"A beautifully inspirational story of the Amish people and of the seasons we go through in our lives."
Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted August 16, 2010
"Time heals everything." It's an old clichĂŠ that's easy to
say, but harder to live by. Jenny Miller is back in
Pennsylvania in Amish country at her grandmother's, trying
to heal. A well-known reporter, Jenny is here to recuperate
from a bombing in the Middle East that almost took her
life. She's been through months of physical therapy and
speech therapy, but still is fighting the effects of the
As a teenager, Jenny visited her grandmother a couple of
summers. It was then that she met Matthew, the boy next
door. Matthew still lives next door, but now has a family
of his own with three beautiful young children. His wife
died from cancer three years ago and his sister, Hannah, is
taking care of the cooking and cleaning for him. He and
Jenny have an opportunity to reconnect. It seems as though
God has orchestrated their lives so that they would reunite
and rekindle a love that really never faded.
Jenny learns to find peace in the simple life of the Amish.
She begins thinking of this place as her home. But life
takes an abrupt turn when she visits her doctor in New York
and learns that she needs surgery to remove more shrapnel
from her hip. Further testing reveals that she may have
been hit with metal pieces that are contaminated, meaning
there could be unforeseen complications in the future.
Just when Jenny is getting her life back together and has a
man to love, it seems that all is falling apart. Will
Matthew accept her as she is, a mere shell of her former
self? As Jenny is working on a quilt, moving the quilt
pieces around reminds her of putting the pieces of her life
back together and gives her a time of reflection on the
order and purpose in her life.
Barbara Cameron has written a beautifully
inspirational story of the Amish way of life, their
dependence on God for everything, and of the seasons we go
through in our lives. A TIME TO LOVE is the first of the
Quilts of Lancaster County series that you are sure to
War correspondent Jennie King thinks sheâs just a temporary
guest in her grandmotherâs Amish community while she
recuperates from the devastating injuries sustained in a car
bomb attack that changed her world. But when she meets
Matthew Bontrager, the man she had a crush on as a teenager,
she wonders if God has a new plan for her. Jennie has
emotional and physical scars and though she feels she has
come home to this man and this place, she's not sure she can
bridge the difference between their worlds.
ExcerptJenny woke from a half-doze as the SUV slowed to approach a
âNo!â she cried. âDonât stop!â
âI have to stop.â
âNo!â she yelled as she lunged to grab at the steering wheel.
David smacked her hands away with one hand and steered with
the other. The vehicle swerved and horns blared as he fought
to stop. âWeâre in the States!â he shouted. âStop it!â
Jenny covered her head and waited for the explosion. When it
didnât come, she cautiously brought her arms down to look
over at David.
âWeâre in the U.S.,â he repeated quietly. âCalm down. Youâre
âIâm sorry, Iâm so sorry,â she whispered. Covering her face,
she turned away from him and wished she could crawl into a
hole somewhere and hide.
He touched her shoulder. âItâs okay. I understand.â
Before he could move the SUV forward, they heard a siren.
The sound brought Jennyâs head up, and she glanced back
fearfully to see a police car.
âPull over!â a voice commanded through the vehicleâs
Cursing beneath his breath, David guided the SUV to the side
of the road. He reached for his wallet, pulling out his
A police officer appeared at Davidâs window and looked in.
Jenny tried not to flinch as he looked at David, then her.
âDriverâs license and registration, please.â
David handed them over. âOfficer, Iâd like to explainââ
âStay in your vehicle. Iâll be right back,â he was told
When the officer returned, he handed back the
identification. âOkay, so you want to explain what that was
all aboutâhow you started to run the stop sign and nearly
caused an accident?â
âItâs my fault,â Jenny spoke up.
âLet her talk.â
âYou canât stop at a four-way,â she told him in a dull
voice. âYou could get killed.â She drew a quilt more tightly
around her shoulders.
âYou look familiar,â the officer said, studying her face for
a long moment. âNow I got it. Youâre that TV reporter, the
one who was reporting from overseas, in the war zoneââ he
He glanced at David. âAnd youâre that network news anchor.
