Archives for category: Amish Tips

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Often when we think about the Amish, we think about how they separate themselves from the world. The truth is the Amish also make time to connect. They attend church and activities together. They are also neighbors. They know how to have fun and share their lives.

Here are a few things that the Amish do together. They enjoy:

  • Playing baseball
  • Shopping
  • Quilting bees
  • Baking
  • Off-Sunday visiting
  • Visiting and coffee at homes of friends
  • Work days at the homes of family members
  • Cooking food for weddings together
  • Traveling to the beach or the mountains
  • Sister days
  • Brother days
  • Camping
  • Work picnics
  • Christmas gatherings
  • Weddings
  • Christmas dinners
  • Playing volleyball
  • Fishing

Here are ways you can make time for friends:

  1. Put it on the schedule. Last week John and I met friends for dinner. It took two weeks to find a date, but we did it . . . and we had a great time!
  2. Create a regular event. For years we had a weekly small group that met at our house. Unless there was ten feet of snow or a baby being born, we met. Even though we now live a few thousand miles from those friends, we still remain close because of the time we had together and the memories we share.
  3. Join a group. When I moved to my new town, one of the first things I did was join a Bible Study. I made friends and was able to fill the void left from my move. (And I also enjoyed learning more about God!)
  4. Plan a vacation or a mission trip. Want to go on a trip? Find a few friends to join you. Not only will you enjoy the event, you’ll also enjoy the planning.
  5. Have an open heart. When I pray and ask God who I need to be a friend to today, He always puts someone on my mind. The best way to make a friend is to be a friend.

How about you? What do you do to connect?

—Tricia Goyer

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I became a blood donor when I was sixteen. I remember my mother coming home with “Be nice to me, I gave blood today” stickers on her shirt. She donated blood for the boy who lived next door to us. His name was Jimmy, and he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was little. Tragically, Jimmy passed away in 1977, when he was only ten years old. I began to give blood in memory of him as soon as I was old enough to donate. I’m also registered to donate bone marrow in memory of Jimmy, and I hope someday I can help someone like him by giving my bone marrow.

I am a member of the blood drive committee at where I work, and I run blood drives at my church. My desire to promote blood donation goes beyond my memories of Jimmy; it’s also because my husband, Joe, has received two kidney transplants. In fact, I donated a kidney through a swap to help him receive his second transplant. On June 14, 2011, I donated a kidney to a woman, who was a stranger, and in exchange, her husband gave a kidney to Joe. We met the other couple after our transplants, and we’re now close friends.

Kidney disease has been a black cloud over our lives since Joe was first diagnosed in 2000. He spent a year on dialysis before receiving his first kidney transplant from his brother in 2004. Unfortunately, his first transplanted kidney only lasted four years, and Joe went back on dialysis in July 2008. Since he had rejected a kidney, his body had built up antibodies, making him difficult to match. My donating a kidney was his best chance of receiving one from a matching donor.

Joe’s illness was difficult for our sons, who are 13 and 8. There were days when Joe was too ill to spend time with them. Aside from the emotional toll of Joe’s illness, we also suffered from financial worries. Since Joe was only well enough to work part-time, I carried the financial burden by working full-time and also writing novels.

Donating a kidney was rewarding for me. Not only did I save Joe’s life and my recipient’s life, but it made an impact on our children. Once the surgery was over, the most exhilarating moment for me was when I spoke to my younger son on the phone, and without any prompting he said, “Mommy, I’m proud of you.”

While Joe was on dialysis and awaiting his second transplant, he was very ill, and he received six units of blood within six months. After his transfusions, I was inspired to share our story. I contacted a member of the blood drive committee at my job and asked if I could compose an email to share with all employees to recruit more people for the bi-monthly blood drives. Not only did I send out the email, but I also joined the blood drive committee.

Blood donation is one of my passions, along with organ donation. I’ve experience first-hand how blood donation can save a life, and I’m determined to encourage others to donate blood. I’m also sharing our kidney transplant journey in my memoir, A Gift of Love, which will be available in March 2014.

By advocating for blood and organ donation, I feel I’m illustrating one of my favorite scripture verses, Matthew 5:16–“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.

