Midday Connection

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Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Guest blog: Intentional Summer

I try to ignore the gargantuan corn on the cob, molded in plastic that floats above my head. As I stand in line at Target, I can almost feel it stirring up there, threatening to drop from the wires that suspend it from the ceiling. I take a few steps forward to get out from under it and then notice the enormous sunglasses—as big as a kayak—that hang from the ceiling twenty yards from the corn. (Are these decorations meant to deliver panic attacks to customers? Or is that just me?)

Summer is here with its bright, ordinary pleasures. I savor the break from packing lunches, unpacking backpacks, and keeping my kids on task in their schoolwork. I relish the sound of a Cubs game on the radio, the buzz of a lawnmower, the warble of the ice cream truck as it winds around town, playing tunes as crazily varied as “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and “The Entertainer.” Fresh corn on the cob. Catching fireflies.

Summer, though, has been less about Popsicles and the smell of freshly mown grass for me the last few years. Now that they are older and I’ve become a full-fledged “working mom,” it’s been more about driving my kids to activities, coordinating babysitters, and trying to get my work done in as few hours a day as I can. But I want this summer to be different. I want summer to be a restorative time for myself, as well as for my kids.

Author Carla Barnhill grapples with the same issues. “I am trying to keep our calendar low on plans and high on free time,” Barnhill wrote on her blog. “That has meant a lot of saying no, something that doesn’t come naturally for me but that I find to be terrifically rewarding.”

Barnhill says no to camps or lessons that span over more than a week and activities that require most of the family to be observers, such as one child’s baseball games. She also keeps one day a week completely free of commitments. Her good ideas inspired me to come up with some strategies of my own. As much as possible, I register my kids for activities that they can do together. I make a schedule of working hours and force myself to clock out when the kids tromp in from camps, caddying, or an outing with the sitter. I wander around the library and check out books I wouldn’t normally choose. An Ethiopian cookbook. A book on reducing clutter. One on contemplative prayer. I want to be intentional about being present with my kids, and about making summer a restorative time for myself, too.

What are you doing to relax and be present this summer? In what ways are you connecting with your family and with God’s creation? Share your ideas here.

If you missed our June 11 program with Jennifer on Midday Connection, you can listen to it on our website.

Jennifer GrantJennifer Grant is the author of Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter and MOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family. Find her online at jennifergrant.com.

Midday Blog: Prodigals

When an Angel of God told Manoah’s wife she would give birth to a boy, Manoah prayed to God: “Master, let the man of God you sent come to us again and teach us how to raise this boy who is to be born… what  do you have to tell us about this boy and his work?” (Judges 13 MSG)

What passion and curiosity this first time dad had! Manoah was committed to raising his son exactly as God wanted. That lucky dad even got to ask for God’s specific parenting instructions face-to-face!

So the parents did as they were told – pregnant mother and little boy were to keep the Nazirite vows. And that little boy became one of the miracle babies of the Bible, “The woman gave birth to a son….The boy grew and God blessed him. The Spirit of God began working in him….” (Judges 13: 24,25, MSG)

What a start that boy had. Too bad the story didn’t end happily. That little guy was named Samson, the one of Delilah, gouged eyes and crashing pillars fame. And oh did that grown up boy have a temper!

It’s stunning that Samson’s parents got their parenting advice from God himself, yet they didn’t see the ending they envisioned. What went wrong? Today’s parents of a prodigal may wonder, “If only I had…if only my spouse had…if only God had….”

Samson’s life ended in a pile of rubble, yet God’s purposes for his life were accomplished, but with a tragic ending: he judged Israel for 20 years and routed the Philistine tyrants. For some of our kids, everything about their growing up gives the appearance of having been done “right,” but for some reason their life becomes fueled with illegal drugs, existentialism, promiscuity or abandonment of their faith. Their life looks like a pile of rubble. It’s then parents must come to the place where their child’s free-will has to be acknowledged. Our children have a choice. The parents of a prodigal must become comfortable with “black and white” thinking merging into gray.

Note: You might be interested in listening to the Midday Connection program from June 18, 2012 with Carol Barnier regarding prodigals.

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. To learn more about Melinda, her speaking schedule and her blog please visit her website.

