A Chasing Freedom Bonus: Connection

Connection is important.

In fact, we know from research that connection is one of our most basic needs.

As children of God, in a family of God, we may already know this, but the scientific community is uncovering amazing research that (not shockingly) supports the way God designed us from the beginning.

Here’s two of my favorite TedTalks about connection the impact of connection on our lives:

Johann Hari TedTalk: Connection’s impact on addiction

Brene Brown TedTalk: Vulnerability and Human Connection

We need connection like rain needs drops and bagels need cream cheese, no even more than that. We were made to connect to God, and also people.

In Genesis, God walked with Adam and Eve, and we crave that kind of connection to Him, whether we know it or not. In Christ, we are free to draw near to God once again and we wait for eternity for all the singing and dancing with Him face to face.

At the creation of the New Testament church we see connection revealed even deeper- one body, one baptism, one Lord. This is more than nice ideas. It’s a way of life. We reach others with hope by – you’ve got it – connecting with them, friendship, care, fighting against isolation and the lie that it’s easier on our own.

So, this fall, with our online Bible study Chasing Freedom, we’re going to add a layer of connection we haven’t had before. A connection challenge, if you will.
We’re partnering with the Dear 52 Project and the talented Anna Noble, to offer a free downloadable mini-set of Dear 52 cards.

There will be one card for each week of study. You print it and you send it to someone. Here are some samples to get you excited:

Connection. It’s that easy.

Who in your life could use a handwritten note that says,

“I thought of you.”

“I’m praying for you.”

“It’s been awhile. How have you been? ”

“Hey, we’re talking about freedom in this Bible study and I just really appreciate that you let me be myself.”

Two lines, four lines, or a small journal entry…no matter the length of the letter, the connection is created; friendships, relationships, or family care and concern grows and encouragement builds up.

Here’s all the Chasing Freedom components, pick and choose what works for you:

  • six easy-to-read weeks of study, to connect you to our God and His great love for you
  • a card, each week, to connect you with someone who also needs to know that they are treasured and loved. It’s a beautiful thing
  • Thursday night Facebook Live studies to connect us to one another
  • Fridays and Saturdays – there will be Chasing Freedom podcasts for those of you who are audio people, and to hear a voice sharing freedom rather than words on a page

Stretching our hearts wider for Christ and those He puts in our path…together.

Find the cards and the study, beginning September 18th, right here, at ilovemyshepherd.com.

I’m Done Chasing Freedom: Sign Me Up

Most days, around 5 o’clock, I want to strangle life.

I do perfectly fine from 7am-4pm. 4pm starts to get a little dicey, and then 5pm…

I’m hungry, I’m tired, and, more than any of that, I’m emotional.

For 38 years of this life, I have struggled to reign in my emotions. It’s better than it was, but I want more.

I want freedom.

Emotions are my yoke. I walk through my life, secure in the knowledge of God’s great love for me, Christ’s unmitigated sacrifice for me, and the Holy Spirit’s counsel and care for me. However, I so often look around me at the world and pick up my yoke of emotions, heaving it on to my back, and then I let it push me until my face is in the dirt. Why?

It’s painful and it’s unnecessary.

But there’s good news for me, and for you:

We’re invited to stop chasing freedom.

Galatians 5:1 blasted through my life when I was a new mom, a new pastor’s wife, in a new location, and wanting anything but the life I had:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)

God values freedom. He values my freedom. He values your freedom. He values it so much that He gave His Son and sent His Spirit. He knows my heart better than anyone and still loves me.

He knows I’ll pick up that yoke.

So, He writes freedom across the pages of my Bible again and again to help me see it as reality. It’s there, He’s there, every time I’ve picked that yoke back up.

I’m no longer chasing and I’m no longer chased by my emotions, the scars of the past, my own brokenness, the expectations of this world, my sadness, my loneliness, people’s rules, my idols…all of it. I’m throwing off that yoke, every day.

This is God’s work in me.

This is freedom, in His Word and with His people.

Will you join me? Will you join us?

Let’s stop chasing freedom together. Let’s stand in the proclamation of all He’s done for us. Let’s stand in freedom won for us.

