Wanda’s Journal

Trust

Are you a trusting person by nature, or is it something you’ve had to learn? Do you have a sixth sense about when you can trust another person?
The Amish are some of the most trusting people I know. They trust their horses to pull their buggies. They trust their older children to care for the younger ones. They trust God to provide for all of their needs.
When my husband and I visited an Amish schoolhouse for the first time, even though the teachers had never met us, they trusted us to come in peace. In fact, we were welcomed into their classroom.
The truth is, there are some people we cannot trust. However, God wants us to trust Him in all things. He is our fortress, our shelter in the time of storm. Are you able to lay your worries and cares aside and trust that the Lord will see you through anything life throws at you?
In Numbers 6:25 we are told that the Lord makes His face shine upon us. Knowing that God is always with us, and that His face is actually shining on us, should give a sense of security and trust, even in the most frightening circumstances. A calm mind and a confident heart are available to every believer. Ask God to teach you to trust Him more and help you to relax in Him. How have you learned to trust God in your life?

Helping Others

In my novel, A Cousin’s Challenge, which was set in Indiana, some people in Jolene’s family saw her deafness as a handicap.
One of the best ways to help others with physical limitations is by encouraging and allowing them to do as much as they can on their own. I knew a young woman once who had cerebral palsy. She wanted to teach a Sunday school class at our church, and so the men of the church carried her wheelchair to the basement every Sunday so she was able to teach her young students.

I have an Amish friend who is partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. He doesn’t see himself as disabled and even holds down a fulltime job. Another Amish friend is blind, but she also has a job and it makes her feel useful, as well as providing additional income for her family.

From your personal experiences, what are some ways you have discovered that can help others who have physical limitations see that they can live useful lives?

The Importance of Sharing

The other day a young girl gave me a special dessert she had made. She and her mother had even altered the recipe to fit my gluten-free diet. The cake was delicious, and receiving it made me feel loved and appreciated. So today, I’d like to share a yummy recipe with you. It’s taken from my novel, Lydia’s Charm.

Do you have a special recipe you would like to share? Or perhaps just leave a comment about some special gift someone gave you recently and how it made you feel.

Lydia’s No-Crust Apple Pie

1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
2 medium apples, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. In mixing bowl, beat egg and add remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread into greased pie pan and bake for 30 minutes or until apples are soft.

Love is the Key

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, as well as my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. I’m reminded of a little song that my ventriloquist figure, Randy Right, sometimes sings when we are performing. It’s entitled “Love is the Key.” The words to the song go like this: Love, Love, Love is the Key. . . Love, Love, Love is the Key, The key for you and the key for me. . . Love, Love, Love is the Key.

How great would our world be if everyone loved each other and we showed it through our words and deeds? Although we have no control of how others treat us, we can control the way we treat each other. Are there some special ways you can show love to your family, friends, or even strangers?

Showing love to others can certainly be the key to happiness and peace.

Forgiveness

What would happen if you found out someone has been impersonating you?

In my novel, The Forgiving Jar, which releases next month, Sara Murray had never met her mother’s parents and was surprised to learn after Mama’s death that her grandparents were living in Pennsylvania. When she is finally able to make the trip to meet them, and discovers they are Amish, Sara is shocked to learn someone else has been living with them and pretending to be her. Sara can’t understand how quickly her grandparents are willing to forgive the imposter.

Secrets and deceit seem to follow Sara, and she is so tired of it. Though soon, she meets Brad Fuller who is visiting her grandparents during Christmas. She likes him a lot, but when she is not totally honest with him, he pulls away from her.

Struggling, Sara finds an old canning jar hidden in the basement of her grandparents’ home that is full of encouraging prayers. Can Sara find a way to forgive the past and move on to building new relationships?

Has someone you know refused to forgive you for something you may have said or done to hurt them? Or is there someone who has hurt you in the past that you need to forgive? What better way to begin the New Year than to start it with a forgiving heart?

Christmas Traditions

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. The school children also put on a Christmas 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 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.

In our “English” home we also have some special Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve, after sharing a simple meal with some of our family members, we attend the candlelight service at our church, which includes singing Christmas Carols. When the service is over, we return to our son’s home to open gifts and enjoy some snacks or sweet treats. My husband and I usually host Christmas dinner in our home, and he enjoys cooking a turkey or ham. The decorations, tasty food, and gift-giving is secondary to the true meaning of Christmas, however. Focusing on the knowledge that God sent His only Son to earth as a gift for all who would believe on His name, is the best Christmas tradition of all.

What are some ways you and your family celebrate Christmas? Do you have any special traditions?

Thanksgiving Traditions

Most people have a special Thanksgiving recipe or holiday tradition, including the Amish. One tradition my father passed on to me was how to make a savory dressing to stuff inside the turkey before baking. My mother taught me how to make pumpkin and apple pies, which were also delicious. Today I would like to share one of my Amish friend’s special Thanksgiving recipes with you.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

1 cup pumpkin or squash, cooked
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons flour
4 eggs yolks
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
2 – 9 inch pie shells, unbaked

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, flour, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla together until well blended. Fold in egg whites that have been stiffly beaten. Pour into the pie shells. Bake for 1 hour or until knife that has been inserted in the pie comes out clean. Yield: 2 pies

What is your favorite Thanksgiving recipe, and do you have any special holiday traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation?

