Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Listener blog: A Matter of Perspective

There is someone in my extended family for whom I have prayed regularly for years.  She is a Christ-follower…but seems not to be concerned about how others perceive her attitudes and behavior.

Realizing that it was not my place to correct or direct her, I prayed specifically about certain aspects of her character that I thought surely the Lord would want to work on to improve her image as a Christian.  Knowing that God knows more about her and can speak to her in ways that I cannot, I began to pray, “Lord, help her to see herself as you see her.”

I felt satisfied that I had hit upon the best approach to God on her behalf…until this morning during my prayer time.  I prayed as usual, “Lord, help her to see herself as you see her,” and then words came out of my mouth that I had never intended to pray—“and help me to see her as you see her.”  I literally jumped and almost said, “No, Lord, I meant to say…” But I stopped in awe of what had just happened…and conviction flooded my heart. The Holy Spirit had led me to pray in the way that I should have been praying all along.

God doesn’t need me to point out what’s wrong in the life of his children; Satan is already the champion accuser. Rather than focusing on the negative, I am beginning to look for things that God sees in this woman as praiseworthy, and then thank him for them, trusting him to continue to work in her life.  God needs me to see her as he sees her—his child under construction…just like me.

donna sparksDonna Pharr Sparks refers to herself as “an expired English teacher,” because after becoming a stay-at-home mom ten years into her career, she allowed her certificate to expire.  She still loves using her writing skills and has been published in several magazines, including Family Circle and Woman’s Day.  A native of Chattanooga, Donna lives with her husband, Ray, in Murfreesboro, TN.  She enjoys working with children at her church and cherishes fun times with three of her four grandchildren. She has to settle for Skyping with the fourth one, who lives in Germany.

Midday blog: For all the Bored Boomers

So what was up with those boozy old ladies of Titus 2:3?  Apparently on the Greek island of Crete, the older women were getting excessive with the wine. Why was this a problem for these women?  What were they trying to escape, cover over, cope with? Boredom, the pain of widowhood?

I’ve been in Christian radio too long to not know that some of you are using alcohol, let’s say, “excessively.” And, you’ve got your reasons: it was modeled for you growing up or perhaps you’re in a heap of pain or you just slipped into it. However, maybe you aren’t a drinker at all, but you’re wasting time with something else in your afternoons, much like the Crete women were. Clearly, they could stand some vision casting, and Paul gave it to them. “You’ve got a job to do – get that mentorship program going ladies!”

I’d like to echo Paul’s call: God’s got a job for you Boomers to take on with younger women. Research says they are hungering for an experienced woman to come alongside, and share their lives with them. Many struggle with their identity or purpose. These recent college grads are facing incredible unemployment in their demographic.

Here’s what you can do: listen, love on them, cook for them, get your nails done together, read with them, walk together, laugh together, share life with them. Listen for what comes out of them, and when it’s painful tell them, “I’m so, so sorry. You are fabulous and God has plans for you, and I believe in you!”

God had a more productive plan for our early church sisters who were enslaved to something lesser in Crete, and He has a better life for us, today. Let’s get busy and gather around young women, who are hungry for connection. They need us, and we need them. The Bible tells us so.

“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” (Titus 2:14, NLT)

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.

Guest blog: Raising Kids in Scary Times

I was four-years-old and crying. My mother took my hand and prayed a word for each finger. “Jesus says, I . . . will . . . never . . . leave . . . you.”  Then (too soon!) she left. It was still dark, the monster under my bed still wanted me, but now I was not alone. Jesus was with me.

After recent national tragedies, what do we say to our kids? Experts caution age appropriateness. “Turn off the TV. Don’t expose little ones.” Reassurance is stressed for all ages. Tell them, “Don’t worry. That will probably never happen to you.”

Reasonable, but I wonder if the hope of statistical improbability is the best we can do?

Scary times are more than scary times. They are opportunities to lay strong faith foundations for a child’s present and future life.    


1. In scary times, children need parents with strong faith.

Children grow in the soil of their parents’ faith.

Big-picture-strong parental faith says: “While we are sad, God is still in control. The world is going to be OK. Scripture says, ‘Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.’ Look at history.”

