When your nonprofit job fails to live up to your expectationsCareer Corner https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/When-your-nonprofit-job-fails-to-live-up-to-your-expectationsWhen your nonprofit job fails to live up to your expectationsBy Carmen Hoober


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Keep an open mind—Interview with Service Adventure Alum Renee NeufeldAlumni Voiceshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Keep-an-open-mindKeep an open mind—Interview with Service Adventure Alum Renee NeufeldInterview with Renee Neufeld
Community: A place of belonging, sharing and loveSouth Koreahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Community-A-place-of-belonging,-sharing-and-loveCommunity: A place of belonging, sharing and loveBy Karen Spicher
Networking for introverts: 8 things to think aboutCareer Corner https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Networking-for-introverts-8-things-to-think-aboutNetworking for introverts: 8 things to think aboutBy Carmen Hobber
Reconciling the cloudsEcuadorhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Reconciling-the-cloudsReconciling the cloudsBy Jane Ross Richer
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Beginning young adulthood with servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Beginning-young-adulthood-with-serviceBeginning young adulthood with serviceBy Naomi Graber Leary<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">When people ask me about my time in Service Adventure, I've got my quick answer down pat: "I lived in Anchorage, Alaska, with a group of five young people ages 18-20 with a young adult leader sponsored by the local Mennonite church, Prince of Peace.  </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">I volunteered full-time with a Salvation Army homeless shelter for single fathers and two-parent families." Usually that fulfills any interest they had in my experience, but every once in a while, someone needs a further response.</span></p><p>"Actually, it wasn't as cold as you'd think!  The ocean keeps the temperature reasonably mild.  The dark and light seasons were far more dramatic."</p><p>"I chose Anchorage because it was the furthest away I could get without learning a new language, which I find valuable but extremely difficult."</p><p>I haven't found anyone that was so interested they asked me about how the experience shaped my later adulthood.  So when asked for a reflection, I unexpectedly found myself searching for words on a topic I typically find easy to talk about.</p><p>As I look back on my young adulthood, I think a lot of the selfishness of this time of life.  We are taught by society to focus on ourselves, on our education, on our career, on our growth.  Success is not defined by how you contribute generally, but how you end up.  As I look back at Service Adventure, I realize how far outside of this individual and selfish focus that experience was, and the paradox of how much I personally developed by focusing on things outside myself.</p><p>I wish I had a great story to encapsulate my meaning.  But I think the deeper truth is that the short, easily told story isn't the experience that changes you fundamentally.  I was able to learn what it meant to truly live in community because day in and day out I lived with people who had different preferences and made different choices than I did.  I was able to learn what service meant because even when it was cold and dark, I forced myself out of bed to work beside others for a cause I respected and supported.</p><p>So much of my life has been shaped by my own desires.  And I'm not so selfless that I regret that.   But I'm also deeply grateful that I chose to start my young adulthood by setting aside my own ambitions and goals to embrace the world around me.</p><p>I'm now on the other end of my young adulthood - married, steadily employed, and expecting a new baby.  As my life shifts away from focusing only on my own goals, and instead the future of my growing family, I see the promise ahead as well.  The promise lived out by our own Christ Jesus:<br></p><p>"Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus . . . who emptied himself of self . . . and being bound in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross."  Philippians 2:4-5, 7-8<br></p>
Transforming missionhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Transforming-missionTransforming missionLinda Oyer<p>​<span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">As I enter “retirement,” </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">instead of focusing on</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> the transformation I have seen </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">in others</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">’</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> lives, I</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">’ve been</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">reflect</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">ing</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> on </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">how </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">47 </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">years of ministry</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">in France</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> has transformed me.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Two words </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">emerge from my re</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">flections</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">:</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> mystery and diversity. </span></p><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><br></span></p><div><h3><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">E</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">mbracing t</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">he </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">mystery in God’s work</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></h3></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">When I first went to France in my mid-</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">20s</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, I encountered a story of an old priest who was asked to summarize all he had learned in a single phrase. The priest replied, “I have learned that I am not God and that God exists.”</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">“Well, that’s rather evident,” I thought. “I’m only 24 and I already know that! Why did it take him so long to figure that out</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">?</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">”  </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">But now, I find the priest’s words profound. They summarize well what I have learned.  </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">How often do we act as if </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">we </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">are</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">all knowing like God when</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">we become </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">adamant</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> that we are right and the other is wrong</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">?</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> What are we implying </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">when we attempt</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> to control o</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">thers</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> and </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">act </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">as if</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> everything depends on </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">us?