I have seen Beverly Lewis’s books all over the Christian bookstore (she’s written somewhere around 50 books) and I’ve always been interested in picking one up to explore Christian fiction but there just always seemed to be a different book on my reading list that looked a bit more appealing. Well, for only $1 on one of my frequent Goodwill runs I picked up the first book of her Abram’s Daughters series… I had no idea what that put me in for! I quickly became hooked and got the rest of the series at our half-price bookstore down the street! Beverly Lewis writes fiction novels about the Amish. Her grandmother grew up Amish and married a Christian man and left the Amish culture behind her but carried on much of the lifestyle to her children and grandchildren. Beverly took her knowledge of the Amish culture from her family background as well as extensive research to ensure accuracy and has created multiple novels that throw a Christian twist into the mix.
Abram’s Daughters series begins with 2 teenage Amish girls in the middle of rumschpringe (this is the few years when the teenagers are allowed to explore life to determine if they want to join the Amish church or not). Without giving any of the book away I’ll just summarize to say that some decisions were made during that period that resulted in some enormous consequences to this Amish family… one such consequence centered around one of the daughters being “shunned” from the community. This means they have to leave the community and are not allowed to have any contact with the community and their family essentially forever unless there is a repentance that occurs. The series spans throughout the next 20 years of this family’s life and shows from a long-term perspective the results of decisions we make in life.
Homecooked Meals. I absolutely loved learning about the Amish culture! I would have never thought I’d have any interest in this whatsoever but it really sparked in me an appreciation for their culture. They work so incredibly hard getting up every day before the sun rises to begin their “chores” with the men working the fields and with the animals and the women cooking and cleaning and selling their homegrown goods on their roadside stands. To think I complain sometimes of cooking a dinner that takes 20 mins. when I didn’t cook either of the 2 nights before while these women cook 3 meals a day EVERY day and usually for a table full of 10 or more people, as well as all sorts of baked and canned goods. It really put me to shame and sparked in me a desire to start spending more time preparing fresh and healthy meals and snacks for my family. It is amazing how decadent their Amish feasts are considering most of what they cook they’ve grown there on their own land!
Family Fellowship. I also appreciate that the whole family does come in and sit down for 3 meals a day. It seems hard enough today to get everyone together for dinner but there is so much fellowship that occurs when you sit down and enjoy a good hearty homecooked meal together. I loved how each evening in the Amish culture after dinner and dessert is served and the dishes are washed, dried and put away they all sit down in their various “spots” and the husband of the family reads from the Bible. Now they read from the old Dutch Bible and in the old order Amish ordnungs there are only certain Scriptures they’re allowed to read so I wouldn’t say it is necessarily a time of “digging into the Word” and discussing Scripture but rather more of a tradition. I do like this concept however and in our lives we could incorporate this by instead of sitting down to watch NBC or whichever station you prefer we could read through the Bible book by book. Just the idea of coming together and relaxing in a way that does create intimacy and fellowship instead of just tuning out to the TV sounds appealing.
Community. That to me was what stood out the most in the Amish lifestyle. The Amish have thier own little communities. There is always someone right next door or in the upstairs room to lend a helping hand. I love how the adults would gather together while their children were out playing volleyball or at the barn for a time of singing. The only thing in my life today I can think of to relate is when Adam and I went on our summer projects to Serbia and 40 of us lived in a hotel together where we spent most of our time together in community. That community doesn’t exist on a natural basis here. We’ve lived in our house for 1 year now and have just barely met a handful of our neighbors. I am probably the worse than most at closing up my blinds and choosing to be inside all day because I just feel like being introverted. But in my heart I often desire this type of community. Come over when you want and I’ll serve you freshly baked bread and tea. The Amish communities have frequent “canning bees” and “quilting bees” where all the women get together to can and quilt while their children run around with each other… and sometimes there’s as many as 20 women! This would be a huge event requiring lots of planning and most likely lots of declines on the RSVPs if we tried this today.
Not Worldly. I’m sure one of the first things that came to your mind when you heard the word Amish was the good ol’ horse n buggy and no electricity! It’s true in the setting of this book the family lived in a very old fashioned community without these fancy ammenities. But as I read this book I began to see more of the reasoning behind their decision and I came to respect it. Our society today as so much of an influence on the way we think and act. TV, magazines, books and billboards are plastered with sex and concepts of living that pierce and crush the very heart of God. Our society is creating an environment of destruction filled with lust, greed, envy, insecurity, and everything negative under the sun. Everything that is against God’s desires for us and the peaceful fulfilled life He desires to bless on us. When I cut out TV and I listen to the Christian radio stations and I read my Bible instead of the latest best-seller I find my soul fulfilled, I find myself desiring a life of holiness and real depth and I find all the sexual exploits and trashy language and empty promises more and more repulsive. I appreciate the Amish community and their desire to rid their lives of the influence of the negative aspects of the world to maintain their purity as a community. It is a very interesting line that is drawn on how far is too far but I am thankful to have some insight into the rationale behind this.
There are of course a lot of negative things about the Amish culture. One such example being the concept of shunning a family member. Their concept of salvation is not accurate leaving them unsure of their salvation until they die and leaving their prayer life filled with pre-scripted prayers instead of praying from the heart. Their are some more Christian-Amish people out there… one such community being the Mennonites who follow accurate biblical truth on salvation. Good and bad… my life will be changed from reading this series and I am so thankful I have read it! I highly highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! Happy reading!