Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Almost Amish...Chapter 1

Homes are simple, uncluttered and clean;
the outside reflects the inside

I just love visiting others' homes. There's something neat about seeing where others abide and dwell day in and day out. Don't you think? When I visit others' homes, I can usually tell right away things about them. If they have a lot of children's toys around, obviously, they have kids. If they have a lot of electronic gadgets floating around, they like technology and probably spend a lot of their time with them. Some families have cluttered homes while some have neat and clean homes with everything in its place. I'd like to think that I'm one of those people (although on any given day you could find lots of odds and ends floating around our house if we haven't had "clean up time" yet!). Most things in our home have a place, but don't always find their way back to the original spot. Ug.

Which is why recently, we've really tried to purge on a regular basis. We just got done purging the boys' room and it's so spacious now. Everyone wants to play in there. We did take a trip to IKEA to purchase some real wooden shelves (hey, when you have four kids, durability is KEY) in which we put everything away. The girls' room is almost there. I've been purging homeschool "stuff" and have yet to do a final purge since reading THIS BOOK by Ruth Beechick (a follower of Charlotte Mason).
When you visit an Amish community, you'll find that there are no buildings suffering from rot or falling down. There are no trash heaps ready to be burned and their gardens and landscaping are beautifully planned out in organized, fashionable rows (no, they don't have lawn maintenance people that do it for them) to show off God's glorious creation.
It's peaceful. Serene. Beautiful and calm. It's to be enjoyed by all. It's what every American would want their outside to look like. A few things that I've learned while reading on Nancy Sleeth's studies of the Amish are as follows:
 1. "The physical structure of the Amish home is designed to accommodate multiple generations living together."
2. Their homes were designed to last for centuries as they use strong woods to create their doors, cabinetry, furniture, countertops, etc.
3. They keep their homes uncluttered.
4. The kitchen is the heart of their home. They don't have electric refrigerators, stand mixers, food processors, blenders, slow cookers, popcorn poppers, microwaves, name it.
5. They have the space to entertain and practice hospitality on a regular basis. What a great way to teach your children service just as Jesus did while feasting with others in your home. There's just something about breaking bread with fellow believers together around a table and talking about the intimate details of their lives.
 6. "They avoid using appearance as a form of self-expression or to attract attention to their bodies, which can lead to pride." So, clean out those closets, simplify your wardrobes, don't be afraid to shop at thrift stores (you can save a bundle!) and think modesty. This is one of the things I struggle with most as I see pictures posted on Facebook of former students, old friends, etc. in skimpy attire. Or when we're out at the beach. Sometimes it can be outright embarrassing (especially if I'm with  my husband and sons) if our family is near others who choose to show off as much flesh as possible.
7. Avoiding the mall can be a huge bonus, especially if you have daughters who want to keep up with the latest fashion.
8. Keep vanities simple. Have one, small bag for makeup ladies. We don't need a suitcase full to make ourselves beautiful. I did this years ago and love having a small pencil case of one of everything. Try to stick to cosmetics that are healthy too. Mineral-based, sugar-based, etc. don't release huge amounts of parabens into your bodies. Healthfood stores can have a great selection.
9. Keep your garage, attic and/or basement organized. Get rid of things that drive you crazy and don't regularly use or aren't of GREAT sentimental value. Sometimes it's hard parting with those "treasures", but it feels even better tossing it or donating it to someone else and you won't remember it in a week. Trust me.
10. "Possessions should work for us; we should not work for them.
Too easily, our homes and the stuff that fills them can become false idols, tempting us to break the first of the Ten Commandments."
I'll close with this:
I love this picture that Sleeth gives about a simple woman...

"Think of the most attractive woman you know. Besides my mom, whom I love above all else, the woman who comes to my mind has tray hair, worn just above her shoulders. The only cosmetic I every recall seeing her wear is clear lip balm. Her eyebrows are thick and expressive. She's in great shape, her body strong and her movements spritely. But the traits I notice first are her smile and her prolonged hug. Though blessed with six children and a dozen grandchildren of her own, every time I enter her home she treats me like a daughter she has been waiting to see. The lines around her mouth and eyes deepen when she laughs with me, and she continues to hold my hand while we talk. She is one of the most lovely women I know."


Rachel E. said...

You give many good points. My house is so cluttered. While I am perfectly able to rid myself of things I don't need, I can't rid my family of their belongings. My husbands stuff is his. My children have things that are special to them. Though, I will say, I am trying to get rid of a lot. I can't stand clutter.

Anonymous said...

Ur awesome Kelli.

Joy Comes in the Morning said...

Thanks so much for getting back to me. I guess I will keep looking for something for history. We have always used Story or the World and we are getting tired of it. On another note, I purchased and read this book. It was really good. Have a blessed day.