Did you know:

  • The primary users of blood products are:  Cancer, Cardiac and transplant patients
  • Cancer patients may use up to 16 units platelets each week
  • Heart transplant patients may use 2-4 units of red blood cells
  • Automobile accident victims may use 4-40 units red blood cells
  • 37% percent of the population is able to give blood, but only 6% do!
  • One pint of whole blood can help save as many as 3 lives
  • There is NO substitute for life-saving blood; it cannot be manufactured or recreated
  • Donating blood takes 30-45 minutes and saves at least 3 patients lives

Amy Clipston is the best-selling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple best-seller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. In addition to her passion for writing, Amy is incredibly passionate about blood and organ donation. Her memoir, A Gift of Love, which details her journey as a kidney donor, will release in March 2014. She and her family live in North Carolina and are so grateful for their health and time together as a family. 

DSCN8728The Amish Way – and Longing for Spring

How are you doing? I know many of you are caught in the “polar vortex.” As if that weren’t difficult enough, some of us get the winter blues. So what’s to be done about it? You might be tempted to do a little retail therapy (shop shop shop) or eating therapy (munch munch munch), but let’s talk about the Amish Way. What are a few ways the Amish handle the confines of winter, and how do they prepare for spring?

  1. Don’t fight the cold. Accept it as the natural rhythm of the seasons. There are things to be done during the winter months, and I’m thankful that the Lord gives us this time of year to take care of business–mending clothes, tidying up closets, cleaning places that are usually neglected. You may be “stuck” inside, but use the time wisely and be grateful for it.
  2. Plan your garden. Most of us don’t have a garden as big as those found on Amish properties, but we can still plan our gardens. Maybe you’re going to grow vegetables on a patio, or maybe you have a window box that you’d like to clean off and add some plants. Whatever your situation, go on-line and find a seed catalogue. Begin planning your garden now. Just looking forward to the days of spring can raise everyone’s mood.
  3. Step outside. There is beauty, even in winter. The Amish certainly don’t button up and stay inside for 4 months. Yes, you probably want to wait until the blizzard has passed. And you don’t want to walk when there’s ice on the sidewalk. But a sunny day will pop up eventually. When it does, put on a hat, scarf, and gloves and head outside. Even a few minutes in the sun can dispel the winter blues.
  4. Encourage someone else. Write a card, pick up the phone, step next door for a visit. Encourage someone around you during this season. It’s easy to feel isolated, but we’re called to care for one another. Reach out to a neighbor, friend, or family member.
  5. Search for verses in the Bible that speak to the seasons. I found this in the book of Psalms, chapter 74, verses 16-17:

The day is yours, and yours also the night;
you established the sun and moon.
It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.

One of the things I most admire about the Amish is how they accept the rhythms of life. They don’t seem to struggle against it as I sometimes do. And there are things we can learn from their quiet, peaceful existence. Winter does not last forever. Before we know it, the new fawns will be born, the grass will once against sprout up through the winter leaves, and we will enjoy the blessings of spring. Until that time, I pray that this winter will be a time of grace for you and your loved ones.

Blessings,

Vannetta Chapman

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Too often we rush through life. We speed through our neighborhoods and cities without truly seeing what we’re passing. We don’t have time for friends, and because of that when we truly need a friend no one is around. In the Amish community, travel is done at the speed of a buggy. They attend church with those who live closest to them. They help a neighbor, knowing they will have a day when help is needed. And because of that, peace comes. It’s peaceful to wave at a friend as your buggy travels past her home. It’s even more peaceful knowing that your friend has your back.

What inspiration can we get from the Amish to live a slower and more peaceful life?

Decide what’s important.

Make a list of three things important to your family, your job, and in your life. Years ago my husband and I decided to make dinnertime a priority. We gather our children (and sometimes friends) around the dinner table nearly every night. We protect our evenings. We don’t sign up our kids for many activities because knowing the people around the dinner table is more important. What is important to you? Too often we fill our days with too much and because of this we are always in a hurry. When you focus on the most important things you’ll give up much busyness.

Do less each day (yet invite others to join you).

Efficiency and accomplishment are prized in our society, but crossing off a to-do list isn’t as meaningful as connecting with others. The Amish appreciate family farms because they’re able to work side-by-side with their children. Even preschoolers are taught how to work and have responsibilities. Mothers don’t hurry through a chore. They do it at child-speed, knowing that their child’s help will someday lighten their load. The Amish also gather for tasks, such as canning, cooking, and quilting. They focus on one big thing and do it together. This brings peace to their schedule and their hearts.

Simplify your choices.

The Amish wear the same type of clothing. They don’t fill their lives with media entertainment. They cook the same recipes that their parents and grandparents cooked, which means they don’t waste time trying new things. It takes time to make choices, to try new things, and to follow the latest fads. Instead, pick fashion based on function rather than fads. Make a small list of favorite recipes. Spend time with a few favorite books. You’ll be surprised by how much time you’ll find!

