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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Inside Look at the Simple Lifestyle of the Amish


Welcome debut Author Ruth Reid, author or The Promise of an Angel, to the Inkwell!

When I decided to write about the Amish, I wanted intricate details embedded into the framework of the story.  It required research—accurate, firsthand conversations with Amish women.  When I stepped into the Amish house I never realized I would leave with a longing to simplify my own life.

Since my visit was in November, the fields lay dormant, the plow horses grazed on what pasture hadn’t been killed off by the early frost, and the horse-powered equipment was tucked into the barn until the next planting season. This particular Amish family raised white broad-breasted turkeys, which gobbled loudly announcing my arrival. Each year the family fills Thanksgiving Turkey orders from the area English. In another week, both the young and old would participate in the annual work-bee where the hundred or so birds would be boiled, plucked, and dressed for the holiday. As I listened to some of the arrangements, I found myself wishing I could extend my time and participate in the upcoming family event. But then, I didn’t want to overstay my welcome and I wasn’t completely sure I wouldn’t be squeamish during the gizzard gutting. 
 
As I entered the over-sized kitchen, the sweet scent of baked bread greeted me at the door. The cast-iron cook stove heated the otherwise drafty Michigan farmhouse, and canning jars lined the shelves. Guided into the sitting room, I sat in a handcrafted wooden rocker, marveled at the fine satin finish, while inwardly I chuckled. Although the room invited fellowship, the non-cushioned furniture would make becoming a couch potato nearly impossible.
Not only are the furnishings sparse, the walls are bare. Unlike most of us who love to adorn our walls with family photos, the Amish view photos as engraved images and a violation of the second commandment (Exodus 20:4). They also choose to live without modern conveniences such as automobiles and electricity based on the belief that these worldly influences would lead to temptation. Their unwavering faith follows the Biblical principle of not conforming to the world (Romans 12:2). 

While many Amish districts allow phone shanties (a wooden structure similar to a telephone booth) or the use of cell phones for business or emergency purposes, the Old-order Michigan community that I visited, strictly abides by the original doctrine and does not allow any phones in the settlement. 

The Amish strive for simplicity. The women wear dark-colored plain dresses and in place of buttons, they fasten their garments using straight pins. Sounds uncomfortable to me, but I’m told you forget the pins are there. In following the scripture to “pray always” the women part their uncut hair in the center, wrap it in a bun, then keep it covered at all times with a thin pleated cloth known as a prayer kapp. Each day, the head coverings are re-pleated by hand using precise measurements between the folds. Because they want to be prepared to “pray always” the prayer kapp is worn to bed.  

The day I visited my Amish friend had agreed to watch her nieces while their parents worked on the farm. As we gathered in the sitting room, the children, one-by-one, pulled their little wooden rockers in a row and joined our circle. Even though the children were not yet school age and could not speak English, they partook in the visitation. One of the youngest girls cradled her homemade doll in her arms. Her mother made the faceless cloth doll for the child’s third birthday. Amish children attend school through the eighth grade. They study the basics: speaking English, reading, writing and arithmetic. Until the children are school age, they only speak Pennsylvania Deitsch. 

After spending the day with my Amish friend and learning about her faith and family traditions, I realized I took more away with me than a few pages of answered questions. Part of me wanted somehow to obtain a simpler lifestyle—even if I can only accomplish one goal and un-clutter my office—it’s a start at simplicity.


The Promise of an Angel: Interrupting the ordered routine of the Mecosta County Amish settlement, an angelic visitor awakens Judith to a new faith.

After a barn raising accident, Judith Fischer's convinced she's met an angel. However, her attempts to convince others end up frustrating her Old-Order Amish community. Only Andrew Lapp believes her, but the rest, including Levi Plank, the man's she's waited to marry, demand she forget the nonsense. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Martha, has taken a fancy to Levi. Martha sees her sister's controversy as a perfect distraction for turning Levi's head.

To win a copy of The Promise of an Angel, please leave a comment by 11 PM Thursday, June 30, and include your email address in your comment so we can contact you. One commenter will be drawn at random. Good luck!

