My Newest—Really Old!—Hobby by Charlotte Hubbard

When my mother-in-law passed away last spring she was halfway finished embroidering a set of flour sack tea towels that had cute farm animals on them, and when I ran across the towels as we cleaned out her apartment, I was torn. Over the years, Ioma had embroidered many, many sets of towels for me—I would buy her the new towels, the patterns, and the embroidery floss, and she would work on them as she had time. She did towel sets for her other daughters-in-law and granddaughters, too, and we were always delighted to receive them.

But what was I to do with the towels she hadn’t completed? The one she’d been working on was still in the plastic embroidery hoop with a threaded needle stuck in it, as though she was ready to pick it up again—but once she went into hospice care she couldn’t focus on such handiwork.

I was on the verge of just tucking them away (or even pitching them), when it occurred to me that back in the day when we wore chambray work shirts with embroidered flowers and peace symbols on them, I was doing that sort of embroidery! I’d also done some counted cross-stitch and some Christmas embroidery projects years ago, but they’d slipped my mind.

Once I picked up Ioma’s needle and hoop to finish that towel, it was as though I was channeling her energy! I finished the other towels in the set, and by then I’d made several trips to Hobby Lobby for embroidery floss, and I’d discovered the website for Colonial Patterns (oh my, that was a dangerous discovery! Ka-ching!) where they sell the patterns, towels, etc.

This past fall I completed two sets of days-of-the week towels as Christmas gifts, and I’m working on two more sets—and a set of Christmas napkins for this year awaits me after that! Embroidery is great for road trips when I spend a long time in the car, or for evenings when I want to put my feet up for a bit. I really enjoy working on the vintage designs and choosing bright colors and interesting stitches. I sometimes remind myself that these are only towels that will wipe dishes (or spills or maybe muddy dog feet or baby spit-up) and not permanent “art”—but I don’t care so much about that. I embroider them as much for my own enjoyment as I do for the person I’ll be giving them to.

I even took some towels on the transatlantic cruise we took last November, and so many women came up to me to tell about how their Grandma or Aunt Susy used to embroider such towels. We shared a lot of fond memories! I like to think Ioma’s smiling down on me every time I pick up her hoop and her needle.

“Hubbard writes Amish stories with style and grace.” —RT Book Reviews

“An endearing romance . . . By making a space for determined women inside the Amish community and providing a satisfying conclusion to various familial hurts, Hubbard provides readers with a comforting tale of love and forgiveness.” —Publishers Weekly

For widow Rose Raber, it’s been a year of tragic loss and difficult decisions. She thought providing for her young daughter was the greatest challenge she faced. Until her dying mother revealed that Rose was adopted—and her birth mother is someone with much to lose if the secret comes out. As Rose struggles to reconcile the truth with her faith—and her troubling curiosity—outgoing newcomer Matthias Wagler is another surprise she didn’t expect. His optimism and easy understanding inspires her. And his prospective partnership with wealthy deacon Saul Hartzler promises a possible new life for them—together. But with this second chance comes yet another revelation for all involved.

When Saul’s wife unexpectedly turns up at Rose’s new job, their bond as mother and daughter is instant and unmistakable. And it isn’t long before an unforgiving Saul discovers the truth, threatening Matthias’s livelihood and Rose’s future. Now with more than just their happiness at stake, Rose and Matthias must find the strength and courage to stand strong—and trust God’s enduring miracles of motherhood, forgiveness, and love.