A mother is grateful for her children’s consumerism-free childhood

Ashley Kleiner
Ashlie with her twin daughters in their princess dresses

Ashlie Kleiner 1975 –

Raised in small-town Oregon, Ashlie came to the ­Bruderhof with her parents and five siblings at fourteen, kicking and screaming. The family had been part of a Christian fellowship, but moving to the community was still like landing on a different planet. “Who’d want to go from Madonna, Bon Jovi, The Cosby Show, and The A-Team to these people who dress like the Amish?” Today, as a mother of four and an account manager with Community Playthings, she has a somewhat different take on things.

Coming from mainstream America to where I am today took years. I just couldn’t fit in. I didn’t talk with my parents. It was hell. I left at seventeen.

Later, however, I read Salt and Light, a book by Eberhard Arnold, and discovered the community’s basis: the Sermon on the Mount. That stopped me. Around the same time, I had an experience I can’t describe, except to say I was overwhelmed by God. All these outward things didn’t matter anymore. God knocked at my door, and I had to open it. I came back home.

The community’s no utopia, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I was raised on TV, in a sexualized world driven by consumerism. My kids are growing up outdoors. There’s an innocence here, a peace and security I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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