Random Inspirations

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It’s Here: Book 1 of the Amish in College Series Has Launched!

on March 20, 2014

I’m excited to announce that Book 1 of my new Amish in College series has just launched! Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book is all about Rebekah’s struggle to keep the faith she grew up with as she lives the competitive and secular college life that she chose.

Here's the cover of Amish Faith: Rebekah's Book

The Amish in College series is a spinoff of the Amish Hearts series, which follows identical twins Rebekah and Mercy as they go on their Rumspringa, the rite of passage for Amish teens. In the four Amish Hearts books, both girls discover love. They also delve deeper into themselves to realize their hopes and dreams…and, ultimately, the girls arrive at very different answers to the ever-present Rumspringa question: to stay Amish, or not?

My original plan had been to write the four Amish Hearts books and leave it at that. But I realized that the characters still had more to tell–and fans expressed interest in reading additional books. They wondered how Rebekah was doing in college, and what was next for Mercy and Samuel. And I realized that there were some minor characters, like Hannah and Jakob, who also had fascinating stories hidden within them.

And voila! Amish in College was born. I’ve never heard of any series like it, which makes me happy. But in today’s highly-educated world, seeing some Amish in college is not farfetched. Although the Amish believe that too much worldly wisdom makes one proud, many sects are becoming more open to advanced education, especially if it can be brought back to benefit the community. Therefore, Rebekah’s career plans to be a veterinarian and Samuel’s aspiration to study agriculture and business could be accepted by their conservative elders and church congregation.

I hope that the Amish in College books will stimulate readers’ imaginations, and shed some light on the mysteries of the Amish. These books are meant to be more inspirational and spiritual than the Amish Hearts books, since the characters are growing up and facing new and ever-more-complicated challenges. Book 1 poses the question: to keep the faith or not? Book 2, which will be coming out in April, will be called Amish Wedding: Hannah’s Book, and poses questions about Amish baptism, choosing a life partner, and getting married. And I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date as I prepare for Books 3 and 4, which will center on Mercy and Samuel.

For now, here’s a sneak peek of Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book!

Chapter One

 “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I don’t know where I heard that; my brain has been on overload ever since I’ve started college. But the saying is so true.

Here I am, exactly one year since I began Rumspringa, and so much has changed. I went to college parties, fell in love with an Englischer, and made the heart-breaking decision to leave my Amish community.

Yet, somehow, as my boyfriend Braeden and I climb out of his Jeep and walk hand-in-hand to the front door of my parents’ house, it feels as though nothing has changed at all.

The fence is still painted blue, because even though I’ve left, my twin sister Mercy is still here—and still unmarried. The fields, where I walked at night with dreams of leaving the farm, are still rolling and green. My favorite horse, Winnie, is still there in the pasture, and inclines her head toward me as if to say, “Oh, you’re home. Took you long enough.”

I’m still wearing traditional Amish clothes; I dress English at college, but always go back to the plain style when I return home. And as I knock on the door and it swings open, I can smell the delicious aroma of my favorite meal since childhood, slow-roasted beef and mashed potatoes.

“Happy birthday, Rebekah!” my mother cries. “I’m so glad you’re home.” With an ever-so-slight chilly edge to her voice, she adds, “And hello, Braeden. Nice to see you.”

My mother’s nose wrinkles a bit when she says the last sentence, as if she just caught a whiff of sour milk. I hope Braeden doesn’t notice. Of course she’s kind to him, but sometimes she sounds like she means the opposite of what she says.

My entire family is already gathered around the dining room table, and of course I hug everyone in turn, saving Mercy for last. She’s right next to Samuel; they’re courting, and I couldn’t be happier. My boy-crazy sister is finally settling down, and I couldn’t pick a better man for her than steady, smart Samuel.

Braeden and I slide into the seats of honor next to Mercy and Samuel.

“So, how’s the college life?” my father asks. He poses this question every month when I come home to visit—which means he’s said it four times already. He always studies my face carefully, with hope shining in his eyes.

Every month, I get the feeling that he thinks I just might have changed my mind about the whole college thing, and that I’m about to announce that I’ve decided to come home and become baptized Amish after all.

However, I give him the same answer as I have every other time. His face falls as I reply, “It’s demanding but I love it.”

This is a half-truth; the demanding part is accurate, but most of the time, I don’t love it. My classes contain hundreds of intelligent pre-med, pharmacy, dental, chemical engineering, and veterinary hopefuls. I’m constantly worried about getting knocked out, but, of course, I won’t admit this to my family.

The truth is, baptism has been looking better and better to me. I’d always taken my Amish faith for granted, but now that I no longer have it, I often feel lost in the competitive college world. Family and faith are totally absent there. I’d really needed to come home this weekend.

Braeden squeezes my hand under the table as I mechanically shovel roast beef and mashed potatoes into my mouth. I love my family, but my homecomings are always tinged with pain. I will always be the fallen Amish girl, the rebel, which, up until last year, was a title reserved for Mercy.

Now, however, Mercy is the obedient daughter, most likely the favorite. After all, she’s being courted by the good Amish boy, she’s working at the bakery and saving up to open one of her own, and even though she hasn’t mentioned it yet, I’m sure she has every intention of getting baptized.

I think I’m doing the right thing for myself, but as my parents beam at Mercy and Samuel, I feel a sickening twinge of jealousy. I used to get that look from them, while Mercy would get frowns of disapproval.

I choke down the last bit of my favorite birthday dinner, counting down the hours until I can return to my college life, the one I’ve chosen, instead of being stuck in this life—the one I was born into.

 

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