The Books I Read Recently-ABC Day 3

The April Blogging Challenge is back!! During the month of April, the Smucker ladies will post every single day. You can check out the schedule of who’s posting when here on Emily’s blog.

Today I’ll be writing about some of the books I’ve read recently that have really stuck with me, and I’ve been pondering a lot.

  1. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffen

black like me

This book was fascinating. It is the true story of a white man in the late 1950’s who stained his skin to be darker and lived as a black man in the deep South for about a month. While his methods were questionable, this book really made me think more about racial issues and helped me understand what drives racism and how it can be combatted. While this book is over 50 years old, it still addresses relevant issues.

2. 1984 by George Orwell


I’d always heard this book hailed as a classic, and for that reason, I was really looking forward to reading it. However, I ended up hating it. I went into it expecting things to end happily with an overthrow of the evil government. Since that didn’t happen, I ended up finishing the book feeling unsatisfied.

Even so, I feel that this book is important. It’s not a happy book, but it serves as a warning of what society could become. This book made me think long and hard about privacy and freedom. This book can also be used as a lens with which to view some of today’s issues.

3. All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall

all of the above

This book is significantly lighter than the other two, as it is written primarily for middle-schoolers. It follows the story of four kids from a poor neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, as they attempt to build the world’s largest tetrahedron. This book is just. really. good. and I would 10/10 recommend.

4. & 5. Outliers and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell



I’ve decided to stick these two together because they’re by the same author. I read Outliers first for one of my classes and loved it so much that I bought it, along with 3 other books by Malcolm Gladwell, including Blink. Both Blink and Outliers are easy to read and provide a fascinating outlook on life.

Blink talks about how decisions or impressions that are made in an instant can sometimes be better or more than ones that are thought out, but he also addresses the dangers in this, and how implicit biases can be developed from this.

Outliers addresses the idea that great people do not become great on their own. He tells the stories of people who have done great things, and people who had the potential to be great, and how their circumstances played a role in who they became.



Anyway, I think that’s it for now.

You can Day 2 of the April Blogging Challenge here, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s post here.

If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like me to write about, comment and tell me what they are!



Things I Think About

Saturday was my last day of driving a combine for the summer.

In case you didn’t know, this is what a combine is:


You drive it down the windrows of grass seed and it separates the grass seed from the stalk.

It’s pretty nifty, but driving a combine involves long hours spent alone in a cab with a lot of time to think about things and listen to the radio. So anyway, here are some of the things I thought about while I was driving a combine.

Mayonnaise is really weird. First off, what even is it? (Oil, egg yolk, and vinegar or lemon juice) Second, why do we SPREAD mayonnaise out, but all the other condiments we just squirt onto the sandwich/burger? Third, does anyone pronounce it like it’s spelled? Does anyone say it like “May-O-Naze” or does everyone say “Maa-Naze” like me? So, yeah, mayonnaise is pretty weird.

I ended up thinking a lot about O.J. Simpson, because he was talked about on the radio a lot for a few days. I’ve find the story of O.J. extremely fascinating, but up until this point I’d always though of him as that dude who probably murdered his wife, but listening to all these people share their opinions about him made me realize how pivotal his trial was for a lot of people. I’d never realized how racial issues played into it, or why he was never charged with murder when it seemed so obvious that he was guilty, but now I do.

I thought about seasons, and how in some seasons I have to accept that I won’t have time to do anything besides drive a piece of machinery back and forth and back and forth, and that’s okay. Some seasons are times of preparation,  others are times for relaxation, and still others are times of implementation.

There were other things I though about, but they were mostly things like “I really have to use the bathroom.” and “I hope that’s dust I see and not smoke.” but those things are a little harder to elaborate on.

Anyway, that’s it for today folks.


Why I Want to Change my Major

Since the end of my Junior year of high school, I’ve known that I wanted to be an engineer. I liked the idea of being outside of the ordinary (a female, Mennonite engineer isn’t too common), and I was good at math, so why not? I decided I would follow in my brothers’ footsteps, go to a community college, then Oregon State University, and get a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I would maybe minor in Humanitarian Engineering too, because somewhere deep inside of me there’s a need to serve other people.

