Our Fascination with the Amish

Our Fascination with the Amish

 

Life in our culture moves fast.  We have fast cars, fast food, and fast computers.

Life in our culture is busy.  We have busy husbands, busy children and busy friends.

Life in our culture is full.  We have full bellies, full closets and full calendars.

But sometimes, even with life so very full –we feel…

empty.

And we wonder what it would be like to have a life that was not so fast paced, not so busy and not so full.

I started reading some “minimalist” bloggers in 2013.  These were new bloggers to me and I read and read and read.  They fascinated me and  I am convinced that my “stuff” is bogging me down in life. Which is where the Amish come to mind.

A place my kids and I like to visit monthly is Books-A-Million.  My kids do reading charts. Based on how many minutes they read, they can earn money towards new books.  So every month – off to the bookstore we go.  First we go to the kids section, then we always take a stroll through the Christian section and *BAM* –there’s this HUGE section of Amish Fiction novels!

What is our fascination with the Amish?

Maybe it’s their pace of life.  It appears they have a more simple life.

But I am quite sure that just because they go without electricity and cook everything from scratch that their life is not necessarily “more simple”.  Washing clothes without a washing machine or raising chickens for eggs –is NOT simple.  Sewing their own clothes and homemaking their bread…nope, those are not more simple either.  Taking care of the horses and buggy, that take them to the store in the middle of these frigid Ohio temperatures, -nope that’s not easier either.

So what is it about the Amish that so captivates us?

Maybe it’s that they can live pleasant lives without their iPhones and Facebook…or television…or that they fear God and have strong family values.  Maybe it’s that they have managed to escaped the pressure of having their kids in every activity under the sun or the need for college.

I personally think the draw to Amish fiction is to escape.

We just wish we could escape and stop the crazy train that is filling our calendars full while emptying us of all our joy.  The Amish appear to have found something we seek after – they have found joy in God, their families and their home.

We can’t escape and all become minimalists or Amish.   And good news! We don’t have to – praise the Lord. Lol!  BUT we can change our space.

I’ve been pondering this verse from Ecclesiastes a lot lately:

“Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

~Ecclesiastes 4:6

It seems our world tells us we need to have two handfuls in order to find true happiness.  But I’ve been letting stuff go, and saying “no”, and cutting back and throwing away and guess what is on the other side of one handful = tranquility!

God’s word is true.  We need only to read it and obey it and let it transform our lives.

**Chime In:  Tell me – do you read Amish Fiction or enjoy going to Amish towns ?  I took the photo above 20 minutes from my home and we had our wedding reception at an Amish Restaurant.  What is it that fascinates you about the Amish?

Walk with the King,

Courtney

 Need encouragement in simplifying.  Pick up a copy of my book:  “Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.”

And join this 8 week journey as we seek to find joy in God, your man, your kids and your home.

Unity With Our Sisters in Christ & WLWW Link-Up Party!

Photo credit

I love this image above – it is SO powerful. It shows how the two eggs on the outside may differ but on the inside they are the same. I think of my two children – one boy and one girl. On the outside, they are very different and when they fight it makes this mama miserable! All I want is for my two children to GET ALONG! When they play cheerfully for over an hour together without needing a referee, this mom-heart is blessed!

You see what’s on the outside is different but their hearts are the same. The cross says they are both sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness.

How Can We Have Peace With Our Sisters in Christ?

Visit me over at Good Morning Girls where we’re discussing this today. 

Now it’s link-up time! It’s Women Living Well’s Wednesday Link-Up Party!!! Join the fun, do a little blog hopping and don’t forget if you join below -please add the Women Living Well Wednesdays button to your post so your readers can find us here! (Posts can include the topics of marriage, parenting, homemaking, finances, recipes, organization and more!)


To find the code go to the sidebar – or right click and “save as” the button and then upload it into your post! :)

Walk with the King!

