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A Godsent Governess for his Tormented Family

A divine dream leads her to him. All he wants is a governess for his son. In the most reduced circumstances, can His light save them both?

I felt the warmth of the light and felt God in my heart.

Emma’s unique connection with God has allowed her to always trust in His guidance. After the untimely death of her father, she follows her blessed gift and travels West to become a governess. But the little boy’s scowling father is so unpleasant that she struggles to understand why the Lord led her to such an uninviting home. How can she help him see God’s Truth when he always uses his anger as a shield against her?

Paul’s unrelenting grief has driven him away from a God whom he deems unfair. After a fire takes his wife away from him, caring for his boisterous young son has turned into an uphill battle. The young governess he has hired to help him though, threatens to tear down his walls with her kind smile. How can he place his faith in Emma and trust in God’s Will when He has already forsaken him?

An undeniable attraction draws Emma and Paul closer together. But when their true enemies are revealed, loyalties are tested, and past traumas rise to the surface. Will they be safe under God’s divine embrace?

Written by:

Christian Historical Romance Author

Prologue

August 1873

Pueblo, Colorado

The soft light from the oil lamps danced on the walls of Frank Clement’s small bedroom. The room was sparsely decorated and modest, just like him, with only a bed, a dresser, a small bedside table, and a chair for his attentive daughter. The walls were bare but for but one verse from Corinthians embroidered by Emma’s mother and embellished with pink and blue flowers; “Love is patient. Love is kind.”

Emma sat in her plush blue wingback chair beside her father’s small wooden bed, reading his favorite stories from the Bible. He liked the stories that told of God’s great power and strength. Her voice trembled as a lump, hard and unforgiving, formed in her throat, but she attempted to maintain a serene face.

As she read about Moses parting the Red Sea, her father stopped her with a frail hand on her arm.

“My Emma,” he whispered, his voice weak, “I hope you always remember that you are unique. God speaks to you. Promise me you will always trust in your visions, in the message God is sending to you. He knows what is best, even if it is not apparent to us.”

“Of course, father. I will always trust in God’s plan.” She placed her hand on top of her father’s, struggling to hide her tears, then continued with Moses’ story. As she read, her father’s breathing became more and more labored.

She set the Bible aside and took his hand, placing her other hand on his forehead, rubbing her fingers along the edge of his salt and pepper hair. His blue eyes, normally clear and alert, were closed, and his skin paled. His breath slowed and became shallower.

Then, in just one moment, it stopped.

He was gone. Now, she was completely alone in the world. Her emotions whirled in her heart like a maelstrom, from panic about what would become of her now that her father had died to an incredible peace, knowing that he was no longer suffering.

It had happened so quickly. Two weeks ago, he had been standing in his usual place in the front of the church, leading the congregation in prayer. Then one day he just could not get out of bed. His breathing had become so labored the past few days, she had known his time was near.

She had sent for the doctor early on, but he could only tell her what she already knew.

“Keep him comfortable. His fate is in God’s hands now.”

Emma’s chest tightened as tears began to well in her blue eyes, the same crystalline hue as her father’s, at the memory of the doctor’s words. She pushed the loose strands of her golden blonde hair out of her face to prevent them from getting caught in the cascade of sadness streaming down her cheeks.

God’s plan was to reunite her parents in heaven today. They were together, where they wanted to be. She may be here on earth alone, but she felt peace knowing that they were smiling down on her from above.

There was nothing for her to do but wait for Reverend Thompson to arrive for a final blessing, though at this point he would arrive too late.

She lightly brushed her father’s thinning brown hair, noticing the gray around the edges, and examining the familiar face one last time. He had small lines around his eyes and mouth from smiling and laughing. She had been told that she got her wide, honest smile from him, and she could only hope to be a fraction of the person he was.

She touched her father’s lifeless hand and remembered what he had said to her the first time she had had one of her visions, many years ago.

Mother was sitting beside the stream that ran behind the house, with an angel by her side. They were looking out over a group of children splashing in the shallow water.

Emma approached hesitantly, sure her mother would disappear at any moment. She had seen her only in a small portrait her father kept by his bed, but something told Emma that this was the mother who had died to give her life. She could feel it in her soul. She felt an incredible peace inside her and knew she had no reason to fear.

As Emma’s skirt swished through the tall reedy grass, her mother looked up and smiled. The older woman’s face was flawless and glowing. Calmness and serenity emanated from her kind eyes.

The angel said nothing. But an immense light suddenly seemed to shine from his whole being, illuminating the children.

Emma looked to her mother for some explanation of what was happening but got none. Instead, she was suddenly filled with God’s word. She didn’t hear it exactly. Rather, she felt it.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

It was a line from the Book of Matthew.

She was still thinking over what it could mean, what it all could mean, when she found herself lying awake in her own bed.

She leaped up and ran to her father’s room. “Father! Father!” She yanked on his arm as his eyes jolted open.

“Yes, my Emma, whatever is the matter?” As always, he was calm and reassuring. Nothing ever seemed to ruffle him, he was so sure of God’s plan and presence in his life.

Emma told him what had just happened. “But it wasn’t a dream! It was truly happening! I was there, and so was Mother, and the angel and the children. I felt the warmth of the light and felt God in my heart.”

“Well then, my Emma, I am sure it was not a dream at all. It was God. You are a very fortunate little girl. God sent a message just for you.”

“But what does it mean?”

“That part is a little more difficult. As we know from the Bible, it can be hard to know what God wants. It can be even harder to follow his instructions. That’s how Jonah ended up in that whale. But I would say that God is trying to tell you that you have an angel in heaven looking out for you. And so do all the other children. So you would do best to remember that God loves us all, and so we should all love one another.”

Emma pondered this a moment, remembering Eliza Marshall’s new pink hair bows in church last week. Emma had spent more of the service staring at those hair bows than listening to her father, feeling her heart grow hard with jealousy. She had later ignored Eliza when the blonde girl had waved hello in front of the church. She felt remorse now for the way Eliza’s face had fallen at the slight.

Emma nodded to her father. “That makes sense. I could be more charitable toward others sometimes.”

“That is what God asks of all of us.” Father ran his hand along the top of Emma’s head. “Now, my Emma, there are still hours yet until the sun will rise. Do you think you can go to sleep?”

Emma smiled softly now at the memory of his warm voice calling her “my Emma,” as he always had, but still a tear unfurled down her cheek. He had also told her many times how fortunate she was that God chose to speak directly to her. Yet, she did not always feel fortunate. Sometimes the visions felt downright inconvenient, and often they were confusing. But she had promised her father that she would trust in her visions and in God’s plan.

As she sat now in the wavering lamp light, she wondered what God’s plan was for her, now that she was alone.

Chapter One

One week later

Pueblo, Colorado, August 1873

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Emma repeated these words—the words spoken over her father’s grave just a week ago—in her head like a meditation. After each line, she stopped to think about its meaning to her own life, trying to see all of the good things the Lord had brought her even amidst her sadness.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”

She had a home in a town surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. She found immense peace in nature and in this place. Colorado was a striking place to live, with its wide-open blue sky, lush green meadows, and the majestic mountains in the distance jutting up toward heaven. At times, she wondered sometimes what it must feel like to stand atop one of those craggy peaks, to be that close to God and to look down upon His whole creation. It must be a breathtaking experience.

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

She lived her life by His word, trusting in His plan for her. She knew she was a good and righteous person, thanks to His presence in her life. She knew He would restore her soul from the sadness she was feeling.

She also knew grief was something that would never fully fade, like a small scar upon delicate skin. She would always yearn for her father. There would always be a part of her missing. But, with God by her side, she knew that the hole in her heart would grow smaller day by day and the sharp pain she felt now would weaken to a dull ache.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

The shadow of death, indeed, she mused. Her entire life had been lived in the shadow of death. Her mother had died giving birth to her. Now, her father was gone as well. However, knowing they were now together in heaven brought peace and stillness to her troubled heart. She had no reason to fear with God and her guardians looking down upon her, and this brought her a sense of calm.

She repeated these verses and her meditations on them, mostly trying to remind and convince herself that all would be well, she should have hope at all times. But she was grieving, and hope was difficult right now.

And so, she kept praying as she hung the laundry to dry in the August sunshine as a gentle breeze ruffled her skirts, a practical dress made of simple green homespun with a white apron over top, around her long legs.

She prayed to avoid thinking about all the things she had lost.

She had just washed her father’s linens and the last of his dirty clothes, hesitant to wash away her father’s scent—tobacco and leather. She would never again hear her father’s gentle voice praying with a young couple in the parlor over their coming wedding. She would never smell the pipe tobacco wafting in from the porch as she finished cleaning up supper. She would never hear him call her “my Emma” again or know the feeling of his strong arms around her in an embrace.

There were a lot of nevers.

A whole week had passed since Reverend Thompson had arrived to oversee the services and her father’s burial. The service had been lovely. As a pastor himself, Frank Clements had selected the hymns to be sung and the verses to be read in his last few days. Emma had diligently written down all of his wishes and made sure they were all carried out. But all of that was done now. Reverend Thompson had returned to his home church the next town over, and she was left with a house filled with only furniture and memories.

There was nothing more to do but pick up the pieces and carry on.

The days were not so bad. Emma kept busy with her chores, and the women in town had organized someone to come and visit her each day, just to check in and give her some company. She loved when they would stop by with their children. The energy of children never failed to buoy her spirits.

On Monday, Maggie O’Shannon stopped by with all seven of her children. The yard was in delightful chaos as the siblings played chase, screeching and calling to one another from across the grass.

Emma stood beneath the apple tree between the house and her father’s church. She loved the fruit trees around the house—pear, apple, peach, and cherry. They provided cool, refreshing shade to both the house and the church on stifling days like today. She was grateful to God for the abundance of food they always had between the trees and the vegetable garden nearby, its neat rows overflowing now with cucumbers and squash.

Emma glanced at one tree in particular, its limbs heavy with fruit waiting to be canned or made into pies. The two littlest O’Shannons sat by her feet eating the apples the other red-headed children had already managed to gather into baskets. The eldest children were in the tree itself, gathering fruit from the twisting branches.

“Little squirrels, that’s what my children are.” Maggie O’Shannon shook her head, auburn curls bouncing, and looked up into the limbs of the tree.

“Adorable little squirrels,” Emma added, “and very helpful. I could never get all this fruit myself. And I surely won’t be able to use them all. You make sure you take what you can carry home.”

“Emma, you’re such a dear. Always thinking of others, even in this time of grief.”

“I’d be much more aggrieved if I let a bushel of apples spoil, knowing there were others who could use them.”

Maggie laughed. “You’ve talked me into it. Of course we’ll take some. My children likely will not have any room for their supper tonight anyway. Their stomachs are already full of apples.” Maggie paused and looked around at the blue sky surrounding them and the sun shining on them through the shade of the leaves. “What a lovely day.”

Emma agreed, but in the evenings when she was alone, the small house seemed cavernous. Every sound seemed to echo loudly against the walls. The house only had two bedrooms upstairs and a kitchen, parlor, and dining room downstairs. It wasn’t large. But it was more than she could bear now.

Her father had said many times, “There’s no need for a pastor to be ostentatious. I simply need a place to eat, a place to rest my head, and a place to meet with those who come to me for guidance and prayers.” He was a simple, humble man, and she missed him so much.

She was so lonely.

Each night, she sat alone at the dinner table and ate the food that someone had kindly brought her that day, missing the conversations she would have with her father over the business of the church or who needed prayers that day. She read the Bible alone before bed, but it lacked some of its meaning when it was not read aloud and discussed with someone else. Her father had always had some insight into God’s word or a connection to make to their lives.

“God often sends us suffering to help us see the beauty in what we have and to remind us to be grateful,” he would say.

Or, “This story reminds me of Mr. Hopewell. Do you remember when he got very sick last winter, and even the doc wasn’t sure he would make it through. But then, we had the whole church praying for him, and the Lord saw fit to heal Mr. Hopewell. He stopped by just today with some wood for the stove at the church. He’s a good man. The Lord sees that.”

Father had helped the words come alive. But reading them silently in an empty house seemed to take some of the life right out of even her favorite passages.

There were few times Emma had ever contemplated a husband, but she wished she had a strong shoulder to lean on at a time like this. It wasn’t that she was uninterested in marriage, she simply had yet to find a man who made her heart flutter or someone whom she thought of in those idle moments when her mind wandered. If she ever did daydream about a husband, he was always an unknown man, tall and strong with dark hair and kind eyes.

She knew as well that God would lead her to her husband whenever He saw fit. She was sure His plan held great things for her, and a husband was not on the agenda just yet.