What are you doing in these parts?â
âTaking her to recuperate at her familyâs house.â
The officer glanced back at Jenny. âDidnât know you were
Amish. Thought they didnât believe in television.â
Jenny fingered the quilt. âItâs my grandmother,â she said,
staring ahead. âSheâs the one whoâs Amish.â
She met the officerâs gaze. âPlease donât give David a
ticket. It was my fault. I freaked and grabbed the steering
wheel. I didnât want him to stop. But it wonât happen again.â
The officer hesitated then nodded as he touched the brim of
his hat. âI have friends whoâve been through the same thing.
Be careful. Youâve been through enough without getting into
a car accident.â
She nodded. âThank you.â
After returning to his patrol car, the officer pulled out on
the road and waved as he passed them.
Jenny looked at David. âIâm sorry. I just had a flashback as
I woke up, I guess.â
âItâs okay,â he told her patiently. âI understand.â
She sighed and felt herself retreating into her cocoon.
He glanced in his rearview mirror and got back onto the
road. They drove for a few minutes.
She shook her head and then winced at the pain. âNo.â
âYou need to eat.â
âNot hungry.â Then she glanced at him. âIâm sorry. You must be.â
He grinned. âAre you remembering that you used to tease me
about being hungry all the time?â
âNot really,â she said. âLucky guess, since weâve been on
the road for hours.â
He frowned but said nothing as he drove. A little while
later, he pulled into a restaurant parking lot, shut off the
engine, and undid his seat belt. âItâll be good to stretch
my legs. Câmon, letâs go in and get us a hot meal and some
âPlease?â he asked quietly.
âI look awful.â
âYou look fine.â He put his hand on hers. âReally. Letâs go in.â
Pulling down the visor, she stared into the mirror, and her
eyes immediately went to the long scar near her left ear. It
still looked red and raw against her too-pale skin. The
doctor had said it would fade with time until sheâd barely
notice it. Later she could wear extra-concealing makeup, but
not now, heâd cautioned. The skin needed to heal without
makeup being rubbed into it.
She looked at him, really looked at him. Though he was
smiling at her, there were lines of strain around his mouth,
worry in his eyes. He looked so tired, too.
âOkay.â With a sigh, she loosened her hold on the quilt and
rewrapped her muffler higher and tighter around her neck.
Buttoning her coat, she drew her hat down and turned to
reach for the door handle.
David was already there, offering Jenny her cane and a
helping hand. When she tried to let go of his hand, he
âThe pavementâs icy. Let me help,â he said. âRemember,
âPride goeth before a fall.ââ
Her eyes widened with amusement as she grinned.
âYouâre quoting Scripture? What is the world coming to?â
âMust be the environment,â he said, glancing around. Then
his gaze focused on her. âItâs good to see you smile.â
âI havenât had a lot to smile about lately.â
His eyes were kind. âNo. But youâre here. And if I said
thank God, you wouldnât make a smart remark, would you?â
She thought about waking up in the hospital wrapped in her
grandmotherâs quilt and the long days of physical therapy
since then. Leaning on the cane, her other hand in Davidâs,
she started walking slowly, and her hip screamed in pain
with every step. Days like today she felt like she was a
hundred instead of in her early thirties.
âNo,â she said, sighing again. âI think the days of smart
remarks are over.â
The diner was warm, and Jenny was grateful to see that there
were few customers. A sign invited them to seat themselves,
and she sank into the padded booth just far enough from the
front door that the cold wind wouldnât blow on them.
âCoffee for you folks?â asked the waitress who appeared
almost immediately with menus. She turned over their cups
and filled them when they nodded. âLooks like weâre gonna
get some snow tonight.â
âWhat are you going to have?â David asked.
Jenny lifted her coffee cup but her hand trembled, spilling
hot coffee on it. Wincing, she set it down quickly and
grabbed a napkin to wipe her hand dry.
