Saturday, June 19, 2010

Q&A - Mennonites

Debbie asked a question in the comments the other week that I thought I'd answer in a post. Maybe more of you readers have had similar questions.

"I have been reading your blog over a year now. Love it so much. I am just curious. I live in East Tennessee and the Mennonite community in this area have no electricity and use horse and buggy for transportation. What is the difference in the different ways of life for a Mennonite? I love your lifestyle and I think this whole Homestead lifestyle has been taken from how the Mennonites live their lives. If you would, sometime in your post would you explain this to those of us who are unfamiliar? I love learning about other lifestyles and people." - Debbie

First, thanks for sticking around so long, Debbie! I didn't know that I had any readers (besides my mom and my husband) that have been reading this blog for a whole year!

I hesitate to use the word "Mennonite" to describe myself. I would much rather be known as a Christian, a Christ-follower and a Child of God then by any particular church denomination name. I chose to include "Mennonite" in my profile description because I often am curious when reading other lady's blogs about their beliefs.

As Debbie alluded, there is a huge difference in various Mennonite churches. Some, like Debbie's neighbors, avoid modern technologies such as electricity and motor vehicles. At the other extreme are Mennonites who are indistinguishable in appearance from the world around them. Obviously, since I'm using a computer, I don't fit in the first group. I'll try to share briefly what we do believe and practice.

I am first of all a Christian and my desire and goal is to follow Christ and the New Testament Scriptures as closely as possible. In many ways, our beliefs, as Mennonites, are similar to other Protestant believers. We believe that the Bible is God's Word and without error (2 Timothy 3:16). We believe that God created a perfect world (Genesis 1:1), that sin entered the world through the choice of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12), and since then all humans have sinned, including me (Romans 3:23). My sin separates me from God and results in death (Romans 6:23) but God through His love and mercy sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for my sin (Romans 5:8).

I will highlight a few of the New Testament commands that affect some of the decisions we have made that may set us apart from other Christian churches. Please, in no way take this as judgment against any other Christians, but only an explanation of our choices. None of these things are an attempt to gain us salvation or pardon from our sin. Jesus' death completely fulfilled God's demands. My only goal is to be obedient to God and the Bible out of love for my Lord and Saviour.

Some of our specific beliefs and practices include the following:  I wear a covering on my head as a symbol of God's order of headship (1 Corinthians 11:5). Because of Jesus' command to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44), we do not join the armed forces or retaliate in other ways such as going to court. For the purpose of modesty and to not follow the world's idea of fashion (1 Timothy 2:9-10), I wear a cape style dress. While we do have electricity, cars, and computers, we avoid the world's entertainment (Romans 11:2) and do not have television or radio, watch movies, or follow professional sports.

When many people think of Mennonites, they conjure up a picture of a large family working together on a farm and selling baked goods at the end of the lane. Maybe I've contributed to that vision by writing about my chickens, garden, and bread baking. But, in a way, that view of Mennonites makes me sad. The Bible says Christians are to be known for their love for each other, not for their pie baking skills.

Maybe Mennonites have gained the reputation as "homesteaders" because often they have lived in rural areas. With the desire of raising a Godly family, many men wish to work with their families in home businesses. In areas such as Lancaster County, PA and Holmes County, OH the tourism industry has given many families the opportunity to support their family by raising produce and selling baked goods.

But while I believe the country life is a great lifestyle and a wonderful place to raise a family, I also know Godly Mennonite families who are raising their children in city settings. In our congregation, we have only two farmers. Many of the ladies in our church have a garden but some choose not to garden because of location, time or desire. Many of us sew since it is quite difficult to find modest dresses at the shopping mall. But knowing how to can, sew, or grow green beans are not commanded in Scripture and in no way required to be part of our congregation!


Just for a little personal history, I did not grow up in a Mennonite church. My family was part of a Brethren congregation that is in many ways similar to the Mennonites. When I married my husband, we made the decision to make his Mennonite church, our church home. At the time it seemed like a difficult move but almost eight years later, I do not regret the decision.

I hope I've answered some of your questions. I have no interest in starting a debate but please feel free to comment or email me if I have been unclear or if you have more questions. For more information on the web, visit Anabaptist.org

My desire is that each of us would grow more like the Lord Jesus Christ and that in this small corner of the web you will see the light of Christ.

123 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing this with us Gina :) I now realize I didn't know very much about Mennonite beliefs and lifestyles. It was wonderful to learn about my fellow Christians.

    Have a blessed day :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a wonderful, humble but concise post. I so appreciate your kind spirit and your explanation of some questions I've had personally. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. great post! you did a wonderful job explaining your beliefs.
    Love your blog. keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hmmm, I am neither your husband or your mother, and am still reading your blog, too, for more than a year. :-) Might have something to do with the fact that I knew you before we knew of blogs! ;-) Thanks for sharing!

    Blessings,
    Eunice

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post and thanks for sharing. I just found your blog a couple weeks ago and love reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That was a wonderful post and I hope it helps a lot of people. I have been covering and wearing very modest clothing for about 3 years now. Some of my friends still don't understand why I believe as I do. I think a lot of it comes from churches that ignore teaching about covering. In fact, I am the only one in my church that does cover!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so blessed to have found your blog just this morning. I am also a headcovering Christian, and I dress modestly and plainly. I love so many things about the conservative Mennonite lifestyle, and am seeking, by God's grace, to follow these principles in my own life, even though it involves standing alone. God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello I appreciated your post.I have often wondered what exactly Mennonites believe.We are Baptist and we think of a womans long hair as her covering.:)I must say...I love the modest cape style dresses.Thank you again for the post.I have been following you for awhile and enjoying my visits.~Nikki

    ReplyDelete
  9. I too have been following your blog for nearly a year. Our daughter had been looking online for a recipe for Zucchini Bread to make for her family. Yours was such a hit that she told me about it last summer after she made it...so I made some too.