So that’s what I told everybody I would do, and that’s what I began to work towards. And all along the way I secretly prized those raised eyebrows that I got from older Mennonite ministers, and felt like I was maybe a little bit better than those Mennonite girls who just went straight from high school into teaching little Mennonite kids at a little Mennonite school in a little Mennonite Community. They were just following the easy path. Right?

However, the more I studied engineering, the more I realized that I didn’t find it that enjoyable. I mean, it was okay, but I didn’t feel any passion for it. It was just something I was doing because it was there. I wasn’t getting the thrill out of engineering in the same way I got a thrill out of the idea of engineering.

So now my opinions on Mennonite girls who just teach are coming back to bite me in the butt, because I’m realizing that what I really want to do is teach. More specifically, teach high school math and science. I feel as though my calling in life is to serve, and I feel passionate about the education of the next generation, specifically the next generation of Mennonites.

Funnily enough, my brother, Ben, had almost the opposite experience. He started his engineering education without a lot of passion for it, and originally had the intent of teaching. However the further he went into engineering, the more he enjoyed it, and the more of a passion he had for it..

I realized that I was only pursuing engineering because I wanted to prove a point. I wanted to prove that Mennonite girls can be engineers if they want to, and that we aren’t held back from that by our denomination or our gender. I realized, I don’t want to do something that’s not right for me, just to prove a point. I still think Mennonite girls are fully capable of being engineers, but it wan’t the path for me.

So starting Fall of 2017, I will no longer be pursuing the goal of being an engineer. Instead, I’ll be working towards becoming a math and/or science teacher, and leave the engineering to those more passionate about it than myself.

Anyway, there’s a little update on what’s been swimming around in my skull.

I hope you all have an excellent Wednesday.


11 Things All Pastors’ Kids Know to be True

My dad was ordained as a pastor of the church that I attend before I was born, so I have spent my entire life being a pastor’s kid. I feel like I have enough experience as a PK to say that there are some things that all Pastors’ Kids know to be true.

There are 11, to be exact.


1. You end up going to every. single. church service.

You go to the Sunday morning service, the Sunday evening service, Wednesday night prayer meeting, and if there’s any sort of special meeting, you go to that too. Since your dad is the pastor, he has to go, so he’s taking his family with him.


2. Some Sundays you wait in the car for what feels like hours because your dad is still busy talking to people.

That one person just felt an urgent need to spend half an hour talking to him about how that one line he said wasn’t completely accurate. Meanwhile, you sit in the hot car thinking about how you’re so hungry and considering how bad it would be to eat the ketchup in the fridge of the church kitchen.


3. Being talked about in a sermon is horribly embarrassing

Did your dad REALLY have to tell EVERYONE that you told him he should at least try to finish his sermons by noon?!?! You can feel everyone’s eyes on you and the little kid in front of you turns around and gives you this look, like, “Wow. You really did that? Shame on you.”


4. But you also know that you’re one of the few people who can actually tell him he’s being too long winded.

Not many people besides the pastor’s kids, and the pastor’s wife can frankly tell him what he needs to change about his sermons.


5. You end up knowing way more about what’s going on in the church than your peers.

You know who got a talking to from the ministers, and who’s complaining about how short the girls’ sleeves are. Unfortunately, you have promised to keep your mouth shut regarding this, and can’t tell your friends like you want to.


6. Christmas time is the BEST.

Christmas is when all the church families shower your family with all sorts of goodies and treats. It’s around this time that you start to think, “You know, being a PK isn’t too bad.”


7. You can’t bother your dad on Saturday nights.

Because if you do, the ending for Sunday’s sermon won’t be finished by the time it needs to be preached, and instead of ending in a concise matter, you dad will circle and circle without actually figuring out how to land the ending of his sermon, and you’ll end up getting out of church 15 minutes late.


8. People expect you to be a bit better than other kids.

This won’t always come from your parents so much as from the people you interact with. If you admit to doing something you maybe shouldn’t have, the first response is often, “But you’re a Preacher’s Kid!” People tend to forget that we’re just regular people who make regular person mistakes.


9. You’ll end up at all the random church events.

If there’s an anointing for a sick person in church, you’ll end up there. If there’s a potluck for the newly baptized people, you’ll be there. If there’s some event for a visiting minister, you’re there too. Not that you’re complaining, though. There’s generally food involved, so you don’t mind THAT much.


10. Pastors Appreciation Month can be really awkward.

You’re part of the pastor’s family, but you’re also part of the youth group. That means if youth group is planning anything for the pastors, you end up just doing it for your own parents, which can feel a little weird.


11. You will always be able to appreciate the work that a pastor does.

You, more than anyone else, understand how demanding being a pastor is. You know that it means hundreds of hours spent preparing sermons, visiting sick church members, and trying to smooth out sticky situations. You will never trivialize the work that a pastor does.



So there it is. My list of 11 things that all PKs will understand.

This was the final post of the April Blogging Challenge. If you missed any posts you can catch up on this blog, on my mom’s blog (here), and Emily’s blog (here)

I hope you have a blessed Sunday.


The “Weird” Category

This is a paper that I wrote for my Writing 121 class during Fall term. The assignment was to write a critical narrative talking about the way you dress or a uniform you have, and how other people perceive you when you wear it. I’ve decided to dig my paper up again and post it on this blog.


The “Weird” Category”

For many years I was embarrassed about the way I dressed. In my mind, it wasn’t trendy or fashionable, and I always got the feeling that other people were placing me in the “weird” category because of the how I dressed. However, I’ve come to realize that for the most part, that wasn’t true.

I’ve been dressing modestly for as long as I can remember. I’m a Christian, and of the Mennonite denomination, and one of the things that Mennonites value is modest dress as an outward expression of a modest spirit. I’ve always worn skirts or dresses that were at least knee length, my tops have never been tight or revealing, and my hair has always been long.

When I was 12 years old, I added one more element to this ensemble; I started wearing a prayer veil. Every morning I twisted my hair into a bun at the nape of my neck, and placed the veil on top of it all as a symbol of submission to God.  It was at this time in my life that I began to dress the way I did because of a personal conviction, and not because it was what my parents told me to do.

Even so,  I hated the way I dressed. While I liked the idea of modesty, I didn’t like putting it into practice. I felt like people looked at me and immediately assumed that I wasn’t cool, or that I was just weird.

Everything changed after a fight with my mom. I remember sitting in the kitchen on a sunny Fall afternoon arguing with her about the length of a skirt. She wanted me to add a few extra inches of fabric to the hem of a bright yellow skirt that I had sewn myself. I was refusing to, because I was sure that a few extra inches, obviously tacked on to the bottom of a skirt, would make me look the the weirdest kid on the planet. I hated fighting with my mom, and by the end we were both in tears, and I had a lot of thinking to do. Even though I didn’t like the things she said, there was a lot of truth to them. It was then that I realized, it doesn’t matter if I look weird, this is how I want the world to see me, because this is me.

Crazily enough, when my perspective on myself and the way I dressed changed, so did everyone else’s. Suddenly, I no longer felt like everyone was categorizing me as “the kid who dresses weird,” I was just “Jenny,” a regular person who happened to dress a little differently.

Looking back on it now, I don’t believe that people’s opinions of me changed at all, and if they did, it was mostly likely very little. What did change was my opinion of myself. When I considered myself to be “the weird kid” and “uncool,” I assumed that that was how everyone around me perceived me, but as I began to embrace the way I dressed, I stopped assuming people thought I was weird, and started realizing that nobody else cared how I dressed.

Now, I love dressing modestly, because it’s a reflection of who I am. And when I’m confident about who I am, I know that no one’s placing me in the “weird” category because of the way I dress, and most likely no one ever did.


This post was Day 27 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can find Day 26 over on “Life in the Shoe”, and Day 25 on “The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots”.

That’s it for today folks.


Between the Living and the Dead: A Poem


And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed;

Numbers 16:48


When God’s people chose to turn away

God, in his wrath, decided they should pay.


He sent a plague to take out Israel’s nation,

While Moses stood and watched the congregation.


Then hastily, Aaron was outfitted

To rectify this sin that they’d committed.


With hordes of dying people pressing in,

He ventured out into the throes of sin.


He stood between the living and the dead,

The plague no longer reared it’s ugly head.


For even punishment for sin could not withstand

The line atonement drew upon the sand.


In a way Christ’s story is the same

When he took man’s form and to Earth came.


He came to sinners headed to their death

Prepared to give for them his final breath.


And when he gave himself a line was made,

For in his sacrifice the price was paid.


He stands between the living and the dead,

And Hell no longer rears it’s ugly head.


For even punishment for sin cannot withstand

The line salvation drew upon the sand.



Our pastor read this verse, almost in passing, in his sermon yesterday, and it just really stuck with me, so today I quick wrote this up and decided to post it. I hope you enjoyed it.

This post was Day 24 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can read Day 23 on Mom’s blog “Life in the Shoe”, and Day 22 on Emily’s blog “The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots”.



Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Jenny,

Hey there.

Today I turn 18, and recently I’ve taken to using birthdays as a time to reflect on what I’ve learned, and look at what I want to change. While doing this, I realized that there’s a lot I wish I could go back and tell you, and even though I know that’s impossible (and you probably wouldn’t listen if it was) I want to say it.

First off, you’re going to here the phrase “Be Yourself” all over the place. Practically every book for girls your age will have that message, and you’ll think it’s stupid, because who else would you be but yourself? But Jenny, being yourself doesn’t mean inhabiting your own body and no one else’s, for you it’s going to mean that you shouldn’t be basing your likes and dislikes off of what other people like and dislike. You are going to like Math and Science and History and just Learning in general, and the people around you won’t always feel the same way, but as long as you aren’t hurting them, and you still value their opinion, don’t pretend to not like those things. Conversely, you will like things that practically everyone around you loves as well, and you may feel like that makes you less unique and special, but that’s not the case. It’s okay to like things that everyone else likes, just like it’s okay to like things that nobody else likes. You’re still you.

But along with that idea, “Be Yourself” doesn’t give you the right to hurt other people. Don’t carry the idea with you that if you being yourself hurts someone it’s the other person’s problem. No, it’s your problem. You can be yourself and still be nice. Who you are doesn’t change by acting nicer towards people than you really want to.

Secondly, you are going to go through a lot. You will have people saying things about you that aren’t true, and people wishing things upon you that should never be wished on anyone. Sometimes, you will feel like the whole world is against you. The best thing you can do is not to “stand strong” like you read about in those deep Pinterest quotes, it’s to forgive the people who hurt you so badly. Believe me, it’ll be hard, forgiveness takes it’s own kind of strength, but if you can learn to forgive those people who tormented you, your life will be happier. Bitterness and anger have a way of polluting one’s spirit, but forgiveness gives you freedom and joy in a way that you can’t imagine.

Thirdly, you don’t need to get embarrassed so much. Now, a little embarrassment now and again is good for keeping you from being incredibly annoying, but you don’t need to take that to extremes. Sure, your mom is getting a lot of groceries, and you find it embarrassing, but no one else really cares. And sure, people might look at you a little odd if you start goofing off with your friends at the mall, but in reality, they’re probably just thinking that you look like you’re having fun. When you spend all your time getting embarrassed about things, you miss out on a lot of adventures.

Fourth, you’ll get the idea that the most important thing for a girl is to be strong. Strong female characters will be rampant in the books you read and the movies you watch, but please, don’t try to be like them. Instead, try to be kind. Those girls tend to be strong only in a way that tears others down, but by being kind, you can be strong in a way that builds others up. Kindness is it’s own sort of strength. It can be hard to talk to the new girl at church instead of laughing with your friends, and it can be hard to give up the last piece of cake to your sibling, but when you do it, it’s so worth it.

Finally, and most importantly, serve God, and turn to Him with any problem you have. Your problems may feel insignificant, but He’s still there for you, and He’s willing to help you out if you’ll just ask for help. But don’t just ask Him for things, thank Him for things as well, and make it your life mission to do whatever it is that He asks.

Jenny, you have a lot of life to live, and a lot of lessons to learn. Your life with have it’s ups and downs, but through it all, keep your eyes on the Lord, be kind, forgive, and be you.


Jenny Smucker, Age 18


This post was Day 21 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can find Day 20 on Mom’s blog, and Day 19 on Emily’s blog.