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

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

 

 

The Gift of Hospitality {Lessons From my Amish Family}

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Grandma Lydia's Good Dishes

Grandma Lydia’s “Sunday Dishes”

HOSPITAL’ITY, noun [Latin hospitalitas.] The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality. – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

When reflecting upon the valuable lessons my Amish family taught me, I have to put hospitality near the top of the list.

My grandparents welcomed guests into their home with a spirit of sincere love and generosity. Never to simply entertain or impress others, but instead to extend grace, comfort, and peace – through a delicious home cooked meal, thoughtful conversation and fellowship, lots of fun and laughter and, if needed, a comfortable bed and pillow for the night.

Mummy Stoltzfus's Visitor Dishes

The dishes my Great-Grandmother Esh (Rachel) used when family or company, visited during the week. My mother especially loved this set.

Both sets of my grandparents (Grussdaudy & Grussmommy Dienner, and Grandpa & Grandma Esh) sincerely loved having visitors in their homes, and welcomed people of many backgrounds and cultures. I very much enjoyed seeing them interact with people who were completely different from them – the most beautiful thing being their lack of judgement or pressing their own notions onto others, and the genuine interest they took in the things their guests had to say.

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”  – Henri J.M. Nouwen

Amish Table Linens

Some of my Amish grandparent’s personalized table linens, embroidered with their first initials. (“B” for Barbara, “I” for Isaac and “J” for Jonas)

My grandfathers always did whatever they could to make their guests comfortable, and my grandmothers outdid themselves in serving plenty of delicious food. There was never a lack of good conversation around the table.

“A compassionate open home is part of Christian responsibility, and should be practiced up to the level of capacity.” – Francis Schaeffer

Grussmummy's Good Dishes

My Grussmommy “Barbara’s” Good Dishes

Amish women may not prepare recipes from the pages of Bon Appetit, but their food is wholesome and delicious, and many times uses ingredients from their own gardens, orchards and pastures. They take great joy in preparing a beautiful spread for their guests, and will often bring out their “good dishes” when there is “company” sitting around their table.

Hospitality has never been about having House Beautiful with perfectly coordinated accessories and the most up-to-date equipment, nor is it dependent upon having large chunks of leisure time and a big entertainment budget to spend, nor does it require special training in the culinary arts or event planning. Hospitality is about a heart for service, the creativity to stretch whatever we do have available, and the energy to give the time necessary to add a flourish to the ordinary events of life. ~Dorothy Kelley Patterson

Grussmommy's mother Annie's Sunday Dishes

My great-grandmother Annie’s Sunday Dishes (She was my Grussmommy Barbara’s mother)

The culture of hospitality in the Amish community is cultivated by their intentional living style. The lack of “normal” modern hurriedness creates a space where there is time to simply enjoy being together – sharing, food, life, ideas, stories, and a place to put your feet up for a while.

“Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant and I use it as He desires.” Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.” – Karen B. Mains

Grussmommy's Grandmother's , Mrs. Jonas (Catherine) Stoltzfus

These dishes belonged to Grussmommy’s Grandmother’s , Mrs. Jonas (Catherine) Stoltzfus – (My great-great grandmother)

I love the lessons my grandparents taught me about hospitality. Most of all that serving our fellow man is a privileged act of respecting others, and worshipping God.

“A life of hospitality begins in worship, with a recognition of God’s grace and generosity. Hospitality is not first a duty and responsibility; it is first a response of love and gratitude for God’s love and welcome to us.” –  Christine Pohl

In closing I share one more quote – one that perfectly encapsulates the way I felt when I visited the homes of my Amish grandparents. May the same be said of our homes, by all guests who stop and spend time under our roofs:

“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.” –  J.R.R. Tolkien

~ Justina Dee

This post is from a series I’m sharing called “Lessons from My Amish Family”. Click here to read more! 

One last quote on hospitality:

“There is a huge difference between “entertaining” and offering hospitality. Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.” – Karen Ehman

Patience and Perseverance {A lesson from my Grandpa}

Grandpa Esh

Grandpa Jonas Esh

“The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.” – John Piper

When he was thirty-six years old my Grandpa Jonas Esh was a husband, father to six children and Amish farmer and businessman. Life took a dramatic turn one day when he and a crew of workmen were painting the barns on Grandpa’s farm.

Grandpa's Farm

One of the barns on Grandpa’s Farm in Morgantown, PA.

Grandpa was on top of a tall ladder with a spray painter in hand. One of the men on the crew moved the paint truck, not realizing the paint hose was attached to the ladder Grandpa was on.

The ladder fell several stories and so did my Grandpa. His life changed forever. He suffered a broken spine, permanent nerve damage and became partially paralyzed in his legs. In addition, he lost use of his kidneys, forcing the need for dialysis treatments three times per week for the rest of his life.

Jonas Esh Family - early years

Grandpa and his family before the accident

I don’t know what life looked like for those first years after the accident. I can imagine it must have been incredibly difficult. I do know that Grandpa & Grandma were surrounded by a strong community, and that my uncles grew up quickly as they suddenly had to shoulder the responsibilities of the farm.

Grandpa & Grandma Esh & Family in the 70's

Grandpa & Grandma Esh & Family in the 70’s

I knew the older version of Grandpa. A man who was told he would never walk again, but proved everyone wrong. He had a limp but it failed to stop him. He didn’t use a cane, and even refused to use handicapped tags for his car, saying there were other people who needed the space more than he did. My Grandpa was unstoppable! People with less strength of character would have given up on life, but not Grandpa. Instead, he carried on – displaying incredible perseverance and tenacity.

Grandpa on the roof

Grandpa working on the roof

In spite of all his difficulties, Grandpa never displayed frustration or discontentment to us grandchildren. He was patient, kind, and a whole lot of fun to be with!

Fishing with Grandpa

Fishing with Grandpa

Grandpa and the wagon

Hauling pumpkins with Grandpa

Relaxing with Grandpa

Relaxing with Grandpa

Helping Grandpa

Helping Grandpa

Birthday Party with Grandpa

Birthday Party!

Grandpa Jonas combing my brother Jonas' hair

Grandpa Jonas combing my brother Jonas’s hair

I’m sure there are many things that helped cultivate perseverance and patience in his life, and Grandma was an incredible source of strength to him over the years. But I believe his deep trust in his Savior and his eternal perspective are what sustained Grandpa through all the difficulties he faced on a daily basis. Grandpa loved hymns, and one of his favorites was “Going Down the Valley”:

“We are going down the valley one by one,
When the labors of the weary day are done;
One by one, the cares of earth forever past,
We shall stand upon the river brink at last.” ~ Jessie Pounds

Grandpa & Grandma playing a game together

Grandpa & Grandma playing a game ~ I love this picture because it shows them working through something together, just as we always saw them do in life.

I sure do miss you Grandpa. I never got to see you run here on earth – those legs of yours wouldn’t allow you to do it. But I look forward to the day I see you in heaven, whole and complete, maybe even running by that river you loved to sing about. And thank you for teaching me what it means to persevere and be patient – no matter what obstacles and hardships come my way. I’m forever grateful to God for your example.

~ Justina Dee

 This is post number 19 of a 31 day series I’m blogging about my Amish family. Thanks so much for reading! Click here to read more.

 

 

 

 

The Impact of One Teacher

One Room School House Teacher Mrs. Buchanan

One Room School House Teacher Mrs. Buchanan

Meet Mrs. Buchanan. She was my grandmother’s school teacher during the 1930’s & ’40’s, in a tiny one-room school-house on Best Road in Morgantown, PA.

The one-room schoolhouse on Best Road, where Mrs. Buchanan taught my grandmother

The one-room schoolhouse on Best Road, where Mrs. Buchanan taught my grandmother

If you’ve followed the series of blog posts I’m sharing about my Amish family, you’ve seen much mention of my amazing grandmother Lydia Esh. I’ve never met another person who influenced my life in such a powerful way when it comes to bringing joy and teamwork to everyday life. Who were the people who helped shape my grandmother’s character and gifts? Of course there were her parents, Emanuel and Fannie Stoltzfus, (known to me as “Daudy & Mummy Stoltzfus”). But there was also someone else: her teacher Mrs. Buchanan. She was a woman of great influence during my Grandma’s childhood, and Grandma often spoke of her.

Students of Mrs. Buchanan's - My grandmother is in the back row

Students of Mrs. Buchanan’s – My grandmother is in the back row

Grandma, her sister Sarah, her brother Sam & siblings were the only Old-Order Amish children who attended Mrs. Buchanan’s classroom during those years. Most of the other students were from Conestoga Mennonite Church.

My grandma Lydia and her brother, who I call "Uncle Sam"

My grandma Lydia and her brother, who I call “Uncle Sam” (At the school on Best Road)

Amish children attend a one room schoolhouse from 1st through 8th grade. I would argue that because of her incredible teacher, my grandma received more education in her 8 years of schooling than most people procure in 12 years of a typical school experience.

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Mrs. Buchanan instilled in my grandmother a love of learning and adventure. She sparked in her a deep appreciation of poetry, history, literature and song, and taught her the value of teamwork. My grandmother gave these priceless gift to my mother. My mother joyfully passed them on to me, and now I have the delight of sharing these same gifts with my daughter.

Grandma Lydia's Schoolwork

Grandma Lydia’s Schoolwork

Grandma Lydia's Schoolwork

There’s a fun little bunny trail of this story: Grandma’s middle initial was “S” for Stoltzfus. (Many Amish children had the maiden name of their mother as their middle name.) Apparently Grandma wanted a different middle name, so she signed some of her elementary school work with “Lydia Susie Stoltzfus”.

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The most significant memory my mother has of Mrs. Buchanan’s effect on my Grandma’s day-to-day parenting is the memory of Grandma reciting poems she learned in school (like the Owl & the Pussycat) while combing and braiding her hair when she was a little Amish girl.

My mother's first grade school picture

My mother’s first grade school picture

Amazingly, Mrs. Buchanan served as substitute teacher for my mother when she attended “California School”, another one-room schoolhouse which still stands on California road in Morgantown, PA. My mother especially loved the story-books Mrs. Buchanan read to her students.

Students at California School, the one room schoolhouse on California Road in Morgantown, PA

Students at California School, the one room schoolhouse on California Road in Morgantown, PA

From time to time (especially when we read and recite poetry together) I think of the stories my grandma and mother shared of Mrs. Buchanan. I don’t want the story to die, and so I share it with my daughter. More importantly, I strive to cultivate a deep love and passion for learning in her – a gift now passed down to a fourth generation of students thanks to one incredible teacher many years ago. I believe Mrs. Buchanan’s influence makes me a better mother and home school teacher today.

My mother and my daughter

My beautiful mother and daughter

What a powerful picture of the impact one teacher can have on future generations! The lesson to me is this: If a one-room school-house teacher in a tiny town in Lancaster County, PA can make such an imprint, then certainly we all have the power to sow seeds of values and joy into the children in our lives – which will grow, spread like vines, and blossom on the pages of future history.

~ Justina Dee

This is number 18 in my “31 Lessons I Learned From My Amish Family” blogging series. Click here to read more!