Wanda’s Journal

In Secret

Shortly before Christmas last year, my husband and I wanted to do something special to help someone we knew of but didn’t know personally. However, we wanted to do it secretly, without that person knowing who had given them the gift.

Even though we will probably never know their response, or how much they may have appreciated the deed, it blessed us to be able to do something for someone in secret.

In Matthew 6, verse 3 (NIV), it speaks of giving in secret: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”

Have you ever done something to help someone without them knowing it was you? How did it make you feel? Have you ever received help or a gift from someone secretly? How did you respond to it?

Five Points of Amish Parenting

Amish parents feel it’s important to teach their children about God. An Amish child begins attending church with his family from the time he or she is a baby. At home, families have a time of devotions, so the children have plenty of exposure to the Bible and God’s teachings. Prayers are said, and Scripture is read in every Amish schoolhouse. Amish parents feel accountable to the Lord for the spiritual upbringing of their children.

Amish parents have an obligation to teach their children the importance of respecting others. I have visited many Amish homes and Amish schools, and have observed the children, and how they related to both adults and children. An Amish child is taught by his parents, as well as the school teacher, to be polite and have respect. While Amish children are not perfect, and they sometimes have disagreements with their siblings and peers, they are expected to behave in an orderly manner. Amish children are also taught that the Bible says we are to love one another.

Amish parents teach their children responsibility. As soon as an Amish child is old enough to understand and carry out directions, they are given small chores to do. As they grow older, their responsibilities increase, so by the time they graduate from the eighth grade, they are able to learn a trade and get a job. Many non-Amish businesses hire Amish employees because they know the Amish are hard workers, who will be honest and dependable.

Amish parents teach their children obedience. From an early age, Amish children are taught to respect and obey their elders. An Amish child is normally quiet and well-behaved in public. I have witnessed many times, while out shopping or in a restaurant, that Amish children do not run around hollering or hiding from their parents, as I’ve seen some “English” children do when they are not taught obedience.

Amish parents teach their children the importance of their heritage. Amish roots come from the Anabaptist faith, and Amish parents know the importance of teaching their children about the martyrs of old, who kept true to their faith, despite persecution. Reminders of their heritage are preached regularly in Amish church services, which take place bi-weekly in church members’ homes, barns, or some other outbuilding large enough to accommodate a large group. Many of the hymns that are sung during the 3-hour services are reminders of what their Anabaptist ancestors went through in or to preserve their faith.

Is there something special about your heritage that your children or grandchildren are being taught?

Five Points of an Amish Marriage

Amish rules allow people to marry only a member of the Amish church. When an Amish couple gets married they are expected to stay married for life. Divorce is not acceptable, and if an Amish church member should get a divorce (which is not nearly as common as among those who aren’t Amish) they would have to leave the Amish faith, which would result in them being shunned. The spouse of the one who gets the divorce would not be allowed to remarry. The consequences of divorce among the Amish might seem harsh from an outsider’s point of view, but I believe that knowing divorce is not allowed in their church causes Amish couples to strive harder to get along and work through their problems. Some, who are experiencing marital difficulties, will seek help through their church leaders or from a Christian counselor.

In many Amish homes, where a couple is raising a family, only the husband will work outside the house, while his wife takes care of the children and does the household chores. Some Amish women, however, run a business from their homes or in a building on the same property, allowing them to be close to home and their family, while helping with the finances. In the case where there are no children at home, a wife may work outside the home at a job in a nearby town, or they may run a business that is not on their property.

An Amish man is the head of the home, but most Amish women have an equal say in many things, including making decisions that will affect their future. Most Amish men share in the responsibility of caring for the children. I have seen many Amish fathers in church, holding their small children. Amish couples work together to share the load. Some Amish women can be seen helping their husbands in the fields, and some men help their wives with yard work and household chores.

The Amish love to have fun, laugh, and tell jokes, and this helps to keep their marriage strong. A good sense of humor can be a buffer during difficult times, and life is always more enjoyable when one finds something positive to smile and talk about. The strong faith in God that a couple shares also helps to keep their marriage strong. Looking to God for guidance, and praying about things can help a couple through trying times.

Most Amish couples have outside interests. The women are often involved in quilting, crafts, artwork, gardening, and many other creative things. The men frequently meet their friends or family members for coffee and to visit and catch up with local news. Many Amish men like to fish and hunt. Amish couples enjoy getting together with their friends for indoor and outdoor games, such as volleyball, baseball, horseshoes, and shuffleboard. Many Amish couples enjoy traveling and will go on trips, either just the two of them, or with family or friends. A change of scenery, and doing fun things together, can help strengthen a marriage.

If you are married, is there anything special you do to strengthen the relationship between you and your spouse?

The Value of Reading

One thing I’ve noticed about most of my Amish friends is that they like to read. Many of them have said they enjoy reading because it takes them to places they’ve never been able to visit.

Reading is also a good way to relax, not to mention the opportunity to learn new things. So when you read one of my novels, I hope you will allow yourself to be drawn into the lives of my Amish characters and learn more about the Amish way of life. My husband and I have many good friends in several Amish communities, so I always try to portray them as accurately as possible.

Which of my books is your favorite and why? Is there anything new you would like me to write about?

New Beginnings

Many people look at a New Year as a time to start over. They might make resolutions or come up with a plan to try something new. However, we don’t need a New Year to start fresh. The glory of every morning is that it offers us the chance to begin anew.

We might choose to change the way we eat; make more time for exercise; take time out of our busy schedules to enjoy our friends and family; or read our Bible regularly.

Have you made any resolutions for the New Year? Do you have a plan for sticking with them? I heard an old saying the other day that might help. “If you’re looking to make a new start, ask God to change your heart.”

Christmas in Amish Country

At Christmastime there are no decorated trees or blinking lights adorning Amish people’s homes. They do, however, make special cookies and candies as part of the holiday activity. Some Amish will string the Christmas cards they receive around a room in their home, or may set out some candles and greenery. On Christmas Eve, the school children put on a program for their friends and family at the schoolhouse, where they share poems, recitations, and songs. The scholars will often exchange gifts with others in their class. On Christmas morning, the Amish gather with their families for devotions, and then the children open their gifts. In the afternoon the Amish get together for a big family meal. If Christmas Day falls near the end of the week, some church districts will hold their services on Christmas morning instead of the usual Sunday service.

Below is a recipe for a delicious dip that can be served during the holidays. One of my Amish friends shared it with me. It’s delicious, and I hope you will enjoy it too.


1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons salad dressing
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium cucumber, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
1 round tablespoon onion, chopped

In a mix bowl stir together the cream cheese, sour cream, salad dressing, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the cucumber, green pepper and onion. Refrigerate for two hours before serving. Serve with your favorite crackers.

What is your favorite Christmas recipe?

Thanksgiving in Amish Country

Thanksgiving is a time when Amish people celebrate with their family, and sometimes friends and neighbors.
While there are many different Amish communities, most celebrate Thanksgiving in a similar way.
After sharing a big meal with all the traditional trimmings, Amish families may play games and engage in conversation. There is no TV to sit and watch, like many English people do, and no one communicates with others via text or social media.

Some of my readers have asked if the Amish do devotions on Thanksgiving Day. I can’t say whether all Amish people do, but those I know personally do their devotions daily. They want to express their gratitude to God for all He has given them, and by reading their Bible and praying, they draw closer to Him.

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving at your house? What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving Day foods?

Keeping True

One of the things I most admire about the Amish way of life is the dedication they have for keeping true to their faith. While the Amish and other Plain groups would be the first to admit they aren’t perfect, their modest way of life and deep faith in God provides us with a model of how we might simplify our own lives in order to live better, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The Amish way of life offers us ideas on how to live a slower-paced, satisfying life, with less dependence on modern things, and more emphasis on God, family, and friends.
I’ve had many personal experiences with the Amish since I began writing. Our time spent together has not only drawn me closer to the people I’ve come to know and love, but it’s given me a deeper understanding and appreciation of God’s amazing love. My Amish friends have inspired me to live my life a little more simple, while keeping true to the things that have eternal value.


A few weeks ago, four of our dear Amish friends came by train to visit our home. They stayed with us for five days, and we wished they could have stayed longer. In addition to their humor and pleasant attitudes, I couldn’t help but notice their humbly spirits. Instead of concentrating on themselves, they looked to the needs of others.

The Amish culture is embedded in the German word “Gellassenheit,” which means yielding to a higher authority and becoming a humble person. The Bible teaches us to be clothed with humility. That means we are to wear it all the time so that others may see Christ living in us. Humility isn’t just about not bragging; it’s about being willing to do the most menial tasks. It’s about serving others, and thereby serving the Lord, without needing any recognition. The humility and willingness to help I saw in my Amish friends encouraged me to wear the clothes of humility, too.

Do you have friends or family members who appear humble? How does it make you feel when you spend time with them? What are some ways we can practice “Gellassenheit?”

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?