    I appreciated your clearly presented 'testimony' regarding what you believe. Thanks for posting the Scripture. I have a Mennonite heritage...I remember my Dad's Mother always had her Bible open on the dining room table and God's Word written on her heart.

    Thanks for sharing about life with your family! You are truly blessed, and so are we, when we read your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for sharing this today! I think it is a beautiful thing to reach out to other believers in the family of God in a way that helps us understand one another. It only proves that though we may have differences, we are very much the same and have the same goals in this walk of faith. Thanks again for sharing - I enjoyed learning from you!

    XO,
    Pam

    ReplyDelete
  11. Gina, thank you so much, for your reply to my question. I worked for 30 years for the Department of Human Services and retired in 2008, due to health issues. I began reading your blog since I first retired. Through reading blogs like yours I feel as though I have grown closer to My Christ and his teachings. You are such an inspiration to all of us who follow you regularly. What a blessing you have been to me.
    Your sister in Christ.
    Debbie in East TN.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow! It was nice to read your testimony, and it actually had the word 'brethren' in it! ( That would probably only warm the hearts of people like me.)I get asked a lot of questions and sometimes don't even know where to begin with answers. You gave a good 'nutshell' explanation of your beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart about your beliefs. I am also one to be curious about the differences in other ladies beliefs, but haven't been sure how to ask. I appreciate that your desire is to keep Christ as the center of your focus, and not just the baking, sewing and other details of our lives as women. If it is alright with you, I actually had some questions about modesty that I would like to ask sometime.
    Thanks!

    p.s. The new look of the blog is lovely. I just want to take a bite!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love this post! We worshipped at the Mennonite church down the road from us for a few years until we felt led to move to a different faith. We still stop in once in a while because we do like the Mennonite faith. The neighborhood church is quite a bit more modern, and I think you would be surprised to see their style of worship. But they love the same Jesus, and that's what really matters.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks so much, ladies, for your kind encouraging words. This post sat on the computer for several weeks before I finally had the courage to hit "send". I wasn't sure the reaction it would receive. I should have known that you all would be gracious!

    And Jeni, feel free to ask any question, either in the comments, or by email. (walkingbymyside@ gmail. com)

    Blessings, Gina

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Gina,
    I love the new look. I have been reading your blog for a long time. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have always felt a connection with the amish/mennonites. The way I dress and act I am often if I am plain.
    I look forward to many more wonderful post by you.
    Blessings,
    Elizabeth Quigley

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a blessing to such a sweet explanation of your beliefs and church family. Having a family of believers is so important.

    There are many folks out there who are "homesteading" to "save the earth" or "store food for the coming disaster". Though it is important to be good stewards of the things God has given us, saving the earth is not on my mind when planting or harvesting.

    We don't have little ones here now, but I do have a grandson who will be coming for a visit this summer from the big city. We are happy to have him come and experience the "farm" life.

    Truth is, we very much enjoy living this way. I thank the Lord every time the garden is planted and things grow and produce food. I am blessed when our little hen has chicks hiding under her wings and am reminded of our Father's protection.

    I know that farming isn't for everyone, but it is the life God has chosen for me and this wonderful man who loves farm life as much as I do.

    We also are members of a wonderful body of believers who we can fellowship with and serve the Lord by serving one another. I am able to teach Sunday School and use the gifts the Lord has given me.

    We are blessed.

    Your blog is a real joy to read and I have learned many things. I especially enjoyed the series on bread baking. We bake bread every week because my husband is not able to eat store bread due to food allergies. I have tried lots of the recipes you shared and talked about. It is nice to have someone to share with who has some of the same interests.

    Even though I work full time, have no children at home and probably am old enough to be your mom, it has been fun to share many of the same experiences with you. Some of my good friends are enjoying your blog now too. The community sure is growing.

    If I could wish it to be, I wish we all lived closer together. Well, someday we will :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I think it is just a wonderful post! It is so refreshing to find other women who are seeking Christ and a Christ-like life with all their heart. Technology and all the "worldly" things online can be very discouraging and just plain nasty sometimes. You have chosen to use it to bless others. Thank you for that - I love your blog too!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Excellent post! I am also a NBM (Non-Mennonite background)My church before marriage also had brethren roots but as a church we were unrecognizable outwardly from the world around us.

    We bacame part of the conservative Mennonites almost ten years ago. I am so thankful we did and and grateful for the Godly influence for our children.

    What I love about this psot is your Christ-centered answer. It's so easy to just say, "These are our church standards..." When I first began my journey into things like the head covering, I often asked other women why they wore one and was almost never givena solid Biblical answer just cultural reasons.
    I too love to garden, eat seasonaly, bake and can etc... I think it is a much better way to raise children but your bring out a good point - These life skills are not the means by which we are saved.
    My blog is private just because we needed to protect an orphan that we cared for overseas but you are welcome o visit if you want too. We live in East Earl so not too far from you.
    Blessings in Jesus - Oh, I have been reading for a long time too but rarely comment.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Dear Family,

    God bless your family. so long as we have a such family with yours, the christian values can survive. our family are like "little churchs" in middle of the decaying society. Jocelin

    ReplyDelete
  21. Gina,
    This is a beautiful post. I am so happy you shared!! I am asked often about why we live like we do, and even with scripture I am never so graceful as you were in this post. :) Thanks so much for this. I hope to model your humble attitude and graceful answer in my future when asked about our beliefs. It is also strange for so many who have known us in past as we have no plain background whatsoever. These changes are very strange to many, but it is sisters such as yourself that have made my transitions to plain living much easier. Can't wait to read more! :)--S

    ReplyDelete
  22. I just found your blog when I googled how to make nursing pads! I live in Canada, and we stay at the Ronald McDonald house quite often with our 4 children. On weekends there are normally Mennonite families doing the "supervision" and they do all the "house" baking for the week, and it is AMAZING! Not to mention all home grown!
    I have often wondered about the Mennonite faith; being Catholic all my life I like visiting other churches, and see what the differences and similarities are between them and the Catholic faith. I thank you for sharing this post with us all.
    Megan

