"What are you reading?"
It's pretty much my favorite question to be asked, whether it comes from a friend or, in this case, my eight year old.
I'm reading Money Secrets of the Amish. It's really a good little book, and I highly recommend it to anyone that tries to live frugally. With this whole possibly-buying-a-farm thing happening in our lives right now, I figure there's no time like the present to tighten the belt and start really hoarding cash. It gets expensive to feed horses and goats, ya know.
Anyway, this led us into a great discussion over breakfast about who the Amish are, how they live, what they believe. Have you ever considered how that life looks in the eyes of an eight year old? (Okay, maybe not any eight year old. But my eight year old.)
*The Amish dress modestly, in long skirts and head coverings. This wasn't shocking to her. She thinks my sisters-in-law are the most beautiful women she knows. They dress modestly, in long skirts and head coverings, and to my daughter, their style of dress encompasses all that is feminine and beautiful. The only down side? "When I wear a long skirt, I trip going up the stairs."
*The Amish have a deep faith in God and live by what the Bible says. Again, she sees no problem with this. She loves Bible stories. She loves knowing what God tells her to do, and trying to do it. Mostly, she just loves God, as much as she understandsHim.
*The Amish work hard for the things they have. Even the children are expected to help. These girls see our Daddy gone to work fourteen or eighteen hours a day, mowing and tilling and such on his days off. They see me doing housework day in and day out. And they know how to carry their own weight. My girls do a good number of chores each day, each having her own responsibilities. Working hard might not be their favorite thing, but it's not anything they can't handle. They've proven to us (and to themselves) that they can.
*The Amish don't drive cars. They use horses and buggies to get around. Horses and buggies?! Is there any downside to that? Not that any eight year old can see.
*The Amish don't have a lot of physical, material stuff. They keep what they need, but not much more. The downside? We love pretty things, fancy things, lots of toys. The upside? They don't spend half their day putting away all the unnecessary belongings that get left all around the house. Less time cleaning? That's a big plus, to this Momma and her girl!
*The Amish don't have TV, or video games, or anything else electric. Not even electric lights. No TV? No video games? No problem - we use our TV about once every month. We don't own any video games. And no electric lights? Oil lamps and candles? Well, that sounds like about as much fun as riding in a horse drawn buggy!
*As a result of the way they live, the Amish have more time to spend together as a family. Working or playing together, Quality Time speaks more loudly to my daughter than anything else. Time spent together is at the top of her list as far as the things she values. When I have the time to sit down and really listen is when she feels the most loved, the most connected. There can be no down side found to more family time. It is, undeniably, the most valuable thing any of us have.
I could see the gears slowly turning as she digested this information. Sure, there were some downsides (like those long skirts tangling around skinny little-girl legs. And chores.) But the negatives were dwarfed in comparison to the positives. I could already tell what she was about to say, so I spoke first.
"We are NOT going to be Amish."
The excitement that was building was immediately replaced with a frown. "Aww man, 'cuz I was just gonna say, 'We should be Amish!'"
So, totally, not ever gonna happen. But just as with any culture, there is no harm in learning. The Amish deserve immense respect for their faith, their values, and their way of living. They have so much to teach us, if only we'd give them a chance.
Do check out the book. It's a rather enlightening read.