Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Midday blog: Sorry

The other day I watched this video and while I cheered, I also got a little teary-eyed.  I believe that most women can tend to apologize too much for things that aren’t their fault!  I left the house feeling confident and we went to a party.  As I entered the room that was loud with laughter and conversation, I immediately felt my introverted, shy self feel less confident.  I heard someone mention a cheese tray, which gave me something to look for and do, so I wound my way through the crowd, seeking cheese and crackers.  As I navigated the crowd, a man suddenly stepped back and waved his arms as he told a story and he ran right into me.  Immediately, I said, “Oh! Sorry!”  He said, “That’s okay.” and he went back to his story.  Sigh.  I was so disappointed with myself!  Why did I apologize when I’d done nothing wrong?  How did I so quickly step back into being a “Christian Nice Girl”, saying “sorry”?

This issue of being quick to apologize is bigger than “who’s right/who’s wrong” – it’s an indication of something deeper going on.  Why do I so naturally fall back in to apologizing for taking up space?  For most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling like I don’t have the right to take up space.  I would often dismiss my own voice, feeling insignificant and unworthy of being listened to.  God has been healing me in this area over the past few years.  I want to live confidently and fully into how God created me, living as God’s good woman.

For one week, try to notice how often you and women around you say, “I’m sorry”.  Reflect on what you noticed and ask God if He might be speaking to you about that.

Lori NeffLori 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. 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: Failure in Love

The late founder of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and author of The Mark of a Christian, Francis Schaeffer, wrote about Jesus’ desire for His people. (You can find it in John 13:34, 35.)

“The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. How, then, is the dying culture going to consider us? Jesus says, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians.” (italics mine) He adds: “That’s pretty frightening.” I agree. Since Jesus gave the world the authority to judge us, we might ask ourselves, “How are we doing?”

From my perch, more and more I am struck with increasing polarization within our evangelical community. Of course, we will often find differences in our interpretation of God’s truth. (Not much different from the differences of the early churches, right? Take a look at the letters of the New Testament as well as books that cover early church history.) But how are we handling those conversations in these days? Are we expressing our thoughts cautiously, kindly, lovingly with old-fashioned good manners, or do we use combative, superior, self-righteous language? I fear the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, blogs), with its opportunities for a growing number of faceless conversations, has given us a false sense of empowerment to frame our thoughts and responses in boldly Jesus-vision-less ways.

Schaeffer sums up, “In other words, if people come up to us and cast in our teeth the judgment that we are not Christians because we have not shown love toward other Christians, we must understand that they are only exercising a prerogative Jesus gave them.”

Or in Jesus words,  “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) Ah, there it is: humility.

God, please give us hearts of love toward our own, so that we may authentically show the world: we are Yours!

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: Simply Loving

Recently, I visited what is probably one of the most deplorable gypsy communities here in Romania. The gypsies are our stereotyped group of people. They are the kind that you do not want to have anything to do with, the kind you avoid, look down on, or think very little of.  So there I was, waiting outside of the church for some people, when Cristina, a 10 year old, approached me.  She saw the kind of clothes I was wearing, the kind of car I climbed out of, the kind of people I was visiting with, and she kept herself pretty distant at first. It seemed like she was afraid of something. Five minutes later though, she jumped into my arms, and right there to me was one of those moments when I was convinced, once again, that I am to share or offer my love regardless of the response. It really did not matter at all that she was dirty, sticky, and smelly. Her embrace was a loud enough cry for love.

But that truth resonated with me deeper inside; it actually made me think of my friends, not just the people that are hard to love. In the past few years the dynamics of most my relationships have changed. Some friends got married, others moved, others became more involved in different communities, and so on. Plus, my constant transition in between Romania and the U.S. has not really helped either. So I became frustrated. Truly, many friendships have been born along these years, but also many of my friendships have been tested and have become quite hurtful. During these years, I have had friends who never invested the same amount love and care as I did; friends who compared me with others, or pressured me with all sort of expectations; friends that genuinely did not know how to love back on me; friends that I lost. But these are also people that I know I have to offer love to regardless of the response.

You see, when Christ entrusted us with the second greatest commandment, He did not condition our love.  Quite the opposite, He asked us to love our neighbor just as much as we love ourselves. He asked us to simply love. How many times do we make the mistake of loving with expectations? Including our friends and family…

So I challenge you to think about how you offer your love. What is that person in your life that you know you should be simply loving?

Adelina GhileaAdelina Ghilea comes from the city of Arad, Romania. Her previous experience as a volunteer radio show host and producer not only deeply shaped her vocation and calling, but also brought her to Moody Bible Institute. She is currently a senior in the communications department and is serving as station manager for the campus station. Adelina is also serving with JoyFm, a new Reach Beyond (HCJB Global) radio plant in her hometown. After graduation, she is planning to return home and invest in the ministry there. Twitter: @AdeGhilea

Midday blog: Serving as We Age

I’m in my 50’s. For anyone, woman or man, it is a decade where we usually have great energy and creativity.  If we’ve married and had children, they are usually older and we have time and energy to put into other things. If we are single, we often re-evaluate and determine where we want to spend ourselves. Church, volunteer work, employment, all of those are options for our time and energy.  We often have a bit more margin for spiritual and personal growth as well. But how will we choose, what will we choose?

