From the time we are young, most of us are taught that decisions about money are not to be taken lightly. Through experiences like saving up to buy a new bike, purchasing our first car and choosing a new home, we become familiar with budgeting, saving and praying about the big financial decisions in our lives.
A lonely bridge over a creek near Winkler, Man., in 1907. A humble structure, but so very important. Bridges connected farmers to markets, children to schools, families to church, and pregnant women to midwives. Many of the everyday things that we use are humble pieces that someone has expended effort to make.
The church in North America is shrinking. We see signs of it everywhere. God is pruning back his church. We have a choice to frantically hold on to all that is dying or to pay attention to what Jesus is doing and join in with his new growth initiatives.
Growing up in a Mennonite home, I cherished baking and cooking as integral parts of my life. As a young girl, I was often surrounded by the smells of delicious homemade baked goods—bread and zwieback, perishky and platz (rolls, fruit pockets and fruit squares, respectively).
Diana Shaw grew up watching her mother express love and caring by preparing and sharing food. Diana says, “This recipe from my mother is easy to make; it can be frozen, thaws quickly, and is easy to eat!” It makes approximately 90-100 sugar rolls, depending on the size.
George Neufeld worked in England, France and Germany after the Second World War, from 1946 to 1948. He wrote in his diary on Monday, Jan 7, 1946: “Received letter from Helene dated Dec. 6. I wonder what all has happened since then.” Sunday, Jan; 13: “Wrote a 20-page letter to Helene. Am lonesome for her.” Monday, Jan.
Flowers hang in the former backyard of Peter and Leona Dueck Penner in Winnipeg. (Photo by Leona Dueck Penner)
“Wait watchfully,” wrote Rainer Maria Rilke in a prose poem he penned around 1895, which my husband and I read on an autumn morning during our quiet time a couple of years ago.
When my youngest son “graduated” from Grade 5 in June 2000, his class took a special year-end trip to Toronto. I was working as a school bus driver at the time—we lived in Ontario then—and I drove the bus. The highlight of the trip was attending The Lion King live at the Princess of Wales Theatre.
Are you finding yourself divided from loved ones in your family, church or neighbourhood on any number of challenging issues? Are you finding fewer opportunities to talk with others across differences? Are the chasms leading to heightened stress and fractured relationships? Do you wonder if this is the best we can do in our families and churches?
This is a photo of the dormitory duplex at Sexsmith Bible Institute in Alberta. The building used to function as the meeting house of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren at Bear Lake and the General Conference Mennonites at Wembley Ranch. What was the official name of the Bible institute that used this building and the church that used it?
Growing up, I never wanted to be a farmer. It seemed like farm machinery always had precedence over a new couch, curtains or nice shoes. Then I met my husband Bob at Rosthern Mennonite Collegiate in Saskatchewan, and he wanted to be a veterinarian. Naively, I never thought this would involve farming, so I taught elementary school while he studied.
A peculiar thing happened to me last Sunday while I was on holidays. I felt a strong desire to attend a church service. Curious, to say the least. You see, by the time summer arrives, I’m usually churched out. As a pastor, church is not only my work life but a significant part of my personal and social life, too.
I’m more and more dismayed by the regionalizing trajectory we seem to be on. From national and international politics to neighbourhoods and churches, it feels like we are contracting our boundaries rather than expanding.
Like many women I know, my mother carries a deeply ingrained impulse to feed others. Once I watched her tend Penguin, her black and white tuxedo cat, clucking and fussing as she prepared and set food before him. To my eyes, the hefty Penguin was doing just fine, and the fuss seemed to be unnecessary. Who knows though?