Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Guest blog: Wonder of Nature

From an early age I found myself drawn to the wonder of the natural beauty of the outdoors.  I remember traveling to Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin and marveling at the boulders and cliffs that were left by glaciers.  A family vacation to Yellowstone, a trip with the Boy Scouts to Mississippi Palisades State Park or to Idaho for the 1973 national Jamboree, all stirred both wonder and an inner sense of joy within my heart and soul.  It was later, after coming to know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that I connected God’s declaration in the scriptures to those early impressions.  Reading verses such as Psalm 19’s opening, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” stirred “Aha” moments for me.  In fact, my fairly new Christian faith became solidified on a trip to Yosemite after college graduation.  A God who loved mankind so much that He gave His only Son for our sins also loved us so much that He wanted to share His creativity with us.  Rather than a barren, uniform landscape, He created infinite variety.

I was a structural engineer in the Chicago area for 14 years after I graduated college in 1980.  Some hardships in life in my mid-30’s caused me to question what I was doing with my life and how I could bring my passions together at the same time:  my passion to build the church of Jesus Christ; my passion for the beauty and majesty of nature; my passion to teach and guide young adults towards leadership and faith in Christ.  Some friends suggested I look into Christian camping.  So I contacted the Christian Camp & Conference Association.  It led me to volunteer at Camp Redcloud in southwest Colorado.  Four years later I left there to go to Dallas Theological Seminary to become better equipped in using God’s Word to lead and direct camp staff.  Upon my graduation from DTS, I ended up at Horn Creek in south-central Colorado in the spring of 2005.  I am now the Director of Ministry there.  I feel like I was made by God for this kind of work, using more areas of who I am to serve the staff and people who come to Horn Creek.  My deepest desire is to grow the church, not in numbers but in depth and breadth .  That is, we use the Christian camp platform to help people develop a deeper commitment to live fully for Christ as a thank you offering for the great salvation He has given us.  It also strengthens their relationships so that they are more vibrant and visible ambassadors for Christ in their neighborhoods and communities.

(Jim was our guest on Midday Connection, February 25, 2013. You can hear that program on our website.)

Jim HessJim Hess is the Ministry Director for Horn Creek in Colorado. For more information, please visit Horn Creek’s website.

Midday blog: Paperman

A couple of weeks ago I was captivated during my commute when I stumbled across the following video, and I’d encourage you to take just a few minutes to watch it:

Some of my thoughts and questions after watching it…

Isn’t love beautiful?

Do I ever give up too easily? Or miss what God is trying to show me?

Am I fully living my life?  Am I willing to chase after beauty, love, dreams?

How about you…how does this video strike you? How does it point you too God? Doesn’t the simplicity of it all make it that much better?

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: Growth

Today I set aside my weekend schoolwork and planning, opting instead to attend a seminar on “Secondary Trauma and Compassion Fatigue.” I knew I needed to hear what this visiting expert had to say to those of us who are, as she said, “living this reality.” One thing that stuck out to me, considering the realizations I had over the summer, was when she mentioned the common talk about PTSD, or Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. What she noted was that most of us in settings like these are not actually experiencing PTSD. Rather, we are experiencing “The natural consequent behaviors and emotions resulting from knowledge about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other. It is the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person” (Figley).

A few things resonated in me as I digested this information. One is that it is “natural.” How comforting to think that the wounded heart is a natural reaction, and not, presumably, a permanent damaging. What I worry sometimes is that the portions of me that are wounded are also permanently hardened. But I don’t think that’s the case. As she told us, most often those who are experiencing Secondary Trauma can successfully use it as a life growth tool.

Another thing that struck me relates to the sense of inadequacy that I felt for much of my first year here. I had a great deal of insecurity about my work and person; as a result, I felt that I somehow didn’t deserve to struggle as much as I was. Those with more responsibility and more impact on others here could justify weariness and emotional reaction; I, as a “newbie” with little apparent impact on others here, surely could not justify being personally impacted as much as I felt I was.

But the truth is that, if this concept is true, the “wanting to help” is as valid as the actual helping . . . thus giving gravity to even the emotional reaction of inexperience, and inadequate, souls such as I.

Apparently, history of personal trauma also intensifies one’s susceptibility to struggling with Secondary Trauma. Suffice it to say, I had plenty of reaction–and something to say–on this topic

There was a wealth of information covered in this short seminar–more than I could really go over in one of my in-the-moment blog posts. I will not try.

Yesterday evening, in the midst of busying about the work of the day, I paused as I went up the stairs of my house. I noticed the way the light was shining in through the windows and knew that something watch-worthy would be happening outside. So I paused in my own agenda and walked around on the roof till I found this: an ethereal mixture of gray and white clouds; a near-sunset glow upon the hills; a child in solitary play, stopping to sit for a bit, perched upon his soccer ball; a piece of peace.

