The Marlene Effect

by Rhoda Keener, Sister Care Director

Marlene Bogard began her work as executive director of Mennonite Women USA a month ago on April 13. For the five weeks between the time that Ruth Guengerich retired on March 8 and Marlene began on April 13, I assumed the “Interim Executive Director” role.

One would think a person would not organize nearly every closet in her house during this busy interlude, but that’s exactly what I did; I began calling it the “Marlene effect.”

All I really wanted to do was clear off the Mennonite Women shelves in our sunroom so I could bring my books in from the garage where they had been stored for the past 14 years. And, I wanted to move the Mennonite Women desk to the other side of the room–making room someday for a breakfast nook.

One thing led to another. I needed a new space for the Sister Care items, so I emptied the toy closet. I needed space for the toys, so I found a shelf with notebooks; those notebooks were then moved to another closet. Not a nook or cranny in the house escaped. I donated a carload of discarded treasures to the local thrift store. File cabinets were temporarily moved to the garage for comprehensive purging later. It was a great day when the books were finally organized on the shelves in the house.


It was an even greater day when we moved the desk and computer with modem and printers to the other side of the room, in the process discovering at least five unnecessary cords that had accumulated over the years as our technology evolved. We felt huge relief when the internet blinked back on.

I vacuumed the empty space going over the indentations in the carpet where the desk and file cabinets had been. Then I sat and listened to “Amazing Grace” thinking about the challenges and blessings of these last years.


I haven’t looked for a breakfast nook yet; instead I’ve placed two large pillows in the empty space. Sometimes I go into that room with a cup of coffee, sit on the floor and think about the new chapter God has for Mennonite Women USA and for me. I’m thankful for those grooves in the carpet and I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue with MW USA at a part-time level with Sister Care.

When I told Marlene how clean my house was and that I was calling it the “Marlene effect,” she said it sounded like the domino effect. Yes, one thing does lead to another as we follow the path God has for us.

4 thoughts on “The Marlene Effect

  1. That looks like a delightful space. I like the idea of floor pillows and can see you there with your cup of tea.
    How good it feels when we can unclutter our lives AND our minds – that space is NOT empty! It is space for God to move and reminds us to “be silent” and listen.
    Blessings to you in this time of transition!

    • Claire DeBerg on said:

      Hi Elaine. Rhoda Keener wrote this piece. I guess her byline doesn’t show on the page. I’ll fix that now by adding it. Good catch. Thanks! -Claire

  2. Rebecca Sommers on said:

    Your photo captures a ‘sacred space’ as you look out a window and see the wooded area and bird feeders. I’ve seen ‘this space’———————–I hope it will continue to be a ‘special God spot’.
    My hummingbirds returned this week. (Rebecca)

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