Monday, March 07, 2011

Book review - Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud

Plain Wisdom, an Invitation into an Amish home and the Hearts of Two Women by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud

This book is a collaborative effort between Cindy Woodsmall, an Englisher author and Miriam Flaud, her Old Order Amish friend.

If you’re looking for an expose on the Amish lifestyle, you won’t find it here. This is an encouraging, uplifting narrative of how friends can have very different lifestyles and circumstances but still have a deep friendship based on mutual respect and a shared love of God. The authors show us their many similarities amongst their differences. They both have a deep love of family, love of God, and both women have a wonderful sense of humor. Some of their entries had me chuckling out loud.

Each chapter begins with an applicable scripture and then each woman shares her thoughts on a specific topic.

There is plenty of insight into the common practices of the Amish way of life while always being very respectful of their desire for privacy. I unreasonably expected more details and maybe some of the less attractive aspects of the Amish lifestyle, but after reading this book, I realize how that would be dishonoring to them.

As I was reading this, I recognized many of the experiences show up in several of Cindy’s novels. These real life accounts lend authenticity to her writing.

Both women share happy times, heartaches, uncertainties, doubts, sadness and deep faith.

Cindy talks about her “nevertheless principle” that says “Nevertheless......God”: Whatever happens we can say, nevertheless God is my strength, yesterday, today and tomorrow. : Nevertheless says, “I don’t have to understand; I believe anyway.” I love that!

Miriam sums up the Amish lifestyle like this “...following God’s principles always yields good crops. Eventually.” Persistence and patience is evident in the Amish lifestyle.

There are also several Amish recipes interspersed throughout the book – yummy!

This book is a very pleasant read and flows easily from one chapter to the next. It is a book that you can easily put down and come back to later. There aren’t any deep doctrinal issues to struggle with, you are simply listening to two friends talking about their lives.

The thought provoking discussion questions in the back are included for reading groups or book studies.

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Just Do It !

The more I read stories about the Amish, the more I realize how much we all could learn from their simplistic lifestyle .  I'm not saying we should all cut the electric to our homes, or sell our cars and buy buggies (although with the price of gas these days, that option is looking more attractive every day.....NOT!)
So, while I might not feel led to adopt many,  OK lets be honest, most, of their lifestyle choices, their concept of faith and reliance on God and His perfect wisdom is something so simplistic, I wonder why I struggle with trusting God as much as I do.  One of my favorite authors of Amish fiction, Kelly Long, recently lost a loved one.  She received some beautiful words of wisdom from an old Amish gentlemen.  After telling him about her struggle with her feelings of loss he asked her if she had hope. She answered that she did, and his reply sums up their belief in the simple manner in which they live their lives.  He said.."Then, have it!"  Or , in words we are all familiar with, Just do it!.
Go read Kelly's post, You won't be sorry.  It's something I hope never to forget.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What the Heart Sees by Kathleen Fuller

For those of us who love to read Christian romance fiction, we are well aware of the fact that, most of the time, there will be a happy's pretty much a given.  We get that!  It makes us feel good !  So, that being said, I've been reading and reviewing alot of Amish romance fiction lately, and I pretty much know that the outcome will be a happy one.  However, knowing that most of the authors that I read have personal ties and relationships with members of the Amish community, helps me to trust their portrayal of these fasinating people.
So, here is my latest review, as promised...........

What the Heart Sees by Kathleen Fuller

This is a collection of three stories, A Miracle for Miriam, A Place of His Own, and What the Heart Sees.

A Miracle for Miriam is about a young Amish girl who considers herself an ugly duckling. She develops a crush on Seth, the most popular boy in her Amish school who very cruelly humiliates her and mocks her in front of the other students. He subsequently moves away and forsakes his Amish upbringing for the English way of life. He returns to the community a changed man, emotionally, spiritually and physically. His perfect face and athletic physique are now scarred and weak, but his faith is stronger than it ever was. Through the years that Seth has been away, Miriam comes to accept herself and has resigned herself to the fact that she may never marry and that no man would love her. When Seth returns he realizes what a beautiful spirit she has and has to work very hard to convince Miriam as his scars fade and his body heals, that this time, his feelings for her are genuine.

The second story of the collection, A Place of His Own, is also about a young Amish man who returns to his childhood community after being away for many years. Josiah and his father disappeared from their close knit community virtually over night. Josiah’s best childhood friend, Amanda, is left wondering what has become of him and wondering if she will ever see him again. When he returns he is secretive, quiet and bitter and will not confide in or accept Amanda’s friendship. Amanda, being a very straight forward and confident young woman will not accept his indifference. What has happened to Josiah to make him so bitter and distant? Amanda comes to the realization that her feelings for her childhood friend have grown but that her love may not be enough to heal whatever has wounded Josiah.

The third selection, What the Heart Sees, is about a young Amish women, Ellie, who was injured in an accident and as a result has become blind. Christopher Miller’s fiancĂ©, Ellie’s best friend, is killed in the same car accident. When Christopher goes against the doctrine of his Amish faith and tries to have the young Amish man, who he feels is responsible, arrested he comes under the bann and leaves to live among the English. He returns to the community desiring to be restored but struggles to forgive the young driver, Isaiah. Upon returning he discovers his sister has become engaged to Isaiah. Ellie, tries to encourage him to forgive and make peace, and through their friendship he discovers a stronger faith in God.

All three of these selections give us a glimpse of a culture very different from ours. But we also learn about a culture completely based on their understanding of God’s word and how everything in their lives is based on faith in God, peacefullness, humility, a strong sense of community and close knit family ties.

You can purchase this book here ,  here,    or at many local book stores

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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