</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">t t</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ook me a while to learn </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">that my </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">mission</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> wa</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">s </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">to </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">be attentive to and </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">discern what God is</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> doin</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">g in a</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">nother</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">’s life and to assist </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">that work</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">rather</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> than trying to bring about what I th</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ought</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> “should be</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">”</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> As a young missionary, I had a lot of precise ideas about what </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">“</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">should be</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">”</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">In time,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> I discovered that it is when we </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">are faced with</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">situations that we </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">cannot</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> contro</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">l </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">or even understand</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, that we are forced </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">to </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">sto</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">p acting as if we were Go</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">d. I</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">t is then </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">that the vir</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">tues of faith, love and hope can</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> truly</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> develop</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in us</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">God’s work cannot be boiled down to a process</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> or an assembly-line product</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">The mystery</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">prevents us from </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">put</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ting God’s work</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in a box and market</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ing</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> it with our name in bold letters</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">!</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"></span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><h3><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">God</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> the principle </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">actor</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></h3></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">n Mark 4</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">’s parable</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, the farmer is clueless about how the</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> growth</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> process took place. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Seeds are scattered on the </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ground</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">;</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> k</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ingdom values are</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> sown</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">d</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ifferent contexts. The seeds</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> gro</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">w as we go about our daily life. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">There is </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">no coaxing of growt</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">h, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">no pushing or pulling. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">We trust that </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">God is at work</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> deep beneath the surface of our lives</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">to bring about new creation</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">W</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">hen we become aware of the growth, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">it</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">remains</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> a mystery as to how it all happened!</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">  </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">We are</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">all </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">called to partner with God in scattering </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">k</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ingdom seeds</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> –</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">words and actions that bear witness to God’s reign and the new creation. Sometimes the seeds seem so insignificant: a listening ear, words of grace, concern for justice</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> or an act of compassion. The seeds seem so small compared to the resulting growth. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Though</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> w</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">hat we do and what we give </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">are</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> importan</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">t</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">we recognize that we are not the princip</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">le</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> actor. God is.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">  </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">In </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Vincent </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">van</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> Gogh</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">’s,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">The </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Sower</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">a lonely figure </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">is portrayed as</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> faithfully scatter</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ing</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> seeds in the soil. But </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">it is the </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">huge </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">s</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">un in the center</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">of</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">the </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">painting </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">that illuminates the sky and radiates light and energy. As we go about scattering seeds, we must not forget the life</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">-</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">giving S</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">o</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">n</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">a source of hope and joy in our lives and ministry.