Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women

( 48 )

Overview

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 ...
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Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women

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Overview

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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  • Cindy Woodsmall
    Cindy Woodsmall  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Plain Wisdom
 
“A treasure chest, for sure… The wisdom in these stories is time-tested and true—plain and simple.”
—Karen Kingsbury, New York Times best-selling author of Unlocked and Shades of Blue
 
“A fascinating comparison between two starkly different ways of life.”
—Donald B. Kraybill, author of The Riddle of Amish Culture
 
“A beautiful weaving of the lives of two very different women drawn together through their bond of faith and love of family. Their intertwining stories offer both timeless wisdom and sincere encouragement to inspire all women to learn from one another’s experiences. You will enjoy their honesty, their humor, and their life lessons as well as some of their delicious recipes! Cindy and Miriam bring us back to the place where our hearts long to go—a place of simplicity and truth.”
—Karol Ladd, author of The Power of a Positive Woman
 
Plain Wisdom provides a beautiful glimpse into the lives of my longtime friend Cindy Woodsmall and her Amish friend Miriam Flaud. Though separated by the modern world and Old Order Amish customs, they have a living faith that bonds them and invites us to embrace our experiences with greater hope, delight, and laughter.”
—Dr. Alan Weatherly, senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, Madison, Alabama
 
“Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud have the unique ability to marry two very different lifestyles in a masterful way by focusing on their similarities in faith and in daily life. Their chapters are easily digested in short pages designed for busy women—be they Amish or English. I loved savoring the wisdom in this book as well as the mouth-watering recipes. Written with the true insight of women who have been there, Plain Wisdom is a serious guide to life that doesn’t take itself too seriously…and offers something for every woman.”
—Ellie Kay, author of The 60-Minute Money Workout
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307459343
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 382,330
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Cindy Woodsmall
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.
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Read an Excerpt

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 gathered around the dining room table to share a meal. My still-in-the-nest children—three in their teens and two elementary-school age—are usually quite talkative at dinnertime, but they were awfully quiet that evening. With my husband gone, I took my place in his chair at the head of the table, and I felt very uncomfortable doing so. I tried to think of things to say but found myself lost in a sea of wishing that Daniel were home. Cindy and Tyler were very quiet also as everyone passed the food around the table and filled their plates. Cindy put some salad on her plate, so I handed her the salad dressing. A moment later I heard her gasp in dismay. A quick glance told me she’d mistaken our regular salad dressing bottle for a squeeze type, resulting in a plate full of food covered in salad dressing. Poor girl, I felt so bad for her. Before me stood the opportunity to continue being extremely polite or just to be me. I chose to be me. Leaning in, I quietly said, “I’m sorry, Cindy, but the Amish are forbidden to have the handy squeeze bottles.”
Her eyes grew as big as saucers, her mouth formed a perfect little O. For a few seconds she actually thought I was serious. Then we burst into laughter, and the ice broke. Completely. From that moment on, our days flew by. We talked freely over coffee as the sun rose the next morning; we laughed together as she tried to do chores the Amish way; we cried together while sharing our heartaches; we watched our boys ride horses and foot scooters while they chatted ceaselessly; and we gave them freedom to fish from a nearby dock without our hovering (but we watched from inside the house). And when they didn’t catch enough for supper, we quietly baked frozen fish sticks without their ever realizing what we’d done. After the sun went down, we made s’mores over a fire in the backyard.
All too soon the week came to an end, and it was time for Cindy and Tyler to go back home to their world. It had been a great week, and I feasted on the memories until time for her to visit again.
 
