What activities take place in a typical week in an Amish community? Amish church member Rebecca Miller returns today with a recent week’s worth of diary entries from her life in the Holmes County community.
Rebecca works as an Amish school teacher, and at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, Ohio. She has previously written on preparing for baptism, a firsthand account of an Amish funeral, and 7 days of Amish recipes.
Dear readers, here’s a week’s diary in the life an Amish girl. I have again changed all names to protect my family’s privacy. Thanks for your understanding!
What a beautiful morning we had, to walk the 3/4 mile to church at Joel Millers. We had 15 visiting families, mostly young couples. Inspiring messages were brought by the three visiting ministers. Our scripture text was Luke 14 and 16. We have three youth taking instruction classes in preparation for baptism which will be in four weeks. Wishing them the best!
In the afternoon cousin Eli and his girlfriend Susan were here for awhile. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and napping.
Shortly before 5 o’clock it was time to get ready for the youth singing. We had a delicious supper of grilled chicken, potatoes, baked beans, salad, fruit, cake, and ice-cream.
With 70-some youth, the basement fairly rang with praises. It was a warm, humid evening so water pitchers were passed frequently. By 8:30 the singing was over and after a bit of chatting we were headed home after an inspiring evening of singing and lots of friendly visiting.
Twas’ a bright, clear morning – perfect for getting laundry on the line. The birds were singing cheerfully and inspired me to sing right along. I also swept the basement and steps while waiting on loads. Then it was off to work. I don’t start till 10 o’clock on Monday. I had a slow day so I did some school work and wrote some letters to friends.
After work we got the laundry put away and washed a huge load of dishes, then spent the rest of the evening organizing and getting things packed in boxes to transport to school. We finished the day around the campfire relaxing and enjoying S’mores with the family.
Today was another bright, sunny day, though more humid than before. After a hearty breakfast of biscuits, eggs, and gravy I worked outside most of the forenoon. Then I did a load of dishes and prepared lunch.
In the afternoon I worked in the sewing room until 2 o’clock, then two of my cousins and one of my sisters were off to Wal-Mart to do some school shopping. We were home by suppertime so I spent the evening getting my thing put away and getting mail ready. We also laminated charts for two other teachers. It was just an evening of a bit of this and a bit of that.
I got up too late to get anything accomplished, so it was off to work. We had an interesting day. The weather was very warm and muggy.
Tonight Dad’s family gathered at his brother Wayne’s place for our annual hot dog roast. Besides hotdogs, we also enjoyed stew, salad, melons, and various desserts and snacks. Some of us younger folks enjoyed a few games of volleyball, the school aged children were playing Andy-over, the little ones were here, there and everywhere – playing, running around, and keeping us entertained with their antics.
The older men got in a game of cornhole, then they were too warm and tired. I believe old age is catching up with them. We also got in a lot of visiting, but all too soon the evening was over and it was time to head home. It was a warm, muggy evening so a hot bike ride home, especially since we tried to beat the rainstorm which never did amount to much after all. We had a good evening!
I woke up to birds singing and bright sunshine. I spent a fairly long day at the Heritage Center. I did some outside work: cleaning flowerbeds, watering, sweeping porches and walks, cleaning sign placards, picnic table, and gazebo railings. In the PM I worked inside. We had a busload at 3 o’clock, so we were kept pretty busy.
We enjoyed a delicious, summery supper of the first sweet corn, fresh applesauce, sausages, and peach pie. Then I mowed the yard, while Sara got started peeling and chopping peaches for the freezer. I helped after I was done. It took longer than we expected, so we were at it quite late. Then while Leah went with Sara to the freezer barn I finished up and washed dishes.
What a satisfying feeling after a full day to lie inside my window and let the cool breeze waft over me, while listening to the night sound of cicadas, owls, and other night birds calling, and the horses munching grass outside my window.
This morning I got a head start on the cleaning and also watered hanging baskets, while Sara did our laundry. Then it was off to work. We enjoyed another nice summer day, though warm – it was breezier, so therefore more pleasant.
