Divided Home: He's English, She's Amish

Swartzentruber Amish Harvey
This picture is verboten.

Swartzentruber Amish do not allow nor take photos as it's considered a graven image. Against the rules. A sin!

So why am I publishing a picture of Harvey D. (another Harvey, not our son-in-law)?

He took it himself! Posted it on a public forum. Gave me permission to use it.

You may remember I penned a post on teaching an Amish to drive a car. That was Harvey D.  Back when I couldn't release his name. Read the post. At the time, he was unsure of his destiny - would he leave or remain Amish? The inner conflict broke his spirit.

He was nearly driven to suicide as the two worlds played tug of war with his mind.


Amish Stud

    We went to the small town of Yoder, Kansas, an Amish town, and visited the Amish hardware store, the Amish furniture store … and so on.   
My friend said something that I found hard to believe and I told her that I was going to ask you about this and see what you said.
    My friend was told that a man claimed he is an “Amish stud,” i.e. he helps Amish women get pregnant because there is so much intermarrying (cousins and such) that there is a real problem with birth defects in the Amish community.
    Brenda, I found this so, so hard to believe — but I’ve been surprised by some of the things I’ve read in your blog. I still find it truly hard to believe that the Amish community would do this.
So, can you clear this up for me and my friend? Any truth to this statement?

Whoa! Glad she asked me in her search for truth. I emailed her my reply, then promised to take it a step further by asking some of my former Amish pals.

First, read my reply . . . 


The Amish: Inside and Out

I am an adult services librarian who plans programs, and would like to know more about your speaking on the Amish. The information on your blog is fascinating.

Please let me know whether you are located within range of Twinsburg...and if so, of your availability this fall and your fee. Thank you, Karen

Last month I traveled to Twinsburg, Ohio to speak about my experiences with the Amish; those who are and those who left.

As I unpacked the clothes and hung them on hangers, a lady asked, "How'd you get all these clothes?"

"My son-in-law's Amish mother gave them back to him," I replied then challenged, "But can you guess what's wrong with what I'm doing?"


Marvin - Knocked Down but Not Out, Part II

If you haven't read Marvin, Part I from last week. Read it first as today I'm continuing the amazing, unbelievable story about his life outside the Amish.

A year after his near-death auto accident, Marvin returned to independent life, regained his strength, and found work building and delivering those cute, little outdoor sheds for yard equipment.

Then the second of life's hard knocks took him down.


Marvin - Knocked Down but Not Out, Part I

You might have seen him on PBS's documentary, The Amish: Shunned.

Soft-spoken, pensive, responsive, adventuresome, grateful, and gentle.

We'd first met Marvin the week he'd left his Old Order Amish settlement in PA. He walked into our home, accompanied by Uriah. The duo had come to our home on a Sunday morning to attend church with us. At 18, Marvin looked young, innocent, unsullied by life's hard knocks.

But life had many hard knocks waiting for this young lad!


Censure and Criticism for Amish Truth

Last week I posted the accolades and applause for my blog and intimate knowledge about Amish. Here's the ugly, painful side of the truth-telling coin.

I'm not as vote-conscious as politicians nor thick-skinned as famous authors. Hateful criticism stings. Hurts. Bruises me. Maybe "controversy sells" in politics and publishing. But I don't thrive on it.

I won't run from it either.

Sometimes I ruminate for days over sour comments. Sometimes I'm able to turn them over to a big God who brought these ex-Amish into my life as His will. Out of His wisdom. For His reasons.

It'd surprise you who scolds me for writing truth about my experiences with Swartzentruber Amish and their fence-jumpers.


Accolades and Applause for Amish Truth

I'm a truth seeker. When sharing reality learned, through my experiences, I'm a magnet for those who also seek accuracy and authenticity about the Amish.

I'm from Austria in Europe, one reader said"and I read your blog because I'm really interested in Amish culture and I think you provide great inside into the Amish culture and traditions.” 

You provide an amazingly thorough look into the Amish lifestyle. I can't wait to read more …” commented Babs at It’s Sad, Breaks My Heart” 

I am one of your Australian readers. I have always been interested in a simple, from scratch, homemade, farming lifestyle. I was first introduced to the Amish through


Blogger of the Month

Happy Autumn. In Ohio, our trees are turning crimson red, bright orange, pale yellow, and light brown. Cool wind gusts shake leaves from their branches tossing them down like huge confetti.

And what an exciting month September is for me! Here are three biggies:

(1) Guess which blog won the BLOG OF THE MONTH at Book Fun Magazine (with a 400K readership)? See page 193, of this quality magazine, for an interview of me accompanied by lots of fantastic photos.


Amish Glossary - words you won't read elsewhere

Many times readers, friends, and neighbors ask me, "Has your son-in-law or others taught you Amish words?"

"Yep, I know a few."

Like the time our family hosted a French exchange teen, we sat around the table laughing and teaching phrases and words. I now know some Deutch. Some not so proper. You know, the slang. Thanks Harvey. Or the, uh, curse words. Thanks Monroe! And I know some typical household ones, too. Bahaef dich.

I think Amish - or Deutch or German - is a pretty language. I'm not a linguist but I've heard it referred to as Deutch or German, and a combination thereof. Did you know . . .


Time Warp

They did NOT want their son, Harvey, to marry our daughter!
Amish Laundry Day

They sent reprimanding letters - as did his siblings - warning him against marrying the English girl. They didn't reply to the wedding invitation. No family member attended nor sent a gift.

Yet, my husband and I have initiated three visits to their farm. Why? To build a bridge of friendship. To reach across the cultural fence. To show Harvey we embrace him and his Amish heritage.

I love pictures. "A picture is worth a thousand words" is accurate but, most Amish resist appearing on camera, so I cannot post pix of Harvey's parents. No way!


Want to Be Amish?

You know Amish wannabes? I do. No problem. No put down.

It's therapeutic to unwind. To desire living without stringent schedules. Technology-free. Have fewer demanding decisions to address. Wear the same clothes. Isn't that why we go on vacation?

I do think wannabes are embracing a contrived image rather than reality, and I'd encourage them to read ex-Old Order Ira Wagler's blog post, "Wannabe" Amish from June 20.

You may have heard of Ira or read his book Growing Up Amish. We email occasionally. He's the only former Amish I know who pursued a law degree, and wrote a NY Times bestseller. Impressive feats. He's articulate and active running a business.