Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Finishing the 8 Challenge

As I happily wear a red sweater that I missed wearing all last month, I’m reflecting onoutfit2 the 8 Challenge that Randi and I did during November…

It was so great to do this with someone else (and several listeners who said they joined us!).  Processing our thoughts and feelings together was so helpful.

This challenge really did grow my gratitude and helped re-calibrate my attitude about clothing and my appearance.  I no longer feel that I am greatly lacking. Oddly, with fewer items to choose from, my creativity greatly increased and I felt really good about what I wore most of the time. I have always felt that my fashion/wardrobe skills are lacking, so being able to do so much with so little was encouraging. I’m looking forward to carrying that creativity forward (especially as I try out the capsule wardrobe concept next).

In November, I took the opportunity to clear out a bunch of clothing, jewelry, and shoes that I no longer need or wear. This was a great “cleansing” process for me as I lived out some simplicity/minimalism with my clothes. It also motivated my husband and me to clear out other areas of clutter in our home! Hooray!

This paring back to 8 items of clothing in November forced me to really, honestly look at my views of consumption, image, creativity, commercialism, beauty, and provision. It was a convicting thought to me that this was a rather “privileged” experiment (I have the option to go back to my ways of excess in December) and I am a little embarrassed about how much energy I’ve put into feeling discontent over the years about what I’m wearing. I hold that in tension with the understanding that clothioutfit1ng can be an expression of my personality and that’s not unimportant, either. Whether I like it or not, the image that I present by the clothes I wear, does matter – but, of course, it’s not the only thing that matters.

A smaller realization was that color really matters to me. I missed red and purple so much during this challenge! I actually never thought much about how good those colors make me feel when I wear them. About halfway thought the challenge I was really bummed to wear blue/grey/black… *again*!

Now that I have my fuller wardrobe available to me once again, I feel so grateful for all of the options that I have. I’m grateful for the variety and options – something that I took for granted before the challenge. I’m thankful for the perspective shift that has taken place deeper within me.

If you did the challenge (or a similar one), what are some of your takeaways?

The Faithful 8 Items of Clothing that Lori Wore, November 2014

The 8 Items of Clothing that Lori Wore, November 2014

8 Challenge, Update #3

We are now 21 days into the 8 Challenge!

The good:
1) This truly has been a challenge for me, but doable!  It’s confidence-lori 8 challengebuilding to see that I *can* do a challenge like this.
2) My perspective has been shifting more and more toward gratitude these days. For some, limited clothing is a reality 365 days of the year – I have the luxury of having a closet with more clothes and the luxury of spending time thinking about clothing.
3) I’ve had some great conversations with people at work, church, school, and home about the challenge – it’s fun to hear others’ thoughts!
4) Store sales are happening in full force this time of year. Since I’m not buying clothing this month, I’ve saved money by not buying clothing impulsively. I don’t think I’ll go back to impulsive clothes shopping again. I’m feel more committed to living in simplicity.
5) Thank goodness for the variety of scarves that I own (most of them were gifts – and I’m starting to see what great gifts they are!)!
6) Posting my daily outfits on facebook has helped keep me on track with this challenge (at the risk of boring/annoying my facebook friends!).

The bad:
1) Though the volume of laundry is small, I’m washing my clothes more frequently and I really need to stay on top of it or I won’t have anything to wear!
2) I’m starting to feel really uninspired and really bored with my 8 items of clothing.  I CAN’T WAIT to wear something new! I miss the color red!  Purple!  🙂
3) The quality of my clothes to begin with wasn’t that great, so they are really starting to pill up, fade, and stretch out of shape. (But, they’ve served me well! 🙂 )
4) I thought this challenge would just be a “background” sort of thing, but I’ve found that it’s occupying a lot of my mind space. I suppose I’m not totally sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I am a bit tired of thinking about clothes! 🙂

I know that several others are doing this challenge (or similar challenges)… how is it going for you?

