On November 19, 2013, Christian author Faith Blum published her first book, A Mighty Fortress, the first book in the Hymns of the West series. Today we are pleased to help her kick-off her new book Be Thou My Vision (Hymns of the West #2) and the good news is that she is at the writing stage for Amazing Grace (Hymns of the West #3). I am quite fond of hymns and I know these inspirational songs played a large part in the lives of the early settlers as they faced hardships in their new homes.
Faith is treating us today to an excerpt from Be Thou My Vision
I sneaked out of the house soon after breakfast and walked to the church. The church was situated on the edge of town closest to us so it didn’t take very long to walk there. When I arrived, I walked into the churchyard and stopped on the edge. I watched as smaller children played, doing their best not to get their Sunday clothes dirty. There were pockets of adults talking. I suddenly felt out of place, but then, what else could I expect? I was out of place. I hadn’t talked with people in town or been to church for almost fifteen years.
I took a deep breath and walked further into the yard. Looking around, I didn’t see anybody I really knew. Wilma was surrounded by the young wives and mothers and I could tell she loved every minute of it. I looked for someone else who was alone, but saw no one. Seconds after deciding there was no one to talk to, I saw a young lad sitting on a stump all by himself. I crossed the yard to join him.
“May I join you?” I asked.
The boy looked up at me, unshed tears glistening in his dark blue eyes. He nodded and made a little room on the stump. I lowered myself down with care. “I’m Anna Stuart,” I said, holding out my hand. “Who are you?”
The boy looked at my hand for a second before cautiously putting his hand in mine and giving it a half-hearted shake. He shook his head.
I cocked my head, my eyes narrowing in curiosity. Was the boy mute or shy? “Well, I can’t keep calling you ‘boy’. Surely you have a name.”
A reluctant smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he nodded his assent.
“Good! Now that we have that settled, I have a question for you: Can you speak?”
His hands moved in a series of quick signs I was unable to understand.
“You are mute?” I guessed. His head bobbed up and down and the shy smile came back.
“Well, guessing your name will be all the more challenging now.” I put a forefinger on my chin in exaggerated concentration. “Does your name start with a letter between A and M?”
I could almost hear his brain working as he tried to figure out the answer to my question. After less than a minute, he nodded.
“A through F?”
A shake of his head.
My mouth quirked in concentration. “G through J?” I asked.
His eyes lit up and his head nodded with vigor.
I smiled. “Does it start with a G?”
He shook his head.
“I? No? Then it must start with a J.”
I began to fear the boy’s head was going to be shaken off. “Is it a Bible name?” I asked. He nodded his head. “Hm. Jeremiah?”
One strike. “John?” Two strikes. I couldn’t remember of another “J” name from the Bible, besides Jed’s and I certainly hoped it wasn’t that name. I sifted through my limited knowledge of the Bible and finally remembered another one. “James?”
The boy’s shy smile grew into a full-fledged grin.
“How old are you, James?”
James held up seven fingers.
“Seven? My, my. You are almost grown up.” I was quiet for a minute while I tried to think of a question James could answer.
“Earlier you did something with your hands. Do you speak with your hands?”
James nodded his head.
“He uses sign language,” a young voice near me said. I looked up and saw an older version of James standing next to the stump. The older boy gave me his hand. “I’m John. I’m James’ brother.”
“Anna Stuart,” I replied, shaking the offered hand. “Where did you learn sign language?” My eyes flickered between the two boys, taking in their very similar looks. If John hadn’t been taller and have an older look about him, I would wonder if the two boys were twins.
John’s eyes were the most expressive of the two boys. The pain written in them was heart wrenching.
“Mama taught us afore she died,” he said in a quiet voice. “She’d learnt it from a deaf boy when she was growin’ up. When we figgered out James couldn’t talk, she taught Pa and me sign language at the same time she taught James. Whatever we don’t know, we make up.”
I looked around the churchyard. Where was the boys’ pa? “How hard is it to learn sign language?” I asked.
“Not hard, just time consumin’,” John replied.
I tried hard not to wince at the horrible grammar John was using. “Do you go to school, James?”
James nodded, moving his fisted hand up and down with his head. He signed something to me. I cocked an eyebrow at John who interpreted for me with an amused smile.
“He said, ‘I can hear, so I can learn everything. The teacher knows not to call on me to answer a question out loud.’“
The church bell rang just then and James jumped off the stump, stood in front of me, and offered me his hand. I gladly accepted it and the three of us walked into church together. Once inside, the two boys walked up to the front row, so I lagged behind and took a seat in the back.
Friends, you can pre-order Faith Blums new book for only 99 cents!
About the Author
An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, leading on the Holy Worlds Christian Writing Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?). As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.
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To enter the giveaway for an Advanced Reader copy of Be Thou My Vision and an ebook copy of Aundy by Shanna Hatfield go to Faith’s blog and leave a comment to either ask her a question, or make a comment about what you think about the article.
The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door. As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore. I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys. With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me.
Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life. She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother. One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment. After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.
Then she meets two motherless boys. Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life? Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?