Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Guest blog: The “Normal” Stepfamily

Recently, I overheard two women discussing someone they know who is part of a stepfamily. I wasn’t trying to listen, but it was inevitable.

“The kids refuse to introduce Eric’s sons their brothers,” Woman #1 stated. “They insist on referring to them as stepbrothers.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Woman #2 protested. “Eric and Judy have been married for 5 years. Judy should insist that her kids consider Eric’s kids as brothers.” 

“I know, but they won’t. They absolutely refuse,” Woman #1 replied.

“Well, that’s ridiculous. They are just being little brats.” Woman #2 huffed.

I wanted to turn around and say, “I know if you aren’t involved in a stepfamily it seems odd that the kids would resist bonding. But it’s perfectly normal for children in a stepfamily to refuse to accept stepbrothers and stepsisters as their own siblings.”

I’ve learned the hard way to keep my mouth shut about stepfamily living. Especially around those who have preconceived ideas about what is “normal.” Many people, like these two ladies, don’t understand the unique complexities associated with stepfamilies. 

This overheard conversation caused me to ponder, why do people think that after a death or divorce of a parent a child is going to automatically embrace “Eric’s children?”

And why are these women blaming the children for the exhibited fear, anger, and resentment?

If these women had asked for my opinion, I would have said, “Let’s take a deeper look into why the kids refuse to view their stepbrothers as siblings.”

There are a plethora of reasons. A few include: They may view the stepdad as the person who took Mom away. If biological Dad is absent they may resent that Eric’s sons have an active dad. They may fear that accepting Eric’s sons as brothers will make Dad angry or sad.  There are a host of underlying emotions which may be triggering the refusal to accept the boys as brothers.

When kids, or adults, struggle to embrace a stepfamily setting the wise, healthy response is to take a deeper look at below the surface concerns. And then seek resources, seminars or support groups  which addresses the routine complexities that stepfamilies face.

Laura PetherbridgeLaura Petherbridge serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, relationships, marriage enhancement and divorce recovery. She is an international speaker and author. Laura and her husband, Steve, reside in Lady Lake, Florida. To learn more about Laura, please visit her website.

Laura will be leading a weekend event for step families and anyone who ministers to step families.  The event will be in Normal, IL, September 15 and 16. For more information, please visit the event website.

Midday blog: Friendship

Recently, I really blew it with a friend and I spent my day in regret over how I treated him.  Later in the day, I had the chance to apologize and I appreciated how he responded.  In a direct way, he acknowledged that I was wrong, he had been troubled at what I’d done and simply said, “I forgive you.”  I was so grateful for that, but he went even further by saying, “We’re okay.  We’re still friends – always will be.  Nothing could change that.” 

Those healing words brought tears to my eyes.  I think that was the first time anyone had said that to me and I felt an echo of God’s love for me though the words of my friend.  It was like God was reminding me that nothing could ever change His love for me. What a gift.

His words also made me think of Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore- the amazing story of a true friendship between a buisiness man and a homeless man. They were intentional and deeply loyal to each other – so much so that while I read the book, I cried at the beauty of their story. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it as a beautiful picture of friendshp!

I also thought about grudges that I’ve held against friends in the past.  My friend’s forgiveness of me and my careless words really challenged me to extend grace and forgiveness more quickly to others (without dismissing or diminishing the offense).  May I be a vessel of God’s love, grace, reconciliation, and friendship in this often prickly, graceless, warring world.

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.

Guest blog: Me? A Temple of … God?

Do you like your body? Or like me, have you struggled over the years to feel comfortable in your skin?

            When I was young I was pudgy and clumsy. Stubbed toes and skinned knees marked my body. I didn’t like my body because it was awkward.

            In middle school my body changed.  Cramps and monthly moodiness kept me from PE classes and social outings. I didn’t like my body because it ached.

            In high school I compared myself with other girls. I yearned for longer legs, thinner thighs and even more shapely toes. I didn’t like my body because it felt inferior.

            In college and during the early years of my career, I felt driven to succeed, whether it was on the tennis court or at my job, but my body often fizzled out. I didn’t like my body because it couldn’t keep up with my goals and ambitions.

             In my 30’s I came across a Bible verse that changed how I viewed my body:  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Amazing. My body is God’s home. His Spirit lives in my body. That changes everything!

Prayer: Dear God, today, may we keep our bodies strong and holy for the right reasons . . . because it is the dwelling place for your Holy Spirit.

Lorraine Pintus is an author and speaker. She is the author of the book, Jump Off the Hormone Swing by Moody Publishers.  www.lorrainepintus.com

Midday blog: Fears

I’m getting a bit weary of the array of fears that are available like a daily smorgasbord in our American culture. Fear of my water (too many chemicals in it?), for one. Our Engineer, Josh, saw me filling my Brita water pitcher with reverse osmosis water out in the hallway and remarked, “Filtering the filtered water, eh?” Uh…..

