Summer 2018, part 1

I know everyone always says this, but how did it get to be October? I feel like the summer went by so fast. Maybe because Stacey and I had such adventures! We visited seven different Amish communities this year! And 2018 is not over yet! (I’m just playing. We will not be taking any more trips this year. I have books to write, but it was fun to say.)

Seven different communities? Yes! Lancaster County, Kish Valley, Richfield PA, Charlotte County VA, Choteau OK, Clarita OK, and Yoder KS. Seven different Amish communities means a lot of pictures! I’m currently getting them all ready to go up here so you can see them, but these things take time and of course there are still books to write.

So I’m breaking this up into sections (I’m thinking 5). First up are the three communities that we visited in Pennsylvania. Of course we went to Lancaster to visit our friends, and we went to Kish Valley (the setting for the Kappy King Mystery Series.) And then there’s Richfield. So we didn’t see a lot of Amish there and we only took a couple of pictures, but I wanted to get this community on the books here with the rest of my Amish adventures. Next year, we’re going to dig a little deeper and see what we can learn about the Amish in Richfield.

Here are the links to the pictures so you can find them easily. I’m going to be talking more about the trip and some of the great things we learned, saw, and did. One interesting thing was the continual spotting of the church wagon. I’d never seen one before and this trip to PA I saw three! (I saw four total this summer as there was also one visible in Yoder, KS. But that’s a tale for another day.)

Be sure to keep your eyes out for the pictures of the church wagons. And be sure to scroll down on the page with the pictures of Kish Valley. I took a bunch of pictures at the cemetery. I find all the graves very interesting. Some are so old. I love reading the names and what they say about their loved ones. Hope you enjoy it too.

Hope you enjoy this first look into our trips this summer. Here’s my favorite pic of the bunch.

 

Which one is your favorite?

Thanks for reading!

Amy

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Quilt Time!!!

Yes, it’s been a while since we started collecting fabric for the Third Annual Amish Quilt Giveaway and the time to announce the winner is here! Well, it’s tomorrow. Today is about showing off this beauty! This is a postage stamp quilt, pieced and quilted by our Amish friends in Lancaster. Isn’t it amazing?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the quilt giveaway, this is something I’ve hosted for the past three years and plan to continue in the upcoming year. Readers and quilt fans submit a 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 piece of fabric–design of their choice. We collect the fabric and take it to Lancaster to be made into a beautiful quilt. The size of the quilt depends on the available fabric and usually the design is the choice of our Amish friends. They work during the spring and summer months to piece it and quilt it for us to giveaway in the fall. The timing is one thing that delays the announcement of the winner. Spring and summer months are the busiest for the Amish. Even planning for the upcoming fall weddings takes up time in the summer months.

But after tomorrow your wait will be over. Each entrant is given a number as the fabric comes in. Tomorrow, random.org will choose a number and the corresponding participant will be our winner!

Good luck to all of those who entered this year! And if you missed the deadline for this year’s giveaway, next year’s quilt is now open for submissions. See the complete list of instructions on this website’s QUILT PAGE. While you’re there, be sure to check out the FAQs for the giveaway and the official rules and regulations.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Oh, wait…you want to see the quilt? I suppose. LOL

Here is is!!!

Amazing, right? And the best part of all, it’s a community project. Readers come together and supply the material for a chance to win.

I wish we had a quilt for each and every one of you! But alas, there can be only one winner. Stay tuned for that announcement tomorrow. And good luck to all!

Release Day!


It’s release day for Marrying Jonah! I’m so excited to finally bring you Jonah’s story! He’s been patiently waiting in the wings for his chance at his happy ending. And this one…well, I;m hearing that it;s the favorite for a lot of readers. Hope you enjoy!

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Marrying Jonah Amy Lillard a Wells Landing romanceLife isn’t always as simple as it seems for the Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma. Neither is love. . .

Everyone in town knows that Sarah Yoder is enamored with Jonah Miller, even though he’s been with his girlfriend, Lorie, for years. But all that changes when Lorie runs off with another man. Inconsolable, his faith in love shattered, Jonah resists everyone’s attempts to ease his pain—until the unexpected happens one night.

Jonah is filled with confusion. Sarah is not the woman he yearns for, yet he asks for her hand in marriage, if only out of honor. Still, he worries, can they live in harmony if their vows are built on a lie? As Sarah seeks spiritual advice, Jonah tries to look toward the future—and finally begins to see her for who she really is: A beautiful, strong-willed woman whose heart is pure and belief is true. But will it be too late for him to prove that he wants to be her husband?

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Not All Amish Communities Are Created Equal

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When I started thinking about this post, this was the title that popped into my head. Not all Amish communities are equal, not all are the same. They differ in their Ordnung, the written and unwritten rules that govern a settlement, but they differ in other ways too.

This week, I had a reader ask me about the use of tractors in my Wells Landing Series. I explained that it was an actual part of the Amish community that inspired Wells Landing. But it made me think about the different Amish communities, how they vary, and how we perceive them.

I just finished the first novel in what will be at least a three novel series set in the little talked about Amish settlement near Pontotoc, Mississippi. Yes, there are Amish in the South!

The Pontotoc Amish settled in Mississippi as a spin-off settlement of the Swartzentruber Amish community in Ethridge, Tennessee. Swartzentruber Amish are among the most conservative of the Old Order Amish, not even allowing indoor plumbing. But when I first saw the houses, I immediately wondered how these people scrape out a living.

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Mississippi red clay dust coats everything. All the houses are covered in aluminum siding, mostly white, but there were a few red ones. Yes, red! There are no flowers planted out front, no cute swing sets for the children to play on. There are no phone shanties. But there are plenty of signs made out of the scraps of siding which bear the carefully lettered names of the items the family sells. The gardens are large and fields of cotton and peanuts are plentiful. Almost every house has a shed where they sell the products that they make—goat milk soaps, gel air fresheners, potholders, button necklaces, and all sorts of canned goods.

It’s a peaceful, though dusty, and has a beauty all its own. But it’s miles away from Lancaster County in both distance and attitude. But it’s next to impossible to visit the two areas and not compare them. And on the surface, Pontotoc can look at bit rundown. And my heart went out to the people who live there. But when we mentioned this to our Amish friends in Pennsylvania, their sixteen-year-old had an insightful theory.

It doesn’t have to be that they are poor, but that they have different priorities.

Wait…what?

Yes, even the Amish can have different priorities.

My Amish friends in PA plant flowers in their yards every year. Do you know how much water it would take to keep flowers alive in the MS heat? A lot. So they don’t plant them. Instead they grow muscadines, tomatoes, and corn. Something with more value, something worth the effort it takes to keep it alive. Just different priorities.

And just something to think about the next time you get to visit an Amish community.

Have you ever been to visit the Amish? Where did you go and what was something interesting you observed?

This week I’m giving away an audio copy of Caroline’s Secret. Just leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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What’s with those yellow buggies?

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Lately I’ve introduced a lot of you to the Amish of Kish Valley (also known as Big Valley). The Valley is home to the second largest settlement in Pennsylvania and twelve distinct Amish and Mennonite groups. It’s also the setting for my new mystery series that begins in early 2018.

The most obvious distinction between the Amish groups is the use of different colored buggies.

Now most people are familiar with the gray-topped buggies of Lancaster County and the black-topped buggies of places like Holmes County, Ohio, and Jamesport, Missouri. But a trip through Big Valley is colorful in so many ways.

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Before I get into that, let’s talk about the black-toppers.

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The black-topped buggies belong to the Renno or Peachey Amish. I love this name since almost all the mailboxes we stopped to read in the Valley bore the name Peachey.  The Renno Amish are considered to be the least conservative of the Amish groups in the Valley, which isn’t saying a lot. After all, they are more conservative than our Amish friends in Lancaster County.

While we were in the Valley, Stacey and I stopped at a quilt shop that belonged to a Renno Amish woman. Of course the quilts were amazingly beautiful, but I couldn’t help taking note of a few things in the house. The windows were covered with a plain green shade. (You know the kind they use in cartoons that once you pull it down it winds back up with hilarious results.) The floors were wooden and bare. There was running water in the house, but all in all it made me think of my grandmother’s–just a small, country farmhouse filled with love.

The white-topped buggies belong to the Nebraska Amish.

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This is something of a misnomer since most of the Nebraska Amish live in Pennsylvania. The Nebraska Amish are hands-down the most conservative of the three main groups in the Big Valley. They also dress a bit differently. We only saw a couple of Nebraska Amish so I wasn’t able to test my research, but I am told that the Nebraska Amish men wear brown trousers and no suspenders. Their pants reportedly lace up the back and they wear their hair to their shoulders. Nebraska Amish women aren’t allowed to wear bonnets and supposedly wear a tie-on flat straw hat for working outside. On my next trip to the Valley, I am definitely going to be looking closer!

The yellow-topped buggies are certainly eye-catching.

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They belong to the Byler Amish. They are the middle of the road when it comes to being conservative in the Valley. The men wear one diagonal suspender and it is said that the women wear brown bonnets. I can testify that the men indeed wear only one suspender, but I wasn’t able to catch a glimpse at a Byler Amish woman wearing a bonnet. Stacey and I stopped in a bait/hunting shop run by a Byler Amish man who also sold honey. We talked to him a while mostly about hunting and bait, but he was very friendly and seemed to enjoy chatting with us.

Now, these aren’t all the differences in the three sub-groups of Amish in Big Valley. But it’s a start! What’s the most surprising difference that you’ve read in this post?

Leave a comment below and be entered into the Week  #4 drawing for two copies of The Amish Christmas Sleigh! (In order to be eligible for this giveaway you must leave a comment on this blog. Giveaway ends Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 12am EST.)

Thanks for reading!

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Big Valley in the Fall

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Keeping in line with my current Big Valley theme, today I’ve posted a few pictures of the Valley in the Fall. Here’s how to find them:

On the MENU, click ALL THINGS AMISH > AMISH PHOTOS> THE AMISH OF KISH VALLEY (that’s the green one)>KISH VALLEY AUTUMN 2016. (Note: this is not a link, only instructions).

If you’ve been following this 6 week giveaway, then tell me what you think. Is Kish Valley prettier in Summer or Fall? If you’re joining us for the first time, simply tell us which photo is your favorite.

Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing for one of three sets of The Amish Christmas Sleigh which includes my novella, A Mamm for Christmas.

Sets? you ask. Yes! If your name is drawn you’ll receive 2 autographed copies of the book–one for you and one to give to a friend. So don’t forget to leave your comment and as always, thanks for stopping by! ❤

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The Big Valley

For those of you who remember the TV show with Hoss and Little Joe, no, I haven’t forgotten what this blog is about. I’m talking about Big Valley, PA. Also known as Kishacoquillas Valley or Kish Valley. Kish Valley  is home to the second largest Amish settlement in Pennsylvania, with Lancaster County being the first. But in terms of uniqueness, the Valley wins hands down.

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Over the course of the next few months, I’ll be blogging about Kish Valley and all the interesting things I learned while I visited there. Here are a few of the beautiful pictures I took last month. Enjoy!

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Here’s me and Stace on the top of Jacks Mountain. Down below you can see the Valley. Incredibly beautiful!

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The Valley from the top of Jacks Mountain.

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Peight’s Store in the Valley.

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“Byler Amish” farm. The Valley is home to twelve different sects of Amish and Mennonites, the Byler Amish among them. (more on the Byler Amish later.)

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“Peachey” or “Renno Amish” buggy. They go by either name and are the most progressive of the Valley Amish, though that’s not saying a great deal. They are still conservative Old Order Amish. More on the Peachey Amish later. (Yes, I prefer calling them by this name since almost every mailbox we passed had the name ‘Peachey’ on it.)

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These beautiful purple wildflowers were all over the Valley. I loved seeing them against the weather-worn fence posts.

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A road-side store. This one was closed the first day we were there, but open the second. Two very helpful Mennonite women worked there and gave us some great information about the local Amish. Stacey and I bought a jar of church pickles, some corn on the cob, and a couple of tomatoes. Yummy!

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A Valley farm. So picturesque!

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Oh, you know how I love cows!

Well, that’s the last picture for this post. Which one is your favorite? Be sure to leave a comment. At the end of the month, everyone who commented will have their name put in a drawing to win a copy of one of my books!

Be watching for more about the Valley Amish, along with news about the new mystery series, updates on the new romance series, and other great info about the Amish in general!

Thanks for reading!

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Why I DIdn’t Take The Pictures I Didn’t Take While I Was IN PA

This blog first appeared on Amish Wisdom September 2015

Let’s face it. If you love reading about the Amish, then you most likely love looking at pictures of them. We all know that the Amish don’t like to have their picture taken. I’ve heard the reasoning for this part of their Ordnung, that it’s vain and they consider photographs to be a graven image. But after spending a week living with the Amish, I learned a bit more.

On my trip, I had opportunities that some can only dream about. I arrived in Lancaster and went directly to my Amish friend’s house. For the next six days we visited, canned, milked, and held book signings at markets. It was a fantastic time. But it was very understated. On my last day in Lancaster, Sadie took me to Kitchen Kettle Village to talk to the stores that sell books there. Tourists were out in full swing. It was a Saturday after all. I had been hanging out and running around with Amish women all week, but this was the first time that I noticed the stares and pointing, the whispers and the barely-veiled intentions to photograph. It saddened and angered me.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and someone snaps off a picture of you. What would you do? Would you enjoy that? This photographer is a stranger to you and you have no idea what they’re going to do with the picture. I would imagine that most of us would hate that.

What if someone pulled up and took a picture of your laundry? Weird, huh? (I say this even though pictures of Amish laundry lines are some of my favorite, but it’s still peculiar.)

Sadie and I talked about it and the Amish for the most part have gotten used to Englishers taking pictures of them without their consent. Not that it makes it all right to do so. But they abhor when people take pictures and such on Sunday when the district has gathered for church. This is a sacred time for them and should be treated as such by everyone.

I had so many great experiences while I was in Lancaster. We had a sisters’ day, visited a schoolhouse, helped with two separate milkings at a dairy farm, shopped, and attended a benefit auction. I had plenty of opportunities to snap off a pic here and there, fabulous photos of brightly dressed Amish youth and families, but I just couldn’t do it. I have more respect for them than that.

See, I found friends in Lancaster County. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt them, not even with charming laundry on the line or a horse and buggy clip-clopping by. Most of my memories are stored in my own brain for me to take out and remember from time to time. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t take pictures of other things while I was there.

Here are a few photos I did take while I was in Lancaster. It was a vacation for me after all. A working one. But as we visit with the Amish, a balance needs to be found. A balance between the memories we should keep in our minds and hearts and the ones we should commit to film.

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To see the complete album of my trip  CLICK HERE

 

#AmyinPA Day5

I woke up this morning to the sounds of Sadie singing as she hung out her laundry and the squeals of two little girls. Not a bad alarm, I have to say.
We decided to take it a little easier today, and I was glad that we went to the school yesterday. Right after Sadie got her laundry hung on the line, it started to rain. And it rained and rained and rained. As I’m writing this post, it’s still raining.
Did all this precipitation stop us from acting like tourists? Of course not. After eating a big helping of Sadie’s breakfast casserole, we headed out to Intercourse. Our first stop was to take Sadie’s youngest by her mother-in-law’s house so she could watch her while we ran around. The little one gets a little cranky after hanging out with us for too long. We just don’t do enough that two year olds like to do.
Then we headed over to the donut shop because we hadn’t eaten in at least an hour! amishday5LOL
Next, we went to Country Housewares. I found some great treasures to try and fit into my suitcase, but I enjoyed myself, just hanging out and shopping.
As the rain poured down, we pulled into Country Cupboard. We ducked inside and took a look around, then walked through to Nancy’s Notions and Zook’s Fabrics. Our destination? The Immergut Pretzel stand. Yum, yum!
Just as we were finishing up, our friend Nancy called. She was getting off from work at the pizza kiosk early because of all the rain and she wanted to “hang with us.” So we swung by and picked her up then headed to Emma’s popcorn. Best. Popcorn. Ever. I bought Jalapeno Cheddar, Zesty Parmesan, Sour Cream and Onion, and Sweet and Salty. I’m supposed to be taking some home to my boys, but I’m not sure how that’s going to work. 
Munching on popcorn all the way, we drove to an Amish resale shop. It was great fun poking around. Y’all know how much I love thrift stores. But this one was especially quaint. They had everything from used books to new toys and everything in between.
After there we headed to Costco. Yes, Costco. Stacey and I didn’t really need anything there and since our pint-sized companion had fallen asleep, we stayed in the car while amish day 5 -athey shopped.
Then we had just enough time to take Nancy home, pick up the ‘baby’ and get to the house to pick up Dawdi and Mary (his daughter-in-law) and go out to supper at Yoders’ Buffet.
We’re finally back home and the car is packed for tomorrow. Thankfully the rain held off long enough for us to get everything in the back for our trip to The Green Dragon Market tomorrow.
And Sadie’s laundry? As the rain continues to fall, it’s still hanging on the line. Tomorrow’s supposed to be sunny and warm. Maybe it’ll dry out then.