Kathie asks…

I was just wondering why most Amish gardens I see have rows of flowers grown in along with the vegetable plants? And what flowers are typically used? Thank you!

The flowers most Amish women plant in their gardens are usually just there to add some beauty to the garden. Zinnias are a popular choice because of their bright colors. Marigolds help to keep bugs away so it is a flower you often see in gardens. What flowers are planted depends on the person planting them.

Jesse asks…

Are Amish allowed to go to libraries? I live in a town where there are some Amish and Mennonite, but I have never seen Amish at the library. Also, do you have a pattern for the dresses that you make? Thank you!

We are allowed to go to libraries and many of us do. [Editor’s note: Viola loves to read and is a frequent visitor to her nearby town’s library.] Yes we do have patterns for our dresses.

Julie asks…

Could you give me an idea of what times of year Amish women do certain chores? For example, what time of year is it when Amish women begin canning? Do they have certain times of the year to do certain jobs around the home, and when they plant things in the garden, etc.

Amish women begin canning when the first of the cannable produce is ready. The exact time this begins depends on the climate in which you live, same with gardening. It begins in the spring and ends in the fall. Meats are usually canned in winter because butchering is done in winter so the carcasses can cool properly.

The house is thoroughly cleaned (walls washed down, closets sorted, cupboards cleaned and straightened) at least once or twice a year when we prepare to host church services in our home. Many Amish women sweep daily, mop floors weekly and wash windows bi-weekly or monthly. Of course not all Amish women are organized or have spotless houses.

Melissa asks…

Perhaps I have watched too much TV about Amish, but my question is about shunning. I watched the movie Amish Grace and it shows that the lady’s sister was shunned and now she is no longer able to speak to her blood sister. If God says to forgive one another then why would she not be able to speak to her sister again? Why would shunning take place if we must forgive?

First of all let me say this: shunning is misunderstood by most people not familiar with the practice. It is based on Scripture such as Romans 16:17, 2 Thessalonians 3:14 and Titus 3:10-11. Now to try to answer your question…

Shunning only happens if someone has been baptized into the church, then chooses not to follow the commitments they had originally agreed to. Young adults who choose not to join church are not shunned. The purpose is protect their community and its values. It also protects the community from negative influences (for example, if the person breaks the rules of non-violence). A person can forgive, while remaining separate from another. Also, it works like “tough love” where a person will hopefully see the error of their ways and return home. Why do people discipline their children? If they discipline them because they love them and want them to become healthy productive adults, then you already know the answer to your question. In our baptismal vows we promise in the presence of God and His church, with the help of God, to support the doctrines and regulations of the church, to earnestly fill our place in the church, to help counsel and labor, and not depart from the church, come what may. To break that vow means they have broken their promise both to God and to the church. The only Amish that are shunned are members who willingly and continually break this promise. This is not done lightly. Much time and effort is made at reconciliation before a person is asked to leave. This practice of separating the member unwilling to recommit to his promise, is to protect the community and hopefully cause the member to correct their behavior. This is not a common practice and is very painful to everyone in the community. But members still reach out in love hoping the member will return. Always, the ultimate goal is to reunite and keep families and communities whole.