Think on These

Today I have a unique book to share with you, written by my good friend. Because she describes what her book is so well, here’s the back cover text:

Philippians 4:8 gives us the admonition to place our minds on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise…but what does this mean for us in our daily lives? Dive in as we search the Scriptures to find out more and begin to “think on these”.
I Love My Shepherd studies have five days of study in the Word each week. Each day is a 10-15 minute read. Some days contain questions for reflection, while others leave space for prayer journaling and Scripture engagement. Gather to study with a group or enjoy a quiet moment, one-on-one with God.
Intensely theological, intensely practical, every time.

totwmeI don’t know about you, but I could use more of this in my life. I’ve read through this study several times — as blog entries at her website I Love My Shepherd, as an editor, as a formatter, and I’m looking forward to sitting down with my hard copy and reading it as a wife, mom, friend, daughter, and child of God. 🙂

My favorite thing about Heidi’s studies is that she speaks both justice and grace into every facet of life. Justice and grace that flow from God’s Word, through her pen (keyboard?) and into people’s lives. She doesn’t shy away from the messy stuff that touches everyone’s lives at one point or another (sometimes it lives with us for a season!), but she handles the mess with hands guided by God’s Word and a gentle and loving touch.

Now, a brief interview!

Sarah: Tell us a little about yourself?
Heidi: I love Jesus. I love my family. I love Star Wars and hockey and lots of stuff. I wholeheartedly believe that God gives us so much during our short time on this planet and I try to fully embrace every day. If you’ve ever met me, I pray that this is obvious. I really love sharing the Word and hearing the Word, particularly with other women. What a gift it is to share in life together and know we aren’t alone on this journey! I Love My Shepherd has 4 core values and I think it speaks to everything that I try to do each day and with my writing and work:
Intensely theological, while intensely practical
Jesus in everything
One more woman in the Word every day
And People matter more
Sarah: Love this! I can definitely see all of these in your writing – both in Think on These and in your blog. It really speaks God’s Word directly to women’s hearts. Tell me, why did you decided to write Think on These. What about it speaks to your heart?
Heidi: I started leading online women’s Bible studies in order to help women get ahold of both usable resources that speak to their heart and get them in the Word each day, but also to build community with one another. I think we learn more, we were designed to learn more by studying and growing and sharing alongside one another. Many women from my studies asked if I had a print study they could use by themselves or with a group of women, both in churches or in their communities and groups. I hadn’t really thought about doing it, but with your (Sarah!) encouragement I jumped into the process of self-publishing the study. I wanted a study that was again, usable and not intimidating for each day, maybe even that could be shared with a friend on the fringes of faith or someone in your life who does not know Jesus. That’s the way the I Love My Shepherd online and print studies are all designed- to make it less intimidating to get yourself in the Word and to share the Word with those around you.
Sarah: Would you mind sharing a little about how you study Scripture? What’s your process? (Is this a lame question?)
Heidi: Not a lame question at all. People ask me this all the time. Here’s a run down…
I listen to the Word. I am in Bible study at church or in my women’s group locally. We have a family devotion or marriage devotion a few times a week. I hear my pastor preach the Word. Somewhere in all of that, God pokes at my heart with a specific verse or concept. Philippians 4:8 I kept hearing in different situations and the question always came to mind – “But what is it?!?!?!” What is noble, what is lovely, what does it mean to be worthy of praise. From there I just know from the work of the Spirit if this is a topic that will reach the women around me. I spend a LOT of time with women, with people in the world around me and I listen. Those things push together and it’s like 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, Christ’s love compels us. He points and directs and asks us to speak it into other people’s lives.
Once I decide on a study topic, sort of, a basic concept, I read the verse and book of the Bible involved in the study. I pray over it for a month or two or longer, sometimes returning and walking away and returning to it. I make some notes in my notebook of thoughts and Scripture. I listen to the audio Bible of the book I’m studying and write down words I hear over and over or abstract words that stick out and need defining. Then I order commentaries and other studies, make notes and create an outline of what God was saying then and what He may be saying to us now. Then it runs itself for awhile. It’s a zone, almost like playing on an NHL or NBL team. You just study and do it and let God speak and write and there it is. Then I read it and make sure I made sense and considered lots of different contexts for people reading it, as well as ask my husband and friends about ideas, making sure I’m not in left field with my own ideas rather than Scripture interpreting Scripture.
The best part for me is the interaction and feedback once the study is running online or groups are doing it. That’s one selfish reason I started the live and youtube study portions. I know it’s helpful for others because it’s helpful for me! Community is half of it- gathering around the Word together…that’s bread for the day and sustenance for life.
Sarah: I Love My Shepherd Ministries is three years old now. Can you tell us a little about its mission?
Heidi: Three years! That’s wild. I started it as a small ministry to pastor’s wives. I probably needed it more than they needed me at that point, but so many women asked if they could share it, I felt God calling me to create resources that those in ministry life could use, while reaching women. It’s what we all really need – God and each other, every day, whatever our vocation! I also strongly believe in using our voices for the things that matter to God in this world that so often leaves Him out.
So the mission statement of I Love MY Shepherd looks something like this:

I Love My Shepherd Ministries and exists to offer encouragement and usable resources for those in ministry and for those they minister to.Writer, Deaconess, and licensed independent social worker-Heidi Goehmann advocates for women, marriage, families, and individuality across life stages & cultures.

Our values:

Intensely theological, while intensely practical.

Jesus in everything.

One more woman in the Word every day.

People matter more. 

Sarah: Great stuff! I so love what God is doing through you, and the impact He is making in the world through your ministry. Now, here are some little questions so people can get to know you a little more! Tea or coffee?
Heidi: SO HARD! I drink coffee every morning, the darkest roast possible. I love it and I think if I had to give up one, it wouldn’t be coffee. 😉 But I love a good cup of green tea or English Breakfast, or Earl Grey Decaf every evening with my husband. I would be sad to give that up too!
Sarah: Sweet or salty?
Heidi: I’m a little bit of both. 😉 But usually not together – you pretty much know what you are going to get when you see my face or hear my tone of voice. That’s the way I like my snacks too. Clear cut. 
Sarah: Finally, is there anything you’d like to share with our readers?
Heidi: They keep me at it. Without their feedback, writing and videoing, editing, all of it is exhausting and vulnerable work. I know God is the one who leads and directs, but He gave us one another to encourage and connect. And I thank the Lord for each of you every day.
That’s it, folks! Check out Heidi’s website linked above, and look for her newest print Bible study coming soon, Casting Stones.