Marlene Miller joined the Amish at age 23, married and had ten children. She wrote about her life experience in Grace Called Me Home, later republished as Called to Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order. I just learned yesterday that Marlene passed away Saturday from cancer, at the age of 76.
Longer-time readers might recall an interview with Marlene here in 2012 on Grace Leads Me Home. Here’s an excerpt:
Amish America: What aspect of Amish life has been hardest to adapt to or adopt?
Marlene Miller: Number 1 was language, number 2 sewing, number 3 farming. It was 1971 before I ever tried harnessing and hitching up our road horse.
What was the hardest thing about writing Grace Leads Me Home?
Two aspects of my life were really hard. My childhood memories and my son’s accident, death and funeral had me constantly dripping tears on my paper.
What do you like about living in Holmes County?
We live in Tuscarawas County. But we call ourselves Holmes County Amish. Holmes County is next door. The scenery in these rolling hills are beautiful. The people are kind, laid back and very helpful when a need arises. Because the Amish drive buggies we can take the time to greet with a wave an smile.
What changes have you seen come to your community over 40-some years?
Because of the huge growth over 45 years, we’ve been divided 4 times. We only have 2 farmers in our district. They have more modern machinery. The homes shops also have more modern conveniences.
As a mother and grandmother what if any concerns do you have for the next generations?
My biggest fear for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren is that they may become slaves to our government. Our forefathers died so they and we also could have the freedom to worship Jesus Christ.
You write that certain things about being Amish have been harder to pick up than others, such as language. At this point are you treated much differently than others in your community?
I must admit our family was at times treated differently, but as the years have passed we’re treated very kindly.
What would you advise someone seeking the Amish?
Whether you’re Amish or not you need to repent, ask Jesus Christ our Savior to come and live within your heart. Read the Bible everyday and be obedient to His Word. Seek a real Bible-believing church. The Lord may want you to become an Amish Christian. NOT Just anyone can do this.
I visited Marlene at her Tuscarawas County home once, and found her to be just as I imagined from reading her book: warm, bubbly and hospitable. We sat for awhile visiting. I wish I had known she was in poor health during one of my recent-ish Holmes County visits. The last I saw of Marlene publicly, she had made an appearance at a local library to share her story.
Here is Marlene’s obituary and online remembrances. Since Marlene’s book was originally titled Grace Leads Me Home, that’s as good an excuse as any to re-post this song, sung by Amish girls in her community. Rest in peace Marlene.