My Fascination With The Amish By Sarah Price

PA-Amish-Buggy

Growing up in the 70s (gee! that sounds soooo long ago!), television was limited to a handful of channels and there weren’t that many programs for children. The Internet hadn’t been invented yet and cell phones were decades away from infiltrating our lives. So what did children do in their spare time?

Play and read.

For me, growing up on a small cul de sac with no children in the neighborhood, reading was my refuge. And my favorite books? The Little House on the Prairie series, of course.

In 1978, my grandparents took me on a great adventure. Seated in-between my grandfather and grandmother on the front seat of Pop-Pop’s Cadillac, we drove from Harleysville, Pennsylvania to Lancaster County.

That day changed my life.

You see, forty years ago, the general public did not know much about the Amish. The movie The Witness would not hit theaters for another seven years and the Amish romance genre wouldn’t be discovered for almost twenty years. The fascination with the Amish was limited to surrounding communities and cultural enthusiasts.

For me, a young nine-year-old girl, I immediately fell into the latter category.

There is something magical about a community that is willing to forego the conveniences and trappings of society in order to be closer to God, family, and community. The Amish people live according to their interpretation of the Bible, an interpretation that stresses living plain and simple lives with a heavy focus on honoring God.

My nine-year-old eyes saw horses and buggies, bright colored dresses, one room schoolhouses, and fields full of waving corn crops. I felt as if I had been tossed back in time to the days of Little House on the Prairie.

For years after, I obsessed over the Amish. I ordered every book that I could find from the small, local bookstore. I remember waiting weeks for that phone call that my book had arrived. I’d have to wait, impatiently, for my parents to arrive home and take me over to the tiny mall in Cedar Knolls, NJ so that I could buy my treasure.

My admiration and love of the Amish culture and religion never waned. In 1987, I spent a summer living on an Amish farm in Leola, PA. It wasn’t easy to find a farm that would rent me the dawdihaus. Remember…no cell phones, no Internet. But I managed to find a family that was willing to take me in.

For three years, I spent every free weekend and college break living on that farm. I can still shut my eyes and smell the pungent odor of the sixty dairy cows which, to me, wasn’t offensive but the welcome scent of being at home. I remember attending birthday parties, swim parties, canning bees, family gatherings, and even worship services.

Thirty years later, I’m still friends with that family in Lancaster. Their granddaughter calls me for advice about horses (and tries to finagle her way to come spend the summer with me!!!). And while I don’t visit as often as I’d like, it’s nice to know that I’m still considered family.

I’ve also made new Amish friends in different communities. It’s a humbling experience to be accepted into their circle…not everyone can experience such intimacy with these amazing people.

While I write my novels based on some of my experiences—and I always strive to present an accurate and authentic view of the Amish communities—I will be writing more blogs for Destination Amish in order to share my thirty ears of experience living among the Amish.

I look forward to hearing your questions, reading your comments, and getting to know all of you better.

Sarah Price

P.S. Follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice for my daily live stream videos and Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/sarahpriceauthor to follow my day-to-day adventures.


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Amish Facts and Secrets Day Five by Beth Wiseman

Here are a few random questions that I’ve asked my Amish friends over the years. This doesn’t mean that these answers hold true in every Amish community, in every state, or in every district. I can only tell you what my friends in Lancaster County told me:

1. Do you shop at Wal-Mart? Of course.

2. When is it acceptable to travel by plane? (I’ve seen lots of Amish folks at airports over the years) Yes, plane travel is allowed in an emergency. While the definition of an ‘emergency’ might vary, it’s mostly defined as an illness or funeral.

3. Do you drink alcohol? Some people enjoy an occasional glass of wine, and some abstain altogether.

4. Most Amish authors use the Pennsylvania Dutch word wunderbaar, meaning wonderful. Sometimes, we write wunderbaar gut, meaning wonderful good. Perhaps this word or word combo is spoken in some Amish communities, but in Lancaster County, they giggle and make fun of it, saying they don’t say it, unless they are mocking the fact that the English (as they call us) say it. Hey, I’m as guilty as the rest of the authors out there when it comes to wunderbaar gut. But…most Amish folks don’t actually use the words in the context that we write them.

Ready for a never-before-seen peek at the upcoming novella, A LOVE FOR IRMA ROSE which will be released in the December Amish collection, AN AMISH YEAR?

A LOVE FOR IRMA ROSE

An Amish Year

1957, fifty – three years earlier

Jonas clutched the reins with sweaty hands, his fingers twitching as he waited for Amos Hostetler to blow the whistle, signaling the start of the race. He glanced to his right and scanned the crowd, at least fifteen onlookers—including Irma Rose Kauffman. This buggy race down Blackhorse Road was more than a friendly competition. More than just a group of Amish kids enjoying their rumschpringe on a Saturday afternoon. He peered to his left at Isaac Lapp’s flaring nostrils, knowing that his rival for Irma Rose’s affections wanted to win as badly as he did. Jonas knew that pride was a sin, as Isaac surely did, but when it came to Irma Rose, Jonas figured Isaac’s thoughts were as jumbled as his own. Jonas had been waiting to court Irma Rose for three years, since right after his father died. He recalled the way she lit his soul at a time when his grief threatened to overtake him. And now that she was sixteen, her parents were allowing her a few freedoms. Buggy races were looked down on by the elders in the community, but the young members of the district still gathered at the far end of the road most Saturdays to see who had the fastest horse and buggy.

