My four adult children can’t remember a time when the Amish weren’t a part of their lives. My youngest, Kara, was toted around as a baby to Amish friend’s houses and businesses in the Conewango Valley in New York where we lived for fourteen years. The Amish in our neck of the woods were Troyer Amish, a stricter brand and not too open to Outsiders. Given passage into their food co-op was a real honor. We were told we were their trusted English friends – a rarity.
When we moved back home to Western Pennsylvania, we were delighted to be only thirty minutes from the Amish of Smicksburg. It was a real shock at how different they were. They’re the friendliest Amish towards us “Yankees” (they don’t call us Englishers) and in no time I had several Amish friends. Today, the Smicksburg Amish are being told their too strict, not allowed to carry cell phones. A split of sorts is happening, the haves and have-nots of cell phones. Just the other day an Amish man grumbled, “If you have a cell phone, you’re not Amish!”
I’m glad to write about the differences between Amish settlements because my readers can see the Amish have problems, too. And it can be fun. In my book, Amish Knitting Circle Christmas: Granny & Jeb’s Love Story, Granny comes to help build the new Smicksburg settlement in 1963 from “liberal” Ohio and meets Jeb from Cambria County, PA who just left a strict Swartzentruber settlement. She thinks he’s a stick in the mud, and Jeb thinks Granny an outspoken vain woman. Sparks fly at first sight but not of the “gut” kind. In the end, they realize they balance each other out.
Different sects of Amish glean from each other and we English can learn at a lot as well. My books are all set in small towns with Amish and English rubbing shoulders, much as I do in real life. I’ve changed in many ways from being around the Amish. I can, garden, homestead, knit and don’t fight nature anymore. When the ground is resting in winter or it’s raining, I do most of my writing. I also don’t watch television, only have Netflix and a DVD player, and the Sabbath is taken more seriously.
My husband and I get teased at times about being Amish. Over the past twenty-five years we’ve morphed into being “almost Amish,” and we’re glad of it. They’re wunderbar gut people who have their priorities in the right order: faith, family, friends.
Karen Anna Vogel has worn many hats: stay-at-home mom to four kids, homeschool veteran, entrepreneur, substitute teacher and wife to Tim for 33 years. Writing has always been a constant passion, so Karen was thrilled to meet her literary agent, Joyce Hart, in a bookstore…gabbing about Amish fiction. After her kids flew the coop, she delved into writing, and nine books later, she’s passionate about portraying the Amish and small town life in a realistic way, many of her novels based on true stories. She is also a top 100 Amazon Author in the religion and spirituality sections. Her latest Kindle release is The Herbalist’s Daughter Trilogy. Living in rural, PA, she writes about all the beauty around her: rolling hills, farmland, and the sound of buggy wheels.
She’s a graduate from Seton Hill University (psych & education) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Masters in Biblical Counseling). In her spare time she enjoys knitting, birding, photography, homesteading, and watching/reading anything Jane Austen.