I’ve also seen people get restless in their 50’s and choose not to reflect on why. Instead they’ll look to vacations, purchases, endless media consumption, unhealthy relationships, and a variety of things outside themselves to quell their uneasy souls. There is nothing inherently wrong with a vacation.  Everyone needs rest, relaxation and refreshment. The underlying motive is what we have to look at.

We have an attitude of entitlement in the West.  One that says, “I’ve worked hard all my life! I deserve a rest!” But usually we don’t mean a 2 week break, we mean we’re done and it’s someone else’s turn. We retire from work, and sometimes from life.

There are young women crying out for mentors, will you be one? There is a young single mom down the block struggling financially who needs a caretaker of her 2 year old one day a week, would you consider it? Your church needs a part time accountant, do you have those skills? A missionary your church supports needs a car for 3 weeks while they are in town, do you have a spare?

Get creative in ways you can serve and still have flexibility to visit and care for grandkids. Take an online class from Moody Bible Institute’s Distance Learning to help your spiritual growth. Choose to read a great book, a biography of Fanny Crosby or Nelson Mandela, a voice that might bring a different perspective to your life and challenge your faith. Think outside the box!

How are you continuing to serve and continuing to grow as you get older?

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: Codependents Identified

“My name is Mark… and I’m codependent.”

In those seven simple words, I’m opening up a door of vulnerability.

One of the definitions for codependency on Wikipedia states that it’s “the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.”

On the first read, how could that be a bad thing? Romans 15 encourages us to serve others and not please ourselves. Verse 3 says that Christ is the example of this!

I hope you sense my slight sarcasm and see the challenge I myself have found to think more deeply about this. The Wikipedia article also says that “codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.”

There are those in my life that I consider close – whether they are my blood family or “brothers from another mother.” There aren’t many things that I wouldn’t do for any of them. I enjoy nearly every minute I spend with them. I want to make sure they know how much I care about them.

You might say, “That’s so great, Mark. You love deeply and care intensely.” Okay, I might agree with you! But as some of my relationships grew, at a certain point, I had realized how much I had depended heavily on some of these people for my happiness. If I wasn’t doing something fun or hanging out with them, it bummed me out – to the point where I was sad and emotionally paralyzed.

I eventually had to realize that I couldn’t rely on other people to be happy. It was definitely easier said than done, and it didn’t happen overnight. But through self-examination and reading God’s Word, I can say I’ve experienced the peace that surpasses all understanding – and as Philippians 4:7 says, it guards my heart and mind through Christ.

Do I still struggle with it? Every day.

Are there times – or people – that cause you to lose focus on yourself, or on God? How do you reset when you face those times?

 

Mark BretaMark Breta has been with Moody Radio since 2007 and has worked with many of its programs. Mark currently works with Midday Connection, the Bring to Mind podcast and Treasured Truth. He has led worship at conferences and events, and more recently, at Chicago area churches in Arlington Heights and Oak Park. Mark has been posting a daily audio blog throughout the month of June at his website.

 

 

Midday blog: Holy Neediness

I used to be defensive about needing God. I’d push back on the language that described God or religion as a crutch. Certainly, I’d roll my eyes at Karl Marx’s famous words that “Religion is the opium of the people.”

Until last week, when I ran across that quote and thought, My word. Karl Marx is right!

Well, kinda, sorta.

Opium, of course, is dangerous stuff. It lures people in with promises of relieving pain, with mountain-top highs. But ultimately, opium leaves its users depleted, empty.

Nothing like God.

But here’s what Marx got right: opium leaves its users needy, desperate, looking everywhere for it.

Though God doesn’t promise pain relief or mountain-top highs—instead, he promises walking with us in our pain, in both valleys and mountains—and certainly doesn’t leave us haggard and depleted, truth be told: true intimacy with God does leave us needy, desperate, on the lookout for God everywhere.

At least, it has with me. And I’ve found needing God—as a crutch! As our hope!—is one of the great blessings in life. Learning to lean on God and God alone for our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort, our security, our rest is how we learn that God is able, that he is trustworthy.

Caryn Rivadeniera

Caryn Rivadeneira is an author, editor and speaker. She earned a B.A. in English from Calvin College and attended the University of Chicago’s publishing program. Caryn lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Rafael, her three kids, and a rescued pit bull terrier. Caryn and her family are members of Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Ill.  To learn more about Caryn, please visit her website. Twitter: @carynrivadeneir

 

Midday blog: Jesus Loves Her, Too

I often begin my day with some time of silence.  I think of it as sitting with Jesus and enjoying being with Him.  I just sit, palms open, eyes closed, breathing, aware of Jesus with me.  One morning, I was sitting quietly with Jesus and my beautiful, long-haired cat, Scarlett, jumped on my lap.  She’s a little on the chubby side, so when she laid down over my hands, I could feel her soft, full, warm belly spilling over my lap.  She immediately began to purr, tail swishing back and forth contentedly.  This.  This moment is wonderful.  My heart is happy and I feel great love for this little creature on my lap.  I sighed and said to Jesus apologetically, “I sure do love her. A lot.  I know there are starving children in the world and lots of pain all around me… I feel guilty sometimes for loving my cat.  But.  I do.”  I sighed again, and felt Jesus say to me, “So do I.”  I was stunned!  Really, Jesus?  You love her, too?  Immediately, tears came to my eyes.  Could it be that I’ve been feeling guilt over something that I didn’t need to feel guilty about?  Could it be that this warm, soft, comforting, purring creature is a gift?  An expression of God’s grace and love?