Guest Blog: Thoughts from a Worship Leader

As a worship leader, my primary job is to provide a myriad of opportunities to connect to our great God in a worship service. However, there are some things I wish I could tell the people I stand in front of…and I suspect I’m not the only worship leader who feels this way.

#1
Just because I’m in a “performance role” doesn’t mean that you can judge me like I’m on American Idol. I’m not performing for you – I’m offering my talents in musical worship to God. Please join me.

#2
Even though I am leading you, you help to lead me to worship when you show you are connected to the worship experience. Conversely, you can discourage me when you communicate your disinterest in the worship service.

#3
Just because I have a nice voice or play the piano well doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Please extend grace to me and forgive me for being a fallen human being.

#4
My personal time of worship does not always involve music. Even though I love music, I can worship God in the quiet of my car, when I look at nature, or when I see the generosity of others. Music isn’t the only way to worship God; I encourage you to seek Him in new and different ways.

#5
I don’t assume that you walk into a worship service ready to worship. Fights happen and shoes go missing at the last minute. Would you do me a favor? As you’re being seated, just say this: “God, I’m here for you. Please show Yourself to me.” God might speak in the music, in the prayers, in the sermon, in the colors of the stained glass window, or in the silence. Ask Him to show Himself to you and keep your eyes and ears open.

To listen to our recent Millrose Club with Angie Thomas, please visit the Midday Connection website.

Angie Thomas serves as the director of contemporary worship at First Baptist Church in Geneva, Illinois.  She is also a member of the Grant Park Festival Chorus in downtown Chicago during the summer.

For more information, please visit her website.

Midday blog: Stepping Back

ImageIsn’t it amazing how small decisions 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 full day at Midday Connection, then walk 30 minutes to the train station, get on my favorite train – in my favorite car, sit on a train for 45 minutes (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 hit 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.

Listener blog: My Father’s Eyes

I don’t look into my father’s eyes because I’m scared of what I’ll see, a disappointment that I carry around with me like a second holy spirit.  He wishes I were stronger, healthier; more like his mother, his sister, his wife, his other daughter.  He is disgusted by the Jesus in me, that he has a child who needs so many crutches — faith, friends, church, therapy.  He is angry with me for staying so long in a bad marriage, for needing so much help to get through it.  It hurts to look into my father’s eyes because I don’t find in them what I’ve wanted my whole life, the look that tells me this one man thinks I’m the most precious girl of all.  I don’t find compassion or tenderness.  I don’t find the love that every little girl longs for.

So, I looked into others eyes.  I looked into my groom’s eyes as I walked towards him down the aisle, praying I’d finally be looked at with adoration, with a look that said, “I can’t believe I get to be with her.”  I didn’t find it there.  I spent over fifteen years trying to get my husband’s eyes to tell me what my father’s didn’t – that I was precious, to someone, anyone. I never once saw it, because he didn’t feel it.  I was a burden, a nag, overdramatic.  I saw all those looks and took them in as my truth.  Never once did I see preciousness looking back at me, so I stopped looking in his eyes too.

And now there are no eyes for me to see my reflection in that is soft and kind and true.  So I look into my Heavenly Father’s eyes. And though I know my preciousness, I don’t see actual eyes.

I have spent a lifetime looking for something I may never find.  And I will spend the rest of my days trying to convince myself that the love of God is enough, that it’s strong and pure and real, more real than any look from any actual man.

But I’ve stopped looking into my father’s eyes.

This blog was submitted by an anonymous Midday Connection listener.

Midday blog: In Defense of Science Fiction

You may remember when I was recently on the Millrose Club and I mentioned the book Ender’s Game and that there were aliens in the book. There was a negative reaction to “aliens”* – so I am here to defend science fiction! Or at least hopefully give you some reasons why it should not be a genre we neglect. First, here is a definition of the science fiction that I found helpful.

To be science fiction, not fantasy, an honest effort at prophetic extrapolation from the known must be made.

– John W. Campbell

So, science fiction doesn’t necessarily mean aliens (although it doesn’t rule them out either). In fact many widely read books would fall into the genre of science fiction, such as Fahrenheit 451 and more recently The Hunger Games

Why read science fiction? The first reason is that it can provide a prophetic warning, we see this with both 1984 and Brave New World and in fact have seen many parallels between Brave New World and our own world. As we look at the many bioethical issues facing the world today, and that we’ll face in the near future good science fiction can help the reader to better understand some of the issues and implications.