David got up and returned with a glass of ice water. He
dipped his napkin in it and wrapped the cold, wet cloth
around her reddened hand. âBetter?â
Near tears, she nodded.
âShe filled it too full,â he reassured her.
Reaching for an extra cup on the table, he poured half of
her coffee into it. âTry it now.â
Jenny didnât want the coffee now, but he was trying so hard
to help, she felt ungrateful not to drink it.
She nodded, wincing again.
âTime for some more meds, donât you think?â
âThe pain killers make me fuzzy. I donât like to take them.â
âYou still need them.â
Sighing, she took out the bottle, shook out the dosage, and
took the capsules with a sip of water.
âSo, what would you like to eat?â asked the waitress.
Jenny looked at David.
âSheâll have two eggs over easy, bacon, waffles, and a large
glass of orange juice,â he said. âIâll have the three-egg
omelet, country ham, hash browns, and biscuits. Oh, and
donât forget the honey, honey.â
The waitress grinned. Then she cocked her head to one side.
âSay, you look like that guy on TV.â
David just returned her grin. âYeah, so Iâm told. That and a
dollarâll get me a cup of coffee.â
She laughed and went to place their order.
Growing warm, Jenny shed her coat and the muffler. She
sipped at the coffee and felt warmer. When the food came,
she bent her head and said a silent prayer of thanks. Then
she watched David begin shoveling in food as if he hadnât
eaten in days, rather than hours.
She lifted her fork and tried to eat. âI like my eggs over
He frowned and stopped eating âYeah. Do you want me to send
them back, get them scrambled or something?â
âNo. This is okay.â
âHow did you eat them at the hospital?â
She shrugged. âHowever they brought them.â
Deciding she might have liked eggs over easy in the past but
now they looked kind of disgusting, half raw and runny on
the plate, she looked at the waffle.
âI like waffles?â
The pat of butter and the syrup were warm. She took a bite.
It was heaven, crispy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the
inside. The maple syrup was sweet and thick. Bliss. She ate
the whole thing and a piece of bacon, too.
âGood girl,â David said approvingly.
âDonât talk to me like Iâm a kid,â she told him, frowning.
âEven if I feel like it.â
He reached over and took her free hand. âIâm so proud of
you. Youâve learned to walk again, talk again.â
âIâm not all the way back yet,â she said. âI still have
memory holes and problems getting the right word out and
headaches and double vision now and then. I have a long road
ahead of me.â
David looked out the window. âSpeaking of roads . . . as
much as I hate to say it, I guess we should get back on it
as soon as we can.â
Jenny turned to where David was looking and watched as an
Amish horse-drawn carriage passed by slowly. The man who
held the reins glanced over just then and their eyes met.
Then he was looking ahead as a car passed in the other lane
and the contact was broken.
He looks familiar, she thought . . . so
familiar. She struggled to remember.
David turned and got the waitressâs attention. As she handed
him the check, she noticed Jenny, who immediately looked
down at her hands in her lap.
âWhy, youâre that reporter, the one whoââ
âHas to get going,â David interjected. âShe needs to get
âOh, sure. Sorry.â
She tore a sheet from her order pad and handed it to Jenny
with a pen. âCould you give me an autograph while I go ring
She hurried off, sure that her request would be honored.
âCould you sign it for me?â Jenny asked David.
Nodding, he took the paper and quickly scrawled her
signature, then added his in a bold flourish.
âHere you go, two for one,â he told the waitress when she
returned. He tucked a bill under his plate and got up to
help Jenny with her coat.
The SUV seemed a million miles away, but she made it with
his help. Once inside, she sank into the seat, pulled the
quilt around her again, and fastened her seat belt.
âItâll take just a minute to get warm in here,â David told her.
her hand over the quilt. âIâm not cold. . . . I hate those
pills,â she muttered and felt her eyelids drooping. âMaking
me sleepy. The waffles . . . lots of carbons.â
She opened her eyes when he chuckled. Blinking, she tried to
think what could be so funny.
