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!
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.
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.