Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Midday blog: Terms of Identity

Those close to me know that I have an appreciation for terms of endearment (the words, not the movie… ha!) and there are special meanings for these terms associated with those in my inner circles.

Some use the term “bro” for someone they work with, their group of buddies, or maybe to any random person. I only use it for my three brothers (two of whom are non-biological brothers). One of my cousins and I refer to each other as “Cousin” as if by name:
“Hey, Cousin. Wanna grab a bite to eat tonight?”
“Sure, Cousin. What time do you wanna meet up?”

My brother and sister-in-law and younger cousins call me “Kuya,” which in Filipino is a title given to an older sibling or relative. To my nieces and nephews, I am “Tito Mark” or “Uncle Mark” — and some of them are not blood-related. This also include the kids of close friends with whom I grew up and still regularly keep in touch.

These are just a few reminders of special relationships in my life. When any of them call me, email me, or even send a text message, and they call me by that unique “term,” I get that special link of identity that affirms the bond I have with that person. There are times when they use my “real name” and, being used to hearing the other name, it somehow sounds strange!

One of my co-workers refers to her closest girlfriends as her sisters. Many have different names for grandparents. Then there are the current colloquialisms, “BFFs” or “besties.” My sister-in-law’s siblings occasionally call their mother Sandra, “San,” sometimes meant in jest, but truly a demonstration of love.

What special identity markers do you have with those who know you best? And what does it mean to you?

 

Mark BretaMark Breta is a radio producer/announcer, musician and foodie. He has been with Moody Radio since 2007 and has worked with many of its programs. Mark currently works with Midday Connection and Treasured Truth. He has led worship at conferences and events, and more recently, at Chicago area churches in Arlington Heights and Oak Park.  You can follow Mark at his website.

Midday blog: Dark Cloud on the Horizon

I received some unexpected news recently that got my world spinning. I’ve talked in the past on Midday Connection (and this blog) about my struggles with depression…well, this news brought back the invitation to the familiar and comfortable black pit. I could feel myself slipping right back into that known place and feeling right at home. I felt tired and depleted and I wanted to just ease into the dark clouds, numb out, and not fight it.

Sitting on the train, looking out the window, I felt the dark shadow wanting to take me over.  Honestly, I wanted to settle into a dark melancholy.  I did.  It felt like it would be a safe, warm, dark room that I could hide in for a bit.

I recently attended a seminar and the speaker said that self-awareness is 90% of the healing/recovery process.  That has stayed with me in a profound way.  In the past, when I felt the melancholy approach, I just sank into it and hung on for the ride – feeling that I didn’t have a choice about it at all.  But, once I became aware of this shadow in my life, I realized that I do have a choice.  I refuse to deny my feelings of sadness and disappointment and shock…but that doesn’t mean I need to settle into a dark place.

I sat in my gloom and realized that I know where that familiar dark spiral goes.  I needed to remember that I’ve gone down that path before and that old way of handling my sadness just doesn’t work for me anymore, though it may feel familiar.  God has shown me better and healthier coping mechanisms.  It took (and is still taking) much effort to keep reminding myself of where I’ve been and that I don’t want or need to go back to that pit.

I’m pretty surprised that awareness and mental reminders are helping me greatly!  Thanks be to God!

How about you?  Do some of the ways that you’ve dealt with stress, sadness, other issues still work?  Or, is God showing you a new way?

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: Feeling Anxiety for Our Needy Loved Ones

If you are the parent, spouse, friend, or care giver of someone who is needy, see if you identify with these thoughts from Frederick Buechner in his book, Telling Secrets. He writes about his daughter’s very serious eating disorder and his varied responses:

- I wasn’t living my own life any more because I was so caught up in hers.

- She had given up food. I had virtually given up doing anything in the way of feeding myself humanly. To be at peace is to have peace inside yourself more or less in spite of what is going on outside yourself. In that sense I had no peace at all. If one particular day she took it into her head have a slice of toast, say with her dietician supper I was in seventh heaven. If on some other day she decided to have no supper at all, I was in hell.

- The love I had for my daughter was lost in the anxiety I had for my daughter.

Here’s a prayer I found online that might help to express to God the anxiety you feel for your needy person:

“I intercede for _____who is in ______,  struggling with issues relating to _________. I feel extremely frightened and worried and it is overwhelming me in my daily life.”

“Please help _____ with self esteem and self confidence and _________,  and I plead for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for her to choose ________,  to  be honest with me, surrounded by the people who will love and guide her in the right direction. I love_______ unconditionally. She won’t confide in anyone. Holy Spirit please pour out your blessings on ________.”

The peace of the Lord go with you, friend.

 

Melinda Schmidt

Melinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life-long learner. Twitter: @melindaschmidt

Midday blog: Authentic Relationships

All I wanted was a friend. A best friend. My family had just moved from Northern Maine to suburban Philadelphia after my 5th birthday. Friends, I thought, I‘d finally have friends. Who doesn’t want a best friend, or desire a lifelong friend? You know, the kind you make in kindergarten who stays loyal and true for a lifetime.

