Back in May we heard from Brad Igou on Amish Voices Volume 2: In Their Own Words, 1993-2020, a collection of writings from the Amish publication Family Life, which Brad compiled. Brad also shared some unused selections at that time.
Today we’ve got another batch of writings that didn’t quite make it into Amish Voices 2. As Brad explained, choosing which ones to include and which to leave out was not easy. I hope you enjoy this nice selection from Amish (and at least one Mennonite) authors, and do check out the book if you appreciate this type of writing.
Amish Voices Volume 2: Unused Selections, Part 2
The Home, Our Last Sanctuary
Today more than ever we Plain People struggle to make a living on our farms and businesses. We find ourselves pitted against the mega operations of our worldly neighbors who, with their modern technology, can produce milk, raise crops, and make commodity items for less than what we can. So we reluctantly adapt the best we can and consider ourselves “in the world but not of the world.”
However, there is one area still where we don’t need to conform to the world in the least bit in order to survive. Our homes! There’s no excuse; we can keep our homes in a simple, plain, and gadget-free environment. We can have a relaxing atmosphere to come home to, It can truly be “our sanctuary.”
There is no need to be a 24/7 electrician, plumber, and mechanic, all in one, at home. There is no real need to have a huge yard to take care of.
Who has induced people into thinking that sitting and watching sports is more fun than playing with children? No one forces us to scroll, text, or email during dinner.
Why would we want to come home to batteries that aren’t charged, phones ringing to interrupt our sleep, study, or even prayer! Instead, our home should be a place where we can recharge our “batteries” within!
Even our clothes can stay simple. No need to stress ourselves in making sure we are keeping up with the Joneses or the latest fad.
The more “things of this world” we bring into our homes, the less of a sanctuary it will become! Then there is the pressure to make money to pay for all those contraptions. What is so smart about being strapped with credit card debt?
Why not make a vow and have a mental sign hung by our front door reminding us, “this is an electronic-free facility?” Let’s all work together to not lose our last safe refuge, the home, our sanctuary, while we labor here on earth.
-“Insights and Ideals,” L.H., Ohio, 3-2020
“Guarding Our Heritage”
Surfing the web, receiving messages by text,
Audio recording and viewing videos come next.
Camera all ready and photos to send,
Entertainment, excitement, without any end.
All this and much more in a handheld device;
It’s uses addicting, and it fits so nice
As an extension, or a part of the arm —
The lure of technology, and loaded with charm.
-“Letters to the Editors,” A.K., Ontario, 1-2013
Our local newspaper, in conjunction with local merchants, is sponsoring its First Annual Gift Certificate Program. For $44.95, selected people are entitled to receive up to $500 worth of savings, gifts, and services. The operator draws telephone numbers out of a hat to select the lucky winners.
We happened to be among the “lucky” winners. When I answered the phone, the operator congratulated me and started to read off the list of gifts and savings to which we were entitled: free oil change, brake inspection, car wash, radiator test…
“Wait a minute!” I cut in. “We don’t even have a car.”
“You don’t have a car?” She sounded incredulous. “Then what about flowers, hair styling, shampoo, and sun tanning?”
“I’m sorry, but none of that interests us.”
“Oh!” She began to show frustration. “Well, you would be entitled to two movie rentals and three tickets for cross-country skiing.”
“We don’t indulge in movies or in skiing.”
“Here’s one that you can’t resist, though. You are entitled to three family portraits, for a total value of $239.85. I’m, sure you would appreciate that.”
“We do not sit for portraits.”
“Do you eat out sometimes? There are several meals available which, if you buy one, you get the second one free.”
“We never go to a restaurant just for the sake of eating out; only when we are too far from home at lunchtime, and then we usually pack a sandwich.”
That’s when the operator gave up. The only item on the list that would have been of any value to us was two pounds of nails, which would not have been a bargain at $44.95.
I realized once again how fortunate we are that we are not compelled by our society to spend money for such a wide range of items and services.
Obviously, few people in developing countries would have benefited by any of these savings, and more than we could. All of these were until recently considered luxuries, which poor people could do well without.
We do not live in a rich country. Our national deficit is so high it seems too close to bankruptcy for comfort. Yet the public is constantly clamoring for more social services and benefits.
Those deeply ingrained habits that come from prosperity are difficult to break. Yet, we are firmly convinced that we live happier and more fulfilling lives than those who have everything and still ask for more.
-“True Savings,” Isaac R. Horst, 2-1994
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
These are powerful words from the Bible. It was Jesus Himself who asked these questions, giving us something to think about…
What shall it profit a woman who has a big, lovely home, but spends so much time cleaning it that she neglects her children… and loses her soul?
What profit has the man with a huge bank account, if he is seldom at home with his family because he is either working, hunting, or fishing… and loses his soul?
What is a young maiden profited if she is pretty and popular and proud, and loves partying? Or the young man who has a dashing horse and a stylish buggy, and leads a carefree life?
What about the humble but self-righteous woman who looks down on others and spreads every bit of gossip she hears?
What about the mother who has a craft store that is doing such a good business that she has no time for others?
What does it profit a woman who is always doing something for others, but she does it to be seen of men?
Then there is the young man who is often seen reading the Bible and knows many verses by heart, but twists the truth to meet his own needs and desires.
