Award Winning Production Company Looking for Dating Mennonites via LateToEveryParty!

Dating Mennos: Whether you grew up in strictly Mennonite culture, or simply have a Mennonite last name that accompanies severe reverence for your Oma – we want to hear from you!

An award winning TV production company specializing in documentary programs (TLC/HGTV/Discovery Channel etc) has reached out in search of dating couples consisting of one Menno and one Non-Menno. Their goal is to tell your stories and explore the journey of two cultures in a raw, honest and exciting way. They want to celebrate these relationships and shine light on your experiences.

Forget the Bachelor. Dating Mennonites are the new trend,  nah-yo! Get ready for neck beard models and hipsters in bonnets. Cheese curds will soon be served at fine dining establishments everywhere.

If you or someone you know would be open to this experience – email me at Mpenner2535@gmail.com, or message me on the LateToEveryParty Facebook page. I promise to respond and pass on your information!

PLEASE SHARE!

 

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My Little Red Jalopy: What Is It and Why Should Your Kids Care?

It’s time I began writing children’s book reviews for a few different reasons:
1. My dad’s an author of children’s books. I need to be his favorite child so I can get both dollars in his will.
2. I’m a new mom that reads oodles and oodles of children’s books.
3. Children’s books are short and so is my attention span.

I’ve discovered upon diving into this mysterious world of children’s literature that kid’s books are usually boring and astonishingly stupid. They’re marketed cash grabs preying on tired parents desperate to make their children simultaneously quieter and more intelligent. Met any toddlers recently? Are they either of those things? No.

Not all children’s books are awful. Every once in a while I stumble on a good one. This is a good one:

“My Little Red Jalopy” by Leanna Craig Lebato – dedicated to “the Best Neighbor In The World”.51zOn1SlxLL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

What exactly is a Jalopy? Read the book to find out. I’m hoping it becomes one of my son’s current 5 words; “Daddy” “Doggy” “Cookie” “Coffee”… “Jalopy”.  Notice that Mommy is missing. He said it once in passing but it’s been replaced with yelling and pointing. Adorable.

He won’t be getting either of the 2$ in MY will.

My Little Red Jalopy has recently been awarded 5 stars from ATAI. It’s a sweet story about a girl who is given a used toy car and the adventures she and her dog, Jammin experience during the summer.  Jammin has to be the best dog name I’ve ever heard.

The book takes a dark turn when the little red Jalopy breaks beyond repair. Even Jammin, my favorite character is depressed. However, the “best neighbor in the world” is able to fix her favorite toy with a lawn mower engine.

Read this book to your child if:
You want them to say the word “jalopy” for kicks.
You want to remember a better world, without safety approved toys.
You want your child to be smarter and cooler than the other kids at your moms group.
You want them to learn the value of recycling and repairing things.
You are sick of reading about numbers, colors, animal noises or whiny kids with entitlement issues.
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My sister, Amanda reading to her son, Oliver.

 

How A Mennonite Buys A House: 4 Tips To Stay Married

FB_IMG_1502827331831My husband and I recently began the journey of buying our first home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It would be easy to assume when you and your Mennonite spouse decide to buy a home, you’d both be looking for a house. That would be wrong. YOU are looking for a house. Your spouse is looking to restore the glory days of his upbringing and the values of country living.

Our budget is slightly above the affordability of shoe box. Combined with the stress of our different cultural backgrounds, remaining married is no foregone conclusion.

Here’s how Mennonite buys a house:

  1. They Are Looking For A Deal.

Ah, expenses. Mennonite kryptonite. We  have considered foreclosures where I believe the best remedy is burning it down or an exorcism. Channel your inner Joanna Gaines because you are moving into a “fixer upper”. They will NOT pay extra for frivolous things like a roof without leaks or painted walls or livable conditions. They’re Mennonite. They can do everything themselves and for less than the seller’s offering.

  1. Mennonite Dads Can Fix Anything.

A house may look collapsed beyond repair to Bob Vila and the county inspector who condemned it, but not to the Mennonite patriarch. Apparently, he has all manner of construction, electrical or plumbing supplies stored in his grain silo. He can fix anything with nail glue and mutters of ancient Low German prayers.

Or curse words but I don’t speak plattdeutsch so who knows.

Since your father-in-law can fix anything, the price of your home must include round trip airfare for the in laws; affordable if purchasing a foreclosure without inspection. What a waste of money that would be.

 

  1. Mennonites Living In The City Are Looking For A Yard, Not A House.

Land in Rio Rancho is less hospitable to vegetation than the lush farm land my husband grew up on. Instead of plants we have “rock gardens”. If you think I’m kidding, I’m not. Rock gardens choke out fierce things that survive in this sand box such as weeds, cactus, poisonous insects and worst of all, “goatheads”. Goatheads are thorns that impale your pets, children, car tires, tank treads etc. There’s no known cure for fire ants.

We have visited homes acceptable to my Mennonite where the house needs to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch but the yard happens to have a nice shed, a huge workshop, or a tree.

In New Mexico, a tree is a selling feature.FB_IMG_1502827213375

I’m frequently reminding my husband we are looking to buy a HOUSE and cannot raise our kid in the shed or wild desert.  “It’s entirely possible your ancestors were raised by wolves in the Prussian wilderness. I’m New Mexican and I require a higher child survival rate.”

