Chasing Freedom: Fall Bible Study and the quest for free

Freedom

When you were a toddler you got your first taste of it…you may have started with the army crawl, perhaps you put one knee in front of the other in your pursuit of electric cords and other dangers glimmering from your side view.

Maybe you pulled up on a chair and cautiously slid a chubby little foot to the right to peek at where mom had gone. One day, your parents put your bare feet down in spiky grass at the park, the big blue sky shined bright overhead and you got your first real taste of possibility.

You ran.

There were bugs to chase, flowers to eat, and the sound of children laughing somewhere just within reach.

You began chasing freedom and have been doing so ever since.

When we become adolescents freedom becomes so important to us that we push for it at every turn. We buck rules, maybe not dramatically, but putting our pencil in just the right location to let it roll off the desk to annoy the teacher, pushing out angst when our parents make us show up for the family reunion or church picnic, not because we don’t enjoy it, but because we don’t want anyone to think we are following their expectations. We start to either reign ourselves in and make our own rules where we can or we bust out of expectations all together and find anything and everything to rebel on.

Ah, the days of adolescence…fun, exhausting, and important.

To some extent this fight for freedom will always be with us, because it’s a spiritual battle, not an emotional or intellectual one.

God made us for freedom, but we chase it and search for it all around us, always seeking a little bit more, where freedom already exists. We want control over our life, freedom from the expectations swirling around us, freedom from the pain inflicted by others, shallow or deep.

We want freedom, like we want air, and you would think this is only a problem for unbelievers, but it isn’t. No matter how mature we are as Christians we are always discovering what Freedom in Christ means and what that looks like in our lives.

I invite you to lean into this question with me this Fall. Dig deep with us into the six chapters that make up the book of Galatians, a New Testament letter written long ago by the Apostle Paul.

What does Paul know about my search for freedom in the 21st century? It turns out…maybe everything.

Let’s stop chasing freedom together and start sitting in the freedom we have, discovering more of all Jesus gives us, today and each day from here forward, throwing off the expectations of others and resting in the expectations of God and God alone.

Introducing…

 Chasing Freedom: A Study of Galatians  

our upcoming Online Bible Study – six weeks, September 18- October 27th. Mark your calendars, invite a friend, subscribe to I Love My Shepherd so you don’t miss it.

Oh goodness I look forward to studying with you. Look for updates in the weeks to come, a little more on where we try to find freedom and what we are seeking freedom from, and an official “sign up” day August 17th.

Freedom – this Fall.

Together.

 

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 who 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 me 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. Its 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)