Today, we welcome Mary of Bethany into the Reflections family. Although her paperback has been live for several weeks, today’s the official birthday for digital copies.
Believe me, that’s something Miss Mary never would have conceived of during her lifetime.
Take a look at this cover. It’s a thing of beauty.
Orphan to Saint: A choice to worship not worry
If you’ve read Martha’s story in A Laboring Hand, you’ll want to get the rest of the story here. Martha, like so many big sisters, thinks she knew all about what her younger sister was thinking and feeling. But this third book in the series will prove that a fallacy once and for all.
One orphan’s dreams can change everything.
I’ve been dreaming of the perfect family for years. My older sister, Martha, has been training me to take care of my own household, and now I’m old enough to marry. But the men who offer proposals of marriage do not measure up to my fantasy. Nothing does.
Until I meet the Messiah. Then all I can think of is how I will follow Him to the end of my days. Since the first day I met Him, I’ve known: this joy and excitement must be true love.
But Yeshua of Nazareth is not looking for a wife—and I am crushed by this realization. Why can’t I marry for love? Serving G-d shouldn’t be all about following rules, and Yeshua understands that.
I have seen Yeshua’s miracles—the greatest beside my brother’s tomb. When Messiah is condemned to death, what will happen to His flock? Can my desire to marry for love be answered?
This is from chapter two of the novel. I’m leaving chapter one shrouded in mystery.
My cheeks blushed with heat, and my veil slid down my braid as I ran home from the center of town. It was really happening! We would get to meet the miracle worker!
I burst into the house. “It’s true!” Excitement stole my breath.
Martha turned from chopping at the wooden counter, and her eyes widened at the sight of me. My attention flitted to my brother.
Laz fixed bright eyes on me and asked, “Where?”
I wanted to dance around the room and clap my hands. Instead, I skipped closer as I told him, “At the temple. But the rumor is he’ll be returning to Galilee after the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath was still a day away. Too long for my brother to wait to see the man he suspected could be The Anointed One. Israel had waited for hundreds of years for the promised Messiah’s deliverance. What’s one more day?
Laz clutched the scroll spread on the table in front of him. “We must go tomorrow. Stay with Cousin Nathan.”
I nodded, eager to make plans.
Martha’s voice cut across the joy-filled moment. “What are you two plotting? And you know better than to invite yourself to Nathan’s house.”
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, she was probably right about our cousin. He held a grudge against Martha and Laz for surviving the plague that killed his family so long ago. He spoiled me, though.
“Fine. Avi’s family has a place.” Avi was a priest and scribe who both Martha and I worked for every week. He was kind to us. Martha said it’s because we’re orphans, but I liked spending time with his daughters, so I pretended we’re all one big happy family.
I sidled closer to Martha. The bread I’d baked while scouting for Laz’s information in town warmed my side. “I’m sure we can sleep on their roof.”
Martha shook her head as I stepped up and set the bread beside her chopped vegetables.
“I made extra bread for the journey and the Sabbath.” I didn’t understand why she wasn’t as excited about meeting Yeshua of Nazareth as Laz and me.
Without glancing in my direction, she said, “Thank you.” She scooped the vegetables into a pot and held it toward me. “Put this on the fire.”
I wanted to scowl at her attempt to remove me from the conversation, but excitement bubbled fiercely in my stomach. I snatched the pot and raced toward the doorway. The sooner the soup was cooking, the sooner we could plan our trip to see Messiah.
On my way out the door, I heard my sister ask, “What are you talking about?”
I slowed my steps, but I knew I couldn’t turn back. I had to obey Martha.
Father G-d, don’t let her ruin our plans.
With a charred stick, I stirred the coals on the outdoor fire we used for cooking and cleaning. I added scraps from a small pile of broken branches beneath an overturned pot resting against the brick wall. Flames kindled. I stacked two larger wooden blocks, castaways from the Carpenter’s Guild, over the coals before leveraging the cooking triangle into place and fitted the pot atop it.
I skipped back inside. Martha glared at my feet.
How could I forget to remove my sandals? I doubted it really made much difference on the packed dirt floors, but I backtracked to the door. I swallowed my sigh and slipped the shoes off, sliding them beside my sister’s. They were practically the same size. The days when I was the little girl had disappeared. Wasn’t it time for her to stop treating me like one?
“I can’t wait to hear Yeshua teach.” I gasped at the next thought. “Do you think he’ll heal anyone?” I nodded toward the withered arm hugging my brother’s side. “Maybe he’d heal your arm.”
Laz shook his head, like I knew he would. “I don’t want anything from him. Only to learn if he is the Anointed One. If he is, then I’ll follow him.”
Martha’s hands gripped her womanly hips. “You’ll do no such thing.”
I don’t really remember my mother, but I recalled our grandmother using this posture many times. The pose made my sister seem old and cranky, and because it caught my attention, I almost missed what else she said.
“You can barely walk to the community oven. You aren’t following this stranger all over the countryside.”
Her attack on him made my eyes water, but it didn’t faze Laz.
He returned her glare with unblinking intensity. “Where is your faith, sister?”
She harrumphed and strode outside, forgetting to slide her shoes on.
I smiled at my brother, and he ducked his chin before smiling back.
My mind created an elaborate meeting with Yeshua at the temple. He would be tall and handsome, and he would heal Lazarus, even though my brother would never ask for anything.
With Laz whole, the guild would let us be weavers again. I would be able to weave all day long, making the beautiful patterns I dreamed about. Martha would marry-someone—and stop trying to be my mother. She’d have her own children to mother.
It was one of my favorite dreams.
Have you read it? Did you leave a review? I’d love to hear what you thought of Mary’s story.