Wanda’s Journal

Good Medicine

Every time my husband and I have been invited into an Amish home for supper we’ve enjoyed the light banter, joke-telling, and laughter that accompanies the meal. During such a recent occasion, I was asked to do a ventriloquist routine. Since I didn’t have my dummy with me, our Amish hostess brought out a large hand puppet she’d picked up at a yard sale sometime ago. I then put on a short routine that involved the audience in a song the puppet sang. Afterwards, one of the Amish children looked inside the puppet’s mouth and asked what happened to his voice, as it wasn’t there anymore. Everyone had a good laugh over that.
Having grown up in a house where laughter was scarce, I find it refreshing to be with people who like to laugh and have a good time. In fact, I often look for things to laugh about, knowing that laugher is not only good for me emotionally, but physically as well.
There are times when I might not feel like laughing, but if I remind myself to look around, there’s always something to smile about—a frisky pet, singing birds, flowers in bloom, children at play.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 17:22 that a merry heart is good medicine. Just like the birds that sing in my yard, our Amish friends know how to share their joy with others. Make a list of some things that bring a smile to your face. A joyful heart is pleasing to the Lord, and it’s an added benefit to know that it’s good for you, too. What are some things you find to laugh about?

Five Ways to Live Like the Amish Part 5

Build Community: The old saying, “Many hands make light work,” is certainly true among the Amish. At quilting parties, work frolics and barn raisings there’s always more than enough help to get the job done. Even for things like preparing meals, cleaning the house, and doing outside chores, everyone chips in.

If you are trying to incorporate some Amish ways into your life, why not get together with some of your friends or family members to do yard or household chores? It will get done much faster, and you will enjoy the sweet fellowship that comes with working together.

What are some things you have done with the help of family or friends? Did it turn into a time of fun and fellowship, as well as getting a job done?

Five Ways to Live Like the Amish — Part 4

Embrace Entrepreneurialism:

Amish children only attend school through the eighth grade, but the formal education they receive is comparable to a 12th grade education in many public schools. After graduation, Amish young people learn a trade or master a high-quality craft like quilting or furniture making. Once a trade is learned, some young people work for a relative, or someone else in the area running a business they have been trailed in. As they progress, some may start their own business, or even work two jobs. In my six-book Amish Millionaire series, Eustace Byler became wealthy because he allowed oil wells on his property. Surprisingly enough, some Amish people do quite well financially.

The main reason the Amish succeed at what they do is because they are hard-working and reliable at their jobs. They aren’t caught up with TV, computers, or other modern things that would take away from an honest day’s work. They strive to do their best and it shows in the quality of their work.

Do you or someone you know own anything made by the Amish? Have you noticed the quality of the workmanship? How can we teach our English young people to have good work ethics?

Live Like the Amish Part 3

The Amish believe in extending forgiveness quickly. This is a practice they take seriously. An example of this is how an Amish community near Lancaster, Pennsylvania responded in 2006 when a man entered an Amish schoolhouse and shot several children. The media, as well as many people in our nation, were shocked when the Amish forgave the shooter. In that, there is a lesson to be learned. If we don’t forgive, it affects every aspect of our lives. How can we come to a place of forgiveness when someone has hurt us or a member of our family? What does the Bible say about forgiveness?

Live Like the Amish Part 2

Last month I discussed one way we can live like the Amish without having to join the Amish faith. It involved prioritizing faith and family. Today, I’d like to share with you a second way I believe we can live like the Amish.

Make the needs of others a top priority. My Amish friends have a true heart for people. They’re just as busy as we are with life, but when they see a need, they drop everything to respond. I have seen this firsthand many times. The love the Amish show for others draws me back to their commitment of putting God first and then family and friends second. Their desire for people over things is a lesson we can emulate in our culture of excess.

Is there something special you have done for a friend or family member this week? Has someone done something to help you?

Live Like the Amish

In an interview I did a few years ago, I was asked to name 5 ways we could live like the Amish. In this journal entry I will list one way, and in subsequent entries list the other four:

Prioritize Faith and Family: We live in an instant culture, especially due to advances in technology. My Amish friends, however, remain deeply connected to their roots and make faith and family their number one priorities. To them, this means saying no to television, phones in their homes, movies, and other things that can often draw attention away from these priorities. Instead, the Amish fill their lives when not working with fellowship, family fun, nature, and God. Some also enjoy traveling, but of course, that means either hiring a driver or taking a bus or train.

Amish children are taught from a young age to put their focus on God and family and not things of the world. The Amish don’t think electricity is sinful, but it can serve as a temptation to have more or do worldly things. We English may not want to get rid of our TV or phones permanently, but we might consider taking a break from technology from time to time.

Have you given up anything or changed the way you do something to become more like the Amish?

Family Ties

In my novel, The English Son, Joel Byler left his Amish roots to explore the English world and gain modern things. By leaving the faith in the way that he did, Joel hurt his family as well as his girlfriend.

There are many reasons a person may move away from their family, but when they do it in a hurtful manner, or only visit when they want something, it puts a strain on everyone. Bitterness and strife can take root as well.

Have you ever been hurt by a family member who either left home for selfish reasons or only came around when they needed something? How did you deal with the situation? How do you think God wants us to treat wayward family members?

Amish for a Day

I’ve experienced the pleasure of knowing, even in some small way, what it feels like to be Amish whenever I spend time with our Amish friends. A few years ago my husband and I were invited to stay with some of our Amish friends for several days. While we were there, I enjoyed washing the dishes, hanging freshly washed clothes on the line to dry, and helping to cook a meal on a propane-operated stove. I gave up watching TV, curling my hair, working on the computer, and communicating via my cell phone with emails and text messages. Instead, I spent many hours visiting, singing, watching Amish children play, and becoming one with nature. That Sunday, my husband and I attended church with our Amish friends, and rode in their horse-pulled buggy. We may not have understood all the words being said during the three-hour service, but we felt a worshipful spirit as Amish voices were lifted to the rafters in praise to God.

Have you ever tried being Amish for a day, or even a few hours? If so, what did you do and how did it make you feel?

Amish Life

My husband grew up in a Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. Getting to know my Mennonite relatives gave me a sense of yearning for the simpler life. When one of our Mennonite friends introduced us to an Amish man he worked with, my desire went deeper. When I discovered that my great-great grandparents were part of the Anabaptist faith, I realized why I had such a deep yearning to know the Plain People. It wasn’t long after that and we began making friends with many Amish families in several communities across the country.

Back in 1996, I decided to write Amish-themed novels so my readers would have a better understanding of the Amish people and their way of life. What have you learned about the Amish from reading my novels, devotionals, and cookbooks? Have you put any of the Amish ways into practice in your own life?

Forgiveness

In my upcoming novel, The Restoration, the third book of the Prairie State Friends series, Priscilla Herschberger finds herself pursued by Elam, a childhood friend from her community. David, an outsider, raised in the modern world, also takes an interest in Priscilla. Elam would do almost anything to convince Priscilla that David would never fit into the Amish way. When flames of jealousy rage out of control, Priscilla must decide if she will forgive the person who has hurtfully wronged her.

As the year 2016 begins, many people will make one or more New Year’s resolutions. For some, it might involve forgiveness. In Matthew 6:14 (NIV) it says: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Wouldn’t this New Year be a good opportunity to forgive someone who has hurt you by something they have said or done?

When we forgive those who have wronged us, our relationship is often strengthened, or a new friendship can take place. How has someone hurting you affected your life. If you forgave that person, how did it make you feel?