Another reason to read science fiction is because of the change in setting. By removing the reader from their current world the author is able to help the reader see issues and interact with ideas that they might normally think about, or to think about them in new ways. For example, The Hunger Games trilogy explores issues of power and makes assertions about what power does (whether those assertions are right or not the reader must decide for herself).

I hope that these two reasons help you to see more value in science fiction. And if you’re interest is piqued, here are some books to check out**

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

His Majesty’s Starship – Ben Jeapes

The Foundation Trilogy – Isaac Asimov

The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins

*I’m sure the Anita, Melinda and Lori were just joking around…right?  🙂

**Note, not all of these books are written from a Christian perspective. But they all present ideas that are worth wrestling with, whether you agree with what the author says or not.

 

Josh Klos is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Radio Communications, he has served as the engineer for Midday Connection since 2010. He is also a part of the volunteer College & 20’s group staff at his church and enjoys spending time outside, as well as at libraries, bookstores and various coffee shops. He’s busy these days with graduate school, where he studying communication and culture.

To learn more about Josh and read his blog, please visit his website.

Listener blog: Holding My Father’s Hand

In 1982, when my sister, Peggy disappeared, never to be seen again, I had questions; questions that never got answered. Eight years ago, I sat in her murder trial where I was to testify. I would be identifying her husband, the suspect, by pointing him out. I didn’t want to even look in that direction.

Led to a quiet room to wait my turn, I was thankful I was alone. While my flesh was scared to death, my spirit reached out to God and I began softly singing. My body might have been in that waiting room, but I saw myself in God’s throne room, sitting on his lap, singing to him. When my turn came, God took me by the hand and went with me.

And when I pointed across that courtroom, and identified her little boys in photographs of long ago, God steadied my shaking hands.

All of us experience hard times. Maybe you are sitting by a loved one’s bedside, watching as cancer strips him of his healthy cells. When we are overwhelmed we have to trust in what is true instead of how we feel.

I do not understand my life

it’s difficult for me,

some questions have no answers

at least that I can see

and yet, with every year I’ve grown,

there is a truth that God makes known

I do not have to understand,

but simply hold my Father’s hand.
Sometimes when trials come into our lives we scratch our finite heads, look up and ask  “why?”

Our questions are often met with deafening silence. God wants us to trust him. To look past the raging waves and howling winds and focus on him.

We may not know what is around the corner, but we do know God will be there.


Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of 42 Bible studies with Christianity Today as well as the author of numerous articles. Anne’s poetry is sold through Christian Book stores throughout the United States and in 23 countries. Originally from Chicago, Anne resides in Peoria, Illinois with her husband of 36 years, Michael. If you see Anne smiling, it’s probably because she is thinking about her two grandsons, Jude and Charlie. To find out more information about Anne, go to  www.annepeterson.com.

Midday blog: Our Official Launch!

Anita LustreaThe Midday Connection team is very excited to launch our blog. Our plan is to post a new blog at least once a week. You’ll hear from Midday Connection staff, Melinda, Lori, Josh, and me, some of our favorite guests, and we will also hear from you! We are excited to hear what’s on your heart. What is God speaking to you about? What passion is so strong in you it’s bubbling up and over?

God is challenging me to be His woman.  A woman of courage and conviction.  A woman not swayed by others opinions, but a Psalm 1 woman. A woman with feet firmly planted along the riverbank soaking up sustenance and bearing fruit for God’s kingdom. The words courage, conviction and planted can sound a bit harsh even in the percussive sound they make coming out of my mouth. Am I talking about a woman with sharp edges and no softness? Absolutely not! I’m talking about a woman who lives by her values. A woman who is not afraid to be who God created her to be, to live authentically and without pretense.

One of my values is to live in such a way that I inspire others (What are your values? Check out our past program with Dr. Jennifer Degler and the values exercise!).  Hopefully that means inspiring women to discover and live out their values. Another high value for me is living a life of influence and modeling. I get to do that in my home first of all.  It makes me feel alive when I see my son live into the values he’s seen modeled at home over the course of his lifetime, or when I read a Midday Connection email about life transformation.

What is God speaking to you about these days? If you’re a blogger, write about it and send it in to midday@moody.edu.

Anita 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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