Sunday, 30 August 2015

Called to be Amish - Marlene C. Miller

About the Book:

Fewer than one hundred outsiders have joined the Old–Order Amish—and stayed—since 1950. Marlene C. Miller is one of them. In this rare memoir, Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheerleading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates.

Against the wishes of both sets of parents, Marlene and Johnny get married and begin a family. Follow the author on this unusual journey to find out how God’s love called her out of bitterness and depression and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community.

Accompany her as she dons an Amish dress and prayer covering and gets baptized. Learn how she endures the strain of ten children, a hundred-acre farm, and accidents and tragedy, and find out how she comes close to walking away from it all. Turning Amish has proven to be anything but plain and simple for this former majorette. But nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God’s call as an Old Order Amish woman.

My Review:

I really appreciated reading this rare firsthand account of someone joining the Amish fifty years ago, and who stills feels blessed to be a part of this life today. After a difficult childhood, I was delighted that Marlene found joy and a new purpose in life as an adult. As difficult as the transition was, Marlene knew her decision to marry an Amish man, and later join the church, was the right one, and worked hard to get to know her new world and to fit in with her new faith family. At times it felt like I was visiting Marlene in her home and she was sitting on a wooden rocking chair, sharing her life story with me. After closing the book, I also felt like I knew Marlene well, and wanted to visit her for real, share a cup of coffee and Amish sugar cookies with her... and some stories perhaps.

My sincere thanks to Herald Press for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have something in common with Marlene, since her book, Called to be Amish and mine, Hutterite Diaries are both in the Plainspoken Series, along with Chasing the Amish Dream, by Loren Beachy. I'm looking forward to seeing which book will be the next one in this series!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Harvest Joy

It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativity
and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding 
of his capacities and talents.
- Eric Hoffer, American moral and social philosopher

I do believe we have the cutest harvest crew!

With harvest in full swing on our colony, I've had the joy of watching this crew of little farmers 'bringing in the sheaves', right in front of our house. Listening to them I get the impression this is not play, but every bit as important as the men working in the field. And of course it is. They love 'working' together, sometimes for most of the day and they feel each plays an important role during their harvest season. One day I asked why they weren't threshing. One of the boys replied, "Some of the boys are missing, so we can't." They also know on most mornings, they can't start till the dew is gone, "doesn't work to thresh when it's wet." my nephew, (in the orange and black shirt) informed me.

Another fact they're happy to point out is that their piece of equipment or vehicle is "just like my uncle's', or some other guy on the colony. I'm pretty sure they're even wondering why the meals are not brought to them the way it's done for the men in the field.

If this is not one of the best playgrounds in the world, then I don't know what is; wide open spaces to play and explore, your friends are always close by and there are a variety of things to do year round.

With all this farm fun, most of our students are actually excited about the start of the new school year. I just hope they get all their crops off till then.

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Good Year for the Roses

This has been a very busy summer; some of it traveling to different colonies, for both work and visiting. Thus, I haven't had time for things like blogging. In some ways, it feels like my summer holidays have just started, and here I'm back in school preparing for the start of school.

It's been really rewarding though, to run into and chat with many people who have read Hutterite Diaries. One lady told me how much she enjoyed reading my book, "I wanted some of the stories to be longer." I always find it interesting to hear which stories are favourites.

Had a sweet experience visiting family friends at another colony last week. They had their non-Hutterite neighbors for the evening there as well. I'm not sure how the topic of writing came up, when one of them mentioned my book. The neighbour lady, an avid reader, but who had never met a Hutterite writer, got excited and wanted to see it. Fortunately I had remembered to bring some copies along. As the book was being passed around, one of my friends suggested I read one story. "Everybody loves bedtime stories," she continued. "This will be ours today."

So I agreed to this impromptu reading and was glad I did. I chose to read, A Circle Not Unbroken, part of which tells about a tragic time for my family; we lost our house due to a fire when I was five years old. Two of my brothers died, and my sister was severely burned. I wasn't sure how my emotions would hold up reading this out loud, but I was fine.. for the most part anyway. The neighbour lady was deeply touched and was wiping away tears when I finished reading. She promptly got up and asked if she could give me a hug, and asked to buy the book.

Then one day, I got this sweet message on my phone:  "I just wanted to let you know I read your book twice. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much. I'm proud of you and am honoured to know you. I am really moved by your writing.Thanks so much for writing it!"

Metaphorically speaking, this is my garden.
It's beautiful moments like these that confirm for me, that I made the right choice in writing this book. It's like I receive a rose each time someone tells me that they were touched in some way by my book. My rose garden is still growing.

Thank you so much for buying my book and sharing your thoughts with me!