âCarbs,â she corrected herself carefully after a moment,
frustrated at the way the brain injury had affected her
speech. âLots of carbs. Donât think I used to eat lots of
âSo take a nap,â he told her. âYou talk too much anyway.â He
grinned to prove he was teasing.
Smiling, she tried to think of a snappy comeback. They were
always so easy for her, especially with David. But then she
was falling into a dreamless sleep.
Sometime later, she woke when she felt the vehicle stop.
âAre we there?â
âStay here,â she heard David say, then she heard his door
open and felt the brief influx of cold air before it closed.
She couldnât seem to wake up, as if her eyes were stuck
shut. The door on her side opened, and she heard the click
of her seat belt, felt arms lift her.
âI can walk,â she muttered.
He said something she couldnât quite grasp, but his voice
was warm and deep and so soothing that she relaxed and let
him carry her. And then she was being laid on a soft bed,
covers tucked around her.
Home, she thought, Iâm home. She smiled and
sank deeper in dreamless sleep.
Jenny woke to find herself in a bed, the quilt spread over
her. Bright sunlight was pouring in through the window.
The walls of the room were whitewashed and plain. There were
few furnishings: an ancient, well-polished chest of drawers
was set against one wall, a wooden chair beside the bed. A
bookcase held well-worn volumes and a Bible.
She sat up and saw someone had propped her cane on the wall
near the bed. Grasping it, she walked carefully to the chest
of drawers. When she caught a glimpse of herself in its
small mirror, she grimaced. Reaching into her purse on top
of the chest, she pulled out her hairbrush and drew it
through her short, ash-blonde hair. Her face was too thin,
the circles beneath her eyes so pronounced she felt she must
look like a scarecrow. Even her eyes looked a faded gray.
Leaning heavily on her cane, huffing from exertion, she
moved back to the bed and climbed into it. Pulling the quilt
over her, she waited for her breathing to level.
It was so quiet here, so different from her apartment in New
York City, which overlooked a busy street.
There was a knock on the door. âCome in,â she called.
The door opened and her grandmother peeked around it. âI
heard you moving about.â
She smiled. âYes. Guder mariye, Grossmudder.â
Phoebeâs austere face brightened. âYou remember some of the
Jenny found it interesting she could remember even though
she struggled to find the right word in English right now.
She held out her arms and her grandmother rushed to embrace
her. They sat on the bed, wiping away tears.
âYou got it,â Phoebe said, looking at the quilt that covered
Jennyâs fingers stroked it. âI woke up in the hospital and
it was tucked around me,â she said quietly. âI said your
name before I could say mine.â
Phoebeâs lined face crumpled, and she bent her head,
searching in the pocket of her dark frack for a
âGod brought you through it.â She wiped at her tears and
straightened her shoulders. âThere is no place He is not.â
Iâd been in the valley of death, thought Jenny. She
knew how close she had come. Maybe one day she could tell
her grandmother how she had seen her grandfather and her
parents shortly after sheâd been injured. Jenny hadnât been
particularly religious before, but she had to admit that her
near-death experience had made her look at her lifeâwhat was
left of what had been her lifeâin a new way.
A note had arrived with the quilt, a nurse had told her. She
gave it to Jenny and then had had to read it because the
head injury had left a lingering problem with double vision.
The words inside had been simple and direct: âCome. Heal.â
It had been signed âYour grossmudder, Phoebe.â
Jenny studied her now. Phoebeâs face was more lined and the
strands of hair that escaped her kapp had more
silver. But somehow she didnât seem any older than the last
time Jenny had visited.
