24/7/365

Marlene Harder Bogard is the Executive Director of Mennonite Women USA. She will retire in July 2018. Previously, she served as Minister of Christian Formation and Resource Library Director for the Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA for 25 years while living in Newton, Kansas. Marlene cares deeply about Christian faith formation in all stages of life and is drawn to help folks develop ways of  connecting with God in creative and meaningful ways. Her background includes serving on the Dove’s Nest board, Spiritual Director training, and teaching youth ministry at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.

If you are holding Timbrel in your hands as you read this – congratulations, you enjoy reading on paper! If you are reading this on your phone or computer, thank you, you discovered it on our blog.

For the past 100 years, Mennonite Women has depended on printed materials to share our mission. Our history includes hand-written letters, newspaper articles, phone calls, paper mass mailings, events and magazines. As little as five years ago, our magazine, Timbrel was still considered our primary voice. Today, our social media networks are equally important – to network, share ministry highlights, promote coming events and draw attention to women’s visionary voices. Print was once prominent; now we have many channels through which we stay connected and strong. The times they are a-changing, and MW USA has to be continually on the lookout for ways of reimagining its witness in this digital age.

24/7/365  If you, like most people, have a smartphone, these numbers represent how often you have access to the Internet. Any hour of the day, any day of the week and any week of the year, we can be connected.
1,896  This is how many clicks MW USA received on our Centennial Resources web pages in the last year. Almost 2,000 people read a prayer or story, watched a video, downloaded art or graphics or used a drama.  Because we posted these resources online, anyone could access them with a computer 24/7/365. None of them were available in print form. It would have cost a fortune to print them and mail them.  Posting the resources on our website was a viable way to make them available.
3,420  This is how many people subscribe to Grapevine, our monthly newsletter. Out of 3,420 subscribers, 1,240 recipients open our newsletters within the first 24 hours of receiving it. Grapevine is not available in print, but you can print it yourself, or you can forward this newsletter to anyone or use any pieces for your social media posts, newsletters for your women’s group or congregation. We always need your help to share our resources.
6,437  One week in February, we reached this many Facebook users through posts about our summer event, Empowering Women: Claiming Healthy Personal Boundaries. This number reaches far beyond the scope of Timbrel.
258 And finally – the Blog:  Mennonite Women Voices.  The idea behind a blog is to post a story, encouragement or testimony that will serve as inspiration for other readers.  The majority of the blogs published on our website do not have another home and are not available in print. We republish blog posts with permission from other organizations. Once in a while we will re-publish an article from Timbrel as a blog. These processes are a way of optimizing content, a way to push around news and inspiration from one place to another, and it is only possible through digital technology and social media.

Every day, my work is dependent upon technology. MW USA has staff in four states and three time zones.  We meet monthly over a video platform. Almost all of my meetings with planning groups and board members take place in this way. Indeed, it is a way of working that many of us could not imagine even 10 years ago, and a fantastic blessing.

Patterns by Marie Harnish

Marie Harnish of Indianapolis, Indiana, attends First Mennonite Church where she is active on the fellowship, mentor-mentee, Jr. Mennonite Youth Fellowship and allergy awareness committees. She makes pottery in her home studio and considers her garden to be an art project. Marie and her husband, Ned Geiser, have three children.

Patterns are everywhere. The human eye sees patterns that give order to what you wear, where you drive, what structure you live in, what colors make you feel relaxed or not. Recognizing patterns is one of the first ways a young child begins to learn about letters and numbers. Think of a child stacking squares or matching up puzzle pieces.

Quilts are the same way, stacking blocks and putting puzzle pieces together in a pleasing pattern. With my newly discovered interest in quilting, thanks in part to a good sewing machine, (courtesy of my daughter’s inheritance from her FMC mentor, Luanne Fast), I am loving figuring out how to put patterns in quilts! My favorite part of a quilt is the process of designing…choosing interesting fabrics with similar or opposing colors, pinning shapes to my design wall, and finally, satisfied the pattern works well together, deciding to sew.

Even in the t-shirt quilts I make, the designing time is important, which entails rearranging small pieces of graph paper until all the pieces fit in a pleasing pattern that reflects the quilt recipients interests. For example, I made a quilt for a baseball player that began with shirts in the shape of a diamond in the center. For a runner, I made steps going up with 4” x 12” sections of his shirts.

I told myself I would start quilting when I turned 50, with my “gateway” being t-shirt quilts. I don’t necessarily make traditional quilts, but lean toward the modern, bright colors, and random color combinations. I often find patterns in unexpected places. I recently finished 2 t-shirt quilts for brothers with unique backing fabrics, one with red batik swirls and the other black tiny curls. As I worked on them, I realized the patterns and colors looked fabulous together, like a checkerboard! Often, I just start sewing random fabrics together to use up small pieces, perhaps in a limited color scheme, until they are all mixed up. Then, I can cut them in an orderly fashion, to create a pattern that is less chaotic, like the cross from leftover banner fabric.

While working on the JUSTICE.JUST US banner with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote this past year, the group of women working on the design had unique visions of the pattern for the project. I had a vision, but couldn’t figure out how to get the pattern right with the fabrics we had. We met on Tuesday evenings for several months and 2-3 women each time would work on the pattern. On the design wall, one woman would put together strips in a pleasing color pattern in one corner and another woman worked on her pattern in another corner. The next week another person would join us and she would make patterns she liked and cannibalize fabric strips from someone else’s section. Clearly, we had many ways we thought the fabric colors would form the pattern we were trying to achieve! Add to that, some women wanted to know exact pattern and size (the airplane mechanic) and another (the artist) wanted things to be a process, figuring things out as we went. (I feel safer knowing the airplane mechanic is very precise!) Eventually, we settled on a 4” x 12” pattern with dark outer edges and light center fabrics to achieve the woven pattern you see. The collaborative experience was positive, with much laughter along the way, and we are happy to have created a pleasing pattern with many metaphors of weaving together Christian faith, hard work of justice, and connecting to each other.

I see and think about patterns all the time…in colors, on buildings, on the water, in the garden, repetitive and random,…I have so many ideas and drawings (and fabrics), I will always have something to create! I can’t wait. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go sew…

You can find more of Marie’s work at the following links:

https://marieharnishcreations.wordpress.com/

MarieHarnishCreations@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/marieharnishquilts/

https://www.instagram.com/marieharnishquilts/

A Climate of Fear and Hope: School Shootings by Kyra Krall

Kyra Krall participated in the March For Our Lives in Chicago, Illinois on March 24, 2018.

I was in fifth grade when the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred. I remember getting on the bus and hearing other students talk about a shooting at a school in Connecticut and that a lot of little kids had died. I wasn’t sure if this was true or not, but once I got home I looked up the shooting and discovered that the kids on the bus were telling the truth.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I remember waking my parents up after crying in our bathroom. I didn’t understand how this could happen. How these kids did absolutely nothing wrong they just went to school and someone went there, disrupted their place of safety and took away their future. I was terrified it would happen to me or to others. I thought about my sister who was a third grader at the time and I was afraid for her too. Fifth grade was the year I began to realize that life is fragile and that the world is a scary place and part of that was due to that school shooting. When I heard about the Aurora movie theater shooting, I was gripped by fear again. Continue reading

April Grapevine is Here!

This issue’s prayer is by Jessie Hostetler, of Portland, Oregon. Check it out to see the latest news!

Read the issue here.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post said that Jessie Hostetler was from Vietnam. The post has since been corrected to say that Jessie is from Portland, Oregon.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March For Our Lives: Youth Lead by Madeline Smith Kaufman

Madeline Smith Kaufman participated in the March For Our Lives, a march protesting school shootings, in Chicago, Illinois on March 24, 2018.

When people ask, “How was the march?”, I have no idea how to respond. How do I sum up my experience at the march into the neat, short, positive sentence that people expect? For me, the march was empowering, terrifying, inspiring, unifying, validating, and fun. I could expand on each one of those words. To me, the march was much more than just saying, “It was amazing!” Continue reading

Maundy Thursday by Berni Kaufman

There we were, eight of us around the table. We came from different homes, different activities of the day. What we had in common was that we were all from the same church, around this table to observe Maundy Thursday. The table was modestly dressed with eight bowls, spoons, cups and napkins. A soup tureen, basket of sliced homemade breads and a pitcher of water. The centerpiece was a  platter and goblet, which held a small loaf of bread and juice respectively. Each of the seven other tables was laid out like ours in our large fellowship hall. Yet, in this moment, the awareness of our one table of eight was quite intimate. After a prayer of blessing, the fellowship was as warm as the soup and as comforting as a slice of homemade bread. At the conclusion of the meal, three of the four children made their way to a classroom to play. The fourth made her way around the tables on all fours, crawling being her mode of mobility.

From our seats at the table, we were guided into a service of scripture and song, remembering the last week of Jesus’ life. We shared the bread and juice that had been specially prepared, served on hand-thrown pottery, sets of which were made for these holy occasions. During a time of extended silence, we were invited to foot washing. Others remained at the tables to reflect. As we reconvened at our tables, the pastor brought the service to a close. Continue reading

Every Day Worship: Energizing in Every Way by Carol Penner

Carol Penner is the author of Every Day Worship, the Mennonite Women USA 2018 Bible Study Guide. Every Day Worship will be available for purchase beginning in June 2018. 

Worship is inspiring. Take last Sunday; even as I walked towards the church building, I could hear the music floating through the windows, calling me. As I slipped into my seat, I saw the whole congregation gathered. There was something there as we waited for the presence of God together.

Throughout that service, I felt emotion welling up in me at different points, something deep was being touched. The welcome from the worship leader, the scripture that told us about Jesus, hearing the voices around me singing in parts, the story the preacher told, the sharing time, the prayer where we asked God to help us. And the benediction that told us to go in peace. Continue reading

It’s Not About You

Editor’s Note: An incomplete version of this article was published here on April 2, 2018. The full article was published on April 10, 2018.

Don, a jovial man in his 50s, called me to announce, “I quit.” As a congregational mentor, his frustration with the 14-year-old youth with whom he was paired had reached a tipping point. “He shows up late to our meetings, grunts in response to my questions, and doesn’t respect me,” Don complained.

In my role as mentoring coordinator, I verbally released Don from his obligations, but inside I was seething. It was Don who needed a serious attitude adjustment. I wish I would have said to him, “Guess what, Don, mentoring is not about you. It’s about going the second mile, it’s about being present for the quirky, and supporting the sometimes raunchy.” I was especially disappointed because this young man, already considered an “at-risk” kid, now had one more adult who appeared not to care about him.

Mentoring is not all warm fuzzies. It might be heartwarming, but it may be gut wrenching and tearful. It is frustrating when a youth acts as though he or she is not invested in the relationship. However, as adults who have consented to walk alongside youth, we are covenanting to be their companion and support. We are not their parents, but that does not guard us from feeling strong connection and sadness when wrong decisions are made. Continue reading