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a wonderful post! I found your website this evening while looking for a delicious zuchinni bread recipe, and found much, much more. Thank you for shining some light on your beliefs, as I an another Christian, but had no idea about the Mennonite way of life. I have to say, I truly appreciate the simplicity and dedication that you live by. I will continue to read your blog, and look forward to whats to come! Thank you and have a blessed evening!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for you heart felt testimony of your faith. To those of us that share faith in our savior and God, You bring us much needed strength and inspiration. You have uplifted my spirit when I was feeling down. You are a blessing, God bless you. Sharon

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dear Gina, What a beautiful life and full of God and family. That is what is missing in our family is the closeness of extended family, I am lonely for women friends and being able to share my faith with like minded people. I recently found your blog site as I was looking for a recipe for Meadow Tea. I ended up ordering Davidsons Tea Spearmint Leaves at Amazon because I don't have an herb garden. Hope it makes good Meadow Tea as promised. I also plan to try some of the delicious looking recipes you have posted. I have been a homemaker for 47 years and I appreciate your website very much. Gods Blessings to all, Mrs. D

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love looking at the pictures of your family getting together to build a wood shed, make apple cider, butcher a cow. I've always wanted to be part of a community where people work together toward the well being of everyone. When people work together like this it becomes both a way to connect and an equalizer...it doesn't matter if you're a doctor or a farmer or a homeless person, everyone works together as equals to the benefit of all. How does a person become a Mennonite? Can someone just show up at a church service and become a member, or do you have to be born into the church?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carin-
      Thanks for visiting! And for your questions. You do not have to be born in the Mennonite church. I wasn't myself! You are always welcome to visit a Mennonite church, though the requirements for membership will vary depending upon the congregation.

      Thanks,
      Gina

      Delete
  27. Thank you for sharing this! I have learned a lot about the your faith from your post! God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I've recently found your blog and I've enjoyed reading some of your older posts too. This one particularly interested me. Our family belongs to a non-denominational Christian church. I've been wearing a headcovering for almost a year, having been convicted through study and promptings of the Holy Spirit to wear one. I'm the only person that I know who covers. I also wear modest dresses. These two things set me apart from most women I know and sometimes feels awkward. I know that I'm doing what I feel I should, but others seem to feel somewhat threatened by it. I've tried very hard to not appear to be judgemental but I am often chastised by other women in my church for possibly scaring people away from the church with my seeming "legalism" in my dress. How I wish to be with other women of like mind for even an afternoon.

    Thank you for the glimpse into your world.

    Blessings,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betsy-
      Thanks so much for writing. How my heart goes out to those of you who do not have much fellowship in dressing the way you feel God is calling you to. I'd love to chat more if you want to email me!

      Blessings,
      Gina

      Delete
    2. Betsy,

      My heart goes out to you too! I know exactly how you feel. I started covering my head about 2 years ago. When I got saved, I remember reading that passage in 1 Corinthians, and looking around at the other godly women I know and wondering why they don't cover their heads. Why is it not taught in most protestant churches? I was afraid of standing out so I didn't do it, and then a year or so later I felt such a strong conviction from the Holy Spirit to do it. I started wearing dresses, and now I wear the cape dresses because it makes it so much easier for me to get dressed in the morning! :-P I do believe there are other ways to dress modestly, but for me, this is the simplest and the way I like best.
      I also struggle with seeming to be legalistic...especially when other Christian women ask me why I do it. I point to the scripture and talk about my conviction, while still making it clear that the head covering doesn't affect my salvation which comes only through the blood of Christ. But I still found it to be a struggle at my home church because I almost felt like the other Christians in my church were witnessing to me when they talked to me...like I'd walked further away from God and closer to a salvation by works teaching, which is so far from the truth! But that's how many people in that congregation feel about the mennonites. I fear it's because mennonites are known for their simple lives and not for their love, as Gina posted above. It breaks my heart.
      I also feel for you because I stand alone in my family, the town in which I live, and among my friends. It's been hard, but I believe completely that it's what God wants me to do.
      Blessings to you!
      Kathryn

      Delete
  29. My wife enjoys your writings here. We live in Fargo ND and there are no Mennonite communities within 90 minutes, but we are trying to make friends with them when we see them while shopping, etc. Thank you for your work here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are mennonites in South Fargo just off of 52nd Ave

      Delete
  30. I think you did an excellent job of summing up your faith. I know it can be difficult, as a member of the LDS (Mormon) church I often find myself having to clarify things for people and it can be difficult at times. I can't tell you how many times I have had to tell people that we do not practice polygamy. I feel sad for those that don't have a faith in God and Christ and find it all too often. My life in complete because of my faith, it gives me great joy.

    I have just found your blog but have become a follower. Living in southern California there aren't very many people that do much baking from scratch or canning. I love to do both as well as cook and look forward to reading more of your experiences. You have a lovely family and I thank you for sharing a small part of yourself with us.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Gina. Just found your website. I have spent a while just cruising around your site. I really have enjoyed reading your comments because I also love to grind my own wheat and cook from scratch! I too am a christian, and a minister's wife. I have a friend who left our church and went to another denomination where she now has a head covering. (We don't practice that.) My question is, why do women who have head coverings also wear a bun? Can't your head be covered and not in a bun? This whole thing is a mystery to me. With a bun, your hair can be fairly short. With it down or even in a pony tail, you can tell that someone did not cut their hair. Not that this is an important question, I have just always wondered because it is always this way. My hair is very long, and I have always enjoyed long hair, and both my girls have very long hair too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie-
      Thanks so much for writing! You asked a very good question. There is probably various reasons why ladies who wear a covering usually put their hair in a bun. For me, it is much easier to deal with long hair when it is pinned up and out of my way. I have observed the women who wear a covering with their hair hanging, often cut their hair so that it is more manageable. Also if long hair is a woman's glory - and I have found that having very long hair does attract attention and comments - then it seems right to cover our glory so that God can receive the glory and not me.

      I hope that makes sense!
      Blessings, Gina

      Delete
  32. i just found your site, and i absolutely love it. i also appreciate your love for GOD, its refreshing not to find a website either making fun of GOD, or denying him altogether. Most are too worried about being PC then being GC, God loving and Christian! I was raised in the city, by a Pennsylvania Mountain woman. i learned the value of family, and to worship the Lord, and to value nature. Hubby and i are trying to get into homesteading, and im making it work little by little. ive been making my own laundry supplies and cleaning supplies for 3 years now, and making more meals from fresh foods instead of processed packages. This year i am beginning my garden, and have almost convinced hubby we need to try aquaponics! I love country, and i love homesteading, and i love finding GOD everywhere i go! Bless you and your family, keep up the good work! Sophia

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi! I just found your blog while searching for Bread Recipes. :) I actually grew up Brethren too! You guys look like a very sweet family and I will enjoy reading your updates. :)

    www.ivyminich.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. Very good. I also grew up Brethren, but moved more to the Reformed end of the spectrum as I grew older and studied the Word more. Now we're members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I do wish they would take head covering seriously, but they do at least respect my wife's decision to maintain the Biblical command in that area. In other matters, they're much more serious than most denominations and take the Holiness and Justice of God to heart, as well as being quite versed in the history of our Faith.

    I've always had a great appreciation for the non-worldly lifestyle Mennonites embrace. Thank you for sharing more.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Just found your site, excellent content, thank you very much for such for sharing.... blessings

    ReplyDelete
  36. I came across your site while I was searching for an apple crisp recipe that I could can. Thank you so much for your recipe. My bottles turned out great! Thank you also for writing about your religious beliefs. I love learning about different religions. I was surprised to see how many beliefs are shared by the Mennonites and members of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormons). We too are Christians who believe we are children of God, and who try to show our love to Heavenly Father through obedience to His commandments and service to others. We believe that through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can receive forgiveness when we repent. We also believe in the enabling power of the atonement, which strengthens us to do and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity. Like you, we have unpaid, lay ministry in our church. Both men and women serve in leadership positions in different organizations of our church, and are called by God to serve for a time in one position, and then after a time in a different position. A man may be called to serve as the bishop of a congregation, and then later be called to serve as a teacher for the 4-year-old children. There is no climbing the ladder or applying for positions in our church; we all serve where we are needed and called by God. I loved reading about the way your husband was called as the minister, and I admire both of you for your faith and willingness to serve. You are an inspiration to many, I'm sure! Like you and your husband, we rely on the enabling power of the atonement to help us accomplish the Lord's work. Like the Mennonites, we believe in being modest in our dress and appearance. We believe that our bodies are gifts from our Heavenly Father and that they are the temples that house our spirits. So, in order to show reverence and respect for God and our bodies, we believe in good grooming and in modest dress. Like the Mennonites, we believe in hard work and industry, and in the ability to be self-sufficient so that we may lift and help others. Although we listen to the radio, watch movies and TV and use the internet, we are carefully selective in what we watch and listen to, choosing only media that is uplifting, educational and conducive to the Spirit and to our relationships with others. Like Mennonites, we believe in strong families. We believe that the family is ordained of God and that happiness in family life is most likely achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I loved seeing the pictures of your family! Your kids are beautiful and your dedication to your family is inspiring! I would love to read more about your beliefs, and look forward to future posts (and recipes!) on your site. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I have just found your site in really interested in the Mennonite beliefs in nervous though because I'm a divorced dad of 4 and have 3 tattoos. There id a Mennonite church down the road from me not sure if I can just walk in or if that would be disrespectful if u could give me advice on where to go from here I would be very grateful. God bless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't speak for every Mennonite church but our church and the other Mennonite churches that I am familiar with would welcome anyone, including you, to visit our church. We don't expect you to be dressed a particular way to come and visit. So please do!
      Gina

      Delete
  38. When do the your little girls start to wear headcoverings?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It varies but usually when the young lady makes a commitment to Christ - often between age 12-15 - but sometimes younger or older.
      Gina

      Delete
  39. Hello there Gina, I have a couple of questions. What do you guys do in regards to technology for your children? Do you/will you permit them to have cell phones, Internet accounts, etc? Obviously you use Internet to write this blog, but will your children be allowed to do this?

    Also, do your daughters all wear cape dresses? Because in some pictures it looks like they're not, instead wearing a blouse or something with an apron over it. Just wondering how flexible you are...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark-
      At this point our children do not have cell phones or internet accounts because they are still young. I expect as they are grow older they will have these things - though we will carefully watch their involvement in technology for their safety.

      My daughters dress modestly in dresses or jumpers - but do not wear a cape dress. We will allow them to make their own decision to wear a cape dress and head covering as they get older. This is not something we will force upon them.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. Mark-
      By the way, my husband was trying to email you but wasn't getting through. Could you email him with another email address or way to contact you?
      Thanks,
      Gina

      Delete
    3. I had to delete my email account because my parents didn't want me to have it anymore. They said it was too distracting. Perhaps he could reply here...?

      Just out of curiosity, what will you allow your kids to do online? There are some Mennonite kids who live not far from me and they're not allowed to use any computers or Internet at all...

      Delete
    4. I guess that is a question we will have to face in the future. With the internet changing so much, what we will be doing online five years from now is only a guess. So it is hard to say what we will or will not allow our children to do.
      Gina

      Delete
  40. Hi Gina,

    Last Sunday my wife and I joined a Mennonite church. We are currently beginning the process of transistioning our children to the new environment and culture of the church. One issue we're facing is with our children's technology use. We'd like to keep them off of the Internet, but my oldest son and daughter are quite addicted to it (my son spends a *ton* of time on his Xbox) and we'd like to get them off it, preferably for good. I'm not sure how to go about doing so, and I'm hoping that you or your husband might be able to give us advice.

    Secondly, my oldest two children have iPhones. I like that they have them, as it allows us to keep in touch more easily, but none of the other children in the church have them, and I'm afraid that the phones might make my kids unique from the others in the church and make them prideful or hinder their transition. I'm not sure what to do. What do you recommend?