From Cindy
 
Miriam’s garden still needed more weeding as the sun slid below the horizon, taxing my ability to distinguish between weeds and produce. Laundry on the clothesline flapped in the evening breeze, and supper dishes sat in the sink, reminding Miriam and me that we’d moved too slowly through the chores as I’d spent the day learning to handle the summertime responsibilities of an Amish woman. Tomorrow Miriam’s morning would begin before daylight as she prepared breakfasts, packed lunches, and passed around clean clothes for her three oldest sons. The boys had already graduated from the eighth grade in their one-room schoolhouse and now apprenticed full-time within the Amish community.
After crossing the lawn without the assistance of floodlights or lampposts, we checked on our youngest children. They sat around a campfire with one of Miriam’s teen sons, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. The fireflies they’d caught earlier glowed in a jar beside them, waiting to be released. Miriam and I went separate ways to finish the day’s work, she to the clothesline and I to the kitchen. As I washed dishes by a kerosene lamp, I could see her silhouette bathed in moonlight as she collected the last of the laundry. Wiping sweat from my face, I heard her call to the children, telling them it was almost bedtime.
While Miriam’s children doused the campfire, my son made his way inside, washed up at the mud sink, and waited for me to escort him through the dark home. I took the kerosene lamp, and we climbed the wooden, spiral stairway. A mule brayed, cows mooed, and bullfrogs from a nearby pond croaked—all quite loudly. I smiled, but I knew that before sleep came, I’d long for some electrical device to block out the sounds of the farm and stir the summer’s humid air.
Today I look back to that first visit eight years ago. As a resident of Georgia, I had doubted I could find a way to talk to someone who was part of the Old Order Amish life, but I had a story in my heart, and I needed an inside view of Plain living to be able to write it. Growing up in Maryland, I’d had an Amish Mennonite best friend, and our adventures—along with the reservations our parents had concerning our friendship—had sparked my desire to write about the joys and difficulties of relationships, both within the Amish community and with outsiders. But as with many writers, I didn’t actually begin to put those stories on paper until decades later. Long before I sat down to write, my family had moved away, and my Amish Mennonite friend and I had lost all contact.
But in 2001, Linda, a friend who had worked at an Amish birthing center and as an EMT among the Amish, knew of Miriam and had connected the two of us. This connection began the long-distance relationship. More than a year into this relationship, Miriam invited me to visit her place. This was the first of what has become at least a yearly visit. I’ve been greatly blessed by the friendship with Miriam and her family. She and I marvel that forging a friendship was easier than either of us expected. It took us one evening, really, and a plate full of salad dressing.
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Interviews & Essays

Q&A with Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud authors of Plain Wisdom On sale now! paperback ISBN 978-0-307-45934-3 eBook ISBN 978-0-307-45935-0

In 2011, authors Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud talked with staff at WaterBrook Press about their forthcoming book Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. This is a transcript of that conversation. (Transcription note: a few minor adjustments made for written clarity.)

Q: A collection of anecdotes, observations and insights by both women, Plain Wisdom is sure to encourage women in all walks of life. Cindy, how did you come to be acquainted with Miriam?

A: Well, Miriam and I have a mutual friend, her name is Linda. Linda had worked at an Amish birthing center for 20 years, and I was working on an Amish-based manuscript, so I asked Linda questions and when she didn't know, she took them to Miriam. As time progressed, I got to where I would talk to Miriam for just a little bit on her phone shanty, which is a phone out near the barn, and she would answer a few questions for me and one time, she said, "Why don't you come visit me?" That was about 8 years ago, and our friendship continues to grow. Our husbands have become friends and now we've written Plain Wisdom and had a really great time doing it!

Q: Well, Miriam joins us from that phone shanty today. Miriam, what do you believe is the most valuable lesson or surprising insight that you've learned from being friends with Cindy?

A: Well, God and family have always been important to me, but as I worked on these stories for Plain Wisdom, I relived some of the most cherished memories my children and my family have given me. I realized that I have been blessed in so many ways, not just by my family, but also by my friendship with Cindy and the awesome opportunities that I've been given.

Q: Cindy, how about you?

A: I think for me the most valuable insight is even though we live 700 miles apart geographically, and a century apart by most customs, we share this common denominator of serving the same God, of having the same spiritual needs, victories and defeats, and trying to walk the challenging path set before us, in spite of our frailties.

Q: Miriam, how did you find time to write with all the work you do during your busy week? And what do you feel like you've learned about yourself in writing the book with Cindy?

A: Well, finding the time was a real juggle and it was a challenge. But my family was very helpful and supportive. Plus, for now, I've put my crafts business on hold.

Q: Cindy and Miriam, you have children of similar ages and, Miriam, you're already a grandmother. Although the cultural circumstances in both your households are very different, how do you believe your families are similar?

