Anything But “Ordinary”

Chris Steingart is from Kitchener, Ontario. A MennoMedia board member for the past 2 years, Chris is the lead designer and founder of QT Web Designs a full service online marketing company. He is the father of 2 children – Rowan (2 yrs) and Maya (1 month) and husband to 1 wife – Jillian, all show below.

Chris Jillian Rowan and Maya

About a year ago, I picked up a copy of Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting.

As a parent of a rambunctious toddler (Rowan), I was excited that Herald Press was offering titles that explored something directly relevant to me, and was thrilled to read a book by a friend, Rachel Gerber!

Last spring on my way home from a board meeting I cracked open Ordinary Miracles and couldn’t put it down. Gerber’s thoughtful and relevant insights mixed with her down-to-earth wit combined for an enjoyable read that had me in stitches and tears and sometimes both at the same time. It seemed like with each turn of the page there was always something that had me saying to myself (and occasionally out loud) “that is so true!” Throughout the book we hear accounts of Gerber’s own parenting experiences and observations, cleverly woven into the “Emmaus Road” story (Luke 24:13-35). The overarching theme is that when parenting seems bleak, God is present.

Fast forward in my own life to this past month when we welcomed Maya, a little sister for Rowan. When the going has gotten tough (as it inevitably does with a 2 year old and a 1 month old), I’ve found myself coming back to Ordinary Miracles for a comforting word, a relevant chuckle, and also to ground myself a little bit in the Holy work that’s going on in our household.

In particular I found Gerber’s depiction of two different kinds of time that govern our lives to be very relevant to my experience:

Chronos is the time that we live in. It is the time that is told by the clock. It’s the five minutes left in time-out. It’s being stopped by another red light as you race to preschool to try not to be late again. It’s holding your breath as you wait to check out at the grocery store while your squirrely boys try to rip down candy displays and whine at the top of their lungs about why they need M&Ms now.

Kairos, however, is God’s time. It is time above time. It is a time with no end, when you are able to momentarily stand still in the midst of the hub-bub of life and see how things really are. It is stepping back, even in the craziness of life, to take notice of the blessings in life. To realize how God moves, how God provides and how God simply is.”

As a business owner who works from home, way too much of my life is Chronos-led time. I start work at 8:30, I work till noon – I eat, I play with Maya, put Rowan to bed – hoping that Maya’s not screaming in the background distracting his focus on his nap, only to ruin his chance at giving me an extra couple hours to work… We feed Rowan dinner, then I hold Maya for a while in the evening and if I’m lucky and not totally beat, I put in another couple hours of work in the evening – YEESH! If Chronos was the guiding force in our lives, I would be consumed by schedules to the point of insanity. Gerber helps us to remember, to take time and look for the opportunities for God’s time: Kairos. It’s only when we (occasionally) throw out the clock and the phone calendar alerts, that we can truly enjoy bath time – when more water is splashed outside the tub than remains in it, or snack time – where we discover the best place to eat apple sauce is off of a bib, not out of the bowl. Or bed time, when reading a couple more books and singing two or three more songs is a joy and a privilege, not a burden.

I wouldn’t say that I’m the model parent who makes all the good decisions, but with Ordinary Miracles as my companion, I can really come to terms with the Holy work of raising two amazing little human beings that is taking place in our home.

Whether you’re a parent-to-be, a new parent, or are someone who delights in reading about the trials and tribulations of parenting young children, this is the book for you! Ordinary Miracles also makes for a perfect faith-based gift for an upcoming baby shower!

More than that, it is a reminder for anyone of these two concepts of time—and how Kairos time is needed by all.

Ordinary Miracles is a book that is anything but ordinary. It balances funny accounts of Rachel and her boys (Owen, Connor and Zachary ) and her continuous battle to drink a hot… (no), warm… (no), reheated coffee, wipe runny noses, fit in time to work, and cope head on with the endless calamity, distractions and tearful moments that parenting in a God-centered home can bring.

–Chris Steingart

Chris was recently named to MEDA’s 20 Under 35 list of “Young Professionals Changing the World.” 

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OrdinaryMiracles

For more on this book or to purchase, check our store.

Growing Where You’ve Never Gone Before

Blog by Jerilyn Schrock

“A man’s mind stretched to a new idea
never regains its original dimensions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

I like to stretch. It feels good to stretch after a workout and while doing yoga or Pilates and sometimes for a bit in the afternoon in my office. (I’m glad I have a door that I can shut.) Every few days I notice that I can stretch just a little . . . bit . . . more. And that’s good.

Since joining the marketing side of the MennoMedia team a year ago, I’ve been stretched in many directions at once. The first six months involved extensive travel to places I’m sorry to admit I had never been before: Lancaster, Elkhart, Goshen, to name a few, plus Kitchener-Waterloo a month prior. I grew up Mennonite in Harrisonburg but now since visiting what I affectionately dubbed ”MennoMeccas,” I feel more approved somehow. Travel can be both exciting and challenging, and meeting some of our great customers and supporters in person while following authors on book tour was a great experience. Stretch.

ShirleyAndJerilyn[Shirley Showalter, left, with Jerilyn Schrock.]

I’ve worked with wonderful authors: Shirley Showalter, Logan Mehl-Laituri, Saloma Miller-Furlong, Ervin Stutzman, Rachel Gerber, Dr. Glen Miller.

ForGodandCountry[Jerilyn took this photo at the Notre Dame Campus bookstore of Andre Gingerich Stoner, Mennonite Church USA Director of Interchurch Relations, chatting with Herald Press Author Logan Mehl-Laituri at the launch of For God and Country (in that order).]

ForGodAndCountry

The list goes on and happily will continue to grow. I didn’t know any of the authors before starting to work with them. Each author has shown me a better way of communicating and relating and has taken me to a higher level both personally and professionally. And of course, marketing their books invites reading their books. All insightful. All challenging and changing. Stretch.

I’m excited to not only work with great authors but great staff at MennoMedia as well. The level of hard work and creativity is incredible, and I also appreciate the high level of integrity. I’m constantly encouraged by example to eat healthier (many eat locally and intentionally), live healthier (many walk/work out daily and/or ride their bikes all over God’s creation), be more active in church (many are in positions of leadership), and laugh whole-heartedly (the puns and dry humor can bring on some serious tears). How does one take staff members from multiple states across two countries, all with different histories, experiences, thought processes, and personality types and gel them into a common team that not only doesn’t resemble a complete mess but works together with synergy, energy, and good will? God. Stretch.

IMG_8721I’ve been told that who you become in five years is directly related to what you read and with whom you associate. I know I’m blessed to be here and read these books and partner with these people. I’m also excited to work with and meet many of you! I’m pleased with the growth I’ve seen in both myself and in MennoMedia this past year and look forward to where we’ll be in five years. I can tell that every day we’re being stretched just a little . . . bit . . . more. And that’s good.

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How have you stretched in the last year? How would you like to see Herald Press stretch?

Jerilyn Schrock
Sales and Marketing Manager
Herald Press

[In above photo, Jerilyn is 5th from right, pictured with many of the Harrisonburg office staff for MennoMedia/Herald Press. Blush author Shirley Showalter, a Harrisonburg resident, is 2nd from right.]