 

4. Fire.

Because what a scorching desert really needs in the midst of a drought is MORE FIRE.

Every yard has to have a fire pit. Every house needs to have a fireplace. (Woodburing only, NOT GAS. Gas is for city folk a.k.a wimps/cheaters.) A real Mennonite proves his ruggedness by his ability to build an awesome fire. It’s your Mennonite man card if you will.

My husband has measured spaces and suggested he and his dad could build a fireplace. I’m starting to think he prefers the challenge of building a new fireplace to purchasing a house with a preexisting one. It will probably be the size of a 18th century brick oven and double as a guest room.

“Thank you so much for coming to visit! We’ve made you a bed in the fireplace behind the cauldron. I hope you’re not asthmatic. ”

Never Forget:

  • In the end, you will have a nice home. It will take work, possibly decades of it, but he and his parents will make it a beautiful home.
  • You will have an affordable mortgage. You will not be house-poor living with a Mennonite. Poor maybe, house-poor never.
  • You will have a nice yard.
  • Your children will have good memories.
  • You will have fire. –  It’s just gonna happen.

DOG VOMIT AND THE MYTH OF SILVER LININGS

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Max about 11 years ago.

There is no such thing as life’s “Silver Lining.”

My husband and I have moved in with my parents until September. That’s not my anti-silver lining point… My parents are visiting family in Texas and we are watching my mom’s favorite child, Max – a Bernese Mountain dog a little larger than a minivan. He is old and smelly. Like most minivans.

This morning my husband took our son Memphis downstairs to eat breakfast while I got ready for work. Shortly after, I heard him yelling, “THERE’S POOP AND PUKE EVERYWHERE.” Quickly and to my utter relief, Jon brought me Memphis and returned downstairs to clean.

Do you remember the scene from Jurassic Park where they’re taking Triceratops samples? If you happen to be the proud owner of a dog the size of a minivan, and they get sick in your house this is what you can look forward to. I did not take pictures but it could be seen clearly from space.

This was the only time I’ve ever wished my parents took home a vulgar Chihuahua instead of Max.

 

Silver Lining Myth No.1: There is a lesson in pain that makes life fair again.

A silver lining is an act of nature. Rain + Clouds = Silver Linings. Therefore, there must be a positive outcome to every trauma that restores balance.

Trauma + Life Lesson = Return to Balance.  

Lies.

Sometimes there’s a lesson, but don’t confuse silver linings with consequences. Have you ever done something dumb and heard your mother say, “Now what did we learn from this experience?” There is a lesson. The lesson is you’re an adult and should not be living in your mother’s house. The consequence is being in her house to hear her say it.

Life is messy and ugly and many times bad things happen for no reason.  Mothers lose their babies. Children are orphaned. Fires burn down homes. 100 lb Bernese Mountain Dogs lose it all over your carpet and some misguided souls actually own chihuahuas as pets.

Silver Lining Myth No 2: It could have been worse.

Is the Silver Lining (that) there’s a bottom to Max’s stomach? If you break your leg, is the silver lining that you’re not dead? Or that you can commiserate with other people who have broken legs? Of course, all this is true. You now know what it’s like to have your leg broken and you’re not dead.

Pain + Worse Scenario that could have happened = NOT a silver lining.

Everything could always be worse and I don’t see how that’s any consolation. That’s being an optimist and optimists are annoying, bubbly morning people who own chihuahuas.

Redemption Is Real, Fairness Is Not.

“Well who says life is fair? Where is that written?” Princess Bride.

Pain is not like gravity; there’s no universal law where we must find fairness in pain. We can’t always find a reason bad things happen but I believe in the supernatural. God can bring something good out of every situation and restore any person. It was Jon’s response that turned our mess into an opportunity to help and strengthen our relationship. His decision to clean did not diminish the hardship, but redeemed me from bitterness. Or maybe in this scenario, Max’s life from my wrath.

We notice someone who has risen out of the ashes of their own poverty or hurt. When victims use their experience to become advocates, we watch in awe and read stories about their bravery. If these were entirely natural occurrences, why should we care?

As the great philosopher Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”” 

There’s no silver lining or natural law that  restores our life back to balance.  It’s the choices and relationships–God’s supernatural intervention through us–that defeat bitterness and redeem our stories.

 

The Real “Utter Nonsense” of Missions and International Ministry.

I keep coming across the same arguments against Christian ministry and not just from those outside the church, but from Christians.  We’ve all heard the claims before, they are 2000 years old. While reading this morning I came across this passage where Paul speaks directly to these criticisms: 1 Thessalonians 2:3-9 (NIV)

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1 Thes 2:3 “For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.”
Claim  1. Christians are ignorant or have hidden motives and therefore, mess things up.
– Christian organizations value freedom and education and will won’t stop working even after making mistakes.

Paul said, “We do not spring from error”, something Christians are learning to do better. It’s scriptural to not spring from error, it’s also scriptural to spring into action. Paul didn’t say  “we sit in perfection to avoid messing up.”

Get involved, be intentional and get wise about how to do it.