Fear of pesticide riddled food, dirty air ducts spewing out allergens at home, fear of getting enough of the top five antioxidant foods, wearing my purse across my body so the purse snatchers can’t grab and go, fear of getting the dementia that took down three of my female relatives, including my mom who now suffers with it. Will I get to live my life out to the max before it hits me?

I’ve pretty well detached myself from spiritual-life fears. My speed of sanctification used to be a concern. Now, maybe because my life seems to be so much more complex as I age, I’m more relaxed about that. Life can be more challenging and energies as a whole are more easily spent. Maybe it’s because I work at a job where spiritual content comes at me like a fire hose. I’m dripping with Spirit-led conversations with guests and the Midday Team continually.  Much to think about, journal about, pray about.

But I just don’t see Jesus in the Gospels being all hurried about the spiritual life. He got to folks’ hearts pretty quickly and left them with plenty to chew on, and then He told them to go and live it out. He was pretty simple in the ways He spiritually influenced others. His passion was saved for the religious know-it-alls. Oh my, my. I see so many of them around in conservative evangelicalism these days. WWJS – What would Jesus Say?

Perhaps as we grow older, fearing personal threats is a way of expressing, “I don’t want this to end.” We’re growing into ourselves in new and authentic ways, shedding things, wearing new things, doing new things, thinking in new ways, seeing God in new ways. Finally, we’re rockin’ it!

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: The Checklist Before a Fall

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Proverbs 16:18

It wasn’t the first time I performed a clogging dance on stage.  Still, I ran through the list of what I needed.  Shoes?  Check.  Costume pieces?  Check.  Music?  Check.  Entry forms?  Check.  I couldn’t think of what, if anything, I had forgotten.  However, I don’t remember humbly praying.  I had this covered.

My friend and I started clogging together years beforehand.  When I started clogging at 11 years old, the stage was a comfortable second home.  And so was my friend’s garage where she taught me how to clog.  We both also happened to be in 4-H, and had high hopes of going to the Colorado State Fair.

The first performance was at the County level.  The announcer called us next.  I ran though the same list again—Shoes?  Costume?  Music?  Entry forms?  I was ready.

The first step required me and my friend to slide back on the balls of our feet, and my head just about met the slick tile.  I missed bringing plywood to dance on when making my list.  Fortunately, the judges and audience gave us grace, and we started the performance again, albeit cautiously.

Twenty years later, and I still follow the same procedure.  I run though the list in the morning.  Shower?  Check.  Lunch made?  Check.  Read my Bible?  Check.  Prayer?  Check.  I think I am ready for the perfect day, and that unavailability—that pride—doesn’t allow room for God to work in and through me.  Nevertheless, I run into situations where I am ready to shine, and instead almost fall.  Fortunately, those around me give me grace and the ability to try again, this time more cautiously.

Think about your day yesterday.  Did you run through a list, prideful that you have it all together?  Did you ask God to use your day how he sees fit?  Take time to acknowledge his grace in those situations where you may not have the perfect precautionary plan.

(You can see Mollie demonstrate clogging on a video we posted on Facebook!)

 Mollie Bond is a writer.  She has encouraged others in print through Light from the Word and others.  She has written for various online publications, including ChristianDevotions.us, ChangingZipCodes.com, and GatheringTogether.com.  Mollie holds a B.A. in Radio-Television Production from the University of Montana, and a Masters of Business Administration from Kansas Wesleyan University.  She has worked in radio or television, and currently lives in the Chicago area.  You can learn more when you visit her blog.

Midday blog: Don’t know much about history

I’ve been taking a course in American church history recently and I was struck by how little I know about history in general and the history of churches specifically. I was also struck by the understanding I’ve gained as I’ve learned why different denominations have developed the way that they have. Why a specific denomination does and that tradition’s understanding of scripture is often shaped by surrounding historical events.

Methodism in the United States has been greatly affected by the second great awakening and specifically events that happened in Kentucky during the second great awakening. During the era of the colonies Catholics were often persecuted and Catholicism was not welcome, it is only in the past century that Catholicism really started to grow and find a foothold in the United States (as opposed to Canada where it played a large cultural role until recently). Presbyterians, Anglicans, Baptists, Quakers, Shakers, 7th Day Adventists all have their own individual stories to tell.

So why should we care about the history of a denomination? Well, I would encourage you to explore your own denomination, see what truths you have accepted were shaped by a response to historical events. Gain a better understanding of what may be cultural. Learn about other denominations and start to understand where they are coming from. Traditions, doctrine and the ways we live our lives have all been shaped by where we come from. Learn from the mistakes in our past, appreciate the good intentions behind some of the tragedies in our history (in my opinion, after learning the full story of what happened with the Salem witch trials, it is actually quite understandable why they happened). It’s been said that “those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana). Let’s learn our past so we can remember it, pass it on, and learn from it.

(Bonus assignment: Study your family history, ask your parents or grandparents about what type of family they come from…what life was like growing up…it is a great exercise to understand what makes them who they are.)

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.

