Friday, March 25, 2011

Amish Weddings verses American Weddings

     One of my daughters got married 7 months ago and my son is getting married in 5 weeks. As usual, the contrast in US culture verses the Amish culture has made me re-think everything. To know why I've contemplated, let me tell you how most Old Order Amish celebrate their weddings.
     Amish couples are “published” or their engagement is announced in church. There’s no diamond engagement ring or wedding rings at all. Weddings are held on Tuesday and Thursday in early spring, before the planting season or in late fall, after the harvest. The bride will sew a new simple dress using the same pattern she uses to make all her dresses. She does have bridesmaids but they wear their plain clothes at the wedding.  There’s a wedding feast, typically at the brides home or barn, made by Amish relatives, and the couple is set apart in a corner. This corner table is something special to them.  My Amish friend, Noah, told me about his wedding feast with a twinkle in his eyes. I asked why they sat in the corner, and in typical Amish fashion, he looked stumped and said, “It’s the way we’ve always done it.”  But it seems more like a rite of passage, something they’ve looked forward to their whole life. I think it’s charming.
    I look at the Amish and see a common theme; it’s not all about the bride and her making ten-thousand decisions. No one is yelling at her saying “You deserve the best. You only get married once. You’re the princess of the day and you can have what you want.” This constant clamor can make the sweetest bride turn self-centered and perhaps turn into a bridezilla. The Amish bride has few decisions. She doesn’t deal with her gown, fancy bridesmaid’s dresses, flowers, photography, DJ, or musician. It may sound severe, but the Amish I know look forward to weddings for the fun and fellowship and what’s really going on…vows before God. 
     It seems like with both of my kids getting married they start out going nuts about all the decisions, then realize a month or so later it’s about the vows…usually after they’re burnt out and have asked if they can just elope. ;)    
     Today, the average cost of an American wedding is 20K. I told Amish friends about this and they either laughed at the ridiculousness of it or were plain aghast.  They all agree it’s wasteful and foolish. "I can build a barn with that money!" one man said. From their influence, my husband and I give our kids $5.000.00 for their wedding. We give them professional pre-marriage counseling as their wedding gift, and  Dave Ramsey books so they can be debt free. We had lots of pressure to do more as other family and friends have financed their kids weddings on a thirty year payment plan, but being “Almost Amish” has made us stick to what we thinks important, the marriage vows and celebrating with community, plain and simple.  
Karen Anna Vogel

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Serenity Prayer used by the Amish

I’m taking my sister-in-law to the hospital today for things she needs to get done for her kidney transplant. I love Suzanne so much and am afraid of losing her. So I say the Serenity Prayer. It’s a longer prayer than people think. The Amish have adopted many prayers and saying they turn into proverbs, whether they’re written by the Amish or not. The Serenity Prayer was written by Pastor Reinhold Niebuhr 1934, during the Great Depression.
This prayer covers all areas of life and has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other Twelve Step programs. I'll be using it today...maybe you will too.
 Here’s the whole prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Blessings to you!
Karen Anna Vogel

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Four Amish Children Die in Flood: How the Amish Deal with Grief and Loss.

I was so sad to hear that four Amish children died in a flash flood in Kentucky. It’s hard to imagine the feelings of the parents.  My heart and prayers go out to the Wagler family.

How do Amish cope with grief and loss? My Amish friends tell me friendships get them through. Mourners are not alone. When someone dies, the Amish community makes sure the surviving family has visitors every Saturday or Sunday for the next year. One year! Meals are brought to the family every week for one year! They don’t downplay the feelings of grief. The mourners also wear black for a year, just like people used to do in the 1800’s. How times have changed.
I lost my mom and two cousins over the past two years. It seems like some people think there’s a drive-through grief. Aren’t you over it yet? Actually, Amish friends helped me see it’s something that needs talked about and cried over. Yes, it’s been 2 years since I lost my mom and one cousin and a year since I lost my closest cousin and dear friend, but I still ache. The Amish are always showing me the new normal as our society seems to rush through everything, even grief.
Blessings to you!
Karen Anna Vogel