    Thanks in advance for answering, and I hope to hear from you soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard
      This is Gina's husband, Ed. I hardly know how to answer this question as it involves the will of several different people, especially your children. How do your children feel about the changes you as parents have made in your life? Are they open to these changes or is there resistance?
      To be quite honest, we have some important decisions to face in our home about appropriate technology use by our children. I believe this requires much discernment and prayer on the part of parents.
      If you would like to discuss this more, feel free to email us directly at walkingbymyside@gmail.com
      Ed

      Delete
    2. Hello Ed, I actually can't respond via email, as I'm trying to rely on it less. I think it's becoming a distraction in my life.

      My children are open to these changes, mostly. They are resistant (my daughter, for example, doesn't like how the church asks women to dress) but they will learn over time that this is a good thing.

      I know you haven't decided what you'll do for your own children, but could you give me some advice? My oldest two children are both teenagers, and I'm struggling to find ways to get them to understand that we're moving away from technology.

      Any advice would be appreciated. ~ Richard

      Delete
    3. Richard

      As a Mennonite myself I had these same issues with my two sons. Both of them were addicted to the computer, video games (in our case, the PlayStation) and movies. Like you, I wanted them to not focus so much on these things. After praying about it, these were the steps we took:

      - We took away the smartphones and got them simple Tracphones instead; they can only call and text, not go online. This helped immensely with the transition.
      - They could not go online on the PlayStation and could only play E-rated games that I approved of (it was mostly sports games like FIFA Soccer which survived the cut). I capped the games to 3 hours or less a week and no more than an hour per day.
      - No media, electronic devices, etc. on Sunday or holidays
      - No movies or TV shows in theaters, on TV or at friends' houses
      - They could not use the computer unless I personally sat next to them and monitored them

      Keep in mind that steps alone won't do anything. You need to talk it over with your kids, explain what and why you are doing these things and most importantly pray about it. You don't need to do the same things that I did, but it's an example for you.

      Hope this helps, pray on it and God bless you!

      Delete
  41. Dear Gina, Could you please elaborate a little bit for me on the topic of conversation you mentioned in your writing. The sentence you wrote: "At the time it seemed like a difficult move but almost eight years later"... What made it seem like a difficult move? You had earlier mentioned the church you grew up in was similar. So I'd so appreciate if you could list some things for me that made that made you feel like it was a difficult move. And my second question is, at eight years later, is that how long it took you to transition? or to feel like you are now transitioned finally? Thank you for answering my questions. We are currently looking at joining the Conservative Mennonite Church where we live. We lived very conservative already for 30 years, so you sound so similar to us, I appreciate what you honestly shared in your writing. And just had those two questions. If you could answer them, I'd so appreciate your time in doing so. God be with you till we meet on the Golden Shores.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for asking. I love to get reader's questions.

      Looking back, I think I had a lot of pride which caused me to compare everything negatively and not look for anything positive. No church is perfect, but I didn't need to focus on it.

      Every church has its own flavor - even Mennonite churches. And some differences are not bad - just different.

      For example, the communion service at my new church was much different from my old church. For the first year I sat in the service, comparing it with my old church, and crying. When I think back on it, I was really rather pathetic. I had a bad attitude that was coloring my view.

      When I finally decided to stop focusing on the negative and throw myself into supporting the church - I found many blessings - and still do.

      I would say that the first six months was the worse. By the second year I was beginning to feel at home.

      May the Lord direct your steps. If you know you are where God wants you to be - it can help you deal with the changes.

      Feel free to ask me more questions or send a private email.
      Blessings,
      Gina

      Delete
  42. What's your view on higher education? Where I live most everyone attends a college or university, including many religious people. I understand that Mennonites in general though are a bit skeptical of higher education... what's your take on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think higher education should be pursued only when there is a specific goal, not just a way to waste time until the young person decides what they want to do in life.

      I also think that the young person needs to have accountability and a support system in place so they can stand strong in their Christian beliefs. My husband attended a local college, taking evening classes while he worked full time. He was able to live at home and stay connected with his local church.

      We haven't faced this decision yet with our own children but hopefully, if they feel God is leading them into an occupation that requires higher education, they can do so with conviction and strength of character that will allow them to stand strong against the temptations. We will do everything we can to help give them the support they need.
      Gina

      Delete
  43. Any chance we'll get to see an updated family photo? The ones you have on the side of the blog is small. Would be nice to see how the kids are coming along. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The most recent family photo on the blog can be found in this post if you scroll to the bottom.
      http://homejoys.blogspot.com/2015/05/miss-kim-lilac-and-birthdays.html
      Gina

      Delete
  44. What's your family's view on TV/video games? In our home we're at that stage where all kids want to do is watch TV, play Playstation, and the like. Since your kids seem to be getting close to that age I'm wondering what your policies and rules are regarding that stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We do not have a TV and do not allow any video games/Playstation. Occasionally we will watch an educational movie, such as a documentary - but we try to keep it a rare and special event. I'm sure as our children get older we will face more of these questions but for now our children spend a lot of time reading, playing games, and outdoors and we've been able to avoid it.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. We have a Playstation in our house and our kids do play it. We really control what they're allowed to play though, we mostly limit it to the sports type games. We definitely don't like the action/adventure games and the shooting games. It's not a big issue here.

      Delete
  45. John Richard TylerAugust 15, 2015 at 11:04 PM

    Hello there. Do your family have a "dress code" for your sons? We want them to look like godly young men and avoid the sloppy tee shirt and jeans look that is popular in our culture today. We're not strict in how we dress but we'd like our kids to look nice and I'm wondering what your family's rules are. Thanks...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At home we don't have any real rules but away from home we like our boys to wear collared shirts - either buttoned shirts or polo type shirts. For church, our boys wear long-sleeve buttoned shirts and dress pants.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. John Richard TylerAugust 16, 2015 at 7:22 PM

      Is this something that you would recommend for every family?