Anna G. Joujan was born in South Dakota, as a Canadian citizen, and was raised in Zambia, the child of missionary teachers.  Since her family’s move to the U.S., Anna spent her childhood and early adulthood traveling throughout the world thanks to various educational and work opportunities . . . France, China, Peru, and Jamaica being some of the stops in her journeys. Her undergraduate degree in French Literature led to a Masters in Information Sciences, and to work as a college and high school librarian, and a cross country coach. She has also returned to Zambia multiple times to teach for individual families and for local schools. All the while continuing pursuing her passions of writing, artwork, photography . . . and card-production.  You can find her online at http://annajouj.wordpress.com

Midday blog: Freezing

During my last visit with my parents in Ohio, as I brushed my teeth before going to bed, my dad called out, like I’ve heard him a thousand times, “Lori Lee, I’ve got some nice, fluffy ice cream here, if you want some…” I went out to the kitchen to see my mom in “her” chair, in a housecoat, sitting on one leg tucked under her, bare feet (always bare feet), enjoying a bowl of ice cream. My dad was, of course, in “his” chair, sitting on the edge of the seat, shoes on (always shoes on), looking content, eating his ice cream. I come from two ice cream loving parents. When I was little, my dad would reward us for helping with yard work by buying Globs for us. Globs were a “special” treat that our local ice cream shack sold on sweltering hot summer days. They were piles of leftover vanilla ice cream on a stick, dunked in chocolate. They were awkward shapes – awkward to eat and delicious. They were sold 4 for $1 – perfect for the tough economic times in our area that we were personally experiencing. Buying ice cream was a rare treat that was thoroughly savored.

As I looked at my parents sitting at the table, my mind flashed back to the years of this same scene repeating and it made my heart soften, thankful.  I realized again that I’m getting older and things are changing and I don’t know how many more times I’ll see them like this – healthy, peaceful, content.  I was more acutely feeling the fact that no one is promised a tomorrow.  My parents are both retired now, which has been a strange mental adjustment for me.  This was a milestone and I found that I wasn’t ready for it.

I wanted to freeze time, to capture that moment of walking into the kitchen as mom and dad sat in their chairs together, contentedly eating a nighttime bowl of ice cream… but not only that moment, but the history that preceded that moment. The good and the bad, piled together that make up our history together.

What are the moments in your family that you’d love to hang on to? What do those moments communicate to you about who you are and who your family is? What memories surface?

Lori NeffLori 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.

Guest blog: Mirror, Mirror

What does being pretty mean? What does it actually accomplish? Sure, if people perceive you as pretty, they may look at you admiringly. But what is that admiration grounded in, and what result does it actually produce? Are only pretty women happily married? Do only pretty women have successful careers? Do they only have deep abiding friendships, and no broken relationships? Do they have trial-free fulfilling lives?

Well, if they do have trials, it doesn’t matter, ‘cause they are pretty, so they deserve whatever they get.

That’s how my thinking sometimes goes.

However, I’ve discovered that if you’re noted as pretty, you may be afforded some opportunity from it, but you may also have people distance themselves from you. Some may perceive you as privileged and want to “even the score” and “teach you a lesson.” Some may think you have it all together and perch you on top of a precariously high mountain of unrealistic expectations.

There are times I have experienced the pain of this prejudice, but to my shame, I’m also guilty of inflicting it on others.

In James 2 we are called to love everyone as we love ourselves. Love reflects Christ. It builds up the Church. If I withhold love, I deny myself and others the joy and power of community. But, the ugly truth is that loving others who seem to have it all can be humbling and uncomfortable.

When I’m around a woman I see as beautiful, I am more aware of my insecurities. I look at her and I see that she has something I don’t have…and then I think that she has everything that I don’t have. I think it’s unfair, which really means I think God is unfair. And when I start thinking God is unfair, that is always a red flag to me that I am out of spiritual alignment.

I am still growing in the practice of loving others as myself. Even after thinking deeply about it, I still catch myself forming prejudices against others. But I’m learning that true beauty is revealed in how we love each other, welcoming one another regardless of appearance. I’ve come to appreciate the richness of vulnerability with others, the feeling of being accepted by others, and respecting the journeys each of us has traveled. May you and I continue to grow together in our understanding of the gospel, and what it calls us to – loving others as we love ourselves.

(Julia joined us on the February 8, 2013 Millrose Club. Visit our website to listen to that program.)

Julia BaadJulia Baad is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, and currently serves as the Client Services Manager in the Integrated Marketing Communications department at Moody Bible Institute. She is a country girl with a city bug, making her way through life by pressing into Jesus. She enjoys running, coffee, good music, and reading books she never finishes. Her family and friends are her biggest joy and inspiration, and she is a proud aunt of two handsome nephews, one beautiful niece, and another amazing niece/nephew scheduled to arrive on the scene in early March.

Midday blog: Does Fear Hold You Back?

I’m all about communicating Freedom to Women. I believe that is my calling but often I find that fear holds me back. Fear is the antithesis of freedom. So how can we live free and fearless? A number of years ago God answered that question for me in an unexpected way.

A piece of my story is about divorce. I went through a divorce about 12 years ago and one of my biggest fears was that life was over, I was finished, all washed up! God couldn’t use a divorced woman. I believed I’d been sidelined. That’s what some people told me, and that was my perception after growing up and spending most of my life inside the Church. God, however, had another idea! He sent some amazing people into my life to speak a different message into my heart and soul, a message of life, hope and healing. Today I speak to thousands of women every day on Midday Connection and get to share that same message of freedom and healing and life.

Here is one of my favorite verses in Scripture on the topic of freedom, Galatians 5:1.  “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” How about it, will you stay free along with me?

What’s your story? What is one of your biggest fears that you’ve watched God dismantle as he helped you see His truth?

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.

Guest blog: Why Pursue Racial Reconciliation?

Some people incorrectly believe that we live in a post racial America, but many Americans of color know differently. While race is still one of those touchy issues that make people uncomfortable, Scott Williams believes that “the only way race will become a non-issue is if we make race an issue.” All across America, corporate businesses, the military, government, and academic institutions value diversity. They are making race an issue and are reaping the benefits. Research has shown that diverse leadership teams come up with better solutions to solve problems. Whether diversity is mandated or embraced, corporations pursue racial reconciliation because it helps them solve problems and increases their bottom to make money and expand their diverse customer base.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, our motivation for racial reconciliation is much bigger than that. We should be leading the rest of the world in this practice. As Christ’s ambassadors, we are called to pursue racial reconciliation for the sake of the gospel. We do not discuss race for its own sake, rather we pursue racial reconciliation because of the good news that Christ died to reconcile us all to God, the Father, and to restore our earthly relationships with each other along the way. Christ has modeled for us a divine way of living and that is a commitment to love.

Our greatest command is to love God and love our neighbors. As Christians, we do not have a right to pick and choose who we love. We have been compelled to love and make disciples of all nations, while understanding that our love of others, especially when they are different than us, is a testimony to the rest of the world that we truly belong to God. This is Jesus’ prayer for us: May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:23b [NIV]).”
Natasha RobinsonNatasha Robinson is a writer and speaker. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in English. Upon graduation, Natasha served six years as a Financial Management Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and obtained the rank of Captain. After transitioning from the military, she continued to serve as a federal government employee at the Department of Homeland Security. Currently, Natasha is enrolled as a full-time student in the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. As a member of Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC, she serves  as the Co-Director of the Women’s Mentoring Ministry. For more information about Natasha, please visit her website.

Midday blog: Objets de la foi

Why is it when the French say something, it just seems so much more expressive, colorful, rich? Objets de la foi (ohb-JZAY de la FWAH) in French means objects of faith. Have you ever noticed how many faith objects you have around your home? I did a quick inventory of mine:




































Across the top you’ll see the “worry ring” I got in Door County years ago. My daughter, Kelly, got  one too. They help us remember not to worry as we pick at those beads! (Matthew 6:34). To the right of that is a painting called “resurrection.” A modern take that reminds me that Christ’s resurrection is as powerful today as it was when it happened in a Middle Eastern garden thousands of years ago. Then there’s a Mary Engelbreit  quip “inquire within,” reminding me to reach out and stay connected with my husband, Dave, and myself – what is going on inside of me that I need to connect to or need to connect to God about? Next, you’ll see the snow scene/engraving that Josh, our Midday engineer, helped me to make at Beacon of Hope bookstore in Springfield, OH, when we were there for a Midday event in 2012. I love the scene and sentiment. Then there’s the ring I bought in Fullerton, CA at Gilding The Lilly over Christmas. It’s a vintage spiritual reminder piece.  Next are reminders of living in grace and God’s gift of grace – Jesus bridging the gap between us and God on a cross. Some are from friends, some from trips and some our family made on vacations from outdoor media. The Blessings book isn’t written in nearly enough but has wonderful recollections in it from our family’s early years. The “Winter – a white calming renewal” reminds me to submit to God’s seasonal work in my soul. And…my husband carries a cross in his pocket. “I put it out on my desk during the day and it visually reminds me to bring Christ into the hours of my day.”

So how about you? What are the objets de la foi  that draw you to God and are found in your jewelry box, on your walls, your workspace, your car, in your pocket?   How do they draw you to God?

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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