Lovina’s Amish Kitchen Facebook Page Hits 1000 Likes & More

Several months ago Amy Gingerich, our editorial director, told you about Lovina’s Amish Kitchen–our new venture syndicating newspaper columnist Lovina Eicher. (She had previously written for 12 years as The Amish Cook, handled by a different syndicate.)

So in a step of faith, we launched her new column in July, started a website for it, and began a Facebook page and Twitter account. It is so curious and fascinating to personally use some of the newest media and technologies available while working alongside a writer who writes by gaslight and pen and paper. (I know, there are things lots newer than Twitter, but we’re running as fast as we can to keep up!)

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We’ve been buoyed and excited to see the growth of Lovina’s Facebook page for the column. Some of her friends with access to technology keep her a bit in the loop, so even though she does not engage directly through these electronic media, she knows what’s going on, responds to letters sent to her with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and is deeply grateful for the outpouring of support.

This past Monday the Facebook page for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen passed 1000 likes, which is a nice big marker. When Amy sent word to Lovina to let her know about the 1000 likes, she was extremely gladdened as well. It is amazing because we have not done anything special to promote the Facebook page: we have not purchased ads, have not run contests, have not begged people to like it (other than when it first launched, a few staff sent the typical “suggested likes” to some friends). It has grown organically, one “like” at a time.

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Can you spot the dog? Izzy, the Eicher family pet, celebrates 1000 FB likes in the autumn leaves.

Curious, we posted a little poll on Facebook. Some 46 people responded to this question:

We love that this Facebook page is growing very fast and are curious as to how you find it. Comment please? 1. From a newspaper where you now read Lovina’s column 2. From the website for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen 3. Just from being a longtime reader/fan 4. When a friend of yours likes the page or shares it 5. Random — you don’t know

Here is how people responded:

  1. From a newspaper where you now read Lovina’s column – 6 2. From the website for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen – 7 3. Just from being a longtime reader/fan – 11 4. When a friend of yours likes the page or shares it – 7 5. Random — you don’t know – 2

Of course some of these “stock” answers did not fit all situations so there were these additional categories that I grouped together.

  1. Searching online – 4 7. Came up on Facebook – 11 8. All of the above – 1 9. Other – 1

The fact that many are longtime fans (and some listed multiple numbers for their response) did not surprise me. Many had previously followed Lovina’s mother’s column. (Before Lovina wrote as The Amish Cook, her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, was the author of that column.) What did surprise me was that her page came up as a suggestion on Facebook. Like I said, we did not buy ads or sponsor the suggestions, so apparently the algorithms connected to people already liking other Amish-related Facebook pages caused the suggested “like” to show up.

To read the actual comments from fans, you can like Lovina’s Amish Kitchen Facebook page and go to October 24. You’ll find some fun and interesting comments, including from friends, relatives, neighbors. My favorite was a comment from Cherie Kreutziger:

“Always used to see her column on another Amish site … used to race home from work to read her letter and see the recipe. When I didn’t see it, I was rather upset. LOVE it … thank you for getting her on the net and sharing on Facebook. Now I can visit her website each and every day and reread maybe what I didn’t see the 1st time. Thanks again. God bless.”

While we run two other Facebook pages with over 1000 likes (this morning MennoMedia has 1768 and Third Way has 1123), Lovina’s has grown the fastest and we hope and trust the trend will only continue. (If you’ve joined Facebook, we appreciate you liking these pages as well. It’s one small free thing you can do to help support this ministry!)

Why go on about this? What does the popularity of this column and Facebook page say about our culture’s fascination with the simple and hardworking life of our cousins in the Anabaptist faith tradition? Is it our yearning for simplicity, faith, values, family? All of the above? What do you detect?

At MennoMedia and our book imprint Herald Press, we don’t see ourselves jumping on a recent bandwagon. Over the years, we have published dozens of titles relating to Amish, plain, and conservative Anabaptist groups, helping people understand and interpret this precious and Christian heritage. Just last week one of our editors, Valerie Weaver-Zercher, wrote about our newest book series, Plainspoken, but before that there were many other titles. Below is just a sampling of them.

Novels:

Children’s books:

Cookbooks:

  • Amish Cooking (no longer in print)

Nonfiction and memoir:

Lovina’s columns really function as a letter from home. In our society, that’s almost a relic. Will your children have letters from you? Lovina’s columns all end with a recipe—the promise of a good home-cooked dish or treat. Will your children have memories of home-cooked dishes you served?

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Lovina’s column hits on two basics of our stock in trade: faith and food. I wouldn’t want to live without either. Would you?

P1050565Melodie Davis, author of Whatever Happened to Dinner?, editor, columnist

She Gets It!

By Craig Anderson, MennoMedia, Kitchener, Ontario

I recently had the privilege of witnessing four Sunday School teacher training events for Shine sponsored by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. It is inspiring to see the dedication, creativity and love demonstrated by our Sunday School teachers.

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One of the trainers’ emphases–and one of the keys to the pedagogical approach behind our new curriculum, Shine, and Gather ’Round, its predecessor–is to get the children to ponder “wondering questions” about the story. I wonder how Rachel felt about that? I wonder why Peter did that? What does that say about God?

With such an approach, tough questions aren’t seen as a challenge to the authority of the teacher. On the contrary, they are signs that the children are listening deeply; they’re getting it. At a point in one training workshop, the trainer had just finished demonstrating a labyrinth laid out with rick-rack on a bed sheet. She took a stone, representing a burden, and slowly and prayerfully walked a spiral into the centre, where she set down her stone and picked up a feather, a symbol of God lightening her burden, before slowly spiraling back out. Children as young as two can participate in and benefit from this spiritual practice.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock, Peng-guang Chen

When it was time for comments and questions, one participant, whom I had taken to be a Sunday School teacher (albeit a young-looking one) piped up and said that she resisted the idea of there being a long circumscribed path to God at the centre. Rather, through her relationship with Jesus she celebrates her straight and immediate access to God.

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Photo credit: ThinkStock, craetive.

Wow, I thought, she gets it! She may not fully get the idea of the labyrinth as a valuable spiritual practice we can use in Sunday School to teach children to pray, but she gets Shine; she gets the idea of not artificially stifling her questions or her passion but bringing them both into the Light.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock, Eliza Snow

It was only in the car on the way home that I learned she was not a Sunday School teacher at all but a very precocious 13-year-old student, who came to the training because she did not want to miss an opportunity to learn more about Christian education in her congregation. In a room otherwise full of adults, she challenged one aspect of the labyrinth prayer. Though I like the labyrinth, and have frequently seen it used to great effect, her comment affected me in a different and more important way. I was reminded that it is not just our teachers and superintendents who can inspire us but the students themselves.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock, Ingrid Prats

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Have you ever been inspired or instructed by a student’s question or comment?

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If your church or conference using Shine? We’d love to hear more stories such as this one! Comment here or send to melodied@mennomedia.org 

To find out more about Shine check out www.shinecurriculum.com/

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Craig Anderson
Marketing and Sales Manager, Canada

Pandemic Fears, Realistic Response

Ebola. The word alone in a news headline is enough to make me want to click and read more.

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And the media certainly know how to play off my fears. All they have to do is insert the word crisis and they know they’ve got me.

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I live in suburban Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron—very close to the area where Dallas nurse Amber Vinson visited last weekend before she was diagnosed with Ebola. A few area schools have been closed and cleaned “out of an abundance of caution”; a bridal store she visited has been closed; and Vinson’s friends and family who had direct contact with her are being quarantined for 21 days (including three who work on the same college campus as my spouse). My husband got a notice about it at work, my younger daughter’s daycare sent home a notice, the pediatrician asked about possible exposure when I called to make an appointment, there’s a countywide Ebola hotline, the list goes on.

It feels to me like level of panic in this area is at an all-time high.

I don’t want to bury my head in the sand here and skip the news altogether, but I also need to be realistic: it’s more likely at this point that I’m going to die from a car accident or the flu than Ebola. There is a very real Ebola outbreak, but right now it’s in West Africa.

How do I manage my own personal fears while also working to help solve the problem? This was my quandary late last week when I remembered a series of resources MennoMedia developed a few years ago about pandemic preparedness.

Back in 2009, medical authorities were warning that the world was due to suffer a flu virus on a global scale, equal to or greater than the international pandemic of 1918. They warned that, despite our advanced medical technology, thousands of people would die and many more would become sick. People would fear for their health. Naturally, people would want to protect themselves.

So we at MennoMedia considered: How would the church respond to a pandemic? Do we have a plan? Will we retreat in fear, or are we ready to be God’s light in the midst of suffering?

We developed a series of pandemic preparedness resources. It has three parts:

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The Beyond Our Fears guide is designed to be part of a congregational study series, but it can also be a personal resource for inspiration and learning.

This series was written not to raise our fears, but to do the exact opposite: to prepare the church to shine as God’s light in the midst of such crises, to respond to our call to be people of healing and hope. Even if these crises never occur, the resources (especially the ones for adults) will help us think through our mission as Christians and how God calls us to join the work of healing and hope in our families, neighborhoods, and world.

Most of us would rather not think about worst-case scenarios such as Ebola in Ohio (or anywhere else, for that matter), a new flu pandemic, or devastating hurricanes or tornadoes. But governments and municipalities are creating plans to be prepared for each of these crises. So shouldn’t we, as ordinary people of faith, be spiritually prepared? Why not know before the crisis what kinds of actions and attitudes are most consistent with our faith? Why not think together about how is God calling us to be good stewards of the future? Let’s face it: crisis has always been a fact of human existence on this planet, and it can hit without warning.

Because these pandemic preparedness resources are perfect for such a time as this, MennoMedia is offering 20% off any of the three titles this week. Just use code BEYOND14 at checkout. I encourage you to take advantage of the sale and to consider these issues with your congregation.

Now to part 2: the matter of stopping and controlling Ebola in West Africa. There are so many inspiring stories of what’s being done in Africa. But, as experts warn us, more work needs to be done to contain and control this virus. Dollars are needed—quickly—to aid in this work. In the last week on the news or in my Facebook feed, I’ve heard of people giving to the following organizations. Click on the name of the organization to make your own contribution.

Manage your fears; make a donation. That’s my recipe for realism and action amidst worst-case scenario reporting.

How are you coping with fears of Ebola or other crises? If you have children, how are you talking about Ebola with your children? Has your congregation used any of these resources?

Amy Gingerich, editorial director

Amy Gingerich