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"></span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><h3><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Embracing diversity in God’s church</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></h3></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">O</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ur </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">congregation of about 40 people </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">in </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Lamorlaye</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, a suburb of Paris,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">is a real mosaic. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">We have people</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> from</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">about a dozen countries.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">We are also diverse in our s</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">pirituality</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> the way we understand and live our relationship with God.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">S</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ome of us </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">place </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">considerable </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">accent</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> on</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> the Holy Spirit</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">’</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">s power and gifts in the church</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, as</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> does the book of Acts.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Others underline the necessity of working for social justice and caring for the</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> most vulnerable</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, as</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> does the Gospel of Luke.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> There are those who </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">put accent on a contemplative spirituality with </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">God who dwells </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">within </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">us, individually and as a community</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, as </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">does the Gospel of John.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Yet others stress a radical obedience to Christ’s teaching and the importance of living holy lives</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, as</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> does the Gospel of Matthew.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> Correct doctrine and fighting the good fight to defend the faith</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> are the focus </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">for</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> some </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">of </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">us, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">following</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> the apostle Paul</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">’s example.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p><p><span data-ccp-props="{}"><br></span></p></div><div><h3><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Relationship of unity and diversity</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></h3></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">During my church experience in France, I matured in the way I understood unity and diversity. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">At </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">first, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">had</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> a secret desire</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> that everyone should think like </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I did and relate to God like I did. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I wanted </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">u</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">nity </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">without </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">d</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">iversity.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> It seemed so</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> much easier and more peaceful</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> that way.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Later</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, I envisioned the c</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">hurch</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> as one body that</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> overc</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ame</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> the barriers of</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">diversity, u</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">nity</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> despite</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">d</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">iversity</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">However, I was still seeing d</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">iversity as a </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">thorn in the flesh</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> s</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">omething that hindered </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">u</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">nity.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I next moved</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> into </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">a more relaxed position</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> of </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">u</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">nity </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">in</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">d</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">iversity</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> and, finally, arrived at unity </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">through</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">diversity. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">O</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ur differences are</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> not something to be tolerated</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">. T</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">hey are</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> essential to the gr</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">owth of each person and the</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> community.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"></span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><h3><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">U</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">nity: a result of diversity</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></h3></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">When </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">b</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ake </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">a cake, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I don’t do it </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">despite</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">the</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">flour</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">or </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">despite</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> the eggs, but rather </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">through</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">or</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">as a result of</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">the combination of different ingredients. The final</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">,</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> delicious taste </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">comes from</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> the integration of all </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">the different </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ingredients.