Friday, March 16, 2007


We're celebrating lots of prayers answered this week. Without going into a lot of detail, Mia is going to be able to attend the 4K we wanted to get her into next year. I was told by the school district that it wouldn't happen, but I put it in God's hands, and the situation has completely turned around. She is so excited about riding a big yellow school bus. Jess and I immediately started having panic attacks about her riding the bus alone at 4 years old, but I know that God will take care of that as well.

Molly's singing of the national anthem on Tuesday was superb. She nailed it, and I was so proud. I think I was nervous enough for the two of us; she certainly didn't show any signs of nerves, the complete epitome of calm, cool, and collected. The crowd erupted into cheers and applause before she finished the last note. The dean of students sent us some pictures; I'll get them scanned in this weekend and post them soon.

In another answered prayer, Jess had a 1000 word paper due this week and as of noon on the due date hadn't even looked at what it was supposed to be about. The topic was the assimilation of sub-cultures in the US, and one of the groups he could choose from was the Amish. I just happened to be finishing up Rumspringa, see review below, and I had also checked out Devil's Playground, a documentary about the book, from the library. He watched the movie, talked with me about points in the book, read some selections I pointed out, and had his essay turned in by 8:30 pm. Amen!

Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman is a fascinating and intriguing look into the life of the Amish. Shachtman uses rumspringa as a springboard to delve deeply into the Amish culture and history, as well as their role in society today. Rumspringa is a Pennsylvania Dutch (their language) term loosely translating into runabout, which is what the Amish youth do after their 16th birthdays before they decide whether to join the church. The Amish are Anabaptists, which means that they don't baptize until the decision is made by a mature adult (or youth) who makes the decision on their own to come to the Lord. Anabaptists were persecuted in Germany and Austria by the Catholic church until William Penn invited them in the 17th century to come to Pennsylvania with the promise of religious freedom. The Amish were followers of Jacob Amman. All of this information seems superfluous until you see how their history still affects them today. They believe in separating themselves from the world and not encouraging selfish pride, which is why they dress plainly and don't use most modern conveniences. All of these traditions are thrown aside upon rumspringa when Amish youth can cut their hair, smoke, drink, drive cars, and live outside of their communities to experience the outside world. Rumspringa tells the story of several youth who fight with the families and the desires for the world. A few stay outside in mainstream society, but most, 90%, return to the Amish way of life. It's hard for them to get white collar jobs with only an eighth grade education, and their ties to family are so strong, that they return, often happily, to join the church, marry, and live the life of the plain folk. Shachtman does an excellent job of portraying the pros and cons of the Amish way of life with empathy. The closing essay of the book has some powerful points about the value of the kind of life the Amish live: care for the elderly and sick, strong community and family ties, humility, belief in the importance of the group over the individual.

Mom and I are going up to Lakewood tonight for a library book sale. One of my favorite things in the whole world. Please say some prayers for my step-uncle who has cancer in his lymph glands and eyes, and for my cousin who is battling a ferocious cancer again.

The pic today is by artist N.A. Noel who paints beautiful pictures of the Amish. This is my favorite.