Why We’re Not Amish! (Big Family, Small Living- Vol. 2)

Some people are born simple, some have simplicity thrust upon them. We fit into the latter category.

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This year my family made the decision to downsize our home by half. We discontinued cable, our newspaper subscription and our gym membership. We had a suspicion that living a simpler life might just fill our home with the opportunity for peace and strong relationships that we had been lacking.

As my husband and I have been working on restructuring our family, I’ve been reading blogs, magazines and books about simple living. I’ve always been fascinated with Amish life. This fall when my daughters and I had the opportunity to visit Amish country in Northern Ohio, I was thrilled. I was drawn to the details of living without conveniences such as electricity and zippers. I was practically taking notes. As my enthusiasm grew, my girls were getting a bit nervous as they imagined having to straight pin their dresses and cook on a wood burning stove.

I love the Amish motto. Use it up, wear it out, make do or live without. We live in such a culture of excess and waste that this lifestyle is completely foreign. Immediately upon our enlightened return, I got a chance to use my new favorite creed. The washing machine broke. No problem, I thought, I’ll just fix it.

Disclaimer: I am in no way ready to give up electricity…or zippers.

On October 20th, I took the machine apart and found the malfunctioning piece. The cost to order the part was only $12.99 with 2 day delivery. I was well on my way to living a more Amish lifestyle after all. I ordered the part and patted myself on the back, until the next day when I received this email:

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Estimated shipping November 24! Are they kidding?! That’s a month away!!

I’m too stubborn  frugal to call a repair man, so we got the family together and came up with a plan.

They aren't wearing shirts in case they "accidentally" fall in. Totally their idea.

They aren’t wearing shirts in case they “accidentally” fall in. Totally their idea.

The boys jumped right on board and helped out with our “simple” plan.

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Even my pre-teen enjoyed the opportunity to soak the bathroom floor…I mean help.

We’ve had quite a learning curve. What type of laundry detergent? How much? At what temperature will my son’s favorite blanket freeze completely to the patio furniture? How loud will he cry while I try to peal it off?

Our teenagers didn’t quite get a kick out of washing in the tub so they joined the fun by running loads of jeans and towels to the neighbors house.

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Sometimes the whole family including the dog, take a break and walk a load over to our friend’s house. Then we stay for a little visit.

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This new addition to our simple life has actually been quite an adventure. As we’ve entered this early winter, we’ve found ourselves actually enjoying the creativity it takes to wash and dry our laundry in 15 degree weather. We’ve traded carpool for a load of clean dish towels, homemade laundry detergent for blankets and a pot of chili for a few fresh-smelling pairs of socks. I’ve been bound and determined not to call a repair man! Instead we wait patiently for the washing machine part to arrive.

I thought we really had a handle on things until my 6 year old got the flu. We broke down and visited the local laundromat.

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The boys even thought this was an adventure.

As the date nears for the part to arrive, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this little adventure in simplicity. I don’t think we’re quite ready to trade our 12 passenger van for a buggy. I’m not sure we have time to brush up on High German. I do think the Amish may be on to something though. Simple means working harder, taking things as they come and moving at a pace that is a little more deliberate. It means stopping to talk to one another. It means appreciating what we already have instead of longing for more.

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For now, I’m going to do what I hope is one of my last loads of laundry in my tub. I’m going to sit in the quiet while my children sleep and my clothes drip dry. I’m going to sip this glass of wine and reflect on this simpler lifestyle, inspired by my trip to Amish country…Wait…what? The Amish don’t drink wine?!?! And that’s why we’re not Amish!

I would like to take a minute to thank Jen, Nicole, Johnny, MoMo, Jenni, Patty and our dear laundromat for making it possible for Berrynation to smell good. You are appreciated more than you know. In fact, our entire community thanks you!

Question: Have you discovered (or been forced to discover) the art of simple living? Tell us your story. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Josh

    I believe what you are writing of in this article is profound! Not just because its a neat idea or trying to copy the Amish, but rather, I believe when the scriptures get into our hearts and Jesus words begin to take on substance then things like this begin to happen in ones life. May the Lord bless your desire to follow him and to know the blessings of Godly simplicity- not just in the name of simplicity but in the name of following Jesus. Truly the beatitudes do not fit the American dream very well and therefore, sadly, neither do they fit many ‘Christians’ today. I’m challenged just writing these words because this is a matter of my own heart! What a blessing to see men and women (Families) of God making choices to seek to better know their Lord and what He wants for them! Truly, the best investment we can make today is laying up treasure in Heaven (if we choose to lay up, it first requires a laying down of myself)! Mark 10:28-31 We can rest completely on this truth! Yes Lord! (why so often is it still so hard to believe )