Monday, August 27, 2012

My Amish friend, Smiley, and his secret to loss and tragedy

I was in quite a slump all weekend. My daughter has fibromyalgia and though grown and married, I still can’t stand to see her go through a flare-up. I cry, even inwardly shake my fist at God. Why? Why so much suffering in one person’s life.

So I go through the regular routine of thinking of people who are having a harder time. I thought of my friend with Parkinson’s, another with MS…no relief. Then I thought of loved ones who are struggling with organ transplants, to no avail. No relief. I am a mom hurting because of her daughter's pain.

I was digging quite a cavern of self-pity and anger so deep, I just felt like staying in bed and reading all day today. Believing God always goes before me, making my path straight or more bearable, I thought of what transpired over last week, and I thought of Smiley.

Smiley is an Amish man in his mid-thirties who should be cast in The Lord of the Rings as a very merry hobbit. He has a permanent smile etched in his face and laugh-lines around his eyes. What’s so inspirational about Smiley is that years ago, he and his wife survived a tragic house fire…some of his children did not.  I’m sure he grieved, but now he has a secret glint in his eyes, as if to say, “I know something you don’t. I’ve been through the refiner’s fire, and came out as pure gold.”

When I first met this awesome young man, I asked his why he was called Smiley. He just said he smiled a lot, he supposed. He was working on putting a new roof on our house, and another Amish fellow pulled me aside and told me his tragic story. As usual, I have 1001 questions, so I asked how he could still be so merry. Didn't he grieve? Don't the Amish believe in crying? etc. etc. etc. “We move forward, jah?” Ray said. I stood there, dumbfounded.
When taking Smiley home later that day, I told him I was so sorry to hear of his loss. Thinking he wouldn’t want to talk about it, he surprised me and opened up. He said that he sorely missed his "first family" but God has given him another one, and he moves on in life.

I saw Smiley last Friday at a fishing hole with three young sons, laughing and having a good time. He has moved on, and today, I will too.  My problems are so petty compared to his lose, but the lesson is the same. Keep looking forward, and instead of shaking the fist at God, open it and take His hand.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Laughing George talks about "An Amish Journey"

The Amish have many nicknames, since there are so many Levi Millers, Dan Weavers etc. I know a man who goes by Short Laughing Roman. He's short and, well, laughs a lot. George Loughmuller has a German heritage, given his last name, but goes by Laughing George. Can you guess why? Yes, he's a very happy soul, and he's trying to show in his continuing series, Amish Journey, that a family wrapped up in the fast paced, rat race American culture, you have to be intentional and make some radical decisions to have a simple life. I especially like George because he's not a spring chicken, starting his writing career while retired. He has deep insight into what really matters in life, and along with his usual humor, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.

In An Amish Journey, a family with two teenagers mysteriously inherit a farm and end up living among the Amish. As you go through each short story, you'll be challenged. Could you do what this family is doing? Living totally off-the-grid, cold turkey?

Of course they go nuts at first, but then family relationships improve. I can't give it all away, but in the end, it certainly is more of a journey the audience takes, hence the name, Amish Journey. It's been quite popular, so George decided to write another series. Here's George in his own words about this new series, and his contact info.

An Amish Home. That’s what Allan has now. He found his path and so much goodness came into his life. My new stories are set in Karsten Field about eight to ten years after An Amish Journey. Allan is happily married with two young children. His oldest daughter, Alice, even has a family of her own. Life is good.

That doesn’t mean they don’t face any challenges. Sometimes, when life is that good, we need reminders. An Amish Home – Attainable is one of those reminders.

Karsten Field is suffering from a severe drought, something to which many readers can relate. However, having an independent, simple life could mean the end of Karsten Field. Without modern technology to save their crops, Allan and Ben Abrim worry about winter food shortages. They are in the presence of a metaphorical Goliath.

The story of David and Goliath inspired Attainable. A small Amish community is only as strong as its faith. A natural disaster could destroy everything they have. Escaping the drought seems to be unattainable. Although Allan has been set free, he still has plenty to learn and God is always teaching.