âYou didnât come for so long after I wrote that I didnât
think you would.â
âI was doing physical therapy.â
âDavid told me. Heâs a good man.â
Jenny smiled briefly and then looked at the window. It was
starting to snow. âI should get up and say good-bye so he
can get on the road. I donât want him to get caught in a
âItâs time to get up,â Phoebe agreed, standing and lifting
the quilt away from Jenny. âBut he left last night.â
âLeft? Without saying goodbye?â
âThereâs a note for you. He spoke of something called
âe-mailâ thatâs in a computer?â
Her lined face lit briefly with a smile. âI asked him if the
machine he brought with your things ran on sunlight. Heâd
forgotten we have no electricity.â
Jennyâs lips curved. âA solar battery, hmm? Good idea but
mine doesnât have one. And that would still leave the
problem of how to access the Internet.â
âDonât ask me to explain how it works,â Jenny told her,
sitting on the side of the bed. âI interviewed someone about
it once, but itâs still a mystery to me.â
She sighed. âI havenât had time to get a new phone. Maybe
that should be first on my to-do list.â
Phoebe handed her the cane. âFirst letâs get you up and
ready for this day we were given.â
A sharp pain shot through Jennyâs hip as she got to her
feet, and she had to bite her lip to keep from moaning. She
stood still for a moment to gear up for her next move.
Phoebe held out her hand, work-worn, dry, and warm.
Jenny shook her head. âI donât want to hurt you.â
âIâm stronger than I look. I lead a simple life, but I work
hard. You remember from the two summers you came to visit.â
Jenny nodded. It had been one reason she had told her father
she didnât want to go back. She wanted to stay home, be with
her friends and have fun, not work so hard harvesting summer
crops and baking bread and scrubbing the kitchen.
And laundry. It was bad enough to have to scoop dirty
clothes up and throw them into the washer and dryer back
home. At her grandmotherâs house, laundry was a daylong
chore. Who wanted that?
Instead of television there had been singing, and the songs
werenât the latest pop hitsâno, these were church hymns! It
was such a drag, too, to hitch up a buggy instead of jumping
into the car and having Dad drive her someplace.
Later, as sheâd grown older, sheâd regretted her youthful
laziness, but it was too late then to visit. She was
immersed in college, an internship at a TV station, and then
her demanding job that took her everywhere but Lancaster
Her grandmother was older, a little more bent, but the
bright light in her eyes was still there, reminding Jenny of
the bird she was named after. And her spare frame looked
strong beneath the simple dress and sparkling white apron
The medication had worn off long ago. Jenny wanted to just
sink back into bed, but she couldnât. She needed to get
moving. She saw Phoebe glance down and a quiet gasp escaped
from her lips.
The pant leg of her sweats had ridden up as she moved to the
edge of the bed and stood. The light faded from Phoebeâs
eyes as she glimpsed the scars that ran down the length of one.
Bending, Jenny pulled the leg of her sweats down to cover them.
âI didnât want to move you too much when we put you to bed,â
she told Jenny. âSo I left your clothes on you.â She cocked
her head to one side. âIs that what the Englisch are
wearing these days?â
âWhen they want something comfortable to relax in,â Jenny
told her with a grin.
With one hand, she pulled the tunic down over her hips and
smoothed its wrinkles.
âLetâs get you some breakfast and then you can take a bath
and get fresh clothes on.â
Walking to the kitchen was a major obstacle. Jenny insisted
that she needed to walk without her grandmotherâs help and
took the short journey slowly.
âI canât believe David carried me into the house.â
âHe didnât,â said Phoebe, following a step behind.
Jenny stopped and turned to look at Phoebe. âYou didnât.â
Again there was a ghost of a smile on Phoebeâs face.
âNee. It was Matthew.â
Images flitted through Jennyâs mind as she started to
navigate the way again. She remembered strong male arms, a
deep voice that had sounded comforting when sheâd sleepily
insisted she could walk.
âMatthew?â she repeated. There was something about that
name, but she couldnât quite remember . . . one of the
lingering effects of the head injury.
âHe lives on the farm next to mine. He came to see if I
needed any help.â
âAnd Iâm sure David was grateful for his help.â She laughed.
âDavid is a nice man, but he doesnât lift anything heavier
than his wallet.â
Wallet. Jenny frowned as she thought about what was going to
happen to hers. The network was covering her salary, but how
long would it do that? Disability payments would be less
whenever they started. She didnât want to dip into her
savings, but she knew it might be months before she could go
back to work.
And who knew if sheâd ever be able to do the overseas
reporting sheâd become known for?