Slavery – Now the highest in recorded history at an est. 20-46 million slaves with an est. 4 million sex slaves living in the USA.  The sex industry in Atlanta alone brings in $290 million a year. We should be cautious about rushing in to assume that those working against this corrupt industry have impure motives. Any organization worth its salt will have a legitimate track record and financial statements so you know where the money goes.

You know who does has impure motives? Child Traffickers. You know who are going out and educating families on the red flags? Christians. It’s proven that children who have activities and educational programs are far less likely to be targeted and sold into slavery. Many of these programs are provided by Christians in places where governments won’t or can’t provide them.

Education – The church was the first to educate women and slaves when Rome was in power. Later the church founded almost all schools before the state, including free schooling for the poor, schools in the slums and education for the deaf. The church started 100 of the first 110 universities in the US and became the largest single provider of education in the world.

In America and Britain, when there was no state education or child labor laws, Christians decided to give these uneducated, working children a chance and they created Sunday school.  They valued children, their freedom and education before the world caught up.

1 Thes. 2:4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.
Claim 2:  Missionaries care about their own agenda; trying to feel less guilty or they have a savior complex because they’re wealthy Americans.
– It’s God who tests their hearts.  Stop expecting perfect people to be used by God.  Healthcare is a Christian value implemented by imperfect Christians. 

Healthcare – It was in Rome that Christians pioneered and started the first hospitals. From the first reported pandemic in 403AD to the bubonic plague, to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, believers were the only people crazy enough to risk their lives attending to those infected because they understood people are of infinite value created in the Image of God. It should be no surprise then that it was a Christian who started the International Red Cross, receiving the first Noble Peace Prize in history. The church is now the largest single provider of healthcare in the world.

Healthcare is a Christian value.

Recently, Franklin Graham has opened himself up to a lot of criticism. I won’t address some of his comments. What I will say is that love or hate him, God has used this imperfect person all over the world, including Mosul, Iraq. His organization, Samaritan’s purse, is the only organization currently treating both the victims of terrorism AND ISIS terrorists in the same facility. You can read more about those controversies and their work here.

Samaritan’s Purse also documented the first vaccine for curing Ebola in 2014, only after its own medical staff assisting in the crisis was infected with the disease. The UN continues to call on Samaritan’s Purse as one of the few organizations it can trust to help in places like Iraq, Sudan, and Haiti.

…Stop expecting perfect people to be used by God. There are none

God uses messed up people to carry out impossible tasks. These tasks might not be beautifully wrapped displays of idealistic perfection. International ministry has its problems. Churches are messy and full of ‘churchy’ politics. However, Christ works. The church is the only hope of the world. Stop expecting perfect people to be used by God. There are none.  Paul said people “are approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel”, not approved by other’s opinions or their own seeming ‘perfection’.

Side note, why are all missionaries assumed to be privileged North Americans? They aren’t and the belief that all missionaries are is ignorant. Did you know that Brazil, China, South Korea and many other countries also send out missionaries?

1 Thes 2:5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.
Claim 3: Missionaries are fake and Christians are after my money.
– Churches use money as a tool for good. What do you do with yours?

Clean Water-   In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the lives lost to armed conflict since World War II combined. According to the UN it would cost 30 billion dollars to solve our global water crisis. Forbes said we spent 1 trillion on Christmas in 2016 in the USA alone. So I guess as long as we use money on ourselves in the name of a Holiday it’s fine but if a group gives water in the name of Christ, suddenly we question everyone’s motives and point out their flaws.

…“Our government has visited us three times. Each time they promised us a well. Each time they have lied. Will you be any different?”

From personal experience, I had a friend in New Mexico who was from a small village in Haiti that had been without clean water. Before my first visit to Haiti she and her father asked if we would visit their village and see if it would be possible to put in a well.149311_10151502867775510_1542623097_n

Three of our team traveled up to her village. We visited with the locals, met my friend’s beautiful family, saw their current water system and talked about whether or not it would be possible. They had been praying for water for a long time.While we were there one of the women challenged us, “Our government has visited us three times. Three times they promised us a well. Three times they have lied. Will you be any different?”

The world needs you to be different.

We also came across an old man who said he used to be a Voodoo priest, right up until the previous week. He had recently burned all of his Voodoo artifacts outside his home and only some broken clay and ashes remained. We asked him, “Why did you decide against Voodoo?” He replied, “Voodoo doesn’t work. Jesus does.” 

God provided and I’m thankful he allowed us to be a part of it423734_10151393065610510_1908402434_n. They not only put in a well, but a road to get the supplies where it needed to go. We did not bring in our own American workers and take a bunch of photos about how great we are, we did not “save” their water situation. We were Short Term Missionaries, the worst kind according to some people. (Frankly I think the word “missionary” is misused. We were visitors, peacemakers at best.) We worked with them towards a solution. We could not have done it without them and vice versa.

It took contacts, friendships and mutual trust.

 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.
Claim 4: Missionaries (Christians) are about self-promotion. They just want to feel important.
– No, they are hypocrites in transition, as compared to hypocrites that are stuck.

Haiti Earth Quake –  13 billion has been promised, 1.3 billion coming from the UN, but only half has been released. So much has been wasted that the goal now to get just 17% of the money given to actually make it to Haiti. The largest single recipient of US earthquake aid money was the US government.  It was the same in other countries. Of 2.4 billion in international assistance in humanitarian funding, 4 tenths of 1% made it to Haitian NGOs.