“That ol’ horse of yours ain’t gonna be able to keep up with Lightning.” Isaac smirked from his topless buggy, the type used for courting. Jonas hoped he never had to see Irma Rose riding alongside Isaac.

“Ya, well . . . we’ll see about that.” Jonas kept a steady hand on the reins while he and Isaac waited for the spectators to start loading into their buggies. They would wait about ten minutes, until everyone reached the finish line down by the old barn at the far end of the King property. Then Amos would blow the whistle to start the race.

Jonas sat taller, raised his chin, and tried to ignore that his own horse chose this moment to relieve himself. Bud was a fine animal. And fast. But Bud pooped more than any other horse around, and always at the wrong time, as if he was showing off. Or just trying to irritate Jonas.

Luckily the whistle blew before Isaac had time to make a joke, and Jonas slapped the reins.

“Ya!” Within seconds, he was several yards ahead of Isaac, squinting as the late-afternoon sun almost blinded him. But he kept pushing Bud, anxious to see Irma Rose standing at the finish line, hopefully cheering him on.

Competition was against the Ordnung and everyone knew it, but there was a certain thrill about being victorious, even though deep down, Jonas knew God wouldn’t approve. As he crossed the finish line two buggy lengths ahead of Isaac, God wasn’t the one on his mind. As he pulled back on the reins, he looked to his right, searching the crowd standing in the grass on the side of the road.

Bud was completely stopped—and relieving himself again—when Jonas finally located Irma Rose.

Even though the women in his district all dressed similarly, Irma Rose was easy to spot. She was tinier than most of the women, with dainty features. Loose tendrils of golden hair framed her face from beneath her kapp, and if a man was lucky enough to attract her gaze, he could feel her green eyes searching his soul. Even though she was petite and flowerlike, she had the perfect balance of femininity and strength. But she wasn’t even looking toward the road. Instead of watching Jonas whup Isaac in the race, she was standing way off to the side of the crowd, smiling and seeming to enjoy the company of someone who threatened Jonas’s potential courtship with Irma Rose way more than Isaac or anyone else. Jake Ebersol.


 

Beth WisemanBeth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. Having sold over 1.3 million books, her novels have held spots on the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) Bestseller List and the CBA (Christian Book Association) Bestseller List.

She was the recipient of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011 and 2013. She is a three-time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and an INSPY Award winner. In 2013 she took home the coveted Holt Medallion. Her first book in the Land of Canaan series–Seek Me With All Your Heart–was selected as the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. Beth is contracted with HarperCollins Christian Publishing into the year 2018, and she has published twelve novels and nine novellas to date.

Preparing for Winter By Adina Senft

Recently I visited Lancaster County in early November, where it happened to be a sunny week before the snowstorms began. One of the highlights of my husband’s and my visit was to have supper with an Amish friend and her family, who were busy with the last of the jobs that had to be done before the snow flew.

In my Healing Grace series, which is centered on a woman’s story and therefore women’s work in the home, I enjoy showing the preparation for winter on the page. This involves weeks and weeks of canning and preserving fruit and vegetables, stretching from midsummer to the last of the potatoes in the fall. The bounty of the Amish garden during the summer, with all its color and exuberance, is transformed into bounty in the pantry, with rows and rows of jewel-like canning jars. The Amish fraa’s pantry is huge, and organized carefully so that it’s easy for her to find what she needs to feed her family, from pickles to beets to carrots, and cherries, rhubarb, and applesauce.

Amish canning

Outside, during the waning days of autumn, the Amish man is not finished with his chores, either. One of these jobs is preparing feed for the cattle, or “silage.” After the corn is harvested and stored in big bins, nothing is wasted. The cornstalks and leaves are mowed down, chopped up, and used as feed too. Up in the barn, the children showed me the racks of sprouts under their lamps and misters, which are added to the silage each day to provide needed vitamins and nutrients for the cattle.

Amish Corncrib

silage

Out in the fields, a look in any direction will find an Amish man and his boys driving a six- or eight-mule hitch, plowing the last of the plants under to provide fertilizer for the next sowing in the spring. Likewise, in the garden, his wife and daughters sow silage radishes, which have lots of nutrients in their leaves and are hardy enough to survive a Pennsylvania winter. The following spring, these are turned under to provide a natural fertilizer for the garden.

field

The turning of the season from autumn to winter is beautiful in its own way, and added to that beauty is the hard work and foresight of the Amish farm family, whose skill and love for the soil produce satisfaction and a quiet joy in bringing glory to God.


Adina Senft grew up in a plain house church, where she was often asked by outsiders if she was Amish (the answer was no), she made her own clothes, and she perfected the art of the French braid. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches as adjunct faculty.

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