      Delete
    3. No, this is just our family's personal choice.
      Gina

      Delete
    4. I think that what your family does is great. If I may ask, what led your family to make this decision?

      Delete
    5. One affect would be the way my husband grew up and what was expected in his home. Another affect would from observing our culture and the popular trends - and not wanting to follow the casual trend. My husband observes in his business experiences that when sloppy/casual clothing is allowed, often attitudes/behavior follows. Of course, there are situations where casual clothing is appropriate, even necessary - but we want our sons to have a respectful attitude, especially in formal settings and so we expect them to dress like it.
      Gina

      Delete
  46. Hi there,
    I am curious about Mennonites and hope to get the courage to visit a church one day as I live fairly close by, but I have some questions first.
    1) I'm currently a freshman in school... I hope to be involved in the IT/programming industry when I'm done, but I know that lots (most?) Mennonite churches don't like computer or Internet use. Realistically I would need to be able to use a computer, both at home and wherever my work place might be. How would this work? What would I need to do?
    2) I don't think I'll be able to join while in school, but, if I do, I know that a lot of Mennonites believe that you should stop going to school after 8th grade (or is it 10th?). Let's say I get serious and join a church, would the people in this church expect me to drop out of school? Obviously I'm past 8th grade...
    3) I'm currently a shorts and t-shirt kind of person. Would that change if I started attending a Mennonite church?
    I know that you're probably pretty busy but I'd love it if you could respond ASAP... hope that doesn't sound pushy or rude...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Philip-
      I hope you do visit a Mennonite church. You are welcome to visit and fellowship without having everything figured out about church membership. I'll try to answer your questions but please know that there are many kinds of Mennonite churches and I'll only share about my particular church.
      1. At our church, most, if not all, of the families have computers and internet. My husband uses the internet every day with his job. Some churches may have a different stand on internet use but many Mennonite churches allow computers. We just encourage them to be used wisely with proper accountability.
      2. Our church encourages their young people to complete all 12 grades and to graduate. Some young people, because of the jobs they are pursuing, such as nursing, attend college. Again, specific churches vary in their thoughts on education.
      3. We don't expect you to change your clothing just to attend a Mennonite church. If you were to seek membership, there may be certain things the church brotherhood has chosen to avoid. But to attend, you are welcome to come as you are.
      Hope this helps you on your journey to find a church to serve the Lord and learn more about His Word.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your answer. I have a few more questions:
      1) What sort of accountability system is used for Internet use?
      2) I'm 90% sure that the church near me does not go through all 12 grades... I think they stop at 8th grade, or maybe 10th grade, I'm not certain. Do you think they'd let me stay in school if I became a member, or would I need to drop out?
      3) That's good news. What sort of things might the church have chosen to avoid? What do you think is the standard in a conservative church?

      Also, I have a PS4 (a type of video gaming console) and a smartphone (with games, Internet, etc). What would a church think about these things?

      Thanks so much! Bless you!

      Delete
    3. You are probably going to need to interact with the Mennonites in your area to find the answers to your questions. Just as there are many kinds of Baptists with a variety of beliefs, so are there many kinds of Mennonites.

      I encourage you to seek what God wants you to do in the areas of education, clothing, entertainment, and technology. Seek His Word and He will direct you to a lifestyle and practice that is glorifying to God.
      Gina

      Delete
    4. Hi again, I do intend to interact with them as soon as I can find a way to get in touch with them (they do not have a website or a phone number that I can find).

      If specifying a specific denomination helps, I believe that these are "Beachy" Mennonites... If you have any knowledge in their positions on these issues I'd appreciate it.

      Also, this is how I am seeking out what God wants. But first I need to know about the church's beliefs.

      Delete
    5. I did find some info about this group's beliefs on education online:

      Many only complete an eighth grade education, and school attendance is mostly at private or other Anabaptist church schools. None would attend public schools. Very few go on to college, and if they do, it is usually for a technical degree required for a service occupation, such as nursing.

      What I'm wondering is whether they'd allow me to complete high school, or if they'd want me to drop out... can you say anything on this based on prior knowledge, past experience, etc.?

      Delete
    6. You are not going to be forced to do something against your will. I have never heard of someone being asked to quit high school. But you really need to contact your local church and ask them your questions. I'm sure they will welcome your discussion.
      Gina

      Delete
  47. Hi there Gina, thanks for blogging. I have a quick question for you. We are not Mennonites, but my daughter (17 yo this month) is good friends with a girl from down the street whose family are. She has been going with them to church services every Sunday so far for the past four weeks or so. The family is happy to have her, but I just received a call from the father yesterday saying that if our daughter wishes to continue attending with them she should "dress in a manner more like the other young ladies her age in the church". Previously my daughter was wearing a modest dress and a pullover sweater, which I assumed was fine. I'm not certain as to what exactly they would like my daughter to wear. Can you help me out a bit here?

    Also, I have another concern. We require our daughter to bring her iPhone with her anywhere she does outside our house so that she can contact us in the event of an emergency. We previously asked our daughter to text us when she arrives at the church and before she leaves. However, the father told us that some of the other parents in the church did not like that my daughter was using the phone as it was "making the other children curious about things their parents don't want them exposed to". He requested that she leave the phone at home, but we're not comfortable with this so we don't know the other members of the church. What would you advise?

    Thanks, and bless you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy-
      Thanks for writing. It is very hard for me to answer your questions since I do not know this church or the people in it. As I have said before, there is a wide range of Mennonites - just like any other church denomination, like Baptists. I don't know what this church expects or prefers.

      Could you talk to the mom of the family that your daughter is going with and get her idea of what is expected for clothing? Maybe if your daughter texted you when she arrived at church and then let the iPhone in the vehicle, it would avoid issues. I know some churches really don't like the distraction of cell phones in the service.

