Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Midday blog: Mind Muscles

I’ve started again. I’m taking the train every day to “the city,” as we call it here. A good thing about my one mile walks back and forth between the train station in Chicago and work is that I am getting exercise again!  That’s helping this little diet Dave and I have going and helps me do what I am supposed to do anyway: exercise my muscles, including that important heart muscle everyone keeps talking about.

My trek has me crossing the winding Chicago River twice, short cutting through the lobby of the creative Merchandise Mart, heading north for a while alongside the ear-splitting “L” elevated train tracks. I was wondering this morning as I walked – do we use our mind muscle?  Just to clarify, there are no real brain muscles, and I just read online that our brains are the consistency of warm butter, btw. (Is that cool or kind of nauseating?)  But I’m thinking about the idea of using our minds, pressing them to go a little bit farther than usual, demanding that they take us to places that stretch us, and doing it with determination.

Do we travel unafraid? Not always. Sometimes I get creeped out crossing the Chicago River on a bridge with wood planks that look like they were nailed in during the Great Chicago Fire! Walking forward means you confront some scary or weird stuff sometimes. Like homeless people, like crazy drivers, like weather, like bridges that are the only way you are going to get from here to there so you have to cross them whether they creep you out or not.

On Tues., Oct. 30 I’m hosting a new weekly podcast called Bring To Mind. If you’re game to use your mind muscles (or maybe even secretly hungry for it?) or want to start exercising your mind muscles again, check out Bring To Mind at www.bringtomind.org. I’ll actually be talking with Dr. Michael Sleasman about this very topic of cultivating the mind.  And in the weeks to come we’ll meet some interesting women and men who’ll make us think. If you’re up for it – and I hope you are! – visit Bring To Mind.

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: Bold

Bold! How did that descriptor come to describe my life? Finding myself single again with an empty social calendar, no job, and an unknown future, bold described nothing in my experience six years ago. What happened?

It began with a characteristic God placed in me before I was born. “No fear chip,” my husband called it. He puzzled that I went jogging alone in Moscow in early morning hours before we started our day, and again in Tirana, Albania.

He didn’t know that I had eaten a pretty wooly worm at age 5 just because the colors of yellow and black were inviting. Yes, those hairs sting! He doesn’t know that I leaped off a 30 foot cliff into beautiful Crater Lake, Oregon just because the 66 degree water was SO beautiful. And that was just two years ago.

What God knew, when He created me with no fear chip, was that He had a task for me in this season alone that required that I be–Bold. Starting projects in Africa in hard places, like remote villages and the slum of Mathare Valley, Nairobi, is not for the faint of heart or folks who give up easily.

No fear chip is a good beginning for Bold.

What brings Bold to life is passion for a purpose so important, so worthy of all you have, so underserved, that you simply must go all out to serve that purpose. For me that started with seeing the void of us living James 1:27.

Sex trafficking would find a formidable foe if we looked out for orphans and widows. Who are those vulnerable children, both girls and boys who are exploited? Typically they are fatherless. Who are those women selling their bodies? Typically widowed or abandoned women who simply want to feed their children.

I look into the eyes of these women in the Mathare Valley. I see the children pushed to the back of the feeding line in the village.

And my purpose plus missing fear chip makes me Bold.

What about you, my friend?  That loss, that void is an opportunity.  Yes, bold purposeful action might feel a bit risky like a step into the unknown. That’s faith.  And the journey is exciting.  Take that first step.

(You can visit our website and listen to our October 23, 2011 program with Miriam.)

Miriam NeffMiriam Neff is an author, speaker and founder of Widow Connection. She is the widow of Robert Neff, former vice president of Moody Radio. She has 26 years of counseling experience in public high schools. Miriam is the mother of four adult children and grandmother of three boys.

For more information about Miriam or Widow Connection, please visit her website.

Midday blog: Modern Day Pharisees

Someone once asked me what I thought was the biggest difference with the church in America and the church in Africa. It took me a moment but then it hit me, the church in America knows Gods word, and the church in Africa experiences/lives Gods word. It’s a year later and that statement rings truer than when I first made it.  I can remember sitting in class enviously listening to my classmates spew facts about God. I remember feeling so dumb for not knowing what Calvinist or Arminianist is. My amazement however very quickly waned. You see, my reality involves receiving emails about loved ones being strangled to death, friends being convicted of four counts of murder and  cousins orphaned by HIV and AIDS.

So forgive me for not wanting to sit for long hours debating about Calvinism when, in just 5 months in 2012, over two-hundred kids under the age of twenty in Chicago died not knowing Jesus. When just across the street from us, kids live without fathers, love and hope. The brokenness and hopelessness of this world is so real to me, I guess it’s because this was my reality and story six-years ago. Even though I’m from a different continent, a different city, I can relate.

I’m blown away by how God, in His sovereignty, used a person who had no idea about different theological terms (that we spend hours deliberating over) to invite me to church. He used a song that, some argue the theological correctness of to lead me to a place of absolute repentance; in a church that many of my fellow students would frown upon. Yes the African church does not know Gods word intellectually. We cannot recite facts about Him, but we know what it means to worship Him when we have absolutely no food in the house. We have tangibly experienced Gods love, provision, peace, joy, restoration and healing and literally take Him at His word.

Joel Houston from ‘Hillsong United’ once tweeted, “Don’t ever trade your pursuit of Christ for the pursuit of knowledge about Christ…too many people seem to know everything about Him at the expense of really getting to KNOW Him…”As I reflect back on conversations I’ve had with my fellow students, I can’t help but wonder if we are not becoming more and more like the Pharisees? I am not saying that we should not be passionate about theology. In fact, I believe that having good theology is vital. However, like Clive Craigen, Moody Bible Institute Assistant Professor of World Missions and Evangelism said, “Thinking good theology is not good enough, we need to live good theology.”

Lebo PooeLebo Pooe is a student at Moody Bible Institute and currently serves as an intern for Midday Connection. Lebo was raised in a single parent home in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been a Producer/Presenter for TWR-Africa (Trans World Radio) in Johannesburg. As a result of Moody Radio’s partnership with TWR, she was selected to receive a four-year scholarship to study Communications at Moody Bible Institute. For her, it’s an answer to prayer and a dream fulfilled.  @lebop

Guest blog: Living Into God’s Love

I’ve been a little restless lately.  More to the point, I’ve been fussy.  You know that feeling where everything feels just a little bit off.  When people ask you what’s wrong, you can’t really give a definite answer.  It’s just a feeling of unease.  Fussy unease.

My response of late has been to turn up the music in my car, lose myself in a bit of non-fiction reading, clean out closets, get closer to my husband, drink extra strong coffee, or drive a different way to work.  Nothing has really scratched the itch.

Then last night the Holy Spirit nudged me awake.  Whenever that happens I think of the Psalmist who said the Lord instructs him in the night.  Nudged awake, I thought to listen for a moment.

The still, small voice said, “Live into my love.”

Now I have reminders all over the place, on my screen savers and cell phone wallpaper, that tell me to live in God’s love, as Christ invited me to in John.  But this was different.  There was a new word in this nudge.

Live into the love.  Not just surrounded by God’s love.  But burrowed into it.

Living into God’s love is active, not passive.

Robin ChaddockRobin Chaddock is a speaker, author, and life coach. She and her husband, David, live in Indiana.

Robin was a guest on Midday Connection on June 22, 2012.  You can listen to that program on our website.

Midday blog: Things Unseen

I spend a lot of time thinking about social justice issues for my grad school program. However there’s one issue that is not talked about, at least not currently, and that is human trafficking of boys. Actually, that’s not completely true, there’s information on human trafficking of boys who are trafficked for labor purposes, but not those who are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Here’s what we know: we know that approximately 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused. We also know that human trafficking for sexual exploitation is more prevalent than we even realize in the United States. According to Emmaus ministries the number of male prostitutes has doubled in the past 30 years. It does not take a huge leap of logic to realize that it can’t just be girls that are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

However, this issue has not been recognized…yet. Maybe I’m crazy and it’s truly not an issue, but I find that hard to believe. Thankfully in Cambodia there’s a ministry that is recognizing what is going on and starting to help boys who are being exploited sexually. I hope that soon we’ll see more recognition of this issue in the US.

The larger question that I want to raise is, are we looking for the issues that aren’t visible? There are enough facts about sexual abuse and exploitation that we know that trafficking of boys has to be an issue, and yet it’s not widely recognized.

What would happen if we started to connect other dots, would we find other issues that the church (or just simply our church) is currently missing? There are people who desperately need the gospel but we don’t realize what kind of bondage that they are in. I challenge you to take some time, look around and notice the little things, do a little research. Maybe it’s as simple as realizing that sex trafficking is a problem in your small town…or that there are those living in poverty or are homeless in your area…notice, and then get involved. Help raise awareness so that we can help these people find freedom from whatever bondage that they are in. May the things that are currently unseen become seen.

*Special thanks to Marla Taviano who helped point me to some of the limited resources on this topic that exist.

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: My Mess, His Message

I took an extra-deep breath and walked into the restaurant, my husband and our three daughters trailing behind me.

“How many in your party?” the hostess asked, her kind smile tinged with pity. There was no hiding my red-rimmed eyes and tear-streaked cheeks.

I half-smiled back. “Our party is waiting for us.”

“Oh, yes! Follow me!” She led us to the back of the restaurant where four women (and one lone dude) were already seated.

My sweet Aunt Vicki, wife of my radio station CEO uncle, gave me a huge hug, and whispered “I love you” in my ear. I had texted her en route, so she knew we had just come from a rough counseling session and that I had cried the entire hour-long ride to the restaurant.

She introduced me to a gal named Shelly Lopez, sound engineer Josh, and the darling co-hosts of Midday Connection, Melinda Schmidt and Anita Lustrea. The purpose of our meeting? A pre-interview of sorts for the next day’s live taping of the show.

Shelly had to leave early to teach a class, so Melinda and Anita chatted with her first while I worked on my salad and prayed I’d be able to hold it together when it was my turn.

Well. So much for that.

I decided it wasn’t worth trying to fool Anita and Melinda into thinking everything in my life was hunky-dory and that I’d be a perfect guest on their show. I just laid it all out there, tears and all.

And if they were worried about me ruining the broadcast with my instability, they didn’t show it. They empathized and encouraged me and said things like, “This is good. We don’t need people who have everything all together. That’s not real. Let’s be real. Just share your heart, sweetie.”

I could’ve kissed them.

So, that’s what the interview was. Me, in all my mess, being real, sharing my heart. And praying like crazy that God, in all his awesomeness, would work out a way to get a whole bunch of glory through my junk.

(You can hear the October 10, 2012 program with Marla on the Midday Connection website.)


Marla Taviano is a published author, speaker and blogger. Her biggest passion is loving the poor, seeking justice, and sharing the hope of the gospel–in her city and around the globe. She and her husband and their three young daughters recently returned from a 5-week trip to Cambodia where they loved on orphans, helped fight human trafficking, and experienced God in amazing ways. Marla and her husband, Gabe, live in Columbus, Ohio and have three daughters—eleven-year-old Olivia Joy, ten-year-old Ava Marie, and six-year-old Nina Gabriel.  For more information, please visit her website.

Midday blog: The Truth

I decided to check out a stress/anxiety workshop last night. It’s been a stressful few weeks, so I figured that I could use some help. I knew I was in for it when the knot between my shoulder blades twinged painfully when the session started ten minutes late.  I shifted around in my chair, impatient.

The presenter started by saying that anxiety is always rooted in fear.  I crossed my arms.  My smarty-pants self thought, “Great. A waste of time. This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. My stress comes from what other people are doing, not fear.”  Oh, by the way…  “this guy” happens to be a doctor and a respected professional in the field of anxiety/OCD and is, among other things, a member of the scientific advisory board of the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation and the President of the Anxiety Centers of Illinois.  Eh-hem.

Slowly, I began to lower my wall of cynicism and really started to listen.  He said that the issue could be of the fear of harm physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.  After taking some time to think about it, I had to admit, my stress really was because of fear… The fear of not being liked, of not being valued, of not doing things right every time.  Those fears are all rooted in lies I tell myself.  The truth is that I am liked (LOVED, even!), I am valuable, I won’t always get it right and perfection is truly impossible.  I remember again how important it is to have true beliefs about myself and about God.

I take a breath and I feel my shoulders relax a bit.  The presenter went on to talk about the three main coping mechanisms that people use with anxiety: avoidance, seek reassurance, and distraction. He added that none of those methods truly work to resolve anxiety and stress – instead, they exacerbate the issue!  The only way to resolve it, is to face the issue straight on and feel some pain.

So today, I’m choosing to face my fear and tell myself the truth. I am loved. I am valued. I don’t have to be perfect.  How about you? What lies have you told yourself? What’s the truth?

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: Got Manure?

The story in Luke 13:6-9 is of a guy who had a fig tree, a parable – not the real deal fig tree that Christ cursed (Matt.21 and Mark 11), although the trees had the same problem: no fruit. This man, like Christ, walked to his tree to get fruit and found it was barren. Empty. That wasn’t the expectation. Nor was it the first time; he tells his gardener that he had been coming for three years-long enough. Now he is ready to get rid of the tree, the tree that just takes up space.

The gardener lobbies for one last effort to get this tree to do what is intended: bear fruit. Respectfully-”Sir”- he buys another year because of his willingness to get personally involved in the care and nurture of that tree. He is going to “dig around it and put on manure.” If nothing comes of it, then they are agreed; it’s got to go.

Is life getting uncomfortable? Feel like the Spirit is digging around, turning things over, maybe even cutting some of those little roots you have thrown off to the side? Feel like there is manure coming in, maybe even by the cartload? I do. It tells me that I was not bearing fruit and Someone was kind enough to lobby for me and get personally involved to see if I could become kingdom-productive, instead of just taking up space.
Apparently, from a distance this looked like a tree that would, could, should bear fruit. The owner wanted fruit, came seeking fruit. Maybe it was beautiful, the nicest looking tree in the place. Well shaped, it probably even had blossoms. What is all that worth to the owner-he plants with the intention of fruitful trees, not good looking trees? He is ready to cut it down-”Why should it use up the ground?” Why should it use up the resources and give nothing back?

The digging around, the application of manure-none of it is fun. I would rather be left alone if it is my call. Am I aware that I am on the brink of being cut down? I need this! I need to be thankful that there is grace and mercy on my behalf, that it means God is so interested in my welfare. As I submit to the process, with the Spirit as Cultivator, there will be fruit!

I would rather have fruit than just look like I should, than just take up space. To the One who planted, there is nothing more beautiful than His fruitful trees.

Got manure??

Sue Woodby grew up in upstate New York but eventually settled in Grand Haven, MI where she still lives with her husband of 30 years, and their youngest son.  Their four older children are married and scattered from Wisconsin to Virginia. Sue has degrees in Physical Education and in Recreation from Messiah College.  She enjoyed several years of teaching, coaching, and enjoying the richness of life in many ways, especially with her family. Music has been important in her life, in teaching, performing, writing, and in passing that love down to her children. The list of things she loves to do is long, but because of illness, her participation grows more limited with every passing season.  It is out of this illness that Sue is finding her true identity not in what she does, but in Christ: His grace, His forgiveness, His redemption, His purpose and promises.

Midday blog: Loving Ourselves

Why is it that we enjoy getting to know the habits of our kids, the varieties of the beautiful flowers and plants in our gardens, our pet’s personality…but we run from knowing, naming and enjoying who we are!

When did it become the Christ-following thing to do to gaze at Him, but feel prideful if we gaze at ourselves, His highly valued creation? For nine months He did the job no other can do. “For You created my inmost being, You knit me together…I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful (read: me – I am the “works!”)….” (Psalm 139: 13,14 NIV)

I believe it is God-glorifying to find our identity in the wonderful inner parts of us. He took time to knit us together – how about if we come to the place where we know and love what He knit.  I sometimes I hear Christians making it all about Jesus and then ignoring themselves, His wonderful creations that He delights in. Shouldn’t I delight in me too? What a wonderful way to honor the Creator.

I challenge us to begin the perhaps frightening discipline of praising God for the nine months of stunning, chaotic, awe-inspiring work that culminated in our birthday. As we fearlessly and unashamedly love who we are, enjoy who we are, like who we are, discover who we are and live into who God created us to be, we aren’t prideful nor do we turn a blind eye to our dark and sinful sides. No, most of us have that last part more than covered. Next time you glance at yourself in a mirror, store window or rearview mirror, smile and give Jesus glory with a smile and a thumb’s up.

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.

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