A (Cindy): Miriam and I laugh about this a little bit, okay? Because both of our families need and demand meals, laundry, and Mom to actually tune in and listen when they're speaking, and that crosses all cultural boundaries! But I think, on a more serious note, guiding the children to make good and wise choices is no easier whether the person is Amish or non-Amish (which is often referred to as being an English or Englisher). The boundary lines and customs are really different, but regardless of who we are, each generation of young people has its own ways and standards that draws them, and the parents are trying to give them freedom while we're also trying to be unmovable in certain areas and specific incidences. It's just a common battle for all parents – knowing when to give freedom and when to be unmovable.

Q: Miriam, would you agree?

A: I couldn't agree more. But, if Cindy's only feeding her guys three times a day, my guys are on a feeding schedule of every two hours. But, she's right, our households are different in many ways, but I would have to say the thing we have most in common is our faith, and the fact that God and family come first in both of our lives.

Q: Now finally, what kind of encouragement do you hope readers find in Plain Wisdom?

A (Cindy): Through storytelling of true events, we share heartaches and laughter, joy and challenges, of life as ordinary women; as wives and moms inside our individual cultures. And we share the unity that comes through Christ and the division or obstacles that stand against us just because we live on a fallen planet. From our hearts to the readers, we tell our personal history, in what I think is a very heartwarming and humorous way. And I think readers will connect with the realness of two ordinary women depending on our extraordinary God to accomplish what we can't without him.

Q: And Miriam, what kind of encouragement do you hope readers will find in this book?

A (Miriam): Well, my prayer for our readers is that no matter where or who they are, that they could just pick up Plain Wisdom and find something to give them hope - hope for tomorrow. Even if we don't get it right today, we'll try again. Because God doesn't expect perfection, but he loves a repentant heart. Plus, God made each of us, and it's not about being Amish, or English, or Mennonite; it's about faith, and what's in the heart.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 10, 2014

    An amazing book by two women of different backgrounds and cultur

    An amazing book by two women of different backgrounds and culture, yet so alike in the way they look at life. Moments of joy and sorrow, of faith and hope,in growing up and raising their own families brings to mind how different they are, yet how amazing it is to feel and have such similar moments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2013

    I highly recommend this to everyone as it speaks to the heart a

    I highly recommend this to everyone as it speaks to the heart and soul of us all. It is a wonderful book! The authors share parallels in their lives that occurred within their families and their walk of faith. Enjoy!

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Quick-read that I really enjoyed.

    Quick-read that I really enjoyed.

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  • Posted June 16, 2011

    "one little deed done in time is worth more than a thousand good intentions"

    I read lots of books and usually I enjoy a good story, it dosn't matter if its fact or fiction current, past or future. This book was a bit different, it reads in small bites on lots of differnt topics. I think it would almost be better suited for a coffee table, or bathroom book. Where it could be picked up, thumbed through and read in bits and pieces. There is a lot of "plain wisdom" between the covers of this book. I enjoyed reading it, but I kept hoping for more of a story, something to really connect the chapters. Instead I could have read it in almost any order and still enjoyed each chapter by itself. I found the recipes to be fun, I have already tried several and hope to try out a few more in the next few weeks, that was a nice addition to the book. I'm really excited to have the recipe for amish friendship bread and the starter to get it going. I found it very amusing that Cindy, while doing research for one of her other books, chose to take a trip to Alliance, Ohio. I lived there for several years, her description was spot on. She describes what she found as she stepped of a train in Alliance in the middle of the night in winter. " The night sky swirled with snow, but the think white blanket couldn't hide the eeriness of the run-down, abandoned building. A white and blue sign near the tracks indicated a pay phone. Snow and gravel crunched under my feet as I walked tward the sign. The wind whipped my coat as if it wasn't there. I reached the sign but didn't find a phone, as I stood at that bleak, desolate depot. " I would like to let Cindy know that now there is a cab company in Alliance. In another chapter Miriam talks about how a friend of hers became ill and she vowed to herself to remain in contact with her friend and help her through. But life got in the way and she became busy, her friend became even more ill and she had missed her chance to stay in touch. She remembers a saying from her childhood "One litle deed done in time is worth more than a thousand good intentions" I LOVE that saying! I've shared it with my children and remember it daily. Overall this was a good book, I will share it with family and friends as their lives need some plain wisdom. It isn't a story, its a collection of experiance lived by 2 women and shared with us on these pages. There is a lot to learn and a lot to enjoy. "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review".