I have given to Maranatha Children’s Ministries. Yes, a Christian organization. I can honestly tell you 100% went to Haiti. There are many other worthy causes and responsible organizations you can give to like this one. Governments don’t do an adequate job of what Christians are capable of and called to do.

Have mission organizations done a worse job than the UN or international government intervention? Consider the fact that cholera was brought to Haiti by the UN. Consider the fact that most of the education happening overseas where education is not available is done by religious organizations. Consider the fact that all money given to Maranatha and those like it have little overhead. Consider the fact we still don’t know what happened to the money for collected for Haiti by our own government or the Clinton Foundation.

Paul also said, “we were like children among you”. We should also be learning from the lives and cultures of the places we serve, not bringing our own assumptions. Separating ministry and ethics or morals from culture can be sticky, but not impossible.

1 Thes 2:7 Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
Claim 5: They should just stay out of ministry because that missionary/organization made things worse.
– Tell that to the adopted, loved, fed, healed and educated.

“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you.” – As a mom who just finished nursing her child, I was bitten, screamed at, scratched, puked on, pinched and hit. So maybe all these accusations are to be expected as part of ministry life. But I endured it, because nourishment is important. Spiritual nourishment and ministry is worth the criticism.

…extreme love is a Biblical idea

Value for Children During the Roman empire, it was common for families to leave babies deemed unhealthy or unnecessary to be left outside to die. It was the church that rescued & adopted these kids. Later the church pioneered foster care and orphanages. These people accepted children into their homes and changed their entire lives because they knew and understood the value of a human life. They knew these kids were to be loved because extreme love is a Biblical idea.

My church has personally come in contact with children in Cameroon and Haiti who ran out of options.  These children would be left on the street, alone and possibly dead if not for organizations that do value children.  

“But adoption rips families apart and Some organizations pay and trick parents into giving up their kids.”
“It’s an industry.” 

I won’t pretend like this doesn’t happen but I think we’d both agree that this is not loving or valuing children. Loving and valuing children also looks like working to keep families together. It’s important to be informed, but don’t put those corrupt organizations under the same umbrella. Don’t assume because an organization supports adoption, they don’t support local families.

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…The more we become like Christ the less we look like the world

Since the church was formed, Paul had been dealing with the same poisonous thinking. If Satan can get you to doubt the work God is doing through you, the work will cease. If we care more about what someone says online, at school, or work than about what God is leading us to do, we’ve missed the point. The more we become like Christ the less we look like the world. If no one has ever questioned your motives or challenged you, you’re not rocking the boat. You look like the world.

More so, if the enemy can get you, a believer, to speak those things against what someone else is doing, he can use you as a strong instrument to cause doubts; to slow down or stop what God is doing through someone else. I have never known a leader who wouldn’t admit to struggling with feeling overconfident, perhaps even arrogant, at one time and completely insecure and inadequate another.  The enemy attacks areas where leaders struggle and perhaps he’s using to you do it.

…We’re to judge by their fruit, not assume they’re rotten right off the top.

The world is complex and we should be cautious and careful about our work and our leaders. For every one of Paul’s points we can all share a rebuttal where someone has been all about themselves, money or looked for significance through the world and in the name of Christ, causing havoc and hurt to others. But we shouldn’t be quick to assume that what someone else feels God has told them to do is always under arrogance or selfish ambitions. We’re to judge by their fruit, not assume they’re rotten right off the top.

Could it be we are not doubting the people in question but doubting God? He used a coward to minister to Ninevah and a stammering a criminal to speak to Pharaoh. Thankfully, He didn’t ask us which jobs were actually of value and which people were qualified to do them.  Perhaps he can still use a messed up, insecure, culturally insensitive person to do great things.  I definitely wouldn’t have been betting on Gideon if I’d known him.

 

 

Introverts Guide to Marrying a Mennonite

I often write about the hardships of being Jon’s wife but nothing compares to our wedding. On September 8, Jon and I celebrated 9 years of marriage. I remember saying to my husband “I just want to marry you. As long as we’re married at the end of the day, I don’t care if guests are eating pizza off paper plates on the floor.”

This almost came to fruition. Here’s what I learned.

Pick a Mantra and Stick to It
Repeat it over and over. It keeps you calm when you feel the world of cake and taffeta closing in. Mine was, “As long as I’m married at the end of the day…
Small Wedding =  Destination Wedding

For me, minimal spotlight means minimal stress.  I’m a recluse and hate being the center of attention.  I wanted to get married in the church I grew up in. I thought I could have a small wedding close to home by simply slashing our guest list.

If you are Mennonite, you already know why this isn’t possible. 90% of our guest list was family. His family. They all lived close to home and doubled my ideal wedding size. Example: You have to invite his cousin because of that deal he cut you on corn – six years ago. You have to invite his fourth cousin twice removed because he works at your Superstore.  You have to invite his grandma’s brother because you keep running into him at Tim Hortons.

I was afraid to leave the house without a stack of blank invites.

I was afraid to leave the house.

