Plain Wisdom - An Invitation Into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women (Unabridged)

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9780307878298: Plain Wisdom - An Invitation Into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women (Unabridged)

Two friends from different worlds—one Old Order Amish, one Englischer—share the truths that bring them together.
 
Best-selling novelist Cindy Woodsmall might seem to have little in common with Miriam Flaud, a woman immersed in the culture of Old Order Amish. But with nine children and almost 60 years of marriage between them, Cindy and Miriam both have found the secrets to facing life with strength and grace. Whether enduring financial setbacks, celebrating new babies and times of prosperity, grieving the crushing losses in the deaths of family and friends, or facing disappointments with their respective communities—through it all they find guidance for each day by looking to God. 
 
With poignant recollections, unexpected insights, and humorous tales, the two women welcome you into their unique friendship.  You’ll also gain a rare glimpse into the traditions and ways of the Amish as Miriam recalls special occasions and shares family recipes throughout the book.
 
Plain Wisdom is a heartwarming celebration of God, womanhood, and the search for beauty that unites us all. So grab your cup and your quilt and settle in for a soul-comforting read with Plain Wisdom.

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About the Author:

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author of six novels whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
 
Miriam Flaud is an Old Order Amish woman who has lived within one of the most structured societies in the United States. She’s experienced the abundant joys of that lifestyle as well as troubled times. She and her husband have six children and five grandchildren.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction
 
In 2001 Miriam and I lived seven hundred miles apart geographically—but a century apart by customs. Miriam is an Old Order Amish woman trying to keep the Old Ways and avoid modernization. I am a typical American woman trying to keep up with the constant changes in technology while meeting the expectations of society, church, parents, and peers. We didn’t know each other, but we had a mutual friend, and because of her, Miriam and I talked on the phone occasionally and shared letters regularly.
When Miriam invited me to visit her in 2002, I had no way of knowing how much we’d have in common. As our friendship grew, we began to realize that we’ve had many of the same life experiences, and we have approached them in faith and with some trepidation. Between us, we’ve given birth to nine babies—four we’ve ushered into adulthood; the others are now older teens or preteens. And both of us are still standing. Our cultural differences are vast; the more time I spend with Miriam, the more I realize just how different. Yet our methods for emotionally and spiritually dealing with life and work are remarkably similar.
In the visits since 2002, as we sat together, hedged in by her lilac bushes and sipping on coffee, a dream began to grow inside us. We wanted to share with other women our victories and defeats, what had and hadn’t worked for us, and to encourage them by being real and vulnerable. Our friendship has shown us that whatever culture we live in, successes are possible...and failures are inevitable, but they’re never final when placed in His hands.
As women we easily believe in the worth of a newborn, who can give nothing and takes much. We hold fast to hope for our children’s future, even for those teens who fight us every step of the way. We can see our friends’ lives through the eyes of faith. Yet when we think of ourselves, we often wallow in unforgiveness, self-loathing, and feelings of inadequacy. Our desire is to help you embrace the beauty of the life God has given you. We wrote Plain Wisdom to encourage you to accept yourself, forgive yourself, challenge yourself, laugh at yourself, and, most important, see yourself through God’s eyes of love. For when you do, you will find the freedom to truly enjoy your life.
Plain Wisdom is a collection of events in our lives—from early childhood to just a few months ago—and lessons we’ve learned, insights we’ve discovered, words of wisdom, Amish recipes, pictures of the Amish culture, and even a touch of Amish and “Englischer,” or English (non-Amish), humor. In some cases we draw the lessons from our stories; at other times we’ll let the events speak for themselves, allowing the Holy Spirit to whisper to readers’ hearts through the details. Our hope and prayer are that these memories will encourage and strengthen you as you create memories within your friend and family circles.
 