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2011

    Awesome book!

    I've had an interest in the Amish lifestyle ever since I first learned of the Amish. Reading Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud's book *Plain Wisdom* was like stepping into the kitchen and sitting at the table listening to them talk,sharing their story. This book shows that friendship can cross cultural barriers. And isn't that what God wants us do-to step out of our comfort zone and reach out to others. An inspiring read!
    I received this book for review from Waterbrook Multomah.

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  • Posted June 11, 2011

    A glimpse into their hearts

    I just recently finished reading Plain Wisdom, a book written by Cindy Woodsmall, a popular Amish fiction writer, and her close friend Miriam Flaud, an Old Order Amish woman. From the moment that I began reading Plain Wisdom, this book touched my heart. The book is filled with glimpses of Amish life, recipes, and true-life stories. The cover states that the book is "an invitation into an Amish home and the hearts of two women", and I have to say that this statement is entirely true. I was absolutely fascinated by all the excerpts of Amish life, and was pulled in by the descriptions of the language they (the Amish) speak in, about their everyday life (cooking, baking and laundry) and how they do things without modern conveniences; about wedding celebrations and special holidays; about the home-businesses most of the women have, and about the games and activities that the Amish participate in. It was all truly fascinating and it made me yearn to experience a day in the life of an Amish woman. The two women also included many stories about their everyday lives and the experiences that they have gone through, and I felt as if they had genuinely invited the reader into their hearts. They were honest and forthright, making me laugh at times, and also making me cry as well. And it also made me realize honest truths about myself, which in turn made me want to be a better person. I highly, highly recommend this book. I would definitely encourage all women to read this book, because it will truly touch your heart. Thank you Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for supplying me with a free copy of the book to review.

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  • Posted May 26, 2011

    Very Interesting

    In Plain Wisdom author Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud, a member of the Old Order Amish community, share stories of their lives and their friendship. Each chapter has a title and Bible verse that correspond to a short story or writing from both authors. The sections by Woodsmall revolve around her friendship with Flaud as well as family stories, while Flaud's portion of each chapter provides insight about life in an Old Order Amish community. Some of the chapters also include mouth-watering recipes.
    Lately I find myself interested in learning more about the Amish community and this book definitely provided me with interesting information. Everything from marriage to church to quilting is discussed in this book. I've not yet read any of Woodsmall's Amish fiction novels, but I can't wait to get my hands on some and see how she has put her research to work in her writing. This was a quick and interesting read.

    Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.

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  • Posted May 14, 2011

    Plain Wisdom

    When I opened my copy of Plain Wisdom I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Having read Cindy Woodsmall's Sisters of the Quilt series, I was anxious to know more about how she got inspiration for her stories. When I realized that this book was co-written by Cindy and Miriam Flaud, the Amish woman who welcomed Cindy into her home; I knew this would be an interesting book. These two women share how they became good friends as a result of their visits and some of how the Amish live and work. But that is just the beginning. Divided into seven sections, Plain Wisdom draws the reader into the lives of both women and shows their hearts through the telling of their real life experiences, past and present. It is fascinating to view similar experiences through the eyes of two women with very different lifestyles. The format of the book reminds me of a journal of life lessons in story form. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, but each story covered a spiritual truth that touched my heart in a special way. I was also pleasantly surprised to find recipes scattered throughout the book. There are several I can't wait to try. I love the style and layout of this book. It would make a nice devotional for an individual or a group. This is a volume that I will not only share with others but keep in my personal library to read again and again. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted May 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Sharing wisdom and encouragement

    Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud are very different. Cindy is a New York Times best-selling author. Miriam Flaud is an Old Order Amish woman. And yet, they are both wives, and mothers with dreams and a love for the Lord. Cindy and Miriam have developed a friendship and have joined to write this book. In Plain Wisdom, they have invited the readers into their lives - what they have experienced, what they have learned, what they enjoy, how they have hurt.