Chasing Freedom: A Study of Galatians is a 6-Week online Bible study, right here at ilovemyshepherd.com.

It can be done on your own. It can be done in a group. It can be done on the go. You can join in one day a week, or read a study post five days a week, or anything in between. You’ll never be behind, just join in when you can, read old posts if you’d like, share with friends online easily if a post speaks to you.

Here’s how it works:

Chasing Freedom is a 6 week study starting September 18 thru October 27th.

There are 4 posts a week, Monday- Thursday.

Thursday nights you can join in the week’s Facebook Live Study with women around the country on the I Love My Shepherd Facebook page, at 8pm CST or catch the video archive, when you can, on the I Love My Shepherd YouTube channel, linked right here every Friday morning.

Look for some Chasing Freedom extras to be revealed soon too, free downloadables and visual faith tools, as well as Young Adult and podcast extras.

Ready to sign up?

Subscribe to I Love My Shepherd by email, found at the top right side of your screen or at the bottom of the page on your mobile device. The study will come directly to your email inbox! If you are already subscribed to the blog, leave us a friendly comment below so we know you’re joining us and we can celebrate. 

Invite one friend or many friends to join you by sharing. The Word is so much more full when studying and finding insights together.

Embracing Freedom, around the Word, together.

Let’s do it. Are you in?

We’re more similar than different – Haiti, ministry life, and encouragement

Sue Matzke teaches us how a little Haiti can change a lot of life…
About first or second grade we had to fill in a worksheet that asked “When I grow up, I want to be a ____________.”
 
I answered missionary.
 

Besides the Holy Spirit, I’m not certain what prompted me to write that. 

Enter my high school science teacher,Mr. Britten, who was once a long-term missionary in Swaziland, Africa. A scheduling glitch gave my section of Chemistry an extra twenty minutes with Mr Britten three days a week, which he dubbed “family time.” He spoke candidly about most everything we needed to hear and he often told us tales about his mission work. I soaked in every single word. It is not surprising that my high school produced numerous short and long term missionaries, but one of them was not me. I became a parochial school teacher and librarian before marrying a pastor and homeschooling our son. 

And then, one day I became one.

 

In December of 2016, I went with Ministry in Mission to Haiti. Mr. Britten always emphasized the relationships he built in mission work, and he was right.

I had been asked to facilitate some Bible studies through a translator with the Haitian women. I was nervous!  I used Heidi’s Think on These Bible Study and focused on the lovely chapter. There was so much laughter. We all shared different things that our husbands find lovely. And of course, what God thinks of as lovely. The women I worked with in Jacmel had many questions for me and seemed very surprised that my husband and son were in the church’s choir but not me! The women love to share songs. We gathered in a circle, held hands, and they sang Creole Advent hymns to me. It’s one of my favorite memories.

The second half of my trip was spent in the eastern portion of Haiti where Hurricane Matthew had done the most damage. One thing we did was to spend two days traveling to very remote churches to follow up on grants that had been given to rebuild roofs on pastor’s homes. Upon our arrival, I was always introduced as “Madame Pasteur” – pastor’s wife. When I was introduced this way, the Haitian pastors’s wives would always get a big smile on their faces and give me the most giant hug. The translators would then go off and do official business, leaving us two pastors’ wives alone. The language barrier kept us from speaking many words to each other, so more often than not, we’d just hold hands and smile. The Haitian pastor’s wife would sometimes walk around with her husband, holding my hand for dear life. I’ve been there too. Sharing a hand with one another may be just the encouragement that woman needs for their ministry. We would say goodbye with that same giant hug. 
 
I simply cannot wait to return to Haiti in January and hug those beautiful women again!
It’s a sisterhood. We women need one another. Church life, ministry, and family life look strikingly similar, no matter our nationality, ethnicity, poverty or wealth, family structure or size, ministry situation, job, gifts or abilities.
We’d love for you to come with us to encourage and receive encouragement from our sisters in Haiti. For more information on the I Love My Shepherd trip to Haiti January 18-25, see this info sheet and registration forms at Ministry in Mission .