Millie Otto is an Amish woman living in the Arthur, Illinois settlement. I’ve mentioned her here before, including in the “3 Amish Columnists You Might Enjoy” post.

From time to time I read her column, which is carried in several news outlets, including the Champaign, IL News-Gazette. She is one of several Amish columnists printed in non-Amish newspapers (others include Lovina Eicher and Gloria Yoder).

Millie follows a similar format to Lovina and Gloria’s, detailing the previous week’s happenings and giving insight into Amish culture and religious beliefs.

Each contains a recipe or two at the end, following the model laid out by the original Amish Cook column, written by the late Elizabeth Coblentz (as it happens, Amish Cook editor Kevin Williams visited competitor Millie in 2018 and wrote a nice blog post about it).

That said, I think these columns differ in some ways, and each columnist has her own voice and topics.

Millie’s latest column “Enjoying a mild Christmas on the pond” illustrates three things I like about her writing:

1. Her sense of humor

Millie has a light touch and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She seems like she’d be fun to have as an aunt or grandma. Here you go:

I also think our horse is a summer horse. When it gets cold, he acts crazy. I don’t like winter, either, but I don’t act crazy. Or do I?!

And:

Grandsons Willard and Wendell were giving rides with their boat. It’s a flat-bottom boat, a John boat I believe Freeman called it. Or maybe it was a Billy-Bob, whatever. It had a motor, not real powerful, but still, anyone who dared risk life or limb could have a ride.

Seriously, though, they were very careful. They didn’t even try to dump their Grandma Otto in the pond!

And:

In closing, a watched pot never boils, but it does get paranoid.

2. Always opens with a Scripture quote

Millie’s column differs from the other two mentioned in that she always includes a passage from the Bible to open each column.

From the latest:

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:10-13

Millie then begin her writing with this:

This is Monday afternoon as I write. The last Monday of 2019. Day after tomorrow, Lord willing and we are alive, we can hang up new calendars. I’d like to think that my thought will be, what can I do for Jesus this year?

I like the Scripture intro as it reinforces the idea of the Amish as a people trying to live out Jesus’ teachings in their daily lives.

3. The slices of life that show Amish people are people too

The Amish are people too. Here are a few examples.

Amish paying attention to “keeping up appearances” like many English people do:

I was almost embarrassed to go with our very dirty buggy. But then the buggy right beside ours looked just as bad, maybe even worse. I have no idea whose it was, but I did feel somewhat better.

You can also see this reflected in their gardens and the attention they pay to cleaning up before hosting church.

Amish folks feel left out and bad for themselves too. Millie was not able to join visitors from New York for Christmas:

I was feeling a tad bit sorry for myself that we couldn’t be there to join in the fun and games.

Millie loves coffee, calendars, and, she thinks, might be a bit compulsive:

I like calendars, for some odd reason. I hang them everywhere. I used to get a “Precious Moments” calendar, but I guess they quit making them as I can’t find any anywhere. So for a couple of years I got a Dachshund puppy calendar. Now I get a coffee calendar with scripture verses. You know, I have OCD, obsessive coffee disorder! I also think I have a touch of the actual OCD.

Millie’s column is called “My Amish Home” and you can catch it weekly in papers including the aforementioned News-Gazette. For the cooks and bakers out there, this week’s recipe is for Cheesy Ham Breakfast Casserole.


Get the Amish in your inbox