Calling All Survivors :: Hilary Scarsella Invites Collaboration

 by Hilary Scarsella

The wisdom you’ve gathered along your journey of healing can help transform the ways we think about God and faith. I invite you to contribute to a Hilarycollaborative project that takes the experiences of survivors as important sources for doing theology (i.e. thinking about God in ways that breathe love and life into all).

I’m working on my PhD in theology at Vanderbilt University, and I’m doing this work because I want to make space for the voices of survivors to reshape the systems of belief that define communities of faith. Over the next few years, I’ll be seeking out survivors’ theological wisdom on a number of themes, and right now I’d like to invite anyone who is interested to talk to me about your thoughts on Jesus – his life, death, resurrection, and his significance in your own story of harm and/or healing.

You don’t need to know a thing about theology to contribute! You don’t need to have pre-formed thoughts about Jesus to share. The fact that you are a survivor makes you perfectly qualified, and I’ll supply questions for you to reflect on. Continue reading

Denise Nickel on The Vine, The Branches and The MW USA Board

DSC01580by Denise Nickel (left), Mennonite Women USA Board representative for Central States Conference. Denise is a member of Tabor Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas. She is active with the Worship Team, Children’s Ministries, Deacon and Women’s Group. She is secretary to the principal of Goessel Elementary School. She and her husband, Elton have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.


In Isaiah we are told that God’s chosen ones became a wild vine because Israel didn’t obey; but God also promised that a few who believed would be preserved. From those remnants would come the choicest of vines—our Savior Jesus Christ. “I am the true vine. My Father is the gardener” (John 15:1).

I am one of his cherished branches and his fruit of the spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control will grow within me as I let Christ fill me. It’s not always pleasant to be pruned, but I am developed in character by the pruning, tending, feeding, watering, and nurturing that he has done to me. Because of this process, I am now better prepared to care for others. Continue reading

Kitchen Table :: February 2015

by Wilma Martens, guest writer

About 6-7 years ago, my church, Salem Ridge Community Church, held special interest classes.  I was asked to lead a knitting/crochet class. In that group were several young, un- married pregnant ladies who were excited about making baby blankets and other projects for their new babies. After the official class was over, group members asked if they could continue to come to my home to knit. Of course, with knitting, between fixing mistakes, there is a lot of conversation…sharing life together. Continue reading

Sister Care Multiplies in Brazil

When Deusilene Milhomen and Valéria Alvarenga from Brazil attended the Sister Care seminar in Bolivia in November 2013, they immediately began to dream of bringing this resource to their country. This meant translating the Sister Care manual into Portuguese. Milhomen, from Gama near Brasilia, asked a local teacher, Vera Lúcia de Silva Oliveira to translate; another church member, Marcelo Sousos Santos edited and formatted the manual, and 500 copies were printed. In January 2015, Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener led a Sister Care seminar for 55 women in Curitiba, Brazil with some of the women traveling over 1,500 miles to attend.

Sister Care

(L to R) Gladys Siemens, Rhoda Keener, Linda Shelly, Carolyn Heggen, Deusilene Milhomen

Milhomen and Gladys Siemens coordinated the seminar with Milhomen representing the Alianca Evangélica Menonita (AEM) and Siemens Associação das Igrejas Menonitas do Brasil (AIMB). Hans and Miriam Peters of the host church Igreja Menonita Ágape coordinated logistics. Continue reading

My Son :: The Honorary Mennonite Woman

When I accepted the offer to join the staff of Mennonite Women USA little did they know they were getting a 2-for-1 deal. Two DeBerg’s for the price of one! What a steal.

Harold has been my faithful office partner while I work from my home in Minneapolis and do all the Timbrel editing, correspondence, proofing, designing and communications my job requires. I could not have designed a better situation like the one I find myself in with Mennonite Women USA. This is an organization that is respectful of where women find themselves.

I was determined to be with my son and continue breastfeeding while working. It has been a wonderful and wild journey working alongside my son for Mennonite Women USA. He has been with me to all our staff retreats, conferences, convention and even Women in Conversation.

I can guarantee you I’ve written emails with a nursing baby on my lap. I promise you I have taken a phone call from Ruth trying to whisper during the whole conversation so I wouldn’t wake my sleeping beauty. I was 15 minutes late to a call once with Lois because I had fallen asleep while nursing Harold down for a nap. When I finally called her and apologized she said, “Oh, that’s wonderful. You need to nap. Good for you.”

I am just so supported by this organization in both my gifts but also my family life. It is a risk for businesses and organizations to allow people to work remotely. Will they get the work done? Will they be honest with their time? Are they wearing pajamas on this call? I can answer all of those questions for myself: Yes. Yes. Yes.

But here is the thing…Harold stopped nursing at 2 and a half. And now there are other people in my house (ahem husband, daughter) who can put him down to sleep (oh the freedom!) and for the first time I am not bringing Harold along with me to the MW USA Staff Retreat and board meeting in a few weeks. My heart is a little lonesome for my dear travel companion.

So for a fun little change, here is a picture tour that will explain why Harold is an honorary Mennonite Woman:

Here he is under my desk with the box of Timbrel I received from the previous editor:

IMG_1802 Continue reading