8 Challenge, Update #2

lori outfitWe’re two weeks into the 8 Challenge! Of course, I’m a bundle of mixed emotions about it…

The good:
1) I’m still loving the forced simplicity.
2) I love not digging through clothes to find something to wear.
3) I have been surprised at my creativity in putting outfits together with just 8 items and some accessories! Each outfit feels special to me.
4) Packing for a quick trip to see my parents earlier this month was easy – it made me smile as I packed my simple wardrobe. My usual stressed-out packing was completely stress-free!  🙂randi outfit
5) It’s a delight to do this challenge with Randi. We have been exchanging emails with funny stories, insights and lessons. She has helped me stick to it!
6) It’s been good for me to purposefully not buy clothing – I didn’t realize how impulsive my clothing purchases tend to be.

The bad:
1) I can’t wait to wear something different! 🙂
2) I am really missing variety and color.
3) I’m afraid that this experiment is going to be the end of these 8 clothing items because I’m wearing them so much – and most of them were items that I purchases used.
4) I’m accident prone and tend to spill food and coffee on myself (and I’m often covered in cat hair)… so, keeping my clothes tidy is a challenge. In the past, I would just quickly change clothes after spilling coffee/soup/sloppy joes on myself, but now I don’t really have that as a sustainable option. Spot cleaning works, but I find that I’m sometimes a little stressed about trying to keep clean.

Here’s a little email pep talk that Randi sent to me the other day after I expressed that I was starting to feel a little bored with my 8 clothing items…

Here’s the upside. It’s not our clothes that makes us who we are. It’s us. Let us shine up those “boring” outfits with a smile and an extra bounce in our steps. We don’t have to spend precious time thinking of what to wear, finding it and putting it back. My bedroom is no longer having my clothes sitting around. Nope, every evening it either goes on the one empty hanger or in the laundry. I don’t have to fight with an overfilled closet. Still appreciating the simplicity. We can do this, almost half way there 🙂 Randi

See?  Isn’t she great?  So thankful to be doing this challenge with a friend!  How about you?  Are you joining us?  What’s your good/bad list about this 8 Challenge?

(BTW – I’ve been posting my outfits each day on my Facebook page. Check it out if you’re interested. I created a photo album there called 8 Challenge with all of the outfits.)


8 Challenge, Update #1


One week into the 8 Challenge (my wardrobe for the month of November consists of 8 pieces of clothing)… my biggest challenges so far?

1) Laundry.  Since I only have 1 or 2 pieces of clothing that need to be washed at a time, it’s a bit of a challenge to wash/dry my clothes. But, I’m also loving that I’m not overwhelmed by laundry.

2) I’ve been really tempted to go clothes shopping this week!  :-/  I normally really dislike clothes shopping, but since engaging in this challenge, I’ve had a huge urge to go shopping!

Since it’s only been a week, I’m not feeling bored with my 8 pieces of clothing yet.  I’m actually having a lot of fun putting different pieces together with a scarf or necklace.  I feel free in a way I didn’t expect. I actually used to go to sleep at night dreading trying to figure out what to wear the next day! Now, it’s easy-peasy and I’m not stressing at all.  I’ve also taken on clearing out my jewelry. I’ve donated most of it and pared it down 20141103_071541to pieces that I feel are “me” (I’ve finally realized that my style really is minimal – I like subtle, small pieces. I enjoy looking at big sparkly pieces, but never ever wear them.) and I actually wear. Again – SO freeing!

I *might* be cheating just a bit by wearing my lightweight white down vest a lot – I’m counting it as a “coat”, which is a freebie in this challenge. Another area where I *might* have cheated: I bought some shoes.  I guess they’re technically apparel, but after clearing out my closet (I’m preparing to try the www.un-fancy.com method beginning in December!) and getting rid of the shoes that hurt my feet or just didn’t wear, I found that I own 4 pairs of shoes (boots, 2 pr tennis shoes, 1 pr boat shoes)  and I was in need of a pair of all-purpose non-athletic shoes. I found some cute red flats on sale that I know I’ll wear a lot this Autumn.


