by Jane Kirkpatrick
“Honor your father, Mollie.” Were the dying words of Mollie Sheehan’s mother a purpose or a weight Mollie had to carry? In Beneath the Bending Skies, that is one of the questions I explore. How do we incorporate others’ desires and suggestions for our lives while still being faithful to our own callings?
Pulitzer-prize winning author Willa Cather suggests that the stories that engage writers are often based on experiences they had before they turned 15. Ms. Cather wrote that those feelings are driven by passion and betrayal. I would add two more emotions: acceptance and forgiveness. I still view stories to find myself and to see how characters made their life choices during challenging times at all ages. Through story, I’m often able to accept forgiveness for the gray hair I gave my parents and for not always paying attention to the fourth commandment.
Mollie’s story looks at her desire to find purpose for her life while honoring her father. She was a young girl of faith and honoring him seemed to mean setting aside her own desires, trusting that he had her best interests at heart. But she felt betrayed when she fell in love with a good man who had been Mollie’s father’s close friend. Her dad forced her to break the engagement and moved the entire family from Montana, a place Mollie loved, to San Juan Capistrano—a very different landscape where she stuffed her grief and I suspect her anger too. Mollie’s father said it was because Peter Ronan was ten years older than she was and that she was too young. He felt Peter had betrayed his friendship by courting his daughter while he worked as a freighter.
Her father then insisted that she should train to be a teacher and bring income home to her family. Would she ever find true love? Would she always feel she had to do what her father wanted as that was the only way to honor him? Only her faith mentors assured her that obeying him at 16 didn’t mean she’d been abandoned in love for the future. “Have faith,” they said. She held to the Scripture that promised, “The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand” (Deuteronomy 28:12).
With the benefit of hindsight, Mollie could see the Lord’s hands and heart in how her life changed and how small miracles occurred to help her keep her faith. One example was when a postman noticed a torn package that happened to be her once-fiancé’s letter returning a precious ring. The postman repackaged this treasure, so Molly didn’t recognize the handwriting and opened the envelope. She would otherwise have avoided anything from Peter as her father required. It brought bittersweet emotions to have the ring back. She didn’t know then how the letter’s arrival was the Lord opening His good treasure.
At 15 or 16, and even now, I find myself anxious about the uncertainty of my path. Maybe you do too. Am I doing God’s will? Is pleasing our parents more important than pleasing our own families? Mollie struggled with these issues even after she married and was the mother of eight. Mollie’s challenge in Beneath the Bending Skies intersects with my life and I hope with yours. Her journey reminds me of that promised treasure. God always gives a hopeful ending. It just may take a little time for us to recognize the season similar to Mollie Sheehan Ronan who had to wait to discover her treasure.
About the Author
Jane Kirkpatrick has written 40 books, mostly historical novels based on the lives of actual women. She’s a New York Times bestselling author and mental health professional. She’s won numerous awards including the Wrangler from the Western Heritage and Cowboy Museum, the Carol, the WILLA and the Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. She lives with her husband Jerry, dividing her time between Oregon and California.
About the Book
Mollie Sheehan has spent much of her life striving to be a dutiful daughter and honor her father's wishes, even when doing so has led to one heartbreak after another. After all, what options does she truly have in 1860s Montana? When romance blooms between her and Peter Ronan, Mollie may soon find that someone far greater than her earthly father is in control of the course of her life.
Did You Know?
Throughout the year, people are affected by storms in every season, ranging from hurricanes to tornadoes, floods to blizzards. As noted by the National Hurricane Center, hurricane season officially begins on June 1 with the end of the season coming on November 30. As the Hurricane Center says, “The best time to prepare for a hurricane is before hurricane season begins.” With that in mind, here are some suggestions on planning ahead for any storm in life.
Have a plan – By ensuring there is ample supplies and resources should you lose power, you can be prepared if your power is out for a week’s time. Take an inventory of what you have and what you might need to be able to stay in place for a week.
Think about the unthinkable – How will you charge devices? What will you use for cooking? Thinking about the unthinkable ahead of time affords you the chance to look for the items you will need on sale and will keep you from rushing at the last minute to try to locate items in high demand as a storm approaches your area.
Be alert – Many storms form well in advance of their impact on an area. Keep up to date with weather conditions and forecasts.
All of us endure storms, but those who are prepared find safer passage through these guaranteed disruptions in life.
-Andy Clapp, In the Eye of the Storm
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I love shopping in physical bookstores because I know I will always be in good company, surrounded by people like me. People who love books!”
-Kathy Howard, Heirloom