(Disclaimer: This series includes the personal experience of our family in both moderately conservative, and ultra conservative Mennonite churches. I am only speaking for our experience personally, and what we personally know.)
So much has happened in the last few years. When I think about what has just happened in the last 3 years, I just sit back and say, “WOW!” I look back at this blog, and I think of where I was when I stopped regularly writing at the end of 2011/ beginning of 2012. Then I think of what God has done in my life since then . . . PHEW! So much happened and yet it was so much of a complicated time in our lives as a family. It was also a very challenging time in my husband and I’s marriage. It stretched us financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually in ways I still struggle to fully explain, but I will try.
It was late March 2012. We were living in Michigan. I was a mom fully enjoying my time away at the local homeschool book fair. I was just a woman in my mid-thirties, jeans, t-shirt, and a ponytail. I was on a mission to buy next year’s books. That, and I was enjoying roaming around without three kids in tow. Little did I know how much my life was about to change . . .
I met a young woman named Faith that day that would become a close friend of mine. What drew me to her? She was a very conservative Mennonite, and I thought of how simple her life must be. Was she as serious about her faith as I imagined? Was her life as romantic as I imagined it to be? What was it like to sew all of your own clothes, bake your own bread, can your own food, to live without internet, TV, radio, and social media crowding out all of the simple joys of life? (Actually, we had given up TV years before, but we still watched some family friendly shows online.)
Honestly, she and her family appeared to embody everything that we were looking toward. When I looked at her I saw someone who lived a simple life, a frugal life, a faith focused life. I wanted these very things. And she was so very nice, and kindly offered to trade addresses and write from where she lived, a state away. (She was at the book fair with a church ministry, as a vendor, selling the curricula that the Mennonites use in their church schools.)
I happily wrote her for three years, getting sucked into everything Mennonite. Before we knew it, we were reading their church newsletters and other doctrinal “papers”, and attending church at a Mennonite church about an hour and a half away (once about every 3 weeks). As time went on we also started to dress as they did, friends from the church near us sewing dresses for my daughter and me.
Our thought patterns were changing subtly, but drastically. How we looked at those around us changed. How we talked and lived changed. Everything changed.
We started to feel a call to move closer to the Mennonite friends we had grown to know through letters, and pictures, and yearly homeschool book fair centered visits. We knew that God was calling us to live near Faith and her family, and to go to their church. So for the last year and a half of Faith and I writing, our family was also plotting our move to another state . . .
Lord, so many are looking for you in so many places. We don’t always know where the journey with you is going, but we trust that you know better then we do what is best, and right, and true. Watch over us, and bless us, and guide us as we seek you above all else. We pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.