Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#Author #Interview. . .No Longer a Child of Promise

COMIN' AT'CHA
Proudly Presents. . .A Book Blitz
Featuring Author, Amanda Farmer


No Longer A Child of Promise

By Amanda Farmer

Genre: Nonfiction, Family

Publisher: Archway Publisher


Book Description:

This sequel to If You Leave This Farm chronicles the life adventures of this young Mennonite lady who, after choosing to walk away from her father’s farm at age 29, is now free to make her own choices as an adult. Amanda shares the joy of discovering the world away from the farm, of falling in love, and about her decision to eventually leave the Mennonite church. But that freedom and joy is tainted by the continuing intertwined and overpowering conflicts that result from unspoken and unresolved expectations in her family of origin. 

With an engaging style, Amanda provides an honest glimpse into her roller coaster journey of hope and love alternating with pain, hurt and bitterness as a result of misplaced familial values, favoritism, and the effect of the ultimate rejection – disinheritance by her parents. 

No Longer a Child of Promise vividly portrays the struggle in one woman’s heart to grasp the meaning of forgiveness, to experience triumph and acceptance in her personal journey, and to eventually release the all-consuming pain of rejection in her heart to God.

Excerpt

Pappy and Mama left yesterday. I groan when the alarm goes off. It has been a long time since I crawled out of bed at four o’clock in the morning. I have still been coming every other weekend or so to help milk and take care of the calves, but I don’t usually get up until six o’clock. I let Pappy, Paul, and whatever hired man they might have at the moment do the getting up early. The deliciousness of sleep has begun to erode my guilt-induced drive to continue to try to prove my worth as a good daughter and sister. Ultimately, the only reason I am here this week is that I still believe that the ticket to any acceptance in this family is based on my willingness to contribute to the workload. 

The eastern sky is starting to lighten as I begin the milking chores. Just like old times. The smell of freshly mown hay hangs in the still morning air and touches my nostrils as I walk to the house after milking. I stir up the usual oatmeal breakfast for Paul. I’m not really sure why I even agreed to do this. Since the departures of both Joe and me from the farm, Paul pretty much ignores me. He acts like I am in the way. He talks to me in grunts and only when truly necessary. We eat breakfast in silence, and then he is gone. 

As I wash the dishes, I hear the tractor come roaring around by the garage. The baler is hooked behind and ready to go. Soon Paul’s tall, thin frame appears in the doorway. His green eyes are piercing, and his body is always in motion, radiating nervous energy.

“So are you going to drive the baler for me?” The words are thrown my way. 

I am startled by his impromptu request, but I am here to help so I nod. 

The sun beats upon my head as the tractor creeps along the disappearing row of sun-dried hay. I rock rhythmically back and forth as the machine gobbles up the fodder into its mouth and pounds it into little green bales. The baler then spits them out the back onto the ground. Paul speeds around behind me with the bale wagon, picking up the cow food for the winter and delivering it to the barn. Everything is still done at high speed. As we work, my thoughts wander. I wonder when he is going to get over being mad at me for leaving the farm. I wish we could just move on and be friends again. My face and arms turn a deep shade of brown from the mixture of sun and dirt. By one o’clock in the afternoon, we are both getting hungry so it is time to stop and make dinner.



Author Bio:
Amanda Farmer was born in Pennsylvania and moved with her family to Minnesota at age 16. She lived and worked on the farm until age 29. Amanda earned a master's degree in Nurse Anesthesia in 2007 and currently works in that profession. She enjoys reading, writing, and most any outdoor activity. She and her husband of 24 years live on a hobby farm in southeastern Minnesota. They have one college-age daughter, 2 cats, a dog, a multitude of fish, and once spent all their profit on 2 horses. All the animals were obtained in response to "P-l-e-a-se Mom!"




Chatting It Up with Author, Amanda Farmer:

1. What was it like growing up in the Mennonite Church?

My earliest memories are of gathering around the supper table in the evening and my father reading a passage of the Bible to us. Sometimes, we passed around a small box with scripture cards and we all chose one to read. Sunday morning was a time of frantic hurrying to get to church. It was impressed upon my brothers and I that going to church and worshipping God were central parts of our lives and expressions of our love for God. Dressing up in our Sunday best as a manifestation of “giving our best to God” was taught. The women all wore a white mess “covering” and a long dress fashioned so that an extra piece over the front helped to hide the shape of the woman. The men wore black hats and dress suits cut in a “plain” fashion rather than the “laid down” style of outsiders. Worship was expressed through acapella four-part singing. The harmonious raising of a hundred voices together has to be the most enjoyable sound this side of heaven.

I loved Sunday school and there I learned the stories in the Bible and about God’s unconditional love for us. During the summer, there was Vacation Bible School. Once a year, our church held “revival meetings.” These meetings consisted of nightly services that lasted for a week. Different speakers were brought in and the way of salvation was proclaimed. Even as a young child I was moved by these services and they highly influenced me. Even today, when I hear the song, Just As I Am, that goes like this, “just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidd’st me come to Thee, Oh Lamb of God, I come!” I am deeply moved and the stirrings of those days come back to me.

One day, when I was 9 years old, I came upon by oldest brother and my father kneeling by a hay bale in the manger of the dairy barn. My brother was crying as he said the sinner’s prayer with my father’s help. “I want to do that too,” I said. And so, that day, I officially accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was baptized as a member of the Mennonite church at 10 years of age. I have fond memories of my years in the Mennonite faith as the people, over-all, are friendly, kind, and care deeply about each other. They are people just like everyone else with hopes and dreams and hurts and struggles.

