How would you like it if you were told you have to throw away your cell phone and sell your car? You probably wouldn’t. You don’t have worry because there is a telephone booth three miles away from your farm that resembles an outhouse. You can make business calls but not social calls to chat with a friend. That is reserved for visiting in person on church Sunday or in between Sundays. As for transportation in all kinds of weather, you will be able to ride in an enclosed buggy pulled by a red horse like everyone else.
If you grow up Amish, the phone booth and buggy are a given. If you’re English, the Amish way of doing things take getting used to for a woman who falls in love with an Amish farmer. Hallie Lindstrom grew up on a dairy farm in northern Iowa. She loves country life, but that doesn’t mean she knows how to hitch up a horse to a buggy. Getting up before daylight to work on the farm was something her father did, but Hal was young with boys on her mind in those days. Now she’s learning what it takes to labor on an Amish farm with machinery that is horse drawn in between doing her part to contribute to the Amish community by running a health clinic.
When book two The Rainbow’s End came out, I had quite a few emails telling me to hurry up and write another Nurse Hal book. In the next one, they hoped for a wedding between Hal and John. I complied. The bishop is a friend. He’s convinced Hal will be an asset to the Amish as a nurse as well as a helpmate to John Lapp who has three motherless children. Even so, he is determined that Hal must follow the church’s laws. That means no cell phone or car that would lead to worldly temptations. Letting her keep her phone and car could set a bad example for young Amish the bishop wants to keep in the fold. With that decree in mind, John and Hal marry. When Hal is told it’s time for her worldly possessions to go, she refuses to give them up. That means Hal is in enough trouble to get her sent away before she’s had a chance to get used to being Amish.
The Worldly Temptations cover picture was taken on a neighboring farm. All I had to do was add the buggies. Take a look at booksbyfaybookstore.weebly.com or Amazon.
Bacon! Hal pulled the sheet off her chin, wrinkled her nose and sniffed. Greasy, stomach rolling, strong smelling bacon. Whether she liked it or not that’s what she smelled. Hal pressed one hand against her crazily pitching, queasy stomach and used the other to pull the sheet up over her nose to try to block the stink.
Mom must be cooking breakfast. She blinked her eyes and rubbed them, trying to wake up. A peek from one eye at the window told her it was still dark outside. What was Mom doing up this early? She glanced at the clock beside the bed and groaned softly. Three scarlet numbers, four and two zeros glared at her.
Hal grabbed her bathrobe and slipped into it on the way to the kitchen. She put her hands on her hips and studied her stocky, gray haired mother’s back as she stood in of the cookstove. "Mom, do you know what time it is? I’d hoped I could sleep in a little longer. We’ve got a lot of work to do today to get ready for my wedding tomorrow. What are you doing up this early?"
"From what your Aunt Tootie found in a book about the Amish at the library, they always get up early. We need to get a move on so we get to the farm fairly soon. We don’t want the Lapp family to think we’re lazy people. You might as well get used to getting out of bed before daylight," Nora Lindstrom chided.
"I don’t think they get up this early," groaned Hal.
Nora forked the bacon from the skillet onto a plate. "You sure? Maybe we should ask John so you know for sure."
"No, don’t bother," Hal said brusquely and changed the subject. "No breakfast for me, Mom. I don’t think I could eat a bit,"
Nora focused a knowing smile on her daughter. "Didn’t fix you any. This is for your dad. I’m not so old that I don’t remember my wedding day. Didn’t think you’d be able to eat much today or tomorrow until after the wedding is over. The coffee’s done if you want a cup."
"Sure. That I need to wake me up," Hal said dryly. As she poured, she said, "Thanks, Mom, for helping me box up my things last night. It won’t take long to clear out the apartment now. I know that was a chore you didn’t expect as soon as you arrived yesterday. You had to be tired after that long drive from Titonka."
"Wasn’t that big a job. I was glad to help." Nora broke two eggs into the hot greasy skillet.
"I cleaned out my closet before I went to bed and sacked my clothes to give Good Will. We can put them in the drop off box this morning on the way out of town," Hal said, staring off into space.
The sound in Hal’s voice made Nora twist to study her. "You don’t sound so all right about giving away your clothes."
"That is hard. I like my English clothes, but when I think about choosing between a fashion statement and a family, there’s no contest," Hal said, sitting down at the table with her coffee. "I’ve one box of photo albums I’d like Dad to put in the car trunk so you don’t go off without it. You might as well take the pictures home with you. I hate to throw them away."
"I get it that the Amish don’t want pictures taken of them," Nora started. "But ----."