Have you ever had a moment when you were shown a comforting truth that released false guilt?

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: Controllers Anonymous

Well I’ve started a new club with a girlfriend. You may have one in your area; I’m sure there are others around. Lynda, and I are calling ourselves Controllers Anonymous!

Here are some questions that helped us know we qualified for this new club. We found out we have both said things like:

“Why don’t you….”

“Well, you should/could/might have….”

“Did you do what I asked yet?”

“I would have….”

Ahhh, that well-intentioned advice or comment. Or is it? Sure, when others are ready to take a fall, we want to help them avoid it with some of our wisdom. And sometimes we need to follow up as leaders, making sure tasks are done and done well. But by whose definition? More often than not, I sense I just want my way, because, after all, it’s the best way, right? At least I believe it is! Oh boy, talk about arrogance.

Lynda and I talked about how our controlling comments can show a lack of trust that God is God. When we step in all of the time, we exhibit doubt that God is enough for the task of ___________(fill in the blank).  And we miss seeing what He will do, as well as then missing an opportunity to give Him glory as we see His empowering. Do we believe He is mighty, adequate, powerful or not? Or do we just want our way, by our methods?

I told Lynda about how I had wanted to have magical powers when I was a little girl – yep! I wanted to be GOD way back then! And she told her story of being in the car headed somewhere with her husband. She “suggested” he go a different way. He said to her, “Lynda, we can go your way or my way, but either way we are going to get there!” Okay then. Point made.

Anyone else part of Controllers Anonymous out there?

Melinda SchmidtMelinda 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: His Sovereignty in the Unknown

Don’t God’s responses to your questions usually surprise you? Don’t they seem to make no sense at times?  We ask questions because we obviously need some answers, answers that contain information our hearts are longing for.  We feel pressure, nervousness, fear, and so on.

We’ve all encountered situations when we don’t seem to be fit at all for the task assigned.  A speech in front of a multitude? A new position at work or in your church? A friend asking you for advice or people seeking your help?

Some of us, though, face tougher situations. Maybe you didn’t know how you were going to provide for your family the very next day. Maybe you had to make a decision such as ending a relationship or stepping down from a position at work.

The unknown is all around us, yet the good news are that we belong to an all-knowing God, the One who has total knowledge, awareness, and understanding. Nothing escapes His mind and nothing takes Him by surprise. His answers to our questions are the most suitable ones. They might not make sense when given to us and they might not fulfill our longing, but they are what we need to hear.

In Exodus 3 we see God revealing to Moses through the burning bush. In this particular theophany, He calls Moses to rescue His chosen people from under the Egyptian bondage (talk about the unknown!). Moses’ immediate question is: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (verse 11)  Naturally we would expect God to start pointing to Moses’ strengths and explain to him why is he the chosen one for this task.  But, God gives the unexpected answer: “Certainly I will be with you…” (verse 12).

Moses asks who is he to take on such a responsibility and God answers by telling Moses that He will be with Him.  Doesn’t that seem the answer to a different question? You are asking God one thing, and He tells you another. He tells you He will undoubtedly be there with you. When He gives you the unexpected answers, know that those are the best. And in the darkest unknown, be sure that He is there with you.

Adelina GhileaAdelina Ghilea comes from the city of Arad, Romania. Her previous experience as a volunteer radio show host and producer not only deeply shaped her vocation and calling, but also brought her to Moody Bible Institute. She is currently a senior in the communications department and is serving as station manager for the campus station. Adelina is also serving with JoyFm, a new Reach Beyond (HCJB Global) radio plant in her hometown. After graduation, she is planning to return home and invest in the ministry there. Twitter: @AdeGhilea

Midday blog: Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

As a worship leader, I continue to learn and grow in how to choose songs for a church service. Years ago, I used to think that a song that has a repetitive chorus was shallow (or that the songwriter was lazy. Ha!).

I discovered, though, that there are times when repetitive songs can be used effectively.

I recently came across this worship song, and God has been using it in my life over the last week or so.

“There is power in the name of Jesus

There is power in the name of Jesus

There is power in the name of Jesus

To break every chain

Break every chain, break every chain.”

It has been a great reminder to me, while sorting the stuff of life – that nothing has to bind me.

Are there any songs, Bible verses or meaningful quotes that run through your mind throughout the day that have brought you encouragement lately?

Mark BretaMark Breta has been with Moody Radio since 2007 and has worked with many of its programs. Mark currently works with Midday Connection, the Bring to Mind podcast 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.

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