Be thankful.

Instead of being busy trying to get more things — or feeling anxious by what we don’t have — thankfulness brings an inner joy. Today try a new phrase, “I have all I need, and I thank God for that.” God has given us so much, and when we take time to thank Him peace comes.

—Tricia Goyer

See the original post here.

It’s not technically new years, but I get excited about these things.

I ADORE new years–new calendars, new journals, a fresh start. A new year always seems like a shiny new bobandvpenny to me. And though I’m now in my 50s, I still have some of the same resolutions I had as a young woman: to read my Bible more, to exercise more, to slow down, to spend more time with my family.

This year I’ve added a new resolution to this list, and I think it comes from my time spent with the Amish. Sometimes when I research books and visit Amish communities, some of the things I do seem foolish. Even though I live in a small town, I still manage to get caught up in our fast-paced society. I still sometimes mix up my priorities.

So this year my resolution is to keep things simple. Sounds easy, right? But how do we do that? One thing I’m going to do is stop tracking stuff. I don’t know how this started. First I tracked the books I read and the books I wanted to read. Then I started tracking the craft projects I finished. Before I knew it I was tracking how much I exercised and of course the number of calories I consumed. That might be okay, but I extended it to how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates I had each meal. See what I mean about silly? How much time a day do I spend writing down all that stuff or logging it onto my iPhone? Isn’t there a simpler way?

Perhaps I could just “do the right thing.” If I feel hungry, do the right thing–eat an apple. If I am trying to choose between a half hour television show or a half hour walk, do the right thing–walk. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. Does it?

I like charts, and I like tracking! But I also like to have more time, and I think this year I can make daily choices that are good for me.

What about you? Any plans for the new year?

Blessings,

V

 

5 Steps to A Simple Christmas

Some days I think I have the best job this side of the Mississippi–okay, BOTH sides of the Mississippi. I get to sit at my desk and make things up all day, and 2 of my 8 books have 616been about Christmas. I love researching Christmas! For me, Christmas has always been a special time of family and worship, and so these two books, A Simple Amish Christmas and The Christmas Quilt, have been particularly close to my heart.

But how do you keep Christmas simple in our day and age? It’s easy to say “remember the reason for the season” but it’s hard to find the time to do that! So many times when I’m with an Amish family or researching about the Amish, I think “I want to be like that.” But it’s hard. Our lives are pretty fast-paced and not simple. Changing those things isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it’s impossible. But I do think I’ve learned a few ways to simplify the Christmas holiday.

  1. It’s not the gift. It REALLY isn’t. I’m thrilled when my grown children hand me and my husband a gift, because it means they took the time to think of us. But I don’t care at all what they’ve given. I’m so happy to see them for a little while, to have time to spend together. It’s the same when we’re GIVING. You can stop looking for the perfect gift, because it really is the thought that counts.
  2. It’s not the meal. I’m going to admit right now that I love to eat. I especially love holiday meals, but I long ago gave up the idea of hosting the perfect meal. There’s no such thing. With our family, we’re never sure where the meal is going to be. And this year, we’ll be traveling up to see our oldest kids. So we’ll take a sliced ham, a few sides, and a couple of desserts. The food really isn’t the main thing, but I’m so looking forward to seeing them!
  3. It is about the baby. So often, I’ve had the feeling that I “missed” Christmas. There’s this flurry of activity, then a hectic day, and then it’s over! I’m left feeling like a train ran asacover me. In the last few years, I’ve learned to take 10-15 minutes a day to read through one of the gospel accounts of Christ’s birth. It completely changes my perspective.
  4. It’s also about our loved ones. I met a lovely Amish woman who told me she has 42 grandchildren, and they come to dinner every Sunday. Imagine that. When I asked her if she cooked for all those people, she smiled and said, “No. If I did, I wouldn’t have any time to spend with them.” I’ve thought of that so often since. It really is not important if the house is perfectly clean, and its fine to ask folks to bring food and just set out a cold potluck. But spending time with those we love? That’s priceless.
  5. And it’s also about blessing others. As Christians, we are called to be witnesses of Christ’s love and mercy. What better time than Christmas? Leave an extra dollar when you tip, hold the door open for someone, take cookies to your neighbors. You will be amazed at how it blesses you when you take the time to do small things for others.

Christmas isn’t simple; is it? But it doesn’t have to be complicated either. I’m praying that this season you will experience the miracle of Christ’s birth, the joy of His coming to be among us, and the peace of the season.