In the evening we finished cleaning. Sarah helped Dads with paperwork for the family business. I also started watering the lawn, but then I had a phone call/meeting set up with a friend, so I didn’t get done. How good it feels to have a nice clean house again!
It was a beautiful morning to walk to work. I left early to get some watering and spraying done before opening time. We had a fairly slow day. I did three outside tours, the guys did nine mural tours and one of them also did a few outside.
At 5 o’clock I got picked up to go to the calling hours of Matt Miller (former boss). What a shock it was to hear earlier this week that he had been killed in a motorcycle/buggy wreck. His wife (who’d been wearing a helmet) also sustained some injuries, but nothing major. So sad for the family. He has three grown sons and a grandchild on the way. Also feel so sorry for the young man who was the cause of the accident.
Because of circumstances it feels like a higher hand brought it all about. It seems so unbelievable, he was always so lively and active. As a friend mentioned he seemed invincible. He will be missed by many – his family, friends, former and present employees, his hunting and camping buddies. It’s especially hard on his Dad as he lost his wife only four months ago. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers. It’s another reminder of how fragile is our hold on life and who really is in control.
We then had a birthday supper/cookout for my youngest sister. Uncle Marks and daughter Anna came to help us celebrate. It was a beautiful evening to sit around the campfire (almost full moon). We played games then til way late.
So that is a week in my life. Of course, not every week is the same, but that gives you an idea.
Sometimes I think that what many people see as our simple, slow-paced life is in some ways busier and more complicated than you might expect. This is especially true for a family with several young adults and teens in the house.
Have a good week everyone!
Photo credit: campfire- adrimcm/flickr
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What a very lovely little diary this is. Are you working on a book of some sort, Rebecca? You could, your writing style is very poetic here.
I had corn a couple of times this week, it was nice, a bit embarrassing for one person where I went to get it, everyone seemed to enjoy it though (I won’t get into that detail, though I will say that the beginning of the month of August has been a time of extremes for me).
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, Rebecca!
SHOM, there’s no book in the making, maybe when I’m old and gray and have time to sit down and write, As I may have mentioned before I pretty well write these articles when I get bored at my one pt.time job. So after next week you’ll hear much less of me as it’ll be back-to-school. And teaching in a one room school is a full-time job any day of the week. Maybe I shouldn’t spill the beans, But Erik has a few on file for later and maybe I’ll be able to sent one or so yet before I get to busy with school preparations.
A Week's Diary In The life Of An Amish Girl
I couldn’t sleep due to a very bad cold. I felt very restless, I got up and read subject’s title.
I was impressed with the simplicity and honesty of her writings.
I must confess, as sick as I am, the diary cheered me up. Thank you
whoever wrote it. I like to read more entries of her diary.
The Amish people seem to be one with nature; how beautiful.
I have to get back to sleep, I am quite at piece now.
My apologies for the short input but my body needs rest.
May God bless the girl that wrote the article.
George glad to be able to cheer you while you were ill, hopefully you’ll be feeling better soon. Blessings !
A Diary of an Amish Girl
Hi Rebecca – thank you for your kind words. I think you should continue
your Diary but only when time permits and when you feel like writing.
I would enjoy reading future Diary pages. The way you write, I feel like
living among the Amish with their families, friends, kids and important detail of Amish living, which to me makes very it interesting. I also liked that you mentioned the birds. Creatures of God’s creation, praise the Lord!
Keep up the good works!
By the way, I write poetry, but only when I feel like writing it.
George, I have written poetry, too. And I also need to be in the right frame of mind. Mine was more a phase in my late teen years. Now it’s only occasionally. Usually I would think lines while trying to sleep, then run them through my mind a number of times and the next morning they were there and I just wrote them. Now I’m more into letter writing and journaling and short stories. I enjoy reading poetry very much and songs, too.
A Week's Diary in The Life Of An Amish Girl
I agree Rebecca, poetry cannot be written unless one is ready to do so.
Most of my poems are written early in the morning because I cannot sleep.
I sit in front of the computer and just start writing and sometimes I cannot stop writing. One beautiful day I was pruning red roses. As by magic, a humming bird appeared and fluttered in the air watching me with great interest.
