I remember meeting Maxine Fast on my second trip to Newton, Kansas in November of 2000. I was just starting as the Mennonite Women executive director and knew very little about denominational organizations, or the General Conference (GC) or Mennonite Church (MC) women’s organizations. I was 49 years old and had just left a job as a psychotherapist so I could work in the Mennonite church.
As a former MC member, I didn’t know anyone in the GC church offices where the Mennonite Women office was located. With lots of doubts swirling through my head about why I gave up my job in mental health to do something so nebulous as attempt to lead a denominational women’s organization, I found my way to the home of Maxine and Orlando Fast in Newton, Kansas.
Maxine and Orlando often hosted out-of-towners and their home became my regular place to stay in Newton, sometimes for a week or longer. Each arrival was met with a warm welcome. I joined their morning ritual of a devotional reading and prayer before breakfast and then set out for my day at the office. Maxine was always ready to greet me with genuine questions about how my day went when I returned in the evening. Our emerging friendship became more special when we discovered we shared the same birthday, June 15. We talked about the differences in the ways we grew up in the MC and GC churches, particularly in regard to beliefs and practices regarding the role of women in the church. Continue reading
This issue of Grapevine features a special Christmas blessing from all four of our staff members, a new video from Bluffton Sister Care for College Women, Gifts to Honor and Remember and other exciting updates!
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One simple question results in a whole lot of pondering.
During Advent, we focus on the future. Trips to the grocery store include items we may not normally purchase, but now we do, for the upcoming feast. We write cards and send gifts, hoping that they arrive before Dec. 25. We plan outings with friends and families that celebrate the season and schedule all manner of festivities. All of this is in the future, until it happens. Then, hopefully, it becomes a blessed memory.
A few days ago as I pushed my four year old grandson in a grocery cart, out of the blue he asked, “Grandma, where is the future?”
My jaw dropped at his question. Not sure how to answer, I mumbled, “The future is before us.” To demonstrate, I headed the cart to the fruit section and proclaimed, “In the future, we are going to look at apples.” Upon arrival at the apples, I noted, “See, now we are at the future,” smiling at my cleverness. Continue reading
This is an addendum to Janet’s original post, “me, too”. Click here to read the original post.
I was not prepared for the response I got when I posted my “me, too” story a few days ago. As I said in that initial post: “I tell it so that everyone who hears my story is aware, watchful, and careful to love and protect those who are vulnerable to victimization, or have been victimized.”
I had also not anticipated that with social media being what it is, and “sharing” stories via multiple social media venues . . . there might be someone who would actually put my carefully worded story together and figure out that they knew me back then. I also never considered that a reader might also have been a victim of the very same perpetrator. Continue reading
Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night by someone banging on your door yelling loudly, “Are you okay, are you okay???” This was a first for me. My upstairs neighbor had probably heard me screaming for someone to help me through our poorly-insulated walls and been startled awake. After a brief apologetic explanation she returned to her home, assured that I was safe. I went back to bed and lay wide awake until I rose at morning light.
I was embarrassed by this incident and avoided running into my neighbor for a few days, hoping to never again speak of our nighttime interruption. My educated guess on what had caused my outburst was this “me, too” movement. The seemingly endless daily reports of sexual harassment abuse and molestation had most likely triggered a flashback*. I’m a “me, too” woman, who sometimes has flashbacks.
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Grapevine is our monthly e-newsletter.
This article was originally published by The Mennonite via TMail.
It was “Meena’s story” that most intensely touched the hearts of the 325 women at the All India Mennonite Women conference in 2012. Although it used a fictitious name, “Meena”* was the real-life story of a pastor’s wife whose husband became verbally and physically abusive to her, especially on weekends when he started to worry about the Sunday service.
Many women responded to the story, saying with tears, “I am Meena.” Indian women leaders advised Sister Care teachers, Carolyn Heggen, psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing, and Rhoda Keener, Sister Care director for Mennonite Women USA, to teach that violence against women is a sin and that it is not a Christian wife’s duty to submit to her husband’s violence. Participants said they had never before heard this. Continue reading
This article was originally published in Timbrel, Fall 2017.
Do you hear it? Ticking, engines, chirps, music. Sadness, fear, tension, grief. Inspiration, community, satisfaction, reciprocity.
On my deck, I hear the first set of sounds. I hear the next two sets when I am in a different kind of listening mode, that of prayerful and careful attention to another while they speak.
This kind of deep listening is thoroughly Christian and quite counter-cultural.
Compassionate listening is one of the areas of Sister Care for College Women that is most appreciated. We offer guidelines, do some coaching, and then have the young women experience intentional care with each other in pairs. Here are some of the phrases I encourage them to use as they listen deeply.
“Let me make sure I understand you.” Seeking to fully understand shows how you value the other person. Paraphrasing what they said is one way to ensure this happens. Continue reading
Sitting still has never been my forte. All I have ever known is enough energy to get up and go, stay on the go at full throttle speed, often juggling two or three extracurricular activities or balancing multiple jobs at the same time. I have usually been fortunate to find work and activities that offer flexibility and allow this pace to be possible, and because I usually felt happy, it has often felt like a good way of life.
A few years ago the pastoral team at our church challenged us to “5 Habits of Jesus Followers,” which included weekly tasks such as blessing people not connected to our church, eating meals with others, studying scriptures, practicing journaling, and the fifth one… listening to the Holy Spirit. The first four felt doable, because for doers like me, those are the easy ones. You add them to your to-do lists, get them done, and off you go. But that last one felt more difficult. We were to spend ten minutes a day sitting in silence to listen to what God might have to say to us, reveal to us, or just to center ourselves around God for ten minutes each day. I liked the concept, but couldn’t we talk about it in small group, or form a bible study, or go to lunch and talk about how we were listening? You get it. I needed to be quiet and practice this discipline most of all. And I knew it. Continue reading
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