Janie Beck Kreider on Food Justice :: Timbrel Spring 2015

Janie Beck Kreider is the Associate Coordinator of Public Programs at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. She is also on staff with the Mennonite Creation Care Network and is part of the Mennonite Church USA communications team. She graduated from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2012 with a Master of Divinity degree. Janie lives with her husband Luke in Charlottesville, Virginia and attends Charlottesville Mennonite Church. She enjoys leading retreats, planning worship, hiking and camping, music, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Last month I led a women’s retreat on spirituality and the environment. This was the third retreat I’ve organized since joining the staff at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, and they have all somehow incorporated things I love dearly: singing and worshiping with other women, hiking at night in the snow, sharing delicious and thoughtfully prepared food, and reflecting on stories from the Bible and from our lives.

An important part of the retreat each year is to practice paying attention to the non-human elements in the world around us and in the biblical texts we study together. Following this theme, I led a workshop on prayer practices, including lectio divina, a slow, contemplative praying of scripture. In a small group we prayed excerpts from the long and beautiful Psalm 104:

O LORD, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

The earth is full of your creatures.

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,

And plants for people to use,

To bring forth food from the earth,

And wine to gladden the human heart,

Oil to make the face shine,

And bread to strengthen the human heart…. 

After praying together, we reflected on how the Spirit had moved in us. One woman shared that bread was the thing that struck her the most throughout our praying, that recently she had been reading about the health benefits of eating a gluten-free diet, and that recent studies have shown that wheat is difficult for the body to digest.

She had tears in her eyes as she reflected on how disorienting and even painful considering this dietary shift has been for her, because of how deeply bread is connected with her spirituality and the myriad ways bread is connected with the story of God’s people as a nourishing substance. Continue reading

We Help Make the Circle Complete :: Hyacinth Stevens on MW USA

This article by MW USA board member Hyacinth Stevens, first appeared in AAMA News: African American Mennonite Association’s spring edition of their newsletter published in March 2015.

Prior to becoming the AAMA representative on the Mennonite Women USA Board, I had very little connection with the work of the organization.

Mennonite Women USA is doing some great things! The organization is diligently working to live out its mission to empower women and women’s groups as we nurture our life in Christ through studying the Bible, using our gifts, hearing each other, and engaging in mission and service. (Adapted from the Mennonite Women USA Mission statement.)

The vision statement of Mennonite Women USA gives an invitation for diverse voices of women to be heard and celebrated. However, I realized that there are some voices missing. Over the last few years, Mennonite Women USA as an organization has been shifting its image to match its vision. This is not an organization that is fashioned for a select group of Mennonite women, rather for all Mennonite women!

The vision of the organization invites women across generations, cultures, and places to share and honor our stories, care for each other, and express our prophetic voice boldly as we seek to follow Christ.

I would like to extend the invitation to our AAMA congregations and networks to explore some of the resources Mennonite Women USA is using to impact women on a global level. This invitation is not just to utilize resources but to contribute our voice, our hands and culture to the circle of global impact Mennonite Women USA desires to have. Continue reading

It’s Not Me…Or Is It? :: by Shannon Unzicker

Women_gatheringShannon Musselman Unzicker (pictured on left), Benson, IL, is an active member of the Mennonite Church of Normal where she presently serves on the Creation Care Committee. She teaches a primary Sunday school class and participates in the local Moms in Touch. A social worker, Shannon is presently a fulltime mother of four children.

About five years ago, the mother of one of my son’s classmates invited me to join a prayer group that was being formed for our elementary school.  She explained that she would be one of the group leaders, and that the group of mothers would be meeting two mornings per month in her home to pray for our children, their teachers and the other students.

I was flattered that she had asked me, and thanked her for the invitation. I told her I would let her know in a week or so, but in my head, I was already thinking, “Nice of her to invite me, but I just don’t know if that’s ‘me.’ I will probably have to pray out loud in front of a group…not something I am very comfortable with.” Continue reading

Autumn Timbrel Honoring Our Bodies :: RaeAnne Stauffacher

How do I feel about looking like the actors in movies playing the ugly, undesirable, lazy, or stupid characters? Or seeing a physical representation of myself on the news, with all the faces blurred out, as they discuss an epidemic in our society? Yup, I am a fat person. I really am fat; significantly overweight. One of the first impressions anyone has of me when they see me is my size. My fat morphs my face, and makes my eyes squint when I smile. My stomach is round, making me touch the table when I sit at a restaurant. My arms stick out from my body, even when they are relaxed. There is just no way around it. How does that feel? Honestly, it feels a little dehumanizing.

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Once Anorexic, Always Anorexic

by Claire DeBerg

I haven’t put pen to paper about my anorexia in years. Maybe even a decade. As unbelievable as it is for me to be typing the next sentence, it is true: I was anorexic more than 20 years ago. I can pontificate (and perhaps I will at another time) on what life has been like since but I think what is important is to get inside the mind of an anorexic for a bit. That season of my life is vivid as though I’m watching short films of my life as a fifteen-year-old. I can see moments and everything distinctly: the clothes I wore, the eyes of my mother, the sound of stepping on the scale while the metal wheel of numbers spun around until settling on the big red line. Even though it was a scary, dark time it was also one where my body was working fiercely to stay afloat, stay alive, stay aloft this strangely creeping vine which is anorexia nervosa.

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Summer Timbrel The Power of Hands :: Cover Photo

We had a delightful Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis, Minnesota shooting the cover images for this summer’s Timbrel issue.

Denise Miller and her daughters, Nicole and Samantha, are a lovely family! Denise knows the power of her hands because one summer she created a weeklong camp at her home for the girls from church in which she taught them various sewing projects. I’ll never forget, too, when she helped my daughter, Gloria, fix a row from the scarf she was knitting–her hands sped through the yarn and fixed all the places with dropped knits and pearls. Amazing hands!

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Summer Timbrel The Power of Hands :: Review of the Red Tent, Anna Yoder

by Anna Yoder

We have been lost to each other for so long.

It was that first line from Anita Diamant’s novel The Red Tent pulled me in immediately; it was as if an ancient voice from the past had finally found me.

The Red Tent tells the story of Jacob’s only daughter, Dinah, who is barely mentioned in the Old Testament save a few lines about her being raped and her brothers’ bloody revenge.  Told from her perspective, Dinah begins her tale by saying, “There was far more to tell. Had I been asked to speak of it, I would have begun with the story of the generation that raised me, which is the only place to begin. If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and the listen carefully…The more a daughter knows the details of her mother’s life – without flinching or whining – the stronger the daughter.” Continue reading