Women Encouraging Women, an I Love My Shepherd Mission Trip

We need each other.

It’s a fact. It’s a reality. God created us for this life together. We could try to go it alone, but we quickly find out it’s miserable, hard, and more than a little sad. We need encouragers, cheerleaders, listeners, insight givers, discerners, and people who love us, just for being us.

It’s time to put that belief into action in a way that I Love My Shepherd hasn’t done before.

It’s time to go.

There are women next door who need encouragement and there are women across the globe that need encouragement. I proposed lemonade parties for our neighbors. Now I’m proposing we take it wider.

I would like to invite each of you to join my friend Sue and I for the Women Encouraging Women Mission Trip to Haiti, January 18-25, 2018. We’re partnering with Ministry in Mission to join together to step outside our normal lives and learn from someone else’s.

The poverty in Haiti is world famous. Life in Haiti is far less privileged than ours and many women and families work hard just to survive day-to-day. Haiti is also so much more. It’s people are heartfelt, creative, and beautiful. Opportunities like this help us to look outside of what we know and understand from our tiny corner of the earth and see through another precious child of God’s.

We are looking for women to come with us, to encourage women just like yourself, to spend time crafting with village women, to visit elderly women, and to do Bible study with local young women and mamas there.

The primary purpose of this trip is relationship, encouragement.

We won’t be getting anything done beyond that- the needed gift of encouragement – one woman to another.

The cost is $1600 for airfare, lodging, and food. You can find all kinds of details and contact information for questions in this handy PDF –
Women Encouraging Women 2018
I hope you’ll prayerfully consider joining us in the journey. Sometimes it’s not the right season or God’s answer is not right now. Sometimes His answer is- “Let’s do this.”
Let’s go be those hands and feet of the Gospel, in our neighborhoods and across the sea.

Bright Green is the Color of Hope – The Gift of Life in Infant Loss


Genevieve and I met on a non-discript day in September, I imagine. Genevieve and I bonded sharing a tiny little office off the chapel of Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois.

Young and fresh and full of theological ideologies just waiting to be hammer out, we spent a fair number of hours gabbing about which classes were our favorites, bad boyfriend breakups, and philosophical dissertations on the lectionary selection of the week.

We grew up. We met handsome men, who were chasing after the Lord and could keep up with our theological rants and so we married them. We grew out. We each moved. We lost touch a little. Then Facebook worked its magic on the world and we vowed not to lose touch again.

We liked each other’s feeds. We commented on recipes we thought we would each like. We rejoiced together as babies were born and ministry happened and life did its thing. Then my world fell apart, and Genevieve was there.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be my turn, 3 years later, to hold Genevieve when her world fell apart. February 7th we should have welcomed Sebastian Alexander Sigmund Wagner to the world.

If the world were perfect, if Adam and Eve would have kept their grubby hands off that apple, we would have. Instead, we welcomed this precious little boy into his eternal rest in the arms of His Savior.

I created the Written in Iron Ink series of the podcast to reflect the testimonies of all the brave and courageous people I know going forth in this life and letting God write His testimony across their lives, their struggles, their joys, their losses, and their triumphs. When we go through stuff we want to know that it isn’t for naught, that God is at work, that ministry is being done, and that through it He ministers to us, and He ministers to His people.

I was blessed to sit with Genevieve and Rev. Geoffrey Wagner last month and talk about God’s work in and through the life of their stillborn son.

God has written a message on Sebastian’s tiny little life and the Wagner’s are the first to tell you that His message is Hope.

Our hands are grubby too. Adam and Eve aren’t the only ones to deal with the consequences of sin. From that day on our whole world struggles against the darkness of a world groaning for Christ to heal it. Death is our reality, and sometimes death that comes far too soon. The Wagner’s, in this podcast, help us to clarify God’s grace for the unborn, God’s work in every single life He creates, and the testimony that our Savior works for ministry to and among one another in times of grief.