"They think when someone takes a picture of them that’s stealing their soul. The bible says no graven images," Hal interrupted.
"I know all that, but you weren’t Amish when those pictures were taken. I’d think you could at least take the small album with your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles in it to your new home. Someday John’s children and hopefully, some of your own would like to see what you looked like as a child and their ancestors."
"You think?" Hal said optimistically.
Her mother's head, brown hair feathered with gray, nodded. She had her attention on the eggs she was turning. "Can't see how it would be bad to have pictures of people who didn't believe the graven image scripture. John and his family should be broad minded enough to allow you your family pictures."
"You’re right, Mom. I hate to give that album up. The school pictures, it doesn’t really bother me to not ever see again. All right, I’ll slip the small album in with the bedding and tuck it away in a drawer for the future. Thanks, Mom."
"You’re welcome." Nora turned her head toward the hallway and yelled, "Jim, get out here and eat. Your breakfast is ready." The toaster banged. Two pieces of toast shot up. Further warning breakfast was about to be served whether Jim was ready or not. Nora buttered each slice before she scooted them on a plate beside the bacon and hard fried eggs.
Hal’s father, his gray hair sticking out in all directions, shuffled down the hall. He plopped down at the table. Hal stared at the cholesterol, heart attack precursor filled plate Nora placed in front of her father. She made a mental note when her mother wasn't listening to remind him to go to the doctor for a physical once in awhile.
Jim winked at his wife and grinned at his daughter. "Well, how you feeling this morning, Hallie?"
"Not so hot," Hal conceded. She rubbed her stomach, feeling urpy now that she’d looked at and smelled his plate of food. She'd swear her mother deliberately waved it under her nose before she set the plate down.
"She’s got wedding jitters," giggled Nora behind her hand to Jim.
"I have not. I’m just not hungry is all," snapped Hal, peevishly.
Jim shrugged his broad farmer shoulders. "Whatever you say, Daughter. But jitters are to be expected. If you was to have some, that is, it would be all right. By afternoon tomorrow you’ll be feeling less nervous once the wedding is over. What time is the wedding buggy coming for us in the morning?"
Hal’s eyebrows furrowed together as she set her cup down. "There isn’t any wedding buggy. What made you think there was?"
"Tootie told your mother her Amish book said you’d have to arrive at the wedding in a buggy," Jim said before he crunched on a bacon strip.
"That might be if you were Amish, but you’re not and you don’t own a buggy. For your information, we’re going to the Lapp farm in your car in the morning. You're driving because you are my father," informed Hal.
"I thought you couldn’t ride in a car after today," he said with a puzzled look.
"I can so ride in one. I’m just not supposed to drive one including my own," Hal groaned, tapping the table with her fingers.
Nora poured a cup of coffee and sit down next to Hal. She perked up as an idea struck her. "When you’re ready to sell your car, Dear, can your cousin, Cindy, buy it? Tootie’s been looking for a car for her to drive to college this fall."
"I’m not selling my car," Hal barked.
Jim looked baffled. "I thought you just said you couldn’t drive it. You might as well get rid of it. Not good for a car to never be run."
"I’m stalling while I try to think of a way around that," retorted Hal, tipping the cup for the last sip. "Listen, I’m going to go take a shower and get ready to leave. Emma will be bustling around, trying to do everything by herself." She darted a look at her mother. "We might as well be useful now that we’re up."
"Does it matter what I wear to the wedding?" Her father asked, looking worried.
"A suit would be nice," Hal explained patiently.
"I brought that. What do Amish men wear?"
"Black suits and black hats with a white shirt," she answered.
"They wear hats! I just bought a white western hat. I have it with me," Jim said excitedly.
"Oh, please no! Not a white western hat!" Hal cried.
"The Amish wear black felt hats or straw hats, but during the wedding or a church meeting, they won’t have a hat on. To wear a white hat wouldn’t do at all at the wedding and maybe never when you’re visiting the Amish," Hal scolded.
Jim scratched a sideburn. The action reminded Hal of John when he couldn’t figure out what to make of her way of thinking. Finally, he said quietly, "All right, I won’t wear the hat, but I still don’t see why not."
"Because I want John and his children to like you. That’s why not. Mom, can you explain it to him?" Hal pleaded.
Nora sighed and patted her hand. "I’ll try, dear, but I’m confused, too. I’m not so sure I understand all this myself. It seems to me from what you tell us Amish life may be entirely different from the way Tootie drilled it into us."
