As I came to the end of the half-hour drive to Rachel’s home, it became easy to understand why many generations ago settlers had named this area “Paradise.” The hills, fields, woods, and spectacular views of the mountains in the distance enable this town to live up to its name.
When I arrived, Rachel’s home radiated peace. Her gentle way with her children, the absence of television noise and electronic chatter, the smiles from her children, and the breezes that greeted us on the deck (overlooking that beautiful view of Paradise) as we settled down to visit, all contributed to the peace of her home. However, none contributed to the peace of her home as much as her warm hospitality and the peace that shone from her countenance.
Liz: Rachel, thanks so much for allowing us to peek into your life. I have always loved to talk with other mothers and share ideas. It is so encouraging. I think others will appreciate learning about your life as a young, 30-something Amish mother. How many generations ago did your family arrive in Lancaster County?
Rachel: My family goes back five generations, and my husband’s family goes back four generations.
Liz: How many children do you have?
Rachel: Five. They are 13 (son), 11 (daughter), 8 (son), 5 (daughter), and 2 (son) years old.
Liz: What time does your day usually begin?
Rachel: My husband, Junior, wakes up at 5:00 a.m., gets dressed, and wakes me. We pray, and then I head to the kitchen to pack his lunch and make his breakfast. He reads a devotional and we talk about plans for the day.
If I have a busy day planned, I’ll throw in some laundry right away. Junior leaves at 6:00 a.m. Sometimes I’ll catch a nap before the kids wake up. The kids usually start waking up around 7:00 a.m. On school days, we have breakfast and make lunches, and then each child gets ready for school.
When they leave I usually have some quiet time and/or time with Emmy (5) and Caleb (2). In the summer I can get quiet time any time during the day. I love to read, and my kids have grown up with that and kind of actually enjoy it when I lounge around! (Now before you think Rachel lounges around a lot, let me say that I was amazed by her bedroom re-do for her two oldest boys and her re-painting of her kitchen cabinets!)
Liz: Can you use an alarm clock?
Rachel: We use my husband’s cell phone alarm. He has a cell phone for his work as a builder.
Liz: How do you cook? What is a typical breakfast for your family?
Rachel: I use a gas cook stove. Scrambled eggs and toast or my country brunch casserole is a typical breakfast for us.
Liz: What do you usually make for lunch? Do you eat processed foods?
Rachel: It depends on how big a breakfast we had or if we’ve had snacks or not. We are big on Nature Valley granola bars, and I buy them by the case. Sometimes I use processed foods. I often make sandwiches and fruit for a great lunch without too much mess. Saving time and having less to clean up is important to me.
Liz: Do you have a dishwasher?
Rachel: We do not have a dishwasher, but my 11-year-old daughter does a great job! I do buy those super-thin paper plates at Costco, and we use them whenever we can.
Liz: How often do you go to Costco and how do you get there?
Rachel: I go to Costco about once a week. There is a woman I can call who will drive me there.
Liz: Where else do you shop for groceries?
Rachel: I go to BB’s, an Amish-run discount grocery store.
Liz: I love that place! I have been going there for years. Do you have to have someone drive you there?
Rachel: No, we can take the pony and cart to BB’s since it is only about 3 miles away. The kids love going out in the pony-drawn cart. We do that a lot in the summer but not so much in the winter.
Liz: How far can you go with the pony and cart?
Rachel: We can only go about 4 miles, but with the horse and buggy we can go about 10 miles. Sometimes I really wish I had a car! However, I can be impulsive, so if I had a car I might run around too much and waste time.
Liz: How do your children get to school?
Rachel: They walk.
Liz: Is the school a one-room schoolhouse with an Amish teacher?
Liz: Are you allowed to homeschool in the Amish community?
Rachel: It is not recommended, but some do. My husband sees school as an opportunity for our kids to be with friends. There are about ten to fourteen families per school, and the families become close. We get together at Christmas and at the end of the year for a picnic. We really like the community that happens through school.
Liz: Interestingly, your school community reminds me of the homeschooling community! It sounds so similar to our homeschooling co-ops that we were a part of for years. We had a similar number of families, maybe a few more, but we appreciated each other, and the families valued the community, shared values, shared vision, and support we found with one another.
When do your children get home from school?
Rachel: My kids get home around 3:15 p.m. and they usually do not have homework.
Liz: What do they enjoy doing for fun?
Rachel: Swimming, baseball, basketball, crafts, playing with dolls, card games, reading, and horseback riding.
Liz: Do your children have chores? What is your philosophy on allowances?
Rachel: Yes, our children have chores. They take care of our horse, pony, and dog. They wash and dry dishes once a day, clean up their own bedrooms, clean up the playroom, and fold laundry. In the summertime, the boys mow the yard. We do not give daily allowances, but when we’re training them in a new chore, we usually reward them with money or books.
