"The heart-wrenching dilemma of a teacher with no children"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted June 1, 2017
Romance Series | Inspirational Amish
I enjoy Patricia Davids' looks at various aspects of Amish
life. In her latest offering, we meet Lillian Keim who is
quite content to be a teacher at Bowman's Crossing.
Unmarried women usually get this job, and if she marries
she will have to leave. What a dilemma for a woman to
face! HIS AMISH TEACHER is third in a series called The
Lillian has asked a carpenter friend who volunteers with
the local fire department to demonstrate some fire safety
to the children. This is vital in a community which doesn't
like to use electricity. Timothy Bowman hopes to marry a
good Amish girl someday, and start his own family. Although
he's known Lillian for years, he doesn't know she's had
life-saving surgery which will have the side-effect of
preventing her from having children. In short, the only
children she can expect to raise are the forty school kids,
including one with inherited dwarfism. She's not looking
for a husband - just a career. So she keeps her eyes off
Timothy, much as she likes him and the books he brings her.
Debra Merrick is the local health inspector provided by the
county, and when she arrives at the school Lillian explains
various aspects of Amish life to her, so she takes the
place of the reader. Lillian is sure Debra's a nice person
but that doesn't give her the right to smile and chat with
Timothy. Really, they were almost flirting. But all that is
forgotten when a wildfire comes towards the wooden school
house and its propane tank.
I enjoyed the characters and their realistic interactions.
Just as much, I was interested in the relative paucity of
education among the Amish. In previous books I'd seen how a
girl about to make her own way didn't know the nearest
states on a map. We are told now that many Amish children
end school at fourteen and move on to the important
vocational training for their chosen work. Lillian took
correspondence college training, but she is an exception
among teachers. We also learn about fire fighting and
arson investigation, as well as Amish crop science.
Threaded through the tale is a developing romance. Will the
community be strong enough to withstand repeated suspicious
fires? The tale moves swiftly and is full of convincing
detail. HIS AMISH TEACHER will certainly reward a read by
anyone interested in Amish inspirational romance.
The Teacher's Choice
For Lillian Keim, instructing children in her one-room
schoolhouse is as close to being a mother as she'll ever
get. Lillian has a calling to be a teacher, and she won't
give it up to marry. But her plans—and her heart—are at
when she begins to feel more than friendship for lifelong
pal Timothy Bowman. When Tim rescues Lillian and her
from a fire, the volunteer firefighter suddenly sees what
he's been blind to all his life: he wants his friend as
wife. But something beyond her professional goals is
Lillian back. He's got to unlock her secret before he
his friend—and his forever love.
Excerpt“We all know Teacher Lillian is a terrible cook, don’t
Lillian Keim’s students erupted into giggles and some
outright laugher. She crossed her arms and pressed her
lips together to hold back a smile.
Timothy Bowman winked at her to take any sting out of his
comment, but she wasn’t offended. They had been friends
for ages and were members of the same Amish community in
Bowmans Crossing, Ohio. She knew he enjoyed a good joke
as well as the next fellow, but he was deadly serious
about his job today and so was she. The lessons they were
presenting might one day prevent a tragedy.
He stood in front of her class on the infield of the
softball diamond behind the one-room Amish schoolhouse
where she taught all eight grades. Dressed in full
fireman’s turnout gear, Timothy made an impressive
figure. The coat and pants added bulk to his slender
frame, but he carried the additional weight with ease.
His curly brown hair was hidden under a yellow helmet
instead of his usual straw hat, but his hazel eyes
sparkled with mirth. A smile lifted one side of his mouth
and deepened the dimples in his tanned cheeks. Timothy
smiled a lot. It was one reason she liked him.
His bulky fire coat and pants with bright fluorescent
yellow banding weren’t Plain clothing, but their Amish
church district approved their use because the church
elders and the bishop recognized the need for Amish
volunteers to help fill the ranks of the local non-Amish
fire company. The county fire marshal understood the
necessity of special education in the Amish community
where open flames and gas lanterns were used regularly.
The Amish didn’t allow electricity in their homes.
Biannual fire-safety classes were held at all the local
Amish schools. This was Timothy’s first time giving the
class. With Lillian’s permission, he was deviating from
the normal script with a demonstration outside. Timothy
wanted to make an impression on the children. She admired
It was another unusually warm day for the last week of
September. It had been a dry, hotter than usual summer.
Timothy had chosen the bare dirt of the infield with an
eye to safety rather than setting up on the brown grass
of the lawn that could catch fire. The children were
seated on the ground in a semicircle facing him. Only two
of her older students, cousins Abe and Gabriel Mast,
weren’t paying attention. Abe was elbowing his cousin and
the two were snickering and whispering behind their
A red car sped past the school, and the driver laid on
the horn. Abe jumped to his feet and waved wildly. The
car didn’t slow down.
Lillian did a double take. Was that her brother Jeremiah
in the front passenger seat? Surely not. The vehicle
rounded the sharp bend in the road and was gone from
sight before she could be certain.
Abe grinned from ear to ear and kept jumping. “That’s
Davey’s new ride. He’s gonna teach me to drive, too. I
want to go fast, fast, fast!”
Davey Mast was Abe’s eldest brother. Davey had chosen to
leave the Amish faith after his baptism and had been
shunned for his decision. He had taken a job with a local
Englisch farmer instead of leaving the area as most young
people did when they didn’t remain Amish. Lillian hoped
her brother hadn’t been in the car. If he had been,
Jeremiah ran the risk of being shunned, too.
Abe ran toward the road. She called him back. “Abe, come
He ignored her.
“You need to pay attention. This is important.” Timothy
spoke sharply and leveled a stern look at Abe. The boy
sheepishly returned to the group and sat down. Lillian
wished she could use the look with the same
Timothy turned to a long table he had fashioned from
wooden planks on a pair of sawhorses. A propane cook
stove in the center held two pans that were both smoking
hot. Various household items were arranged along the
table, and a large pail of water sat on the ground in
front of the table along with a red fire extinguisher.
He carefully carried one pan to the end of the table.
Using a long-handled lighter, he clicked it once and the
pan burst into flames. He looked at the children. “Let’s
pretend Teacher Lillian is frying chicken and a pan full
of hot grease catches fire when no one else is around.
What should you do?”
“Throw water on it,” little Carl Mast shouted. The second
grader was Abe’s youngest brother.
“Carl says water will put out the fire. Let’s see if that
works.” Timothy picked up a glass and filled it with
water from a bucket beside the table. He flipped down the
face shield of his helmet and tossed the liquid onto the
With a wild hiss and roar, the fire shot skyward in a
flaming mushroom eight feet high. All the children drew
back with wide frightened eyes. Lillian jumped, too. She
wasn’t expecting such a fireball. Puddles of burning
grease dotted the ground.
Timothy lifted his face shield and looked at Carl. “Water
isn’t the right thing for putting out a grease fire, is
Carl slowly shook his head, his eyes still wide.
Timothy used the extinguisher to put out the fires; then
he lit the second pan ablaze with his lighter. “What is a
safe way to put out a grease fire like this? Gabriel,
Abe? What would you do? Quick. What’s in the kitchen that
“I’d run outside and watch the whole thing go up in
smoke,” Abe said with a smirk, and elbowed his cousin.
Timothy’s eyes narrowed. “Not a very good answer, Abe.
This isn't a joking matter.”
“I’d get the fire extinguisher,” Gabriel said quickly.
Timothy pointed to him. “Goot. Where is it kept in your
A puzzled expression replaced Gabriel’s grin. “I’m not
Lillian calmly walked to the table. “A fine bunch of
firefighters you are if you can’t put out a simple grease
fire without help.”
She picked up a dish towel, soaked it with water and
gently draped it over the pan. The fire was instantly
smothered. The children cheered.
Timothy nodded in appreciation. “I see Teacher Lillian
has had lots of practice putting out her burning chicken.
She did it the correct way. She smothered it. How else
could she have smothered a grease fire?”
The children began calling out suggestions. He
acknowledged each answer with a nod and a comment if it
was a good suggestion. If it wasn’t, he explained why. As
he spoke, Lillian noticed he held the attention of all
the children now. He had a knack for engaging them.
Timothy laid aside his lighter. “Now let’s imagine that
Teacher is burning leaves in the fall and she sees her
boo-friend driving past.” Again, the children giggled.
Lillian scowled at him, not amused this time. Timothy
continued speaking. “She is so busy waving at him that
she doesn’t notice the hem of her dress has caught fire.”
Sending him a sour look, she said, “I don’t have a
boyfriend, but I would certainly wave if one of my
scholars were to pass by my home.”
He wiped the grin off his face. “All right, one of your
students has distracted you and now your hem is on fire.”
She raised her arms in mock horror and shouted, “This is
“What should she do?” Timothy cupped one hand to his ear
and leaned toward the children.
“Stop, drop and roll,” the group yelled.
Lillian covered her face with both hands, dropped to the
ground and rolled back and forth. She lifted her hand
from her face and squinted at Timothy. “Did I do that
He looked at the children. “Scholars, did Teacher Lillian
do it correctly?”
“Ja!” they shouted in unison.
He held out his hand to help her up, his eyes sparkling.
“Exactly right, Teacher.”
She took his offered hand. His firm grip sent an
unexpected rush of pleasure spiraling through her. As
soon as she was on her feet, she pulled her hand from his
and brushed at her dusty dress. “Next time you can do the
stop, drop and roll while I ask the questions.”
He grinned. “But you did it so well. You were far more
graceful than I could ever be.”
Turning to the children, she said, “Let’s all thank
Timothy for taking the time to teach us about fire
“Thank you, Timothy,” they said in unison.
Hannah added, “Danki, Onkel Timothy.” Hannah was the
stepdaughter of Timothy’s brother, Joshua. Lillian tried
hard not to have favorites, but she couldn’t help it
where Hannah was concerned.
“We only speak English at school, Hannah,” Lillian
Hannah ducked her head. “Sorry, Teacher. I forgot. Thank
you, Uncle Timothy.”
Lillian softened her tone. “It’s all right. Sometimes I
forget, too. Now, let’s review some of the points Timothy
made. Susan, can you tell us how often to change the
batteries in our smoke detectors?”
“Twice a year, and the detectors should be replaced if
they are more than seven years old,” the eighth-grade
girl said quickly, proving she had been listening. Susan
Yoder was one of Lillian’s best students. The girl hoped
to become a teacher someday.
Lillian gestured to Timothy’s niece in the front row.
“Hannah, what are some ways to prevent fires?”
Hannah wasn’t a bit shy. She shot to her feet. “Don’t
ever play with matches. I don’t, but Carl does.”
Seated beside Hannah, the young boy leaned away from her
and scowled. “Not anymore,”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Timothy said, a smile twitching
at the corner of his lips.
Lillian raised her hand. “How many of you have practiced
a fire escape plan with your family at home?”
Nearly all the students raised their hands. Abe didn’t
and neither did his little brother Carl.
“All right, I want you to go inside, take out a piece of
paper and draw a diagram of your home. I want you to show
at least two ways to escape from the house in the event
of a fire and mark where your meeting place is outside.
Siblings may work together on the project.”
The children rose and filed toward the school. Lillian
stopped Susan. The girl served as Lillian’s much-needed
teacher’s aide. “Will you help Hannah with this project?
She doesn’t have older siblings.”
“Sure.” Susan smiled and followed the others.
Abe shoved past Hannah, almost knocking her down when
they reached the steps at the same time.
“Sorry,” he said quickly, but he didn’t sound remorseful
in the least. He caught Gabriel’s eye and whispered
something to him. They both laughed as they went in.
Timothy moved to stand beside Lillian. “I noticed the son
of our school board president is a bit of a
“Abe is, but I don’t treat him differently because of his
Silas Mast, the school board president, had brushed aside
her concerns about Abe’s behavior when she tried to speak
to him about it. His lack of support was making it more
difficult to handle the boy.
Lillian watched until the last student entered the
building; then she whirled to face Timothy with her hands
on her hips. “What possessed you to suggest in front of
my students that I have a boyfriend?”
He looked taken aback. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I
was making a point that you were distracted.”
“You should have chosen better.”
“Are you upset with me?”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “Ja, Timothy Bowman,
I’m upset with you.”
He relaxed. “Nee, you aren’t. I can tell by the look in
“How do my eyes look when I’m upset?” she demanded.
Did he really know her so well? “And how do they look
“Like you’re trying to be serious, but you’re smiling
He was right, but she wasn’t about to admit it.
He leaned one hip against the table. “How did I do for my
first time giving a program?”
“Very well. You clearly have a knack for teaching.”
“Danki. I tried to think about what I would say to my own
“Do you have a mother in mind for them?” she asked with
false sweetness, knowing he was a single fellow. She had
heard a bit of gossip about him and wondered if it was
true. Courting relationships were often closely guarded
secrets in the Amish community.
He shook a finger at her. “Lillian Keim, you’re prying.”
She spread her hands wide. “You brought up the subject of
“I want a wife and children someday. I pray I will have
sons to work beside me in our business as I have worked
beside my father. I hope I may teach all my children to
be good and faithful members of our church.”
His voice had grown soft. Lillian realized he was sharing
something important with her.
“I hope God answers your prayers.” A family of her own
was something she would never have.
He tipped his head to the side as he regarded her. “What
about you? How many children do you want?”
She gave a laugh but knew it sounded forced. “I have
forty-one children to care for. That’s more than enough.
There will be forty-four next month because we have a new
family transferring to our school. I hope the school
board approves the hiring of a second teacher when they
meet next Friday. I’m not sure I can manage that many.”
“Still, you must want children of your own someday.”
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