Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Book Review - Almost Amish

One of the books that was on my "Books I Want to Read" list was Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth. The book had many principles and ideas that are already a part of my life thanks to my parents. On my dad's side of the family, there are both Amish and Mennonite ancestors.

That being said, there are some things I want to remember since they reflect what I either learned and/or wished I were a greater emphasis in our family (especially as they relate to the way the Amish manage their money):

Principles that guide Amish finances:
- Work hard. (Proverbs 13:4)
- Spend wisely. (Proverbs 21:20)
- Be honest in all dealings. (Proverbs 11:1.)
- Be prudent. (Luke 14:28)
- Don't become a slave to debt. (Proverbs 22:7)
- Save for lean times. (Genesis 41:35-36)
- Provide for your family, young and old. (1 Timothy 5:8)
- Give generously. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Amish proverbs:
- We live simply so others may simply live.
- Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.
- Take all you want, eat all you take.

Appreciation of nature is a core Christian value, and central to the Amish way of life.

One of the first instructions in the Bible is for man to tend and protect the garden.

There's an emphasis on stewardship of the land.

Our tendency to focus on sedentary activities involving electronic media is separating us from nature. We are spending less time in parks, less time camping and hiking, and less time in unstructured outdoor play because videophilia is replacing biophilia.

Simplicity involves cutting back on two major kinds of stuff - the kind that fills our houses and the kind that fills our calendars....The Amish avoid both kinds of clutter. They don't fill their houses with lots of unnecessary things, and they don't fill their calendars running around from activity to activity.

Supporting small farms, patronizing small businesses, volunteering in local schools, getting to know our neighbors, and building a small faith community make our lives more simple and sane.

The Amish emphasize other kinds of education as well, including learning that goes on outside the classroom.

If you know your neighbors, you know their needs. And they know yours. You can help one another out. You have a support system. You don't have to go it alone.

Both the giver and the receiver get something back from the act of service. The more they give, the more they gain.

Daily interaction within the Amish community makes...isolation nearly impossible. When something goes wrong, the community is there to fill the gaps.

Service takes two forms: service to people we know and service to those we don't. The Amish engage in both.

It's no wonder that the Amish are so service oriented: they try to model their lives after the pattern set by Christ. It is he who is our highest example of service.

The Amish serve their children by doing the hard work of parenting, teaching them the skills and habits that will make them healthy spouses, colleagues, and neighbors. Instead of short-term distraction or coddling, they aim for long-term character and strength.

Through example, they show how caring for grandparents is a joy, not a burden. Likewise, service to neighbors and coworkers is treated more as an opportunity than an obligation. In acting kind, we become kind. In serving others, we are served.

Security comes from self-sufficiency, hard work, and careful stewardship of God's gifts.

Make ice cream "Sundays." Have pizza and movie night.

Having a regular time to wake up, do chores, pray, work, and go to bed also builds in security.

Build stability, routine, and tradition into [your] life:
- Encourage routine.
- Stay put. If you have a choice, don't move.
- Take responsibility.
- Set boundaries.
- Model stability in marriage, parenting, and friendship.

Intentionally seek out businesses located within a couple miles of your home that are not part of a chain and stop in at least once each week to learn about what they of.

Community is like an old coat - you aren't aware of it until it is taken away.

If you are not already a member of a church, visit those that are closest to your home. Once you commit to a church, see if they have a small group you can join.

Amish leisure....connects people to one another around the outdoors. It is almost always community oriented, revolving around family and friends.

Make an effort to attend local festivals, picnicking in the parks, and engaging in informal socializing are simple ways we can build community while having a good time.

Many of us can make choices to bring family together rather than allow jobs, schooling, and chance to separate us indefinitely.

Sharing meals is an act of intimacy. It creates bonds that are essential to preserving a healthy marriage and family life.

What makes Amish families different? They:
- live near each others.
- share meals.
- respect gender roles.
- expect children to be citizens of the family.
- honor the fourth commandment.

Amish saying: "A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short."

JOY means Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between..

Take small steps toward an Amish-inspired life:
- homes are simple, uncluttered, and clean; the outside reflects the inside.
- technology serves as a tool and does not rule as a master.
- saving more and spending less brings financial peace.
- spending time in God's creation reveals the face of God.
- small and local leads to saner lives.
- service to others reduces loneliness and isolation.
- the only true security comes from God.
- knowing neighbors and supporting local businesses build community.
- family ties are lifelong; they change, but never cease.
- faith life and way of life are inseparable.

Jeremiah 6:16: "This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'"

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