Interest in family, in life, in day-to-day activity – it is what keeps us all moving forward and finding meaning in life, isn’t it?
Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family by Darla Weaver is a book that records a year’s worth of family time between Darla and her sisters, their mom and their children. Each Tuesday, the girls gather at Mom’s house to spend time with each other, in work, in play, in helping, and in relaxing. They cook and eat. They read and discuss. They encourage and challenge. They even ridicule and tease a bit. After all, isn’t that what life is about?
Darla grew up the oldest of nine children, five of which were girls. When she married and moved to her own home a few miles away, she ended up making a weekly trek home to visit with her mother and family. This grew into a tradition, not by choice but by enjoyment. As her sisters also grew up and began their own families, they all acquired the habit of visiting home on Tuesdays. This “family check-in” became a time of joy and renewal for all of them.
Darla allows us to see glimpses of her family, of her life, and of who they are. And that includes their intentional and purposeful following of Christ. Their religion is an inherent part of who they are and how their lives are lived and that comes across neatly in this book. Life is filled with joy, fellowship, and lots of food. Everyone has to eat, right? So each week we hear a bit about all of these things, including whether or not they can get the intense writing habit Darla has to ease a bit and be replaced with coloring and card-making. (This was a fun aspect of the story for me, as I enjoy writing and crafting.) Spoiler – at the end, we do see Darla pick up a colored pencil. 🙂
Family is of utmost importance and life revolves around that. From helping younger nieces and nephews in daily moments (tumbles, desires, upsets, and laughter) to helping a sister after the premature birth of a child, we watch this family live and grow as they serve God in their homes and lives.
Many of us look at the Mennonite community and wonder. This book opens up a lot of that community to me (at least from this central Texas perspective I have) and I can now relate more to their lives. I strive to put God first and serve my family as homemaker. This is what these sister do, too. I have dreams and desires and have to make concessions about what I can or cannot purchase. These sisters do, also. (I was very much able to relate to the worn-out shoe story where Darla talks about not purchasing a pair of shoes for herself so she can get something her family needs.) Church and God come first for the sisters and I am striving for that, too. Struggles, failures, successes and growth – all of this is something we all have and this book shows these parts of life in living color and in all their glory. Yes, glory. For without a few struggles, the hopefulness is not as sweet. Without a failure, we don’t understand and celebrate success. Gathering of Sisters gives up a glimpse of this in the life of this family and shows us that it is common among us all.
Darla Weaver wears many hats. In addition to a members of the Old Order Mennonite community living in the hills of southern Ohio, she is a wife, mother, homemaker, gardener, and writer. She has written other books in addition to Gathering of Sisters, including Water My Soul and Many Lighted Windows. At the end of the book, there is an interview with Darla that sheds even more light on the community she lives in and their beliefs, as well as a “Day In The Life” feature that shows what one day looks like for her.
Herald Press (www.heraldpress.com) is the publisher of Gathering of Sisters. Gathering of Sisters is the sixth book in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each Plainspoken book is written by Amish and Mennonite people about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith. Each book includes “A Day in the Life of the Author” and the author’s answers to FAQs about the Amish and Mennonites. The book has a cover price of $14.99 and is a softback book of about 265 pages.
There is an excerpt available for you to read if you are interested in learning more.