Knowing we would be excommunicated from the Amish church was not something we approached lightly when making the decision to leave.
It has not been easy being cut off from family and friends.
It has been humiliating, frustrating, irritating, and downright awful at times in the way we were treated, but not once did it make us feel like rejoining the Amish.
As a matter of fact, it had quite the opposite affect on us. The more they shun, avoid, and treat us badly the less we ever want to be a part of that culture again.
Do I miss the closeness of community? Yes.
Do I miss all my growing up friends? Yes.
Do I wish things were different. Yes.
Am I happy that some Amish churches are no longer as strict about excommunication when someone leaves? Yes!!
Another one of my brothers and his family recently left the Amish church. Their experience is quite different than ours was sixteen years ago. They have not been excommunicated. They can still freely visit their family, eat with them, etc.
Some other Amish communities will still shun them, but I'm so happy that their closest relationships remain intact. I'm so happy that they will never have that visit from the ministry to inform them that they are being handed over to Satan. I'm so happy that they won't have to experience the loss of everyone they loved.
I am also happy that a few relationships I had thought were lost forever in my own life have been somewhat restored.
I am happy that it seems as if there's a shift coming in some Amish churches in the way they use excommunication and shunning.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Knowing we would be excommunicated from the Amish church was not something we approached lightly when making the decision to leave.
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
For some reason, I enjoy reading other people's wish lists, and being someone who enjoys creating lists, I also have a variety of wish lists floating around. I don't have expectations of ever getting them fulfilled, and I'm okay with that, but I still enjoy adding things to them.
I have quite a collection of cookbooks, and an even bigger wish list of cookbooks. I have hopes of getting a few of them over time.
Bake from Scratch volumes two through six are at the top of that list. Rosie Mae got volume one for me, since she knew how much I loved them when I had borrowed them from the library. So with time I'm hoping to actually complete that set.
Another wish list contains kitchen tools and equipment. It's a long list. Basically if I know it exists, and I don't have it, it's on the list.
My kitchen is tiny, so I'm not planning to actually get much of anything on the list, but it's still a fun dream.
As a homeschool Mom, my curriculum and school supplies wish list is pretty extensive as well. I do hope to someday upgrade my printer, but otherwise most everything will remain firmly on the wish list.
Art supplies could be on the homeschool wish list I suppose, but I have hopes of doing art related things long after all the children have graduated, so that list keeps growing as well.
You would think as someone who admires minimalism from a distance my wish lists wouldn't be very long, but that isn't the case.
Wish lists aren't going to buy lists though, so I keep enjoying them.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
There are times I am convinced my phone is a ventriloquist.
The alert sounds that I received a text.
Though the phone is right next to me, it sounds as if the alert came from across the room.
It happens every single time!
Yesterday Steven and I went on a hike. I had my phone in my pocket when I received a text. It sounded as if it came from some distance to the right of me.
I don't understand it.
But it continues to happen. It's little talent is quite unhelpful if I'm trying to locate it
Monday, April 25, 2022
I was first introduced to ube (pronounced ooh-beh) last year and I may have become slightly obsessed with it.
Ube is a lovely purple yam from the Philippines that is especially lovely in desserts.
The only problem is, they're extremely hard to find. Basically impossible in our area.
When ever we go traveling I check out Whole Foods and specialty grocery stores to see if I can find some.
I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to recipes using ube that are mostly untested in my kitchen due to the high level of difficulty of finding them. (You can see it here.)
If anyone wants to be a friend for life all you have to do is get me a nice steady supply of ube. Just kidding -- maybe.
Saturday, April 23, 2022
Not too far from our home there's an old railroad that has been converted to a hiking/biking trail.
We enjoy walking on it, even as it has become quite popular and filled with people.
When we were growing up it had been only an old unused overgrown railroad that led into a dark tunnel that had water dripping from the ceiling and even spots where parts of it had crumbled and lay broken on the floor.
That has all been repaired and lights have been installed.
