Anyone who knows me well, knows I love the Amish – the simple way they live and their deep faith and family roots. When I was asked to review Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words, I was honored to do so. I have enjoyed getting a glimpse into the lives of the authors and seeing how I can use their advice and ideas in my own home and life.
Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words is a wonderful, eclectic collection of stories and essays about opening your home and heart to friends, family, and even strangers. The personal writings, curated by Lorilee Craker from Anabaptist women’s periodicals, include perspectives on life, hospitality, home, grief, joy, and God. Essays are also included by well-loved Amish and Mennonite writers such as Sherry Gore, Linda Byler, Lovina Eicher, Dorcas Smucker, and Sheila Petre.
Homespun reads like a leisurely visit with an old friend. It starts off with light, chatty topics before settling into the-deep-part-of-the-heart experiences, such as a young mom recovering from the stillborn birth of her little boy. At times charming and humorous, at other times profound and heavy, this collection of true stories will linger in your mind long after you close the book. ~ Suzanne Woods Fisher, bestselling author of Amish Peace
As Lorilee began the search for stories and essays to fill the pages of Homespun, she discovered that among all the differences, there were many more similarities among the women. She found a peace and gentleness reminiscent of her Mennonite upbringing in Manitoba. As she collected more stories, the same feelings emerged.
The collection is organized into several sections that resonate with the feelings and themes Lorilee discovered:
- Welcome – Hospitality is fundamental – not perfect, Martha Stewart hospitality – but friendly, welcome hospitality
- Abide – A nurturing, comforting home is needed to feed the spirit
- Testimony – Stories help us understand our own stories and places in the world
- Wonder – Believing in miracles, phenomenal happenings, and understanding that not all things make “sense” to the human perspective
- Kindred – Core values of family and friends and the ways the interactions shape us
- Beloved – Devotion to God during happy and sad times, good and bad times
My wish for you as you read these wunderful gut pieces of writing is that you will enjoy them as much as I did. You don’t have to be a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies to do so. All you need to do is open your heart and let the homespun words of these women enlarge your worldview, extend your heart, and increase your friendship with the Creator of all good and gut things. ~ Lorilee Craker
Homespun reads like a chat over a cup of coffee with a friend. You feel the friendship, kinship and emotion as the writers share their feelings and beliefs with the reader. While I have always appreciated the Amish way of life, prior to reading this collection I did not consider the fact that they are just like the “Englishers.” These women are daughters, mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers. They want nothing more that to have happy, healthy children and a warm, inviting home that others can enjoy. While their lives are vastly different from my fast paced, always connected world… down deep, we all want the same things. We all experience the same joys and hurts and frustrations and fundamental beliefs.
I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the lives and stories of these writers. It gave me a peace inside that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of life… a moment of clarity at a virtual kitchen table with a friend. I highly encourage you to step back, grab a cup of coffee, and take time to read this collection of stories and essays – slow down and savor the reality that all of us are the same, deep down – daughters of the One and sisters with each other.
I highly recommend you read this collection of personal writings – whether you love the Amish culture or you just need a reminder that love, friendship and faith transcends all walks of life. These stories provide a glimpse into the lives of these beautiful women and remind you that we truly all want the same things in our lives – a ‘gut’ life, ‘gut freinds’ and ‘liebe.’
About the Editor
Lorilee Craker is the editor of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words. She describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies and didn’t know there was anything “peculiar” about being Mennonite until she moved from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Chicago, Illinois for college. It was then that she realized most people outside of Mennonite communities assumed she had come from buggy-driving, bonnet-wearing, butter-churning folk. Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being her kind of Mennonite were one and the same. The experience of explaining the differences led her to writing the book, Money Secrets of the Amish (an Audie Awards finalist which she also narrated).
A freelance journalist, blogger and speaker, Craker was an entertainment writer for The Grand Rapids Press for seventeen years. She has been featured in many media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Time and People. She is the author of fifteen books, including Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me, My Journey to Heaven with Marv Besteman, and the New York Times bestseller Through the Story with Lynne Spears.
The proud founder of a writing day camp for middle schoolers, Craker lives in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband and their three children.
Learn more about Lorilee Craker online at lorileecraker.com. You can also find her on Facebook (@LorileeCraker), Twitter (@lorileecraker) and Instagram (@thebooksellersdaughter).
I received a free copy of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinions. No affiliate links are present. Please see my disclosure for more information.