Joyful Hearts

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. Recently, we visited some Amish friends in Ohio, and the joyful sound of laughter could be heard all evening as we talked, shared a meal, and sang several songs.
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 smile and laugh about, knowing that focusing on the positive is good for me emotionally as well as physically.
There are times when I might not feel joyful, but if I remind myself to look around, there’s always something to smile about—-a frisky animal, like the squirrel or rabbit who often visit our yard, singing birds, flowers in bloom, tress turning color in the fall, and 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. 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 that bring a smile to your face?

Mistaken Identity

In my recent novel, The Hope Jar, Michelle Taylor takes on the identity of Sara Murray, an elderly Amish couple’s granddaughter. Willis and Mary Ruth Lapp have never met Sara before, and since Michelle resembles their daughter, Rhoda, whom they have not seen since she ran away from home many years ago, they believe the imposter is actually their long-lost granddaughter.

Has anyone you know ever hidden a truth from you or said something hurtful–something you never would have expected? If so, how did it make you feel? Were you able to forgive that person?

What does the Bible teach us about forgiveness?

One thing I admire about my Amish friends is their ability to forgive others who have hurt, or even harmed them. This kind of forgiveness does not come easy for anyone, but with God’s help we can find it in our hearts to forgive anyone who has hurt us physically or emotionally.

“Jesus said, ‘If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.'” Matthew 6:14.

Simple Living

While we can’t all leave our modern way of life and join the Amish faith, the Amish way teaches us to slow down and focus on the important things in life.

Here are some simple living suggestions:

1. The Amish do without electricity and modern technology like television. Why not try turning off the TV and sitting quietly? Or you might go outside and enjoy the sounds of nature. What could be more pleasing than listening to the melody of birds singing or hearing the whisper of the wind as it caresses your face?

2. Since the Amish have no electric dryers, they hang their laundry outside to dry. When you have the time and the weather is nice, try hanging your laundry outside to dry. You’ll not only be saving energy, but the fresh, clean smell will relax your senses.

3. The Amish travel mostly by horse and buggy. They also walk many places, and some ride bikes or scooters. Whenever I ride in an Amish buggy I notice so many things around me. Why not take a leisurely walk in the country, or even a stroll around your neighborhood? It’s amazing how many things you’ll see when you walk instead of ride in a car. The fresh air and exercise is good for you, too.

4. One thing I’ve noticed about most of my Amish friends is that they like to read. Many have often said that they enjoy reading because it takes them to places they’ve never been able to visit. Reading is also a good way to relax. So as you read one of my novels, allow yourself to be drawn into the lives of my Amish characters.

5. At every Amish gathering I’ve ever been to, there’s been a lot of visiting going on. For the Amish, simple living involves spending time with their family and friends. Try visiting with a friend or family member, without the distraction of TV or radio in the background. You’ll be surprised at how enjoyable the conversation will be.

6. My husband and I have had the pleasure of eating in many Amish homes, and the home-cooked meals have always been delicious. Eating out less and fixing more home-cooked meals is a great way to simplify your living. You’ll not only be saving money, but there’s satisfaction in eating a delicious meal that’s been made from scratch.

7. While the Amish do buy some gifts that they give to family and friends, many of the gifts they give are homemade. Rather than buying all your birthday and Christmas presents, why not try making some handmade gift items to give friends and family members? There’s something satisfying about making a gift with your hands.

8. I’m always amazed when I see my Amish friend’s vegetable gardens. Besides the abundant crop that will help feed their family, their gardens are virtually weed-free. One way to live more simply is to grow a garden. If you don’t have room in your yard, you can plant vegetables in pots. Nothing tastes as delicious as fresh, homegrown produce.

9. Since the Amish don’t have electricity, they light their homes with propane or kerosene lanterns. Some also use candles for extra light in their rooms. When you want to live life a little more simply, try turning off the lights and eating a meal with only candlelight. Soft candlelight can be soothing and relaxing.

10. The old saying, “Many hands make light work,” is certainly true among the Amish. At 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. Try getting together with some of your friends or family to do yard or household chores. It will get done much faster, and you’ll enjoy the fellowship that comes with working together.

11. The Amish take part in many volunteer activities. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, many Amish men belong to the volunteer fire department. Many Amish women make quilts and other items to sell at benefit auctions which help people in other parts of the world, like Haiti. After the terrible hurricane that struck Louisiana a few years ago, some of our Amish friends went there to help rebuild. Part of simple living is helping others, so why not devote more time to volunteer activities that involve helping people in need?

12. One of the things that impresses me the most about the Amish is their strong family values. If we want to experience simple living at its best, then we need to reinforce family values and strong family ties. Why not set aside a certain time every week to spend quality time with your family? You might play some games, work on a puzzle, or do whatever you enjoy together.

13. The Amish wear simple, plain clothes, and they wear no jewelry. Many of their clothes are homemade, and they don’t own a pair of shoes to go with every outfit. Buying fewer clothes and unnecessary material things is one way to simplify your living. We can often get by on much less than we think.

14. My Amish friends seem to have a more relaxed attitude than most English people I know. Whenever I’m with them, I feel more relaxed and patient. Try slowing your pace, and don’t be in a hurry to get everything done quickly. You’ll feel calmer and more relaxed.

15. The Amish I know have a time set aside every day for devotions. Even a few minutes in prayer and meditation each day will make you feel closer to God and the world He created.

What are some things you do to simplify your life?