When I was a little girl, my mother’s hope chest fascinated me.  Not because it was fancy; it’s not, but rather because of what loomed inside.  Her wedding veil.  Love letters from my father.  Grandmother’s special linens.  What intrigued me most was that my father made it himself and presented it to her just before they married.  The beloved possession rests upstairs beneath the wall quilt of my great grandmother’s beautiful, ornate, delicate handkerchiefs that were sewn together by my great aunt, June.

Intrigued, I researched the origin of the hope chest, aka Hope for Marriage, and learned that the pieces, constructed from different types of wood and often lined with cedar to protect the contents from insects, fungus, and moths, are often referred to as dowry chests.  Typically, they’re used to store special things such as linens, quilts, and china that are handed down in the family.  Single girls are, many times, gifted a hope chest before marriage.

Hope chests are routinely placed at the foot of the bed and have existed since the times of pharos.  In fact, Egyptians used them for storing valuable documents during long, treacherous, oceanic voyages.  But to me, my mother’s hope chest carries what only dreams are made of.  Something mystical and intangible.

It’s a rare, blessed treasure that prompts my imaginative mind to wander back to the days when my parents fell in love and had no idea how many times their children’s and great-grand children’s fingers would touch the heirloom.  My mother’s hope chest will be passed down to me, and I will place their wedding picture on top while the beloved quilt with its own compelling stories looms in the distance.

In my HOPE CHEST OF DREAMS series, Rebecca, Annie, and Rachel will experience their own stories with William, Levi, and Jarred.  And eventually, their hope chests constructed carefully and artfully by creative genius Old Sam, will be filled with great symbols of love that they will cherish and pass down to their daughters.  To me, these characters and stories are personal, a natural inspiration and connection to my mother’s hope chest.

My parents aren’t rich, but what they have, money can’t touch.  And the sentimental piece constructed by my father over fifty-nine years ago plays its own special role in my parent’s forever journey of true love as well as their nearly six decades of marriage that continues on earth as long as they both live and will pick up when they join in heaven.  And maybe someday, a couple in our family will treasure the hope chest over fifty-nine years, and inherit my parents’ abounding Christian love and happiness that’s a wondrous, generous, rare blessing from our Creator.

 

Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true…

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside—to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…

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