 

The Problem of Envy and Selfish Ambition

The day you were born-again you grew in wisdom. Your eyes were opened to god’s wisdom and your life forever changed. There are many who are wise in the world’s eyes but true wisdom comes only from God.
Wisdom, does not mean knowledge. It does not mean information. It means the application of knowledge with divine power to the reshaping of life, transforming attitudes, transforming behavior into righteousness. Wisdom then is not what I know, wisdom is how I live. And so how I live according to the wisdom of God is a barometer on my spiritual condition.” ~ John McArthur
James tells us in James 3:14 that envy and selfish ambition harbored in our hearts is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic wisdom. Take note of where this envy and selfish ambition lies – it lies quietly in our hearts where no one may see it…but there it lies and it leads us down a path into disorder.
This next quote is LONG lol!  but bear with me as John McArthur says it so much better than I ever could:
So earthly wisdom is spawned by demons, it is reflective of sensual feeling and it goes no further than the fallenness of mankind. That is earthbound sensual demonic wisdom. And that’s the way most people live. But Satan calls it wisdom.
When Eve was in the garden in chapter 3 verse 6, she looked on the fruit because she heard that the tree was able to make one wise. That was a lie. Satan always promises wisdom. And he always promises that you will know and be in the know and understand and be erudite and be educated. But the wisdom of the world proceeds from evil spirits. It proceeds from fallen angels. It proceeds from demons. It proceeds from Satan and his agents who are disguised as ministers of light when in fact they are ministers of darkness.”  
This video below touches on worldly wisdom, God’s wisdom and how I pursue peace in my daily life.  Peace is my theme word of the year!

James 3:13-18 ESV
Wisdom from Above
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Selfish ambition leads to disorder.  Is there disorder in your home, work place, friendships or church?  Perhaps selfish ambition has reared its ugly head.  Pursue wisdom from above – be pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Walk with the King!

Today is Women Living Well Wednesday! It’s a Link-Up Day!!!

Join the fun, do a little blog hopping and don’t forget if you join below -please add the Women Living Well Wednesdays button to your post so your readers can find us here! (posts can include the topics of marriage, parenting, homemaking, finances, recipes, organization and more!)


I’m linked up here today: Mustard Seeds

My First Failure As a Mother

Pictures don’t always tell the whole story. 

I could post picture after picture of me smiling with my babies or toddlers and you might be tempted to believe that I must have birthed easy children or am some sort of super mom to be always smiling. 

The reality is I have found motherhood to be a very difficult road.  The daily sacrifice and demands of being a mom can be overwhelming at times.
The truth is – I have struggled since my first born son came out of the womb!  And I have been a reading maniac, trying to figure this thing called motherhood out!  I was quite shocked when my first born screamed and cried for the first few months on end. 
 
Let me take you back to a dark moment in my life, when I first became “a mom”…
I hold my 6 week old baby in the rocking chair. He is restless and crying so I cuddle him in and begin to nurse. He drinks for a moment and then cries. What is wrong – why is he doing this? He latches on again for a couple minutes and then stops to cry…we do this for 45 minutes and now I am sweating, unsure of myself and uneasy with how nursing is going. We stop and I just rock him. He is peaceful. We rock. He sleeps.
 
I go to my computer and google “baby crying during nursing”. I call my sisters – we discuss it – but I still don’t find my answers. I open books – no answers…never in my life have I not been able to will something I want – a goal - into happening…He awakes, we again nuzzle into our chair and I bring him to my breast. Again he cries and fusses. No one told me this would be so hard?
 
It’s Easter Sunday – I am so proud to bring my new baby out into public for the world to see – but I have a dark secret…our nursing sessions are stressful. I head up to my old bedroom in my parent’s house where I try to nurse him but he refuses to eat. Tears well up in my eyes – what is wrong with me – what is wrong with him – what do I do?
 
