Wednesday, June 13, 2018

10 Random Things I Love About the Amish

My husband and I just spent a long weekend in Lancaster County, and as usual we’ve come back with a renewed appreciation for the place and its people. Springtime in Lancaster County is uniquely beautiful, with many fields still being plowed and planted, corn only about knee-high, and flowers just starting to reach their full bloom. Making the idyllic scene even more delightful are the sights of the Amish going about their days, working, playing, and most of all enjoying one another. 

Now that we're back home, I’ve been going through the photos I took while there, and that in turn inspired this list. 

1. ...the way they farm, which turns all of Lancaster county into a beautiful patchwork of fields and crops. Because the Amish don't use modern farming equipment, their fields are smaller and more varied, making for a beautiful and unique agrarian landscape that looks rather like a quilt.

2. Speaking of quits, I love seeing their beautiful handiwork on display!

3. …the fact that they’re almost always barefoot. As an often-shoeless person myself, I totally get why they like to go around that way whenever they can—though this particular sight, which we spotted numerous times during the day, might be pushing it a little too far. Even I wear shoes when I drive!

4. …the way they’re always adding on to their houses as families grow and needs change. This photo shows a perfect example of this practice in action.

From what I can tell, what started here as a single stone house (#1) has slowly evolved into a sprawling 5 (or maybe even 6)-part structure, one that likely houses a wide range of generations all living together. How cool is that?

5. ...the various ways they bring in extra income, especially via roadside stands. You can find these sorts of stands all over the county, some manned and some on the honor system. There they sell not just produce or jams or home-baked goods, as you might expect, but also things like tote bags, potholders, bird houses, and whatever else might catch the tourist's eye.

Handy travel tip: One of the best ways to interact with the Amish in a friendly, nonintrusive manner is

to visit one of their manned roadstead stands, where you can chat with Amish kids and adults alike. Just be sure to buy something while you're there! You'll almost always find them to be polite and friendly, especially the kids, who are extremely comfortable interacting with adults and can deftly handle the business side of things, making change, answering questions, restocking goods, and more. Enjoy!

7. ...what incredibly good cooks they are. Speaking of roadside stands, that's where we got this mini whoopie pie, which was so delicious that we talked with the owner about having a whole bunch made for our daughter's upcoming wedding. (She's thinking about including a "Pennsylvania-centric" snack table at the reception, so whoopie pies should fit right in.) In response to our question, the owner retrieved his own daughter who makes the pies herself–in oatmeal, chocolate, pumpkin, and other flavors–so we could discuss price, timing, etc. Of course we bought a small pack to bring home to our bride-to-be for her to try, and she was on board after the first amazing bite. Yum!

7. ...the German influence of their heritage, which shows up not just in their names but in the names of their businesses and even their roads.

8. ...the many ways they are in the world but not of the world. I try not to be intrusive when taking photos, but when I saw this Amish man waiting to make a left turn, I simply couldn't resist. Here he is surrounded by modern America in all its glory–cars, power lines, traffic rules, etc.–quietly making his way home with just a horse, a buggy, and a good old fashioned left turn hand signal. Love it!

9. ...the ingenious ways they power their devices without using electricity–not to mention the ways they still continue to surprise me at every turn. Take, for example, this humble phone shanty. It sits aside the road and likely serves as the only telephone for several neighboring farms. It probably houses nothing more than a phone, an answering machine, a pad and pen, and perhaps a stool. As with all Amish phone shanties, it seems totally low tech...

...until you spot the other side of the building and realize that the answering machine runs on solar power! 

10. ...the way they work hard...

...and play hard.  

I'm always astounded at the incredible amount of energy the Amish have at the end of a long work day! I guess it just goes to show how physically fit all that activity keeps them.

Any Questions?

If you'd like to learn more about the Amish lifestyle, be sure to check out my nonfiction books, including A Pocket Guide to Amish Life and Simple Joys of the Amish Life (both available through my website) and Plain Answers about the Amish Life (available wherever books are sold). There's so much to learn about their unique beliefs, ways, and lives. And though there are a few elements I'm not crazy about, overall I can't help feeling that there is SO MUCH TO LOVE about the Amish life. I hope you agree!


Support a Great Cause

Did you know that a portion of the proceeds from all of my Amish nonfiction goes to the Caring Fund of Philhaven, which provides mental health care services to the Amish? Here's a brief video about the program:

You can learn more about Philhaven and Green Pastures here.

What's On Your List?

That's it for my list of 10 Random Things I Love About the Amish. How about you? What do you love about the Amish? Tell us in the comments, below!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Giveaway Winners plus Christian Fiction Releases for June

A huge congratulations to the following winners...

WINNER of the Apron and Book:
        Sandy Gay

WINNER of the Poster and Book:
     Debbie Copeland

WINNER of the Potholder and Book:
        Pam Flynn

Winners, please send your mailing address to my assistant at so that she can mail your prize to you. Congrats again–and enjoy!

