Five things Friday round up: Seeking Shalom in all things

1) Pumpkin Spice
It’s that time of year again. As a matter of fact, this time last year I talked about pumpkin spice for this blog. I encouraged people to stop making fun of it and to try it. I want to make that same point again, but with a different note. People are quick to shame others for little things that offer them enjoyment. It could be inauthentic cuisine, a product from a multi level marketing project, online shopping, or a penchant for a certain retailer some have labeled as “basic.” In fact, this “basic” label, as a friend of mine once said, is a way to shame people (mostly women) about enjoying the little and simple things in life. So whatever brings you joy and happiness during this time of social unrest and pandemic, don’t allow a critical naysayer make you feel bad about enjoying what you will. If it gives you life, isn’t harmful, and works for you, go ahead and get that pumpkin spice latte. You deserve it.
2) Shalom
During this time of unrest, I have found myself in tearful prayer. What’s going to happen come November? Will our COVID reality ever change? What about my relationships and the problems those can cause? What now, God? What am I supposed to do with all this? While I was taught that we cannot change what happens to us and we can only choose how we react, I’m starting to believe that I can’t always control my sadness or feelings of being overwhelmed during this time of “unprecedented circumstances.” In prayer, God offered me shalom. Shalom transcends “peace.” Shalom includes justice. Shalom includes right relationships. Shalom calms chaos. And right about now, that sounds exactly like something I need. I think more shalom is what we all need. In your prayer life, find what God might be saying to you. Maybe you too are searching for some peace. 
3) Support Black farmers
When I lived in Virginia, I took a trip to Polyface Farms. Run by the dynamic Joel Salatin, the farm boasts a “farm to table” ethos and claims to implement sustainable practices. Coming from rural Ohio with farmer grandparents who engaged in big industrial farming, I thought this was “edgy” and “cool.” I saw Salatin in person, in documentaries such as Food Inc, and I even read his blog. I was most disappointed to learn that not everything is as it seems. Chris Newman, a Black sustainable farmer, wrote an article about the flaws in small farming. Salatin responded in a blog post that was straight up racist. In correspondence that followed, Salatin wrote about the “”breakdown of the family” in the Black community, declared America isn’t racist because “Obama,” and said that if BIPOC are unhappy, they should “return to their tribes.” Chaos ensued. Interns spoke up about their own experiences. So when supporting small agriculture, take a look at Sylvanaqua Farms, and get to know the people behind the produce. 
4)  Worshipping outside
I’m excited about my church’s upcoming worship series that is going to take place in the backyards of folks from our congregation. I’m sure many of your churches have found creative ways to “gather” during this time. Maybe you’re meeting via Zoom, or Facebook Live, or maybe you’ve decided to meet in person. Before the weather turns chilly, find ways to gather with your church family and other loved ones outside. Not only is nature a beautiful way to experience God, but soon we will likely need to distance from one another again and will find ourselves retreating to our homes. Whether it’s with your small group, your friends, or with people from your congregation, find creative outdoor and interactive ways to worship together during this, as the overused phrase goes, “unprecedented time.” 
Rarely do I post a recipe that didn’t turn out well. I am writing about it because of its potential! This is technically a “seis leches” cake because of all the milk involved. When my best friend made this for my birthday, the cake ended up being lopsided and is still currently swimming in a sea of leche. It looks like a swamp cake. However, that was not for lack of trying. I still believe in this cake and if you get this recipe to turn out better, please let me know and send me a picture! 

Joanne Gallardo

Joanne Gallardo is conference minister of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA in Goshen, Indiana. Originally from northwest Ohio, Joanne Read More

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