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">Our human tendency is to create unity by erasing differences. We try to transform the other into our </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">likeness</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> or</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> exclude the presence of the other w</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ho is different</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">culture</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">/</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">theology</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">/</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">spirituality</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">. We often fear differences </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">because th</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ey call </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">into questio</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">n </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">who we are</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">. </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">This can be destabilizing.  </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">However, w</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">hen God creates unity, it is </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">through</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> diversity.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> We see unity </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">through</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> diversity</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in God’s own nature, the one God in three persons. We see unity </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">through</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> diversity</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in the human body with the diverse organs and muscles</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> making human life possible. We see unity </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">through</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> diversity</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">The Bible</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">, o</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ne book</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> made up of </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">66</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> books with differ</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ent literary genres</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> and</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> very different authors in </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">different historical </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">contexts. The unity of the </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">b</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">iblical story</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> is composed </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">through </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">the dive</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">rsity of each story</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">. </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">It is </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">in </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">w</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">elcoming the streng</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ths of each form of diversity that</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> keeps the church balanced and </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">provides </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">checks </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">for </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">potential pitfalls inherent in each expressi</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">on</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">. We ne</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ed each other with our differences</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in order to grow into fuller Christ-likeness, into the “measure of the full stature of Christ” (Eph</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">esians</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> 4.13).</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">  </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p></div><div><p><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">I began my mi</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">ssion assignment</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in France preferring understanding, accomplishing, and </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">a certain</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> degree of uniformity</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> in the church</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">.</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> After nearly half of century of</span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US"> ministry, I </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">rejoice in </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">God’s </span><span data-contrast="auto" lang="EN-US">mystery and diversity.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p><p><span data-ccp-props="{}"><br></span></p><p><span data-ccp-props="{}"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2019/Linda-Louis.jpg?RenditionID=7" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><br></span></p><h4><span data-ccp-props="{}">Mission Network worker Linda Oyer and Louis Schweitzer lead a class on spiritual direction with Compagnons de Route (Companions on the Way).  Photo by Anne Schweitzer.<br></span></h4></div><div><span data-ccp-props="{}"><br></span></div><div><span data-ccp-props="{}"><img src="https://assets.mennonites.org/PublishingImages/2019/Oyer.jpg?RenditionID=7" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:555px;" /><br></span></div><h4><span data-ccp-props="{}">Linda Oyer, with Mennonite Mission Network in Paris, speaks at a women's leadership conference. Photo provided.<br></span></h4>
Integrity on the mindhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Integrity-on-the-mindIntegrity on the mindBy Emily Bergey<p></p><p>Last year, I took an English composition class. Toward the beginning of the class, I was assigned an essay with the writing prompt, "What trait do you want to cultivate this semester?" I chose integrity – and I have been thinking about cultivating integrity ever since that class. One of the dictionary definitions of integrity is “the quality of being honest; sincere.” I believe that integrity is very important to our faith. To keep our faith growing, we must be honest with ourselves and with God; in order to spread our faith, we must be honest with others. We must be sincere and able to admit that we don’t know everything – and able to move forward with that understanding.</p><p>I was continuing to think about all of these things while I was in Japan, and I observed integrity in many forms at Menno Village. I saw it in the sincerity of communication – the willingness and eagerness in our conversations, despite the language barrier and cultural differences. I saw it in the relationships between our hosts – they all treated each other with respect and extreme kindness and patience. I saw it in the purity of their farming, in the effort that all of our hosts put toward keeping everything as local and organic as possible. It was obvious, even after just the first day that we stayed there, that all of our hosts were extremely passionate about their work, and they seemed to have relationships with their customers that went beyond just selling their produce.