Here are a few of the highlights:

Every pastor needs a pastor. Every pastor’s family needs a pastor.

Grief is an individual process and requires a judgement free zone. Spouses grieve differently from one another. Children need to grieve. Others who offer support and grieve alongside are a gift.

The promise of the Gospel is heard in the womb. We cling to the promises and the grace of God, the Word of God, rather than our own abilities and doubts. God works His testimony and ministry happens through the tiniest of lives.

I Love My Shepherd- Episode 16

Written in Iron Ink – Infant Loss

Resources for infant loss:

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep- Infant loss photography

Molly’s Bears – more than just a teddy bear

Grieving the Child I Never Knew: A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child

Share – A National Organization for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support

Star Legacy Foundation: Stillbirth Education, Research, and Awareness

At the Death of a Child – booklet on infant loss and baptism

I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy (book)

 

Friendship and lemonade parties


This afternoon I sat in my back yard with my feet in a baby pool. It was awesome and it was long overdue.

Most people who know us, know that we love adventure and travel. We love food and culture, whether it’s found across an ocean, or in a small town in Wisconsin. We love it most of all for the people, for the faces across the country, and across the globe that we know and love, and that we have yet to meet and already love.

Our kids are adventurous creatures too. Most of the time when we say the word new, they say, “Let’s try it.” (Most of the time…)

So, we run around. A lot. We drive around. A lot.

But somewhere, deep down, I believe that summer should be quieter than the rest of the year; gentler, less scheduled, less full.

I often have to work to subscribe to the very things I hold dear. Rest is at the top of that list. Time for friendship is another.

So, after a solid couple of months of travel, I’m going to make time for those two things in particular – rest and friendship – and I want to invite you to join me.

There are few things that say summer and lazy days like lemonade. There is very little in life more inviting than something homemade with love.

I’m issuing a challenge for myself and for each of you. Invite a friend over. Be lazy about the conversation. Be generous with the refreshing beverages. Put your feet in a baby pool. Swelter in the heat on the front porch or play cards around the kitchen table. Whatever you do:

Invite one friend over. Invite one friend into your life deeper.

Don’t make a plan. Don’t design a project to organize yourself around (oh my goodness, but do I love a project!). Just rest, relax, and refresh together.

Here are my three favorite recipes for lemonade, one may or may not be margaritas. 😉  Consider yourself challenged. Invite one friend over. Serve them a beverage, one of these, or of the variety that comes bottled and ready from the grocery store. No judgment.

One friend. That’s your goal:

Friendship and lemonade.

Recipes for Fun 

Fresh lavender lemonade –

I still use my favorite homemade lemonade recipe I learned in 4H when I was 8 years old, and simply add lavender from my herb garden:


Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 8 cups water over low heat on the stovetop. To make it lavender-y, add 5-10 sprigs of lavender. Cool, strain out the lavender pieces, and add 1 cup of lemon juice. Ta-da!

Cherry limeade –

Drive to Sonic.

No, I’m just joking. But wow. They know how to do it!


I turn to the Pioneer Woman for this recipe:

Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Limeade Recipe

And…Homemade Margaritas –


A few years ago, after a February trip to Mexico, I spent an entire summer trying to perfect the homemade margarita. It feels like the quintessence of adulting hospitality on a hot summer night. Our friends suffered through many pale attempts, until I found my favorite combination and I haven’t deviated since. They are best served in a pitcher, watching the Ohio sun set, over expanses of knee-high corn:

Combine 1 cup Triple Sec, 1 cup tequila, 2/3-3/4 cup lime juice, and a splash of lemon juice. Serve over ice. Add salt to the rim, if that’s your thing.

Friendship and lemonade – Let’s make this happen.

 

 

Open the conversation: Questions about things that matter

I am a terrible talker.

Words come out and they just keep coming. The benefit of this is that I can talk to anyone. The draw back is that I always walk away from a conversation wishing I had invited the other person to be at least a little more a part of it.

