Team Forever is thrilled to have Rachel J. Good stop by for Foreverland pitstop. Her series, Love & Promises, is set in Lancaster, PA and Rachel shares some of the spots that inspired portions of her books.
Enjoy the trip!
Lancaster County, PA. The name conjures up patchwork fields, Amish buggies, cows grazing on hillsides, and wind power. Step back in time with me to a calmer pace of life. Although for the heroines in my Love & Promises series, life is never dull.
Drive slowly and carefully on Lancaster roads because everywhere you turn, you’ll find yourself behind buggies. But despite this, horses can be found at hardware stores, grocery stores, and especially parking lots.
Here at Lancaster, you’ll pass one-room schoolhouses where Amish children attend grades 1-8. One of these schoolhouses inspired The Amish Teacher’s Gift, a story in which the protagonist, a teacher at an Amish special needs school, works hard to help each of her students. However, she becomes especially touched by one small boy and his widower dad. When she goes out of her way to reach Nathan, a hearing-impaired six-year-old with behavioral difficulties, Ada wins his father’s heart.
While researching Amish special needs schools, I became fascinated with their teaching methods and curriculum. One program even made its way into the pages of my book. While we were being shown around the Community Care Center by an enthusiastic young man in a wheelchair, I fell in love with their MSE (multi-sensory environment)–a room with dark walls and one small string of Christmas lights near the ceiling–where children are cocooned in silence with headphones and weighted blankets. Apart from the MSE, the center creates individualized learning plans for both the children and adults–this allows them to learn at their own pace and in a way that’s best for them.
In book 2 in the series, The Amish Midwife’s Secret, Leah works in her family’s natural products store, while apprenticing to become a midwife. One of my favorite Lancaster area health food stores is Glick’s Natural Products. The store is in the brick building to the right.
I have memories of strolling the aisles to browse the choices of herbs and natural remedies.
With her training in herbal remedies and preference for home births, Leah clashes with Kyle, the big-city doctor who’s moved to the country to take over a Lancaster practice. Despite Leah’s traditional beliefs, Kyle emphasizes science, hospitals, and medicine. But when they need to care for a baby who requires special attention, the pair must learn to compromise.
Leah knows a lot about genetic diseases found only in the Amish population—maple syrup urine disease, chicken breast disease, and others Kyle has never seen.
To learn about these life-threatening illnesses, you can take a trip to the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Lancaster County. The clinic offers wonderful tours that showcase their genetic research.
But don’t worry, there’s a place to tie up and water your horse while you visit.
Next, we’ll head out on winding country roads to the farm where book 3, The Amish Widow’s Rescue, is set. We’ll pass buggies for sale and wind around a milk truck doing a late afternoon pickup at an Amish farm.
The white farmhouse on the left is where I imagined Grace lived. As you can see, although there’s an electrical pole in front of the house, no wires run to the house because the Amish believe it’s worldly to hook up to the public grid and use electricity.
Pregnant and newly widowed, Grace supports her family by canning and selling jams to stores and farmer’s markets. Many Amish families also sell canned goods at roadside stands like this.
After a rough marriage, Grace appreciates her chance at independence and isn’t afraid to work hard. But her neighbor, Eli, worries Grace is neglecting her children, especially after her three-year-old son almost drowns. Will she, too, find love in Lancaster County—a place where dreams come true?
I hope you enjoyed this quick tour through the Amish country of Love & Promises. While reading the stories, you can check back here for the real places that inspired them. And if you’re lucky enough to spend time in Lancaster County, you might want to stop by to visit them.