I don’t know about you, but I never found a ‘best friend’ or ‘lifelong friend’. As a Pastor’s kid who moved several times in my lifetime, most of my relationships didn’t move with me. In adulthood I have a tapestry of friends who are crisscrossed around the country. The deeper question, though, is how many of those who have woven themselves into my life am I authentic with? How many do I communicate with about the real stuff of life?

The deep heart cry of most women I meet has to do with relationships. Most of us have amassed a long list of acquaintances that we pass off as friends. We throw around the term ‘community’ yet I think a deep experience of it is elusive for most of us. So how do we develop authentic relationships? How do we know others and allow ourselves to be known? Just so you know, I’m a fellow traveler on this journey.

Going deeper in relationships takes risk. If you are new to a church or workplace the risk might be asking someone out for coffee. If you are already in a relationship that seems stalled, maybe it’s taking a risk to share something deeper about yourself that might open the doorway for your friend to start sharing. It might be committing to pray for a friend to come into your life. God does hear those deep heart cries. The work of friendship, yes work, also requires some action on our part.

What will you do this week that might move you toward developing or deepening a friendship?

Anita LustreaAnita Lustrea is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and has worked for Moody Radio since 1984. She is a sought-after conference and retreat speaker and loves to connect with Midday Connection listeners face-to-face. Anita lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mike, and her son, John. To learn more about Anita, her speaking schedule and her blog, please visit her website.

Midday blog: Good Samaritan

As I’ve heard Anita talk about the release of her novel that she wrote with Caryn Rivadeniera called Shades of Mercy, she has said that the book addresses, “Who is my neighbor?”  That got me thinking, so the other day, I read Luke chapter 10.  And there I read about the religious leader who asked Jesus that very question… Then Jesus answered by telling the parable about the good Samaritan.  I was struck again at the sacrifice of time and money that the Samaritan gave.  It made me think – Do I have the margin in my life to give like he did?  Or (a bigger issue for me), am I willing to have my plans derailed when something more important arises?  Do I recognize that greater importance or am I too stuck on my to do list to deviate?  I thought about this as I passed a homeless man on my way to work.  Am I willing to stop and say hello and risk an uncomfortable few minutes to buy him a meal?  I thought about this as I waded through the crowd of morning train commuters.  Am I seeing people as God’s image bearers, each with their own stories or do I see them as annoying delays in my way?  I’m sitting with this parable for a while.  I’m beginning to see it as more than just doing more and serving more, but it’s also a deeper attitude of respect, honor and dignity toward our fellow humans.

Take a couple of minutes and read Luke 10:30-37. There’s a lot in this parable. What do you sense God bringing to your attention?

Lori Neff

Lori Neff is the senior producer of Midday Connection and editor/contributor for Daily Seeds: From Women Who Walk in Faith and Tending the Soul (Moody Publishers). She grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. Lori is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and she’s currently in school again studying counseling and spiritual direction. Her interests include art, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John (and their three fiesty cats). For more information and her blog please visit Lori’s website.

Midday blog: Keep Calm and Sparkle On: Gathered Thoughts

*Our Producer, Lori, got me on to this lovely-hearted blog. Topics: depression, Down Syndrome, autism, imperfection, mom-ing. I liked this quote from the blog: “In my silence, my life becomes small and lonely.” The nudge toward vulnerability, and sharing life in a community.  http://www.gillianmarchenko.com/

*I’ve started to do something that has helped to brighten my days: every morning I don’t get out of bed until I count 30 things I am thankful for on my fingers. Sometimes during the day I remember to keep it going, “That’s 41, 42, 43….” Kinda fun, and seems to add some kind of magic to the day. My suggestion is to not make it a serious project.

*This blew me away – it’s revealing about the way Christians view gays. God, help us to grow up, spiritually. (Prov. 29:25) http://tinyurl.com/knvdofe

* I liked this quote from Davis Bunn: “Will you be defined by inertia, or will you get started? You can always change direction.” There’s inspiration and hope in that, I think. And permission to risk!  He’s the author of The Turning which releases next month. http://www.TheTurningBook.com

douge

*Finally, you know I’m crazy about my 6 1/2 pound MinPin/long-haired Chihuahua, Pippa. Look-she made the cover of Dogue!

Melinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life-long learner. Twitter: @melindaschmidtMelinda Schmidt

Midday blog: Does Fear Hold You Back?

I’m all about communicating Freedom to Women. I believe that is my calling but often I find that fear holds me back. Fear is the antithesis of freedom. So how can we live free and fearless? A number of years ago God answered that question for me in an unexpected way.

A piece of my story is about divorce. I went through a divorce about 12 years ago and one of my biggest fears was that life was over, I was finished, all washed up! God couldn’t use a divorced woman. I believed I’d been sidelined. That’s what some people told me, and that was my perception after growing up and spending most of my life inside the Church. God, however, had another idea! He sent some amazing people into my life to speak a different message into my heart and soul, a message of life, hope and healing. Today I speak to thousands of women every day on Midday Connection and get to share that same message of freedom and healing and life.