I named my first poem THE RED ROSE. My mom’s favorite rose was the red one which is also my favorite. I have a Chrysler Imperial, a beautiful
red rose which smells great, has a strong aroma, I love it!
I really gravitated to the story of the death of the former employer. It seems I am coming into the season of life where deaths and funerals occur often. Makes me grateful for those friends still here and there really is a lot of them. God bless.
Life's Blessings and Yes, It's Complications
I have a perception of the Amish as people who live a less complicated life in many ways than we English do. However, as Rebecca Miller points out to us, they certainly are no less busy with work, home, family, church and a social life, very much the same as we also are. Yet the activities each of our cultures pursue are achieved quite differently and theirs appears a quieter, less rushed, more simply prioritized, way to live. Ours can be louder with a near constant hum that surrounds us; it’s also at times an obstacle course of multi tasks to navigate. And it’s sometimes filled with too many plans, activities and perhaps unnecessary obligations. As we wonder at times what it would be like to live more simply, I wonder, if they wonder, what it would be like to live life more like ours?
My life often seems rushed as is, I wouldn’t want it any busier. I seem to have a hard time saying “no” and sometimes it seems people around you think singles would have more time to do things for others or for hobbies. I haven’t found it so, as of yet.
Thank you, Rebecca, for such an interesting article. In my mind, I was right there with you. But I must tell you, you wore me out!! Ha!!
With all the work we did (ha!), I won’t have to do another thing today.
Have a wonderful day and thanks for sharing your life with us.
Thanks to the young lady who shared her week with us. Takes me back to my younger days when life was simpler and more centered on family.
The family of the young man who died are in my prayers for comfort and peace of God.
This brief part of a diary is a definite encouragement to me. Awhile ago, we moved from the “big city” to a MUCH smaller place … and even now, we don’t actually live “in town.” We are rather close to the “amenities” of a larger city, but …. are in a more “isolated” area. We are actually living in a cabin (with running water, a septic tank, and propane heat) in the middle of almost 5 acres of a wooded hillside, with a good deal more “woods” in the immediate area. We have very little “grass yard” (because of all of the trees) and no possibility of “going solar” (again, because of all of the trees). I am sorta “addicted” to the TV (mainly for “nature,” “history,” and news) and the computer (I usually spend at least 1-2 hrs./day avg. on it). I am considering taking a break from the ‘puter and tube for at least a week to see if it may help me to “refocus” my priorities. Almost every day, I do read some of the Bible (and other spiritual books) and some poetry. I do “belong” to a more “fundamental” religion (not Amish or Mennonite) and do find it very encouraging. If I (and/or my family) miss meetings, someone will usually call to see if we’re okay and if we need any help. Don’t have much else to say at this point, but did want to let you know that I also appreciate your encouragement by sharing what you have.
Randy, running water, propane, and septic tank …surrounded by woods, still close to town, sounds much like my place. My family home altogether covers less than 5 acres. I can hear the birds in the morning and evening.
Reply to Rebecca
I hope you keep up with your more “simplified” life-style. So many folks are mislead into thinking “more material riches means more happiness.” Don’t buy that. There are way too many folks that have “had it all” … and been so very unhappy. You can’t buy happiness. Even the scriptures themselves say at 1 Tim. 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” Sounds like you’ve already found out about seeing the deeper beauty within simple things. This can in itself lead to much happiness. Keep it simple.
Thanks for sharing, Rebecca. Sorry for the loss of your former employer.
One thing I notice is how much you get done in a day without the distraction of the TV and regular internet access. It is amazing how much more one can do in a day if not bound to the evening routine of shows to watch!
Don’t know when I’d find time to watch shows. I do enjoy a good book in the evening, though.
I don’t have time for shows, either, or much reading it seems like. Good thing I don’t have a TV!
Is it just me, or are there not enough hours in the day?
I think we each have the same amount of hours in a day as our forefathers had, I believe we just find more things to fill them with. My Mom says we fill our days with what’s important to us. So I guess we should make sure that what we are doing is important to us, but more importantly also important to our Lord.
I fully agree with that!
Thank you for sharing your diary, Rebecca. I agree, you have a talent for writing (+ keeping the reader interested) and I, too, would like to read more of your diary…or even a “community diary” (I guess that would be more of a newsletter). 🙂
I think that what attracts me to Amish life is that so much of what the Amish do is related to “home” and community—especially if they make their living (for the most part) via their own “home” business or a nearby job. No 2- hour one-way commutes behind the wheel of a car, in rush hour traffic both ways. I personally feel I’ve REALLY accomplished something when I do physical labor–gardening, cooking, yes, even cleaning. I work full-time, but there is a definite separation between work and home (I’d rather be home). It is much more satisfying to me to “work” at home (more of a labor of love than necessity), or to do something for the family’s benefit.
Funny the cornhole mention (and photo of ad)! One of our employees at the library is planning a program for kids, talking about all kinds of games—and I noticed that cornhole was one of them! How timely!
My sympathy, thoughts & prayers for all affected by that tragic accident. May we all appreciate each day for the blessing it truly is.
For many around here the commute to work is physical, too. But it’s more like a 10-30 minute bike ride or maybe walking or hitching up the horse. You’re right- no 2 hr. commute except for the carpenters working on jobs in the bigger towns and cities. Even then there are likely several to visit with each other. If I’m on the road more than an hour in a car I think I need a book to read, but then I’m never the driver.
Thank you, Rebecca! This was certainly interesting!
Good job, Rebecca!
Thanks all for the kind words. I enjoyed it.
Love your story
Thank you for sharing with others. This really brightens one day. God bless you.
This was great. :)
I don’t know when you wrote this Rebecca but I was in Holmes County a couple weeks ago and it was very warm. However, the weather has been beautiful lately here in OH. Thanks for sharing your week, and good luck during the upcoming school year. I hope it’s a blessed one. 🙂
Kathleen, This was 2 weeks ago. Part of that week was very warm. But then it cooled and cleared of Wed. eve and was cooler. Still warm during the day, but the nights were cooler. Wonder where you were in Holmes County ?
More for Rebecca to discuss
The Sunday diary entry mentions the evening singing, and it sounds like Rebecca participated. I didn’t know the youth continued attending them after baptism. Maybe the singings are for the unmarried only, whether or not they’re baptised?
I hope she submits a future article about her work at the Heritage Center. What does she talk about there? How weird are the questions asked by tourists?
Our youth group has more youth that are baptized, than are not. Our singings
are actually singings, not parties, so there’s nothing going on that would be objectionable to a church member. it is for any unmarried youth. Each person decides when they wish to quit attending. We have several that are over 30. Once in their upper 20s or so attendance seems to become more sporadic, then gradually drift to not attending unless your parents or friends host it.
This was very interesting. I was talking to Amish neighbors about this and from what they say there can be a lot of differences in how singings are conducted. Do you sing in English or German or both? Do you know what would be interesting, Rebecca? (and the rest of you feel free to back me up!) A diary of your first week back at school! How about it? 🙂
Kate, We sing German and English (about 45-50 minutes of each.
I might do a teacher’s diary sometime,or maybe more like a journal over a few weeks, but probably not the first week.(sorry) I’ll be too busy just getting on track.
Thank you for sharing. It is encouraging to read about people who find fulfillment in simpler living.
It reminds me to simplify.
Hello, I absolutely loved this. Is it possible to meet you? Do you guys allow outsiders to come and vist? I would love to or even be friends with someone of your culture. Please respond. Thank you.
Which branch of the Amish now may have I phones? My point is; those guys make those that refuse to have cell phone or upgrade to an I phone look foolish!
It’s rather Ironic too; that the Amish also has Credit Cards or just Debut only! The Amis People feedback was “The Amish may ride in Private Cars, Buses & Amtrak” we’re traveling with the flow! We may Not however; drive cars; due to the Picture taking Requirment”
Australia, You must realize their are many, many different groups of Amish and although all follow certain rules each church makes their decisions by majority vote and I don’t know where “the which branch allows I- phones?”comes from. I mentioned nothing like this in my article. Though there may be churches that “allow” them, mostly it is unbaptized youth who get them , without permission or members who are fencecrowders. But as a whole we only have phone booths, anyway in this community. I don’t know of any whole branch of Amish who allow them, but there is such a diversity of Amish in so many states and communities. I would have no clue what each one allows.
