Monday, August 24, 2015

The Almost Amish Life

Have you ever read a book that just resonated with you? This is that kind of book.

After hearing author Nancy Sleeth speak on Moody Radio more than two years ago, I finally had the chance to pick up her book last summer. I read it, and I made my friend, Beth read it, too. And then, as friends will do, we could not stop talking about it. It was as if this book planted a little seed in our minds that germinated over time. And just now, we are seeing those ideas begin to take root and grow.

Almost Amish isn't a trend. It is not a fad or religion or some crazy bandwagon to hop on, like trying to purge your house for 365 days a year. As the subtitle explains, it is "one woman's quest for a slower, more sustainable life".

And seriously, who doesn't want that? This book had me at the cover alone. Hello, cute apron and loaf of bread in a basket!

The premise? The author examined some of the principles of the Amish, those areas that are so appealing to us in our crazy techie super busy world, and looked at ways to apply those same principles to our daily lives. Community. Simplicity. Our homes. Our dependence on technology. Nature. The lost art of hospitality. Our families, our faith, our service to others.

When I read this book last summer, I was living in Pittsburgh, driving forty five minutes to get to church on  Sunday. I was spending too much time at home, alone, isolated. And isn't that right where the devil would love to keep us?

And then God intervened in some amazing ways. For starters, I felt him whispering to me that I needed to get out in the world and be of service, to mix with the public and bring a little light to His people. And so I did one of the things I knew I could do. I got a job working in retail, gearing up for the holiday season. I loved it. Here, I found a sense of community. I could help people, I could laugh with people, and I could serve humbly each work day. I could make my co-workers laugh. I could bake a batch of warm brownies for the break room. They were little acts of service, but I could see them making a big impact on myself and others. Win win.

And then God intervened once again, and my husband was offered a position in Chicago.

Chicago, Lord? How in the world am I supposed to find a slower, simpler, more sustainable life in the big city of Chicago?

We decided to take a much different approach to house hunting this time around. We started looking at churches first. Knowing how important church life is to our family, we decided that being in close proximity to the church was a top priority. And let me tell you, after spending a year on long commutes to church, we knew how important this would be. We had become lazy Christians, attending Sunday services, but unable to give back to the church the other six days a week. We needed those other six days to connect with the congregation in fellowship and service.

We looked at churches, did drive-bys, checked out their websites and mission statements. We found a church in the Fox River Valley, a far flung suburb of Chicago. And then, we started looking at houses nearby. After weeks and weeks of searching in surrounding areas, we finally stumbled upon this house that had sat on the market for a while. And guess where it was located? Less than a quarter mile from the church.

And not just close to church, but close enough to school that Sam can bike or walk with the neighborhood kids to school every day!

But wait, there's more! We can walk or bike to the neighborhood park for a game of tennis, some basketball, or just to throw a frisbee and take a turn on the swings.

It gets better. We even have bike paths and trails that connect to our neighborhood, leading to our quaint downtown along the river. We can bike for ice cream, pop into the bike shop or a restaurant or cafe, and even bike to the library or the community pool.

It's as if God told us "Make the first things first, and I will take care of everything else."

This week, I hope to show you our approach to this Almost Amish life, along with a few projects it has inspired along the way.

Blessings on your Monday, cafe friends!


  1. All those reasons and more are why I'll always call the area "home"!

  2. I can see why, too, Pam! It's amazing to find "small town" living less than an hour from one of the biggest cities in the US. It's why we chose this location and why my husband was willing to do the commute. Definitely worth it!