What is the man profited who gives into temptation and buys tobacco and strong drink, first on the sly and later more openly?
What profit is it to the teenager who has the pleasures of the world at his fingertips and has forsaken the church he was baptized in… but loses his soul?
The list could go on, but we must take care not to judge others. Let us all take a good, hard look at ourselves and the road we are traveling. Remember, God is a God of mercy, if we seek to do His will.
-“What Shall It Profit?,” 8-2011
“Through the Eyes of a Child”
I remember the wonder, the joy, the delight
Of living each day with all of my might;
Of grasping each moment like some precious treasure,
The simplest things bringing the greatest of pleasure…
When I was a child.
My childhood is gone, but I find once again
I am looking at life as I did way back then.
Through the eyes of my children, I once more behold
The beauty of watching the sun set in gold…
Through the eyes of a child.
“A new little calf! Oh Mama, come see!”
The joy in her voice woke something in me.
Together we watched as the calf tried its feet,
And I found that the sight was incredibly sweet…
Through the eyes of a child
“I’m sorry I hurt you.” said one son to the other.
“I forgive you,” said the offended brother.
Then with arms ‘round each other, not an ounce of pretense,
I witnessed forgiveness, in the purest sense…
Through the eyes of a child.
If the joys of your childhood you’ve lost by the way
And cynical adulthood holds you in its way —
Find a child all unspoiled by the cares of this earth
And he’ll teach you to see the things of great worth…
Through the eyes of a child.
-By Darlene Miller, 6-2002
In Memory of My Father
I thank God upon each remembrance of him. How richly God has blessed me to have had such a father.
- He taught me to be content with less than the neighbors had.
- He taught me honesty when tax time came around. If any questions came up, he settled them in the government’s favor.
- He taught me that doing wrong brings consequences.
- He taught me to give honest, humble service in business.
- He taught me to give freely anything that contributed to the church, never expecting to be paid back.
- He taught me sacrificial living by leaving the best for others, by assuring the family was well clad without noticing his own tattered garb.
- He taught me instant forgiveness.
- He taught me that he loved my mother. His tone of voice revealed that.
- He taught me where his strength came from. In adversity, he sought help from the Scriptures by reading, meditating, and praying.
Was he busy instructing each of his sons and daughters in these matters? No, he didn’t talk about how to live. He only lived it — every day until he died.
-His grateful daughter, 5-2017
Wash Day Musings
Spring is here and wash days have become glorious affairs. No more bringing in stiff, frozen laundry for another day of drying beside the stove. Balmy breezes and fresh smells have arrived. The children can go outside to play or to help me.
First, we fill the washing machine with hot water and add a scoop of soap. The soak tub gets hot water, too, and a half scoop of soap. I add the first load of laundry to the soak tub while the rinse tub fills with cold water. Now it is time to start the motor. The children squeal with delight as the churning agitator makes a huge mound of soap bubbles.
Before long we are ready to hang the laundry on the lines. My thoughts roam far and wide as I hang up the wash clothes and diapers. I think of the family whose son left home. Where is their son? Does he ever think of home?
I am ready to hang up the shirts and dresses now. Somewhere along the way I started saying a prayer for the person whose garment I was hanging up, and it has become a precious ritual.
Here are two of my husband’s shirts. I ask God to help him lead our family. I pray about his job and the problems they are having. I thank God for a godly, loving husband.
Three little shirts are next, belonging to our only son. “Dear Lord, help us guide this boy to thee. The future looks dark and uncertain. May he cling to Thee as he grows.”
My dresses are next, and I pray for myself, too. “God, please help me be kind.” I get impatient so easily. Children are not miniature adults!
Now I have several of Mary’s dresses. How we need help with her! When do we tell her to be silent? How do we teach her that she need not talk all the time and that there are things better left unsaid?
Here are Arlene’s dresses. She is so different from Mary. She doesn’t like to try things for herself. She needs more determination, and she also needs to learn to help willingly. “Help us show her the joy of serving others.”
And now Baby’s dresses. She has just turned one and is learning that life is not as simple as she thought it was. She is not afraid to tackle anybody who crosses her will. “Lord, help us as we teach her to give up.”
I used to think child training was simple. Then I became a mother. I, like Baby, have discovered life is more difficult than I thought. Every child is different. What works for one is absolutely the wrong thing for the next one.
So I stand back and gaze at the fresh, clean laundry and I finish my prayer. “Lord, thank you for my family. Be with my husband and me as we guide these four souls through life. Help us raise them to be loving and obedient until You take us all home.” I walk back to the washhouse with a song on my lips and joy in my heart.
“Making a Difference”
A man who was sauntering along on the beach
Observed in the distance ahead,
A figure repeatedly stooping as if
Some purposeful mission he had.
Approaching the youth who was working, he saw
With ever increasing dismay
That the tide had swept thousands of starfish ashore
To helplessly die and decay.
“You can’t make a difference,” he said to the youth,
Who, attempting to salvage a few,
Was picking them up and flinging them back
To the life-giving ocean of blue.
Undaunted, the young man continued to work
Though the odds were undoubtedly plain,
And he patiently said, “Although it may seem
My efforts have little to gain…”
And he smiled as he tossed still another one back
With the purpose with which he’d begun.
“Though I can’t make a difference for many, ‘tis true,
I have made a difference for one!”