As a lover of Amish fiction I really wasn’t sure how Homespun would go over. It’s a compilation of essays, “Amish and Mennonite women in their own words. ” But not only did I find it a delightful read but a constant companion during a very crazy, intense season of life. It really could not have been better time for me. If you have any interest in the Amish world, if you have ever loved an Amish fiction story, or find yourself wanting to slow down and enjoy a simpler pace then this book should definitely go on your to read list. these essays really inspired me and challenged my thinking.
The essays were interesting, entertaining, and well-written. I think the format of the book also makes it intriguing because you are hearing individual and independent stories. I did find I was drawn to particular writers more than others, or certain stories resonated more. However, I was left with I take away after each essay. I enjoyed all 8 of the separate sections of this book.
Cracker found when compiling the essays that they really fit into 8 separate categories she titled: welcome, abide, testimony, wonder, kindred, and beloved. I will admit though that the first section may have been my favorite. That is probably to due to the principles aligning with my own personal passions and what I feel like I am called to do. Or maybe because at the time I was reading it I was living in a 20 foot trailer with my husband, large dog and our four kiddos and it just resonated.
But truly this one is worth the investment both of your time and to purchase the book. It’s a quick, inspiring read! Grab your copy here and be sure to read more about the editor and the book below.
I love the story behind Lorilee Cracker’s life and what led her to edit this type of book. So don’t miss some of those details!
And follow her here:
Thanks to the “I Read with Audra” program for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Here is an excerpt from the press release provided about the book.
The pages of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words, Amish and Plain Mennonite women swap stories and spin yarns while the reader sits in. The book’s editor, Lorilee Craker, bestselling author of Money Secrets of the Amish, collected these personal writings and authentic perspectives on life, hospitality, home, grief, joy, and walks with God from Anabaptist women’s periodicals. Among the stories shared are essays penned by well-loved Amish and Mennonite writers such as Sherry Gore, Linda Byler, Lovina Eicher, Dorcas Smucker, and Sheila Petre.
Craker, who describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies, grew up in Manitoba where the Mennonite community was large. Her mother’s family came from Ukraine in the 1870’s and were pioneers who homesteaded on the prairies. Her father’s family arrived in Canada after World War II when they fled Stalin and his holocaust. She knew from early on there were lots of different kinds of Mennonite stories, but she never realized there was anything “different” about the way she grew up until she arrived in Chicago for college. “Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being my kind of Mennonite were one and the same. This assumption led to lots of explanations on my part about the difference between my modern Mennonite upbringing (‘like Baptist, with a German accent and special foods’) and those other related subcultures.”
Explaining the differences would eventually lead to Craker to writing her first book on the Amish where she learned for all the differences, there were many more similarities than she expected there to be. While visiting the Amish, she found a peace and gentleness that reminded her of home. As she compiled the stories for Homespun, those same feelings and many more came to the surface. “These narratives stirred different emotions in me. My heart ached for Ervina Yoder as she described what it was like for her to be the mother of a longed-for but stillborn baby. I was inspired and encouraged by Danielle Beiler’s trust in God as her provider, and I giggled at Mary Yoder’s secondhand testimony of an Amish man whose pants were just too stretchy. Other essays enthused my soul, and I came away feeling as if I had just been to church. My cup had been filled.”
As Craker searched for stories to include, several themes revealed themselves. She organized the book into sections delving into the themes and introduces each section with some of the lessons she took away from the women who wrote the stories.
Welcome. A deep sense of hospitality is fundamental to these women. Yet it’s not hospitality in the HGTV, your-house-needs-to-be-perfect kind of way.
Abide. They want to abide in an abode, if you will, that nurtures them and feeds their spirit. The writers here expound beautifully on what home means to them.
Testimony. Story makes the world go ’round. When we hear the stories—the testimonies—of others, we are better able to understand our own story and our place in the world.
Wonder. The blazing faith of early Anabaptists is evident in the openness of these writers to all things wondrous. These are true stories of miracles, phenomenal happenings that don’t make sense from a human perspective.
Kindred. A core value of both Mennonites and Amish is the preeminence of family—kinfolk, whether they be kindred or not. Our kin shape us in ways both known and unknown, good and bad.
Beloved. There is something wonderfully elemental and childlike about the devotion expressed here, devotion even in doubt. These pieces drew me closer to the One who calls all his daughters “beloved.”
Craker hopes that readers will enjoy the stories as much as she 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.”
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).