My family lived far away. I felt underrepresented. To compensate I started adding more of “my” people. You know, the usual guests one invites to their wedding, like your nail tech or that guy that makes your lunch at Subway.  Maybe my dentist. Our guest list exploded to 250 people. Still small if you’re Mennonite.

“As long as I’m Jon’s wife at the end of the day.”

Don’t Panic

I panicked. Jon’s mom is an event coordinator but when she wasn’t around, I made bad decisions. The worst decision was my wedding dress. Choosing a dress sent me into hyperventilation. It was a screaming reminder that many people (250 in case you missed it)  were going to be looking, staring and even possibly judging me.

“I want to be SO pretty!”
“250. I hate this.”
“Ooh sparkly! This is so fun!”
“250. This is the worst.”

Dress shopping always ended with me eating something covered in chocolate and crying in the dark. Eventually, I put down money on a discount dress in hopes this newly acquired schizophrenia could be stopped.

I noticed the beads were falling off after the bridal store went out of business. His mom and I spent many nights at her kitchen table sewing white beads back onto a white dress. Ever looked for cotton balls in an avalanche? I have.

I would have had more luck with a stapler and bed sheet.

There are blood, sweat and tears on my wedding dress. And chocolate.

“as long as I’m married at the end of the day…”

It’s Best Not to Blame Your Spouse

We took our pictures before the wedding. I thought if Jon saw me in my wedding dress before walking down the aisle (without those judgmental guests like my dentist) I’d be calmer. I was wrong.

The idea of a full church waiting for ME plunged me into a nervous breakdown.   How dare he have a large, happy, functional family wanting to celebrate our marriage. Jerk. Selfish. Egomaniac.

Our last conversation before getting married was something along the lines of, “This entire thing is your fault. You did this to me.” Not even in labor did I use those words.

I forgot my mantra.

You’re Not Marrying Your Sibling
Maybe I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. 

When I walked down the aisle my awkwardness and social anxiety came unglued. I was so nervous I couldn’t even look at Jon. Leaving a beautiful trail of sparkly beads and  broken string, I locked eyes with my sister the whole way down the aisle.

There was an actual spotlight.

You’re on Mennonite Time

Pack snacks.

I’m not sure if this is a Mennonite thing or a Penner thing but the entire day ran late and continued to for 9 years. I have pictures where I’m scowling. Hair done, make up done, happy bridesmaids, and I’m scowling.

Put Distance Between His Home Town and Your Reception

If you decide to have a reception on their turf, beware the wedding crashers. My husband was determined to celebrate in his home town.

Jon’s mom approached us, “Megan, we are running out of room. I need to ask you if you we can wheel out more tables.” I rolled my eyes and said something along the lines of, “Let them eat cake!” New mantra.

…Or pizza off the floor.

…Or chocolate of my dress.

We added chairs and tables and prayed for a “Loaves and Fishes” miracle. The cook said he had never been so close to running out plates. Ever. The town of Niverville ate well that day. Don’t say I never contribute to charity events.

At the end of the day we were married. We’re still married so according to my own standards and all of Jon’s well fed friends, it was a major success.

 

The Quarrelsome Wife and Her 7 Stages of Labor and Delivery. (Without TMI)

I’m about to do something I vowed never to do – write a mom blog. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This I promise you:

I promise never to describe the color, quantity or consistency of my child’s poop.
I promise never to describe the color, quantity or consistency of my child’s spit up.

Like, seriously mom bloggers, stop it and leave that to webmd.

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Proverbs 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

I was 4 months pregnant when my husband said, “I’ve been reading a lot about natural child birth.”
“Hippie, no! Stop right there. When YOU have the next baby, we’ll talk about it.”
“Hear me out. I’ve read a lot about the effects of medication in labor…”
“Oh really? Read anything about the success rate of marriages afterwards?”

He never brought it up again.

223091_10156609198045510_6683875720608028648_nStage 1: Denial.

For an entire day I was having contraction-like stomach pain. I mentioned this to Jon and forced it to go away. That’s right. In complete denial I thought I had actually “willed it” to stop.

It was just like the movies. Out of nowhere, a happy unsuspecting prego keels over in the midst of an intense contraction. At 2 am I woke up and went to my bathroom, praying that this was not labor but simply about to be the worst bathroom experience of my life.

 

Stage 2: Fear & Suppression.

It wasn’t. “If this is a contraction,” I whispered to myself “I’m in so.. .much …TROUBLE...

I prayed for the rapture but Jesus never came. The nerve.

I took a deep breath, left the safety of my bathroom and did what all the doctors and midwives said to do: Call the nurse line and explain your contractions before you decide rush to the hospital. After a few unsuccessful phone calls and terrible contractions my husband said, “Get in the car.”
“But the midwives said…”
“Get in the car.”

I guess he’s not keen on the idea of kitchen-floor-daddy-deliveries.

Stage 3: Compliance.

I was going to have a baby.

April 5th was the day ALL THE babies were born. I was told I would be waiting in triage a little longer than usual because there were no delivery rooms available.

No room in the inn.

The nurse asked me what my pain level was. “Ten.” I said without hesitation. She shot me a funny look and rolled her eyes as if to say, “Oh honey, please. This is labor and you’ve just started.” During the next contraction she checked me. “Oh. Okay. So you are experiencing back labor.” Meaning my kid wanted to be born looking at the sky. Not the usual position and sometimes more painful.