The big questions: If the people of Karsten Field are so faithful, why would God let them experience a drought? Why would He not send rain?

The answer is simple: No matter what comes before you, God will see you through it. That does not mean He will change weather patterns, mainly because His reward is not on earth. It doesn’t matter what happens to us here. Cancer, war, poverty are all people problems, not God problems. Bad things can and will happen to us in this life. God is not going to solve all of our problems for us, but He will be there to see us through them, as he did with David. God could have struck down Goliath or sent a flood. Instead, David had to stand up and face the giant. He was never alone, God was always with him.

God is in Karsten Field. Allan has to stand up and face his own giant.

If things seem impossible or insurmountable, Allan has to learn that everything is Attainable with God.

An Amish Home – The Flood is available now -

 An Amish Home – Attainable will be coming very soon!

 Get Set Free – An Amish Journey from the beginning -
You can also find me on BN Nook and Apple iTunes!
Please have a look at my blog –

And visit me on Facebook –

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Where can I find books about the Amish…written by the Amish?

Even though I’ve known Amish folk for years, when I wrote Knit Together, I went to the source of the spring: books written by the Amish. I wanted to read for myself what baptismal candidates had to study before I had my English character, Joseph, contemplate being Amish. My agent, Joyce Hart, laughed at my concern for Joseph, reminding me he wasn’t real. But to me, her was, and had a strong walk with God. If he turned Amish, would he be bound by laws of man that only kill? I was surprised at how rich, inspirational, yet challenging, these books were to my own walk with God.

I bought The Dordrecht Confession of Faith for a dollar. One dollar. Since I was paying shipping, I figured I should get my bulk-rate worth. So I added to my chart, Devoted Christian’s Prayer Book, which is a hardcover which includes Rules of a Godly Life, which consists of 47 proverbs. I couldn’t resist buying 1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life, just to see what question people not familiar with the Amish would ask… to my shock, I learned a lot!
Devoted Christian’s Prayer Book

Then I saw that they had magazine! I love magazines, so I paid a year’s subscription to Family Life. The blurb read:

It contains articles on Christian living, parenting, and homemaking. It also contains editorials, letters from readers, medical advice, poems, recipes, and children’s stories.

To date, this magazine is my favorite, even topping Country Living Magazine. It really gives you an inside look into an Amish home. An article written by an Amish woman called, “I Married Money”, told of her husband’s addiction to work, keeping up appearances with Amish neighbors, and never being satisfied with what he had. It was a strong warning to unmarried women, since she felt there were hints of his love of money during their courtship.

A yearly subscription of Family Life is only $12.00.
Since I homeschooled my four kids, I was familiar with Pathway Publishing and Christian Light Publications. We used the Mennonite curriculum by CLP and my kids all read the Pathway Readers, books used in Amish schools. Since we lived by the Amish, I thought it would be a “novel” idea at first, but then I got hooked on Pathway Readers.  They are so interesting!

All the books mentioned can be bought online at Pathway Publishing. It’s run by the English, and I’m so glad. You used to have to write a check and order snail mail to Canada. Visit or Christian Light Publications at  I guarantee that once you start reading books or magazine written by the Amish, you’ll get the best education about their ways.
You can also buy historical fiction. A favorite author among the Amish and Mennonites is Christmas Carol Kaufman. Not Regina is not only well-written, but tells of the persecution of the Anabaptists.

The 1500s were stirring times in Europe. Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to a church door in Germany, exploding a powder keg of unrest that seethed for decades. Against this background, Regina Strahm found herself caught between two religious factions in Switzerland. Her parents repeatedly warned her against the Anabaptist heresy, but why then did Zwingli's official religion fail to satisfy? And why were the Anabaptists willing to die for their faith? Regina discovered why, and found a joy she had never before known.
If you've found a source to buy books written by the Amish, please share in a comment below.