  • Rome once ruled the world. It lies in ruins today.
  • Hitler, Stalin and other mean men all have faced their Maker. God has the final word.


2. In scary times children need faith tools.

On 9/11, before Todd Beamer said, “Let’s roll!” he called an operator. He asked her to pray the Lord’s Prayer and recite the 23rd Psalm with him. He found strength in a faith that was laid in his childhood. “Don’t worry. This will probably never happen to you,” would have failed Todd Beamer. Teach your kids to pray. Help them learn Scriptures that comfort.


3. In scary times, children need to know that God’s care is supernatural.

Well, but what about Columbine? When a child dies in an accident or from disease in a cancer ward is God still there?

Yes . . . especially then. Beyond our ability to sense and feel or touch, the supernatural world of God exists. Most of us can attest to God’s attention to the smallest details of our lives. Who can say what God might do in the face of extreme predicaments and pain?

I can only suggest that God will do everything . . . perhaps something unheard, unseen, unfelt or totally unsensed by anyone other than the child at that moment. 

In scary times, be strong in faith, moms and dads. Show me both hands and repeat as needed. Jesus says, “I-will-never-leave-you. Do-not-be-a-fraid!” Then tell your kids


Valerie BellAdapted from the Valerie and Steve Bell’s book Faith-Shaped Kids (Available at www.valeriebell.org )

You can listen to our interview with Valerie Bell from May 1, 2013 on our website.



Midday blog: Crossing to Safety

Recently I finished reading Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. It’s a book about ordinary people. There are two couples (Sid & Charity, Larry & Sally) who form a friendship. At first the friendship seems anything but ordinary as it’s the type where they all instantly click and are great friends with each other. The book follows these two couples as they live their ordinary lives, which have their ups and downs like any life.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately thinking about this book, there are references throughout the book questioning who would want to read about ordinary people. However the book realizes that there is a beauty to lives that are lived well. Even in the midst of great difficulty and tragedy, there is a simple life that can be lived well. Even when the specter of death looms, and we have to wrestle with it, we are to still celebrate a life well lived.

Larry, Sid, Sally, and Charity are not perfect people by any stretch of the imagination, but they do reflect us back to ourselves and make us wrestle with what kind of life are we going to live? What truth will be reflected at the end of our story? And as I contemplate this book, I realize perhaps there friendship which seems unusual may be a little more ordinary than I thought as I consider the depth of some of the friendships that I have.

How about you? Do you see the ordinary life as a blessing, or something to run away from?

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: Mental Illness – We Can Help

My mother has seen multiple psychiatrists, counselors, and other mental-health professionals. She has seen the inside of more than one mental-health hospital, one jail, and one prison. Her history with serious mental illness goes back more than 20 years. But if she were to go to a hospital today, in urgent need of psychiatric intervention, she would most likely start from scratch with a team of professionals who have no idea what medications she takes, what she suffers from, or what she needs.

She might be medicated, stabilized, and after a few days, discharged into the care of a family barely able to care for her, even after decades of practice.

Every time her insurance company has made a change, a doctor moved, or the person she last saw wasn’t available, she has had to meet with someone new and start over.

She needs to take medications every day, but until recently, no professional had explained–in a way she understood–that she has a chronic illness and must take meds for the rest of her life, for the sake of herself and others.

Under intensive treatment, she usually has been paranoid and unwilling or unable to consent for caregivers to consult with family. So we have written letters explaining her history and behavior and mailed them to these professionals, hoping she would get better care–even though the recipients could never acknowledge receiving any communication from us.

When she went missing and lived in homeless shelters, we couldn’t find her. No one would answer our inquiries.

When she went to prison, I couldn’t visit because she was required to initiate a multi-step process of obtaining approval for each visitor–and it was much too difficult for her.

Although we suspected for a long time that she suffered from schizophrenia, it took 20 years for us to receive professional confirmation of her diagnosis, from a medical field that is reluctant to “label” people.

This is the reality of life for so many families like ours, trying to navigate a mental health care system that is badly broken. And there are so many ways the church can help.