HA! Back labor. I’m not a wimp. Vindication.12961569_10156723488055510_4169694634467242731_n

Stage 4: Rage.

“What are your plans for pain management? Do you want an epidural?” She asked. I couldn’t find the words to say, “I don’t want this pain but I also don’t want you or anyone else touching me and I can’t figure out which scenario I hate more. Also, I hate you.” So we just stared at each other a long while in complete silence.

She eventually left. We never spoke again.

I sat in triage for hours. My squeamish husband was a trooper. Held my hand and distracted himself with beeping monitors.

Jon, “Cool! It shows how big your contractions are!”
Me, “That’s fantastic.”
“That last one was almost off the charts!”
“Yeah. I KNOW.”
“…maybe I’ll go get your pillow from the car.”
“You do that.”

 

Stage 5: Impatience.

In the early morning, my sister and mom visited me, still  in triage.  I was ready to run into someone else’s room, lay on the floor next to a delivering mom and coach her lazy, selfish baby out into the world.   “Get it done woman or scoot the hell over.”

Finally, my sister went to the nurse,“My sister is about drop a baby in your triage.”

They gave me a room.

Step 6: Delusions and Paranoia.

I began to believe everyone, including my own mother, was lying to me about any progress whatsoever.

Some more rage.

Step 7: Ownereship. (And/Or Hunger)

I looked at the clock. “(explicit language) Lunchtime. I want to be eating a (explicit language) chicken burger by (explicit language) lunchtime.”

I’ll spare you the rest of the details. Jon buried his face in a pillow, I had a baby and then I had (explicit language) Chick-fil-A.

The moral of the story: Don’t mock your husband or you’ll push out an upside down baby completely lucid and your husband will be the traumatized one.

Dirty hippie.

Proverbs 27:15-16 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a contentious wife are alike. Trying to keep her in check is like stopping a wind storm or grabbing oil with your right hand.

(Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Those proverbs are hilarious though.)

Memphis Matthew Lee
born 10:39 a.m
April 5 2016.
6lbs 4 oz 19 inches long.

7 STEPS TO CATCHING A MENNONITE MAN

20160127_164405Between school, holidays and an unexpected pregnancy, I’ve been a little busy. Or rather, sick, tired and stupid. They tell me it’s normal for someone in my “condition”. If being the bringer if life is a “condition”, where’s my medal?

So what shook me out of my sick and tired pregnancy hiatus? Under my blog settings, there’s a section that shows what people have google searched before clicking on your site. One search read, “How to make a Mennonite boy like you.”

Great question.

 

How To Make a Mennonite Boy Like You:

Jon, my husband, thinks the very idea of this blog is manipulative. He hates it. Since I’m currently growing his Mennonite baby – which is sucking all forms of life and energy from my inferior, non-Mennonite body – I can and will do what I want.

Immediately my heart went out to this girl. No doubt she’s been sitting in her school cafeteria, watching this mysterious farm kid warm up his lunch of leftover pierogies in a microwave.

Mystery does weird things to women.

Sister, a warning; Just because you can’t figure this guy out, that doesn’t make him “mysterious.” In this case it makes him Mennonite. And as most women learn, you can’t fix him. You can’t fix a Mennonite man any more than you can fix a shattered mirror with bubble gum and thumb tacks.

Not that I haven’t tried.

Jon’s Note:  “I am mysterious. You can’t fix perfection.”
Step 1 – Patience.

– The most important thing is patience. I stalked my husband for 4 years. No exaggeration. Mennonite boys scare easy and to catch one takes persistence. 

Here’s a list of what Mennonite boys understand:
*Food.
*Hobbies (In my experience trucks or ninjas.)
*How to build really good fires.
*Their mom &/or Oma.

Here’s a list of what Mennonite boys don’t understand:
*All women other than Oma.

On second glance, that list is probably helpful for understanding men in general but I’m no expert. Handle big changes or new information as if you were treating a frightened baby bird.

An example: Carefully breaking the news to Jon that I was pregnant.

Me: “Jon, I’m pregnant”
Jon: “What?”
Me: “I’m pregnant”
Jon: “What!?”
Me: “PRREEGGNNAAANT.”
Jon: …pause…“You’re pregnant?”
Me: eye roll. “Yes.”
Jon:… long pause ….“Are you sure?”
Me: “Yes.”
Jon: ….longer pause…“Is this really happening?”

This went on for a while.

Jon’s note: “In my defense I think any man, Mennonite or not, would be shocked if it was 3a.m and your sleeping wife rolls over and drops this out of the blue.”
Step 2 – Like food and EAT IT. 

– Forget about gluten free, sugar free and calorie counting. Picking at lettuce on a plate is not attractive. You are not a rabbit. If you don’t eat and ENJOY eating, you’ll only accentuate the fact that you are NOT Mennonite. This will frighten him away.

Jon’s Note: “Real men don’t share food. If you want fries, order them yourself.”
Step 3 – Give him food.

– I learned this trick in 10th grade. It was Christmas time and I made awesome chocolate chip cookies. I handed them out to my classmates but packaged the yummiest batch for Jon.

