The Amish part? Well, my parents were both raised Amish. My dad has 14 siblings (both of his parents are with the Lord – Grandpa passed away when I was 16 and Grandma just passed 2 months ago, that was hard!), 4 of whom are still Amish. My mom has 9 siblings (her dad passed away when she was 7 years old, my Grandma is still alive and kicking!), all of whom are still Amish. My parents left the Amish when I was 6 months old, going to the Mennonite faith. Then on to a Baptist church when I was about 6-7 years old. I then moved to a non-denominational church when my husband and I got married (when I was 20 years old). I have more cousins than most people could even imagine. I love my heritage. Absolutely love it. I was raised with so many amazing values. I learned that family is the best thing in the world. You can never find anyone out there that will be there for you like family. They won’t fight with you like family can and then turn right back around and love on you and be there for you, despite the fight. Strong words are exchanged within the family unit, whether good or bad. But no matter what, when push comes to shove, my family is there. Now, my family isn’t always there physically for me. I live in Michigan and they all live in Ohio/PA (my immediate family). My extended family lives all over. I have family in CA, VA, NY, PA, OH, SC, and some here in MI (but about 2 hours away). The bulk of my extended family lives in OH, so that’s great. When we make a trip home, I love to see as many as we can, but that’s not always possible.
Growing up, everything we did was with other family members. From vacations to church to grocery shopping to visiting. Everything revolved around our family. My best friends were (and still are) my cousins. No one knows me like them and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They know me and I know them. They know why I am the way I am and vice versa. I love their moms and dads and feel just as comfortable around them as I do my own parents. I grew up knowing that, at any one of my relatives homes, if I acted up, I’d be treated like one of their children. That kept me in line (not always, but still…it was supposed to be the thought behind it all, ha!) and made me think twice. And oh the laughter – so much laughter in my childhood. I can honestly look back on my childhood and just smile and smile. We were poor but I never knew it. I knew love and happiness. We were raised to be respectful and obedient, but boy were we loved and shown how to enjoy life. I remember my dad and uncles playing guitar (and my mom on the harmonica). So much singing. In short? Life was secure. I was loved and I knew it. I want to make sure my son has that. A secure feeling. I want to show him how to enjoy life, no matter the situation. Poor or wealthy, sick or healthy, you CHOOSE to be happy. My parents choose to be happy and showed us that. So did our extended family and it was an amazing testimony to their upbringing and the Amish heritage. So many people leave the Amish and have a bitter taste. I am not here to say the Amish are perfect – they are not. They are flawed human beings, like anyone else. But they do have some good morals, and there are some great Amish people out there, like my grandparents (on both sides) who raised amazing children. Those children are passing on the legacy and I’m going to try my best to continue to pass down those character traits.