      I hope you can find a solution that works for both families.
      Blessings,
      Gina

      Delete
    2. Hi there again Gina,

      I did speak with the mother. She and her daughter wear something called a "cape dress" to services. At home the daughter dresses similarly to your children. Both of them cover their hair. The mother suggested that my daughter wear an outfit "similar" to this. I'm not sure where to begin figuring out what that would be though.

      Apparently my daughter used the phone after exiting church and pulled up a game real quick while they were waiting to leave. Some of the younger children asked about the game and that was what prompted the father to ask me to have her leave it at home.

      Delete
    3. Nancy
      I hope you can continue to dialog with the family and find workable solutions for both families.
      Blessings, Gina

      Delete
  48. Hey Gina, do you know anything about a program named Faith Builders, located in Guys Mills, PA? I was told I should attend but am not sure if it's any good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know some of the staff at Faithbuilders but have never been there. Check out their website for more information.
      Gina

      Delete
  49. what is the difference between white caps and black caps?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some Mennonite groups have chosen to wear one color, either white or black. In other congregations you can find both white and black veils in the same church. As far as I know, there is no significance to color. Both colors are an application of 1 Corinthians 11.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. I know in some congregations it is a matter of whether or not the woman in question is married.

      I noticed you wear a white cap, Gina? Is that a personal preference or do all the women in your church do the same?

      Delete
    3. At our church, all the women wear white caps, regardless of marriage status.
      Gina

      Delete
  50. How do i follow your blogs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On the right hand column you will see a sign up button to follow the blog by email. Let me know if you have any difficulty.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. I emailed you and havent got a response yet. Im not seeing that column on my phone or a way to follow it. I was just wondering if someone has tattoos from there past but is choosing to follow the mennonite faith is that ok and would you just cover them at all times?

      Delete
    3. I'm sorry. I didn't get your email. Can you try again?

      About tatoos - I'm not sure. Most tattoos are in places that would be covered if the person dresses modestly so it would not be an issue. I guess you would need to talk to the church leaders of the particular church you were attending to find out how they feel about it.
      Gina

      Delete
  51. just found your blog, great stuff! I will be trying all of your bread recipes. Thank you for the blog.

    ReplyDelete
  52. My high school aged daughter was invited to attend a beachy church gathering this weekend,she will be there will 5 or 6 others her age, how should she dress for the event? We are not mennonites but i want to be respectful. Must she wear a dress? We need to be ready by tomorrow night and the group leader is not returning my call.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know what is expected at this gathering. At our church, as long as the visitor was dressed modestly and respectfully, that is all we would expect. A dress would not be necessary for a visitor, but it would be nice if they wore a decently long skirt and a top that had a modest neckline.

      I hope your daughter enjoys her weekend.
      Gina

      Delete
  53. I would wear what you / she think is modest.

    As a suggestion, tell her to wear this:

    1. Find a skirt or dress that goes past the knees, preferably not denim.

    2. Wear some kind of blouse or sweater on top of that.

    3. If the neckline is below the collar bone wear a cami that will cover that up, or wear a scarf without removing it all day.

    4. Wear either athletic shoes, or heels less than 2".

    5. Wear a bandanna on your head like you're about to go rake leaves all day.

    6. Put your hair in a bun, or if you don't know to do that, wear a ponytail looped back on itself.

    The bandanna might not be necessary, you know this group better than I do so you should make that determination.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Okay, thank you,she has found something.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I am 13 years old and I have always wanted to join the Mennonite community. But it is hard for me because I kinda live in the city and there isn't really any Mennonites that I have seen!?
    My grandma has a cabin up north by the Amish and Mennonite and she talks and knows them good and I have talked to them.
    What I'm trying to say is I wanna join the community but it's hard for me now since none of my family doesn't want turn. So do you have any advice on what I could do? Should I wait till I'm older? I still go to church.
    Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would recommend that you continue to go to church and study your Bible. If God wants you to join the Mennonite church some day, He will give you that opportunity in the future. But for now, study His Word so that you know what He wants for you and choose to obey Him in the little things today. God will guide you.
      Gina

      Delete
  56. someone in eastern usaDecember 5, 2015 at 9:42 PM

    Hi there, I am 16 and I have been attending a mennonite church with my neighbors for the past year and a half now. None of my family is in the church with me, my mom is christian but my dad is not, but they are okay with me going. Anyway I want to try and join and be baptised but i'm nervous because i'm don't know what it will be like. all the people cover their heads, the covering looks like this: http://www.quakerjane.com/images/plain_dress/caps/beachy-left.jpg
    will i have to wear this covering? also will i need to wear their dresses? the other adults in the church have been telling I should become a member but I'm not sure if they'd take me since I'd be the only one in my family. i also don't know what school will be like if I'm a member, will people make fun of me?
    i know you said to some previous people that you don't know the answer because it depends on the group, if it helps this group is eastern mennonites.
    i was thinking of asking tomorrow so id love it if you can answer me soon! thanks......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had friends who were the only one in their family or school to be a Mennonite and sometimes it was hard for them because they dressed differently. But if you are following what God wants you to do, He will help you. I'd recommend you talk to the people in the church you are attending and ask them your questions.

      May God bless you with wisdom and a desire to follow His Word in every area of life.
      Blessings,
      Gina

      Delete
    2. someone in eastern usaDecember 6, 2015 at 2:33 PM

      Hi again, thank you for answering me so quickly. i didn't exactly ask them to join today but one of the women asked me if i was considered joining, i told her maybe even though i am and i asked her about the covering and if I'd have to wear it. She said something like "well as you know we have dress standards for members of the church and we dress modestly and keep our heads covered", she didn't exactly say whether I'd have to dress that way or not. Maybe I will and she just assumed i knew that, I don't know.

      thanks so much and yes I am considering it because i think it is what i should do. What do you think she meant? What would your church have me do in this situation?

      Delete
    3. At our church all the female members wear a cape-style dress. It is not that we think that is the only modest style of dress. It is just that we have chosen this style of dress as a good example of a modest dress and it has served us well through the years. I did not wear a cape dress until I joined this church, but I have learned to appreciate it.