Her grandmotherâs kitchen hadnât changed. There were simple
counters and wooden cupboards, practical pottery bowls set
on a shelf. A gas stove filled the room with warmth, and the
scent coming from it promised something delicious would
emerge soon. A hand-carved wooden table was big enough to
seat an army. Jenny sank into one of its wooden chairs.
Jenny hadnât had much appetite for a long time, but her
mouth watered when she smelled the bread baking and the
coffee. Oh, the scent of the coffee!
Her grandmother sliced a loaf that had just been pulled from
the oven a few minutes before. She placed it on a plate,
setting out a bowl of churned butter, wild blueberry
preserves, and a dish of hard-boiled eggs.
Jenny bent her head and gave thanks for the meal. When she
looked up, Phoebe was smiling.
âIâm glad that you still say your prayers.â
âDad left the Amish, but he didnât forget God,â Jenny told
her. âWe visited a lot of churches until he found the one he
liked, but having a spiritual relationship with God was
always important in our home.â
Phoebe patted her hand. âI know. He wrote me once that he
did a year of missionary work in Haiti while you were in
college. I just wasnât sure if you remembered God after you
âOh, I surely did.â
As her grandmother turned to stir the soup pot already
simmering on the stove, Jenny felt a pang of guilt,
remembering how often lately sheâd questioned God about what
had happened to herâquestioned Him about how He could let
innocent children suffer as sheâd witnessed so often in her
There was a knock at the door. Phoebe crossed the room to
answer it and greeted a tall man who looked about Jennyâs
age. The morning light coming in the kitchen window caught
at his blond hair when he took off his wide-brimmed black
hat and hung it on a wooden peg.
When he removed his winter coat Jenny saw his plain shirt
and pants that showed off his muscular physique. His blue
eyes sparkled as he greeted her grandmother and then he
glanced over at Jenny.
She stared at him, searching her mind for his name when he
continued to stare hard at her. He knew her. She could tell
it from the way his expression looked hopeful, then
disconcerted when she didnât immediately respond. Why
canât I remember his name?
âJenny, this is Matthew,â said Phoebe as she poured his coffee.
She felt so awkward sitting there, painfully aware of the
scar on her cheek, of her rumpled sweats.
He pulled out a chair and sat at the table with the air of a
guest who was frequent and welcome. His eyes were filled
with a quiet, thoughtful intensity. âI thought you might
need help this morning,â he told Jenny.
âMy grandmother said you carried me inside last night. Thank
you. But I could have walked.â
He smiled. âPerhaps. But you were sleeping so soundly.â
Jenny found herself staring at his large, strong hands as he
cupped his mug and drank the coffee her grandmother had
poured. When Phoebe pushed the plate of bread and preserves
toward him, he grinned and took a slice, spreading it
thickly with preserves. He bit into the bread with relish.
âNothing like your bread,â he told her.
âI have a loaf in the oven for you,â she said.
âWunderbaar. Iâm going into town. Annie has her
appointment. Do you need anything?â
When she shook her head, Matthew turned to Jenny. âYou?â
âA new back and hip,â she wanted to say. But she didnât want
to call attention to herself, didnât want to make her
grandmother worry. She shifted in her chair, wishing sheâd
taken her detested pain pills to the kitchen with her. So
she shook her head and thanked him again.
âAh, Matthew, Iâve thought of something,â Phoebe said
suddenly. âIâll get the money.â
âNo need to give me moneyââ
But with her usual spryness, sheâd already hurried upstairs
Jenny liked the sound of Matthewâs voice. She watched as he
took another slice of bread and spread it with more preserves.
âYou should try some,â he said, pushing the jar toward her.
There was something on the edge of her consciousness,
something that tugged and tugged at her memory. The
preserves . . . what was it about them that made her think
there was a link between the man and her?
She looked up and found him watching her with unusual
intensity. It was almost as if he were trying to use
telepathy to make her search her memory.
But for what? she asked herself. For what?
What do you think about this review?
No comments posted.
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!