Here is one of my favorite verses in Scripture on the topic of freedom, Galatians 5:1.  “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” How about it, will you stay free along with me?

What’s your story? What is one of your biggest fears that you’ve watched God dismantle as he helped you see His truth?

Anita LustreaAnita Lustrea is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and has worked for Moody Radio since 1984. She is a sought-after conference and retreat speaker and loves to connect with Midday Connection listeners face-to-face. Anita lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mike, and her son, John. To learn more about Anita, her speaking schedule and her blog, please visit her website.

Midday blog: Feeders

This Wednesday (February 12, 2014) Christine Wyrtzen and I talk about those “feeders” in our lives: People who drown us in their neediness often through manipulation.

-”You’re the only one I can talk to about this.”

-”I need you – can you come over right now? If not I think I’ll _______.”

-”No one understands me but you.”

They are continually self-focused, and when you catch your breath and stand back for a moment you notice they aren’t even making changes despite your large investment of time and effort.  Your continual counseling seems to start at A and end at A, unfortunately  never progressing.

While they have discovered your “likes” and often show up with your favorite books, foods or crafts, there’s an air of falseness -  any authentic relationship just isn’t there.

More and more I’m hearing spiritual leaders encourage us to back up a few steps and let God work in the lives of others. I’m glad for that encouragement. It can mean a sore heart, and taking risks as we relinquish the God-like role others have tried to make us wear. But it’s an opportunity for us – and for others – to see just what God’s Spirit might do.

There’s a concept I, sadly, often lose sight of.

Melinda Schmidt

Melinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life-long learner. Twitter: @melindaschmidt

Midday blog: Stepping Back

ImageIsn’t it amazing how small decisions in our days can make a big difference?

For years, I’ve faced the same little irritating situation every week day.  Let me paint the picture… I work a day at Midday Connection, then walk to the train station, get on my favorite train – in my favorite car, sit on a train sleeping or reading, then get off the train – and encounter a snarled mass of people that I need to fight through to get off the end of the train platform.  Ugh.  Stressful, irritating, thinking not-so-nice things about the people blocking my way.  Just recently it finally hit me – why in the world am I fighting through the crowd every day?  If I simply turned left when I get off the train, walk a short distance out of my way to another exit on the platform, I’d skip shoving through the mass of bodies, backpacks, keys, roller bags, and shopping bags!  Why it took me this long to figure it out kind of baffles me.  Just making that simple change has helped me arrive home in a much better frame of mind (my husband is grateful!).

It’s also caused me to step back and look at other little irritations in my life.  How many things am I unthinkingly just putting up with?  What are those things that I keep “hitting my toe on” during the day?  Jennifer Degler calls those little irritations “life drainers”.  Why allow those life drainers to continue to peck away at our energy?  How about stepping back and taking a look at small changes in the routine to see what we could do smarter?  Here’s to making small changes – and less stress!

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: Non-Resolutions

It’s that time of year where most people need to do a reality check… when you know you’re on the good path to following through on that “New Year’s resolution” or that you realize it ain’t gonna happen.

Statistics say that 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually follow through and achieve their goal. Am I a part of that statistic? Yes… and no.

In 2013, I decided I wanted to avoid eating at a particular fast food establishment. Though opinions will vary, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this restaurant – but I know that I would abuse (and have abused) my choice in what I eat there.

I didn’t make a deliberate decision on December 31 or January 1. But, by late January, I realized I hadn’t made the almost-routine visit to that drive-thru, so I thought I’d see if I could avoid it for a longer period of time. By summertime, I had felt good about my achievement so far – and it seemed to be an easy task.

In the fall, I had no cravings for my favorite sandwich. And by winter, I was excited to be close to the finish.

I visited my brother and sister-in-law who live near the eastern coast over the holidays. We talked about this unlabeled goal – this non-resolution – that I never really thought about as a big deal. I didn’t put up motivating Post-it notes. I didn’t tick off days on a calendar. I didn’t set up any milestones to achieve. But we did discuss if a celebration was in order.

And on January 1, 2014, we treated the whole family to one lunch meal at this place. I got to eat my favorite sandwich. We all had some a share of the unbeatable french fries. The kids got a taste of the little nuggets of chicken. It was a good day.

It’s now about a month into this year, and I haven’t had a hankering for it since then.

It was one “small” goal. Sure, I ate at other fast food joints, but on a rare occasion. Am I any healthier because of this? Maybe, maybe not. But I know I can set a goal that works into my everyday life and see how far I’ve come.

What’s next? I’ve always wanted to read through the Bible in a year. I want to write a new song, maybe one a month. I want to get back to the gym. I don’t have to wait until next January 1. I can start now… and work it into my everyday routine.

Is there anything you’ve wanted to do – and just need to quit thinking about it and do it?

Mark BretaMark Breta is a radio producer/announcer, musician and foodie. He has been with Moody Radio since 2007 and has worked with many of its programs. Mark currently works with Midday Connection and Treasured Truth. He has led worship at conferences and events, and more recently, at Chicago area churches in Arlington Heights and Oak Park. His now once-a-year craving is the double cheeseburger. You can follow Mark at his website.

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