I Love My Shepherd: The Podcast

Releasing today Thursday, May 18th –

I Love My Shepherd: The Podcast!

The goal of the I Love My Shepherd podcast is to get the Word into your life by offering our resources to you in short listenable segments. The podcast will include discussions of some of the articles and topics you find on the blog, very short audio segments of the online Bible studies, and special episode series like:

Written in Iron Ink: Ministry Stories – hear from people in the trenches of life together, sharing the Word and the work of our Savior every day, from their context and their perspective. Normalize some of the struggles of life lived in ministry and with God’s people, rejoice in the victory of God’s work and testimony through unique settings, trial, and restoration. Some of the interviews we’ll do include topics like individuality, diversity, cancer, leadership, infant loss, and more!

Ministry Moments – ideas, ideas, and more ideas. We’ll share usable ideas and thoughts for reaching out with Hope and Word into the lives of those around us.

Stuff that matters – genuineness and authenticity, mental health, building community, marriage, friendship, all those big words that are on the fringes of theology and spirituality but have a practical understanding as well.

Look to subscribe on iTunes by searching I Love My Shepherd. Look for the album art with the I Love My Shepherd script logo and the green border. Send a review our way (pretty please!), and share and comment away! You will be able to subscribe on Stitcher soon as well. When you comment, review, or share, not only am I encouraged, but others are much more likely to find us to hear our message of Hope, and find our articles and resources about all that good stuff that matters.

Here’s a preview of Episode 1: What is I Love My Shepherd?

This is what I Love My Shepherd is all about…

Intensely theological, while intensely practical

One more woman in the Word every day

Jesus in everything

People matter more

Hear more on Episode 1 today!

Subscribe on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/i-love-my-shepherd/id1236987559

or

Subscribe on Stitcher:

http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=139423&refid=stpr

How homework changed my life

img_1978

Standing at our front window one rainy Tuesday morning, I knew something needed to give. I had a baby on one hip and a toddler pulling on my leg. I loved my kids. I loved this life of mom and wife. But what I really wanted to be called was friend.

Moving had created a kind of loneliness in me that I hadn’t really experienced before. We had moved so many times, but this time it was for real. It was for keeps. My family was miles away, my high school and college friends scattered across the country, and it seemed that everyone in our new town already had friends. They didn’t need one more.

So when someone gave me a church bulletin from a nearby church, announcing a women’s Bible study with childcare, I was in like Flynn. I’ll be overly honest – I went for relationships, not for Jesus. I loved Jesus, but at this point, I probably would have shown up for a raucous drink fest if it would have offered childcare and adult conversation. The fact that this Bible study had coffee was just icing on the cake.

I showed up with my baby boy’s list of allergens, explained his intense dislike of anything stuffed or carpeted (sorry, there, childcare providers…you really do rock), and peeled the toddler in princess garb off my right leg, promising a mommy-date that involved nuggets and fries if she would just sample the fun to be had in the childcare room.

Free of extra appendages, I headed into Bible study, my typical yet embarrassing 3 minutes late, and was met with the jovial smiles of women of all ages who understood and were just happy I was there. I took a seat and they handed me a book.

Ooooo, pretty! I love fresh books, I thought in my mind, until I was brought back to planet earth by the voice of the study leader saying, “We’ll watch the video and then there will be five days of homework that you complete.” She eagerly flipped pages, clearly chomping at the bit to put pencil to paper. Me? I was stuck with my mouth ajar…wait a minute, did she just say homework, five days of it? What did I sign up for?

Holy Toledo, who has time for homework?

I came for coffee and to meet people who might want to hang out at the play land and swap stories of sleep deprivation and husband’s who still wanted to eat food off of ceramic plates, when paper was clearly the better life option at this point requiring so much less personal commitment.

“If you don’t get to the homework, don’t worry about it. Just come anyway. We’ll have a good discussion no matter what. Don’t let that stop you from being in Bible study,” the leader was saying, while her co-hort nodded emphatically.

“Whew,” I thought, with no intention of dedicating time to “quietly digest the Word” and all that. (There goes my overly honest gene again.)

Bible study itself was a smashing success for me. We discussed everything from what brand of toothpaste we used, for sheer silliness sake, to what church looked like for us growing up, even if it had never looked like anything at all. We talked about marriages and singleness and our favorite restaurants. When the leader turned on a video of a woman leading Bible study, I began to dutifully fill in my missing blanks. I loved looking up the Scriptures in a room full of women who didn’t care how long it took me to find the page. This was doable.

The workbook sat on my dining room table staring at me the next morning. I could hear that little flutter in my heart –
“Do the homework. Just try it. Try it.”

Ugh, fine. It was loud enough that it could not be ignored, so when naptime rolled around that afternoon, I took my Bible off the shelf and spread my workbook out on the table. 10 minutes in
I found myself taking notes in the margins. I was transfixed. I flipped through the pages in my Bible and found my nose about an inch from the text. I couldn’t believe how the Word connected to itself and to me, Old and New, Judgement and Grace, Law and Love.

