Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

Free Excerpt from My Upcoming Amish Book

February has flown by–what a short and action-packed month! Between trips to Mexico and San Francisco and completing the preliminary drafts of my upcoming Amish novella, I’ve had little to no blogging time, so my apologies for going missing for a bit. 🙂

 

A picture from my recent San Francisco trip--feeling inspired over excellent French roast coffee.

A picture from my recent San Francisco trip–feeling inspired over excellent French roast coffee.

I’m working on the final edits of my upcoming Amish book, which will be launching next week, and I’m psyched to share an excerpt with you today.

This book, tentatively titled Amish Bishop, centers on favorite characters Hannah and Jakob, the newlyweds who quickly became parents to beautiful bobbel Grace in Amish Baby. It is full of action; between Mercy’s surprise announcement, a new family with a mysterious secret, and ordinations for a new minister and bishop, change is in the air.

As always, I’ll be sure to keep you posted about release dates, promos, and giveaways on the blog! In the meantime, enjoy the excerpt and let me know what you think. 🙂

 

Chapter One: Hannah

 

This Sunday, church services will be held at my haus, and I’m not looking forward to them.

Preparations should be easy; after all, I’ve helped my mother and sisters so many times. I know the routine: scrub the haus from top to bottom, and clear the living room for the benches that will be hauled in on the wagon. And, of course, there are foods to assemble: cold cuts, sausages, bread, peanut butter and marshmallow church spread, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. I’ll need to bake pies for dessert, too. The blueberry crop has been wunderlich this year, so I’m planning to make ten blueberry pies, which should be simple. After all, I worked in a bakery for several years.

But this will be the first time I’ve ever hosted services in my haus since I gave birth to my new bobbel, Grace.

We Amish don’t talk much about the miracle of motherhood. As a child, my maemm often said nothing at all about her pregnancies—until she began going into labor, and sent my daed or one of us older children to fetch the midwife, that is. But now that I’m a maemm, I feel blessed every time I gaze upon my sweet little miracle, who is here with us through Herr Gott’s divine grace.

Bobblin are the most rewarding little creatures, but they’re so much work, too. I have no idea how my maemm was able to raise all of us, keep the haus spotless, and entertain visitors, too. Of course, we older kids helped out, but what did she do when she had her first little bobbel, namely me?

I have newfound respect for her, because right now, I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Today is Saturday, and after Jakob left for work this morning, I’d scribbled a quick list of preparations for tomorrow’s church services. I’ve been steadily checking tasks off the list since before sunrise. The floors are swept, the furniture polished, the window screens cleaned, and the shelves dusted. Now, it’s time to do the cooking—for tonight’s dinner as well as some advance cooking for tomorrow.

So far, it is not going well.

I’ve just finished mixing the pie crusts and pressing them into the pie plates when I hear Grace begin to wail. Wiping my greasy, doughy fingers on my apron, I rush into the bedroom and am greeted by a screaming, red-faced Grace, wriggling back and forth in her crib. At three-and-a-half months, she has a collection of cries for every occasion. This is her hungry cry—she coughs a bit and makes a noise that sounds like, “Ma-MA.”

“Oh, sweet bobbel, Mammi’s here,” I croon, hastily unpinning the top of my dress. As I do, the pin slips, its sharp tip pricking into my finger. Biting back a howl, I suck on my wounded finger and pick Grace up with my other hand, positioning her to eat.

Grace loves eating; she latches on easily, and for a moment, the only sound in the house is sucking—me on the injured finger, and Grace on my breast. After she’s fed, burped, and changed, she wants to play, so I place her on the bed on her belly, watching her roll back and forth as she coos in excitement.

I’d love to keep rutsching around here all day, but the thought of all my tasks propels me forward. So, I scoop up Grace and head into the kitchen to finish making the pies.

I try placing her on her little play blanket on the floor, but she whimpers to be held, her clear blue eyes glistening with tears. Sighing, I pick her up, cradling her in one hand while filling the pies with the other. I’ve just dropped a dollop of blueberry filling to the floor with a wet splat when I hear a knock on the door.

Rolling my eyes, I wipe my hands again and scurry through the haus to fling open the door. There, on the front steps, stands my best friend Mercy.

“Hiya, Hannah,” Mercy says with a glowing smile, stepping into the haus as though she lives here. “Neat as a pin. You truly are the perfect homemaker.”

I fight back the urge to flinch at the mere mention of the word pin; my finger is still throbbing, although immersing it in the cold blueberries helped a bit. “Thank you.” I lead her into the kitchen. “Can I get you anything to drink?”

“No, thank you.” Mercy’s eyes widen at the sight of the kitchen—the only room in the house that is not neat. The pies are in disarray, half of them filled, the other half sitting there with sad, empty shells, and flour covers the countertop.  Unwashed mixing bowls litter the counter by the sink.

“I guess you’re not perfect after all.” Mercy giggles. “Would you like some help?”

I laugh, slapping her on the arm. “I’d love some. I’ve been having a baremlich time preparing everything for services tomorrow. There’s just too much to do, especially with Grace.”

Mercy grins at Grace, who gurgles and gives a sunny smile back. “How is the little bobbel?” Mercy asks, tickling her soft, rosy cheek.

Wunderlich, and growing every day. Unfortunately, she wants to spend all her time with her mammi, and it’s been hard to do my chores and the cooking, and take care of her.”

“It’s gut that I’m here, then,” Mercy says, her skillful baker’s hands filling the remaining pie crusts. “Lattice or traditional?” she asks.

“Lattice. I could only make enough crust for lattice. I ran out of flour—I forgot to buy it at the store yesterday because Grace started crying.”

“I’ll bring you some,” Mercy says, expertly rolling out the remaining crust and cutting it into strips while I begin making tonight’s dinner—one-handed.

“Thanks. I’m glad that you came by. But aren’t you usually at the bakery at this time?” Mercy and her mann, Samuel, own a general store and bakery, and she’s usually there until late in the evening, Monday through Saturday.

Ach, jah,” Mercy says. “But today, I didn’t feel well, so I left your sister Eliza in charge.” Her busy fingers stop weaving the lattice strips, and she looks at me with serious eyes. “Hannah, I have something to tell you, and Samuel is the only other person who knows. Promise you won’t tell a soul?”

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7 Ideas to Make Every Day Awesome This Week!

Who likes Mondays? Okay, not a lot of us. But, weirdly, I do. I think of them as the start of a brand-new week of awesomeness. We’ve had time to recharge and rejuvenate over the weekend (hopefully), and we can start fresh…so what’s not to be excited about?!

This Monday’s blog post is a little different than most; I want to share a fun thing you can do every day to super-charge your week. So, here goes. Since the week technically begins on Sunday, I’ll start there.

These tiger cubs playing outside look like they're about to have a super-charged and fierce week. :)

These tiger cubs playing outside look like they’re about to have a super-charged and fierce week. 🙂

  • Sunday: Create a Weekly Mantra. This will not only excite you to begin your workweek, it will also keep you focused until Friday. Antonio and I enjoy creating mantras on Sunday nights, and also writing a list of weekly goals. We’ve been doing this for over a year, and feel that we’ve both been more effective and efficient ever since. The mantra keeps us motivated, and the goal list creates a sense of accountability–and accomplishment every time we check something off!
  • Monday: Draw Upon Your Passions. Don’t let your workweek start off dull and boring; infuse a little bit of something you’re passionate about into your day, and motivation will follow! When I worked as a pharmacist, I would often start the week with a new outfit, or try something new with my make-up, because I love these things and they improved my attitude all day. Now that I work from home, I’m sure to incorporate at least one of my passions into my day, whether it’s exercising or playing the piano for my baby girl. Drawing upon my passions makes me feel more inspired, and lets the week start off on a strong note.
  • Tuesday: Be Grateful. Starting every day–not just Tuesday–by remembering at least one thing you have to be thankful for lends a rosy glow to your day.
  • Wednesday: Recharge Your Batteries. Many of us start feeling exhausted as the week wears on, and by Hump-Day, we’re zombies. Sometimes, it’s nice to take some time off and have a bum-night in the middle of the week. Watch a movie, and make sure to sleep early, so you can finish off your week strong!
  • Thursday: Cook Something New and Healthy. Good nutrition is  essential for physical and mental health, and cooking at home is the best way to get it! I cook at home almost every night, and always make leftovers for lunch later in the week. Cooking is also an extremely creative and rewarding pursuit. It can de-stress you as you become absorbed in creating just the right combination of flavors, and, of course, it rocks once you get to eat your concoction!
  • Friday: Have a Happy Hour. Time with family and friends is so important for people who want to supercharge their lives. Spend a few hours with people you love, who lift you up. Remember that the attitudes of whomever you associate with most will rub off on you, so spend your  time with your most positive and fun friends!
  • Saturday: Exercise Outside. Working out in a gym is great, but nothing beats exercise outside. It just feels more exhilarating. So whether you’re skiing in the winter or jogging on the beach in summer, take advantage of the great outdoors, and you’ll feel your mind expand in the process.

What did you think of these ideas? What do you do to super-charge your week and make every day awesome? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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