I sit with the lactation consultant at the hospital. She weighs him and then I nurse him for 45 minutes and then she weighs him again…I wait to hear how much milk he took in… he took in 1 ounce. “1 oz…1 OUNCE in 45 minutes!!! What have I done?  What is wrong with me?  My baby boy is starving!” He is immediately given formula – I go home cyring – Crying over my first failure as a mother.Just sharing this truth is hard for me…it’s hard to admit I did not do what is so natural for so many of you.  I want to give my children the best of me – studies show nursing is the best – and though I pumped for months and my son was a very healthy baby – I still feel guilt…and shame…over this failure. ~*I am teary even as I type this paragraph because it is still something that troubles me.  I hate the question – “did you nurse?”  and then my answer “I tried…I really did try…I don’t know what went wrong?…I failed…”
 
 
And so you may ask…well what happened when your second baby came along???  “I tried…for 5 weeks, I exclusively nursed her…then my husband went on a business trip and I was alone for a week with the 2 children.  And in my fear…the dark fear that maybe she wasn’t getting enough…and in my isolation with no one to reassure me…I gave up and gave her a bottle…I pumped and supplemented because I needed to see how much she was getting to have peace.  So the truth…I gave up…*tear…and I still have trouble forgiving myself for giving up so quickly…I failed.” 
 
Have you ever laid in bed awake at night and wondered – Why me? I don’t understand these circumstances God? Have you ever felt like a failure – like the rest of the world has it figured out and you are the only one who just can’t seem to pull it together? Your will and determination just simply aren’t enough? Your 2 year old won’t let you buckle them in the car, your 3 year old bites, your 4 year old hits, your 10 year old struggles with reading, your teenager is defiant, or your grown child is making poor decisions and you sit there helpless.
 So what do we do?
 
“Cast all your anxious thoughts on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

I remember laying in my bed one night when my children were toddlers and I had had a terrible day managing them.  I laid there crying over my motherhood failures and saying over and over until I fell asleep – “he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you.” When Satan tempts you to believe otherwise – speak this truth until you find peace. Peace washed over my soul and on a tear drenched pillow I found rest. If you are asking God “Why me?” Stop asking and remember his truth – He cares for you“- REST in this truth today.

Walk with the King!

Side note – I am not saying that not nursing your babies is failing them…but rather because I was so self-assured that I would nurse my babies till they were one yr old - I was shocked and disappointed at my failure to not reach “my goal”…God humbled me through this experience – I needed to be humbled…and he is still humbling me weekly lol! 

This post is linked to Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, Hip Homeschool Hop and Time-Warp Wife.

My Search for the Simple Life

I mentioned in December that my theme word for 2011 is to “Simplify“. I want to slow down and not sleep walk through life. And this video by Ann Voskamp (she was first on my list of top ten favorite bloggers of 2010) captures my heart brilliantly. Please give it 4 minutes – I promise you that it will speak into your soul and WAKE you up if you are sleeping walking through life! (I’ve never cried during a book trailer before but this one moved me because it spoke so deeply to my soul…the pictures are all taken by Ann and the voice is also Ann reading from her newly released book. It’s kinda quiet so turn up your sound!)


Join me on the endeavor to pursuing capturing “moments…microscopic fleeting moments. We have got to figure out a way to stay awake! Life is not an emergency…All of this…is for you!”


Walk with the King!

My Theme Word For 2011

Snap! Christmas was over in a snap this year! I truly can’t believe how fast the hours on December 25th went! All the days of planning, purchasing, decorating, baking and wrapping can fill us with expectations that this world can never fulfill. Don’t get me wrong – we had a wonderful Christmas! But if your Christmas was less than dreamy, it serves as a reminder that all this world offers is empty. We must not always be chasing the next rainbow, the next high, the next good thing, rather than chasing our Savior. Nothing this world offers can satisfy our souls like knowing and walking with the King!

So as the Christmas lights fade, I stare at the aftermath and can’t believe it’s already over. In less than a week the tree will be down, the cookies will be crumbs and we will enter 2011.

Did you catch that? Brace yourselves, we are about to enter 2011! And so I’d like to assist you in evaluating your past year and choosing a theme word for 2011.


The final challenge of the December Peace Challenge is this: Find a minute this week to get alone…outside is best. There is something about the big open sky, the trees, and the sounds of nature that help us to see and hear God clearly. Take your Bible with you – visit Matthew 27 and 28, evaluate 2010 and commit 2011 to living your life completely for God.

Here’s some evaluation questions to assist you in your time alone.