Blessings,

V

It’s difficult to believe that December is nearly half over, but I’m happy to announce I’m almost done with my “To Do” list. My Christmas cards are written out and mailed, packages are also mailed, the inside of the house is decorated, and almost all of my family’s gifts are purchased. This coming weekend I hope to help my husband decorate outside, and I also plan to finish my shopping. I’ll have time to wrap in the coming week.

This time of year is chaotic and sometimes stressful, but I try my best to enjoy the season. I enjoy watching our four cats play in the Christmas tree, and I love to wrap and mail packages and gifts. I also enjoy seeing Christmas movies and specials on television. I love seeing the old favorites, such as “A Christmas Story,” “Frosty,” and “The Night Before Christmas.” I also Christmas books. In the spirit of old favorites, I thought I’d share my Kauffman Amish Christmas Collection, which includes two novellas based on my Kauffman Amish Bakery series.

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A Plain and Simple Christmas centers around Anna Mae, who doesn’t receive the welcome she expects when she visits her family for Christmas, and Naomi’s Gift re-introduces twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love and has all but given up on marriage and children.

The Making of Naomi’s Gift

My dear friend Lauran deserves the credit for this book! Lauran loved the character of Naomi King in A Promise of Hope and A Place of Peace. When I began brainstorming a concept for the book, Lauran insisted more than once that Naomi needed her own story so that she could find her true love. I’m so thankful for Lauran’s input that I dedicated the book to her.

Here’s an excerpt from Naomi’s Gift:

“Cookies!” Sylvia yelled, trotting toward the steps.

“Yay!” Levina chimed in.

“Wait!” Lizzie Anne called. “You can carry something.” She pulled the covered dishes from the back of the buggy. “Here. Take these.”

The girls took the serving platters and hurried toward the bakery.

“Slow down!” Lizzie Anne called. Shaking her head, she hefted the bucket up from the buggy floor.

Danki,” Naomi said while she and Lilly unhitched the horse. “You take the empty buckets, and I’ll bring the cookies.”

Lizzie Anne started toward the door, carrying the empty buckets that they would fill with cookies. “I’m going to see if Lindsay is here.”

While Lilly led the horse to the pasture to join the other horses, Naomi grabbed the bucket of cookies and started toward the stairs. A sign on the door said, “Bakery Closed at 4 p.m. for Private Party.”

Lilly fell in step beside her. “Smile, Naomi,” she said as they approached the door. “It’s Christmas.”

Plastering a smile on her face, Naomi yanked the door open and stepped into the bakery. The room was rearranged with a long line of tables placed in the center of the room with piles of cookies lined up from one end to the other. The counter was filled with a variety of covered dishes, which Naomi assumed were desserts other than cookies. Women and girls of all ages were gathered around the table while chatting. Naomi inhaled the delicious scents of cookies, cakes, breads, and casseroles.

“Naomi!” Susie yelled as she ran over and reached for the bucket. “Can I help you?”

Naomi couldn’t stop the smile forming on her lips. “Hello, Susie.” She handed the little girl the bucket. “Are you certain you can lift this? It’s sort of heavy.”

“I got it.” Susie huffed and puffed, but she couldn’t lift it.

Grinning, Naomi grabbed the handle. “Let me help you.”

“That’s a good idea. We’ll work together.” Susie put her little hand on the handle next to Naomi’s, and they lifted it together. Walking slowly, they moved over to the table.

“On three, we’ll dump the cookies,” Naomi said. “One, two, three!”

They dumped the cookies onto an empty spot on the table.

“Team work,” Susie said with a smile.

Elizabeth Kauffman stepped to the center of the room and clapped her hands. “Hello everyone!” she said. “I’m so glad you all could come to our cookie exchange. I’m sure you all remember the rules. We’ll file around the table and fill our buckets until all of the cookies are gone.” She motioned toward the counter behind her. “And then we’ll enjoy our delicious desserts. Frehlicher Grischtdaag!

Chattering and laughing, the women and girls lined up around the table.

Susie looked up at Naomi. “Can I help you get cookies?”

Naomi’s heart warmed. “I would love it,” she said.

Susie beamed and held up the bucket. “I’ll get us the best cookies.”

Touching Susie’s shoulder, Naomi smiled. “That sounds wunderbaar gut.”

As they moved around the table grabbing cookies, Naomi wondered why Susie had latched onto her when there were a host of other women and Susie’s cousins in the room. And would Susie’s father approve if he saw Susie with her? Her thoughts turned to Susie’s father and she wondered what he was doing while they filled buckets with cookies.

