We’re starting a new weekly series. Every Friday, we’ll have an author that highlights five things to read, watch or check out online. This week’s post comes from Jennie Wintermote. Jennie is a native Kansan, an interim pastor, grad student, and director of the Western District Conference Resource Library. She loves reading, scrapbooking, and trying to figure out what it means to live out her faith every day. She also tries to remember to blog at prairieroseramblings.weebly.com.
Recently I’ve been drawn to the concept of living intentionally. My interest in living life more intentionally comes from a place of uncertainty. In August, I will finish grad school and one of my part-time jobs, leaving me searching for employment and identity.
It was much easier when I was an elementary school teacher. My identity was clear and extended well beyond my hours in the school building. In the community and at church, people knew I was a teacher.
Now I often feel like I don’t know who I am; I will tell others that I’m a pastor, and a librarian, and a student—talk about a long answer to a simple question! Now as I sit in uncertainty, I have a longing for an identity that extends beyond a secular vocation and grows from a centered, intentional life. Times of transition are natural opportunities to review one’s identity and life trajectory. Thus, I’m paying attention to things that help shape my understandings of an identity shaped by intentional living.
1. Sacred pauses: Spiritual practices for personal renewal, by April Yamasaki: As I prepared to talk with the youth in my congregation about spiritual practices, I read this book. I was impressed by Yamaski’s approach to spiritual practices as a way for us to move towards a more centered way of life that is more in touch with ourselves and others, with the world around us, and more in touch with God.
2. At home in the world: A rule of life for the rest of us, by Margaret Guenther: The second book I picked up was this book by spiritual director Margaret Guenther. This book invites us to create our own rule of life* that goes “beyond [our] devotional practices and spiritual disciplines and instead be broadly comprehensive, reflecting balance in all aspects of [our] daily lives.”
3. Making room for life: Trading chaotic lifestyles for connected relationships, by Randy Frazee: In this book, I was most challenged by the idea of living according to what Frazee calls the “Hebrew Calendar,” in which all work takes place from 6am-6pm, followed by relational time (time connecting with family, etc.) from 6pm to 10pm and sleep from 10pm to 6am.
4. Deep Faith: Anabaptist Faith Formation for All Ages: I’ve been thinking about the upcoming conference at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in October. Deep Faith is advertised as a “practical conference designed to empower” leaders in the church for Anabaptist Faith Formation for the 21st century and is part of an exciting push by MC USA to help individuals, congregations, and conferences focus on Faith Formation. Read more about the conference.
5. Amish Friendship Bread and connections: A few weeks ago I received a bag of “Amish Friendship Bread” starter, resulting in a dozen little loaves of bread we took around to our neighbors. We’ve lived in our house for just a few weeks shy of a year and yet this was the first time we had met most of our neighbors. We were sharing out of our abundance, yet most people apologized profusely for not having anything to give in return (or for not being the ones to bring us a welcome gift). What would happen if we all took a few minutes to get outside and meet our neighbors? What if we worked on living intentionally in our neighborhoods? What if we intentionally worked to build connections and relationships with others?
*According to The CS Lewis Institute: A Rule of Life is “an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us.”