Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
Recently I’ve been thinking about slowing down. At the beginning of the school year, as many find new rhythms, new programs start at church and we start thinking ahead to the busy fall holidays, I’m struck by a desire to slow down. Here are a few things I’ve been paying attention to.
1. Going green: I’ve been doing a bit of reading about changing to a “greener” home. Without thinking about it, many of us purchase chemicals for cleaning and other uses around the house, not realizing how harmful many of these chemicals are for us (particularly for babies and children). Sometimes the simple, natural cleaners our grandparents used are much safer and every bit as effective if we slow down and take the time to care for our spaces a little bit each day.
2. Real fuel: Mealtimes with a 2-year-old can be tricky. When other family members need special diets, as well as considering a toddler, meal planning and preparation can feel overwhelming. Yet I am recognizing the importance of providing the right “fuel” for our bodies and how much healthier we all would be if we took the time to cook at home rather than stopping for fast food or other eat-out options. A fun book to talk with kids about healthy eating (and fantastic, simple reminders and guides for the rest of us) is Happy Healthy Monsters: Grover’s Guide to Good Eating by Naomi Kleinberg.
3. Pay attention to those on the journey: Sometimes it’s easy to be wrapped up in our own concerns and the problems in our own home or congregation. Yet there are others in our communities or circle of acquaintances that need love, support, a drive to the hospital or just a listening ear. Sometimes those opportunities to serve, rather than being a burden, can refresh our souls if we take the time to look around for those walking beside us who need to been seen.
4. Saying no: I know it’s not a challenge for everyone, but I have trouble saying no when asked to do something, especially if it’s something I feel I have the skills for and/or interest in. But sometimes I need to say no so I can say yes to being more present for my daughter, my husband and the other important people in my life. Are there times when you may need to say no and slow down to take time for the important people in your life?
5. Time to study: Herald Press has released a couple of good books lately that focus on how we read the Bible (if you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet—The Bible Unwrapped: Making Sense of Scripture Today by Megan Larissa Good and Fire by Night: Finding God in the Pages of the Old Testament by Melissa Florer-Bixler). I realize more and more that I need to make the time to read, study and discuss Scripture with others. God isn’t going to work in my life unless I take the time to read, learn, grow and listen for God’s voice.
Jennie Wintermote is a full-time mother and part-time librarian for the Western District Conference Resource Library in North Newton, Kansas. She is a member of First Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas.
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