– – – – – – Life, Death, and Family – – – – –

On May 4, 1998, my healthy, sixty-eight-year-old mother was outside planting her spring flowers when she began to feel nauseated. She died forty minutes later.

On January 7, 2011, after a long battle with cancer, my dad died.

Two very different stories, each with its own triumph and defeat. Heartache and comfort. End and beginning.

Each death was the start of a long and difficult journey for me.

A few years after my mom died, my dad married a woman named Sally. My mom and dad had four children and had been married fifty years by the time Mom passed; we were all grown, and three of us were married with children of our own, so referring to Sally as anything but her given name seemed ridiculous. My special-needs brother, who lived with Dad and Sally, started calling her Sally Bug, a term I like and used also.

But that was before.

Before she saw Dad through eight years of cancer.

Before she spent many of her evenings with my brother, opening easy readers and helping him learn to love reading.

Before we descended on her with suitcases and hungry bellies time and again after the long trip to their home.

Now she’s Mama Sally—a name that didn’t come easily because we had loved our own mama so very, very much.

Mama Sally is now a widow for the second time in her life. She’s trying to get through this long, hard winter the best she knows how—with love and respect and hope for tomorrow. She’s been down this path before. But in many ways that only makes this time harder.

My special-needs brother will move in with my family soon. Not so soon that Mama Sally loses two men from her household within weeks of each other, but soon enough that we keep the promises we made to Dad, promises she agrees with.

I have another brother in Alabama. He’s been, and will continue to be, a constant help. He’s calm and savvy and goes out of his way to meet the needs inside our family dynamic. He lifts responsibilities off of me, and I do the same for him. We promised our dad we’d always take care of our special brother, and we will.

I hope Mama Sally, who has children and grandchildren of her own, will always be part of our family, even though we live seven hundred miles from her. It’s my prayer that even years from now, we’ll still be able to descend on Mama Sally with suitcases and hungry bellies—to be fed by her hand or by us taking her out, whichever she prefers.

My dad was a complex and difficult man who’d had an even more complex and difficult childhood. But one thing he taught us over and over again, both through words and actions, is that loyalty, love, and duty are not tied to good times but to good causes. And family is the best cause of all.


I haven’t blogged for a while, and now you know some of the reasons, but it’s time for some long overdue announcements and fun!

My publisher—WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House—has built an Amish website that will keep you up-to-date on my books, tours, and contests that they sponsor. To visit, go to www.Amish-Fiction.com.

Next on the list—we have contest winners!

The winner of the Trip for Two to Amish Country is Lila of Washington, Iowa. This fun contest was offered by my publisher, so don’t forget to check in every so often to see what they’re up to! (To visit, go to www.Amish-Fiction.com.)

The winner of my 2010 Amish-made quilt is Susie Lancaster of Joshua, Texas!

For YOUR chance to win an Amish-made quilt, go to https://www.cindywoodsmall.com/contest/.



Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women

Two friends from different worlds—one Old Order Amish, one Englischer—share the truths that bring them together. (Nonfiction)

With poignant recollections, unexpected insights, and humorous tales, these two special women welcome you into their unique friendship. You’ll gain a rare glimpse into the traditions and ways of the Amish as Miriam recalls special occasions and shares family recipes throughout the book.

Plain Wisdom is a heartwarming celebration of God, womanhood, and the search for beauty that unites us all. So grab your cup and your quilt and settle in for a soul-comforting read with Plain Wisdom.

Praise for Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women

Karen Kingsbury, New York Times best-selling author of Unlocked and Shades of Blue: “A treasure chest, for sure.… The wisdom in these stories is time-tested and true—plain and simple.”

Donald B. Kraybill, author of The Riddle of Amish Culture: “A fascinating comparison between two starkly different ways of life.”

Ellie Kay, author of The 60-Minute Money Workout: “I loved savoring the wisdom in this book.… Plain Wisdom is a serious guide to life that doesn’t take itself too seriously…and offers something for every woman.”

Karol Ladd, author of The Power of a Positive Woman: “Cindy and Miriam bring us back to the place where our hearts long to go—a place of simplicity and truth.”

Dr. Alan Weatherly, senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, Madison, Alabama: “My longtime friend Cindy Woodsmall and her Amish friend Miriam Flaud…have a living faith that bonds them and invites us to embrace our experiences with greater hope, delight, and laughter.”

For a chance to win one of five autographed copies of Plain Wisdom, just leave a comment below. And, if you’re a member of Facebook, please click on the like button. Winners will be drawn on Monday, February 28.

(For anyone viewing this anywhere except my website, you’ll need to hop over to my website and leave a comment—www.cindywoodsmall.com.)

This contest is now closed. THANK YOU to everyone who participated!! I treasure the comments! The winners are: Leigh of Opelika, AL; Karen of Sedalia, KY; Jill of Guy Mill, PA; Mary Hake and Sharon Gorjup. CONGRATULATIONS, LADIES!!

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