To a pair of steadfast Amish parents, a daughter like Annie Weaver spells trouble. At nearly seventeen, she’d refused every boy who had wanted to court her. She’d managed to lose three jobs. She was still sneaking into the barn to read books by lamplight. (I can so relate! See my post here.)
The Weavers feel the only option left is to send their daughter to an aunt for a time of rumschpringe, and Annie obeys. But as she leaves, she asks God to settle her restless spirit and bring her safely home.
Three years later, Annie returns. Now a trained RN, she’ll help the family nurse her father, who is recovering from a buggy accident. Well, actually, she’ll help the Amish version of a local physician’s assistant. His name is Samuel Yoder, and he’s sufficiently tall, dark, and handsome enough to make any girl look twice. However, Samuel is not quite over a tragedy that seems to have frozen his heart and turned him old before his time.
Annie tells herself she’s not interested in Samuel. She’s almost ten years younger than he, and the man’s cranky as a bear. They butt heads over her father’s care. Then one day Samuel realizes that provoking her has become a pleasure. And Annie’s not sure how she feels about that. She’s home, but minus the peaceful spirit she expected to experience . . .
I certainly knew where this book was headed as far as the romance goes, but getting there was truly a delight!
I also appreciated how the author described the pleasures of an Amish Christmas: “The evergreen boughs placed around the house, the small smattering of gifts wrapped with brown paper and tied in red ribbon stacked under the table holding the gas reading lamp. Battery operated candles in each window.” Daughters sent on “missions of mercy” with gifts of pie.
And I was more affected than I expected to be by the theme of the story . . . That even within an idyllic setting, people can stop believing that “God has any good thing left for them” and refuse “the grace made plain to us at Christmas time.”
In the past, I’ve viewed Amish stories with some skepticism. I’ve thought, “Why doesn’t the heroine leave the community and re-join the real world? Problem solved.” But with this book, I found myself contemplating how much of a Christian’s journey through life involves wrestling with how faith and culture fit together. And often, we place restrictions on ourselves in order to allow our testimonies to shine. Missionaries do this all the time when they leave what’s familiar and learn the ways of a strange new world.
And isn’t that what Jesus did? Philippians 2 tells us:
Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
And that’s the message of grace that Vanetta Chapman’s A Simple Amish Christmas makes plain for all of us!
Christmas Gift Guide: This book is the perfect stocking stuffer for preteen lovers of romance on up! Bonus idea: Since a bookmark is of special meaning in the story, you could slip a Christmas-themed bookmark into the book or decorate your package with it. Also, I learned from this article, Amish Christmas and Simple Holiday Traditions, that mittens, scarves, and candles are popular gifts. You could include those items with this book as well.
If you’re interested in reading more reviews of Christmas-themed Christian fiction, visit the Creative Madness Mama blog. Scroll to the second list on this post (before the comments) and click on any link to read a book review.