If you can’t bake don’t buy something at the store. He has heightened taste buds from a lifetime of eating Oma’s food. He will know immediately if it came from a package. This will frighten him away.

If you have a grandma, use her.

Jon’s Note: “Please remember a guy will still expect this kind of baking to continue after you are married!”
Step 4 – Embrace budgets and sales.

– They want to know your money savvy. If you aren’t, learn. It’s a big red flag to any Mennonite boy if you recklessly spend money on impulse and will certainly frighten him away. Instead, talk about how much you love thrift stores, sew your own clothing and make homemade soap in your kitchen.

Jon’s Note: “Spending money on soap might actually be okay.”
Step 5 – Talk about family. A lot.

– This was easy for me. My siblings are so tight, we don’t have friends. Having a close knit family is incredibly important to Mennonites. They express this through competitive card games, food, and sing-a-longs. It should be noted just because you might have a close family doesn’t mean you will understand a Mennonite family.

If you don’t have a close family, try not to mention how little you see or like them. This will frighten him away. Instead, talk about how one day it would be nice to have a close family.

Bonus points if you talk about how great HIS family is.

Jon’s Note: “I don’t understand her family. She says they are close but I don’t believe since I’ve never seen them play card games.”
Step 6 – Take an interest in music.

– This was probably my husband’s number one criteria in a wife – right under “loves God” and “likes food.”

An unfortunate side of this – you will be expected to participate in music at family gatherings.

This may frighten you away.

No comment from Jon. I think this is where he gave up.
Step 7 – Honestly though, don’t manipulate.

– After centuries of bartering and running family business and farms, Mennonites are really good at smelling B.S. (Burnt Schmauntfat). If you’re lying about music or baking or your family, they’ll see right through it. This will frighten him away.

If he doesn’t pick up on it, his Mom will and she will frighten YOU away. It’s for the best. If they didn’t smell your B.S you’d marry this unsuspecting Menno-man on a foundation of lies.

On that note – Jon’s still waiting for more cookies. He’ll get them when it’s his turn to be the pregnant one.

For whatever reason he’s been resistant to that idea.FB_IMG_1451512487386

 

My Top 6 Pastoral KID Pet Peeves

My dad wrote a blog, “My Top 5 Pastoral Pet Peeves.” He thinks his life as a pastor is so difficult. Whiner. The real ones suffering are the children.  MY blog has not 5 but 6 pet peeves. Here’s what it’s like growing up as a pastor’s kid.

1.You are THE Candidate!
For Out Loud Prayer and Bible Fact Regurgitation.

The pastor’s kid is the perfect person in a Sunday school teacher’s moment of panic. The group maybe dead but if you have a PK, apparently you’re golden.

No one willing to open in prayer? The pastor’s kid will. Mine usually went something like, “Thank you, Jesus for this day’men.”
No one was listening to the questions about Corinthians? The pastor’s kid should know.

And I usually didn’t.

Anyone else remember Sword Drills? It’s a “game” where you race to see who can find the book, chapter and verse fastest. I never won, but by the reaction of the entire Bible class, I should’ve every time.

You try to find Nahum under that kind of pressure!

2. You Make Other Parents Feel Better About Their Parenting Skills.
Gossip is a sin. Except when it’s about the pastor’s family.

Although you’re expected to be the Bible-thumper in Sunday school, everybody loves a train wreck in real life. I mean, if the pastor’s kids are screw ups, your kids must be doing okay, right?

Wreck the car? Whole church knows.

Speeding ticket? Whole church knows.

Another speeding ticket? Whole church knows.

Throw a party while parents are out of town? You get the idea.

Yes. Those are all actual examples. Coincidentally, they are frequently used as my father’s sermon illustrations.

3. Waiting in the Car.
Every congregation knows – after church is the perfect time to share all your drama, confessions and prophetic visions with your pastor.

Really, the church phone number and office hours are just in the bulletin for effect.

Stomachs growling, baby brothers crying, boiling hot or freezing cold. I remember a lot of after church starving. My mom compassionately gave us gum. So helpful.

To this day hunger tastes like spearmint.

4. VolunTOLD!
Even if the most enthusiastic volunteers won’t do it.

No one willing to help clean up the bathrooms after a wedding? Mom will find you gloves and toilet brush.
No one eating Mrs. Maples gross potato salad at the church picnic? Mom will give you two extra scoops.
No one signed up for Mrs. Maples Bible Study on Biblical animals? Guess what you’re doing Friday nights.

Poor Miss. Maple.

Folding bulletins. Folding bulletins. Folding bulletins.

5. Everyone Knows Your Name, Even If You Don’t Know Theirs,
When you’re a little kid, everyone older than 30 looks the same. 

Well, unless they’re parents of your friends and do something really memorable like buy name brand cereal. Even then they’re just Mr. and Mrs. LastName. I didn’t realize adults had real names until I was 8.

When you’re a PK, strangers at church approach you and somehow know everything about your life. We become very good at making seemingly familiar conversations while not knowing a single solitary fact about who they’re talking to.

It’s easy and I can teach you: People love to talk about themselves. Just ask leading questions and when they refer to something you should already know, nod your head and say, “Ah, yes.”