1. Evaluate Your Walk with God in 2010 – Were you daily in God’s word and in prayer? How can you improve your walk with God in 2011?

Suggestion: Ponder your schedule and then write down a set time for a quiet time each day. Mine is 6:30am every morning. Consider starting or joining a Good Morning Girls group in the new year. I email my girls every morning Monday through Friday. Enrollment for the new 3 month session begins January 1st!

2. Your Marriage - What is one word you’d use to describe your marriage in 2010? Easy, frustrating, growing, romantic, hard, strong, amazing. What is one thing you know your husband wishes you’d change in your life?

Suggestion: Write down the steps you can take to change that area in your life. ie. being more organized, cooking healthier, being more flexible, being more respectful, kissing him like you mean it more often…

3. Your Children - What was a high point and a low point for each of your children in 2010? What is one thing that each of your children need from you in 2011?

Suggestion: Write down the steps you can take toward giving your children what they need. ie. manners training, reading to them more, one on one time, my undivided attention, memorizing God’s word together…

4. Health - What healthy habits did I maintain in 2010? What unhealthy habits did I create in 2010 that I need to change going into 2011?

Suggestion: Write down some goals for 2011 in this area. Write out a plan for how you will reach them. Janelle and I will be talking about this area in the new year, so stay tuned here and if you want some inspiration to get you started – here’s what my fitness notebook looks like.

5. Ministry - What ways did I use my talents for God in 2010? Pray about what God would have you do in 2011.

Suggestion: Surrender your life to God. Be willing to be used for his purposes – remember that each season of life brings different priorities and opportunities. Pray over this.

Choosing a Theme Word:

Pause and look over your evaluation. Now choose a theme word for the new year. Last year my theme word was connecting. I wanted to remain connected to God, while remaining intimately connected to my husband, connected with my children and connect on-line with all of you. It certainly was a year of connecting in 2010!


For 2011, my theme word is…drum roll please…
simplify.
I want to simplify many areas of my life, so I have more space to pray, laugh, tickle, write, listen, create, rest, hug, read, connect, and love more deeply than I’ve ever loved. In my fall and December pursuit for peace in my home and in my heart, I have found that there are some things in my life that need to be simplified in order to create space for peace – so essentially – I’m pursuing peace through simplifying.
You will see some of this theme popping up in the new year on this blog, as it is on my heart and mind. So what is your theme word for 2011?


If you are participating in this challenge leave a comment below with how it’s going – if you are a blogger copy this button into your blog post, write about how it’s going and link up below!

Walk with the King!

I am linking up to: Motivation Monday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Finer Things Friday, Raising Homemakers, Making My H0me Sing Monday , Holiday Haven and Works For Me Wednesday. Please check out these blogs for more great homemaking ideas.

This Means War!

Ready or not – here comes Christmas! This is it! This week it all HAS to come together!

This is the week that Jesus’ birth is celebrated around the world! There is no day on earth where Jesus gets more attention than on December 25th and you better believe our enemy, Satan, does not like it! He would love to see you buckle under the pressure of ribbons, bows, lights and cookie trays! He would love to see you frustrated and miserable. He does not want this to be a week of peace for you – he wants you to dread every family moment and be highly sensitive to every word others say so you will be bitter, angry and say things that you regret. He does not want you to find time to read God’s word or enjoy JESUS, the very one we are celebrating!

Whether you know it or not – you are in a spiritual battle! And if this means warwhat’s our battle plan? I Peter 5:8 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Our plan must be to be self-controlled and alert! Self-control means – restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires. And alert means – on the lookout or watch against attack or danger; ready to act. So are we ready to show some restraint this week when things don’t go our way? Are our emotions under control? Are we on the look out for the attack?

The only way we will have this superhuman strength to withstand the Christmas pressure is to step out of this horrific dreamland marketers have tried to sell us void of Jesus and be still with Jesus.

Here’s this week’s challenge: Christmas is just 5 days away and so much of our time is often spent helping the children to remember the “Reason for the Season“. Now it’s our turn. Once the kids are in bed get yourself a HOT drink (again we are warming the body as we warm the soul.) Get ALONE and turn out the lights by your Christmas tree, a lit fire, or a candle and just be alone with God. Pray, talk to him, I encourage you to sing Christmas carols or songs praising him, and just rest with Jesus.