</p><p>Another definition of integrity is “the state of being whole and undivided.” I saw this at Menno Village, especially in the community and willingness of the work being done. All of our hosts were so enthusiastic – even with the small things like potatoes. I especially saw this with Aki and her organic rice fields. I saw how passionate she was about keeping the fields weeded, and the wonderful attitude she had about it – even though weeding rice fields is a very long and difficult task. In prioritizing staying local and organic, I see Menno Village living out the "whole and undivided" definition of integrity. They seek to keep their crops growing as nature intended them to, and they are very purposeful about knowing who their customers are and where they come from. Menno Village creates community by being sure to stay connected with their customers and neighbors, and they keep the land whole by staying conscious about their effect on the environment. I want to thank Ray and Aki and the rest of Menno Village for giving me the opportunity to stay with them and learn a bit about Japan and the work that they do there.<br></p><p><br></p><p>**This post has been edited and was originally published on Emily's Youth Venture team <a href="https://yvjapan2018.wordpress.com/">blog</a>. To learn about this year's Youth Venture teams, <a href="/Serve/Youth%20Venture">click here</a>.<br></p><p></p><p><br></p>
Love crossing bordershttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Love-crossing-bordersLove crossing bordersBy Ann Jacobs<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">My parents were folks who demonstrated love to all.  </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Because they demonstrated love, it continues to live on in our family's lives. Through their love we were taught to welcome or acknowledge "the stranger." If we avoid strangers or even people we despise, we risk opportunity to witness Christ. As we reduce our speed, anxiousness, and hesitance, and draw near to our first love, God's love compels us to love others. Perhaps, God sets up these opportunities described in Leviticus 19:33-34: "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the </span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">Lord</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> your God."</span><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> </span></p><p>When Christians slow down to discover people who enter their path, we witness love crossing borders. I think these are opportunities to share the gospel. The following poem was considered in memory of my mother and father.  </p><blockquote style="margin:0px 0px 0px 40px;border:medium none;padding:0px;"><p><em>Give what's left of me away to children</em></p><p><em>And old folks that wait to die, and if you need to cry,</em></p><p><em>Cry for your brother and sister walking the street beside you.</em></p><p><em>And when you need me, put your arms around someone and give them what you need to give me.</em></p><p><em>I want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds. Look for me in the people I've known or loved, and if you cannot give me away, at least let me live in your eyes [heart] and not in your mind, you can love me most by letting hands touch hands, by letting bodies touch bodies, and by letting go of children that need to be free. Love doesn't die, [lost] people do. [You know where I am] So, when all that's left of me is love, give </em><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">me away [to those who need to find love].</em></p></blockquote><p><br></p><p>I was very close to both of my parents; them being missing from my life has shaped the need for me to give and receive love in important ways. This poem helped me to gain purpose and to continue in the legacy of my parents, while paying attention to others on the journey. The work of drawing others to Christ is something that is felt with our hearts and spirit and not always understood in the mind. As we respond to God's love, we are given a renewed sense of purpose, which leads us to victory – all the way to eternity.<br></p><p>People are influenced and shaped by their culture, community and environment. The many paths I cross can create challenges. These experiences encompass races, cultures, age differences, faith communities, systems, feminist and womanist circles of all races, then my own cultural diversity. Living with deep cultural differences requires the determination to be centered in the promises and truth of Scripture. The safe way to carry intercultural relations is to embrace the Spirit of God's love, and desire that love to flow out to others. Galatians 5:22 says, "Let's not fail in the commandment to love, because nothing can escape God's deep permeating love." That subverts borders.<br></p>
Life’s mission questioned, transformedhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/Life’s-mission-questioned,-transformedLife’s mission questioned, transformedBy Steve Wiebe-Johnson<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">After I took an African Literature course, I had a 19-year-old's arrogance to think I could be of use in Africa. I went to Paris, France, for language study in preparation for a Mennonite Central Committee assignment in Chad. But then war broke out. </span></p><p>I became acquainted with students at Foyer Grebel. This hostel for Africans studying in France was a ministry of Mennonite Board of Missions (MBM), a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network. So instead of going to Chad, I worked at the hostel where I was humbled by these brilliant young men who spoke multiple languages. They succeeded under difficult conditions. I had the advantages of privilege as a White American. At the end of my assignment, my student friends encouraged me to go back to the United States and finish university, to get some skills before I presumed I had anything to offer in the African context.  <br></p><p>The Foyer Grebel experience taught me the importance of being relevant in mission, the value of invitation from local partners, to recognize that God is already at work preparing people in whatever context a mission worker may enter, and that effective ministry is grounded in understanding the context in which one lives. These students came from many different situations. There were many commonalities in their stories, but there was not a "single narrative."<br></p><p>Following my time in Paris, I dedicated myself to studying and received degrees in philosophy, international development, a master's in divinity, and did research on new religious movements. While these studies helped to broaden my perspective, I remained focused on what I had to offer.<br></p><p>In July 1989, two months before heading to Liberia to begin an assignment with MBM, I participated in a conference on "Ministry in Partnership with African Independent Churches" held in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). I presented a relatively modest paper about Mennonite objectives in Liberia. <br></p><p>After he listened to my paper, Charles Kudzerema, a pastor from Zimbabwe and a national leader in Zion Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, said he was already doing much of what we wanted to do in Liberia. Kudzerema acknowledged the benefit that I had received from my extensive education. He said that his passion for teaching and leadership training would be more fruitful if he were given similar opportunities.  <br></p><p>Kudzerema took issue with mission agencies pouring all kinds of resources into the training of people from outside of Africa to work in Africa. He said, "Why not give the same opportunities to Africans?"<br></p><p>After a decade of awareness-raising that began with the Foyer Grebel students, I was "ripe" for Kudzerema's challenge. This epiphany helped to ground the work I've done for the past 30 years in listening to African partners and their desires for training. <br></p><p>His words constantly remind me that I needed to take a back seat so that African leaders can fulfill their God-given calling. As Mission Network's Africa director, I hear Kudzerema's question each time I make a decision. "Are you willing to put the same kind of investment into African leaders as your organization has put into your education?"<br></p>
