Beauty from Ashes by Kathleen Fuller


A Love Made New CoverA Love Made New, the third book in my Amish of Birch Creek series, is set in the fictional town of Birch Creek, a small Amish community near Holmes County, OH. Over the years I’ve made several visits to Holmes and Middlefield (Geauga County) and I’ve enjoyed every visit. One of my favorite things to do is to drive the back roads and take pictures. The scenery is so beautiful in this part of Ohio. There are gently rolling hills, stunning fields and gardens, plenty of livestock grazing on acres of fertile pasture, and of course, the Amish themselves. If you get a chance to visit Holmes or Geauga county I highly recommend spending some time getting lost in the countryside.

While A Love Made New is set in a fictional Amish community, the setting and characters reflect real-life. Abigail Schrock lost her parents in a buggy accident, then lost the man she loved when he left her for another woman. These events have a devastating impact on her (of course!). Raw and hurting, she has trouble believing someone as kind and caring as Asa Bontrager would be interested in her.

Self-esteem and self-worth are things we all struggle with at one time or another. Through Abigail, I wanted to show two things: 1) finding our self-worth in people and things can only lead to disappointment and pain, because our worth is found in God and 2) God takes the deepest pain and turns it into something beautiful. Abigail, like many of us, had to go through pain and brokenness before she discovered her worth and identity in Christ. My hope is that through Abigail’s story, readers will see a little bit of themselves in the character, and a whole lot of God’s love in their lives.

WANT TO WIN A COPY OF A LOVE MADE NEW?  Thomas Nelson Publishing is giving away a copy to one lucky reader!

To enter, leave a comment for Kathleen. For an EXTRA chance share this post and leave a comment if you do. Giveaway starts on 9/16/16 and ends on 9/23/16.

*Giveaway is only open to US residents*

Kathleen Fuller

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and currently live in Geneva, Ohio. I’ve been married to James for 22 wonderful years (really, they have been wonderful!) We have three terrific children, three dogs, and have raised cattle, pigs, and chickens at various times over the years. We would have gone into the goat business, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I started writing in 2000, and published my first short story a year later. Since then I have authored several short stories, novellas, novels, and have done a lot of freelance non-fiction work. I have also worked as an editor. I have a Masters degree in Special Education, emphasis on teaching the blind and visually impaired, and a Bachelors in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. I have taught all age groups ranging from age 4 to age 21. A few of my favorite things: my relationship with Christ, chocolate (of course!), autumn, a satisfying book, good friends, a sense of humor, people who don’t take themselves seriously, haunting melodies, NFL football, and did I mention chocolate?

The Wilderness Center – Wilmot Ohio


Do you like walking trails and finding new places to enjoy the outdoors?

Visit The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, Ohio.

Sunday we spent the all afternoon exploring The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, Ohio. Such a FUN but extremely humid day (90 degrees!). The Center has walking trails, Interpretive and Astronomy Education Buildings, picnic shelters, a VERY tall viewing tower, a lake (LOVE!) and a pond. We always enjoy spending our days outside and if you are like us this place will capture a little piece of your heart. With summer slowly slipping away anytime the outdoors call your name, GO! Old Man winter will be rearing his ugly head and if you are visiting Ohio Amish Country before that happens we suggest taking a stroll through this wonderful gem of a place. You can walk off your dinner from Amish Door which is conveniently located about five minutes from the center!

Their mission statement is: To Connect our Community with Nature, Educate People of All Ages, Conserve Natural Resources, and Practice Environmental Stewardship. Visit their website for more information.

How Slow Can You Sing? By Olivia Newport

If you’re in church on a Sunday morning, are you hoping for fast, upbeat music or something slow and thoughtful? The latest music by contemporary Christian artists or the hymns of Charles Wesley or Fanny Crosby?

How slow can you sing

My forays into writing historical Amish stories have taken me into the traditional Amish songbook—the Ausbund. Still in use in Amish congregations, many of the Ausbund hymns date back to the middle of the sixteenth century and were written by men imprisoned because they held to Anabaptist theology rather than the prevailing Roman Catholic beliefs. Words to the hymns reflect that in the century of their origin, the hymn writers were persecuted, even martyred. Other hymnals were published during that era, but the Ausbund is distinguished because it has been in continuous use all these centuries, surviving from an era of more general use to today’s Amish congregations.

The Ausbund didn’t show any notes, only the lengthy verses exhorting singers to be faithful and steadfast in times of suffering, even if suffering should lead to death. Worshipers learned the tunes traditionally used with various sets of words. In more recent years, there have been some attempts to provide notation to the traditional tunes that have been handed down through the generations for centuries.

In addition to the words being long—as many as seventeen stanzas was not unusual—the tunes are laboriously slow compared to the pace of the Christian hymns or worship songs we know today. Some of them had as many as nine notes for a single syllable! (If you’re interested in more about the history of Amish hymns, here’s an interesting link.)

I’m a hymn person, no doubt about it. Perhaps that the reason I find myself drawn to including Ausbund hymns in my historical novels.

I won’t try to give you seventeen stanzas! But here’s a flavoring of the kind of suffering and martyrdom hymns written nearly five hundred years ago. This one is by Leonhard Schiemer.

“We are scattered like sheep without a shepherd. We have left our houses and lands and have become like owls of the night, like game birds. We sneak about in the forest. Men track us down with dogs, then lead us like lambs back to town. There they put us on display and say we are the cause of an uproar. We are counted like sheep for slaughter. They call us heretics and deceivers …

“Oh Lord, no tribulation is so great that it can draw us away from you. … Glory, triumph and honour are yours from now into eternity. Your righteousness is always blessed by the people who gather in your name. You will come again to judge the earth!”

How about you? What are some of your favorite hymns or worship songs? And how fast do you like to sing them?

Olivia Newport lives in Colorado where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Her Amish novels include the Valley of Choice series and four titles under the banner of Amish Turns of Times, including her latest release, Hope in the Land.