Our lifestyles have become a non stop, fast moving cycle. We run here and there. Have our children in activities that make us run almost every day of the week. We live by iphones and ipods, if we don’t have 4G speed online then it becomes frustrating. We are involved in bible studies, book clubs, playdates, you name it, we have been drawn in. Our closets are filled with clothing, our kids rooms with more toys than needed. Our homes have become cluttered with things we keep buying and don’t really need. We have become a life of stuff. Stuff that made us happy for a moment but has now become a burden in our lives. We buy food, food that is packaged and made with chemicals and additives that are doing harm to our bodies and we just keep filling it into our bodies. We are so wound up and stressed about paying debt, there is no time to play and enjoy life. We have become consumed by our own desires. When does it stop???
Now lets take a step back and look to an Amish lifestyle. We see families working and playing together, enjoying the simple things in life. We are fascinated by their lifestyles and that they remain so “different” from the world. They seem to have such a plain approach to life. What is it about the Amish that is so intriguing to people?
I think what draws us into the Amish is their simplistic nature. They have chosen to be disconnected from the world. They do things with a love and peace for God and their families. They don’t necessarily look to do things easier, but just simpler. They live their lives plainly.
Is it possible to live a plain lifestyle in a not so plain world?
Some things that people do not know about me is that I attended an Amish-like church when I was a new Christian. When I first got “saved,” the church I was attending didn’t really encourage women to fulfill their lives as homemakers and wives. I was attending my first bible study ladies group and it talked about being a better woman, all the beginner basics which I learned much from, but then I noticed something. These women seemed different from me.
I was the only woman who had brought her children to the meeting because I homeschooled them(their children were all in school). I noticed they all went out much with each other and left their children with babysitters, a something I had never done since becoming saved. And none of them seemed the least bit interested in becoming a homemaker. Now please before you keep reading and think I was being judgmental, I don’t think homeschooling, wanting to be a homemaker, or going out with your friends is bad, I believe God will put people in different positions in life and they will do what they have to do. I think God was just starting to mold my heart towards being a keeper at home without knowing anyone else who was doing that.
I was really starting to embrace the whole ” old fashioned” idea of being a wife, making bread, wearing skirts, and loving being home with my children. But I was realizing that there were no other women who embraced that same vision for their family around me. I even remember asking one of our “mentor” Mom’s what she thought about being a keeper at home, and she kind of laughed it off saying that isn’t so much for our times. God placed it in my heart that day that something was not right in my spirit.
So I started looking…….
We had started doing some lifestyle changes on our own before ever attending the Amish church. We had gotten rid of cable TV and kept only one with some DVDs that portrayed godly lifestyles. Little House on the Prairie was a favorite of ours. Watching that show made me dream of wanting to live that way. I even started wearing dresses and skirts to match the role of Ma. We even shut all the lights off in the home at night and sat around the table by lantern and read books before bedtime. We raised chickens and started making foods more from scratch. We really started to grow closer as a family. Weekends were spent doing things together, we stopped running here and there and started enjoying each other. People around us thought we were crazy wanting to embrace this lifestyle. But we knew in our hearts differently.
I wasn’t really into the internet but started doing some searching online and came across a church finder for plain people. I was very surprised to find a church about an hour from our home. We called and had a wonderful conversation with the pastor and decided we would make the trek to the church. Remember at this point my husband wasn’t saved but still agreed about us wanting more as a family. We took the drive and found the church.
This church was a very conservative Mennonite church. Mennonite and Amish have very similar beliefs and doctrines but the Amish don’t use electricity. When we pulled up, we were the only “red mini van” in the parking lot. Mennonite’s believe in being nonconforming to the world and most of their vehicles were all black. Not flashy colors. We were already the odd ones. But as we pulled up and got out of our vehicle, a very nice woman introduced herself and welcomed us to sit with her.
Women and men sit on opposite sides of the congregation. This woman, showed me what they did, through the church service and it was a huge change from what we were used to. The sermons we were used to were the “feel good” sermons. Not a whole lot of reading from the bible but much spoken about how we can have a better week. This sermon was a lengthly reading from the bible and a few insights from the ordained ministers. The singing was amazing, no music, but beautiful voices all sung in unison. Very different from what we were used to. Afterwards we were invited to the ministers home for supper and gladly obliged.
It was very different to have someone already have a large family, invite an even larger family(we had four children at this time), without having to prepare beforehand. They just put out some extras and we had a wonderful tasting meal and great fellowship.
We had many discussions about beliefs and thoughts on living. My husband, who was not saved, and myself who knew nothing about being “plain” inquired on many things, they sat with complete patience and love and just shared. We came up multiple weekends and spent the night in a tent outside and enjoyed and learned how to live a life of happiness and togetherness. We were awed that these people had a completely different way of life. They enjoyed being together, they didn’t want to go out on Friday nights and leave their children behind. The same beliefs my husband and I wanted but everyone was telling us we were crazy for wanting them. We enjoyed simple meals, had simple birthday parties, and simple entertainment. It was this plain and simple lifestyle of peace. It was always sad to leave and return to “the real world”. It was also very difficult. I didn’t want to live like my past life. I wanted to wear skirts. I wanted to have more children, I wanted to teach my children a less entertainment filled life. This church helped us.
The women would invite us up or come down to our home and taught me how to sew. Many women knew I wanted to wear a more modest clothing and gladly gave of some of their dresses. They just walked into their closet and grabbed one out and gave it to me. It wasn’t one of their “leftovers” it was one of what they wore.
I watched these mothers train their children and teach them how to behave. They included their children in every activity. There weren’t “toy rooms” to keep them busy, most had a small toy box in the living room filled with basic toys that they brought out to play with my children. The older ones came out and joyfully served and helped with the little ones so that the Mom’s could talk. It was such a change from anything I had ever seen.
I borrowed almost every book I could get my hands on from the ministers family to learn about Amish/Mennonite way of life. There was so many things I was unfamiliar with. But these women were very patient and loving with taking the time to teach me. Each Sunday we had a different invitation from a different family. There was always a large group of people to interact with and talk and meet and learn from.
One woman in particular, she was the one I first met at the church building, was one I grew quite fond of. She has been the greatest blessing and mentor in my life. She taught me so many things it is too many to name. What I enjoyed about her, is that she had email. Most of them do not own computers but this woman and her husband had a business and had internet to do work on. It was a great thing for me as I was able to keep in regular contact with her to share things of my heart.
Now as I was growing more and more in the Lord through this church, my husband did in the way of family. It turned his heart to wanting to be more at home and with us as one. He was more apprehensive of the Mennonites beliefs and doctrines and that was hard. As a women who thought she found the “perfect” church to answer all of her prayers and could be part of for the rest of her life, it was heart wrenching. My good friend, kept encouraging me and shared with me the importance of submitting to my husband even when I didn’t feel like it.
Time had passed and my husband was having a rather hard time working on our only car. The minister took time out of his day and came down to spend the day with my husband. He wasn’t mechanical at all but he handed tools to my husband and had small talk. He even laughs at how my husband was using words “not of God” and the minister would just pray silently for him. This man became a man whom my husband greatly respects for that reason. He judged not my husband when he was the most heathenistic man ever:) He continued to come up and help my husband without wanting anything in return. During that time, my husband gave his heart to the Lord through the minster. It was a joyous time. My husband is very stubborn man and will not submit to anyone. But David, the minister is someone whom he came to respect.
More time has passed, we did not become members of the Mennonite church but have learned so many things from them. I still have regular contact with my dear friend. Through this time, I have learned how great it is to have a plain lifestyle. But I found it hard to return to my normal life and continue with the plain lifestyle choices. The things I bought for my home were almost nonexistent at our local Walmart. I purchased things through Amish mail order catalogs that were hand made and basic to living. I learned to cook with basic foods that I couldn’t purchase at our grocery store but from their bulk food store. I learned to preserve food and eat a more basic menu.
Back then, before there was a world of blogging, I thought how great it would be to share the things I had learned with my “worldly” friends. Because I know I would of never heard of the things I did without attending that church. Fast forward to 10 years later when God had me write my blog—plain and not so plain, with the tag line of “living a plain lifestyle in a not so plain world.” I want to share with others how to live a plainer lifestyle to enjoy the peacefulness and joyfulness that comes with decluttering, cutting out, limiting, living debt free, in our lifestyles. Some might call it being a minimalist, I call it living plain and not so plain.
So what about you? Do you want to live your lives more plain and simple? Are you up for the challenge? Keep reading simple living lifestyle challenge.