Here’s an update from Randi:

randi outfitI was thinking about, that even if we have to wear two extra sweaters or a sweater and a vest to stay warm, the experiment is still a mind blowing eye opener. Who would have thought that something so basic would speak to me in such a loud and clear manner. It already started when I picked out my eight pieces. I felt this excitement, and as I started to put all my other clothes away, I felt this sense of peace and freedom. I know It’s only a few days into the challenge, and I may view this differently at the end. But for now, I truly love not having to thinkrandi outfit 2 too much about what to wear, and don’t have to fight through a pile of sweaters to find the one piece I was looking for. I can spend my time on something more productive and maybe even fun. I believe this message will carry through, had we picked even twenty pieces of clothing. I’m loving it, and am convinced that many great conversations will take place based on this.

How about you?  Are you doing the 8 Challenge?  What are your thoughts and challenges so far?

Randi’s 8 Challenge

Randi LundgrenI (Lori) roped in a partner in crime for this 8 Challenge during November – Randi Lundgren!  Randi is also one of the small group members going through the book “Free: Spending Your Time and Money On What Matters Most” by Mark and Lisa Scandrette.

Randi has been enthusiastic from the beginning – excited for this challenge and the thought of a freer perspective on clothing… if it wasn’t for Randi, I might not have gone through with the challenge myself!  Ah, the power of partnership!  🙂  We’re cheering on the rest of you who are also participating!  Feel free to email your pictures and thoughts to: midday@moody.edu

Here are Randi’s 8 items of clothing that she’s wearing this month:

1 pr jeans
1 pr pants
1 dress
1 jacket
1 cardigan
2 shirts
1 long cardigan (can be worn as a dress)

randi 8 challenge

Here are the “rules” during the month long challenge:

Have 8 pieces of “anchor” clothing.
We can wear belts, jewelry, scarves.
Coats, undies, socks, shoes, workout clothes, and PJs are “freebies” in this challenge.
No clothing purchases.
Repair clothing if a mishap occurs (ie, no replacement pieces).

Lori’s 8 Challenge

FreeWe’ve been enjoying a small group study in the book, “Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most” by Mark and Lisa Scandrette.  It’s been challenging and it has shifted my (Lori’s) perspective a bit.  Thinking and talking about pursuing simplicity and contentment drew me to consider (what Mark and Lisa call) a “voluntary fast”.  A voluntary fast is setting aside something that is not necessarily “bad”, but perhaps something that could have a disordered place in my life.

I’m chronically discontent with my wardrobe.  I’ve never had a lot of money to spend on clothes and I don’t enjoy shopping, though I do enjoy an occasional treasure hunt at our local thrift shop.  As I walk to work each day, I admire the “together”, classy looks of women around me in the city.  “If only I had that outfit, I’d be prettier, happier and confident… (sigh)”  Several years ago I stopped reading fashion magazines because I know it just feeds into my discontent.  Yet, this is still an almost daily internal “ick” of discontent/envy about clothing.  I try to remind myself of Scripture, “don’t worry about what you will wear”, but having clothing is not the problem – I can get loads and loads of secondhand clothing at thrift shops very cheaply.  My discontent is about having the (supposed) right clothing.  I don’t want to live this way.  I want to live in gratitude, with a broader perspective of what really matters.  Looking nice is a value of mine, and I don’t feel that’s wrong, but it’s become disordered.

So, in an attempt to refocus, Randi Lundren (one of the members of our “Free” study) and I will only wear 8 pieces of clothing during the month of November.  (BTW – I loosely based this challenge from a 6 items challenge I read about here and here and here. Randi and I struggled with settling on 6 pieces, so we went with 8! 🙂 )

Feel free to join us and let us know if you do!

Here are the “rules” during the month long challenge:

Have 8 pieces of “anchor” clothing.
We can wear belts, jewelry, scarves.
Coats, undies, socks, shoes, workout clothes, and PJs are not counted in this challenge.
No clothing purchases.
Repair clothing if a mishap occurs (ie, no replacement pieces).

So, here are the pieces I’ve decided on:
2 sweaters
3 tops
1 dress
1 jeans
1 black pants

lori 8 challenge



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.


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