A busy simple life
Just came across this after finally being able to access this website again. Smart phones! Takes a music app to view the site of all things. Anyway, one of the reasons I know I’d never survive in the Amish world is because of how busy and how work-minded the lifestyle is in general. Being sick with a chronic illness, I have to sit a lot and can barely clean. I think what most people think of when they think of the simple life is getting away from the unnatural to the natural. I think God has given us an innate sense of what is a healthy lifestyle and what is not. Those who wish for a simpler life know that God didn’t intend us to be lazy people who live for technology and the next big thrill. Science has shown us how damaging it is to our bodies. I think we all know that we would feel better and regain health were e to drop the fake emptiness of the modern world and live more as he intended, so the lifestyle of the Amish is, I think, draws us because we know that the modern world can be a very big distraction from God and what He intends for us. I think it also draws some more than others depending on their own walk with God. How can we hear God with all of this noise, the constant hum of electricity (which is actually quite damaging to the body), the motorcycles or monster trucks growling by at 11 p.m. And the jobs that mean nothing. Jobs that do nothing to glorify God or help humankind at all. And then there’s how our lives seem to be a main course of the world with a small dish of God on the side.
We do what we have been commanded not to do. We envy. Our souls are searching to be closer to God and know instinctively that there is something that the Amish are doing right.
Amy, I just had to add my two-cents to this… There ARE Amish people who are unable to work for health reasons. Though we don’t have anyone like that in our immediate family, we have a friend who has chronic fatigue and we don’t see her as lazy or less-than-anyone-else. She once made the comment she feels it’s been a challenge to accept her limitations and accept the fact she cannot do what her sisters & neighbors do, but it has taught her a lot about accepting what one cannot change and being grateful for what she can do. So maybe she can’t wash her windows, run a home-business, or go for long walks, but there is no denying the fact she is an amazing mother. Her children might feel they have to do “more” than their schoolmates in helping out, but I admire the very strong connection she has to her children. She also once said that when she’s too worn out to “do” things for her family, there is still something left — she can pray for them.
Thanks for your comment, Mark. I know there must be several people in various districts who have chronic illness, so I don’t mean to make it sound like people with such conditions wouldn’t be able to survive in that lifestyle. I guess what I meant mostly is that it’s a lifestyle I can’t see myself being able to do as long as I’m sick. I admire the growing Homesteading movement, but as long as I’m sick and can’t even care for my own house in the city, I know that I definitely can’t start a lifestyle like that now, maybe never. But one thing is definitely correct–I can pray.
I didn’t explain that well. I guess what I meant was that, had I been born into the Amish or similar world, I would adapt, I’m sure, but entering into such a lifestyle while already sick hardly seems feasible … And yet it might be the best thing for my health.
I feel for you, Amy. Never having been in your shoes I can’t completely understand how it is, but I can still think people facing health issues and feel for them. I guess it also reminds me not to take my health for granted. One never knows what lies ahead… It also reminds me of the blessings I have to live in a community where people look out for each other and when someone is not able to care for their own needs or homes, there are friends, family, and neighbors to step in and lend a hand.
But don’t give in to discouragement, Amy. God knows, God cares, and He has a plan for you… And you’re right — you can pray.
Oh, I see what you mean, Amy. I reread your comments, too. I suppose I read too quickly and put my own “impression” into your account. I see what you mean now.
Thanks, Mark. You are very blessed to live in such a community. I do love my church family, but modern life pulls people in so many directions that helping people in the home becomes kind of foreign. Maybe not from lack of willingness but rather a sense of guilt. We’ve been taught to be too independent to accept help easily.
No worries on your replies. I’m told that chronic pain takes 60% of our brain power, so sometimes, what I mean and what I say can get jumbled. I’m thankful for your thoughts and comments!