It makes a lovely place to go hiking/walking, but occasionally as another biker goes whizzing by I almost miss the days when it was ugly, but private.
On Monday Steven and I decided we want to walk through it for the first time this spring. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we headed out. As we approached the tunnel it felt as if we were standing in front of an AC unit that was turned on high.
The wind blowing through the 3,290+ ft. tunnel became quite chilled before it exited.
We wished we had taken our coats, but speeding up our walking kept us almost warm enough.
The view across the mountains at the other end of the tunnel never disappoints. We sat on a bench for a while to soak it all in and then headed back.
We hope to get to enjoy it a lot this summer.
Friday, April 22, 2022
I have a few scars that are still visible from my childhood.
The first is on one of my knees. I earned it when I was six and decided to would be great fun to terrorize my brother by threatening to spray him with a hose nozzle.
He could have known it was impossible since it wasn't actually attached to a hose, but he was screaming and running away from me.
I was laughing and in hot pursuit until I tripped and fell in front of the barn. A small gravel imbedded itself in my knee.
The fun of the chase ended abruptly, and it was now my turn to cry as I hobbled my way back to the house to have Mom clean and patch me up.
The scar of that silly episode remains.
The second scar was acquired when my teacher managed to convince me to try sledding down the steep hill behind the school house.
I don't know how I managed, but somehow my hand got between the the snow and the 'sled' I was riding on. My mitten wore through and I was bleeding by the time I got to the bottom.
That was my first and last time of sliding down that hill.
I still see the scar every day.
Those scars are visible reminders of certain incidents in my life.
I have often wondered how we would look if emotional scars were visible as well. It's a sobering thought to me, and I really hope I haven't inflicted too many of those over the years.
Thursday, April 21, 2022
One of the treasures I kept while going through Mom's things was her recipe box.
It reminded me of the poem she had written about quite a few years ago. I searched for it this morning and was happy to find it.
My Recipe Box
A little gray box, on a shelf up high,
Contained such clutter, 'twas weary to the eye,
Now down it will come, I decided one day,
To recopy the slips in an orderly way.
They all spilled out on the table for me,
What a rumpled heap, I'd end it you see
A stack of fresh cards and a brand new pen,
A nice comfy chair, I'm ready to begin.
"Custard Pie" read the first, from Emma my sis,
She lives far away, I'll have to keep this,
"Zook Cookies" yes, from my own Mother dear,
I'll treasure her handwriting on thru' the year
Now next came one with a big splotch of grease,
From my Aunt Malinda who is now deceased
I laid it aside with the tenderest care,
To throw it away would be most unfair.
Oh here's a pink card with a worn bent and twist,
That took place in baby John's chubby fist
He has grown tall now, is a Daddy too,
I'll just have to keep that one, wouldn't you?
A splatter on the edge of this big white sheet,
The hot drink son David invented so neat
Filling up fast was my little box gray,
But the stack of new cards untouched did stay.
Here's the mixture of crumbs, that tasted so good,
When used to fry fish as Mahlon oft would
Standing at the stove, cheeks red from the heat,
He'd fry two bowls full delectable treat!
Cheese Bars, cookies, and Angel Crust Pie,
Remind me so much of an era gone by
When daughter would work ambitiously late,
She'd try something new when expecting a date.
Bologna with garlic and spices for zest,
When done how Liz says is really the best
I'll keep her whole sheet with her greetings of cheer,
It will keep us in touch through out the next year.
Mom-in-law's method of planting of peas,
"Dessert" from dear Sarah our company to please
"Pickles" from Rosemary, far in the north,
Bring memories of old times, plenty of worth.
"Popcorn Balls" yes, with blue marker framin'
Made when Mom wasn't home by Ivan and Raymond
A whole pack of cards, in schoolboys hand printing,
By now my eyes through tears had been squinting.
By in-laws, aunts, cousins, and friends galore,
A box full of memories stuffed in by the score
Back up on the shelf, my precious small chest,
Just the way it is, is really the best!
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Quality of service or in this case the lack of it is about to drive me batty.