I kept doing my homework. I went to Bible study for the fellowship and kept going for the growth. I needed that Word like I needed breath for my lungs or water on a desert trek.

My anxiety was better, my tongue was nicer, and my home was happier. Life was far from perfect, but loneliness lifted and was replaced by the knowledge that if all this passed away in an instant, Jesus would still be the Lover of my soul and the Filler of my heart.

Homework changed everything.

I didn’t just need Jesus in my life, I wanted Him in everything, in every place and every crack. He seeped in and mended brokenness I didn’t know I had, and slathered grace everywhere I hadn’t realized was parched.

I’m not sure where you’re at in this life. I don’t know your story, but know this: Christ in everything makes all the difference. Reading the Word every day changes things. It puts light in dark places and brings hope – fresh and undaunted.

Try it. Join a study local to you, hop online for our upcoming study, or grab a friend, even a stranger, and do both.

He is in that Word, girls. He loves us enough to pursue us. He speaks directly to our hearts and our minds every time. Crack it open. Aim for consistency. Learn from Eternity.

Always, always rest in His grace.

And do your homework. 😉

Fall Online Study – Sign up now!

wedding
He Calls Me Loved: A Study of Isaiah

Let’s do something different this fall…

School begins in 3 weeks. I do my yearly pep talk to myself.

“This year is going to be great. We’ll get up on time.

The kids will actually get out of bed before I threaten life and limb.

There will be hot breakfast. And freakishly healthy bento box lunches made with love and care by yours truly.

Instruments will be remembered, folders checked with joy and zeal. Writing assignments completed with vigor.

Husbands will be kissed before work and on their return home. Nothing will stand in the way of this goal, least of all small things, like preschoolers hanging off legs and pots boiling over.

There will be no yelling, particularly of the mom variety that scars small children for life.

No one will be rushing out the door with tears streaming down their face.”

And my personal favorite.

“I will do a daily devotion. This is happening, people. This is happening.”

It’s like the start of a scholastic year gets in my blood and I think my sinner-saint-self will magically manage all of life better with the introduction of tabbed folders and a new pack of washable markers.

It’s a good thing. The breath of a new season in our lives is a great time to make some change, adjust some habits, but I need real tools. And mostly I need some community. I need people to ask me, “How’s that no yelling going?” and women who will offer me forgiveness and mercy enough to help me dust myself off and keep on keeping on.

This is why I created Fall Online Women’s Bible Study. Are you looking for an easy to access but consistent and thorough way to get the Word into your day? Do you need something new, something fresh, something that adds life and joy to your day? This is what Fall Study is all about. It’s not meant to replace any study you are in, but it is meant to get us into the Word everyday in a different way.

Let’s gather. From our own place, in our own time – whether over our cup of coffee, in the quiet before bedtime, while we throw some lunch down mid day, or while we wait in line at the grocery store.

How does it work?

Our online study offers 5 days of devotion a week for 8 weeks. You read the studies right here, from your phone or computer, in about 5-15 minutes a day. You can start some discussion by commenting or you can rest in the Scripture just for yourself.

Each devotion reads like a blog post, but they dig deep into the Word and into our hearts and minds. They ask one or two questions to ponder for your own insight and growth. They can be easily shared with a friend or even a group.

We start, right here, September 12!

Sign up today by following the blog by email. This assures you get each study post in your inbox and it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and busyness of life. Miss a post? No problem! Use Saturday and Sunday as a catch up day, or simply skip it with no worries that you’ll feel behind or “missed something”.

The Book of Isaiah is overflowing with God’s realness, God’s passion, and God’s unrelenting affection for His people, for every one of us. Throughout this Old Testament book God speaks truth into our lives by sharing with us His vision of who we are. His vision is oh so different from what the world tells us.

Loved

Redeemed

Holy

Child

Clay

Ransomed

Gathered

Sought Out

Awake

8 weeks of study, 5 days a week. We can do this. 🙂

I hope you’ll join us. Invite a friend along! Let the Word seep in and bring a little more grace into everything. Everything.

 

*study graphic designed by melissasphoto.com

On Women’s Soccer – Something Worth Fighting For

I enjoy getting riled up sometimes. I’ll admit it. I believe deep down that it’s a good gift of God that we are people who can get worked up, when it’s about something that matters.

I now think women’s soccer matters. I’m not a soccer player. Goodness, I’m not really an athlete either. I have been known to occasionally run a 5K (once every 5 years) and I enjoy yoga. But I had to laugh when my 8 year old asked me, from the back seat of the minivan, what sport I played in high school.

“Mommy didn’t really ‘do’ sports, sweetie. That was daddy’s thing.” 

“What did you ‘do’ then, mom?” (She was a bit mystified and incredulous.)

“I did plays and music. I studied Spanish. I traveled a lot. Student council. All kinds of stuff. I think I might have done track for about half a season? Maybe.”

Her response – “Oh Mom! You’re so funny.”

Needless to say, I’m not a sports oriented person in my own right. I enjoy some good hockey from the stands and I’ll cheer on my kids with the best of them. 