The Making of A Plain & Simple Christmas

The idea for A Plain & Simple Christmas came to life during a visit to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Sue Brower, my editor at Zondervan, and I were sitting in her room at the Creekside Inn, located in Paradise, and we were talking about my upcoming book projects and deadlines. Sue suggested that I write a story about a shunned Amish woman who wants to come back to Lancaster to visit her family for Christmas. The story grew from there, and I’m very thankful to Sue for suggesting the concept. The story is dedicated to my godparents, Joe and Trudy Janitz, whom I miss dearly.

Here’s an excerpt from A Plain & Simple Christmas

Anna Mae and Kellan walked up the front path toward David and Kathryn’s farmhouse that evening.  She grasped his hand and stopped him before they reached the door.  “Let’s wait a minute before we go in.”

“You look beautiful.”  He brushed a lock of hair back from her face.  “You have nothing to be nervous about, Annie.  They’re your family, and Kathryn invited you to come.”

“Thank you,” she said.  “Now, you remember that Amish Christmases are different from English Christmases.  They don’t put up a tree or include Santa.  They may do a little bit of decorating with poinsettias and candles, but you won’t see any Christmas lights.  To the Amish, it’s more about family and the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, not Santa and gifts.”

Kellan nodded toward the house.  “I remember that.  You’ve explained it to me before.”

“And they have First Christmas and Second Christmas,” she continued, ignoring his grin.  “In our family, we received our gifts on Christmas morning.  My mother set up the table especially for the kids, and it was called the Christmas table.  She put our names by each place setting and placed our gifts on the plate.  We visited our extended family on Second Christmas, which was the twenty-sixth, and shared a huge meal,” she said.  “It was so much fun playing with all of our cousins.  My grandparents would give each of us a little gift, like candy.  But each Amish family has its own traditions.  Since the families are so large, they have to plan when to get together and some have their Christmas dinners as early as Thanksgiving.  Others get together on Christmas Eve and others wait until after Christmas.”

“You’ve told me all of this already, Annie.”  He kissed her forehead.  “You’re so nervous that you’re babbling.”

Sticking out her chin, she pouted.  “I don’t babble.”

“Yes, you do, and I think it’s adorable.”  He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close.

Smiling, she swiped a snow flake that had landed on his nose.  “I’m sure visiting with my family won’t be the most exciting way for you to spend a week off work, but it means a lot to me.  Thank you.  Or maybe I should say danki.”

“How do you say you’re welcome?” he asked.

Anna Mae smiled.  “Gern gschehne.”

He pulled her into his arms.  “Gern gschehne.”  He brushed his lips against hers, and courage surged through her.

Danki,” she said.  “I needed that.  Now let’s go see my brother and his family.”  Taking his hand in hers, Anna Mae climbed the porch steps and knocked on the door.

Voices sounded on the other side of the door before it opened, revealing four children, two boys and two girls, staring wide-eyed at Anna Mae and Kellan.  All four were blond like Kathryn.  The girls were miniature versions of Amanda, and the boys reminded Anna Mae of her brother as a child.

“You’re our English aunt!” a little girl said.

Aenti Anna Mae,” the other girl said.

Amanda marched toward them, frowning at her siblings.  “Lizzie, Ruthie, Junior, and Manny,” she snapped.  “Please step back and let Aenti Anna Mae and Onkel Kellan come into the house.”  After the children backed away from the door, she turned to Anna Mae.  “They’re excited to see you.  Please come in.”

Kellan held the door and Anna Mae stepped in.  The warmth from the fireplace seeped beneath her wrap while the aroma of roasted turkey and potatoes caused her stomach to growl.

The children swarmed around her, asking questions and rattling off their names.  Tears filled Anna Mae’s eyes as she spoke with them.  It warmed her heart to be with her family again.

“Anna Mae,” a voice bellowed above the chorus of children’s voices.

Glancing up, Anna Mae found her brother David studying her, his brown eyes glistening.  He looked just as she remembered: he was tall but stocky with his sandy blond hair cut in a traditional Amish “bowl” cut.  His beard had grown longer during the past few years.  Although a few lines around his eyes revealed he was closing in on forty, he still wore youthfulness in his face.

“David,” she whispered, stepping over to him.  “How are you?”

He nodded and gave a little smile.  “I’m gut.  How are you?”

Tears spilled from her eyes.  “It’s so good to see you.”

Ya,” he said, his voice thick.  “It’s gut to see you too.”

Enjoy the season! Merry Christmas!

Amy Clipston is the award-winning author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple best-seller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Her new novel, A Hopeful Heart, released June 2013. She holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats.