Our Ukrainian Adoption {an update}

Our girl

The beautiful girl we’re waiting to bring home forever.

If you had told my newlywed husband and I “When you’ve been married for 20 years you’ll adopt a sixteen year old girl from Ukraine who doesn’t speak English, and looks like your biological daughter”, we would have laughed at you.

But here it is: 2014, and that’s exactly what were doing.

Family Banner - in Russian

“Family” (in Russian)

We always knew we’d adopt someday. And after deciding we would bring home a daughter from Ukraine, we hosted a beautiful nine year old girl who we thought we would one day call our daughter & sister. We were forever changed after sharing an incredible summer with her. We learned a whole lot about this thing called orphan care. We loved her desperately, and still do. But she was not the girl we would bring home forever. I cried when she left. A lot. In fact, our 10 year old daughter & I couldn’t even bear to go into the room she slept in for months after she went back to Ukraine.

But God was preparing our hearts, and writing a story we couldn’t even begin to dream up.

We first saw this photo on our Ukrainian orphan hosting program’s 2013 listing:

Hosting Photo

We saw it again in the 2013 winter hosting. And then, in the summer of 2014, there it was again. This beautiful girl. We couldn’t believe she’d never been adopted. We wondered what her story was. We couldn’t forget about her. We prayed for her. And we marveled at the fact she looked so much like a beautiful girl we knew, named Ioana.

Sadly, we didn’t even entertain the thought of hosting (or adopting!) her, because she was much older than the daughter we imagined bringing home forever.

That all changed one day when my sister called and told me about a dream she had, where she described a girl who “looked like Ioana”. I’ll share the unbelievable God-sized details another time. Our whole family knew without a shadow of doubt that this was the daughter and sister God wanted us to bring home, and we immediately took action to host her for the summer, and even before meeting her, we started the process of her adoption.

Letters sent as we waited to meet our girl...

Letters sent as we waited to meet our girl…

First photo with my future daughter ~ At the airport in New York after her flight from Ukraine

First photo with my future daughter ~ At the airport in New York after her flight from Ukraine

The first sister hug.

The first sister hug while Daddy beams in the background

First night together as a family, in Orlando

First night together as a family, in Orlando

I met our girl when she arrived in NYC in June of 2014. We flew to Orlando, Florida where our family vacationed together at Disneyworld. We then drove home to Texas. When she walked into the room we had prepared for her, she lost her composure for the first time, buried her head in my shoulder and sobbed – overwhelmed by the love of her newfound family.

Our family vacation

From left to right: Myself, our biological daughter, my husband and our Ukrainian daughter

Arriving in Texas!

Arrival in Texas!

The weeks with our girl flew by. We got to know her. She loves M&M’s, french fries and pickles, and she drinks her coffee black with a teaspoon of sugar. She’s passionate and funny. She’s one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. She loves adventure, but she is scared of bridges. :-)

Visiting Daddy at Work

Visiting Daddy at Work

We laughed often. Our Ukrainian girl has a laugh that is loud, and contagious. Many times the laughter was a result of the hilarious things that happened because of our language barrier. We studied hard before she came, and knew enough Russian to communicate on a basic level. She also knew a bit of English. Add Google translate, charades and volumes of expression to the mix, and we were (almost) always able to understand each other.

Bonding as Sisters

Bonding as Sisters

Good times with family

Good Times With Family

Her deepest desire was always to have a family. We learned that her mother left when she was a toddler. Her dad died shortly after her sixth birthday, and she went to the orphanage. She told us about when she cried for days, after a fight with some other orphan girls. Those girls took the only photos she had of her beloved father, and they burned them. How we wished we could have been there to protect her as she grew up.

Sixteenth Birthday

Her Sixteenth Birthday – where family & friends brought 16 birthday cakes for every single birthday we missed with our girl, and we sang “Happy Birthday” and she blew out candles every time

It was an unforgettable summer together. We celebrated our daughter & sister-to-be’s 16th birthday with our incredibly supportive family and friends.

My husband patiently working through one of the hard days with our girl

My husband patiently working through one of the hard days with our girl

Of course the days and moments weren’t all sunshine and roses. Anyone who knows anything about what happens to a child who has spent 10 years in an orphanage can read between the lines of this paragraph and know that there were some very difficult times during her visit. The honeymoon was over after our second week together as a new “family”. I marvel at the way my husband and biological daughter navigated some of the most difficult territory they’d ever encountered throughout those weeks. I grew a whole lot as a mother. But the hard times were not a surprise to us, and we got through them together.

The Day We Said Goodbye

The Tearful Day We Said Goodbye

Our Ukrainian daughter’s hosting program visit came to end in late July. She boarded the airplane and went back to the orphanage where she remains until she legally becomes our daughter, and we bring her home forever. We “talk” with her often, through messages on an Eastern European social media platform.

Before She Boarded the Plane for Kiev

Before She Boarded the Plane for Kiev

We miss her like crazy. We dream every day of when we’ll finally be together again. We pray that God will protect her, strengthen her, and reveal His unending love to her.

Adoption Paperwork

Hours Upon Hours of Adoption Paperwork

The adoption process is coming to a close, as everything has been done on this side of the ocean, and we wait for word from Kiev, Ukraine. As we anticipate the day our daughter’s adoption is finally complete, we know that it is only the beginning, and that there is a long journey ahead as we join hands and walk through the uncharted territory of our unique FOREVER FAMILY story. There will be joy. There will be pain. There’ll be lots of learning, and stretching out of our normal and comfortable places.

But we’ll walk together, because this adoption is what we’ve been called by God to do. He paid the ultimate sacrifice and went to unimaginable lengths to do it for us, and call us His sons and daughters. We’ll continue to look to Him for strength and wisdom at every turn.

Our Family

Our Family

And as I close this post, I want you to know that I am typing through tears. Tears of thankfulness for God’s faithfulness to our family. Tears of missing our girl. But ultimately tears of joy from a heart that is overflowing with the magnitude and beauty of it all. God’s ways are higher and greater than I ever dared imagine. He is gifting us with beautiful daughter whose courage to leave all she knows and say “yes” to a family from Texas who wants to call her ours simply astonishes me, and makes me so proud to be called her “Mama”.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point of our adoption journey. We couldn’t have done it without you, and we thank God for the part you play in our family’s story.

I look forward to giving you another update again very soon,

Justina Dee

We’re in the final stages of funding our adoption! Click here if you would like to make a donation, through the Orphan Care Network. 

 

{Body Image} You’re Beautiful When You Lift Up Others

True Beauty | www.lydiaglick.com

Dear daughter, there’s something I want you to know and recognize when it comes to the subject of beauty. The most beautiful women I know are the ones who lift up and encourage the downtrodden around them. In addition, beautiful people are those who create, give and share beauty and love with the world. Beauty is so much more than a beautiful face, it is a beautiful life.

For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. ~ Sam Levenson

It’s so important to see the worth in others. Especially those people who most never notice, and who may not have the strength to see their own purpose and value. Your most difficult experiences in life will bring you to a place of understanding people who desperately need someone to simply care about them. It is in that place that your beauty will shine the brightest. Elisabeth Ross says “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” She’s right.

Not only is it important that you care for others, it is vital that you share the unique passions, art, ideas and vision that only YOU can to bring to the world around you. Creativity shatters obstacles and breaks down barriers. When people feel trapped in impossible places, it opens their prisons. It brings possibility and hope to bleak situations.

“God created us in His image, and He gave us an imagination with His imprint to create things for His glory!” – Alisa Hope Wagner. 

Dig up and nurture those talents deep inside of you! As you share the creative ideas God has placed within you, beauty will radiate from not only your soul, but from your actions and will spread its gifts to all who encounter them.

“But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.” Madeleine L’Engle

When we lift up others, creatively solve problems and dare to dream big, our perspective changes, our burdens become lighter, and our trivial problems are suddenly not so pressing. We begin to see a picture much bigger than our own tiny selves. And the result? Light pierces the darkness, others are strengthened and encouraged, and you are developing the atmosphere of Jesus who is our great example, and who did this better than anyone else in history.

So dear daughter of mine, fill yourself up with the beauty of Christ. Breathe it in. Look to Him every morning when you wake up. As you dwell in that source all day and every day, you will come to a place where you can see the world through His eyes, and share His radiance, love, light, and beauty everywhere you go. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3, NIV)  

By sharing beauty and kindness you will receive favor and feel a satisfaction and fulfillment like no other.  Your beauty will shine like bright stars in the darkest night. And when you lay your head on your pillow at night, you can rest in the peace of Him who created you, and lovingly formed you for a beautiful purpose which is greater and more important than you can ever imagine. 

~ Justina Dee

This is number five of seven posts on self image I’m writing for my daughter. Click here to read one of my favorites! 

Phrases in Pennsylvania Dutch {Lessons from My Amish Family}

My brother & me

My brother & me

I was born into a “New Order Amish” family, and learned to speak both Pennsylvania Dutch and English as a child. The Amish people are fluent speakers of both Pennsylvania Dutch and English. They also have a reading knowledge of High German, which is used in their church services in scripture reading, preaching and worship songs.

My parents on their wedding day

My wonderful parents, on their wedding day

“Pennsylvania Dutch” is actually not “Dutch” at all, but rather, Pennsylvania Deutsch (or German). “Pennsylvania German developed in the eighteenth century as the result of the immigration of approximately 81,000 German-speakers from Central Europe, including Switzerland, to southeastern Pennsylvania. The vast majority (96 percent) of these immigrants were of the Lutheran or German Reformed faith; of the remaining 4 percent, roughly one-half were Mennonites and only a few hundred were Amish. Whatever varieties of German they spoke in Europe, the Amish assimilated to the language of the majority, Pennsylvania German, which resembles most closely the German dialects spoken in the southeastern Palatinate, near the city of Mannheim. The influence of English on Pennsylvania German is often overstated. Only 10 to 15 percent of Pennsylvania German vocabulary is English-derived; its core grammatical structures remain Palatine German.” Anabaptist Studies at Elizabethtown College

Party at Grandma's house! (That's me, on my Grandma Esh's lap.)

Party at Grandma’s house!

Although I don’t speak much Dutch these days, there are a few phrases from my childhood that I still use on a regular basis, when speaking with my daughter. Here are the phrases, for your reading enjoyment! (Note: These words are not spelled technically, but phonetically instead so that you can pronounce them as written. Many thanks to my Daddy Jacob Dienner for his help!)

Playing with my brother

Playing with my brother

Kannscht du Deitsch schvetza?Can you speak Dutch?

Gleh vennigh or gleh bissley – A little bit

Vie gehts? – How are you?

Sittsit unnah - Sit down

Vas is letz? What is wrong?

Vesh die pattiesWash your hands

Tzeit for essahTime to eat

Vas denkscht? - What do you think?

Vas in der velt? - What in the world?

Gutte’ nachtGood night

and my favorite…

Ich liebe dichI love you

Tomorrow I’ll be wrapping up my 31 days of lessons from my Amish family. What a great journey this has been! Thanks so much for sharing the road with me. ~ Justina Dee

Click here to read more posts from my Amish series.

Sources:

The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College

Links:

Pennsylvania Dutch Phrases 

You Know You’re From Lancaster When…

First video in a series of PA Dutch lessons

Seven Election Day Quizzes {Midterm 2014}

I Voted Sticker 2014 | LydiaGlick.com

You’ve voted, you have the sticker, and now you’re keeping an eye on the 2014 mid-term election results. Here are a few quizzes to test your general knowledge about the great United Sates of America and voting practices around the world. Simply click on the links to get started. Have fun!

How Do People Vote Around the World? 

Who Do You Side With Politically? 

How Much Do You Know About Elections and Voting?

What Is Your Current News & Affairs IQ?

How Well Do You Know Your American History?

Constitutional Knowledge Quiz

Citizenship Quiz for American Government, American History and Civics

 

 

Summary of Thirty-One Amish Days

Buggy Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Buggy Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

These 31 posts have been such a tremendous personal journey for me. I discovered there were many memories, experiences and stories that I had kept to myself, by tucking them away in my brain where I had never shared them with my daughter. The challenge of writing about my family for 31 days was a wonderful way to spark recollections, and be certain that the gift of my treasured heritage is not forgotten.

Amish Sunrise by Julie Lea Waldron

Lancaster County Sunrise | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Although no family is perfect, there are so many unique and personal experiences that are significant and meaningful to each of our family histories, and I encourage all my readers to take a similar journey if you haven’t already done so!

Scooter Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Scooter Ride | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

I intend to continue writing about my Amish & Mennonite heritage in the future, these 31 days are only the start! My next adventure along these lines will be sharing treasures from visits to familiar places in one of the most beautiful places on earth; Lancaster County, PA. I’m excited about doing some vlogging (video blogging) along the way.

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

My deep and sincere thanks to my dear parents Jacob & Kathryn Dienner for their contributions to this series, Julie Lea Waldron for sharing her wonderful Lancaster County street photography, Amish365 for featuring many of my posts on their site, Lehman’s for connecting with me for future projects, and to you, my amazing readers! I’m so thankful for you, and appreciate all your messages and feedback! Also – thank you for sharing these posts with your friends.

Lancaster County Sunset | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Lancaster County Sunset | Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

As I bring these 31 Amish Days to a close, I wanted to let you know which posts were the most visited, and which ones were most special to me:

Top posts, in order of popularity:

10 Interesting Amish Foods

7 Things Every Amish Girl Knows How To Do

The Mennonite Game

Joy In the Simple Things

Beyond Buggies & Bonnets

And my favorites, in no particular order:

Patience & Perseverance 

Working Together

The Gift of Song

Joy In the Simple Things

The Habit of Prayer

Thank you so much for sharing this walk through my family’s story with me!

~ Justina Dee

Click here to visit the 31 Days of Lessons From my Amish Family page

How to Make Shoofly Pie {Lessons from My Amish Family}

 

Shoofly Pie Close Up

Shoofly Pie, the quintessential Amish dessert.

Grandma Lydia's Shoofly Pie Recipe

Grandma Lydia’s Shoofly Pie Recipe

My Grandma Lydia made 3-4 shoofly pies every week. She specialized in the “wet-bottom” variety. (Some people prefer a drier, more coffee-cake like version, but not our family!)

The cup Grandma Esh used as a measuring cup when making shoofly pie

The cup Grandma used as a measuring cup when making Shoofly Pie, and a stoneware bowl in which she mixed shoofly pie and other baked goods.

My Grandma and my Mother taught me how to make Shoofly Pie, so I wanted to be sure my daughter knew how to make it as well. In this post I’ll share her first shoofly-pie-making experience.

Pie Crust

It begins with a perfect pie crust.

Roll the pie crust

…rolled out into a circle, ready to place into pie plate as the shell for future shoofly-deliciousness.

Ingredients for shoofly pie

Shoofly Pie is made from simple ingredients. Some say this pie’s name comes from the fact that its sticky, sweet molasses base attracted flies as it cooled. Others say the name originates from an early recipe which called for a brand of molasses called “Shoofly”. Although there are variations in the stories of the pie’s history, one fact is not up for dispute: it is the most famous pie is in Amish Country.

Shoofly Pie Syrup

Most shoofly pie bakers I know use either Golden Barrel or King Syrup in their family recipe.

King Syrup

After your crust is ready, combine the wet ingredients with baking soda and some brown sugar.

Wet Ingredients Shoofly Pie

Make sure to add the beaten egg slowly, and whisk well to keep the mixture smooth.

Shoofly Crumb topping

Next, flour, brown sugar and shortening are combined to make the crumb topping. Traditional pies use lard, our family uses Spectrum’s organic, non-hydrogenated shortening, purchased from our local grocery store.

Wet and dry ingredients for Shoofly Pie

Your wet and dry ingredients are now ready for the next step.

Crumbs added to shoofly pie batter

After the crumbs are made, it’s time to place half of them into the wet ingredients and gently mix them together.

Shoofly Pie ready for crumbs

This mixture is then poured into your unbaked, prepared pie shell, and then there’s only one more step before baking:

Place crumbs on top of shoofly pie

…gently spread the remaining crumbs on top of the wet mixture.

Ready to bake - Shoofly Pie

 Your Shoofly Pie is ready for the oven!

Shoofly Pie | Lydia Glick

After it is baked, cool for at least 30 minutes, and then enjoy! We like it best served with milk or coffee.

Here’s my Grandma Lydia’s recipe

Lydia’s Shoofly Pie

(Makes 2, 8 inch pies.) Use your favorite pie crust recipe, and have two, eight-inch, unbaked pie crusts ready for the following filling.

First combine:

2 Cups Boiling Water

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Molasses

2 Cups Brown Sugar

1 Egg

Next combine:

4 Cups Flour

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Shortening

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In large mixing bowl combine boiling water and baking soda. Add molasses and brown sugar. Mix well. Slowly add beaten egg.

In separate mixing bowl mix flour and brown sugar. Add shortening and cut with pastry cutter until fine crumbs are formed.

Add HALF of the crumb mixture to the wet mixture. Stir gently to mix well, and pour into two, unbaked pie crusts.

Gently place remaining crumbs on top of pies.

Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Grandma's Shoofly Pie | LydiaGlick.com

Grandma’s Shoofly Pie | LydiaGlick.com

~ Justina Dee

This is a post from my “31 Lessons from My Amish Family” series. Click here to read more! 

Link:

Not So Humble Pie Blog: “The Shoo Fly Pie was created when colonists in the early 18th century found their baking supplies running low late in the winter. The ingredients left in the pantry were usually flour, lard and molasses or refiner’s syrup. Many have presumed that the unusual name of the pie was due to it attracting flies as it cooled near an open window. However, the name “Shoo Fly Pie” did not appear in print until 1926. I agree with John Ayto in his An A-Z of Food and Drink when he states . . . “the fact that it originated as a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty suggests the possibility that shoofly is an alteration of an unidentified German word.” I totally agree with this conclusion because one of those antique recipe pamphlets that Harold Jamieson loaned to me mentioned that the pie had been associated with the name “Schuuflei Boi”.”

 

A Tribute to My Amish-Preacher Grandpa

Grussdaudy

My Grussdaudy ~ Isaac L. Dienner

“Isaac L. Dienner my beloved Grussdaudy (Grandaddy) finished his pilgrimage on earth Friday evening, February 5, 2010. An Old Order Amish minister for 57 years, he left an enduring legacy of faith for his 14 children, 48 grandchildren &  (at the time of his death) 76 great-grandchildren.” ~ Quote from my brother, Jet Dienner

Grussdaudy’s Entrance Into Eternal Joy

Grussdaudy,

You knelt humbly beside your bed, receiving daily strength from your Heavenly Father.

Now you kneel before God’s throne, and see with heavenly eyes His glorious riches, and behold face to face how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. You are engulfed and surrounded with all the surpassing love and fullness of God.
Eph 3:14-19

You bowed your head in daily worship of God, with Grussmummy by your side.

Now you worship with the heavenly multitude on the sea of glass, clear as crystal, before God’s throne, which is surrounded with the emerald rainbow. You hear with your ears the four living creatures who day and night never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” You see the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever.
Rev 4:6-11

You were chosen here on earth, by the Spirit of the Lord upon you, to “preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Now you stand in victory on the mountain where the Lord Almighty has destroyed the shroud that enfolds earth, where death has been swallowed up forever, and God has wiped away the tears from all faces.
Isaiah 61:1
Isaiah 25:6-8

You persevered, and endured hardships here, holding firm to your faith till the end.

Now you will reap the harvest of righteousness. You stand in heaven, saved by grace, and gaze upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame. You see him sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God!
Hebrews 12:1-3
Matthew 24:13

You were the patriarch of a large family here, and led and witnessed many weddings.

Now you celebrate with saints, at the wedding supper of the lamb. You take your place at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Revelations 19:9

You worked skillfully here as a carpenter, crafting beautiful things from wood.

Now you live in the place prepared for you by the Master Carpenter.
Mark 6:3
John 14:1-4

You lived a life of simplicity and modesty, poor in the eyes of the world.

Now you inherit the riches, the beauty, the grandeur and the splendor of God’s kingdom, which can never perish, spoil or fade. You shine like a star with the brightness of heaven, and walk on streets of gold.
Matthew 6:19
James 2:5
1 Peter 1:3-5
Daniel 12:3

You harnessed horses and drove your buggy here on earthly roads.

Now you will witness a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True…His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns…The armies of heaven follow him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Rev 19:11-16

You led a peaceful life, earnestly seeking that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Now the earthly veil is removed, and you reign with Jesus forever. You taste and see the goodness and glory of the Son of God, The Prince of Peace.
Matthew 6:10
Psalm 34:8
Romans 12:18
Isaiah 9:6

You read your worn German Bible, by the dim light of an oil lamp.

Now you see the face of your beautiful Savior Jesus, THE Word. You see his face, and his name will be on your forehead. You will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give you light.
Psalm 17:15
John 1:1
Revelation 22: 4-5

Thank you God for my Grandfather’s faithful witness of the Gospel, and for the way pictures of his life on earth are shadows of the glory to be revealed in the age to come. Thank you that your Word is true, and it will endure forever! 

A grateful granddaughter, Justina (written February, 2010)

This is post number 24 of a 31 post series called Lessons From My Amish Family. Click here to read more!

 

 

Chicken Dan, and Other Amish Nicknames

 

Amish Man in Field

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Chicken Dan

Squirrel Junior

Beaver Amos

Zorbit Lee

and Sam Bip

are all names of Amish men my family knows. Then there’s Peanut, Git’s Omar, Push Johnny, Porky, Piddley, Spider, and Pumpkin.

My great uncle John Esh on the left, and his oldest brother, my Grandpa Jonas Esh on the right

My great uncle John Esh on the left, and his oldest brother, my Grandpa Jonas Esh on the right | Photo from Rose Myers

My Great-Grandmother Stoltzfus’s family was known as “The Sandy’s”, My mother believes the name came from the color of her father’s hair. And my mother’s Uncle “Johnny Esh” got the nickname Johnny Cash (yes, after the singer).

Amish Men Chatting

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

I’ve always been fascinated by the nicknames used in Amish circles. Because there are so many people with the same first names (such as John, Daniel, Jacob and David) and last names (such as Stoltzfus, Beiler, Glick and Zook) throughout Amish Communities, they’ve come up with some clever ways of telling them apart.

Amishman on Scooter

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Of course there’s the obvious first-name nickname. Take for example my brothers Jonas and Isaac who are named after our grandfathers Jonas Esh and Isaac Dienner, and could be called Joney & Ike.

Amish Father

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

And then there’s the identification of someone through their family. Because our father’s name is Jacob my brothers would be “Jake’s Jonas” and “Jake’s Isaac”.  Or for example; Abraham Stoltzfus’s son David would be “Abe Stolzfus’s Davy”.

Amish Boys

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

But then there’s my favorite – the random nicknames such as the list I shared above.

Amishmen in buggy

Photo by Julie Lea Waldrom

“Chicken Dan” was obviously a chicken farmer. I’m not sure how the other names on the list came about. My sister told me about a family she & her husband know. Their oldest son is short and people called him “PeeWee Dan”. He had four younger brothers who were not short, but the name PeeWee stuck. They were called PeeWee Dave, PeeWee Lloyd, PeeWee Steve, and PeeWee Allan.

Chicken Dinner

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

Although these names are usually given to men, there are occasional nicknames for women too, such as “Loopy Linda”.

In closing, I’d like to share a bit from the great article AmishNews.com posted on this topic:

The most unusual nicknames often have the most fascinating stories. Here are a few, provided by a local Amishman…

“Buck Dave” and his sons got this name from the farm they bought, which had a forge formerly owned by someone named Buckley.

“Piggy Amos” got his name from his school days, when he pretended to be a pig during a recess game.

“Double Decker Ben” received his name because of the unique barn he owned.

The “Push Esh” family got its name when they rescued a horse that had gotten stuck in a snowbank.

A boy named Sam owned a car many years ago, when it was almost never tolerated for the young people. He and his friends tried to keep it a secret, and referred to the car as “the Chamba.” In time, he got the nickname of “Chamba Sam.”

Amish Men Relaxing

Photo by Julie Lea Waldron

I’m not sure there’s any particularly valuable lesson I learned from my Amish family when it comes to these names. But it makes me smile, and I feel it’s an important part of the Amish community and culture. Thanks for reading. I hope it made you smile too!

~ Justina Dee

Many thanks to Lancaster County street photographer Julie Lea Waldron for the great photos! If you enjoyed this post, I’m sure you’ll love reading “The Mennonite Game”

Click here to read more posts from the series “31 Lessons from My Amish Family”

Links:

Amish News article about Amish Nicknames

Amish America on Common Amish Names

GAMEO’s article on Mennonite Nicknames

 

John Schmid’s Amish Nicknames:

Sometimes You Need to Stop and Treat Your Feet {5 Relaxation Techniques from My Grandma}

Enamel Basin by Lehmans

Enamelware Basin by Lehman’s

I’ve talked much about my hardworking Amish family. But in this post I’d like to share a little something about some of my Grandma Lydia’s relaxation techniques.

First up is my favorite. After working hard in the garden or yard she often said it was time to “Treat Your Feet”. She would pull out a basin or bucket, fill it with warm water, sprinkle some Epsom Salts inside and then we’d sit down, put our feet in the bucket and relax for a while. I can’t help but smile when I think of a row of grandchildren on a bench, all sitting quietly with our feet tucked neatly in her hodgepodge collection of buckets and basins. My grandmother was brilliant! And guess what? Experts still tout the benefits of Epsom Salt foot baths today.

Playing beside Grandma's Table

My little brother Jonas, playing beside Grandma’s table

Next, there was “Warm Milk & Honey” at bedtime. Grandma would warm up a little farm milk, pour it into a special glass or mug then she helped us squeeze in a teaspoon of raw honey from the honey-bear. She let us stir it all up and then we’d sit next to her and Grandpa and sip on it slowly. I’m not sure if it was the milk & honey, or a placebo effect from the process of making & drinking it, but it worked like a charm!

Another one of her ways to relax was ReadingAfter the day’s work was done, you would often find my grandparents reading a good book, and they taught us grandchildren to do the same.

Grandma's Doily

A Doily Made by Grandma Lydia

Grandma was an avid crocheter. She especially loved creating beautiful and intricate doilies. This hobby of hers was something she loved to do in her downtime, and I believe it was one of the ways she would unwind from the stress of the day.

Last there was singing. As Grandpa and Grandma were New Order Amish, they had electricity and tape players. The tapes in their collection were those of groups who used no musical instruments. Grandma would turn on the tape-player and fill the room with quiet and beautiful acapella harmonies for us when it was time to relax. My favorite tapes at Grandma’s house were those from Gospel Express.

Grandma relaxing

Grandma relaxing outdoors with one of her grandbabies.

Next time I need to slow things down a bit, I believe I just may “Treat My Feet” and sip on some warm milk and honey. Grandma really did know best! I’d love for you to share some of your own grandparent’s relaxation techniques by commenting on this post.

~ Justina Dee

This is post number 22 in a series called “Lessons I Learned from My Amish Family. Thanks so much for following along. Click here to read more!

On Making Butter…and Memories {Lessons from My Amish Family}

Butter Churn by Lehman's

Butter Churn by Lehman’s

One day I was driving down the road and a random commercial about butter played on the radio.

Waves of memories crashed over me, as I suddenly remembered a time my Grandma Lydia taught me how to make butter. I recalled standing on a stool beside her, as she explained the process, and showed me just how to turn the little handle on her glass churn.

As I remembered the sweet time with my Grandma, tears welled up in my eyes, began leaking down my cheeks and suddenly I was crying so hard I had to pull off the road till I could compose myself.

I realized something that day. My Amish family taught me that beautiful memories are not made of superficial stuff. The best memories are formed from simple and meaningful experiences.

Cousins having fun at Grandma & Grandpa's house

Cousins having fun at Grandma & Grandpa’s house

My grandparents never took me on fancy vacations, bought me clothes at the mall, or gave me the latest electronics. They never sat me in front of a television, or put the remote control for a gaming device in my hand.

Instead they invested time and love into the lives of those they cared about, just by being with us and living life alongside us. The memories I have with them are humble and modest, but powerful just the same. They were fully engaged and attentive in the everyday moments, creating meaningful, rich, and significant experiential memories that last and shine on for lifetimes.

Grandpa Jonas & Grandma Lydia's House in Churchtown, PA

Grandpa Jonas & Grandma Lydia’s House in Churchtown, PA where my parents live today

“In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring, and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit.”
― Marge Kennedy

I have many precious memories of times with family in the dear old house pictured above. Experiential memories. The kind money can’t buy. Memories that formed the way I see the world today. I’m thankful for my grandparents. They were rich in the things that matter. Character, wisdom and love. And they took the time to share it all with me.

~ Justina Dee

This is post number 21 of a series I’m sharing about my Amish family. Click here to read more! 

To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward. ~Margaret Fairless Barber, The Roadmender