Hal showered and put on her pale green dress and white apron. After she pulled a wet comb through her copper red hair, she braided as much of it as she could. She wrapped the braid around her head before she clamped her white prayer cap down tight. When she studied her image in the mirror, Hal gave herself a disgusted look. She had to face it. With bright, frizzy hair like hers, nothing was going to keep her from looking like Harpo Marx with a bald spot.
At the same time as she chided herself, she knew she should feel lucky. No matter how she looked, John and the kids seemed to love her anyway. She was getting a good, understanding Plain husband and a ready made family of three kids. Dear fifteen year old Emma was a mother hen to everyone including her. Frankly, Hal didn’t know how she would manage being a housewife or motherhood if Emma wasn’t there to help her. Being a nurse was a breeze compare to what Amish housewives had to know.
John's oldest son, Noah, twelve years old going on thirty, was so serious, and ten year old Daniel, kept excitement and fun in all their lives with his mischievous nature.
Hal grabbed the garbage sack stuffed with clothes out of the corner and headed for the living room. Mom watched out the window as a blue jay lit on the bird feeder. Her father had the local news channel on. Both of them seemed to be patiently waiting on her.
"Ready, you guys?" Hal asked.
"My don’t you look -----," Nora searched for the right word as she surveyed her daughter.
"Different, Mom?" Hal questioned edgily. "Is that the word?"
"No, I wouldn’t have said that at all. You look nice," Nora replied.
"Sorry it took me so long to get ready. I couldn’t do a thing with my hair this morning," Hal complained.
"Why don’t you get it cut off today," Jim suggested.
"Can’t," Hal said quickly. "Amish women don’t cut their hair ever."
Nora frowned, "Seems like there is an awful lot of don’t rules when you belong to this group."
"Group? Mom, this isn’t some club I’m joining. I’m getting married, and I'm part of the Amish faith now," Hal said plaintively.
"I agree with your mother. Can’t you just tell them you forgot about rule 347 and go get your hair cut this once before they can stop you," her dad said dryly.
"No, I can’t."
"Are there any good things about being Amish?" Nora asked, wrinkling up her nose.
"Yes, you’re getting a nice son-in-law, three sweet grandchildren and a happy daughter," Hal assured her.
Putting a stop to the subject, Hal dropped the clothes bag and rushed back to her bedroom. She placed the box of pictures she'd forgotten earlier under her arm, letting it rest on her hip. Hal returned to the living room and handed her father the bag then ushered her parents out the door. She glanced back long enough to scan the living room and what she could see through the door to the kitchen. John and the boys would help her move her things out of the apartment before the end of the month. The living room furniture was in better shape than John's so he was going to put those items in their living room. She was glad about that. The Lapp couch was in sad shape after all the years the children bounced on it.
Hal eyed the crystal stemmed lamp by her recliner. A breeze from the open door made the fringe on the end of the shade shutter. She liked that lamp, but it was electric. Not being able to keep that lamp meant good bye to one life and get used to another entirely different way of living. She hoped from tomorrow on her life would be all she wanted it to be, and that she'd prepared herself well enough to accept the drastic changes she faced.
Hal turned the key in the door lock and twisted around to find her mother watching her intently. "Are you sure, Hal, that this new life is really what you want?"
"I'm sure. I was just making a mental of list of my things that I could take to the farm." Hal sighed before she added, "I really like my crystal lamp, but it's electric. Suppose Cindy could use it in her college dorm?"
"Don't know, but if she doesn't want it I can find a place for the lamp," Nora said eagerly.
"All right, before you leave for home let's go for a walk through the apartment and anything with a cord that will fit in the car is yours," Hal said.
"You can change your mind," Nora suggested.
"No, I can’t. This apartment is full of just stuff. I don't need stuff. I need John and the kids. I wouldn’t back out on them. This new life is what I want, but sometimes I wonder if I’m up to the challenge of being Amish," Hal said.
"You can succeed at anything if you really want to. All you have to do is keep trying until you get it right," Nora said sagely.
"Is that all there is to it, Mom?"
"Being Amish is a new way of life for you. There are bound to be some mistakes made along the way, but your Amish family and friends will help you. Before you know it, you’ll get the hang of it with John and the children by your side supporting you. I’m sure of it," Nora said, hugging her daughter.
The car window whine down. "Are you two coming? I won’t get to the farm before John has the cows milked if you don’t hurry."
An amber glow lit up the dark eastern sky as the top edge of the sun peeked above the apartment house across the street. Hal hated to say so out loud, but she feared her dad was right. The milking would be over before they got to the farm.