We Englischers often think of the Amish lifestyle as a plethora of “no.” No cars. No electricity. No television. No dishwashers. No, no, no, no, no!
But it’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
Because what we might see as a lack of conveniences – or necessities – the Amish family might see as a true gain.
Let’s explore this idea by looking at a typical Amish kitchen.
This kitchen is in the large Amish community of northern Indiana’s LaGrange and Elkhart Counties. You can see a propane powered refrigerator, but none of the conveniences that are standard in an English kitchen.
No blender. No coffee maker. No electric lights.
Here’s another kitchen from the same area.
Do you see a dishwasher? A toaster? An electric mixer?
But in this kitchen, the homemaker prepares three meals a day for her family, with all the accompanying dirty dishes. She makes casseroles, cakes, pies, roasts…. She may fix coffee, make butter, bake bread or render lard. In the course of a summer, she will put up many quarts of tomatoes, beans, peas, carrots and pints of jam.
Without the conveniences of a modern kitchen, all these tasks take longer. They take more muscle (try beating cake batter by hand and you’ll see what I mean!). They take planning and cooperation.
They require help from the children or other members of the family – amidst conversation and laughter – forging bonds that last a lifetime, and avoiding idle time when nothing worthwhile is accomplished.
And the advantages add up.
Without a dishwasher or expensive appliances, the family has money to spend on other things – like helping a neighbor who has lost everything in a house fire, or contributing to the medical needs of a fellow church member.
But most importantly, to the Amish, living simply is about following the example of Jesus. Material possessions can distract one from seeking God. They can cause the discontent of always wanting more. They can contribute to prideful thoughts and deeds – thinking one person is better than another because they have the latest household gadget.
When the homemaker says “no” to convenient machines, she can say “yes.”
Yes, to simple.
Yes, to family.
Yes, to quiet.
Yes, to a purposeful life lived well.
What conveniences would you be willing to forgo to simplify your life?
Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of more than thirty years, their four adult children, two active dogs, and Maggie, the cat who thinks she’s a dog. If she isn’t sitting at her computer ruining – I mean living – the lives of her characters, she’s probably hiking in the Hills or the Badlands, enjoying the spectacular scenery.
Jan’s debut novel, The Prodigal Son Returns, was published by Love Inspired in May 2013, and her second novel, A Mother for His Children, was the winner of the 2013 TARA Contest in the Inspirational Category. It was released on August 5th. You can read Jan’s posts every Monday morning at the Yankee-Belle Cafe.
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