I have read and heard mixed reviews of the book, Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth. But, I was eager to read this book, nonetheless, because I think simplicity and contentment go hand in hand. Contentment is my word and focus for 2013.
As soon as I finished Almost Amish, I picked up The Dirty Life, which one of my friends said she liked better than Almost Amish. So, I was intrigued!! Thankfully our library had both of these books! Surprisingly, though the 2 books are VERY different, I loved them both!! I literally could not believe how much the author had to study (though she was well educated,) and learn and DO day in and day out just to keep things moving when starting their farm.
The Dirty Life is more of a memoir of the author’s life after she married and they started a huge farm. It is so fascinating. What I learned from her story is HOW MUCH WORK goes into it all. Honestly, I think I’m too lazy to be a farmer! ugh!
Almost Amish shares from a Christian perspective about caring for God’s creation, living more simply to help others more, and from a historical standpoint sharing about the Amish.
These books have me wanting to move out into the country and grow all our own food!! ha!
But, in all honesty, I crave a more simple life. In many ways, I have tried to be more proactive in living a simpler, more frugal & healthy lifestyle recently. I have worked on creating more things at home: lotion, laundry soap & liquid soap, cooking more, etc. For me, living a simpler life doesn’t always mean EASY or CONVENIENT. But, simpler in ingredients, more simple in where these things come from, more simple means more healthy for us, more frugal.
This is one of my favorite quotes and it applies here so very much:
Live more simply so that others can simply live.
If we are living more simply, don’t we have more room in our lives to give??
But, sometimes more SIMPLE means more WORK. Kind of doesn’t make a lot of sense at times. 🙂
In Almost Amish, the author, Nancy Sleeth, shares many ways that she has learned a more simple life from the Amish:
- faith: small, community churches that meet in homes
- schools: small, community schools with all decisions made by that small community of families
- food: they grow and make themselves and share with neighbors
- homes: no clutter, good quality items that will pass from generation to generation
- technology: doing without, staying close to families and friends, no distractions of facebook to keep them away from living their daily lives
- family: staying close to family when we can, to help each other and give support, share items, etc.
- neighbors: get to know your neighbors, be willing to share, give and receive and grow these relationships
When pondering simplicity, I immediately started thinking of my large-ish church. There is no way to know everyone. It seems at times that the mindset “bigger is better” is how our church strives. Not so for the Amish, when they get to a number over 100, they break into new churches/family groups, according to this book.
They meet in homes and bring food, worship, eat and fellowship together. This sounds perfect to me. No rehearsals (though I love our worship ministry,) no set-up, no tear-down, no building funds, no arguments over carpet color.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our church. I love the people. I love how God has grown me since being there. But, sometimes I crave the simple. And a large church just cannot function on simple. Can it? I don’t know…committee meetings, committees in general (ha!) so many needs, so many people to be taught, so many opinions, so many different areas to serve – means so many needs for people to show up. I don’t love the constant need and drive for people to do MORE, be there MORE, we need MORE help, MORE volunteers, etc.
Another area of simplicity this book has made me ponder is technology: specifically this blog and social media. What if I didn’t have twitter and facebook to check in with every few minutes…how much more could I get done around my house? Often I think there is NO WAY I could do all that it takes to lead a more simple life (more baking, more housework, gardening, etc.) SO MUCH WORK. But, I have SO MANY DISTRACTIONS that if I did away with some of the distractions, could life really be so much more simple??
What if I stopped promoting my blog and instead of trying to make a small income from this blog, I focused on sticking more strictly to the budget that my husband works so hard on? I’m so uncomfortable with promoting myself anyway, what if I just kept blogging because I enjoy it, it’s a hobby I can do from home…and not worry about how many hits I’m getting each month?!
I don’t know…this book has definitely given me lots of food for thought. These are all just thoughts swirling around in my head. I don’t know exactly what that looks like in my life. I don’t know how to get from A to B. But, I’m praying, pondering and hoping God will give us wisdom in this. Along with wisdom, I’m praying for the courage to step out and go against the ways of this world – even the ways of friends and family. It’s hard for this people pleaser to consider that, so I pray for courage where courage is needed.
Speaking of courage, these books and trying to live more frugally have shown me some PRIDE. So, this is good…I love it when God is gentle with us and shows us things about ourselves that we need to change. In sharing with others I have found myself embarrassed (around certain people in particular) to share the things I’ve been trying and cutting out. Yes, we are trying to do without paper towels and paper plates right now…and yes, I actually tried to make my own toothpaste. No it didn’t turn out, but I didn’t want people to know I had made it! ha!! Why!?! God is showing me yet again that I care too much what others think of me!!
I would love to hear from you!! Especially if you have made distinct changes in your life to turn towards simplicity. What things have you done in your home to live a more simple life? Have you had any unusual responses to any of the things you’ve tried?? Would love to hear!