Bride of paradise book.., p.1
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       Bride of Paradise: Book 1 in Mail Order Ministers, p.1

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Bride of Paradise:  Book 1 in Mail Order Ministers

Bride of Paradise

Mail Order Ministers Book One

By Katie Crabapple

Copyright 2013 by Katie Crabapple

Samuel, a lonely pastor in Paradise, Texas, writes to the president of the seminary he recently graduated from expressing his need for companionship. Just weeks later he receives a letter from the president's wife and a woman he's never met, informing him a bride has been found. Although uncertain whether he really wants to marry, he agrees, thinking she may be the one God has selected for him. He is hopeful that the woman will be the help-meet God has chosen to lift his lonely heart.

When Kristen meets her future husband, Samuel, they both find the other lacking. Will they be able to get past their first impressions of one another and become an effective team serving God together?

Chapter One

July, 1880

Samuel wandered into his empty parsonage and sat down at the small table in the kitchen. He sighed, wondering what he was going to eat, since none of the ladies of the church had brought him a meal today. It was hard to care what you ate when you were always alone, but Samuel was already too thin and needed to keep up his strength.

Wandering over to the work table he found some leftover bread and a hunk of cheese from the previous night. It would do. He cut the cheese up and sliced the bread. Carrying both on a plate over to the table, he got himself a glass of water and sat down, bowing his head to thank the Lord for his evening meal. “Dear Lord, thank you for this day of life. Thank you for my wonderful congregation who supports me and for this meal that will bring me sustenance. Please Lord, I know this is where you want me to be, but I’m so terribly lonely. If it is your will, please provide a woman to be my wife. I’m not certain how much longer I can remain with this congregation and remain strong without someone by my side. I pray all this in the name of your son, Christ Jesus, Amen.”

He put a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread and ate, frowning down at his sandwich. The cheese was good, but the bread was already a day old, and hard. It was food. He would live. He knew he was just being grumpy, but sometimes it was hard not to be.

When he was finished eating, he stood and washed his plate and the knife he’d used before going to the parlor and sitting at the small desk there. He pulled out a pen and paper. He spent his evenings writing letters to old friends and studying the Bible. He’d write a couple of letters before he immersed himself in the Lord’s Word.

“Dear Albert and Sally, I can’t express how much I miss your smiling faces. I hope things are going well for you at the seminary. I know you’ll have a new class starting in September. I sometimes wish I was still there, enjoying the teachings of the Lord and the wonderful cooking that came with being a student there. I’m a great deal more homesick than I ever imagined I would be while doing the Lord’s work. I need a companion. I should have thought to find a bride before leaving Dallas, but I was certain there would be someone here in Paradise. How can there be no women in Paradise? Well, no women suitable to marry a pastor at least. There are two unmarried women here and both have questionable morals.” He stared down at the words he’d written wondering if he was being too negative. He decided that was enough about his loneliness. “The congregation here is extremely supportive. The good women bring me meals at least five nights per week and I usually get invited to eat with families the other two nights. I know I’m in the place God wants me to be. Thank you for all the support you’ve given me over the years. Yours in Christ, Samuel Benner.”

He sealed the letter and set it aside to take to the mercantile to be mailed the following morning as he walked to the church. He pulled another piece of paper to him and wrote his roommate from seminary, a man he’d become incredibly close to over their years together.

“Dear Charles, I hope you’re enjoying your congregation as much as I enjoy mine. This is the perfect place for me, and I see God’s hand in my placement here every day. I haven’t heard from you in a couple of weeks. Please write and tell me all the news there. I miss your companionship. Yours in Christ, Samuel.”

He put the short letter to his friend with the other and pulled his Bible to him. He flipped to the twenty-third Psalm, which he was planning his sermon around for Sunday, and started making notes on what he wanted to say. By the time he was ready for bed, he had his basic outline done and knew he could finish preparing the sermon in just a few more hours. He smiled happily. It was always good to be get it done so quickly.
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