***

After she hung the last sheet on the line to dry, Emma sat in her father’s rocking chair on the front porch, intending to peel and cut some apples for a pie, but she was overcome by lethargy.

“Come on, Emma, you can do this,” she whispered to herself. “It’s a simple task you’ve done hundreds of times.”

But she could not seem to make her arms move. Instead, she gently rocked herself back and forth, admiring the view. The small house stood beside the church, with a lush green lawn between them. Beside the apple tree stood pear and cherry trees, both alive with birds snacking and insects pollinating. The dirt road out front led into town just a little ways to the east. She could hear the horses whinnying and men calling to each other from where she sat. And even farther in the distance were the mountains.

To climb one of those mountains, Emma thought, closing her eyes, to be that close to God.

She sat at the table in the back of the church, where she held her Sunday school lessons. Instead of the passel of children who normally surrounded her, there was only one little boy. He was wearing a simple dark shirt and pants with worn spots on the knees. His light brown hair was a little mussed, and she could see a little dirt on his right ear as if he had been playing outside recently.

The small room had four rows of little tables with four chairs each, all facing a chalkboard at the front of the room. Emma did not often stand at the chalkboard. She preferred to sit, to be closer to the children. They seemed to like it when she was closer to their level. It was not unusual for her to sit side by side with a child and work together, as she was now.

“H,” she said, pointing to the letter in the book on her lap.

“H,” the little boy repeated in his high, clear voice.

She was showing him the letters of the alphabet, his head down, finger tracing the letters. She smiled down at him, feeling strong affection and pride for this little boy. As she named all the letters, he repeated after her but never looked up. She never saw his face.

Emma awoke, still in the chair on the porch, chilled as the sun began to sink behind the mountains. She must have nodded off for an hour or more.

She took her basket of apples inside and pondered the dream.

Why had God sent her the image of this unknown little boy?

She had always turned to her father for guidance with her visions, but he was not here.

His Bible, she thought, placing the apples on the kitchen counter. He relied on the Good Book for guidance whenever he needed it. Perhaps it can help me now.

She hurried upstairs to her father’s room, where Frank Clement’s Bible sat upon his bedside table.

Sitting in her chair beside the bed, she set the book on her lap, much as she had with the book in her vision. It fell open to her favorite passage — God speaking to Aaron and Miriam in the Book of Numbers.

“When the two of them stepped forward, he said, “Listen to my words: “When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.”

Since she was very young, she had loved that passage because it told of God speaking through visions and dreams like hers. She was reluctant to call herself a prophet but knowing that she was not the only one God spoke to in this way brought some comfort.

But how is this passage related to my vision? Why has God led me to these words? And how are they connected to the faceless little boy?

***

She reread the entire chapter of Numbers before bed that night, sitting in her usual chair by her father’s bedside. As she began to ready herself for bed, she contemplated the words.

In the chapter, Aaron and Miriam had criticized Moses, asking why Moses alone spoke to God, Emma thought as she carefully combed her hair, tugging at an especially stubborn knot in her sun-colored waves.

But then God himself came down and spoke to them to explain. She tugged her high-necked nightgown over her head. Afterward, Miriam was punished for her criticism.

Emma paused, looking at her narrow nose and bow-shaped mouth in the mirror, to think back on the last few days as she braided her hair.

Have I been overly critical of anyone? Her fingers moved deftly down the length of her hair, expertly plaiting the waist length tresses.

She was certain she had not. She had hardly thought of anything in the last week but making it from one moment to the next.

Surely God wants me to focus just on the verse about visions and dreams. Is He simply telling me to trust the visions, as Father did? She reached the end of her braid and tied it off.

She knew God was trying to tell her something, but as always, it was indistinct, like a reflection glinting in river water. For the first time, she was left to interpret this vision by herself. With all of her previous visions, she had talked it through with her father, and he would help her come to a conclusion about God’s meaning.

She decided to turn to God for clarity and guidance.

“Dear Lord, I trust that you have a plan for me, and I trust that you will use me as you see fit. I know that all my suffering will be worth it because it will bring me closer to you. Please, Lord, show me how I can be of use to you. Show me what I am to do with this little boy. Call me to your service, oh Lord, however you see fit. I will trust in you and go where you send me.”

She still did not know what the vision and the verse had truly meant, but she felt more peace in her heart than she had in a week. God had a plan for her, and she would place her trust in Him.

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