I lived on the farm until I was 16 years old. Every day I had to gather eggs. Sometimes it was really hot and sometimes it was so cold that my hands would get stiff. My kids live in luxury because they do not live on a farm with farm chores! My sister-in-law says, “My kids have chores, but no one’s going to starve if they don’t do them.” When we were young, animals would starve if you didn’t get out there and feed them. Not living on a farm does give me more time to nurture my kids.
Liz: How do you help your children learn discipline and self-control in their lives?
Rachel: I don’t know that I can answer that. I think it’s a daily thing we grow in together. Some days are hard!
Liz: Yes! I agree. Do you have any tips on training children and helping them learn to obey? (Rachel’s children were polite, helpful, kind to one another, and cheerfully obedient while we talked for hours!)
Rachel: When they disobey, make it their problem, not yours. It took me a long time to figure this out! Don’t let them see that it’s getting you down! Sometimes that means a little quiet time for myself to think of a way to deal with the situation. Also, when our oldest learned to obey, the others wanted to be like him. He is such a good example. The other kids look up to him. And our kids are more protected from some influences. We do not have a television. We do watch movies on vacation, but I choose them. We do not have a DVD player at home.
Liz: What are your hopes and dreams for your children?
Rachel: I hope that they will live for Jesus.
Liz: What are your hopes and dreams?
Rachel: I hope to train up our children in the way they should go, so that they would not depart from it.
Liz: What is a typical afternoon like for you?
Rachel: I love to work in my flowerbeds or veggie garden. Sometimes I’ll sew or create something in the kitchen.
Liz: Is dinner always a sit-down family dinner? What does a typical evening look like in your home?
Rachel: Yes, nine times out of ten we sit down for a family dinner. We usually eat around 6:00–7:00 p.m., do dishes, and do something fun with the kids, and sometimes Daddy has office work.
Liz: What does your family enjoy doing together?
Rachel: Our one-week vacation in the summer is the ultimate family bonding time. I love seeing my hubby spend one-on-one time with each son or daughter. I would say another time that includes everyone is when my hubby gets home from work. Dinner is usually nothing all that fancy. I make a lot of one-dish meals such as soups, salads, and sometimes a dessert. Dinner is a time we all treasure and when we can catch up on everyone’s day.
Liz: Do you have a network of good friends, and do you get to see them often?
Rachel: Yes. We’ve been blessed with friends, many of whom we’ve known since our teen years. We get to see them more during the summer, when the weather is nice and we can all hang out outdoors.
Liz: I understand that you go to church on Sundays and rotate between houses. How long is a typical service, and what do you usually do after church?
Rachel: A typical service is about three hours long. Afterward we enjoy fellowship and a light lunch at church. Sometimes we go to visit parents or other family later on. We have a very busy social life in the summer. We have much more time for socializing than my parents did; they lived on a farm and had many chores with the crops and animals.
Liz: Are your families close by?
Rachel: Yes. We do not get together every week, but we stay in touch. I’d say we see them once or twice a month. Junior works with his brothers, so we see them a lot. Also, three of his nephews work with him. I have a sister close by, and we get together during the week with our kids. I am close to my mother and mother-in-law.
Liz: How did you meet your husband?
Rachel: In our Amish youth group.
Liz: I love that he was the one who encouraged you to open your scrapbooking shop. Is your shop open every day? Is that hard with young children?
Rachel: My shop, From the Heart, is open three days a week. It is closed in January, February, and during the summer. I used to be open in the summer and would sell a lot because of tourists in the area, but I am closed in the summers now. My kids come before my shop.
Liz: Rachel, that is so wonderful. You will never regret that decision to spend more time with your kids in the summers. Is it common for a wife in the Amish community to have a business?
Rachel: More so now than back in the 1900s when more Amish lived on farms. Since I started the shop, my garden is about half the size it used to be, and I don’t make all our clothes any more. My business is worth that to me. It’s great to meet new people, and some have been such an inspiration to me...such as you, Liz!
Liz: That is lovely. You are an inspiration to me too. Thanks so much, Rachel!
Rachel’s Breakfast Muffins
2 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
½ cup oil
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries*
*Variations: 1 cup chopped apples and 1 cup raisins, or 1 cup chopped pears and 1 cup dried cranberries
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.
In a small bowl, blend remaining ingredients and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Fold in blueberries or other fruit.
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. For a crumb topping, mix 3 tablespoons melted butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons flour. Top each muffin with the crumb topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.
If you prefer a glaze topping rather than a crumb topping, mix ½ cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons cream, and drizzle on muffins after baking.
Rachel’s Country Brunch Casserole
1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cubed
16 ounces shredded cheese
3 cups milk
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Toss bread, cheese, melted butter, and seasonings in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Beat eggs and milk. Pour egg and milk mixture over the bread mixture in the baking dish. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Top with more cheese and crumbled bacon or cubed ham. Return to oven until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let set 5–10 minutes. Serves 10–12 people.
Liz Lane lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, two sons, and their Golden Retriever. Liz enjoys spending time with her family and friends, scrapbooking, reading, and traveling with her family. Liz also loves helping people learn to study God’s Word and grow in Him.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Publication date: August 28, 2013