An Unblinking Look at Midlife

News Release
April 12, 2017

An Unblinking Look at Midlife 

Veteran columnist explores the indignities and perks of midlife in When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?

HARRISONBURG, Va.—The questions of midlife are quieter and deeper than clichés involving motorcycles and illicit affairs suggest. Who have I become? Is this all there is to life? Why does God feel so distant at this
point of my life?
Or, to quote musician Paul Simon, “Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.”

Author and veteran columnist Jennifer Grant takes an unblinking—and often humorous—look at the transitions of midlife in When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife (Herald Press, May 2017).

From the emptying nest to the sagging effects of aging, Grant acknowledges the complexities and loss inherent in midlife. As she leads readers through the events of her 40s, stories of loss and crushing identity and faith crises are followed by chapters marked by acceptance and gratitude as she finally gets her footing in midlife.

“I started my forties looking too often into the mirror and getting tangled up in my thoughts—my goals, my shifting identity, my disappointments, my hopes,” Grant says. “As I leave this decade behind, I find myself focusing less on me and more on how I might, bit by incremental bit, help to make the world more whole.”

As Grant addresses issues like hormonal swings and a teenager’s scorn, Grant’s middle-aged readers will recognize themselves in the pages. More than just a memoir, When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? encourages readers to live fully and embrace this stage of life. Author Jon Sweeney calls the book a “necessary, awakening memoir,” and journalist and religion writer Cathleen Falsani writes, “What I didn’t expect was to have my breath taken away, torrents of tears followed—sometimes on the same page—by uncontrollable belly laughs.”

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat, notes, “This memoir, unexpectedly, helped me look forward to experiencing my forties and fifties.”

Of her own middle years, Grant notes that she and her husband will be empty nesters in four short years. “Our two daughters will be gone, grown, off discovering the people and purposes that will shape their adult lives,” Grant describes. “As much as my heart will strain sometimes, and feel as if it just might tear apart with missing my children, this is all as it should be.”

Jennifer Grant is a writer, editor, and speaker. A former health and family columnist for the Chicago Tribune, she is the author of four previous books, including the adoption memoir Love You More. Her work has also been published at websites such as Aleteia/For Her and on the Sojourner magazine blog God’s Politics. Grant is a longtime member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and lives in Wheaton with her husband, four children, and two rescue dogs. Find her online at jennifergrant.com or on Twitter @jennifercgrant.

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? is $16.99 and available at Amazon and other retailers as well as from Herald Press at 800-245-7894. The book is to be released May 2, 2017.

To schedule an interview with Jennifer Grant, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

MennoMedia Staff
High-resolution photos available

 

 

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

March 30, 2017

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

New book by Palmer Becker helps explain beliefs of Mennonites and more

HARRISONBURG, Va.—What makes Anabaptism different from other Christian traditions? According to author Palmer Becker, it can be explained by three words: Jesus. Community. Reconciliation.

In the new resource Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith (Herald Press, March 2017), Becker introduces readers to the key convictions and practices of Anabaptism. Becker is also the author of the small volume, What Is an Anabaptist Christian? now published in 20 languages.

Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his Revisionist History podcast, says of Becker’s three key words, “It’s hard to explain to an outsider how seriously the Mennonites take these three things: Jesus, community, and reconciliation.”

Publishers Weekly calls it “an easy, engaging read for those who want to learn, or be reminded of, what Christianity is all about,” adding that the section on conflict “should be assigned reading for every Christian for its clear-eyed assessment of conflict and effective nonviolent strategies for engaging and transforming it.”

In Anabaptist Essentials, Becker explains the core beliefs of Anabaptism and clearly lays out the differences that define the tradition. Becker explains, “In this book I unapologetically describe ten ways in which Anabaptist Christians are uniquely different from many, or even most, Christians. Anabaptists have often downplayed differences with other believers and highlighted similarities.” While seeking common ground is a good impulse, Becker says, “this quest for unity has also muted many of the unique qualities and strengths that the Anabaptist tradition might offer to the wider church.”

Designed for study by small groups and for use as a basic resource for Christian formation and conversation, the guide includes illustrations and discussion questions. Spanish and French editions of Anabaptist Essentials are planned for release in June 2017.

Becker is a speaker, pastor, church planter, missionary, author, and educator. A graduate of Goshen College, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Regent College, and Fuller Theological Seminary, Becker most recently served as director of the Hesston College pastoral ministries program, before moving to Ontario in semi-retirement.

To schedule an interview with Palmer Becker, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

To purchase Anabaptist Essentials, check here or call 800-245-7894.

MennoMedia Staff
High-resolution photos available

Amish Prayers coloring book uses early Anabaptist prayers

February 22, 2017
News release

Amish Prayers coloring book uses early Anabaptist prayers
Herald Press offers second devotional coloring book

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Last fall, Herald Press took its first step into the world of adult devotional coloring books with Beloved Amish and Mennonite Quilts. Its latest addition to the field, Amish Prayers, offers fraktur drawings and thoughtful, contemplative prayers from Anabaptist history. The collection will be released April 4, 2017.

The 43 prayers are translated and adapted from Die ernsthafte Christenpflicht (Prayer Book for Earnest Christians, first published in 1708), a traditional Amish prayer book which grew from prayers of Anabaptists in the 1500s and 1600s, and still used by Amish folks today.

In the coloring book, each prayer is presented on the left side of each spread along with a related Bible verse and room for journaling. On the facing page is an illustration to color, incorporating a key phrase from the accompanying prayer using fraktur, a type of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Lynn Sommer, an artist and member of Community Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, created each coloring page. Pages tear out easily if users want to display or give away their artwork.

“My ink and watercolor paintings are often inspired by traditional Swiss Mennonite and Pennsylvania German fraktur motifs from my heritage,” Sommer said. “The fraktur form drew me in as a young child because there was something sacred in the combination of names, dates, and sacred events such as baptisms and births recognized within the faith community. The folk art images in fraktur show a beautiful union between art and religion.”

The designs are symmetrical and often repetitive, aiding prayerful contemplation of a central idea. Some are more realistic and some more abstract, and many are a mixture of both, according to the artist. The designs frequently implement nature images of birds, flowers, plants, and the sun.

Sommer says that the process of creating the illustrations was “an artistic and spiritual discipline intertwined. I would first read the prayer, focus on the designated short phrase to be incorporated into the design, browse early fraktur designs, turn on contemplative music, then begin sketching.”

The book’s preface is written by an Old Order Amish woman from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who prefers that her name not be used. In the preface, she recounts fond memories of her father praying these prayers aloud and writes about how meaningful it is to pray prayers written centuries ago by Anabaptist Christians undergoing severe persecution.

In reflecting on the process of creating the art for Amish Prayers, Sommer concluded, “I am grateful for the spiritual pilgrimage this project has brought into my life. I am hopeful for coloring book connoisseurs as they embark on their spiritual journey with the Amish Prayers coloring book.”

Amish Prayers is available for $12.99 USD from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, as well as at bookstores and online retailers.

MennoMedia intern Luisa Miller
High resolution photo available

For sample copies or questions, please contact:
LeAnn Hamby
Marketing Manager
Herald Press
(540) 908-3941 LeAnnH@mennomedia.org