Officially on the outside, I am no longer Mennonite but its various tentacles still intertwine within my life and soul. My attire these days is more likely to be a pair of jeans, a turtleneck, and a sweater and so, to the casual eye, I look much like any other Mid-Western American. But within my heart lies a significant remnant of identification with my past. I still believe that it is wrong to wear low-cut and tight fitting blouses and you will never catch me in a mini-skirt. Though I don’t believe it to be wrong anymore, I also don’t wear makeup or jewelry, except a wedding band, and my hairstyle has stayed very close to that of my childhood before I started wearing it up under the Mennonite covering. Why have I not changed those things, some would ask? My answer would be that I have no need to be hip and up on the Modern styles. I am comfortable not being like everyone else.

2. When did you know it was time for you to leave the Mennonite Church?

I will begin by quoting an excerpt from my book.

I look at myself in the mirror as I get ready to meet Gordon, my non-Mennonite date, on this hot, sunny Fourth of July in 1990. I have dressed in a shirt and culottes. My knee-length, never-cut hair is neatly braided into a single braid that dangles down my back. My covering still lies on the dresser. I have never gone out into public before with my hair down. It has always been neatly wrapped around my head and covered from the eyes of the world. My head feels light, and I feel naked. It feels strange to be walking out the door this way, but I am resolute in my decision.

The head covering signifies a woman’s acceptance of God’s order of leadership in the church as defined in I Corinthians 11:1–16 (KJV).

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God … Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn … For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of man.

Not wearing the covering is a huge transgression against the beliefs of the Mennonite church, worthy of discipline. It is not that I have anything in particular against this symbol of submission to God, but I have decided that it is time to break away from the stigma of my family in this close-knit community. It is time to embrace the only chance I have of ever beginning my own family. Because I strongly believe that members should keep their promises to be faithful to the rules of the church, I have written a letter to the bishop of the Mennonite church, asking that my membership be withdrawn. I am 32 years old and up until this time in my life, I have spent my years living and committing myself to the Mennonite community.

I left the Mennonite community when I realized that because of the reputation of our family in the community, no reputable Mennonite young man would ever date me. Therefore, once I met a man outside of the community that I knew I could love as my life partner, a decision needed to be made. I left primarily because I wanted a chance at having a family and secondarily, to separate myself from the debilitating stigma placed upon us by our parents in this tight knit community.

3. Do you find yourself at peace having written your true story?

Writing my true story has been a journey of seeing my life through a different lens and yes, it has resulted in finding peace by the end of that journey.

4. I see you enjoy reading. What are some of your favorite books?

I do enjoy reading. At this time in my life, I read almost exclusively non-fiction books as I want to learn about how others deal with life’s challenges. All the fiction books seem “canned” and have the same happy endings. Some of the books I have read that I really enjoy are The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, In the Land of the Blue Burqas by Kate McCord, and American Sniper by Chris Kyle.

5. Can you tell us, without giving too much away from No Longer a Child of Promise, what sets this novel apart from your first?

My first novel, If You Leave This Farm, details my story when I was actually living and working on the farm. It was my everyday life there before I was able to finally break away at the age of 30. The first book is more about physically escaping a controlling situation. No Longer a Child of Promise takes up where the first book left off. However, it has a different flavor in that it is more about the emotional, spiritual, and psychological struggle that ensues as I move forward with my life away from the farm. Though I am no longer involved in the day to day operation of the farm, a large part of the story still involves the emotional price and aftermath that affects me even years later as a result of making that decision to leave. The emphasis of No Longer a Child of Promise is on confronting the family dynamics that play out in a very dysfunctional family while simultaneously building a more functional productive life of my own.

6. What inspired you to write your life experiences?

I began writing these books ten years ago after a very stressful time during which the relationships in my family of origin totally fell apart. I was seeking to understand what happened to my family and why the decision of myself and my brother resulted in the outcome that ensued. I also realized that real life sometimes is stranger than fiction and provides lessons that others can learn from. I want my story to be an inspiration and a lesson to others.

7. How does your family feel about the decisions you’ve made?

It depends, at this point, on who is defined as my family. My family of origin, obviously, totaled turned against my younger brother and I as a result of our leaving the farm. The man I married, who I consider to be my family now, has supported me in my endeavor to write my story and to promote it.

8. Do you feel your decisions have helped strengthen your relationship with God?

Writing the books has been tremendously healing in my life and helpful in restoring what was sometimes a tenuous relationship with my God and Savior. I realize that I have been enormously blessed in life when looking back and that the struggle to love and forgive has made me a stronger person. I do believe that being faithful to my Lord throughout whatever trials and tribulations come our way will result in blessing from God.

9. Have you won any literary awards for your writing?

No, I have not won any official literary awards. The positive feedback from many who have read my books is reward enough.

10. Knowing that writing creates an outlet, what other factors do you get out of the grueling process?


I have a strong need to make a difference in the world and to impact others. As a rather quiet inhibited person, writing allows me to express my views and to tell stories that I would not otherwise be able to verbally share.

11. If you had an extra ticket to the theater and invited us along, what type of entertainment would we see?


Check out the Hallmark channel. Those are the kind of movies I would watch. I especially like movies such as “The Ultimate Gift” and “The Love Dare” which portray Godly values and offer a message to the viewer.

12. Other than nonfiction, do you have any plans to write any fictional stories?

Several people have suggested to me that I try to write fiction. I have no interest in writing fiction though I might consider a novel, at some point, based on the truth to tell the “rest of the story.




CONTACT THE AUTHOR/BUY THE BOOK






On Goodreads: http://bit.ly/22u8MFM







Brought to You By:





Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer