Probably one of the biggest problems we face as Christians today has to do with the debatable word, “offense.” What makes this issue so tricky is that it has two opposite components. On one side, we hear terms like “Be yourself,” “Ignore the haters,” and “Do what it takes to reach the top.” Over the past forty to sixty years, our culture has become more and more self-focused and independent of each other and stopped singing together as a choir in pursuit of grabbing the best solos. We have now reached the point where we are only accountable to ourselves, and if someone has problems with us, it's their own fault. In other words, we do not care whom we may offend in the process of reaching for the stars.
Walk through the produce or meat sections of the grocery store, and you'll notice the dizzying array of labels and food packaging. It's enough to frazzle anyone.
"ORGANIC. ALL-NATURAL. NON-GMO. GRASS FED. CAGE FREE. HORMONE FREE."
These and other labels are everywhere.
If they confuse you, you're not alone. Many of these phrases can be tricky to understand. Some don't mean what you might think. There is a chance you are paying more for a product with buzzwords that have a loose meaning, or a label that is not even defined or regulated. Some key words are misleading and some are actually what they say they are, and it can be hard to tell the difference.
Have you ever watched a potter form a lump of clay into a useful vessel? It is fascinating to see this process as the potter’s wheel spins around. A master potter makes it seem effortless as he shapes this lump of clay and it responds to his hands, moving just as he would have it move while the wheel spins around. But if you have the opportunity to try making something on a potter’s wheel from a lump of clay, you will find that it is not as effortless as it appears. A master potter has had hours and days and years of practice in forming and shaping the clay, thus making it look effortless to the onlooker. I heard an astonished onlooker say to the potter, “You did that in five minutes!” The potter replied, “Yes, thirty years and five minutes!”
Before I had my oldest son, I often heard people make statements about motherhood and about life after bringing a little human into the world. Many times these things that people said came across in a rather negative way and sometimes they made it sound like life after pregnancy is pretty much a lonely, dismal one. I remember asking my mom if it’s really that bad, is that really all there is to motherhood. I don’t remember her response, but I’m here to tell you-- -it’s not that bad. It’s not all there is to motherhood. So here are a few things that people commonly say about/during motherhood and what I have found to be true in my motherhood journey.
Hungry soul, I have just a few words to say to your desperate heart. You long for something deeper. You know there must be more to life than what you are living. I know that feeling. It’s the kind of desperate longing that makes you scared to be alone.
This message is for you. Father, do the work you said you would do and make truth come alive by the convincing power of your Spirit.
I believe that God – as the Master Designer - created each of us in His image with an inner artist, and that comes out in so different ways for each person! For some people that comes out in the way they serve their family with food, arranging and preparing the meals with great love and care. For others, it could be the way they can set work aside and play with their kids, investing their time and energy into creating fun things together. Another woman may love to see what she can design and fashion for her kids to wear, enjoying the process of styling and putting outfits together. Someone else may be an incredible artist with words, writing beautiful things that are rich or lighthearted, and that bring life to the people around them. There are endless ways, really, and the various ways artistry is shown is so beautiful and fascinating!
God is love. God is good.
I’ve heard it since childhood. I never questioned the truth of these statements. Not really. But lately I’ve been wondering whether I’ve moved these basic truths from my head to my heart.
My sister-in-law alerted me to the crook in my thinking this week and I trust her judgment. Lavina was my co-teacher for four years before my brother drastically altered her life. Now I live with them thousands of miles from home in the lovely land of Paraguay. I am teaching my second term here and just agreed to another term.
I was reading through a new favorite blog when my eyes came across something that caused the all-too-familiar feelings of inadequacy to well up inside of me. I think you know the feeling I’m talking about. It’s been labeled the “Comparison Syndrome” and for good reason. We have the ability to peek into so many different people’s lives through blogs and social media and those little squares can sure be intimidating. This time though, I began to understand something that has changed my perspective on my position in life as well as other people’s position.
Life is hard. Ever since Eve took that first bite mankind has been struggling to find his way. We sweat and toil physically and emotionally we are screaming for deliverance. Our feet have become mired in the mud of circumstance. Do you feel like you are straining for that outstretched hand, desperately wanting to be saved before the mire sucks you under?
Hospitality. That can be a rather daunting word. Sometimes when I think of being hospitable, I think of the perfect hostess, one whose house, food, clothes, and children are all Pinterest ready. And I suddenly feel inadequate…suddenly I am very aware of the fact that my house is pretty much the farthest thing there is from being the next most popular pin on Pinterest.
NOT Maintaining My Mennonite-ness
by Lucinda J. Miller
What Is Mennonite-ness?
A friend told me recently that I should blog about maintaining Mennonite-ness in an unceasingly wired and media-oriented world.
She is full of fascinated questions about my lifestyle–questions such as: Is it true that you drive only black cars? How does a bald Mennonite woman pin on her cap? Can Mennonites make rum cake?
What I view as normal life, she views as unique and interesting.
Her comments got me thinking. What is Mennonite-ness? Is it merely a set of unusual lifestyle choices, as she believes it to be? And is it something worth maintaining?
Some of my earliest memories of church involve sitting on the pew next to mom and dad and playing with the Quiet Book. Handcrafted by my creative mother, the Quiet Book was a special toy reserved for special occasions. It consisted of about a dozen cloth pages, and each one featured a unique activity - a wheel to spin, popsicle puppets, zippers that opened to reveal miniature playthings. The pages didn’t tear and the activities and toys inside were made of soft material, making quiet play easy for restless little ones. A few years ago I made a Quiet Book for my niece and found the process whimsical and fun. There are hundreds of creative page ideas and patterns online, so have fun doing your own research. To help you get started, enjoy a sneak peak at a few pages from my quiet book, plus tips for creating your own.
I’m sure many of you have seen numerous headlines loudly proclaiming details of the Women’s March on Washington. Between that and negative reactions to the presidential inauguration my social media is full of drama. But today one particular post by Dale Partridge caught my eye.
We recently taught our 3 year old the song My God Is So Big. You know the one…
My God is so big,
So strong and so mighty,
There’s nothing my God cannot do.
The mountains are His, the valleys are His,
The stars are His handiwork too.
My God is so big,
So strong and so mighty,
There’s nothing my God cannot do.
Of Film and Focus
by Erica Sauder
I grew up at the end of the film photography era. I can well remember the joy of dropping off rolls of film at the store and picking the pictures up a week later. A combination of my lack-of-skill and a not-so-great camera produced pictures that weren’t winning any awards. Mom had a better camera and better skills and guess what, she got better pictures! Once a year we would go through this ordeal of Mom trying to get at least one nice picture of us children out of a roll of 24 to sent to friends and relations. I think Mom dreaded it as much as we children did.
Here’s something to add to your New Year’s resolution list: quit something. It could change your life.
As a woman who loves lists and is motivated by long ones, I have a tendency to overcommit. I am also a stubborn person who has a hard time admitting defeat. There is a subtle, but powerful message floating through the minds of women everywhere: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Quitting is equated with failure.