It is in our still moments that music is born, rest is born, talking and laughing is born, prayer is born, love is born and peace is born.

And so, even as I am typing right this minute at 9:32pm on Sunday night…my husband is wooing me away from the computer, “Come have hot chocolate with me and let’s talk.” And I bristle and in my mind I think “But I have this blog post to finish and I had a few other things I wanted to get done tonight“…and then I remind myself “go and receive the love that is born in these quiet moments together.”


Embrace the peace in your home that is there right before you in Jesus. Do not rush past his offer “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:27.


If you are participating in this challenge leave a comment below with how it’s going – if you are a blogger copy this button into your blog post, write about how it’s going and link up below!

Walk with the King!

I am linking up to: Motivation Monday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Finer Things Friday, Raising Homemakers, Making My H0me Sing Monday , Holiday Haven and Works For Me Wednesday. Please check out these blogs for more great homemaking ideas.

Because We Do Not Rest – We Lose Our Way

Christmas is now less than 2 weeks away and I know that all of our to-do lists are a mile long. And because of our strong desire to make Christmas special and meaningful we women do not rest. And because we do not rest, we miss our target…our target for peace, joy and love. We feel overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated and unappreciated. Emotionally we lose our way.
We have been poisoned by the belief that more cookies, more presents, more decorations, more parties, more more more will make us happier. Even when we are pursuing something noble such as serving others at Christmas through charity the over-activity brings chaos to our homes and families.
This frantic pace most often means that we are also lacking in time alone with God to listen, to gain strength, and to gain wisdom. And sadly, we begin to act like the rest of the world. As the world grasps for joy in things and activity – we also begin to grasp for joy in things and activity. And then December 26th comes and guilt sets in…it’s over…and maybe it was lots of fun…but we are left with this hollow feeling of the emptiness that things and activity bring.
Today in Ohio, we are in the midst of a icy snow storm. I am thankful for this forced dormancy. A time where we must stay inside. As I look out the window, I am reminded of how much of nature is dormant in the winter time. It is a time of rest for our plants and animals and come spring time these plants and animals will display the majesty of their creator.
In the same way, we women need forced dormant moments, where we come inside and rest. We need quiet and unproductive moments to be Women Living Well. We need to be drinking from the living well – that is the living waters of Jesus. We need to be in his word. We need to be in prayer. It may appear unproductive in the moment but figuratively speaking – come spring time – we will display the majesty of our creator when we have rested with our sweet Jesus.
So our challenge this week brings Psalm 23 to mind.
1. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. 3. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Are you experiencing the green pastures, the quiet waters and the restoration of your soul that Psalm 23 speaks of from resting with your Shepherd?

Remember how the crowds pressed in on Jesus every where he went. Every where he turned there was a need unmet and though there was SO much to do – he withdrew to rest. Luke 5:16 says,“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

If Jesus needed alone time with God then certainly we do. Just think of the wisdom he wants to impart to you, the strength and the peace you may be missing out on.

Give yourself permission to not have your to-do list all checked off in order for you to rest and get alone with God.
This week’s challenge: Pull out your calendar and SCHEDULE a night where you will go to bed very very early. Take your Bible with you to bed and read in bed for at least 5 minutes. Read in Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, Jeremiah 23:5, and Isaiah 53. These are prophecies that were fulfilled by the birth and life of Jesus. Get extra blankets for a warm nights rest, pray God gives you deep rest and that no one wakes you. Then turn out the lights and sleep. I pray that when you wake, you face the new day of Christmas stress with extra strength and vigor.

If you are participating in this challenge leave a comment below with how it’s going – if you are a blogger copy this button into your blog post, write about how it’s going and link up below!

Walk with the King!

I am linking up to: (In)courage, Motivation Monday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Finer Things Friday, Raising Homemakers, Making My H0me Sing Monday , Holiday Haven and Works For Me Wednesday. Please check out these blogs for more great homemaking ideas.