My family has always been in the church. Dad was a pastor for 10 years. When schizophrenia came knocking, we were steeped in church life, yet the church was mostly silent on the reality of mental illness–and we got the message that we should be silent as well. This silence was isolating and cruel.

Yet our greatest moments of hope have come through encounters with individuals in the church who have made eye contact, visited Mom in prison, answered late-night phone calls to help her sort through her thoughts, showed up for small group when Dad cried every week. These are simple acts of love that reflect the heart of our creator, who knows far more than we do about how wretched we all are.

Like it or not, the church is the first place many turn in crisis. And fair or not, the church’s silence or rejection feels like rejection from God. We cannot keep turning away from the most vulnerable among us. It’s time to be part of the solution.

Amy SimpsonAmy Simpson is editor of Christianity Today’s Gifted for Leadership, a freelance writer, and author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission (InterVarsity Press). You can find her at www.AmySimpsonOnline.com  and on Twitter @aresimpson.

Midday blog: Receiving

I’ve never been very good at receiving.  Complements, gifts, and thanks are nice, but it’s hard for me to just receive them. I enjoy being the giver so much more – knowing I’ve helped someone, made the load a little lighter for them…and yes, it makes me feel good about myself.  Receiving feels vulnerable.

Recently, my husband and I found ourselves with a large, unexpected bill with no way to pay it. Since my husband lost his job, we’ve struggled financially and this bill felt like another boulder on our shoulders. Close friends of ours suggested that we talk to our church.  I tentatively sent an email to our benevolence fund team. I struggled with feeling shame, failure, defeat, and fear.  Would they tell us what we know we deserve: “You made your bed and now you have to lie in it.”  I dreaded getting a response to my email – at times hoping they would say no and other times praying they would say yes.  Amazingly, after a grace-filled conversation with the benevolence fund team, we were given some money to pay our bill. I vacillated between waves of shame, relief, embarrassment, gratitude, tears, and laughter.

After this humbling and amazing generosity, I’ve been pondering receiving.  What does it look like to swim freely in the joy of receiving a gift of generosity?  I don’t deserve any of it.  But, what a beautiful, tangible, in-my-face demonstration of God’s grace and mercy toward me!  In this season, I feel like God is teaching me to just let go and bask in the love, care, generosity, and support of His people. And I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t a kind of offense to the giver to not enjoy the gift?

What about you? Do you struggle with receiving?

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.

Guest blog: Verbal and Emotional Abuse

Have you noticed how we stop seeing the smudges on our own walls but see them immediately in someone else’s house? It’s easier to spot the “dirt” in someone else’s home because our eyes haven’t grown accustomed to it. The same thing can happen with emotional and verbal abuse: we can spot it in other’s relationships but can miss it in our own because we’ve “gotten used to it.” We come to believe all relationships are like ours, that yelling, name-calling, cutting sarcasm, or the silent treatment are normal. Those behaviors aren’t normal. They are emotional and verbal abuse.

Emotional abuse is a consistent pattern of hurtful, humiliating, and condescending behavior. Examples include trying to control someone’s actions, making unreasonable demands, shaming, devaluing what is important to someone else, withdrawing love and attention, sulking, rolling eyes, and not caring how others feel and believing you are always right and superior.

Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse and defines people in a negative, pain-producing way. Examples include negative statements or insinuations telling you what, who, and how you are and what you think, feel, or want, such as “You are: like a child, clueless, too sensitive, lazy, trying to start a fight, overreacting, being dramatic, etc.” or “You think you’re always right, you’re better than everyone else,” or “You are confused, are never happy, aren’t sad, have nothing to cry about, don’t love me, want to hurt me on purpose, want me gone, etc.”

You cannot be emotionally intimate and safe with people who are consistently emotionally or verbally abusive. While they may not be physically violent, they are doing psychological violence to you, and their assaults on your heart will gradually erode your self-esteem, confidence, and identity. You are not causing the abuse, even if you are told “You make me act this way, I have to talk to you this way to get you to listen, etc.”

If reading this has been a wake-up call for you, don’t go back to sleep! Stop making excuses like “I’m used to it. That’s just how s/he is.” Emotional and verbal abuse is wrong. Making excuses for someone else’s sin enables the person to continue sinning. Educate yourself about emotional and verbal abuse so you can recognize it quickly. Join a support group or see a counselor so you can learn new, healthy ways of confronting abuse.

