Friday, February 25, 2011

A Bond Never Broken; A Dad of His Own

A Bond Never Broken

by Judith Miller

Copyright 2010 © by Judith Miller

ISBN 978-0-7642-0644-3

Romantic Times declares, "The final book in the Daughters of Amana series is filled with intrigue and romance. The characters are determined to stay true to themselves no matter what. Fans of Amish and Mennonite tales will appreciate Miller's take on their experiences during the first World War." 4 stars

Ilsa Redlich is disturbed when her childhood friend, Garon, decides to join the army, even though their beliefs forbid taking up arms against their enemies. Jutta Schmidt used to live in South Amana, but now lives in another village. When members of the Council of National Defense coerce her into moving back to spy, she fears that they will harm her parents if she refuses. Jutta takes a job at the Redlichs' hotel. She learns of some anti-war remarks and spots Garon helping a outsider. Will she turn her new friends in to secure her parents' safety?

A Bond Never Broken

October 1917

Amana Colonies, Iowa

Ilsa Redlich

I had failed.

There was no other way to justify our presence at the train station.

My brother, Albert, tipped his head and leaned down to look into my eyes. "Please smile, Ilsa. I don't want this to be a sad occasion. I want to remember your engaging smile and the twinkle in those big blue eyes."

I tried, but even his reference to my eyes didn't help. Gaining control over my trembling lips would be an impossible feat. "Please don't ask me to smile. To see you depart does not please my heart." The headpiece of my woolen cloak had fallen to my shoulders, and I touched my index finger to the black cap that covered my hair. "My head will not accept your choice, either."

Once Albert stepped onto the train, nothing would ever be the same. The war had changed everything, and who could say when I would ever see him again.

As if reading my thoughts, he rested his arm across my shoulders. "They've told me I'll serve all of my time at Camp Pike, and I'll probably get to come home for Christmas."

I nodded. "They told Dr. Miller the same thing. Did that stop them from sending him to Europe?" I didn't wait for my brother's answer. "The same is true for you, Albert. Those people can tell you anything they want, but it doesn't mean they will keep their word."

He tightened his hold and squeezed my right shoulder. "You worry too much, Ilsa. All will be well. You must put your trust in God."

Passengers skirted around us, eager to purchase tickets or locate a seat near the station's wood-burning stove. "Like Sister Miller? When I saw her at the Red Cross meeting last week, she didn't think all was well. She was in tears when she spoke of her husband." I lowered my voice. Speaking against the war was not a good thing, especially for those of German heritage. "And she was angry, too. She said her husband was told he wouldn't be sent overseas because of his conscientious objector status, but still they sent him."

"Ach! Who can know what happened with Dr. Miller? Not me or you. I am only certain of what I've been told: I will serve at Camp Pike and then return home."

He wasn't going to listen, so I bit back any further arguments. Not knowing when I would see Albert again, I didn't want to spoil our parting with cross words. Mother had kissed Albert's cheek, said her good-bye, and hurried to the kitchen to prepare the noonday meal for the hotel guests, but I hadn't failed to notice the tears she'd squeezed back. And Father had murmured a hasty farewell and pulled Albert into an awkward hug before heading to the wheelwright shop after breakfast. Around us, the clamor of conversation rose and fell. A train whistled in the distance. "You promise you'll write? Mutter and Vater will worry if they don't hear from you each week."

He wagged his finger back and forth beneath my nose. "It is not Mutter and Vater who will worry. They have peace because they trust God. But you, dear Ilsa, are not so quick to find that peace."

"Nein. Probably because I prayed you would be spared from the draft, yet you received your notice. Then I prayed you would file a request to be released from military duty because of your religious beliefs, but you didn't. Instead, you only checked the box saying you are a conscientious objector. So then I prayed you would fail the physical exam, but you passed with flying colors. My prayers failed on all accounts, and I find it hard to trust that God will answer my prayers to keep you safe."