Guest blog: Practicing Losing

Wherever I turn, I find indications that I am getting old,” wrote Seneca, the Roman philosopher.  I know what he means.  While I walk faster and take more steps than many younger people and do almost as much as I have always done), the fact is that when one reaches a certain age, life conspires to make one feel old. Especially in American culture. People ask you if you’re going to retire, young salespeople think you’re shopping for your grandchildren when you are in the trendy section even though that’s still what you like, hairdressers want to give you “do’s”, and you have to talk hard and loud to prevent it. Little children look at you cross-eyed when you joke with them, and you have to be much sweeter when complaining or you’ll earn disdain. I know my students, even those who like me, think I’m funny and learn from me, can’t imagine being this old.

Very simply, growing old means you have to master the art of losing— in poet Adrienne Rich’s words, “trying to let go without giving up.”  Another poet, Elizabeth Bishop, advises  “Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent….Then practice losing farther, losing faster.” Jonathan Swift, in his famous list of do’s and don’ts, suggests that the best way to deal with one’s problems when aging is not to inflict them on others.  He humorously advises that we

“Not be peevish, or morose, or suspicious
Not be covetous
Not neglect decency, or cleanliness, for fear of falling into Nastiness.
Not be over severe with young People, but give Allowance for their youthful follyes and Weaknesses.
Not be too free of advice, nor trouble any but those that desire it..
Not talk much, nor of myself.
Not boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favour ….
Not  hearken to Flatteries
To desire some good Friends to inform me which of these Resolutions I break ….and reform accordingly.”

Perhaps Dylan Thomas’s famous words written at the death of his father linger with me most poignantly, a principle modeled and addressed in scripture.  “Do not go gentle into that good night./ Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”  I intend to do just that.

Dr. Rosalie de Rosset is a professor at the Moody Bible Institute, writer, literary/social commentator and conference speaker. Her latest book is called Unseduced and Unshaken: The Place of Dignity in a Young Woman’s Choices (Moody Publishers, 2012). Dr. de Rosset also leads the Midday Connection Book Club discussions.  Our current selection is Christy, by Kathrine Marshall. We’ll discuss Christy in September 2012.

Midday blog: Missing Out

You’re spending all your energy trying to get what you can’t have – you’re missing out on something very cool!

I said this with exasperation to my cat, Zooey, who was too busy pacing, anxious and crying incessantly to go outside, to notice that right outside the window was her favorite thing to watch – a chipmunk gnawing away at sunflower seeds.  As soon as the words came out of me, I felt my words go into my own heart. 

For years, I thought that if only I got healthy and dealt with my depression, then my relationships would be great – everything I dreamed they would be.  I got healthy and my relationships were pretty much the same.  So, I thought, once the people and circumstances around me change, then I’ll be happy and life will be “good”.  After being frustrated and trying to make people change, my counselor finally told me, “You need to face reality. Your relationships and circumstances won’t suddenly become your perfect scenarios if your list of change ‘to dos’ get done.”  Ouch.  I didn’t even realize that I was counting on that.  But, if I was honest with myself, I really did believe that if the list of changes that I had for others actually happened, THEN I’d be satisfied and happy.  But, while I was putting off happiness and wishing away the people and circumstances  around me, I was missing out on so many great things about the life I’ve been given.  Instead of picking at the negatives in my marriage, job, friendships – I want to enjoy the good about those things in my life.

This doesn’t mean I won’t fight for healthy relationships and be, as Dr. Jennifer Degler says, a “Christian Nice Girl”. I want to be “God’s Good Woman” and live in wisdom and contentment – not manipulative codependency.  I don’t want to spend my life crying for what I can’t have and miss out on something really cool that’s right in front of me.

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: Through the eyes of a little child…

Several years ago, I was visiting The Magic Kingdom (in Orlando) with family and I saw a very interesting sight.  We were walking down the street and to our amazement there was a very ordinary, regular trash bin moving sporadically across the road.  It was not a constant movement but mysteriously every now and then it would change locations.  I distinctly remember the children and the looks on their faces.  Their eyes were wide with wonder and their giggles indicated amusement!  

God definitely has unusual ways of speaking to me but it was in this moment that a profound thought hit me…as an adult, I was observing the same event as these children; however, I was scoping the environment for the owner of the remote.  Was he in the bushes, was she following along incognito?  My unbelief was ruling with a firm hand.  In contrast the children were highly engaged in believing in what they could not see.  As I reflect upon this event, I see so many parallels to the Kingdom of God.  “We cannot enter into the Kingdom unless we become like little children”.  They were able to embrace the moment without inhibitions because they had eyes to see and hearts to believe!  The Kingdom operates with a completely different set of rules.  It is so OTHER.  In this world,  we only understand what we can see with our eyes; however, in the Kingdom…”the weak are made strong”, “the blind can see”, “the poor are made rich” and “the lame can leap”… no rule of nature is so strong that the Kingdom cannot overcome!  We are not bound to this world, especially as children of a King.   “Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

Rhonda Woody is a graduate of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is currently a Network Administrator for the State of Tennessee. Her interests include writing, art and music.  Rhonda is an avid reader and one of her favorite past times is drinking coffee with friends and savoring long, meaningful conversation.  She is single and lives in Chattanooga, TN.

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