Wanda’s Journal

Amish Quilts

One of the most striking things about an Amish quilt is the use of color. Even though particular colors and color combinations have changed over the years, there’s a sensibility that has lasted over time.

A “Quilting Bee” is usually an all-day occasion, and it’s a time when Amish women get together to quilt and visit. A typical quilting involves anywhere from six to twelve women. The women who sit around all four sides of the quilting frame begin at the outer edge and work toward the center as far as they’re able to reach. When the women working along the top and bottom of the frame have all quilted to their maximum stretch, the clamps at the four corners of the frame are released and the finished sections of the quilt are rolled onto the wood until the un-quilted surface is brought to the edge. For hard-working Amish women, a day of quilting with friends is often seen as a time to refresh and relax.

The Amish not only make quilts for their homes, to give to others, and to sell, but they often make quilts that will be auctioned off at local benefit auctions to help others in need. This is a gift of their time, and in giving, a demonstration of their love for others. An Amish quilt expresses the hard work and determination that all Americans have shown throughout history. Owning an Amish quilt has a special meaning, reminding us that ever since the beginning of their church, the Amish people’s priorities are still the same—God first, and family second.

Do you make anything special to give to charity or someone you know in need?

Contentment

During one of our visits with Amish friends, I observed their children playing together. They weren’t bored and didn’t complain because there was nothing to do. They found enjoyment in simple things like reading, playing a game of ball, petting their dog, riding their bicycles, swinging, and swimming in the pond. They didn’t need a computer or some electronic game in order to have fun. They laughed and talked together and didn’t send text messages in order to communicate.
In our fast-paced electronic age many “English” people don’t take the time to enjoy the simple things life has to offer. We rush from place to place, hurry to complete our tasks, and find that our lives are full of stress and worry. We’ve become exhausted and discontent because we don’t spend enough quality time with our family and friends. Many people strive so hard to get ahead that they don’t see what’s right beside them. Material things don’t bring true happiness, nor do they bring lasting contentment. When we look around at the beauty God created, and find joy in being with those we love, our discontent fades and appreciation sets in.
What are some things you do that bring contentment? Are your children or grandchildren doing things that require electricity or batteries, or do they play simply, much like Amish children do? How can we help the youth of today find contentment in simple things?

Disappointments

In my upcoming novel, The Blessing, Heidi Troyer is faced with an unexpected disappointment. In order to cope, she chooses to teach another cooking class, which she hopes will help to take her mind off the situation.

Life is full of disappointments, but with God’s help we can navigate our way through them. Sometimes the things that disappoint us can turn out to be a blessing.

A favorite verse, found in Psalm 147:3 says: “God healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

What are some ways you deal with disappointments? How do you keep from letting them pull you down?

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?