This year was the first time Sharon had to file taxes. She was pleased to be getting a refund.
How ever instead of the refund she got a letter from the IRS saying since she never filed taxes before she has to prove her identity. They gave a website and a number to call.
The website will not accept her info since she's not yet eighteen.
The phone number they provided hangs up every single time after about fifteen minutes and tells her to try again tomorrow.
The local IRS office will not let you simply walk in, you have to make an appointment.
The number to call to make the appointment, always transfers her to the number they provided in the letter.
So round and round and round we go.
The letter states we have to take care of the issue within thirty days.
I don't see how that's possible unless they improve the quality of their service.
Right now I would rate them zero stars, very stinky service.
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
We have seen it happen again and again.
A young Amish man is ordained minister. A position he never wished for, but he humbly shoulders his new responsibility and delivers interesting sermons. He's kind, has a listening ear, and is well liked by everyone in the church.
A few years later there's an ordination for a new bishop, and the lot falls on him. Everyone feels hopeful and happy. The first few times when there's "church work" to be done everyone agrees that they finally have a nice bishop.
But bit by bit the amount of power he has over his church goes to his head. He becomes power hungry and makes life miserable for a lot of people.
This year alone, even though we haven't been a part of the Amish church in over fifteen years, we were affected by three Amish bishops. Two of which were the power hungry kind. The actions of the one was beyond reprehensible, and it still makes my stomach knot when I think about it. The second one way overstepped his bounds of authority on the morning of my mother's funeral. I won't go into the gnarly details, but it was ridiculous and upsetting on what was already a hard day.
The third bishop we interacted with I have nothing but deep respect for. He never became the usual power hungry man that the majority of Amish bishops turn into. He has been a bishop for decades already and is still one of the kindest most sincere men you will ever meet. He reached out to us to offer help and see how we would like to proceed with a certain troubling situation. The conversation that followed blessed us immensely and in the end he wished us well in our faith journey.
He's proof that it is possible for someone to be a bishop without turning power hungry.
Monday, April 18, 2022
Another birthday has come and gone.
This year Sharon surprised me with a big stack of letters she wrote for me to open at certain times and occasions.
She drew a cute picture on each envelope in theme with its contents.
Here's a small sample:
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Every winter Dad would buy a huge bag full of assorted nuts, still in their shells.
We kept a bowl full of them on the kitchen counter, and on the evenings when we didn't have popcorn while Mom read our bedtime stories we'd sit around the table and crack and eat nuts instead.
Nothing was quite as satisfying as having a walnut survive the cracking process and come out unbroken.
Though I liked all of the nuts, my favorite was the hazelnut, or as we used to call them, filberts.
My little brothers couldn't crack nuts, so we would share ours with them, all while Mom's sweet voice continue reading.
If time travel were a thing, I wouldn't mind popping back there for a few minutes for another round of filberts and bedtime stories.
Friday, April 15, 2022
I treasure happy memories.
Over the past few years I have become more heartless with our possessions. Donating and throwing things out with what my Grandmother would have deemed as reckless abandon.
I'll keep the memories, but get rid of the stuff was my reasoning behind it.
Going through my Mom's things last month made me both question my tossing of so many things, and also be determined to toss even more.
She kept so many things.
It was a monumental task going through everything, it's actually not quite done yet.
But seeing different things she kept woke memories that had be lying dormant for years.
I enjoyed being flooded with so many different good memories that would most likely never have returned had they not been woken by the things she had kept.
So now I'm torn. Should I keep more, because evidently my mind will not bring up all my memories on its own. Or should I heartlessly continue to trend more towards being a minimalist and get rid of stuff so our children won't be stuck with that task someday?
Thursday, April 14, 2022
In German as well as in Pennsylvania Dutch the word "hell" means bright, or light, or even blonde in English.
Having English as your second language can be a little interesting at times.
One such time was when one of my sister-in-law's friends went to the paint store. She selected the color she wanted from the samples, and they mixed it up for her.
