The Hope of Refuge, Ada's House Series #1   -     By: Cindy Woodsmall
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The Hope of Refuge, Ada's House Series #1

Random House, Inc / 2009 / Paperback

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Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it's no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God-"Be me to her"- despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim's sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stolzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose-or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything-including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Random House, Inc
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1400073960
ISBN-13: 9781400073962
Availability: In Stock
Series: Ada's House

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Publisher's Description

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

Author Bio

Cindy Woodsmall a New York Times best selling author of the Sisters of the Quilt series including the books When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and one daughter-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of thirty years.

Discussion Questions

1. As The Hope of Refuge begins, Cara is a child trying to piece together her reality with fragments of newly disclosed secrets from her mother’s past. Her childlike innocence makes it easy for her mother to control what Cara knows and doesn’t know. As a child there are many things that are perplexing, things the adults don’t choose to discuss, but you still have a sense there is a problem. What is something you remember trying to figure out as a child? Is keeping secrets from children helpful to them–or just convenient?


2. Cara is desperate to escape a man who’s been stalking her since her teen years in foster care. Her goal is to protect her daughter and to stay alive so Lori doesn’t succumb to the same trap Cara did, growing up without parents. Do you think Cara’s drastic decisions were justified or did her fears cause her to make poor choices? We all make decisions based on our experiences and understanding of life. How does a person separate their fears of the past with reality in order to make the wisest decision possible?

3. Deborah loves her father deeply, and when he becomes sick, she nearly falls apart. Her fiancé tells her: …there’s a difference between being concerned for someone and taking on all the anxiety of their what-ifs. Finding the balance between truly caring and being snagged by anxiety isn’t easy. What are some of the things you do– or think you should do–to help silence or release anxiety?

4. Ephraim remembers Cara well from their childhood. As an adult, he went to New York in hopes of locating her. But when she finds her way to his community and her presence causes tension in his family, his interest dries up and his compassion wavers. Have you ever wanted to reconnect with someone from your past but were stopped by reservations, circumstances, or the opinions of others? Discuss your decision in that situation and if you believe it was the right one, and why it was or wasn’ t.

5. Even before her mother died and her father abandoned her, Cara had a difficult life. After those losses she was raised in foster care, which led her down a rough path. Normal and acceptable dress and speech for living and working in New York makes Cara look and sound deplorable and offensive in Amish country. Everyone has their own standards/values; some of those values may be etiquette, money, education, family-ties, or religious traditions. Do you find it easy or hard to accept the differences of those who were not raised with your values/standards? Have you found yourself judging people in your community by your standards?

6. When struggling with what to do about Cara, Ephraim believed God asked him to "be Me to her," but Ephraim found that even harder than he expected. He also began to understand some aspects of God he’d never thought of before. What was Ephraim’s greatest struggle in God’s "be Me to her" request? Can you empathize with his challenges?

7. Mahlon is confused and torn about his life choices, and the only thing he knows for sure is he loves Deborah Mast. Do you think that kind of love might be enough to give him roots? Is that fair to Deborah– or will it hold her back?

8. Through Ephraim’s sacrifices and patience, Cara finally gets her feet under her for the first time in her life. Because of Ephraim’s inner character and faith, she begins to accept that God exists, but she has no faith in Him, only in Ephraim. Is there someone in your life who has no faith in God and you are their only understanding of Him? How do you handle that responsibility? Talk about the parts of life we sometimes place our faith in, inadvertently, instead of God.

9. After making a way for Cara to have every need met, Ephraim leaves, giving her complete freedom to decide who she is and who God is to her. Do you believe his decision was wise? Talk about a time when you gave someone freedom because you felt it was the right thing to do. How do you feel about that experience in hindsight?

10. Ada and Deborah suffer unexpected heartache and humiliation. They both discover surprising strength and hope in a woman, Cara, who is nothing like them. Is it possible to find inner strength and hope from someone who does not share your religious beliefs? What traits does Cara possess that are similar to Ada and Deborah?

11. Cara’s journey leads to some surprising revelations, one part being the knowledge that Ephraim possesses about her family but does not share with her. Could Ephraim have handled this differently? How do you think it would have affected Cara’s decisions —or the climate in the community– if he did?

12. In the novel, each of the characters plays a very different role– the outsider who doesn’t trust connecting with others, the insider who makes a risky choice and must face the consequences, the innocent who are caught in the turbulence of others’ decisions, and the wise support, who often serves as a peacemaker. Which of these roles do you identify most with? Would you prefer a more proactive or reactive role than the one you see yourself in?

Endorsements

What a beautiful story of hope and renewal! Cindy Woodsmall’s The Hope of Refuge is an honest and moving portrayal that rings with authenticity. It warmed my heart long after I finished reading and reminded me that new beginnings are possible, truth frees, and love can make all things new, if only we can learn to trust again.” — Marlo Schalesky, award-winning author of If Tomorrow Never Comes and Beyond the Night

“Cindy Woodsmall’s The Hope of Refuge takes the reader on an emotional journey into the heart of Amish country and the heart of a very human heroine. A compelling novel of love lost and found with realistic characters from two very different worlds which become, beautifully, one.” — Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Down

“A skillfully written story of forgiveness and redemption. Woodsmall’s authentic characters illustrate beautifully how wounded souls can indeed be mended.” — Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy and White Picket Fences

“Cindy Woodsmall writes real--real people, real conflicts, real emotions. When you open her book, you enter her world and live the story with the characters.” — Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of Where Willows Grow and Waiting for Summer’s Return

“Reaching deep into the heart of the reader, Cindy Woodsmall pens a beautifully lyrical story…. She paints a vivid backdrop of Amish and Mennonite cultures with fascinating detail and memorable clarity. Fans of this genre will be thrilled to discover this new author.” — Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Rekindled

