What Happened to My Life as Amish

Jesey has had an exciting, tumultuous journey unlike any other person I know. Here's her story in her own words . . .

"Do I ever regret my experience? No. 

Does it sometimes feel like it was a surreal dream and other times more real than my life today? Most assuredly. 

Would I recommend it? Only to a very, very select few.

I am the oldest of 10 in a Catholic family from upstate NY. When I was about 11 we started the journey to becoming Amish. We met a newlywed Old Order Amish couple (Dan and Ruth) on a train as we were heading back to NY for the family holidays. Dad was intrigued. He struck up a conversation with the couple and the rest is history.

For the next ten years my family lived the Amish lifestyle while trying to find a group Dad felt was "the one." This took us thru several different old order Mennonite and Amish groups as well as Charity and Hutterites, sometimes several simultaneously (as in, we were living according to the rules of one Amish group but on an off Sunday we might go to a Mennonite church). I must step back here a little and explain, Our trip home for holidays to New York became a longer one when my parents


Curiosities, Confessions, and FREE e-book

Whether it's a speaking venue, media interview, or booksigning, I'm frequently asked these common questions.
Where do you live? Are you married? Do you have a family?

We live in Ohio – home to the largest number of Amish settlements nationwide. My husband and I have raised two daughters but, along through the years, God has asked me to temporarily “parent” other children. 
For a year, we took in a homeless twelve-year-old and helped her feel safe and secure, while tending to her formal education and medical care until she was able to join her father.
Another summer, I sensed a divine urge to house a French exchange student. We did that two separate summers.


Speaking the first half of 2016


I'm asked to write guest blogs, sign my book, and answer questions in media interviews.


Suspendergate = Amish Rules on Suspender Use

Amazing! Did you know about Suspendergate?

There are different rules on suspender-use among the Amish, just as there are rules on hats, shoes, and ladies' bonnets.

This post provides you some insight into the varied and complex Amish world. One cannot say, "All Amish" do this or that. 

My learning curve about the culture and its confines began in 2009 when the "Ex-Men" [a group of former Swartzentrubers] graced my life. Then Mosie, our first "adopted" ex-Amish son moved into our home.


Unbelievable Update on Marvin - Chapter 7 of my book

He left his PA Old Order Amish settlement. Then he went back. Left again.

The second time he left his Amish life, the ex-Amish guy who picked him up in a car and brought him to Ohio, stopped in our home and introduced us to Marvin. At 18-years-young, he looked so naive. He'd left behind his Amish appearance -- English clothes, clean-shaven, short hair.

I wrote in detail about our relationship with Marvin, his near-death car accident and making me his medical POA during the delicate body repair surgery.

What's he doing since my book came out?


Update on ex-Amish Verna - Chapter 6 of my book

Chapter 6 of Beyond Buggies and Bonnets: Seven true stories of former Amish describes an Old Order Amish girl. Her upbringing and family life was NOT what you'd read in any Amish fiction book.

But it was her truth.

Verna grew up in Ohio - home to the largest number of Amish settlements nationwide. She left the Amish at a young age, later met and married Dave. He also had left the Amish. They began building a life together.

Most of chapter 6 takes place in Dave and Verna's home, where she nurtured her first child. What's the exciting news since the book release?


Monroe - Chapter 5 of my book - Update

Monroe was tall, slender, blue-eyed, and oh so young when we first met. He was Amish. And our initial meeting was at his married sister's home when I was trying to help her get a birth certificate.


Dramatic Update on Sarah - Chapter 4 of my book

She chose to leave her Swartzenuber Order late one Thursday night.
No transportation, job, or birth certificate.
No education beyond 8th grade.
Little cash.
A small sack of English clothes.
Hopes of finding a home for the night.
We became that home.
I wrote about picking her up at WalMart, how I helped Sarah launch her new life in our "forbidden" world, and her first steps on the journey in being ex-Amish. Sarah is Chapter 4 of Beyond Buggies and Bonnets.

As a Swartzentruber female she was forbidden from shaving any body hair - remember that part in my book? She needed teeth. Her order avoids licensed dentists. A settlement dentist puls a tooth with a cavity rather than repair. The white kapp represents submission, and in her settlement, signified she was an unmarried - but of marriageable  age - female.

And since the publication of Beyond Buggies and Bonnets, . . . here's an amazing update:


Update on Josh - Chapter 3 of my book

Amish Jonas, Chap 3 in my book
He's come a long way from his Swartzentruber Amish days, where Jonas was the settlement's buggy repairman.

And since writing my Beyond Buggies and Bonnets book, ex-Amish Jonas (now known as Josh) has experienced several more changes! He...
  • moved out of his apartment
  • married Sarah (she's Chapter 4)
  • started a new business
  • learned to run Power Point at his church and
  • plans to move to Colorado this month!
We "adopted" Josh as our nephew because he's the cousin of our son-in-law Harvey. And I'm thankful we keep in touch. He's shown great independence, maturity, and spiritual growth. 

He's also retained his quick wit and sense of humor. Remember, that part of Chapter 3 where he bought the BB gun at an auction?


Why do Amish leave? Ex-Amish answers

In my last post I answered a common question, "Why do Amish leave?"

As promised then, here are answers culled from "the horses' mouth" - the ex-Amish themselves. Some may surprise you.

  • Male - it may be because of the non-stop rules to conform . . . or be shunned by the community. For me it was because of a disagreement about doctrine. I was asked to take a hike, but not all were in agreement about that, I found out later.


Why Do Amish Leave? My answer

"Why do some Amish leave?" is a question I'm asked when on speaking engagements.

While time doesn't permit a detailed answer, this is the condensed version I give:

In my experiences with former and current Amish, I’ve learned there are three main reasons they leave: 


Update on ex-Amish Harvey

He's chapter 2 of Beyond Buggies and Bonnets: Seven true stories of former Amish. And he's my son-in love!

Since the publication of the book, readers want to know how and what Harvey is doing. He's been "out" of the uber strict Swartzentruber Order of Amish for six years now.

He can be stoic and serious (Amish breeding). And he has a terrific sense of humor. Here he is as a Duck Dynasty character!

This summer our family vacationed on Kelly's Island in Lake Erie, Ohio and Harvey - like most Amish - loves to fish.