Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin – Mixed feeling but worth hanging in for the themes of grace and forgiveness

I had never read Kelly Irvin’s books until about a year ago.  After reading one of her Amish themed books I loved how she developed the characters and how they grew and changed through the story.  That’s why I was eager to read Kelly’s newest book Mountains of Grace.

Mountains of Grace is different from the other Amish themed books that Kelly Irvin has written.  This novel is set in NW Montana in a community called West Kootenai.  I never knew that there were Amish communities in Montana.  From Mountains of Grace I got the impression that this Amish community, though they lived separate and different lives than the English people, the community seemed to be more closely allied with their English neighbors.

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  It wasn’t until about halfway through that something changed and captured my interest.

I struggled with the two main characters, Mercy, a 22-year-old single Amish school teacher, and Juliette Knowles, her English friend and neighbor.  The two young women couldn’t be any different from one another.  Mercy seemed quite immature especially in the scene when they were fleeing their homes because of a fast-approaching wildfire.  Mercy’s response and that of her younger siblings seemed childish and didn’t demonstrate that they comprehended the seriousness of the situation.  Juliette, on the other hand, seemed to be a vapid, shallow, mouthy gal who wanted attention and would flirt with any male who came nearby.  I didn’t like either Mercy or Juliette.

It wasn’t until about halfway through this book I found someone I liked, Spencer, who was a smoke jumper that was injured at the beginning of the book.  It was his interaction with Mercy that made me pause.  Something about Spencer was honest and he took a liking to Mercy.  It was interesting how their very different characters interacted with one another.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, family, friends, and neighbors of Mercy and Juliette.  I liked Tim, the man who was in love with Juliette.  Why he like her I didn’t understand because Juliette was such a pill.  I appreciated his integrity and his willingness to obey God’s command that he should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.  There some good examples of strong Christian faith.  I loved some of the prayers offered by different characters.

I had a hard time imagining Mercy as a school teacher because of her immaturity and poor decisions that resulted in her being disciplined by the Amish elders.  While it wasn’t made known, I wondered who it was that told on Mercy.  What I did like about Mercy was her boldness and desire to befriend Spencer who was so different the Amish men she knew.

I liked the themes of forgiveness that were lived out by several characters, like Angie, Spencer, Tim.  While it may not be easy, God does command us as believers to forgive those who have hurt and wronged us.

I never fully came to appreciate Juliette.  Her character was very off-putting.  I was glad that she finally disclosed what had happened to her and what caused her to turn from being a nice young lady to someone who was not so nice.  I appreciated that she was a good friend to Mercy and even tried to protect her.

I’m glad I read this book to the end.  It contains some good examples of forgiveness and mercy and God’s abundant mercy towards us as sinners.  It also showed the importance of communicating with one another, even when it’s hard.  It was almost like there were two lines of stories with the Amish and the English characters and a lot going on with multiple characters.

Would I recommend this Mountains of Grace, yes, especially if you are a Kelly Irvin fan or like Amish-themed novels.  It was interesting to learn about the men that put their lives on the line to help protect life and property and put out wildfires in treacherous terrain.

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

A Severe Mercy

When adversity tempts me ask why
Lord, may I instead ask what
What work are You doing in and through these trials

Hard circumstances and difficulties abound
The Lord has allowed, designed and purposed each one
He is using them to accomplish His good work

You help me to see my weakness
Profound needs that only God can meet
I recognize the foolishness in what I once thought was wise

You’ve exposed lies so cleverly disguised as truth
Revealed the brokenness of my heart, mind and soul
The utter depravity of my heart and desperate need for a Savior

All these and more drive me to You, O Lord
The world may be out of my control
But it’s firmly in control in the hands the LORD God

Lord, help me to trust You
To trust Your character
Believe what You’ve revealed about Yourself in Scripture

May I not doubt You O Lord
For You alone are truth and grace
Righteous and just in administering a severe mercy

Susan Wachtel
January 12, 2018

Overriding Love

 

It was the day
God’s love overrode His righteous wrath
Against sinful man

Where He offered me a sinner
Mercy, grace and forgiveness
Called this enemy, His friend

But God’s wrath towards sinful man
Was poured out in full
Against the only begotten Son of God

The innocent Lamb of God
Put on my sin
So that the wrath of God would be satisfied

The Word of God
Fulfilled Scripture that day
Submitting Himself to the Father’s plan


By Susan Bunts Wachtel
February 23, 2010

The Hand of God

It’s a miracle, declares man,
Amazing…that more did not perish.

But from the throne room of heaven,
Our God dispatches a host of angels to carry out His plan.

Just seconds earlier or a few feet further,
The loss would have been unimaginable…incomprehensible.

In the unseen world, legions of angels are dispatched,
Their hour of work is now at hand.

An unseen hand is outstretched,
Braces a vehicle or nudges it just a bit further.

It teeters on a precipice,
Yet it will not plummet into the mighty Mississippi tonight.

He raises up men,
Draws forth courage in those we will soon call heroes.

Untold scores will walk away,
Utter why me and consider God’s purpose and plan.

For those souls called home,
To their appointed time…we pray.

Until we enter heaven’s gates,
The full extent of his mercies will remain unknown.

In God’s hand may we rest securely, ever mindful,
Our divine appointment approaches closer with each passing day.

By Susan Bunts
August 2, 2007

For images of this compelling human tragedy…please see the photo essay at the Minneapolis Star Tribune or Fox News.