Jennifer DeglerJennifer Degler, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, life coach, and co-author of No More Christian Nice Girl. A frequent speaker at women’s events and marriage retreats, she also maintains a counseling practice in central Kentucky. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and the founder of CWIVES, an organization devoted to helping Christian wives enhance their sexuality (www.cwives.com). She has been interviewed by Women’s Day.Com, Moody Radio, and numerous other media outlets. Jennifer and her husband, Jeff, live in Lexington, Kentucky, with their two children. Visit her Web site at http://www.jenniferdegler.com.

Midday blog: How Important is it to Know Yourself?

David Benner is an author in the genre of spiritual formation books.

In his book Sacred Companions in a chapter called ‘Hospitatlity, Presence & Dialogue’ Benner talks about how important it is to know yourself.  Several of our past Midday guests have brought that concept to the table: Gordon and Gail MacDonald, Janet Davis, Leslie Vernick and Jennifer Degler, just to name a few.  However, it remains a controversial topic within the Christian community.

I offer this quote from David Benner and would love to see a good conversation ensue.  I did this recently on my Facebook page and I was surprised at the variety of thoughts and opinions on the topic.

Benner says, “Spirituality not grounded in humanness is no earthly good. Worse, it can actually be dangerous.”  Further down the page he says, “This draws our attention to the importance and interdependence of knowing both God and self. As argued by John Calvin in the opening pages of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, there is no deep knowing of God apart from a deep knowing of self and no deep knowing of self apart from a deep knowing of God. Meister Eckhart, the fourteenth century Christian mystic and theologian, said the same thing two centuries earlier. Knowing God and knowing self are both necessary for wholeness and holiness.

How tragic it is when a person invests all his or her energy in knowing God and none in genuinely knowing him or herself. And how terrifying when such a person is in a position of leadership or influence. Christian maturity demands that we know God and ourselves, recognizing that deep knowing of each supports deeper knowing of the other.”

What do you think?

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.

Listener blog: Prayerful

Earlier this week we asked Midday Connection listeners to write short prayers for the concerns of the world.  Would you pray with us?

Our world, our country, and our leaders need You more now than ever Lord. I pray that ears will be opened to hear Your word, and hearts will be softened to receive it. (Whitney)

Please, Lord, be with all persecuted Christians around the world. (Vicki)

Lord I ask you to give all your loved children that are fighting drug and alcohol abuse the wisdom and knowledge to know they can over come this with your strength. Amen (Barbara)

Father I pray for every young girl in the world who is suffering alone and isolated because she’s been given in marriage as a child, too malnourished to bear a healthy baby, and now her body has been broken by obstetric fistula. Comfort her, provide healing for her, and save her soul, be her Heavenly Father. (Lori)

Father God, may the inhabitants of the world come to know the Truth and may the Truth set them free. (Sharon)

Help us to see YOU in everything, Lord, and to be grateful and faithful.  Amen. (Jen)

Dear Lord, please be with all those living in Syria, especially the children and those who are trying to flee the chaos. We ask for safety for those who bravely try to get supplies and help to them. (Florence)

Thank you, Father, that you determine the course of world events and direct the hearts of earthly rulers as you please. I pray that you will intervene where bad decisions have been made and disrupt evil plans so that the gospel can go forth and heal broken lives. (Donna)

I pray that we create communities that rise up around those who need it most to allow God’s love to been seen in actions not just in words. Let your light shine through us, even in our darkest times. (Tamara)

God, you put our country’s leaders in power for a reason. Help us to remember You are in control, no matter how crazy it gets. (Leila)

I pray that the blinders will come off of all those who do not know You, Lord, as Savior and King. (Cynthia)

Father, please give strength and courage to your children who are persecuted so severely! May their suffering and stand for you bring honor and glory to you and shame upon those who persecute them. (Jane)

I pray that we would start to value human life – from unborn babies to the elderly and infirm. We are Your creations and deserve to be treated with dignity and love. (Tonja)

What are you praying for today?

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