Wanda’s Journal

Decisions

In my co-authored upcoming novel, The Farmers’ Market Mishap, Elma is faced with some difficult decisions. The love of a man tugs her in one direction, but her responsibilities to her sister, as well as her grandparents’ store, pull her in another, making it difficult to choose.

Sometimes, when we are faced with a decision that could not only affect our life, but someone else’s, we sacrifice our own needs. Other times we might follow our heart, but then live with guilt, believing that we have let one of our friends or family members down.

Have you ever been faced with a decision that could affect someone else’s life, and wondered if it would be better to do what you think is best for them, rather than follow your own desires? What are some things we can do to help us make right decisions when it might affect someone else’s life, as well as our own? When it is it alright to make a sacrifice for others, and when is be okay for us to do what we feel is best for ourselves?

A Simple Life

In my novel, The Seekers, which is book 1 in the Amish Cooking Class series, five people from various walks of life come to Heidi Troyer’s home to learn how to make some traditional Amish recipes. One of these people was Loretta, who was seeking a simpler life for herself, as well as her two children. In addition to learning to cook some Amish dishes, Loretta found other ways to simplify, such as gardening, and hanging her clothes on the line.

Do you long for a simpler life? What are some things you have done to simplify? What are the benefits of living a simple life? Why do you think the Amish have continued throughout the years to keep their simple lifestyle?

Christian Example

Every year I receive many letters and e-mails from readers who say they’ve been influenced in some way by the stories in my books depicting the Amish way of life. In our modern world, where too much emphasis is placed on “things,” many people are searching for something that will offer them a slower pace and help them focus on the important things in life. The Amish and other Plain People have set an example for that, which is why I believe so many people are fascinated with and drawn to their way of life.
Just as the Amish have given us an example for living more simply, every Christian should set an example to the world, showing others a Godly way of life. Letting our light shine so that the world may see our good works will bring glory to God. Remember as you go about your day that you may be the only Jesus some of your friends, neighbors, and family will ever see. What we say and what we do is how we show others that Christ lives in us. We should all want to make a difference in other people’s lives. What are some ways that you might set an example for Christianity this week?

Amish Cooking

A few days ago I finished writing Book 2 in my Amish Cooking Class series. This novel, about an Amish woman who teaches cooking classes in her home, is called “The Blessing.” Several recipes that Heidi Troyer teaches her students are included in the book. My husband and I have eaten many meals in our Amish friends’ homes, and we’ve never been disappointed. There’s no doubt in my mind–most Amish women are excellent cooks. Several Amish friends have shared recipes with me, like the one below. Do you have a favorite recipe you like to fix for family or friends? Feel free to tell about it or share the recipe here.

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

1/2 cup green peppers, chopped
1 pound ground beef, browned
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons
Parmesan cheese
1 pint tomato juice
2/3 cup rice, cooked
1/8 – 1/4 cup brown sugar, or to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and cook until the peppers are done.

My Grandmother’s Quilt

My fascination with quilts began when my mother gave me the old patchwork quilt her mother had made over 85 years ago. Since my maternal grandmother died 6 years before I was born, I never got to meet her. The only link I had to my grandmother was the patchwork quilt.
As a young girl, I would sit on my mother’s bed and study the quilt. I loved touching the oddly shaped velveteen patches, scattered among the colorful cotton and wool pieces of material.
My mother told me that each patch represented a piece of clothing someone in her family had worn. I used to imagine myself sitting on my grandmother’s lap, with the quilt draped over us. What would she have said to me? How would her hugs have felt?
When my daughter got married, I passed my grandmother’s quilt on to her, and someday she’ll pass it on to one of her daughters. Although none of us has had the privilege of meeting Grandma Thiel, her legacy lives on through her beautiful patchwork quilt.
My love for quilts is evident throughout our home. I have several full-sized Amish quilts, as well as some quilted wall hangings, pillows, table runners, and potholders. Whenever I look at any of these quilted items, I think about the labor of love that went into making them, and it gives me a sense of joy and peace.
I’ve mentioned quilts in several of my books. It’s my hope that after reading one of my quilt-themed novels, my readers will not only gain a better understanding of the Amish way of life, but will realize the effort that goes into the making of a treasured Amish quilt.
Have you been given a family heirloom? What special meaning does it hold for you?

Similarities

Having visited the Hawaiian Islands several times, and setting my co-authored novel, The Hawaiian Quilt there, I’ve learned how the Hawaiian people have many similarities to my Amish friends. The Hawaiian people I’ve met are deeply spiritual. They also have strong family ties and values. They enjoy nature and spending time outdoors. For the most part, their emphasis is not on worldly things, but appreciating the simple way of life.

Personally, I would rather spend a quiet day at the beach, or outdoors where it’s green and lush, then go shopping at a crowded mall. I get more excited about finding a pretty shell on the sand than buying an new item of clothing or some trinket I don’t really need. I can relate well to people who like the simple things in life that God created for our enjoyment, because that’s where my heart lies as well.

Are there other groups of people who live similar to the Plain People? What are some similarities between you and the Amish?

By Our Example

Every year I receive hundreds of letters and e-mails from readers who say they’ve been influenced in some way by the stories in my books depicting the Amish way of life. In our modern world, where too much emphasis is placed on “things,” many people are searching for something that will offer them a slower pace and help them focus on the important things in life. The Amish and other Plain People have set an example for that, which is why I believe so many people are fascinated with and drawn to their way of life.
Just as the Amish have given us an example for living more simply, every Christian should set an example to the world, showing others a Godly way of life. Letting our light shine so that the world may see our good works will bring glory to God. Remember as you go about your day that you may be the only Jesus some of your friends, neighbors, and family will ever see. What we say and what we do is how we show others that Christ lives in us. We should all want to make a difference in other people’s lives. What are some ways you might set an example for Christianity today?

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?