“Like the stitches on a well-loved quilt, love and faith hold together Cindy Woodsmall's When the Soul Mends, the brilliantly written third story in the Sisters of the Quilt series. With deft plotting and characters that seem to jump off the page, this novel offers the timeless truth that forgiveness is the balm which heals all wounds and a blanket for the soul.” — Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

“What a vibrant, strong, emotional story!” — Gayle Roper, author of Allah’s Fire and the Seaside Seasons series

“Cindy Woodsmall’s characters wrapped themselves around my heart and wouldn’t let go.” — Deborah Raney, author of A Vow to Cherish and Remember to Forget

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Hope of Refuge

"What a beautiful story of hope and renewal! Cindy Woodsmall’s The Hope of Refuge is an honest and moving portrayal that rings with authenticity. It warmed my heart long after I finished reading and reminded me that new beginnings are possible, truth frees, and love can make all things new, if only we can learn to trust again."  
–Marlo Schalesky, award-winning author of If Tomorrow Never Comes and Beyond the Night

"Cindy Woodsmall’s The Hope of Refuge takes the reader on an emotional journey into the heart of Amish country and the heart of a very human heroine. A compelling novel of love lost and found with realistic characters from two very different worlds which become, beautifully, one."
–Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Down


Praise for Cindy Woodsmall

"A skillfully written story of forgiveness and redemption. Woodsmall’s authentic characters illustrate beautifully how wounded souls can indeed be mended."
–Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy and White Picket Fences

"Cindy Woodsmall writes real--real people, real conflicts, real emotions. When you open her book, you enter her world and live the story with the characters."
–Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of Where Willows Grow and Waiting for Summer’s Return

"Reaching deep into the heart of the reader, Cindy Woodsmall pens a beautifully lyrical story…. She paints a vivid backdrop of Amish and Mennonite cultures with fascinating detail and memorable clarity. Fans of this genre will be thrilled to discover this new author."
–Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Rekindled

"Like the stitches on a well-loved quilt, love and faith hold together Cindy Woodsmall's When the Soul Mends, the brilliantly written third story in the Sisters of the Quilt series. With deft plotting and characters that seem to jump off the page, this novel offers the timeless truth that forgiveness is the balm which heals all wounds and a blanket for the soul."
–Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

"What a vibrant, strong, emotional story!"
–Gayle Roper, author of Allah’s Fire and the Seaside Seasons series

"Cindy Woodsmall’ s characters wrapped themselves around my heart and wouldn’t let go."
–Deborah Raney, author of A Vow to Cherish and Remember to Forget

Product Reviews

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  1. Its About Time Mamaw
    Cleveland, Texas
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Abandonment and the Lack of Trust
    October 4, 2011
    Its About Time Mamaw
    Cleveland, Texas
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book is one of three from the Ada's House Series about an Amish community.

    Cara was abandoned as a child after the death of her mother and ended up in foster care. She never stopped searching for answers to her past. She blamed God as so many people do when her prayers are not answered according to her wishes. God has a plan and it is sometimes hard to reason with the path He chooses for us. When Cara was a little girl she decided there must not be a God because He didn't seem to here her prayers.

    Cara is a young widow with a little girl named Lori. Cara has had to jumped from one place to another to get away from a stalker from her youth. She is forced by fear to find a safe place for her child and takes off, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a backpack, to search for her a place she only remembers bits and pieces of. It is a happy safe place from her early childhood memories and of playing with a sweet young boy. She tends to wonder if it isn't just a figment of her imagination. She finds this place which is an Amish community in Pennsylvania and she is not welcome there. One person, Ephraim, stands up for her and helps her to find her answers only to jeopardize his standing in the Amish community.

    This touched my heart reading about this pour young woman trying to find a safe place for her and her child. If you believe in God's will for your life and following the path He sets before us you will enjoy this book.

    I give this book a 5 out of 5. I would recommend this book to my closest family and friends.

    I purchased this book for my personal reading pleasure and this review is my own honest opinion.
  2. Brenda A
    Guntersville, AL
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great book
    August 15, 2011
    Brenda A
    Guntersville, AL
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    From the beginning I felt I knew this young lady. This book was written in such a manner that I didn't want to put it down until it was finished. I knew something good was going to happen very soon. I read the series and now I look forward to reading more by this author.
  3. Karen
    Honey Brook, PA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Just started reading.
    August 5, 2011
    Karen
    Honey Brook, PA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Just started reading the book but so far it has been great. I'm not a big reader so when a book draws me in I stay interested.
  4. jean
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    May 19, 2011
    jean
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Cindy Woodsmall goes into depth the way I like and gets you involved in the activity. I enjoyed this book so much.
  5. Christy Janes
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    March 26, 2011
    Christy Janes
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Cindy Woodsmall has done it again! She's got a knack for writing a good Amish story that is different from anything else available on Christian bookstore shelves. Just like all of her other books, she has written a great story in The Hope of Refuge that will stay with me for days.

    This book has probably one of the most believable storylines for Amish fiction that I've read in a long time. Cindy has created convincing characters with real flaws and real reactions to the circumstances that surround them. She also has great skill in being able to draw you into the lives of these characters, and it's like you are right there with them through the good and the bad.

    What Ephraim did for Cara by taking her into his home took a lot of guts considering his commitment to the Amish lifestyle. He had to face some harsh treatment from his family and friends for obeying God's command for him to "be Me to her." I felt that the author hit the nail on the head by adding that small statement to this book, and it made me wonder how much we apply that to our daily lives.

    Trust me, you will not be sorry if you get the opportunity to read this great book. As I said before, it's a book that will stay with you and have you thinking for days. I am already looking forward to the next one that Cindy has coming out!

    5 Stars
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