan Novel
By Beth Wiseman
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Beth Wiseman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEmily stood behind the counter of her family's country store, watching as the tall man walked down each aisle, the top of his black felt hat visible above the gray metal shelving. First thing that morning, he'd strolled in and shot her a slow, easy smile, white teeth dazzling against bronzed skin. He moved slowly, sometimes glimpsing in her direction.
Emily twisted the strings on her apron with both hands and tried to slow down her breathing. Her heart pulsed against her chest as she glanced out the window toward her family's farmhouse in the distance. Where is Jacob? Her brother knew she didn't like to be left alone in the store, and he'd promised to be right back.
Their community was small, and all the members in the district knew each other, which was the only reason Emily agreed to work in the shop. But this Amish man was a stranger. And Amish or not, he was still a man.
Emily jumped when the man rounded the bread aisle toting a box of noodles in one hand and a can in the other. With the back of one hand, he tipped back his hat so that sapphire blue eyes blazed down on her. As he approached the counter, Emily clung to her apron strings and took a step backward.
"How come everything in this store is messed up?" Tiny lines creased his forehead as he held up a can of green beans with a large dent in one side. Then he held up the box of noodles. "And this looks like it's been stepped on. It's mashed on one side." He dropped them on the counter, then folded his arms across his chest and waited for her to answer.
He towered over her. Emily stared straight ahead, not looking him in the eye. The outline of his shoulders strained against a black jacket that was too small. Her bottom lip trembled as she turned her head to look out the window again. When she didn't see any sign of Jacob, she turned back to face the stranger, who looked to be about her age-maybe nineteen or twenty-which didn't make him any less threatening. His handsome looks could be a convenient cover up for what lay beneath. She knew he was not a married man since he didn't have a beard covering his square jaw, and his dark hair was in need of a trim.
He arched his brows, waiting for her to respond, looking anything but amused. Emily felt goose bumps on her arms, and chills began to run the length of her spine, even though Jacob had fired up the propane heaters long before the shop opened that morning.
"This is-is a salvage store." Her fingers ached as she twisted the strings of her apron tighter. "We sell freight and warehouse damaged groceries." She bit her lip, but didn't take her eyes from him.
"I can't even find half the things on my list." He shook his head as he stared at a white piece of paper. "What about milk and cheese?"
"No, I'm sorry. We mostly have dry goods."
He threw his hands in the air. Emily thought his behavior was improper for an Amish man, but raw fear kept her mouth closed and her feet rooted to the floor.
"Where am I supposed to get all this?" He turned the piece of paper around so she could see the list.
Emily unwrapped the strings of her apron and slowly leaned her head forward. She tucked a loose strand of brown hair underneath her kapp.
"What'd you do to your hand?"
Emily glanced at her hand, and a blush filled her cheeks when she saw the red indentions around her fingers. She quickly dropped her hand to her side and ignored his comment. "You will have to go to Monte Vista for most of those things. People usually come here to save money, just to get a few things they know we'll have for a lesser price."
"That's a far drive by buggy in this snow." He put both hands on the counter and hung his head for a few moments, then looked up as his mouth pulled into a sour grin. With an unsettling calmness, he leaned forward and said, "Just one more thing I can't stand about this place."
Emily took two steps backward, which caused her to bump into the wall behind her. "Then leave," she whispered as she cast her eyes down on her black shoes. She couldn't believe she'd voiced the thought, and when she looked back up at him, the stranger's eyes were glassed with anger.
"Please don't hurt me." She clenched her eyes closed.
David couldn't believe what he'd heard. "What? Hurt you? What are you talkin' about?" He'd never hurt anyone in his life. He walked around the counter and reached his hand out to her, but she cowered against the wall.
"I'm sorry. Whatever I did, I'm sorry. Please, don't cry." He touched her arm, and she flinched as a tear rolled down her cheek. He pulled back and said softly, "Please. Don't cry. Look ..." He showed her his palms, then backed up and got on the other side of the counter. "I'm leaving. Don't cry."
He rubbed his forehead for a moment and watched her trying to catch her breath to stop the tears from flowing. She swiped at her eyes and sniffled, then looked up at him. He noticed a scar above her left brow. A deep indentation that ran nearly to her hairline.
The bell on the front door chimed, and David looked away from the woman and toward the sound. An Amish fellow around his own age stepped inside. He glanced at David, then took one look at the woman against the wall and hastily rushed over to her. He brushed past David, almost pushing him, and touched the woman on the arm.
"Are you all right?"
"I didn't do anything, I promise." David watched the young man wrap his arm around her and whisper something in her ear. "I mean, I guess I acted like a jerk, but I never meant to ..."
The fellow waved a hand at him and shook his head before turning his attention back to her. "Go on back to the haus."
David's eyes followed the young woman as she scurried out the door, her chin tucked. Through the window, he saw her trudge through the snow toward a white house on the other side of a picket fence, her brown dress slapping at her shins as she hugged herself tightly. David pointed to a black wrap hanging on a rack by the door. "She forgot her cape," he said and looked out of the window again. He wondered what exactly had just happened.
"I'm Jacob." The man walked closer and extended his hand to David, who forced a smile.
"I'm David, and I'm real sorry. I came in here in a bad mood, and I guess I must have scared her or something." He dropped his hand and shook his head. "But I sure didn't mean to. Really. I'm just real sorry."
Jacob peeled off a snow-speckled black coat, walked to the rack, and hung it beside the forgotten cape. He turned to face David. "It's not you. My sister just gets like that sometimes. I try not to leave her alone, but I heard one of the horses in the barn kicking at the stall, and I was gone longer than I should have been."
"Is she ..." David wasn't sure how to ask. "Ab im kopp?"
Jacob chuckled. "Nee, she ain't off in the head." His expression grew serious. "She's just ... I reckon she's just going through a hatt time right now."
The bell on the door chimed again, and David saw a small girl enter. She was bundled in a black bonnet and cape and was breathing hard. "Are you the one who made Emily cry?" She thrust her hands on her hips and drew her mouth into a frown. David opened his mouth to answer, but Jacob cut in.
"Betsy, what are you doing out here? You're supposed to be helping Mamm get those jams labeled so she can carry them to Abby's bakery later. Does she know you ran over here?"
The child untied the strings of her bonnet, pulled it off, then tucked loose strands of blonde hair beneath her kapp. "I reckon this is more important." She folded her small arms across her chest as her hazel eyes bored into David. "What did you do to Emily?"
"Betsy, he didn't do nothing. Now, get on back in the house." Jacob stacked papers on top of the counter, dismissing the child.
Betsy walked to David, her hands landing back on her tiny hips. She squinted her eyes and pursed her lips together. "I want you to know that if your behavior instigated this outpouring of emotion from my sister, it would be best for you not to visit us here again." She nodded her head once, but David was too stunned to say anything. The women in this family are crazy.
"Just pretend she's not here," Jacob said as he walked to the girl. He gently grabbed her by the arm and led her to the door. He pulled the door open. "Put your bonnet on and go home, Betsy."
Betsy stood in the doorway as snow powdered her black cape and the threshold of the shop. She plopped her bonnet back on her head, tied it, then lifted her chin. "I will be going back to tend to Emily, and I suspect you should be heading to your own haus." She spun around and slammed the door behind her.
David cocked his head to one side and watched Betsy from the window. "How old is she?"
"Seven." Jacob shrugged, then sighed. "And a handful."
David scratched his chin and finally pulled his gaze from the window. "I have a sister who is seven, but she doesn't talk like that." He paused. "I don't know many Amish folks who talk like that, even us older ones."
"Ya, Betsy is special. She's a real pain most of the time, but Mamm and Daed let some Englisch people give her some tests, and they said she's what they call gifted." Jacob pushed a button on the cash register, and the drawer swung open. He filled the slots with bills as they talked. "Betsy's been reading since way before other kinner her age. I reckon she thinks she knows everything." He chuckled. "Sometimes I think she does, too, using them big words and all. She does math real gut too."
David nodded. "Oh."
Jacob slammed the cash drawer shut, then smiled. "In case you were wondering, mei mamm is normal."
David laughed. "Gut to know. Are those your only siblings?"
"No. I got a younger bruder, Levi. But he works with mei daed doing construction and installing solar panels."
David had noticed that lots of the Amish homes in Canaan used solar panels, something you didn't see a lot of in Lancaster County. "How'd your daed and bruder get into that?"
"Daed knew he was going to need to find an outside job here since farming is going to be a challenge, at least in the beginning." Jacob shook his head. "Can't believe that there's only three months of frost-free weather here." He paused with a sigh. "Anyway, Daed planned ahead and learned about these solar panels before we moved here."
David nodded again as he considered whether or not his family might benefit from solar panels.
"And me and Emily take care of the shop, and 'course Mamm has the house to tend to ... and Betsy, which is a fulltime job when she ain't in school." Jacob scratched his forehead. "What 'bout you? Where'd you come from? I haven't seen you around here."
David sighed. "We moved here. Yesterday. We're not even unpacked, but my stepmother wanted me to pick up a few things."
"You don't sound happy about this move." Jacob sat down on a stool behind the counter and eyed David skeptically.
"I'm not, really. I mean, my whole family and everything I've ever known is in Lancaster County. In Pennsylvania. My great grandfather left us some land, so we moved." David shook his head. "Although ... I reckon I don't know why. This is nothing like Lancaster County. It's-" He stopped when he realized he might offend Jacob if he went on.
"It's all right." Jacob took off his hat and ran a hand through wavy brown hair. "You ain't tellin' me anything I don't know. We moved here from Middlefield, Ohio, three months ago. It's real different here for us too."
"What made your family move?"
Jacob shrugged. "Needed a change." He pulled his eyes from David's and his forehead wrinkled as he went on. "And Levi's got asthma. The weather is better here for him. Less mold, which seems to trigger it."
David suspected there was more to it than that, but he just nodded.
"Lillian, my stepmother, was wondering where the school is for my sister. I have two sisters, but only Anna is old enough to go to school. She's the one who's the same age as Betsy. Elizabeth is almost five, so she won't start until next year."
Jacob grunted. "There ain't no schoolhouse. Hoping to build one soon, though. Right now, the young ones are getting their schooling from Emma Miller, the widow around the corner." Jacob pointed to his right. "Big blue house on the next road to the right. She teaches them in the barn."
"In the barn?"
"Ya. She's got a gut setup out in her barn. All the young scholars have their own desk, and it's all heated with propane. It's just until we can get the school built. Widow Miller is sick; otherwise Betsy would be in school today." Jacob chuckled. "Bet Mamm is hoping she gets well real soon."
David had almost forgotten about his list from Lillian. "I better pay for these couple of things, then head to town for the other items." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill.
"There's a singing here on Sunday, if you're interested." Jacob handed David his change. "It won't be nothing like what you're used to, I'm sure, and there ain't a whole lot of people who attend, maybe only ten or fifteen, but you could meet some folks. There will even be a few single girls coming. How old are you, anyway?"
"I just turned twenty."
"And you ain't married yet?"
David forced a smile. Marriage wasn't in his plans. "No."
"I'm getting married in December." Jacob grinned again. "Adding another crazy woman to my life. Beth Ann's her name."
David watched Jacob's eyes light up when he said her name-his new friend was happy about this. "Congratulations."
David picked up his small bag with the noodles and green beans, and then extended his other hand to Jacob. "Nice to meet you, and please tell Emily that I'm not some psycho or anything." He chuckled, but stopped when he saw the color fade from Jacob's face. "Did I say something wrong? I just don't want her to think I'm-"
Jacob waved his hand. "Nah, it's okay. I can tell you're a normal guy." Then he stood up and headed toward the back of the shop. "See ya 'round," he said over his shoulder. "Come Sunday, if you feel like it."
David opened the front door of the shop and walked toward his buggy. The snow had stopped, and he glanced across the white terrain between the shop and the house. Movement on the front porch caught his eye. Emily. He stopped for a moment, then pivoted on his foot and headed in her direction. He'd never made a woman cry before today.
Emily's face flushed with embarrassment as she watched him walking toward her. When was she ever going to feel-and act-normal again? She reached up and touched the scar on her forehead. Never.
The screen door slammed behind her, and Vera Detweiler joined her daughter on the porch.
"Who is that handsome fellow comin' 'cross the yard?" Mamm smoothed the wrinkles in her brown apron. "I don't recognize him."
"I'm going in the haus." Emily started to step around her mother, but felt a hand on her arm.
"Emily. That's rude. Is this young man coming to see you? Did you meet him at the shop?"
Emily wiggled free of her mother's grasp. "Ya. But he's not very friendly, and I'd rather not talk to him."
Mamm's lips thinned. "Emily, how are you ever going to find a man and get married if you keep running away from everyone?" She softened her expression. "You must move past what happened."
The man was nearing earshot, so Emily didn't have a chance to respond.
"Guder mariye." Mamm waved from the front porch. Emily didn't think there was much good about this morning at all.
"Guder mariye to you." He stopped in the yard and looked up at Emily and her mother. "I just wanted to come apologize to Emily." He shoved his hands in his pockets, and with his shoulders hunched forward, his gaze landed on Emily. "I'm sorry for the way I acted back there." He nodded toward the shop. "I'm just having a really bad morning. I didn't mean to scare you."
With renewed humiliation about her behavior, Emily looked away from him. When she turned back to face him, his gaze was still on her. "It's all right," she mumbled, casting her eyes to the ground, wishing she'd never have to see him again. Not much chance of that if he lives here.
Her mamm carefully eased down the porch steps, then extended her hand to him. "I'm Vera Detweiler."
"David Stoltzfus. We just moved here yesterday from Lancaster County." He latched onto Mamm's hand, glanced at Mamm for a moment, then looked up at Emily.
Excerpted from Seek Me With All Your Heart by Beth Wiseman Copyright © 2010 by Beth Wiseman. Excerpted by permission.
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