Thank you, everyone!

 

Here on the final stop of the Herb of Grace blog tour, I want to thank you all—bloggers and readers—for celebrating this new release with me, and for all the reviews and opportunities to stop and visit that you’ve made possible. I’m so grateful to you all!


And now, here’s a sneak peek at the next book in the series, Keys of Heaven. Look for it in a bookstore near you in February 2015!

“For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” —Isaiah 51:3, KJV

Sarah Yoder is learning to help the people in her Amish community as a Dokterfraa, creating teas and tinctures using the herbs she grows. But her latest patient seems to have a problem that can’t be resolved with anything in Sarah’s garden—a woman who, in Sarah’s mind, would flourish anywhere but in the place she lives. Meanwhile, Sarah’s relatives have decided to do a little matchmaking between her and a visiting Amish man. He would make a wonderful husband, and she knows she should be willing for God to show her His choice of partner … and not allow her friendship with her neighbor, Henry Byler, to grow into anything more.

Henry has seen some success as a potter since a major store commissioned a line of his work for their catalog. The trouble is that they want to market him as Amish. Though he was raised in the faith and now lives in Amish country, he has never joined church—and doesn’t plan to, either. Which means that, despite the attraction between them, he must keep his distance from Sarah. But what happens when Sarah and Henry are called upon to help a runaway whose family is too worldly to see how lost their son has become? The plant Sarah calls Keys of Heaven may be able to grow in impossible places, but it’s not so easy for people to find their own place. Which means it’s quite a temptation for her to take matters into her own hands …

Excerpt from Keys of Heaven by Adina Senft

The young Amish mother in the mint-green dress, black bib apron, and crisp organdy Kapp looked at Sarah Yoder a little doubtfully. “Chickweed?”

The June sun shone through the sparkling windows of the guest room on the first floor of the farmhouse, which Sarah had begun to use as her dispensary. Gripping his mother’s hand and trying manfully not to cry was her little patient—a boy of four so sunburned that his skin had already begun to peel.

Briskly, Sarah took the big bunch of chickweed that she’d pulled from the bank near her garden, and demonstrated as she talked. “It’s a humble little plant, but it’s wunderbaar, truly. You scrunch it up and rub it between your hands, like this, ja?”

The plants began to break down, their juicy stems and leaves forming a wet mass (mucilaginous, her herb book said, when goopy would have done as well). When it was good and ready, Sarah gently applied it to the little boy’s arms and shoulders. “Were you working in the field with your Dat, Aaron?”

He gulped and shook his head, flinching in spite of himself. “We went swimming in the pond. Mei Bruder and the boys from the next farm.”

“Ah, I see. And when you’re swimming, you don’t feel the sun working on you, do you? Does this feel better?” She dabbed the juicy mass on his cheeks and forehead, and he nodded.

“It feels cool.”

She stepped back and smiled at him. “You look like a duck who just came up out of the pond, all covered in weed. What does a duck say?”

Instead of saying “quack-quack,” the boy gave a perfect imitation of a mallard’s call.

“I see a hunter in the making.” She brushed his fine blond hair from his eyes and tried to ignore the pang in her heart.

Simon. Caleb. No longer little boys whom she could cuddle and sing to. And now, Simon was gone. He and his best friend Joe Byler had done a bait-and-switch a few weeks ago, making them all think they were going to an Amish community in Colorado for a working vacation, and all the time they’d secured jobs at a dude ranch, wrangling horses. They were working among worldly people and all the temptations to a young man that living outside the circle of their people would bring.

Oh Lord, be with him and keep him safe.

“How long should I leave the chickweed on him?” Aaron’s mother asked.

“Not long,” Sarah assured her, coming back to herself. This was work she could do, a difference she could make right here with another woman’s child. Worrying about Simon profited her nothing. The Lord had him cupped in His hand, didn’t He? There was no reason to worry. “Rinse it off when you get home, and if you can, squish up some more and put it on when he goes to bed. He might need to sleep on a towel, to save the sheets.”

Denki, Sarah. I’m so glad you knew what to do. Sunscreen is no good after the damage is done, and vinegar didn’t seem to help him.”

Sarah accepted a payment that still seemed to her to be too much for such a simple solution, but the young mother seemed happy with both the treatment and the new knowledge she’d gained.

When they clopped away down the drive in the gray-sided buggy the churches used here in Lancaster County, Sarah could already hear Aaron begging to take the reins, just the way Caleb, her youngest, always had when he was that age. Boys and ponds. Boys and horses. Boys and dirt. You could count on the magnetic attraction between them the way you counted on the turn of the seasons.

She turned and walked across the lawn to her garden—or as her sister-in-law Amanda was fond of saying, “that crazy quilt patch you planted.” The patterns she had seen in her mind’s eye back in the muddy days of spring had come to full fruition, the way a complicated star-and-flying-geese pattern materialized out of fabric when Sarah’s mother-in-law, Corinne, Yoder made a quilt. First there was nothing, and then there was something, patterns emerging to create beauty where there had been none before.

Was this how women reflected God as they went about the act of creation in small ways and large? Sarah knelt to inspect the progress of the peas climbing up their teepees of string. Was she being prideful even to think such things? Because baking, gardening, and sewing were all small acts of creation, when you got right down to it. Leaving out the miracle of conception itself, what about bringing up children? There was no creation as beautiful as a child who worshipped God and learned to love Him at an early age.

Copyright 2015 by Adina Senft.

All rights reserved.

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