Saturday, September 21, 2013

*Before The Dawn and Sweet September*

Before the Dawn

Let me admit something a little odd. When I was a child, I always loved stories about children who went to live with their grandparents on a farm. No, really, I did.
I can't tell you how many stories of my own I started to write (at least three come to mind) about orphaned girls who ended up out in the country in a small town, being cared for by loving grandparents. Maybe part of it is that we know inside our hearts that if a child were to endure the most terrible loss a child can have, the death of their mother and father, that the love of Grandparents, their own flesh and blood, may be just what they need to begin to heal and grow again.

And statistics are telling us that today more and more grandparents are raising their grandchildren, so a story like the Home to Heather Creek series is going to feed a lot of hearts.

These books are like honey... sweet and nourishing, too.
The story of Before The Dawn is honest: there is tragedy. There is deep, deep loss.
There are motherless children needing care. Yet this story is idyllic also: the farm is a place where the peace of the country and the productivity of hard work can reign, and restoration can begin.
Goodness is never lost sight of while dealing with sadness, and sadness isn't glossed over.
Bob and Charlotte {Grandpa and Grandma} and Uncle Pete all love Sam, Emily and Christopher, the children that they suddenly find them selves guardians of.
They love these three kids with a love that's full and real, but it isn't perfect and Charlotte is very conscious of this. Human love never can be absolutely perfect. We can't anticipate every need, we can't smooth away fears we don't know exist, we can't always say the right words and alway's hold people that need to be held at the right time. But God..... He can take our frailness when we put it in His hands and through His strength we can give comfort and protection to those he entrusts to us, young or old, boy or girl.
And that is one of the lesson's Charlotte learns: that she will always find a way to second-guess herself, but the fact that different choices could have been made in the past can't paralyze you now in the present or the future.
Charlotte is open to changing some things about the way her grandchildren will be trained. She is willing to listen to wise counsel, to evaluate her methods and to introduce the extra softness that the stress can easily steal away. She is a very godly, wonderful woman.

The home she has created there at Heather Creek reflects her spirit, and as I read the description of the farm kitchen I couldn't help but see the parallels.  For example, she describes her her hand-painted yellow cupboards, with the wooden knobs ringed around with the marks of a thousand hand touches.
She reminds herself that those were painted years ago and they are showing it.
Charlotte herself is an "older" woman, who says she's no youngster anymore {even though she can still Rototill her own garden.} Some would look at her and see "age," and they would look at her kitchen and see "shabby." I read, and I saw wisdom in Charlotte, teachable wisdom born out of decades of living life before the Lord. I pictured her kitchen and saw cupboard knobs smoothed by the hands who reached in thousands of times to get plates to set the table for family dinner.
I hope these words will encourage you to stay awhile at Heather Creek, and to find out what Charlotte means by the title Before the Dawn.

Thank you Litfuse Publicity for sending me this book! I'll definitely be reading the others in this series!

Sweet September

Sweet September picks up right where Before the Dawn left off, except a few months down the road and nearing harvest time now. You know, I think harvest itself is the best metaphor for this book. Each year, you break ground again, you plant again, you tend again. You wait again, things grow again.
Relationships are like that. How many times do we say "There! Done! I've planted seeds of praise and affirmation, I've broken through that stoney ground of distrust. I've watered with tenderness and not pushed growth even when I know it could have happened faster. And I've harvested some fruit from my efforts. Now I should be able to rest for a while. Things should keep growing steadily now."

But in relationships, there is always a new challenge. We can't plant and walk away for a day or a week. There's always a new weed to pull, always another seed of a kind word and a gentle touch to be sown, and always the promise of fruit unlike any we've ever tasted before if we keep at it.

We saw great strides taken in Before the Dawn in the relationships between Bob, Charlotte, Pete and Sam, Emily and Christopher. In this sequel we will see the dance continue, the dance unique to people's love, with it's beauty and fragility.

Once again, I treasure my stay at Charlotte and Bob's farm. They the are salt of the earth. Reading about their life made me smile inside.

I really enjoyed hearing more about Uncle Pete, a hard-working bachelor who has bright ideas for how to improve the farm, and who has the brains and dedication to carry those out. Pete just has to convince his father that he's not trying to push his Dad's experience out of the way....
Pete has found ways to connect with each of the children, proving that he will make a fine family man someday. I'm eager to hear more of his story.

And another favorite character is Hannah, who can always find a life lesson to share with Charlotte, usually from one of the 50's, 60's 70's and 80's tv shows she watches. I loved her references to these shows... now when will I hear her mention In the Heat of The Night? 

I have always loved a family-on-a-farm story, and this is the best one I've read in an age.

Thank you so much Litfuse for my copy!

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