The Newest Inspirational Novels

Here's your monthly list of new Christian fiction releases. More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Contemporary Romance

The Sleuth's Miscalculation by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Librarian Nancy Daley loves a good mystery and enjoys moonlighting as a consultant for the sheriff’s department. When license plates go missing in Tipton County, she’s on the case. But she’s been partnered with the new deputy, Carter Malone, and he’s not interested in her help. When the minor case they are working morphs into something more, things quickly go from harmless to scary. Can they solve the mystery before it’s too late, and more importantly, what will they do about their growing attraction? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Falling for the Cowgirl by Tina Radcliffe -- Hiring Amanda “AJ” McAlester as his assistant at the Big Heart Ranch isn’t foreman Travis Maxwell’s first choice—but his sisters insist she’s perfect for the job. And AJ’s determined to prove she’s just as qualified as any man. But with money on the line, AJ and her innovative ideas could put him at risk of losing everything…including his heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Enduring Love by Toni Shiloh -- Belle Peterson is hiding a secret. Seeking sanctuary in the small town of Maple Run, she’s intent on starting her life over—one she hopes honors Christ. The plan was going great until an undeniable attraction to Micah Campbell has her wondering if she’s changed at all. Can love really conquer all or will Belle’s past be too much for Micah to handle? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)

General Contemporary

A Firm Place to Stand by Lori Altebaumer -- Out of options, Maribel takes a safe enough seeming job, but soon finds herself in the middle of a murder, a search for a missing girl, and a race to find a lost treasure. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Kuwaiti Seeker by Jim Carroll -- A young Kuwaiti Muslim searches for truth in Islam, but God finds him anyway. (General Contemporary, Crosslink Publishing)

General Historical

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett -- Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shed her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region's wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty. After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he's faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling? As Clark opens Olivia's eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park's story as its vistas--a revelation that may bring her charade to an end. (General Historical from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Historical Romance

Orphan Train Sweetheart by Mollie Campbell -- Spring Hill is the orphan train’s last stop—a final chance for Simon McKay to find homes for his young charges. When his fellow placing agent quits, Simon enlists help from the frontier town’s pretty schoolteacher. Cecilia Holbrook is as intriguing as she is independent, yet Simon’s devotion to his mission will soon call him back to New York. Long overshadowed by her flirtatious sister, Cecilia is done with waiting for a man to choose her. She’s already fighting the school board to keep her position. Now she’s struggling not to lose her heart to Simon. Could their shared concern for the children show them how to follow a new dream, together? (Historical Romance Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn -- She was nothing like the woman he'd envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she'd ever dreamed of-until a promise from his past threatened their future. (Historical Romance from Pelican Book Group)

The Road to Magnolia Glen by Pam Hillman -- In 1792, Quinn O’Shea leaves Ireland for Natchez, Mississippi, ready to force his oldest brother to reclaim the role of family guardian so Quinn can be free to pursue his own adventures. While aboard ship, a run-in with tenacious yet kind Kiera Young and her two Irish sisters lands him in the role of reluctant savior. Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera realizes her intended groom never existed and a far more sinister deal has been negotiated for her and her sisters. Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter -- When Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. Graham, intent on finding his friend's missing sister, is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling. After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different, but long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. As much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn't worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer -- Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes--one bright blue, the other dark brown--Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. She’s made a safe haven with Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers. Seeking justice against the gambler who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father's death. Instead, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach's sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley -- It's Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn't sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators--one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken--she's forced to reevaluate. When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four? (Romantic Suspense from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Vast and Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter -- After losing his closest friends and now his girlfriend to the ravages of war, Caden Wallis arrives on the Outer Banks for one final mission--to thank the woman who sent him a quilt while he was recuperating at Walter Reed Army Hospital. McKenna Dockery knows about loss. She juggles the family business, her ailing father, and an aging grandmother. Much to Caden's surprise, she--not some elderly lady--is the quilter. The quilt was something she'd begun for her future husband but shipped to the military hospital after the tragic death of her fiancé. When a man is found snared in a net and murdered on McKenna's property, she and Caden must work together to bring the killer to justice. (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)

Ransom of the Heart by Susan Page Davis -- Police Captain Harvey Larson’s exhausting day takes a big detour when a teenaged girl approaches him at the diner, announcing that she is his daughter. When Harvey is on his way home from work a few hours later, his sister-in-law Abby calls him. She went to meet her husband for a dinner date and found a dead man on the floor at his place of business, and Peter has vanished. Harvey calls in his detectives and turns his car around. It’s going to be a long night, too. Once again, Harvey depends on his wits, his faith, and his squad, the Priority Unit, to solve a tough case and carry out Maine Justice. (Romantic Suspense from Tea Tin Press)


Song of Leira by Gillian Bronte Adams -- Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged. Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie’s aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair’s sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran’s schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army—singers who can shake the earth and master the sea—and monsters rampage across the land. As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer. (Speculative High Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Quilted Potholder Giveaway

The final giveaway celebrating the release of The Amish Quilter is now open!

Potholders are a necessity of life, aren't they? This is exactly why they should be cute and fun and bring a little bit of joy into your kitchen.


You have until June 4 to enter to win the adorable quilted potholder (above) and a free autographed copy of The Amish Quilter.

To enter, simply click on the Enter to Win button below and fill out the brief form. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator and announced here on June 6th.


Don't forget that I have two more giveaways that are still open!

Click here to view entry information for my poster and book giveaway.

Click here to view entry information for my apron and book giveaway.

Remember! All giveaways end June 4 at midnight. Winners will be announced June 6 on this blog.