Reader’s Guide for Plain Wisdom

1. Have you ever had a friend whose background and experiences were vastly different from yours? How did those differences affect your relationship? In what ways did they make the friendship more difficult? In what ways did they make it more special? What commonalities did you discover in spite of the differences?


2. Did you sense the Holy Spirit speaking to you through one or more of the stories in this book? What message did you glean, and how do you think it will affect you?


3. What was your favorite thing about this book? Learning more about novelist Cindy Woodsmall and her real life? Getting to know Cindy’s friend Miriam? Gaining a better understanding of the Amish? Which did you enjoy most: the heartwarming stories, the humor, the recipes, or something else?


4. When Miriam and Cindy met the first time, a humorous incident helped break the ice. Have you experienced an awkward situation that was made more comfortable by a touch of humor? What happened, and what was the result?


5. When Cindy had an extended visit with Miriam, it helped her see life from a different perspective. An unexpected event—a bad storm, an electrical outage, a health issue, or a financial crisis—can have the same effect, altering our daily routines and forcing us to do everyday things a little differently. Such changes to our regular schedules can help us see the important things in life that often get buried under the deluge of our daily responsibilities. Have you ever had such an experience? How did it affect your outlook and priorities?


6. Cindy and Miriam both told stories of families who were blessed by strangers. Have you ever been the recipient of such a blessing? Have you ever had the opportunity to be generous to a stranger? Giving and receiving are both part of God’s plan for His children. How can you be a better giver and a more gracious recipient?


7. Miriam wrote, “The right word spoken at the right moment can turn a negative situation into a positive one.” Have you ever been in a bad situation that was turned around by a “right word”?


8. Cindy and Miriam wrote about favorite memories around the family table. What are some of your cherished mealtime memories? How often does your family gather at the table to eat? If you’d like to have more mealtime memories with your family, how can you increase their frequency?


9. Miriam told about a time when the Lord answered a “seemingly insignificant” request in a special way. Do you sometimes hesitate to “bother” the Lord by praying about the little things? Have you ever prayed for something that seemed trivial, only to be surprised by the Lord’s loving response and abundant provision?


10. Cindy and Miriam shared stories about their parents. They also wrote about their experiences as mothers. What special memories do you have of your mother and father? What are you doing now to instill special memories in your children?


11. Miriam and Cindy talked about the friendship they’ve developed with each other as well as other friendships they’ve had. What special friends have you made over the years? What makes those relationships so wonderful? How has God been a friend to you when you’ve been (or felt) friendless?


12. Miriam wrote, “The best way to strengthen a friendship is to do a kindness when it’s not expected.” What unexpected kindness can you show to a friend this week?


13. Cindy wrote, “When we pray, we often express a deep desire. If we stop expecting a specific response, we may find the answer.” Think of a time when you prayed for something specific but God’s response wasn’t the answer you expected. How might your prayers change if you stopped looking for the responses you want and started looking for God’s answers?


14. Are there any customs or traditions that you read about in this book (Amish or Englischer) that you’d like to incorporate into your own family life?