Sunday, January 6, 2019

Musing #5 - "In His Hands"

I published my first book in 2018. Using Mrs. Susan K. Marlow's Writers Roundup (see the "Book Reviews" page for details and a picture of that book), I was able to have a step-by-step guide for Thus, I wrote a 10,000 word novel and self-published it with the help of Sandy, who comments on this blog (she gave me the title, In His Hands) and Mrs. Marlow, my all-time favorite author (she helped with the editing). I'm not selling In His Hands on Lulu, or Amazon, or Barnes & Noble; I published it merely so I would have gifts for all my relatives (and friends!) this year *smile*. In the next few "musings," I'll be sharing chapters from this book. I welcome all feedback - good, bad, critical, encouraging, and otherwise - as I someday plan to extend this book and submit it to a real publisher. Enjoy!

Back Cover Summary:

It’s the late 1800’s, and Susan Harris and her younger sisters are on their way by train to visit their grandparents in Fresno, California. Sue is excited. She’ll be the boss for the whole two-week, cross-country trip, and she’s confident she’s mature enough to handle two little girls.

But when the train stops for maintenance issues, the trip takes an unexpected turn for the worse. The girls are suddenly stranded and on their own. Sue must now take her responsibility to a new level. Her sisters’ lives are in her hands, and they’re scared.

So is Sue…especially when she discovers that her hands are not enough.

Will Sue remember in time that there is Someone much stronger than she Who can help them out of this frightening fix? Can she lead her sisters to make an effort to work together and not give up? Or will she trust in her own strength and hope it’s good enough?

Chapter 1

  “Rosie, no!”
   Too late. My little sister had already curled her fingers around the heavy mixing bowl. Eyes big and full of curiosity, she pulled it to herself. Clunk! Crash. The bowl fell to the floor and lay in shattered glass fragments about her feet.
   “Oh, Rosie!” I ran to her.
   “Sue, look!” Rosie squealed. “Me cook!”
               “No, you made a mess.” I groaned. “Now I have to clean it up.”
   “Me help!” crowed the four-year-old.
   I shook my head. Any other little girl would’ve burst into wails at the sudden accident, or whined, “I don’t wanna help clean it up!” Not Rosie. My sister was all-adventure every moment of the livelong day.
   Which is especially hard when one’s mother was gone for the day and the responsibility fell on a not-yet-fifteen-year-old—me. Yep, me, Susan Grace Harris. The older sister.
   I took a deep breath and smiled. Little sisters might be a trial, but I love Rosie too much to harp on that. Her cute, innocent face and two curly pigtails on either side of her head are too precious to give up. Her dimply smile and huge, chocolate-colored eyes brighten anyone’s day.
               Now, as those eyes stared up into mine, my anger melted quickly. “No, thanks, sweetie,” I said. “You might get glass chips caught in your feet or hands. Big sister will clean up.”
   “Okay. Me go play with Eliza.”
   Grinning, Rosie ran off, and I set to work.
   Five minutes later, while I was still kneeling, carefully picking up all the small glass pieces, Mama entered the kitchen. I looked up at her entrance and the ever-present thought again came to mind: she’s beautiful. Mama’s hair was the same dark brown color as my own. Pa preferred long hair, so it grew in thick, wavy ringlets down her back, but she always pinned it atop her head in a neat bun while she cooked and cleaned. She only wore two dresses—both made of simple brown calico—yet she had a way of making them look new every day. 
 Sparkling hazel eyes and an ever-ready smile were presented to whoever might visit, and the visitor always left with a light heart and warm cookies in each hand. Sarah Harris was indeed the picture of beauty, from the inside out. Her heart was filled with love and the desire to keep Jesus as first in her both her life and her family’s.
Now, Mama held an envelope in one hand and her bonnet in the other. Runaway strands of dark hair had escaped from her bun and were cascading down her face. She looked flushed and sweaty from a ride to town. From beneath her dress, her belly bulged with pregnancy. In a little less than a month, a new Harris family member would be born.
“Hello, Mama,” I greeted her with a warm smile.
She flashed a quick smile in return and hung up her bonnet. “Hello, dear. How did things go while I was gone?”
“All right, I guess. Rosie and Eliza helped me make a pie for supper tonight, and afterwards we went outside to play. We only came in a moment ago. But a moment is long enough for Rosie to do…this.” I gestured to the mess.
Mama sighed and shook her head. “That child! She’s a handful.”
“Did you pick up the mail?” I pointed to the envelope in her hand.
“Yes, I did. It’s a letter from my father—your grandfather—in Fresno, California.” Mama pulled out a chair and sat down. In her easy, graceful manner, she pulled the folded letter from the envelope and smoothed out its sheet of creased, lilac-scented onionskin paper. “I’ll read it to you.”
In the voice I’ve always admired, Mama began:

Dear Sarah,
Greetings from the West. We’re sorry we haven’t written in a while, and we hope this letter finds you and your beautiful family well.
The other day, your mother and I were discussing having our grandchildren over for a visit. We agree that we would like to have your girls come out and spend a month or so at our ranch. We all know you’re getting close to your time, and life must be pretty busy for you right now. It might help to get the girls out from underfoot.
The last letter you wrote told us of Susan’s fourteenth birthday—and that was quite some time ago, I believe. In that letter, you told us of how mature and responsible Susan was becoming, especially with her sisters. Now is not the time for you to be boarding trains and travelling across country, but your mother and I agree that we believe Susan is both reliable and old enough to take care of Rosanna and Eliza. She can bring them to us, and you and Peter can join us when you are able.
Please consider. We have not seen our grandchildren in several years—indeed, I don’t believe we’ve ever even seen Rosanna, although you’ve written of her often—and it would please us so much to be of help to you right now.
Love you. Stay safe.
Sincerely yours,

“Well.” Mama folded the letter, tucked it back into the envelope, and smiled at me. “What do you think?”
My heart was beating too hard for me to answer for a moment. Me? In charge of Rosie and Eliza?
I jumped up, ran to Mama, and threw my arms around her neck. “Yes, yes, yes!”
Mama hugged me. “Good girl. Well, no, I shouldn’t say that. You’re not a girl any longer, Sue. You’re a young lady. I trust you to be a kind older sister to Rosie and Eliza. I know you won’t let me down.”
She held me at arm’s length and looked straight into my eyes. “I stopped by the sawmill and talked to Pa before coming here. He thinks it’s a great idea and will make the arrangements tomorrow, after he hears what you think. I can tell, however, that you’re ready to take on this new challenge.” She smiled and kissed my cheek. “I want you to go on up those stairs and start packing.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
I bounded up the short flight of steps and ran to my room. The smile wouldn’t leave my face.
            This isn’t a dream! I had to keep pinching myself to make sure. I’m really and truly going on a two weeks’ long train ride with my sisters.
            I shivered with delight. And I’m in charge.

In His Hands © 2018 Ellen Senechal


  1. So good! I love it! Captivating from the star :-)

  2. Thank you so very much, Sandy! Next chapter goes up Tuesday :-).

  3. I just wanted to let you know, Ellen, that your email blog post subscription is working great. I got this post via email. :-)

    1. Awesome! Thx for the head's up!


  4. This is really good! I can't wait to read the whole thing:-)

    1. Glad to hear it! I plan to post Chapter 3 today, Lord Willing.

  5. I'm looking forward to rereading it! So proud of you❤

    1. And I'm proud of you, Mom. :-). Love you so much!

  6. Awesome! Looks like a really good book!

  7. You are the one who wrote this! Its really good! *Sweats nervously* "My devotional name is "His might hands". Gusse I will come up with something else

    1. Thanks, Saved! And no, don't worry about titling your devotional "In His Mighty Hands"! It's a great name! At one time, I was even thinking of renaming "The Whispers God Gives" to "In His Hands," just because I love the title so much! :-)
      Can't wait to see what God is doing with your devotionals!


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