After the shaking process was done they opened the lid for her to make sure it's what she wanted.
It was brighter than she had hoped for.
"What do you think?" the guy mixing the paint asked her.
"Well," she said, "It looks a little hell."
I can only imagine what the guy thought hearing this sweet young Amish woman 'curse'.
When I heard about it, I had to laugh, and laugh.
Another incident of being lost in translation. This time a little more unfortunate than most.
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
The counter tops were bright orange, and had a been custom made for a different kitchen and therefore it didn't fit properly in ours, but I loved working at it. It was where Mom taught me how to cook and bake. Stirring up big batches of cookies, rolling out pie dough, kneading bread, and trying my hand at new recipes I found in Mom's handful of recipe books was so much fun, that the color of the counter tops didn't seem to matter at all.
The curtains at the windows were a dark green. Ugly, describes them well, but again, I didn't care. They worked well to keep the sun out of my eyes at the supper table.
The table was an old Formica topped creation that sagged in the middle. We had six mismatched chairs to use with it. It was such a fun place to sit and write letters to my friends, play games with my brothers, and of-course eat hundreds of delicious home cooked meals.
There was an old battered metal woodbox in the corner of the kitchen which we children kept filled with firewood for the cookstove.
On the one wall Dad had hung a big square piece of blackboard and framed it with an oak trim. We enjoyed drawing pictures on it, writing what ever our fancy struck us with, playing little games such as several versions of tic-tac-toe, silos, dots and boxes, and more.
It was the kitchen where we would all settle in for popcorn, apples, and bedtime stories during the winter.
When looked at from a real perspective it badly needed remodeling, but love and happiness was all it needed to make it the most inviting, happy, and yes, even beautiful room in the house.
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
My brother John was the closest in age to me.
We got into a lot of things when we were little because of my "bright" ideas and his willingness to go along with them.
Such as the day I thought it would be fun playing Santa Clause in the pile of cement chimney blocks that were stacked behind the barn. The descending the chimney worked out just fine, but then he was stuck and he had to stay trapped until I got Mom to the rescue.
Then there was the day I came up with the brilliant idea to turn the bottom dresser drawer into a bench. He and one of my other brothers sat on it, which caused the dresser to tip trapping them underneath.
If I got a silly worry and started crying about something he'd howl right along with me. I wrote about one such occurrence here.
As we grew older he became my sounding board. He was calm and level headed and would often talk sense into my latest whatever it was that I was stressing about.
We still talk almost every week, even though he's still Amish and I'm not. He never cut us out of his life like so many others did.
I will always treasure the memories I have of growing up with him, and am so thankful John is my brother.
Monday, April 11, 2022
Winter time meant ice cream making time.
Mom would stand at our Pioneer Maid wood cookstove and cook up the ice cream pudding while the boys were sent outside to fill several five gallon buckets with packed snow.
There was always an air of excited as Mom filled the ice cream can with the pudding. She set it in the freezer tub and we filled the space between the can and the tub with snow and dumped salt over it. Taking the laundry stick we poked the snow down while someone else started cranking.
We kept adding snow and salt as needed while continuously cranking the handle.
Midway through the excitement would start wearing off as we grew tired of all the cranking. We kept taking turns, careful to keep the handle turning as we switched out.
Once the ice cream was firm enough that we could no longer crank we removed the can, took the dasher out and all gather around to enjoy several spoonsful of delicious ice cream that was stuck to it.
Mom put a lid on the can and put it back into the salty snow mixture to keep it nice and frozen until we were ready to eat.
It was always a treat, even it it took a lot of hard work to prepare.
Saturday, April 9, 2022
Huggly, a word we coined to describe an ugly gift that means a lot to you because of who gifted it to you and their thought behind it.
I have a few such items tucked away, and when going through my Mom's things I came across a huggly I gave her the Christmas when I was nine.
I was limited in my options of what I could make, but happened upon what I though was the perfect idea. A piece of cardboard covered with scraps of pretty contact paper that I wrote a poem of sorts on. The another piece of cardboard to create a frame for it.
It still needed a little something and I happened upon the perfect idea.
At school when ever we got 100% on our lessons the teacher gave us a sticker to put on a chart on the wall. I decided to work extra hard and instead of placing the stickers on the chart I'd take them home and place them on the frame to make a pretty border.
It took quite a bit of time and a lot of hard work but by the time Christmas rolled around I had enough stickers to complete my little project.
Mom hung that ugly thing on her bedroom wall and kept it there until after I was married.
Finding it again I took a picture and then tossed it.
Huggly describes it perfectly.
Friday, April 8, 2022
Gel: Pronounced with a hard 'g' is a Pennsylvania Dutch word that doesn't have a simple English word for translation.
Often used after making a statement you hope the other person agrees with.
Meaning do you agree, or isn't that right.
I was reminded of how often we used to use it, and how there is no simple word to translate it when reading some old letter Mom and her friends used to write. The entire letter was written in English, with the occasional Gel thrown in after some paragraphs.
It made me wonder what someone who didn't speak Pennsylvania Dutch would think if they were to read the letters without anyone to translate.
Thursday, April 7, 2022
Going through my Mom's things I was surprised at the vast amount of beautiful dishes she had. I remembered maybe half of them.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, because my Dad loved finding pretty dishes and buying them for Mom.
It was not an uncommon occurrence during my growing up years for him to come home with some kind of pretty dishes and present them to Mom. She would admire them, display them for a few days before tucking them into a cupboard where we would use them in rotation with the rest of her pretty dishes.
She had lots of candy bowls. Multiple gorgeous fine china dinnerware sets. More berry bowl sets, fruit bowls, and cake plates than I imagined a kitchen could possibly hold. Plus so many, many other random pretty dishes.
I shouldn't have been surprised that her collection of fine china and other pretty dishes kept growing over the years even after I was married.
I kept a few of the pieces I remembered having liked the most from my childhood and teen years, the sister-in-laws each kept a pile for themselves, and the majority was packed up for the upcoming auction.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
I could wax poetic about so many things I enjoy, or I could simply create a list and a plan to someday talk about some of them a little more in-depth.
- Listening to the spring peepers.
- Watching the spring flowers bravely poke through the cold dirt and give us a welcome splash of color.
- Having fun conversations with our children.
- Getting random texts from friends.
- Planning menus.
- Trying new recipes.
- Seeing the number on the scales trend steadily downward.
- Hearing birds sing.
- Using new stationary.
- Reading good books.
- Learning new things.
- Waking up early to a new day of possibilities.
- Playing games with Steven
- Drinking tea from my favorite cup.
- Organizing and cleaning.
- Being in nature.
- Spending time with family.
- Singing and listening to music.
- Collecting and using cookbooks.
- Making lists and using planners.
- Sewing and various crafts.
- And many, many other things.
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Mom had a doctor appointment in a city farther away than usual, and I was at home with all my lofty ideas and goals for the day.
I was going to surprise her with a basket filled with all sorts of treats to enjoy once she got back.
Among the items I planned for the basket were chocolate covered pretzels and some lovely bread buns.
Maybe I was trying to multitask too much, but nothing was turning out the way I had envisioned.
I had forgotten the yeast for the bread buns, and even after multiple attempts at melting the chocolate to dip pretzels, it always seized up in an ugly clump.
None of the things turned out right. I stuffed most in the pantry out of sight, but with some effort I was able to use my fingers and attach some chocolate to the pretzels. They still looked terrible, but I put them in a pretty dish and set them on the middle of the table where Mom was sure to see them when she got home.
It was time for bed, so I scribbled a quick note and tucked it next to the pretzels.
I knew we would both get a good laugh the next day when I regaled her with the tales of my day of woes.
Monday, April 4, 2022
In the back of the cupboard, behind all the teacups and coffee mugs, Mom kept a tiny cup. A cup reserved for one specific purpose.
When ever there was a whisper that there was whooping cough in the area, Mom would send Dad on a mission to locate some colostrum.
He would drive from farm to farm until he came to one that had a cow that had just had a calf and bought some of the colostrum from the first milking.
Mom would line us up, fill that tiny cup with colostrum, and we each had a turn drinking our little cupful. It was a daily occurrence as long as any cases in the community remained.
When ever the supply of colostrum was running low Dad would head out to locate some more.
Disgusting, shudder inducing stuff it was! So bad that to this day I can not drink eggnog, smoothies, or milkshakes because the consistency is too similar.
We were able to avoid getting whooping cough for a long time, but finally when I was a teenager we contracted a mild case.
We found that little cup when going through Mom's things. We all recognized it and reminisced about those days.
It was added to the pile of auction things, but on a whim I decided I want to keep. Somehow it grew a great deal more special over the passing years.
Saturday, April 2, 2022
Books have always been a big part of my life for as far back as I can remember.
Growing up the selection of books in our home library was small, which meant I read and reread them all so many times that the characters in the books became more like dear friends.
I still reread some of them occasionally. It always makes me feel as if I'm having a lovely visit with an old friend.
As we went through my parents things last week we piled all the books on the table to divide amongst us siblings.
As we sorted through them we reminisced about our evening bedtime stories and how we all loved listening to Mom read.
The Little House on the Prairie series was one of all of our favorites. Most of us already had our own set, so it went to one of my youngest brothers. It was this series that inspired me to write when I was only a little girl. If what had been an ordinary life to Laura could be so interesting to me, my ordinary childhood might someday be interesting to my children and others as well, and so I kept little notes and diaries and wrote stories of happenings which came in quite handy when I wrote the Life with Lily series.
My all time favorite series was/is the Anne of Green Gables books. I received my own set as a teen after Mom had seen how much I loved Anne. This one went home with one of my sister-in-laws who had never read them before.
The Christmas Carol Kauffman books were divided among my brothers. Again, I already have all of them. It's been years since I read them last. Most of them I'm not even sure I would want to reread at this point. Light from Heaven had been the story of Joseph Armstrong and how he grew up with an abusive father. Lucy Winchester had such a sad life being married to an alcoholic. Search to Belong the story of Davy and his search to find his real mother. Even though I read them and the rest of her books many times, they never became close friends like some other books because they were simply too depressing.
Grandma's Attic series was a delightful one. Mabel and her best friend, Sarah Jane became my friends and I enjoyed spending hours with them. Again, I had bought our own set when our girls were younger so this one went home with one of my brothers.
Good Old Archibald
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Boxcar Children
Summer of the Monkeys
Lassie Come Home
They were all still there. All well loved and read too many times to count.
Having access to the public library now, and visiting it weekly to check out piles of books I have to wonder which is best. My childhood with its limited amount of books that got read and reread a hundred times over and become beloved friends. Or Steven who is a voracious reader, but hardly ever rereads a book.
Either way, we love books!
Friday, April 1, 2022
Last week my siblings and I traveled to my Dad's house.
He has not been doing well living alone, and after several months of living at my brother's house in a different state they decided to make it permanent.
That meant we had to sort everything Dad and Mom had accumulated over the past 40 some years.
The tiny home Dad is planning to build at my brother's place, won't hold a lot. So the sorting was intense.
A few pieces of furniture and several boxes of other things is all he is keeping. He gave us children first choice at everything else, but even though there were so many things with memories attached, I really didn't need or have room for almost anything. My siblings felt the same way.
Box after box was filled and stacked in the guest bedrooms where they will remain until the auction in May.
We got most of the house done, which makes me feel like sitting in a corner and crying. I know Mom doesn't care we're selling her things. She has so much better in heaven, but it's hard.
I hope the people who end up buying the things at the auction will enjoy them and create many new and happy memories with them.
I don't think I can handle being there to watch though. It was hard enough preparing for the auction. To actually see things get sold and getting scattered into many different homes ... I don't think I can do it.