"God heard your prayers, Ilsa, but He has other plans for my life, and those plans include serving in the U.S. Army. It's as simple as that."

I glared at a group of boisterous passengers congregated nearby, angry that their lives remained unchanged while mine was being turned upside down.

"I promise I'll write," Albert said, "but you shouldn't expect a letter every week. I don't know what my duties will be, and I don't want you to be disappointed." He grinned. "Maybe you could bake me some cookies and send them."

I forced a tight smile. "Ja. You know I will."

He pecked a kiss on my cheek. "I will be happy to have some, even if you burn them."

I gave him a playful shove. He never failed to tease me about the first cookies I had baked without Mother's help. Tearful when they had burned, I fretted there would be no dessert for the hotel guests. Albert had come home and joined me in scraping off the black crust. He'd declared them perfect, though I don't think the guests had agreed.

Tears threatened and I swallowed hard to keep them at bay. I could cry later. But not now, not during these precious final minutes with Albert.

With only an eighteen-month difference in our ages, we'd been close all of our lives, unlike many of our friends who didn't get along with their siblings. Perhaps that was why I'd taken it so personally when he refused to take my advice to remain at home. Then again, maybe it was because I feared his decision would influence Garon and change my life even more. And it had. Not only had Albert's decision wreaked havoc in my relationship with him, it had also caused problems between me and the man I was pledged to marry.

"Unless the elders tell us the government wants us to use even less flour and sugar than we already do, I will do my best to send you something gut to eat at least once or twice a month." I did my best to keep my tone light.

Please visit Judy at her website at where you can sign-up for her newsletter and discover more information about her writing life.

A Bond Never Broken is available at bookstores everywhere and may also be purchased at;; and; and at your local Christian book store.

* * *


Gail Gaymer Martin

Loved Inspired, March 2011

One Child's Wish

With his Dreams Come True foundation, Ethan Fox turns wishes into reality. Amazing trips. Meeting heroes. But Ethan has come to care deeply for a sick boy whose dream is . . .a dad. And not just any dad. Ethan. Though little Cooper has a great chance of getting well, widowed Ethan can't chance loving---and losing---again. Yet he's spending time with the sweet boy and his lovely, single mother, Lexie Carlson. Could a little boy's wish for a dad of his own come true after all?

Multiaward-winning novelist and author of Writing the Christian Romance from Writers Digest, Gail Gaymer Martin, writes women's fiction, romance and romantic suspense for Love Inspired and Barbour Publishing. She has forty-eight published or contracted novels with over three million books in print. Gail is a full-time novelist, popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter across the United States and abroad. She is the cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Visit Gail's website at

The novel is available where all good books are sold or Click to Order at

Chapter 1 Excerpt

Lexie Carlson peeked into the meeting room of Mothers Of Special Kids. She hated being late, and the reason for her delay had plunged her spirit to the pits. Despite trying to slip in, her friend Kelsey Rhodes, the moderator, spotted her. She sidled the few steps to Lexie's side, a frown etching her face. "Something wrong?"

Lexie shook her head, uncomfortable with Kelsey's attention especially with the intriguing guest speaker standing nearby. A grin curved his full lips, and smile lines crinkled the edge of his gray eyes canopied by thick blond lashes. His honey-colored hair glinted with copper highlights.

She leaned closer to Kelsey, managing as pleasant a look as she could. "Just a phone call." Hoping to end the questions, she slipped into a chair and turned her focus to the front.

Kelsey had moved away, relief spreading across her face.

Relief. The welcome expression from women who faced life with seriously ill children. Their support brought her here weekly and had become her mainstay.

"As I was saying," Kelsey sent a teasing smile her way, "I'm glad so many of you are here today since we have a special guest." She motioned toward the good-looking man.

Something about him captured Lexie's attention. His gray eyes glided past her with a twinkle that matched his grin. A giddy feeling swept over her. The ridiculous reaction unsettled her.