    Honestly, it was wonderful and wanting at the same time. I enjoyed learning about the Old Order Amish's lifestyle. However, the true treasure of the book was the advice and words of wisdom that were shared by both women. That was truly a blessing! I am still adjusting from a move away from family and community of support, so it was great to have older, wiser women to "talk" to! Also, I look forward to trying some of the recipes. But somehow it didn't feel complete, like there could have been more. Maybe that was just because I wanted more from them?! However, now I need to begin, as they said in the book, "asking God to open doors" for me to find an older, wiser woman that would like to be my friend.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Blogging for Books, Waterbrook Multnomah Publisher's book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted May 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Plain Good!

    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.

    I read this book before we moved and I liked learning little insider tidbits about the Amish. I found it interesting to read how the Amish and English have the same problems but take different directions in solving the issues at hand. We lived down the road from a few Amish and they waved to us every Sunday morning while on their way to Church. I do miss looking out our kitchen window and seeing them pass by.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

    Plain Wisdom-A Delight!

    I found this book to be a delightful read. Plain Wisdom contains a story I was not expecting. I've read many of Woodsmalls' books and was curious to see what this one was about. These ladies are two complete opposites, but in pages they are so similar. I really enjoyed the recipes that are throughout the book. I love trying new things and the Amish eat some really good food!

    Probably the main reason I liked this book so much is because of how the two completely different worlds are shown to be so much alike. Plain Wisdom made me think about how materialistic I can be, and how most of the things I think matter, really don't.

    I would encourage any woman to read this book for a light but thoughtful read.

    Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. This is my honest opinion on the book.

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  • Posted April 22, 2011

    Plain Wisdom Insight into an Author

    So glad I took a chance on reading this book. Most nonfiction books that I read are scripture commentaries and devotionals. Amish nonfiction has been a favorite of mine for the purity and simple lifestyle. Cindy Woodsmall has become one of my favorite authors since I have started Blogging for Books. This book gives me an insight into her early life as well as describing how she became friends with Miriam Flaud, a women of the Old World Amish community. Each chapter is headed with a Bible scripture, and they frequently refer to biblical texts which have given them comfort and encouragement. The personal experiences of both women present such wonderful illustrations that I jotted down the page numbers to reference in my own bible teachings. Dearly love all the recipes shared by the authors. What surprised me the most was the use of convenience foods in the recipes of the Amish: Jello, Cool Whip, and Bisquick. I plan to try the Christmas Salad recipe. Facts about the quilts were especially interesting to me since I have reviewed the three books the Sister of the Quilts by Cindy Woodsmall. The traditions for each mother to piece a quilt from their child's outgrown clothes and present it to them as a wedding gift. When the young couple begins to start a family, ladies get together to create a quilt for the baby. The book delivered what it promised plain wisdom and "a heartwarming celebration of God." I received this book free for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Interesting Read...

    I mentioned in a previous blog post that I was reading a little Amish fiction, so when Waterbrook Press and Blogging for Books asked me to review Plain Wisdom, I jumped at the chance. Plain Wisdom is not a fictional story however. It is a series of anecdotes from two women: one Amish (Miriam Flaud), one an Englisher (Cindy Woodsmall). Each chapter/section deals with a different theme or life lesson, and the reader is able to hear from two women who are very different, yet incredibly similar. The topics range from finding peace in life to work ethic, to death and loss. Each chapter begins with a Bible verse and the bonus is that there are some great Amish recipes inside. I really enjoyed this book not only because of the short quick snippets that read almost like a devotional, but the intersection of these two cultures was fascinating as well. Woodsmall spent a period of time at the Flaud home in order to really understand how an Amish home works. In fact, Flad wrote her part of the manuscript in longhand due to not believing in the use of computers. This book renews my faith in the simple things of life and encourages me that less really is more. This book will encourage your spirit along the way. A very good read! To hear from Cindy Woodsmall about this book, watch here:

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    This was such a wonderful book. I really enjoyed reading it. Miriam is an Old Order Amish woman. She and Cindy teamed up to write the book. Each chapter begins with a scripture verse that ties into the subject of the chapter. Then, both Miriam and Cindy will share their individual thoughts on the subject. What I found interesting is how universal many of the ideas are. Even though the women are from completely different cultures both share the same God & Jesus. Additionally, so many feelings and emotions were shared by both - for example one chapter dealt with the worry / concern for the safety of family members traveling. It really impressed upon me how much we (as humans) are alike even though we might live in different cultures. We all hope, dream, live, laugh, love, fear.

    They also shared many of their favorite recipes. I can't wait to make the Amish Friendship Bread starter and share it with others. Many, many years ago I had received a starter from a friend and it made such wonderful bread. I am excited to try the one listed in the book.

    This book was very endearing and insightful. It is full of wisdom - much of it biblical wisdom. It is neat to see a friendship that has survived the obstacles of time, distance, cultural differences, the busyness of raising a family - and still it has endured and been strengthened over time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2011

    Plain Wisdom - enjoyable book offering a glimpse into the lives of two friends from different lives

    When I first selected Plain Wisdom as my next book to read, I think that I was expecting it to be more of a story. Not necessarily a work of fiction, but still more of a tale of the friendship that developed between Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud, the two authors, one being a best-selling author and the other her Amish friend.

    Instead, what I found was a collection of events - little tales and tidbits of stories - from their lives that were sometimes touching, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational and sometimes thought-provoking. The common thread was that despite the completely different lifestyles of these two women, they have a lot in common. Not in the actual experiences themselves, but in the lessons learned and things they discovered about themselves through these experiences. The short stories, for the most part were paired - one from each woman, under a "chapter" name and a text from the Bible. Mixed into these short stories, were other "chapters" that were a glimpse into Amish families, traditions and homes. These sections were written from Cindy Woodsmall's perspective and shared things she has learned from her Amish friend. These sections are done with respect for the Amish and don't reveal too much. Also, sprinkled through out the story are a number of delicious sounding recipes, some of which I am very curious to try.

    Having read some of the Amish fiction that Cindy Woodsmall has written, I recognized parts of some stories that Miriam Flaud shared from those books. She told the tale of her son being unable to find his dress pants. She of course worries that he has outgrown his latest pair and is with out pants that fit. She has him look in other closets in search a pair that fits, "at least well enough for today" and look in the mending pile, thinking maybe they needed a button. A few minutes later he casually comes walking outside, wearing a shirt and vest, dress shoes, black socks and suspenders, but no pants. She notes how she commented that he forgot his hat and the family breaks out in laughter, turning what could have ruined their day out into a light-hearted tale that they remember still. There was a similar tale shared in The Bridge to Peace by Cindy Woodsmall.

    The book was good. I enjoyed reading it. The thing is, now that I am done, I am done. Unlike a story where you follow the development of the storyline and get to the end, wanting or needing to know more, this collection of tales left me with simply a sense of it's done. I enjoyed spending the time with the two women and getting to know more about them and what their experiences have taught them. There were experiences and lessons that I could relate to, but I don't feel that I really took any great learnings from the book. I liked how it was arranged into a number of short chapters, making it quick and easy to read. Even if I only had 5 minutes, I felt like I could pick it up and read a couple of chapters.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    Wisdom and Friendship - A Must Read

    Plain Wisdom is a collection of life insights by Cindy Woodsmall, a novelist, and Miriam Flaud, an Old Order Amish woman. All of the insights are grouped in seven categories: The Rhythm of Life; Timeless Beginnings; Challenges Great and Small; Laughter in Odd Places; Beauty, Ashes, and Things Between; In His Hands; and The Shape of Tomorrow. Each category starts with a glimpse into the Amish way of life that Woodsmall has gleaned by her friendship with Fluad and each chapter includes Scripture. Speaking of friendship, Plain Wisdom made me long to spend time with my best friend who lives in another state.

    Both authors do an excellent job with transparency and both come at topics from different perspectives. Still, commonalities we share as women are evident despite cultural differences. Many family recipes from Flaud are shared. Of particular interest to me was "Amish Friendship Bread". Before we had children, I kept the starters and bread going for several months. I'm looking forward to starting this again and was even given the idea of baking all the bread to give out to friends instead of passing along starters. Although, slowing down and enjoying simple things in life such as baking may be what is needed for many of us!

    Honestly, when I selected this book, I thought I had chosen a fiction book because I recognized Woodsmall as a fiction writer whose characters and plots are usually Amish. When the book arrived, I was pleasantly surprised! As a full-time working Mom of two tweens, fiction is difficult for me to read because of time (and sometimes preference). This book can be read in small spurts or all the way through and even has a discussion guide if you'd like to read with a group or a friend.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Amish, those whose hearts are stirred by friendship, someone wanting a light refreshing read and those who need to be reminded of how much God cares for and works in every area of our lives.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted March 11, 2011

    Quick, Easy Read

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud from WaterBrook. In this book, Cindy and Miriam, two friends from two very different worlds - one Old Order Amish and one Englischer - share the truths that bring them together. Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author of several novels about Amish life and Flaud is an Old Order Amish woman who has lived within one of the most structured societies in the United States.

    In the introduction written by Woodsmall, she says of their unique friendship:

    "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."

    The chapters in the book are very short, the longest one being maybe six pages making this book one easy to read by someone busy and not able to read long portions at a time. The chapters stand on their own also making it easy to read a small portion and then maybe not pick the book back up until a few days later.

    While the content of the book is endearing and inspiring, there are many things about its organization that I really did not like. For instance, in each chapter there is constant flipping back and forth between Woodsmall and Flaud. I would have better liked hearing from one of the women alone in each chapter. While the reader will learn much about the Old Order Amish way of life, by mid-way through the book, all the stories began to sound alike.

    There are Amish recipes scattered throughout the book and a discussion guide is included at the end of the book. I give this book a three star rating out of five stars. If the things I mention in the paragraph above would not bother you, then I feel you will enjoy this book and be inspired by the amazing story of friendship between two very different people; something only the amazing grace of God can bring about.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    A must buy!

    I loved everything about this book. I felt like I was given a glimpse into these women's lives. This isn't the kind of book that you read to learn more about Amish. You look into their lives as friends. You will be inspired as a wife and mother, as a daughter and friend. These short stories touch so many topics that women face daily. The scriptures they choose for each chapter was right on. I read this book quick through the first time but then read it slowly a second time. It is a book that you want to slowly digest. Not only will you learn more about these two women and their very different yet similar lives, you will learn more about yourself.

    I recieved this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing for free for my honest review.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

    Plain Wisdom is Plain Heartwarming!

    Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud are two great friends from very different backgrounds. Cindy is a Christian mom and writer living in the mainstream world of media and hustle. Miriam is an Old Order Amish mom who resides in a traditional Amish community. Cindy and Miriam recount stories of motherhood, faith and life from their unique yet similar perspectives. Faith in God is the driving force in each of their lives. Their stories are heartwarming and contain wisdom only derived from living as Christians and mothers. Throughout the stories, Cindy and Miriam offer a glimpse in to the day to day lives of the Amish. The hard work and immense joys are shared as well as information regarding certain Amish traditions. The information was beautifully intertwined with the stories and enhanced the readers understanding of the Amish life. The feeling of the book is that of two experienced mothers passing on life stories to a younger generation. In addition to passing on wisdom, Miriam was kind enough to include some of her family's favorite recipes! I highly recommend this book. I am confident that it will bless your life as it has mine. "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review". The review was not influenced by the publisher. It is my honest evaluation of the book.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

    Understanding and respect can bridge the doctrinal differences in Christianity

    In this very interesting book about the friendship between two very different women, we see that mutual respect and love can bridge many distances. The Amish naturally have to rely on God's rhythm for their lives, the rhythm of the day, the season, of life. Cindy struggles with too much work, too all-consumed by work, and a 24 hour day. She found that she had missed years of her life by trying to juggle too much. She only discovered this after staying at her friend, Miriam's, house.

    Many of the stories were very touching. Sometimes the story told by Cindy Woodsmall was more touching. Sometime the parallel story told by Miriam Flaud was more touching. Each story held some sort of moral, and each chapter began with a scripture. Through the parallel writings of Mrs. Woodsmall, who was formerly a homeschooling mom and is currently a writer, and those of Mrs. Flaud, who has always lived as a "Plain" person, an old order Amish, we begin to see how very much Christianity has in common and how little, really, there is about which to argue. Perhaps if we could get past our preconceived notions and set aside our doctrinal differences, we would all begin to see the common threads we have in Christianity.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this review. Thank you, WaterBrook Multnomah for the opportunity to read this enjoyable book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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