Ruth Reid is a full-time pharmacist who lives in Dade City, Florida with her husband and three children. Her fascination for the Amish began twenty-years ago when she skipped college classes to watch a barn-raising. Today, she’s still captivated by the simple ways of the Amish lifestyle, and in her debut novel, The Promise of an Angel, she writes about what started her curiosity with the Amish—a barn raising. When Ruth is not working, she loves photography. 

For a tear-jerker of a real-live miracle, visit Susanne's blog here to read about a time God acted in the life of Ruth's son. You can also visit Ruth on her website here. If you don't win the giveaway, The Promise of an Angel is available from your favorite Christian retailer or here, in paperback or Kindle formats.

37 comments:

  1. I find the angel aspect of your novel to be a very interesting twist. Could you possibly share more about how you came up with this idea and how it was received?

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  2. Good morning, Dina. Ruth will be by later, but she does talk a bit about the angel in her interview on my blog. In her second book, the angel in the story has a different role than the one in this book. It's a fresh idea, isn't it?

    Ruth, I love the phrase "work bee." I would like a work bee to clean my house. Maybe if I told my kids we were embarking on a work bee they'd be more enthusiastic about dusting.

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  3. I loved reading about your visit to your Amish friends home and how simply they live. All the books I have read about the Amish all have the same theme. They are faith based and I love them! Thanks so much for sharing your story about your friend.

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  4. Congratulations on your book, Ruth. It sounds so intriguing with an angel in it. If it's on Kindle, I wonder if it will also be on Nook? I'm going to check tonight when I get home.

    As much as I love technology, I sometimes long for the simplicity of the Amish life. Thank you for sharing your experienced when visiting them.

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  5. I, too, am intrigued by the Amish and their simple life-style. I am so "spoiled", that I think I would have a very hard time following "their rules". I do, believe that we should all "simplify" and trust in our Heavenly Father more.

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  6. I am just so interested in the Amish life and I love all Amish fiction. I guess what I love the most is how God and family oriented they are. I'm not saying they are perfect..none of us are.

    I would love to win a copy of The Promise of an Angel.

    Blessings!

    judyjohn2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  7. Amish reading is my favorite genre. I hope you continue to write this type of books.

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  8. That is so cool. I love learning more about the Amish. I find it kinda hard sometimes because each district is so different. Great post! I really enjoyed it.

    Please enter me
    crazi.swans at gmail dot com

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  9. Glynna said: "I do, believe that we should all "simplify" and trust in our Heavenly Father more."

    I really agree with you, Glynna. That is one of my goals right now, as well as a plan to become a minimalist by the end of the year. When I was looking for something the other day, I realized I'm failing miserably with that minimalist goal.

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  10. I just downloaded Ruth's book and can't wait to read it! I love Amish fiction.

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  11. I think this world would be a better place if we ALL practiced the simpler life style and put a lot more TRUST in our Heavenly Father as the Amish do. They are not perfect as no one is but they do seem happier. I read all books that I can that are about the Amish and it is nice to have another Author who writes about the Amish.

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  12. Jane, thanks for visiting the Inkwell. It's wonderful when we read fiction that inspires and encourages us, and Ruth's book did both for me.

    I'd love to enter you into the drawing. If you're interested, come on back and leave your email addy in a comment. Have a great day.

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  13. Glynna, I like what you said about simply glorifying God and trusting in Him, too. I am working on this right now; it's often hard for me.

    If you'd like to be entered into the drawing for Ruth's book, come back and leave your email addy in another comment. Thanks for visiting.

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  14. Judy, the way Amish take care of each other is truly inspiring. I think that's something we've lost in our modern communities.

    I've got you entered into the drawing! Thanks for visiting.

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  15. Ellen, Ruth has two more angel books coming--I've read some of the next book, and it's fantastic. The heroine is spunky but not your typical Amish female of marriageable age. And the hero--well, Ruth writes great heroes.

    If you'd like to be entered into the drawing, just add another comment with your email addy in the body so we can get in touch with you. Thanks, and have a wonderful day.

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  16. Hi Faye, glad you enjoyed the post. You're right, there are several types of Amish. And Mennonites. There is a group of Mennonites near my house, and they dress in what some would describe as typical Amish clothing, but they drive cars and use electricity.