      You could ask that lady what their dress standards are for members and if you would be expected to follow them. I'm sure they will help you.
      Blessings,
      Gina

      Delete
    4. someone in eastern usaDecember 6, 2015 at 2:57 PM

      I know their dress standards, it's a cape dress (I think) and a covering like I just posted.

      So if someone my age and in my circumstances joined your church would you expect me to wear the cape dress and covering even though I'm 16?

      Delete
    5. Yes, at our church, a person who is just attending is welcome to wear whatever they wish. But if they choose to be a member, they are also choosing to accept our church standard of clothing too, regardless of their age.

      Are there other girls your age at the church you attend?
      Gina

      Delete
    6. someone in eastern usaDecember 6, 2015 at 3:29 PM

      Yes my neighbors who I'm going to church with have a daughter my age, and we hang out together and stuff. She's the one who first invited me to go to church with her.

      So basically the chances are pretty high I'm going to need to wear a cape dress right? Is it typical to let people my age slowly change to it or will I need to start on day 1? What your your church say?

      Delete
    7. Gina,

      Is it typical for someone her age to even be invited to join a Mennonite church? I would have thought they'd require you to be older...

      Joseph

      Delete
    8. I'm starting to feel like a broken record - Mennonite churches vary. But I think many would not consider 16 to be too young, especially if they had their parent's encouragement.
      Gina

      Delete
  57. At my university, there's an organization named Cru. I was talking today with one of its members, and he was trying to get me to go to an outreach event that this group does, without telling me it's a Christian group designed to proselytize. I'm not a fan of this because it's sort of deceiving people and I think it's designed to put me on the spot. He never told me that this event was run by them, or even that it was Christian. What should I do?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hi Gina, I'm Julie, a Mennonite mom from Australia.
    Do you live in New Zealand? Are there Mennonite groups in New Zealand then?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Julie,
      I live in the United States. I don't know if there are Mennonite groups in New Zealand.
      Gina

      Delete
  59. Hi Gina,

    Happy easter to you and your family!

    I'm wondering... do you allow your younger children to blog? It would be interesting to hear their perspectives on growing up Mennonite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At this point our children are young and so we don't allow any internet access without our direct supervision. Eventually they will be given more freedom as they show responsibility in using it wisely. Maybe they will have an interest in blogging - but by then there will probably be other social media outlets.
      Gina

      Delete
    2. christien d'antonioMarch 29, 2016 at 8:38 AM

      How old is your oldest child? We made a rule in our house that each of our children had to come up with one project that would help spread the message of Christ and built the Kingdom. My oldest son, who's 15, made a blog on Tumblr that posts Christian messages. It has close to a thousand people following it.

      Maybe this wouldn't be a good project for your son, I don't know, but I'd definitely recommend having a similar requirement/mission for your children, especially if they are homeschooled.

      Delete
    3. What a great idea! Our oldest is eleven but I'll keep your suggestion in mind.
      Gina

      Delete
  60. Hi Gina, are you a Quiverfull family? What are your thoughts on the QF movement?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe God wants us to consider children a blessing. I don't know a lot about the QF movement but probably don't agree with everything they support. I'd rather not discuss the issue further here since I know little about it.
      Gina

      Delete
  61. Hi Gina,
    My wife and I have just become members of a Mennonite church, and we are working to bring our lives in line with the teachings of the Lord and the church. How should we explain to our 9 and 14 year old daughters that they will need to start wearing skirts and dresses instead of pants and shorts? Thanks for any advice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It may take some time but as you share with your daughters how God is working in your lives and show them what you are learning in God's Word, I'm sure they will begin to understand. I don't think there is any magic words that I can give you, just share what God is teaching you.
      Blessings,
      Gina

      Delete
    2. Wow, thank you for your fast reply Gina! Of course we will explain to them what we are learning, but they are at that age (particularly our 9 year old) where sometimes they might not understand. Our oldest is particularly rebellious and she might not like being plain. If she complains, or is upset, how should we handle the issue?

      Delete
    3. Besides lots and lots of prayer, I'm not sure what to suggest. If she can build friendships with other "plain" girls, it may help but you might just have to move slowly so that she doesn't feel forced into a lot of changes. Pray for wisdom.
      Gina

      Delete
  62. Hi Gina, I'm 19 and I have been good friends with a Mennonite girl for some time (white head coverings and dresses but they are more liberal on technology, like they allow cell phones). We've been hanging out for years but recently she told me that she had a crush on me and wanted to "get a bit more serious". She said that because of this she would like me to join her church so that we can be "more than just friends".

    I'm sure she's hinting at marriage, or at least courtship, and I'm definitely interested but I don't know why I'd have to join her church first, or if I want to join her religion. I'm wondering if you can give me advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally, I think that something as serious as what church to join, should be a decision made with a lot of prayer and seeking direction from the Bible, not just a suggestion from a friend. If you are serious about marrying this girl (or any other girl), it is important that you both agree on spiritual things, such as what church to attend. I encourage you to figure out what you believe and what church you want to be part of before you start dating.
      Keep praying for God to direct you.
      Gina

      Delete
  63. Hi Gina, I have been sitting here for hours reading all the comments and questions on your blog. It seems that with so many in this particular section on your faith that you may have a special gift from God to help those on their spiritual journey! I was raised in a religion that focused on "the fear of God" and not on love or grace. I am now 51 years old and still afraid of God and that everything that happens in my life is a punishment from God for my sins. I've tried to find a church family without success. I feel more drawn to conservative faiths like yours but don't have any nearby and still very afraid of rejection if I visit one. Would you have any comforting words of wisdom? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for writing. When I read comments like yours I just wish I could get together for coffee and give you a hug. I addressed our view of God at this post http://homejoys.blogspot.com/2015/03/who-is-god.html but there is so much more that can be said on that topic. I'm not sure how to help you other than to encourage you to study God's Word and ask Him to continue to lead you. If you want to chat more, feel free to email me.
      Blessings,
      Gina

      Delete

I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails