When I started thinking about joy and spaces, it occurred to me that if I just mention certain places, my heart lights up.
So let me share of few of these places.
Indy 500 – I love going to the race. Bill and I met there over 50 years ago. So that’s special! But it’s the opening to the race that makes it such a joy to be there.
We honor the armed services, we honor the history of the race, we sing several songs that remind us we are in this great country, and then we watch the most spectacular event as 33 cars race around an oval track going over 200 mph! Everyone around us feels like a neighbor; we introduce ourselves and become friends. Gotta love it!
Sunset – It’s a period of grace and gratitude for me. It’s beautiful and never ever the same. It brings me such joy!
Morels and Music – I know, a funny combination, right?
First morels – it’s a family tradition that every Mother’s Day my family would go out in the woods for hours looking for morel mushrooms. And “if,” and I mean “IF” you were lucky enough to find one – it was pure joy. Of course, the walk in the woods was so joyful – the first touch of Spring. And in our family, we shared our mushrooms, even if it was only a few! That could become hilarious.
And last, music makes my heart sing – I particularly find joy in music outside—in a park, at a concert, a single guitar around a fire, sing-alongs, dancing, listening on the radio, Sunday morning at church. Music brings me such joy.
Now one last thing that I am certain of – the space for me is always more joyful because of the people who are there with me and the memories I have of all those times together.
Celebrate with us these 2023 high school graduates who, after years of joyful life with FMC, will soon be off to college!
Shy little, dark-eyed, Greta has always been a good student from the very beginning. She is happy to have graduated with good grades (honors) from North Central High School that got her into a nursing program. She plans to live happily with a group of good friends at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
The part of school she enjoyed the most was talking to classmates and becoming acquainted with peers and teachers she wouldn’t likely know outside of school.
Extra-curricular activities at school have been many: running cross country, tennis, swimming, playing her French Horn in wind ensemble (band and orchestra).
Greta’s free time is taken up with lifeguarding, hanging out with her many friends as much as possible, and her boyfriend.
Summer plans include lifeguarding, some travel, enjoying friends, and preparing for college in the fall. Marquette University, here she comes with plans for a nursing career with a minor in Spanish.
Greta’s most embarrassing moment happened in school, back in grade 3. She was reading her friend’s book when she suddenly threw up all over the book. Oh my! She ended up getting a replacement book for her friend.
Some of Greta’s favorites:
Food: salmon from Delicia, or her mom’s
Show: Gilmore Girls
Books: Daisey Jones and The Six
Musician: Taylor Swift
Movie: Parent Trap, or Mrs. Doubtfire
Greta, along with her parents Lon and Heidi, have always been a part of FMC. Greta’s favorite hymn is “My Soul is filled with Joy.” She, on her French Horn, and friend Jonah on his euphonium, accompanied the congregation singing this song at church. It was lovely.
When asked about fond memories of FMC, she mentioned Steve Thomas as pastor and Miss Lu (Culp) and Mark Sherer as Sunday school teachers. Making unleavened bread in class was special. Sue Turner had students write to themselves and put it in a time capsule—a fun remembrance. More recently Mary Liechty and Marcy Major were great teachers. Vacation Bible School and tie dying were also fun. The MYF farm trip in 2022 with sponsors Marilyn Stutzman and Jason Schmucker was a special highlight.
Greta’s happy place
Her advice to JYF: get to know all the peers in the group really well, especially since it is a small group. Her advice to adults is to be open-minded to new ideas and new people.
Greta hopes and expects that in five years she will be working in a big city as a nurse.
We wish her well!
by Priscilla Boschmann
Over her high school years, Rowan Hayes was on the run – literally. As she graduated from Brebeuf this spring, Rowan cited track as her extracurricular highlight. “I’ve met a ton of my friends at Brebeuf through the team and it gets me to actually exercise. Communal suffering has brought us together.”
Meeting people is a theme of Rowan’s high school experience as she has enjoyed getting to know people from all different backgrounds, noting that there are some people she met through school that she never would have encountered otherwise but was grateful that she did.
As she thinks back on her time in JYF and MYF, she fondly remembers snow camp tubing – the year there was snow. She encourages JYF to “Go on the youth group trips!! They’re super fun!” When asked about advice for FMC grownups, Rowan notes that “I’m not sure I’m in a position to advise adults, but as long as you guys stick around and keep supporting us, I will be content.”
When she isn’t running or doing homework, Rowan enjoys reading, baking, hanging out with friends, and playing/listening to music. If you are looking for some new music to listen to over the summer, Lana Del Rey is Rowan’s favorite musician (and has been for years) yet she also listens to all kinds of music. When it comes to favorite books, Rowan’s go to is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” which is also her favorite movie.
Known for her kind smile and reflective spirit, Rowan’s favorite scripture passage comes from Genesis 3:19 “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” as she finds it comforting that “all humans came from the same place, and we’ll all suffer the same fate.”
Her plans after graduation include attending Saint Louis University where she will double major in English literature as well as psychology and be in a learning community based on community service.
Rowan’s happy place
When asked to look down the road five years, she speculates she may find herself in grad school, but “Who knows at this point? I hope I am making at least a little bit of money to sustain myself.”
There’s no doubt this bright young lady will stay in motion, hopefully slowing down to enjoy a bowl of miso soup and catch an episode of The Great British Bake-off.
FMC wishes you all the best, Rowan!
by Kenda Friend
Andrew’s years at North Central High School have been marked by academic achievement, good times with friends, and an abundance of sports. When asked to reflect on highlights of high school, Andrew said “playing soccer, and going to watch other sports like basketball, football, volleyball, and wrestling.”
Four years ago, Andrew’s goals as an incoming freshman at North Central were to graduate with an Honors diploma and make the varsity soccer team. With determination and discipline, he achieved both, playing varsity soccer his senior year and graduating with Honors in June.
Andrew is an affable and easygoing young man. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, hanging out with friends, and going to the gym. He and his friends love soccer so much that they play in their free time too! He’s also quite good at ping pong – I (Jason Schmucker) will never forget the time he handily beat me during the FMC winter retreat ping pong tournament!
Andrew likes a wide range of music and media—his favorite bands are from a few decades ago: Sting, Counting Crows, REM, and Nirvana. He enjoys watching shows like The Office, The 100 and The Walking Dead and movies like Interstellar, Good Will Hunting, and The Shawshank Redemption. He’s a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy fan too and likes reading Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and Island of the Lost.
Andrew immensely enjoyed the summer 2022 MYF trip to Hungry World Farm and all the bonding that went along with doing dirty work together: tending a multiple-acre blueberry field, weeding the market garden, and spreading mulch along a path through the woods. Togetherness like that is so fulfilling for this generation of students whose highschool years were marred by pandemic isolation. Snow camp 2023 is another fond memory for Andrew. Even though there wasn’t snow this year, there was much fun to be had playing basketball, Borrow the Balls, ping pong, foosball, and learning to play euchre courtesy of Jonah Rosner.
He advises the younger FMC kids to “participate in school and church activities because that is where you will make a lot of your friends and make long lasting memories.” May your memories of FMC be a blessing as you navigate your exciting future, Andrew!
What does the future hold for Andrew? He will attend Goshen College in the fall and study biology. His vision for five years from now is to attend graduate school or find a fulfilling job. Congratulations, Andrew! We send you into the world with all FMC’s love and best wishes!
Andrew’s happy place
by Jason Schmucker
During worship at First Mennonite Church (FMC), Jonah Rosner can typically be found sitting quietly in the back corner of the sanctuary, tapping keys on a laptop. No, he is not checking out the latest NBA scores or watching the preview of a Colts football game (although he is a fan). Instead, he is assisting Jason Schmucker with the intricate running of the sound and technology equipment for both in-person and online worship. Jonah has been a willing behind-the-scenes tech volunteer almost every Sunday for the past 18 months or so, even arriving early to help prior to worship.
Jonah became interested in technology and computers while attending North Central High School. In his junior and senior years, he had the option to take two AP Computer Science classes. This opportunity showed Jonah that he enjoys the problem-solving of coding and has an affinity for it. Although Jonah enjoys being around friends and family, coding as a future job has the added benefit of not having to constantly interact with people, which can be draining for this introvert. He has been accepted as a direct admit into the computer science program of the College of Science at Purdue University. He will head to Purdue in mid-August, staying in a dorm that is in a data science learning community. This summer Jonah is working hard at a full-time job with Home City Ice (after being recruited by his older brother) where he helps to deliver large quantities of ice to vendors around central Indiana. Due to the job’s hours, you may not see Jonah at church on Sundays as often.
Jonah has been an active part of FMC all his life. Some of his favorite memories include having fun at the Fall Party at Cindy and Allen Mast’s home, playing sports and games at the annual church retreats, and attending snow camp with the JYF and MYF. Although his youth group time was unfortunately curtailed by the pandemic, one of his MYF highlights was participating in Live-In at the church. He wishes he would’ve had more opportunities to do that (which only happened during his freshman & senior years) as he liked hanging out with the other youth and sponsors, playing sardines and volleyball, eating together, and staying up late watching TV shows.
A big interest Jonah has had since middle school is learning and playing the euphonium. During the past seven years, he has taken regular private lessons, performed in recitals, played in a variety of school bands, performed ISSMA solos and ensembles (earning many gold medals), and accompanied congregational singing during worship at church. Two music highlights were when he was selected for and participated in the Jr. All-State Band weekend his freshman year and the All-State Band weekend his senior year. Jonah’s involvement in band has definitely impacted his life. Not only did he learn to enjoy playing and making music with a group, but he says it “introduced me to a lot of new people and helped me make long-term friendships, some of which I’ll continue to enjoy at Purdue.” He plans to play in a Purdue band and hopes to be selected for one of their top concert bands.
Besides music and coding, some of Jonah’s favorite things to do include hanging with friends, playing video games (Minecraft, Oxygen Not Included, Civilization 6), reading, playing sports (basketball, baseball, football, etc.), and climbing rocks/high places. He loves climbing the mature trees in his yard, indoor rock climbing at places like Hoosier Heights and outdoor treetop adventures like Go Ape! He is looking forward to his family’s planned trip in July to Colorado where he can do some outdoor rock climbing. Much to his mother’s dismay, one of Jonah’s future bucket list items is to go skydiving!
Jonah’s happy place
To give you one more glance into Jonah, here is a story from his elementary school days. When he was in second grade, his friend Noah came to school with nail polish on his fingernails. Unfortunately, Noah was made fun of and teased about his fashion decision by other kids. (This was about 10 years ago when times were different, even in an urban school setting.) Observing this situation bothered Jonah greatly. So that evening at home, Jonah asked for help in painting his nails so he could stand with his friend the next day. We were glad to help him, but also prepared him that he might get teased as well. But if memory serves, when both boys showed up in class with painted nails, the teasing petered out and stopped. I learned so much from my son that day, and he continues to teach me as he has grown into a responsible, caring and smart young adult.
Pastor MonicaMiller was able to fly to MennoCon23 in Kansas City, where she even competed in an impromptu Mobility Scooter Race after the evening worship on July 4. Eager fans cheered the four racers, which boosted and celebrated an increased awareness of accessibility accommodations. Yay for Monica!
Monica relaxing at MennoCon (photo by Lyle Miller)
Monica, center, giving her all at the MennoCon race (photo by Lyle Miller)
Pattie Mishler in her early nursing career, worked in 3 different hospitals before switching to medical offices after their children were born. For the last 19 years, Pattie has been a part-time surgical liaison at St. Vincent Hospital for families waiting while patients undergo surgery. She moved to being semi-retired at the end of 2022. Her caring presence will surely be missed.
Dr. Dennis Mishler, known at IU Health as the Kidney Detective, was celebrated for his many years of caring for patients. In addition to his nephrology and transplant work, Dennis spent many years caring for prisoners who required dialysis at Plainfield prison. Although his last official full-time day was June 30, he is semi-retired and expects to assist with rounds occasionally, but also have more time for hobbies, travel and family fun. Perhaps Dennis will show up at FMC social events to share entertaining songs or perform bewildering new magic tricks! On the FMC Facebook Faith formation page, you can read a more complete article that was posted from IU Health highlighting Dr Mishler’s career. Thank you, Dennis!
Let your lights shine
A unique milestone of sorts occurred on Sunday morning, June 25th, when Mike Hood and David Hovde were scheduled to be coffee makers. All went well on their first solo morning as they brewed coffee and filled carafes to serve after the service. But a power outage during worship time plunged the windowless kitchen into a very dark spot! Helpers moved everything to the fellowship hall where there was plenty of light for enjoying fellowship and coffee. But with no power for the dishwasher, these two cheerful, efficient workers—with the help of a couple volunteers—washed, dried, and put away dishes with light from candles and iPhones! Well done!
Most of our readers will be quite familiar with the story of Global Gifts, the fair-trade stores in Indianapolis and Bloomington, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. If you are not aware of the story, here’s the nutshell version: First Mennonite nurtured a ministry of selling fair-trade crafts from around the world to interested parties. This grew out of what was known as Self Help Crafts administered by Mennonite Central Committee. Individuals from FMC would give talks about fair-trade to various groups or have booths at festivals so that the artisans, all of whom were struggling with poverty, could benefit from a wider market. Eventually the enterprise moved to a storefront model and grew to the present not-for-profit stores sporting the Global Gifts name.
Global Gifts stores currently purchase from fair-trade groups in more than 30 countries. Providing a wider market helps these amazing artists send children to school, escape trafficking, feed families who have been hungry and basically provide hope. Hope and joy are linked, so without a doubt, those of us who purchase these fair-trade items, are giving and receiving joy.
Covid was tough on these stores, but it was tougher on the artisans. With reduced sales, their businesses and families suffered. The supply chain was interrupted; inventory was reduced, and the financial health of this effort was greatly compromised. Fortunately, many from FMC, Shalom and elsewhere who had an established history with Global Gifts, stepped up and offered cash to help stem the monetary drain which started when stores were closed due to covid. Much is owed to those individuals. Now the goal is to continue inventory purchases and grow support for the artists.
Recently, the store once filling a spot in Nora near Whole Foods has had to find a new place to call home. It landed at 8519 Westfield Blvd, not far from an earlier location. There’s plenty of parking for shoppers to come in, browse the merchandise and learn about the artisans or artisan groups who are supported by our purchases, but it’s taking time for shoppers to realize where the store is presently located. Signage has been delayed for weeks. Sometimes it takes time for a place to become home.
New Global Gifts Store
In the meantime, those who depend on fair trade stores for their livelihood are still in need of support.
For instance, Global Mama’s is a fair-trade group out of Ghana, which states it is focused on creating prosperity for African women and families. It goes on to define “prosperity” as going beyond financial well-being to include happiness and good health. There are around 350 producers participating in this enterprise, sending their children to school, some to university, helping to feed their families, and enjoying each other’s company. Their batik cloth is a signature item, used in tablecloths, clothing and other cloth pieces, but they also work with beads, soap, water hyacinth paper and more…. Beautiful things made by beautiful people who practice joy.
Global Mama’s batik fabric aprons
Chindi baskets from Bangladesh are made by groups of women in that country’s poorest areas. Many are widows or single mothers; heads of households with minimal income, if any at all. More than 1000 women are employed by “Handcrafters” at ten sites where they receive training regardless of their cultural status, using sustainable and natural materials. The sense of value these women must feel, and the relief when they can feed their children and send them to school must give them tremendous joy.
Twin Engine Coffee is a new partner with Global Gifts. It’s a direct trade group out of Nicaragua which seeks to keep the growing, roasting, designing and packaging at the original site so that more money goes to the community where the beans are grown. They also have items made from local leather workers and wood pieces from the coffee arabica tree. The entire community in this microclimate of Nicaragua is benefitting from these sales, giving people purpose and motivation.
Twin engine coffee
The Global Gifts stores often have a rotating display of special artisans doing unique work. You can learn something on each visit. Presently, at the Nora store, there are direct pieces by African artisans with whom Kelly Trimble (former manager and interim executive director) has worked over the years. Pieces have been circulating which are done by Gift Rusere, a Zimbabwean artist who uses traditional serpentine springstone to create Shona sculptures. These dramatic statements are heavy and creative, utilizing traditional methods of polishing and carving.
Shona stone carving
As we seek to find place and joy, consider how we can help provide joy around the world as we support artisans who have created places of community in their work. And consider how we can offer joy in our purchases. Shop Global Gifts for fair-trade items!
“It will go fast.” “Before you know it, they will be moving out!” “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’ve been told these things by relatives, friends with older children, and people in the grocery store (as I juggled two squirmy kids and a cart full of food). My motherhood journey has felt both long and very short. Although it began a mere 5 years ago, it seems like a lifetime ago that I was not answering to Mommy/Mom/Mama.
Being a mom to two kids 20 months apart, my days are fast-paced and busy. But I have found so many moments of joy throughout different stages of my journey.
For me, motherhood started after many long hours of labor, and through the blur of it all, I distinctly remember the nurse placing my baby in my arms for the first time. He was so tiny and beautiful. I was in awe of this little human pressed against my chest. We experienced many firsts together, the same ones many parents share with their babies: first bath, first foods, first steps, first words. Some of my most memorable and cherished moments of the early days were usually in the quiet of the night, just holding him and rocking.
As my little ones have grown out of the baby stage, they have had a lot to say. I try to jot down the questions they ask that catch me off guard, or when they say something that makes me laugh or brings me happiness. “Mommy, does God make people by drawing them, cutting them out, and they come alive?” “Are you alive when you’re in heaven?” “Thanks for being my mom today.” I am in awe of their curious minds and their desire to understand the big world around them.
Very recently, my five-year old son came in from outside and climbed up on the counter to pick out an apple. Understanding the obvious signal that he was hungry for a snack, I helped him locate the cutting board and a knife while I watched him carefully dissect it. Before I knew it, he darted back out the door with apple in-hand. Later, he came back in the house and filled a watering can in the bathroom sink. I became curious about what he was up to and went outside to find a large brown area of dirt where grass had been growing. “I’m growing an apple tree, Mom.” I could have been angry that he dug up some newly grown grass, but I found so much joy in the fact that he decided he wanted an apple tree and was going to do what it took to make it happen. The grass will grow back, and I smile to myself every time I see the unsightly brown patch of dirt in the middle of our front yard.
I will continue to remember how moments like these will soon be just memories. Viewing the world through their eyes is a beautiful thing.
Scatter Joy! This saying may seem like just a romantic phrase from Ralph Waldo Emerson, but can we discover ways to share and encourage joy in the lives of others? When the MennoExpressions team explored themes for the year, there was unanimous support for looking at positive, encouraging topics. Special sources of peace and happiness vary, of course, but we hope to present a few ideas to help you consider times, locales and experiences that bring moments of delight and warm, comforting memories.
If you want to examine joy as referenced in the Bible, there are at least 242 verses mentioning joy—ranging from Genesis to Jude.
Especially in the Psalms, looking to nature for delight is a common theme. And still today, whether traveling to discover beauty in exotic new places, wandering along a favorite lakeshore or wooded trail, or sitting quietly in a flower-filled garden, God’s inspiring handiwork can bring us joy.
“You will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace…and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Grab a glass of lemonade or ice tea and read a few stories that we hope will make you smile.
The four FMC high school graduates, coupled with college and postgraduate scholars who completed years of study and work surely radiated delight as they accepted their diplomas. Their accomplishments also brought cheer—maybe along with tears—to family and friends who celebrated with them! We asked the High school seniors to share a photo of their “happy place,” so you can see a location that has brought them joy during their high school years.
Valerie Yoder shares with us moments of joy as a busy mom of two young children. Let her story reignite memories of delightful times looking at the world through the eyes of little ones.
Catch a glimpse of places and events that spark joyful memories for Janet Wakefield.
Sharing a local path to support skilled artisans and entrepreneurs from around the world, Mary Liechty fills in history and details that have made Global Gifts a long-time local source for unique hand-crafted items. Supporting these fair-trade artists has brought joy to many over the years, knowing that our purchases benefit handcrafters who may have no other way to support their families.
Many people, places and experiences bring us delight, but looking to the Lord for help and reassurance can provide stepping stones to the real source of joy.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in God…”
I don’t know what to say, but I am so, so, so sorry! I was putting Oonii to bed when Mum told me, which means I had a lot of space to think. All I could recount in my mind was everything you and John did for us, with my siblings, since the moment I met you all. I have so, so many memories, and I am ever so grateful for them.
I remember the first smells as you guys welcomed us into your home. I have memories of us kids raking the leaves on your large lawn and eventually jumping into the heaping piles. Your dogs, your kitchen, Thanksgiving dinners, your forested playground… and the smell of the motorcycle engine—these are just a few memories. I have so many more.
I am so grateful for you and John being a part of my life. I love you. I am here for you.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5: 11
As we continue our MennoExpressions theme of Running the Race this year, we also recognize the importance of those who encourage and cheer for the racers. Weary souls may be energized when inspired by a friendly face or a shout of “You can do it!” In this year of emerging from our collective pandemic isolation, the comfort of gathering, singing, working and eating together seems especially reassuring. We hope the collected articles console and brighten as we move forward in our daily life treks.
We start with reflections from Pastor Monica Miller who has been sidelined by the hurdle of long COVID. We rejoice that she is improving, and celebrated recently with Pie Sunday, giving thanks for healing and her one-year anniversary as pastor at FMC.
Pie Sunday at FMC
The Hood family collaborated to write On Loss and Living. They openly share their continuing pain and grief from the loss of their son and brother Scott, while also moving forward and treasuring ways to celebrate life and the importance of being together with family and friends.
We also grieve the unexpected passing of long-time member John Boyce, and include several reflections that highlight just a bit of the influence he had on family, friends and even strangers. Several poems seem especially appropriate to consider for encouragement in light of these losses and others experienced in our church families.
Be sure to explore the overview of the work trip taken by the MYF, and then no doubt smile when you read the responses of our youngest elementary students sharing their favorite things. Several aspirations for super powers are especially unique!
If you have wondered about the epic task of compiling and introducing a new hymnal for the broader Mennonite and Anabaptist churches, Jana Miller shares the winding path, as well as her personal joy and inspiration in the process of “drawing the circle wider.”
Another saga of training and persistence in the running group is shared by Joe Longenecker as he highlights the transition from indifference to enjoyment, camaraderie and success as he has completed his first mini marathon.
If creating paintings seems beyond your reach, consider the encouraging saga that Laurel Gerbrandt shares. A passionate artist herself, Laurel decided to lead aspiring groups who wanted to pick up paint brushes and try creating their own art. Lovely paintings and caring friendships are the happy result!
Finally, we continue Milestones, our recurring feature to share news and important life events.
As the year draws to a close, sometimes the seasons overlap, leaving the exuberant red leaves of autumn unexpectedly covered with a blanket of snow before we are prepared for cold winter days. Perhaps untimely events may suddenly force us to adjust plans and look at new options.
But whatever the weather—or the situation—let’s give thanks for the warm, encouraging presence of family and friends, and the promise that the Lord will be with us as we run or walk the race set before us.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.