6. Hand-Me Downs!

Why buy clothes when everyone feels sorry for your father’s salary? Instead of giving more on Sunday, there’s a better way to pacify their guilt. You take their kid’s old stuff.

And say, “Thank you.”

The real downside is when you find something you like in the hand-me downs and wear it proudly until your BFF says “That’s my old skirt. How’d you get that?”

The End, Dad.

Everything You Need to Know About Low German.

7 Things Every Outsider needs to Know About Low German – According to Me.

1. And then God Said, “Let there be Low German!”
Or something like that. Nobody really knows.

My husbands ancestors from Russia. I guess that guy on the right is what i have to look forward to. Low German, the Mennonite language, is also referred to as Plattdeutsch. It is NOT German. Don’t tell a German their language is low and don’t tell a Mennonite they speak German (for obvious reasons).

Example: You would never confuse ground beef with filet mignon? Which language is filet mignon and which is ground beef? I’m not going there.

There is debate over where/how Low German originated. Some Mennonites are convinced European languages came from Low German. Others insist Low German originated from European languages. It’s not important. Which was first, the chicken or the egg? It doesn’t matter because they both taste great in a burrito.

2. Explaining Low German is Impossible.
I Dub thee Creole. “A creole language is a stable natural language developed from a mixture of different languages”. – Wikipedia.

I described Low German in my blog, “About Mennonites: 6 Warnings for the Outsider” as, “A language (like a European- Creole) of German, Dutch, Russian, Yiddish and whatever else happens to be thrown in there mixed with made up words that don’t belong to any language.”

This created disagreements online. I see the confusion. Most creoles are combinations of Spanish, French, Portuguese and African languages in Louisiana and the Caribbean. But if you mixed only European languages it would be Low German. Therefore it’s like a European-Creole and the perfect way for an outsider to wrap their brain around Low German. It also explains how Mennonites understand parts of Dutch, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, Yiddish, Lassie, and Krusty the Clown.

And this is where Mennonites remind me that the creator of the Simpsons had a Mennonite Oma. Allegedly.

Similar to how English words, spellings and pronunciation can differ among Canadians and Texans- there are differences in Low German among Mennonite communities. Whether Texans speak English IS up for debate, just like their “Mexican food”.

These differences created more arguments online over one word in particular…

3. Nah-yo? Nah-yo! Nah-yo.
Na Jo, Oba Jo, Oba Yo, Nayo, NAH- yo, etc.

Not all Mennonites agree on how to spell it or on it’s original meaning . It can mean anything – yes, no, I love you, kill that guy and feed him to sharks… This is the only word you will ever need as an outsider.

There is no similar English word, and so I conclude: Low German SUPERIOR to English.

Oma speaks to you in Low-German and you can’t understand? “Nah yo?”
Ask an un-pregnant friend when she’s due? “Nah yo!”

4. Mennonites Love Their Language Almost as Much as Metaschlope.
The Mennonite perception of Low German is romanced.

When Mennonites describe their beloved language, without hearing it first you might think, “Low German must be a beautiful ancient language of angelical beings.” Or  “I bet Jesus spoke Low German!”
Some Mennonites will tell you that, Jesus in fact did speak Low German.

5. Young Mennonites are English-Speaking Rebels.
I hope this language can be saved. It’s a beautiful product of their complex history.

Younger generations are not learning Low German but they’ve developed a fond attachment to the fiercest-sounding languages on Earth. Mennonite kids listen with nostalgia and tears as these gruff languages invoke memories of family gatherings and farm animals.

As they grow to adults, they will attempt to learn German, Russian or similar dialects when homesick.  My husband has begun learning German. He’s taught me German can’t be spoken; only shouted while punching the air, walls or furniture. Or while eating large amounts of food in a fur coat and fur hat.

All Mennonite kids imitate their Low German-speaking relative’s accents perfectly. It’s great at parties.

6. Mennonite Kids Know Low German Words for Food. 
They compare non-Mennonite foods to their traditional food and rename them accordingly.

Example: One day my uncle made Biscuits and Gravy. My husband was very excited. “Hey, this is almost like Schaundt Fat!”

I said, “Yeah… because it’s gravy.”

To this day, all gravy is Schmaundt Fat and follows with an explanation about how this Schmaundt Fat is garbage compared to his Oma’s.

7. Mennonite Children are Frauds.
Mennonite kids are resourceful, smart and sneaky.

These qualities are not learned. They are trademark Mennonite mutations. Mennonite sneakiness is why their youth don’t practice Rumspringa to make dumb choices. They don’t need it.

Since Mennonite kids don’t know Low German, it creates convenient situations for parents to discuss Christmas presents, family gossip, arguments, finances and any number of inappropriate things for their children’s ears out in the open. Except intimacy. Mennonite parents don’t discuss that in any language.

The following conspiracy is earth shattering to the aging Mennonite community: Although my husband cannot speak or read Low German, he and thousands of other Mennonite youth can understand it!

It freaky.

Mennonite kids can recite 12plus wholesome verses of Rock of Ages by memory in English on Sunday and eavesdrop on their parents inappropriate Low German conversations the rest of the week. Generations have played dumb and reaped the sweet rewards of faked ignorance.

Moral of the story:
If you and your Menno-spouse do procreate, don’t trust your lying children. They are 50% Mennonite

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