 
Meet Miriam and Cindy
 
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. — Acts 10:3 4–35
 
From Miriam
 
In the early eighteenth century, my ancestors crossed the Atlantic Ocean, traveling from Switzerland to America to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. As an Old Order Amish woman, I call myself the “Plain” part of Plain Wisdom. (Perhaps that makes Cindy the “Wisdom” part.) I was born in St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland, the third of seven children. When I was a year old, we moved to Adams County, Pennsylvania. My home was always filled with family from both my mom’s and my dad’s sides. Then, when I was eleven, my parents bought a farm in the neighboring Franklin County. Today my husband and I live on the farm where he grew up, which is within walking distance of my parents’ place.
When one is born into an Amish household, he or she is expected to remain Amish and eventually join the church. The youth are encouraged to join the faith in their teen years. For me, like for most Amish youth, the question wasn’t, would I join? but rather, when would I take that step? So when the desire and the appropriate age came together, I, along with six other young women and six young men, took the first steps by attending instruction classes. A church leader teaches instruction classes, and, similar to courses held by other faiths, the purpose of instruction is to clarify the founding principles and scriptures of our faith. The lessons begin in late spring and continue throughout the summer. Meanwhile, I was courted by a handsome young man named Daniel Flaud, who was from the same youth group and church. The following year we were married. Eighteen months later we were blessed with our first son. As the years went by, we had four more sons and a daughter. Now, nearly thirty years later, our family has welcomed three daughters-in-law and five grandchildren.
I’ve enjoyed my life inside one of the most structured societies in the United States. I haven’t always known what to do, agreed with the rules, or handled situations with wisdom. But I’ve experienced the abundant joys as well as the occasional frustration our lifestyle brings. Often when we meet people, we see our own lives differently—perhaps better in some ways and worse in others. Sometimes we choose to stay inside our familiar circles so we can avoid the discomforts that are a part of building new friendships. Cindy’s world was so very different than mine. Sophisticated. Filled with technology. And by my Plain standards, it was worldly. I invite you to come along as I prepared to welcome her into my home.
 
From Cindy
 
Some of you know me as the author of fiction books with Amish settings and characters. But, like Miriam, my family roots trace back to Europe (specifically to Scotland), and my ancestors landed in America in the mid–seventeen hundreds. I was born in Washington DC, the youngest child in a family of four. When my parents were growing up, their family lives were tough, and they had almost no support. But when they married in their teenage years, they were determined to beat the odds and make a success out of their lives.
My family moved frequently when I was growing up. My dad would buy an old home in need of repair, and he and Mom would fix it up while living in it. Then they would sell it, and the process would start all over again. No matter where we lived, my vivid imagination constantly wove fictional stories of family life, romance, and conflict.
The summer between my eighth- and ninth-grade years in school, my family moved from Maryland to Alabama. Because of that move, I eventually met and married Tommy. A few years after that, we had our first son, and I became a full-time homemaker. Two years later I gave birth to our second son. I homeschooled our two boys through middle school, and we welcomed a third son into our home in 1994.
Throughout the years my mind had continued to devise fictional stories, but I was never willing to invest time in writing them. The story ideas were ceaseless, and, in hopes of quieting them, I began writing as a hobby in 1999. In 2002 I attended my first writers’ conference1 and then fell in love with the whole writing process. I’ve enjoyed the freedom and opportunity granted to American women—whether it was choosing what church to attend, how to school our children, or what career path to take. But like Miriam, I haven’t always known what to do, agreed with all the rules that bound me, or handled every situation with wisdom. I, too, have experienced the abundant joys of my lifestyle as well as the frustrations.
One of the great blessings in my life is having been invited into Miriam’s home and into her life. Neither of us could have imagined what that initial visit would lead to as I anxiously went from my world into hers. Come, travel with me as I entered her world for the first time.
Plain Meets Fancy
 
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down,
his friend can help him...But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! —Ecclesiastes 4:9–10
 
From Miriam, 2002
 
The sound of a push reel mower could be heard from my kitchen window as my son Mark made the last few rounds in the front yard. We had been looking forward to this day for months. Cindy Woodsmall and her son Tyler were expected to arrive at any minute. While I chopped veggies for the salad for that night’s supper, my daughter, Amanda, hurriedly swept the kitchen one more time as we anxiously watched the road for our company.
Cindy and I had chosen the second week in June because my husband, Daniel, was planning to be in Maine that week on a timber-framing job. We thought this would give us lots of chat time—just the moms and our six children, three of which had full-time summer jobs. Daniel would be here when she arrived, but I knew he’d have to leave soon afterward. As the time of her arrival drew near, I found myself wishing my husband could stay. He’s the social one, able to maintain interesting conversations with anyone. Suddenly I went from being a little nervous to a lot nervous. What if she came all this way and was disappointed not only in my ability to hold a reasonable conversation but also in me as a person? We’d shared letters and long phone conversations, but what if I fell way short of her expectations once we were together?
After their arrival Daniel kept the conversation lively for about an hour, but then he had to leave. The house grew silent and the conversation became stilted the moment he left. Cindy and I spent the afternoon trying to break the ice, and then that evening we...

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