Thursday, September 27, 2018

Review: Homespun by Lorilee Craker

Lorilee Craker, Editor
Herald Press, 2018


Straight from the pens of Amish and Mennonite women . . .

Ever wish you could visit with a group of Amish or Mennonite women over a cup of coffee? In the pages of Homespun, Amish and Plain Mennonite women swap stories and spin yarns while we listen in. Lorilee Craker, bestselling author of Money Secrets of the Amish, collects these personal writings about hospitality, home, grief, joy, and walks with God. Hear from one woman who struggles with feeling inferior to her sister, from another about her longing for a baby, and from a third who accidentally bought stretchy material to sew her husband’s pants. Each woman’s story is a testament to the grace of God and the blessings of community.

Behind Amish romance novels and tourist spots and television shows stand real people, with longings and loves just like the rest of us. Every Amish and Mennonite woman has a story. In Homespun, you get to hear some of them.

My thoughts

Homespun ranks among those books that have left me feeling incredibly blessed. First of all, let me say that although Homespun is a collection of Mennonite/Amish writings, it is timeless and has a universal appeal. God’s provision, protection, guidance, occasional testing, and sometimes supernatural intervention are incredible blessings for which we are all thankful.  Lorilee Craker writes in her introduction … “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.” I enjoyed it very much and plan on going back to savor each chapter slowly.

Lorilee Craker groups these writings into sections – welcome, abide, testimony, wonder, kindred, and beloved. These stories, on the whole, radiate a feeling of peace, contentment and acceptance. There’s no meditative questions or space to journal your thoughts at the end of each chapter, yet Homespun would work exceptionally well as a devotional. In fact, there’s a few chapters with which a week would scarcely be long enough to take it all in.

Each writer’s thoughts spoke to me personally and there’s so many quotes that I could share. Here are just a few of my impressions …

Gertrude Slabach made me regret how often I’ve been reluctant to invite someone into my home because of its appearance. “True hospitality is about blessing others with belonging, value, and importance,” she writes. The focus definitely needs to be on others rather than myself.

In Chapter 2, Sara Nolt shares how involvement with a university’s English as a second language program became a way to host international students, especially some from “hard to reach with the gospel” countries. This hit close to home because my daughter works with international students in a campus ministry and its focus is on unconditional hospitality, beginning with fellowship over meals. Nolt writes, “It is the presence of Christ and his love within you that draw the strangers and cause them to return.”

Chapter 16, Stephanie J. Leinbach writes of her young daughter’s epilepsy and ongoing seizures, how she thought this was a lesson-in-faith detour from which God would eventually return them to normal. When that didn’t happen, she writes: “No matter what road conditions lie ahead, the God who led me through the thorns, who fished me out of a few canyons, who seized me with his grace – that same God will be there.”

I loved Sheila Petre’s beautiful story of courtship and marriage in Chapter 25, because it reminded me somewhat of my own experience, making me to appreciate my husband even more.

In chapter 36, I was moved by Samantha Trenkamp’s way with words as she talks about “Rebuilding from the Shambles of Shame”: Shame can also be a blessing in disguise … The ugly becomes beautiful, the wound gives way to health, the shame gives birth to life lived in sweet abandon to a loving Father. Shame can become yet another tool to teach us to lean hard on God.

Homespun is inspirational, fulfilling, and sometimes challenging. Read it slowly and harvest the wealth to be found in its pages.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Read with Audra and Herald Press. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Editor Lorilee Craker is the author of thirteen books, including Money Secrets of the Amish; 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. Connect with her at


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