So, I was shocked by my own strong reaction to the announcement of the lawsuit filed by the US Women’s Soccer team. At first, I watched the news report and thought, “Well, that’s junky. Of course they should be paid fairly.”

Then it came across my newsfeed on twitter. “Yes, I do think women should be paid the same as men. Go them! You fight for it ladies.”

And then I heard a news report that rocked me to the core. That incensed me deeply, and I woke up the next morning realizing that this was my battle too. This wasn’t just theirs. This was not a time to stay silent. 

Do we care about our daughters? Do we want to give them the very best? Do we teach them to dream big and reach high and give it everything they’ve got?

Yes we do. Of course we do. It’s not that I need them to be on the US women’s soccer team, or take on a high level competitive anything. I could care less about that. It’s not even that I need them to go and do and be better and more and exist as living bundles of ambition. 

It is that I want them to know that they don’t need to be perfect.

And that is exactly what this US Women’s Soccer team battle is about. Perfection. 

The news report that was a game changer for me was the one that shared exactly how much the men’s and women’s teams make. It wasn’t the pay differential that got to me, although it should be embarrassing and offensive to all of us. What made be cry actual tears of injustice over my morning coffee was this…

The men’s soccer team gets paid if they win or if they tie or if they lose. Albeit slightly less if they tie or lose, but they get paid none the less. Paid. A check in the mail. Validation for showing up and giving it their all, or half their all, or whatever they gave.

The women – they only get paid if they win.

What message does this send?
Winning must mean everything. Everything.

What message does this send to my daughter sitting in the backseat of my minivan?

“You must be perfect. You must win. You are only valuable if you bring home the goods. So hop to it, little missy. Wrap up everything that you believe about yourself in the win. Outside of the win, it’s all crap, and so are you.”

Raising the next generation of perfectionists is not an option.  

In her Ted Talk, Reshma Saujani gives startling research statistics on girls and perfection. The most memorable for me being that men will apply for a job if they meet 60% of the qualifications. Women will only apply if they meet 100% of the qualifications.

This statistic stuck out to me because I had just done exactly that. I read a job posting online. I scrolled down the list. I made sure I could check every box. Every box. Why would anyone want me if I couldn’t?

Ack. What am I passing on to my daughter?

Meet Jyeva. She loves soccer. She got some ridiculously athletic gene that I did not pass down. She plays hockey like a girl, and by that, I mean she doesn’t just get the puck. I mean she kills the puck.
Her first season of soccer, her team lost every game but 2. 

jyeva soccer
Do I want Jyeva to love what she loves any less because she couldn’t win? Baloney. Bull. No way. (Feel free to insert your own minor expletive here.) 

Jyeva and all the precious girls around her will not grow up under the same cultural pressure of perfectionism if I have anything to say about it. It ends today. 

And so I will write this blog and I will fight alongside the women’s soccer team and I will not be quiet about things that matter. And I’m asking the same of you, as you read this.

This matters.

Our girls matter. Whether they win or lose. 

They are valuable and beautiful and talented and incredible creatures when they bring home the trophy and when they bring home a loss. Shame, you are not invited to this party. “Am I enough?” you may not come in.
Let’s end this now. Let’s throw off a culture that says good is never quite good enough and squashes little girl dreams in a pile of perfectionism rubbish. 

This is about more than women’s soccer. This is about our daughters. It’s worth fighting for.
soccer 2
To find the actual pay disparity and related statistics go here

Reshma Saujani – Teach Girls Bravery Not Perfection 

We are honored by God

 

Day 2 – We are honored by God.

Today’s study begins with our heart verse for the week. (I call them heart verses because I am not great at memory work, and the word “memory” leaves me kicking and screaming, but I believe there are messages God leaves us in Scripture that He writes on our heart through the Spirit. We can strategically tuck these in our heart for a later date, and that is of infinite value, eternal value.)
Let’s dive in today and read Isaiah 43:1-7 in our Bibles.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    

he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    

I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    

and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    

Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    

and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
    

I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
    

and my daughters from the end of the earth,
 everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”
I was in a Bible study a couple of years ago where we had to count how many times the word you or your was used in these seven verses. Try it now, it’s quite striking. How many did you get?
22 times! Yes, 22 times in these seven verses of Scripture God tells us in a multitude of ways how valued we are. I know Faith is not simply all about me and it’s important that we understand that. But when I found this passage of Scripture, my heart ached with God’s truth, in a way I had not heard or understood it before. God loves me. 
God honors me. God has called me, God has washed me. God has ransomed me. God gave Jesus in exchange for me. God says this all over Scripture, but this is the only place I have ever found that God simply says those three little words our hearts were made to long for – I love you.
Straight from the mouth of God, not wrapped up tightly in abstract theological ideas, but plain for me to see. My honor, people’s honor, the Church’s honor, whatever is honorable is held tightly by a God who loves.
*Fun fact: The Hebrew for honor in this verse (Isaiah 43:4) is niḵ·baḏ·tā, which essentially has the same definition as the Greek word we found in Philippians 4:8 and studied on day 1 –semna, meaning heavy, burdensome, weighty and/or important.