Lessons from Reroofing a House

Gratitude Day 301

Sat., July 13, 2019

Numbers 16:3  – and Aaron and said, “Why do you think you’re so much better than anyone else? We’re part of the Lord’s holy people, and he’s with all of us. What makes you think you’re the only ones in charge?”

It was a sight to be seen. Ten Amish men replacing the roof on the house just down the street.

Hubby Rick and I live in a Jamieson house that was built in 1906. The original Jamieson house is on the end of the block and across the street from our house. This original 6,000 square foot house makes our 3,000 square foot house look like a shack. Just like our house needed some loving when we moved into it, the original Jamieson house was also in need someone who could love it back.

The original Jamieson house has lived multiple lives. It was a restaurant, a bed and breakfast, a single dwelling house and probably some others. When Mason and Alex bought it about two years ago, it had been on the market for a while. While everyone loves the Jamieson house, the new owners would be taking on a significant project.

And so, Mason and Alex have been working away at this ginormous house. Today, when I looked out our door, this is what I saw:

A group of Amish men working together to replace the large roof. And they did it in one day.

Who are the Amish? A group of people who have purposely chosen to live a simple life. They do not drive cars, have electricity nor use rubber tires. Some sects allow phones for business purposes, but the general rule has been no phones as well.

In Wisconsin, there are a variety of Amish communities. When I was in middle school, about 100 Amish families moved into the area where I grew up. There was a milk co-op that still accepted can milk, which greatly influenced the decision. Amish from three other sects moved into the community and brought together new families for future generations.

In Amish territory, you see lots of mailboxes labeled Bontrager, Miller and Stoltzfus. Their white-clobbered houses, simple barns and corral of horses are easy to pick out. When my Dad was alive, he befriended many Amish. When someone wanted to interview or visit the Amish, a good entry point was through my Dad because the Amish trusted my Dad.

Where Rick and I don’t live in an Amish community. They live about 20-30 miles away. Today, many Amish make their living in construction, roofing, woodworking and other non-farm occupations.

Was I surprised to see a group of Amish men on Mason and Alex’s roof? Absolutely not. With their dark pants and suspenders, straw hats and light-colored shirts, it’s easy to distinguish them.

Sometimes, non-Amish people cannot understand Amish choices. They use a phone or lift for business … but not own it. They hire people to drive them … but will not own a vehicle. The stock trailer in front of Mason’s and Alex’s house? Used to move their tools … without a horse.

While Amish beliefs are different from mine, some values I admire. Their commitment to family is amazing. It’s not uncommon for Amish from other communities to travel great distances when a new barn needs to be built … in just a couple days. They are fiercely loyal within their sects and hold each other accountable to the highest degree possible.

They are committed to their faith, values and belief structure. No. Questions. Asked. They carefully do not draw attention to themselves nor their community. Humble, selfless and simple are as much a part of them as their skin.

Whether we embrace their belief structure or not, we can appreciate and commend them for consistently following their beliefs. When in college, I asked my Dad to take me to an Amish farm so I could interview them for a school paper. As I sat at their long kitchen table in a very simple house, I asked this couple close to my age the same question in multiple ways. “How do you live without the modern conveniences non-Amish people consider essential?” The answer was always the same: “We don’t really know what we do not have and what we are missing out.”

The Amish remind us of a simpler time. One filled with fewer distractions, more commitment to helping each other and supporting our community. We like to think and say we do these things today. While we do, our approaches often pale in comparison to the Amish communities.

The Amish know they aren’t perfect. They are keenly aware that they need God’s grace. While we live our lives differently from the Amish, I pray we can appreciate parts of their values and lifestyle. Thank you to the 10 Amish men who reminded me of this today, while reroofing the original Jamieson house down the street.

For a gentle reminder to remain committed to my community, family and faith, I am grateful.

Almighty God – while we often want to point out how Christian groups are different from each other; I pray we value and appreciate how we are the same. Thanks for this reminder of community and commitment to their faith today … all while a group of guys reroofed a house. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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