Kelsey beamed at the women. "This is Ethan Fox who sits on the board of Dreams Come True Foundation, and he's here to tell us about a wonderful opportunity for you and your family."

He swung his hand in a brief wave. "Happy to be here."

The women applauded.

Lexie liked his voice, warm and rich as a cinnamon bun fresh from the oven. Guilty pleasure swept over her, picturing the sugary treat, one of her vices.

Ethan strode to the center, slipping one hand into his khaki-colored pants while the other clutched what appeared to be a stack of brochures. His shirt had thin blue stripes on a white background. Lexie liked the way he coordinated his attire with his beige and navy tie. He looked like a spit-polished executive minus the suit jacket. She grinned at her fashion commentary.

Ethan noticed and grinned back.

A flush warmed her neck, and Lexie glanced away, but the look hadn't escaped Kelsey. She ambled closer to Lexie and arched a brow.

Lexie drew in a breath and gave a quick shake of her head, immediately wishing she hadn't responded to Kelsey's implication.

"I hope most of you have heard about the Dreams Come True Foundation." Ethan scanned the group of women.

His comment yanked Lexie's attention. She'd never heard of it. She surveyed the group to see how many had. Looking around, she noticed only a few nods. Most looked at Ethan with blank looks that probably matched hers.

He shook his head. "I'm disappointed. I had hoped most of you knew about us, but this makes me especially pleased that I'm here today." He handed Kelsey a stack of brochures and refocused on the women.

Kelsey stood at the end of the first row of chairs and counted out the brochures, but Lexie didn't keep her focus on her. She studied Ethan Fox.

"Dreams Come True is a foundation that provides children who are surviving a serious illness with the means to reach a dream. By this, I mean the foundation plans, arranges, and finances your child's wish. This isn't a national organization, but one founded in South Oakland County by an anonymous donor. He doesn't serve on the board, and he is contacted solely through an attorney."

Kelsey appeared, slipped a brochure into her lap and settled into the empty chair beside her. Lexie evaded her gaze. She wanted no more arched eye brows. Instead she scanned the brochure as she listened to Ethan.

Sincerity always captured her attention, and she suspected the man had a love for what he did for kids, but the foundation sounded like a Disney movie. Lexie had given up long ago wishing on a star and singing down a well. Her prince had galloped right past, taking the glass slipper with him, and at this point in her life, she didn't expect another knight to pass by.

Ava Darnell's hand shot upward.

Lexie liked Ava, although her curiosity sometimes took precedence over wisdom. Ava's son and hers shared a similar disease—cancer—and being alone she empathized with Ava's struggle as a single mom.

Ethan acknowledged her, and Ava lowered her hand. "Does the donor live in the area?"

Ethan lifted his shoulders. "I don't know for sure, but I suspect he does."

"Do you think he's a teacher or something? Someone who knows--"

"Those of us on the board have no other information. As I said, he's an anonymous donor." A frown flashed across his face. "But that doesn't diminish the wonderful opportunity that you have as parents to apply for one of these gifts."

Ava looked away, her mumble still heard. "But why? I don't get it."

Kelsey strode to Ethan. "It's difficult to imagine such kindness from a stranger, someone who doesn't know our children, but we appreciate learning about this wonderful charity."

Lexie tried to cover her grin. Kelsey served as the meetings troubleshooter, and Lexie wished she had her friends knack to calm a crisis. She approached trouble with commonsense.

Ethan's tense face relaxed. He gave Kelsey a pleasant nod. "It is a charity, but please know your family's income isn't considered. This donor wants to give a sick child something to look forward to. To experience something that seems impossible. You've all faced family adversity, watching your child suffer from a variety of serious illnesses. The Bible tells us to be imitators of God and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us." His gaze scanned the women. "I think that's what the donor has done. He wants to bring unexpected joy into your child's life and yours."

© 2011 Gail Gaymer Martin

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