I deeply value people. That’s one of the values at I Love My Shepherd-

People matter more.

God invites us to relationship with Him, to ask questions of Him, and to find out more about Him.

I want other people to see this truth when they talk to me. How can I show people that they matter more than my thoughts and ideas, and they matter to a God who loves them dearly?

Enter: questions.

Someone recently shared some wisdom with me – 

when in doubt, ask a question.

Some people will never walk into a church. We are the living, breathing church walking around in that big wide world out there. We are where they will see and hear about a Savior who values them enough to know them intimately.

What kind of questions can we ask people to get to the heart of things that matter in life; questions that lead to deeper relationship; and questions to spur on talking about faith, purpose, and meaning? 

In a culture that seems apathetic about almost everything and more than ho-hum about faith, my husband wisely suggested,

“Everyone has something they care about…ask them what they care about.”

I would add…genuinely desire to hear the answer.

We may get responses we don’t like, that don’t look like ours.

We may not always have a concrete answer in return.

We can be honest. We can say things like, “I don’t believe in that.” Or “I think differently about that.” That’s part of being genuine. We don’t have to fake thinking about things the same.

We may end up studying the Word more, asking God more questions, and finding Truth for our own hearts and minds in the process.

On this episode of the I Love My Shepherd podcast, we’ll talk about six questions to start or take a conversation to things that matter, and get to know people in genuine relationship.

Find the questions on the podcast. Share some of your own in the comments. 

Let’s get out there together and talk about stuff that matters, with people we may have been unlikely to talk to without one another’s encouragement.

To quote Hamilton,

“Talk less. Smile more.”

Ask some questions.

Say One Nice Thing First


When I was in 6th grade I was a bit of a snit.

I liked what I liked and I didn’t like what I didn’t like.

I’m not so sure this is uncommon for middle schoolers. Part of building independence and developing past ego, ego, and more ego, is to experiment with all kinds of wants, needs, desires, and compassions, trying them on, getting them straightened out, and embracing them as our own. The question we should ask adolescents isn’t what they want to be, but who they want to be?

My mom was pretty wise. She knew I didn’t want to be someone selfish, hateful, and ugly. So standing by her bed one evening complaining about whatever unfairness occurred in my day, she stopped my words, looked straight into my eyes and said,

“Heidi, I want you to say one nice thing…

Not one nice thing right now, not one nice thing in a few days. I want you to say one nice thing before you say anything else, every time you speak.”

She proceeded to keep me accountable for three whole months –

“Did you say something nice first?

Did you think something nice about that person?

What went well? What was nice in your day?”

Common sense, right?

But not to a twelve-year-old, and not to most of the world before us it would seem.

I’m not saying that one nice thing will change everything in an instant, the way we communicate, the darkness of struggle, the intricacies of relationship, but it does change perspective that’s for sure.

Think of it another way, God disagrees with us all the time, but still talks nicely to us. What if we completely agreed with one another at all times and in all places and spaces of our lives. Sounds like world peace, but it also sounds like very little room or need for grace.

Instead we can partner with one another through words, words that sound different from one another, words that have different messages and different agendas. I super love words, but if we’re ever going to share in genuine conversation, genuine affection, genuine relationship, we’re going to have to disagree occasionally. Because I don’t look like you and you don’t look like me.

And isn’t that a really, really nice thing?

 

I’m over faking it, bring on the genuine. Let’s be ourselves. Let’s have opinions. Let’s do so nicely.

One nice thing, thought, spoken, shared, before every conversation. I think it may go a long way in loving each other and this great big world a little bit better.

One nice thing.

For more on this topic of Using Genuine Words see episode 14 of the I Love My Shepherd podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or the link below.

If you’re interested on more about Erikson’s Stages of Development, particularly ego-identity v. role confusion, here’s a helpful, simple link: https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html