    I've got you entered into the drawing!

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  17. Wendy, I sure hope you enjoy Ruth's book! Thanks for checking it out!

    Sigh, I really need to get a kindle so I can download things instantly, too. :-)

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  18. Marietta, I couldn't agree with you more: our lives would probably be a lot more peaceful if we trusted God more. I'm working on it, and right now He's certainly giving me the opportunity to trust Him. Yet it's a struggle sometimes, isn't it?

    If you'd like to be entered into the drawing for the book, drop another comment with your email in it. That way we can get in touch with you if you win! Hope you're having a good day.

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  19. Dina,
    Thanks for stopping by today. When I spoke with my Amish friends about their belief in angels, they said they would question if it truly was an angel. They do believe, but they also know the Bible warns that the great deceiver is roaming around too.
    Thanks for asking! Ruth

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  20. Jane,
    I agree that the Amish I know have unwavering faith. It's so inspiring to sit and visit with them.
    Thanks for stopping by!
    Ruth

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  21. Suzie,
    I've heard from several readers that it is available on both the nook and kindle.
    I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for your encouraging comments.
    Ruth

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  22. Glynna,
    You're right that we might not be able to live by the Amish rules, but we can work to simplify our own life. That's so hard! One baby step at a time...
    Ruth

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  23. Judy,
    Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, none of us are perfect, but Christ can wash us white as snow. That certainly gives me hope!
    Ruth

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  24. Ellen,
    Thank you for your post. I'm looking forward to writing more books. I pray that's God's will.
    Ruth

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  25. Fay,
    The fact that all of the districts are different is frustrating and interesting all at once. As I would ask questions my Amish friend would smile wide and I would say, so that's Lancaster Amish and she would nod and explain how they did things different.

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  26. Oh Faye, I just realized I left the 'e' off your name. I'm sorry!

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  27. Wendy, THANK YOU! You didn't even wait to see if you won the drawing! That's so sweet. I hope you enjoy it.
    Ruth

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  28. Marietta,
    thanks for your comments. I think the Amish way of life is so rough only God could get them through. It's cold in Northern Michigan and they don't have any windows on their buggies. They also don't have hot water in their house so taking long showers is out. A shower in generalis out since they only have washtubs.

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  29. Susie,
    Thank you so much for inviting me on inkwell and on your blog. I had a great time!
    Ruth

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  30. I live in an area with many Amish and Mennonite farms so I get to see some of their life-style differences. Most of all I do love the simplicity.

    Part of me wishes they were okay with the photography. I don't take photos of the Amish I see, but there are some amazing views of horse drawn plows, barn-raisings and my favorite - the little ones sitting in the front yards playing.

    Thank you so much for visiting us, Ruth! I'd like to give everyone here a virtual treat of Apple Dumplings from one of the local bakers. Yum-O! or another favorite the Whoopee Pie.

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  31. I would love to win a book.

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  32. Hey Deb, thanks for coming by. If you'd like to win a copy of Ruth's book, please leave your email address in another comment, so we have a way to contact you if you win! Thanks, and have a great day.

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  33. Debra E. Marvin (to distinguish you from the previous Deb), I so want that apple dumpling. I am thinking about it and remembering the last time I had one. Oh my goodness, now my dinner is ruined.

    We lived near some Amish in Pennsylvania for 3 years, and it was a treat to us to go buy their baked goods. One of my favorite memories is of a boy about 10 or so, riding a pony down the street while drinking a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. I couldn't have handled such a feat. :-)

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  34. Ruth, thanks for your fun and interesting post today!

    The drawing for Ruth's book won't take place until tomorrow night, so it's not too late to enter. Just make sure you leave your email address in the comment so we can contact you if you win.

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  35. Ruth, Susie D! I just got home from a very long day, picked up my nook and downloaded the book! Love the cover! Since I can't sleep b/c I'm so tired, I'm going to start reading right now. :-)

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  36. Oh Suzie, I hope you enjoy it. And I also hope you get a good night's sleep!

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  37. Congratulations to Judy! Her name was chosen at random to win the copy of Ruth's book. Judy, I'll be in touch.

    Thanks for entering, everyone.

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