The advice you didn’t ask for, but I’m giving anywayhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/The-advice-you-didn't-ask-forThe advice you didn’t ask for, but I’m giving anywayBy Carmen Hoober<p>​<span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">It's February and it seems to me this is the month when (like it or not) the world turns its focus to romantic relationships. Whether you're in a relationship, want to be in a relationship, getting over a relationship, or avoiding them completely, everyone seems to have something to say about them.</span></p><p>It occurred to me, though, that most of the literature you find on career and professional development tends to cover stuff like how to network, how to write a resume, how to handle conflict with a coworker, how to ask for a promotion, etc. Unless it's debating the pros and cons of dating a coworker, rarely do you get relationship advice from a career perspective, which is unfortunate because YOUR CAREER WILL NOT HAPPEN IN A VACUUM. It just won't. </p><p>I want to make sure to emphasize that marriage and family are not/should not be the ultimate goal for everyone. I love Elisabeth Eliot's quote: "Singleness ought not to be viewed as a problem, nor marriage as a right. God in his wisdom and love grants either as a gift." In the context of career conversations, however, we ought not to be remiss in intentionally addressing how linking yourself in a lifetime partnership with another human being will impact your career. In fact, one of the most career-impacting decisions you will ever make is who you marry. And, as they say, the best time to work on your marriage is before you have one.</p><p>According to Dr. Meg Jay, author of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Defining-Decade-Your-Twenties-Matter-ebook/dp/B005SCSCAU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1548706687&sr=1-1&keywords=the+defining+decade+by+meg+jay"><em>The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them</em></a>: </p><p>Young Americans do marry later than their parents did—on average about five years later—and this statistic especially holds true in urban areas. But the United States is still the most marrying nation in the Western world. About 50 percent of Americans marry by age 30, 75 percent by the age of 35, and 85 percent by the age of 40. Even though marriage may seem almost irrelevant, most 20-somethings—male or female, gay or straight—will be married or partnered within about 10 years' time.</p><p>So here are four things to consider if you find yourself at the intersection of Career and Marriage, or maybe just visiting the neighborhood. If you are currently in a relationship, you probably already have some data, which is great. If not, then these are things to pay attention to as you consider what is important to you in a future partner.</p><p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><br></strong></p><h3>How supportive is this person of my career right now? How have they shown me their support?</h3><p>The spark or connection might be there, but is this someone with whom you want to talk about your job? Do they have good insights into your work or your day-to-day challenges? Is this person <em>interested</em> in what you do when you're apart? Are they <em>excited</em> for you to reach goals and willing to support you? Financially? Emotionally? What are the limits of that support?<br></p><p>Fast forward seven years: You're married and have a baby. You both are working full-time in jobs you enjoy, although one of you makes a decent amount more than the other. The baby gets sick and thus can't go to child care. How do you decide who uses sick time to stay home and take care of Junior? How do you keep this dilemma from becoming a case of "whose job is most important?" </p><p><strong style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"><br></strong></p><h3>How much am I willing to bend my own goals or sacrifice to support my partner's career goals? How open am I to changes in direction?</h3><p>This is tough stuff – especially for women, who have traditionally been the ones to do most of the sacrificing . . . for a myriad of reasons. When you are in the first flush of love, the strong emotions you have for a person allow you to stretch beyond what you might have previously desired. Such is the beauty and life-altering power of love (and <a href="https://www.today.com/health/truly-madly-deeply-how-love-makes-you-sick-1C9413697">dopamine</a>). <br></p><p>But just like a rubber band stretches and then contracts, so can our expectations once that first flush recedes (and it will). Science generally agrees that the "Passionate" or "Infatuation" stage of love can last up to two years. As those chemicals in your brain diminish and are gradually replaced by what scientists think of as a more realistic or "Companionate" love, you may not feel as open to sacrificing as you were before. There will be times when life throws you a curveball. Are you willing to move to another city for your partner to pursue an education or take a new job? How do you define "partnership?" </p><h3><br></h3><h3>How does this person's feelings/philosophy around having and rearing children blend with mine?</h3><p>You guys, marriage is hard. And parenting is HARDER. Even beyond the years of nighttime feedings and potty training, the road will never be completely smooth. As the saying goes, "Little people, little problems; big people, bigger problems." Once a relationship becomes serious, this is probably the first conversation that should happen. What are this person's hopes and dreams for having children? How many, if any? How long do you wait? Does someone long to be a stay-at-home-parent? Does someone long for the <em>other</em> person to be a stay-at-home-parent? What about discipline styles? How much importance do you place on passing on your faith and spiritual values? How do you each <em>imagine</em> yourselves parenting? Are you open to adoption? Fostering? </p><p>When communication breaks down (or never happens) regarding expectations about children, heartbreak is likely to follow. Our hurting world bears witness to this tragedy, and many of us are still healing from these childhood wounds as we step into the next season of life.  </p><p>Speaking from experience, I knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom while my children were young, and I knew that finding a partner that understood this value and supported it was important to me. I also knew that there might be reasons that I would either want or need to continue working after having children and I was OK being flexible. Sometimes <a href="/blog/Coming-to-terms-with-the-road-not-taken-">I question my choice to stay at home</a>, but I am ALWAYS glad that these were things we talked about before we said "I do." </p><p>Finally, I can't leave this subject without saying that no matter how egalitarian and modern you hope your marriage to be, it is FASCINATING how, quicker than you can say "flux capacitor," the arrival of children can send your relationship dynamic back to the 1950s. I wish this was just anecdotal, but, unfortunately, the <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01330/full">research</a> also bears it out. </p><h3><br></h3><h3>What are each of our values around money? Are they compatible?</h3><p>It's worth it to figure out what "success" looks like to each person in a relationship. Or maybe forget about "success" – figure out how each of you defines "normal." It's probably no surprise to anyone that <a href="https://couplestherapyinc.com/5-money-problems-in-a-marriage-top-predictors-of-divorce/">money</a> is one of the greatest contributors to conflict and divorce.</p><p>How do you envision handling finances as a couple? Is there a spender and a saver? How will you decide who pays what bills? There are many resources for couples to get a grip on their finances. <a href="https://www.daveramsey.com/fpu#in-progress=0">Financial Peace University</a> was something we did early on in our marriage that was helpful in starting conversations. <br></p><p><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">For what it's worth, the best relationship advice I ever received was something along the lines of: "Don't lose sight of who </span><em style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;">you</em><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;"> are." This advice speaks into every corner of my life – as a mother, daughter, friend, employee, and life partner. In his beautiful poem, </span><a href="https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/148576/on-marriage-5bff1692a81b0" style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;font-style:inherit;">On Marriage</a><span style="font-size:1.4rem;background-color:transparent;color:inherit;font-style:inherit;">, Khalil Gibran counsels, "Let there be spaces in your togetherness/and let the winds of heaven dance between you." It is my hope for whomever might read this that, in addition to a paycheck, your career would also be a blessing to your relationship, and that your partner might see the fullness of who you are through the work you are called to do. </span><br></p>



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