Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Midday blog: Good Samaritan

As I’ve heard Anita talk about the release of her novel that she wrote with Caryn Rivadeniera called Shades of Mercy, she has said that the book addresses, “Who is my neighbor?”  That got me thinking, so the other day, I read Luke chapter 10.  And there I read about the religious leader who asked Jesus that very question… Then Jesus answered by telling the parable about the good Samaritan.  I was struck again at the sacrifice of time and money that the Samaritan gave.  It made me think – Do I have the margin in my life to give like he did?  Or (a bigger issue for me), am I willing to have my plans derailed when something more important arises?  Do I recognize that greater importance or am I too stuck on my to do list to deviate?  I thought about this as I passed a homeless man on my way to work.  Am I willing to stop and say hello and risk an uncomfortable few minutes to buy him a meal?  I thought about this as I waded through the crowd of morning train commuters.  Am I seeing people as God’s image bearers, each with their own stories or do I see them as annoying delays in my way?  I’m sitting with this parable for a while.  I’m beginning to see it as more than just doing more and serving more, but it’s also a deeper attitude of respect, honor and dignity toward our fellow humans.

Take a couple of minutes and read Luke 10:30-37. There’s a lot in this parable. What do you sense God bringing to your attention?

Lori Neff

Lori 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 and she’s currently in school again studying counseling and spiritual direction. 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.

Midday blog: What Do I Know About the Marginalized?

As someone who is white and hasn’t known racial discrimination, I was extremely nervous writing about the Native American experience in northern Maine. Who am I to try and step into someone else’s experience and attempt to write about it? I enlisted friend and fellow author Caryn Rivadeneira to co-author Shades of Mercy with me.

Northern Maine is where I’m from. It’s the place I was born, and the place I moved away from much to soon for my liking. It has been Oz for me. The place where, when I return, everything turns to vivid color.

One day I woke up and realized it has not been Oz for everyone. For every person’s Oz, there is someone else having a Wicked Witch of the West experience. What does that look like? I began asking questions and making observations which began to take shape as a novel.

A strong sense of justice was handed down to me on both sides of my family. I saw what it looked like to help the poor, the hurting, and marginalized. I learned early that everyone has a story worth telling and to listen is not only love in action, but can help restore someone’s dignity.

As Caryn and I wrote the novel, we researched the project, and I conferred regularly with the Tribal Administrator of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Brian Reynolds.  When I sent an advance copy to Brian to read, I held my breath. In his first email back to me, he said the first few chapters were painful to read and he didn’t like seeing the truth of how his people had lived. I wondered if I’d gotten things all wrong. Brian followed up and explained that a reality had  begun to emerge in the book. This reality didn’t describe his people, the Maliseet, as bad people, but people who were living in, and living with, very difficult circumstances. He affirmed the message of the book, but wondered how the white inhabitants of the actual “Watsonville,” where I grew up, were going to read it.


The Maliseet, along with all Native Americans, have been wronged so many times. I didn’t want to be one more voice from the dominant culture spreading lies.  When Brian sent me a final email, affirming the message of the book, I knew I was on the right track. I knew I’d struck the right balance, which indeed, is the recognition of imbalance.

Anita Lustrea
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.

Midday blog: Art Reflection


As you look at this painting called “The Shepherd’s Star” by Jules Breton, think through these questions using your sacred imagination:

1) How do you feel as you look at her face?
2) What is she doing?
3) What is she thinking about?
4) What is she feeling?
5) What is her family like?  Does she have friends?
6) What does she do when she’s not working?  Does she laugh?
7) Do you sense God speaking to you about what you’re feeling or seeing in this painting?
8) Why do you think this painting is called “The Shepherd’s Star”?

Midday blog: So, I was noticing some things…

This week I mixed together some things I have read or come across. Random stuff.


Place: Huntington Beach, CA

Event: Breakfast


Young male waiter: Coffee?

Me: Decaf please.

Waiter: Oh, I drink decaf too.

Me: Yeah – those of us who drink decaf have a story to tell!

Waiter: I just had too much caffeine in life.

Me: (thinking to myself) Now, there’s a story in there!


“In South Africa, deeply rooted injustices keep millions in life-denying captivity.” Trevor Hudson in Discovering Our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved

(I’m thinking: God, how can Christians bestow Luke 4:16-21 on America?)


“The manure of our lives should not be hidden from God; it should be dug into our souls so that its nutrients can help produce needed growth. While we may think of these things as ‘negative,’ ‘ungodly,’ or ‘shameful,’ they are the very things that provide spiritual nutrients for growth. Why? Because they make us humble, human, humus, of the earth; they teach us to be dependent upon God, to know that we are always beginners… if we dig things into our spiritual life, the soil will be much richer and earthier than if it is nourished only with sweet piety and affected goodness.”  from Becoming Human – Core Teachings of Jesus, by Brian C. Taylor.

(I’m thinking: God, help me to open my arms to what life brings – even the stuff I want to turn away – and surrender to You in deepening trust.)


on Twitter @Harry_Styles: “Get in the shower if it all goes wrong.”

(I’m thinking: Amen. Wash it all away. Dry off. Start over. Yes, to fresh starts.)


How about you – what have you noticed lately? What about it made you stop and think?


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. Twitter: @melindaschmidt

Midday blog: Art Reflection


As you look at this photo of a sunset in Door County, WI, think through these questions using your sacred imagination:

1) What do you hear?
2) What do you smell?
3) Is it warm or chilly?
4) How does this photo make you feel?
5) What was the first thing you noticed in the photo?
6) If you were in the photo, where would you be?
7) What could you learn about God by looking at this photo?

Midday blog: Radically Inefficient

I’ve been thinking a lot about efficiency recently. In fact, I even posed the question on Twitter, “Is efficiency a Christian value?”

French thinker Jacques Ellul was not so enthralled with efficiency, which according to Ellul efficiency is a primary value promoted by technology. For Ellul the results of efficiency “perhaps would have meaning if man were merely an animal, but which have no conclusive Significance if man is something more than a production machine” (Technological Society, 110).

However we live in a culture where efficiency has come to rule. For me the jury is still out on what kind of value we should place on efficiency, but here’s what I do know: We certainly have elevated efficiency to an idolatrous place in much of our culture. I don’t believe that being efficient is bad in and of itself…but we should ask ourselves, to what end are we practicing efficiency? And do we miss something when we focus too much on efficiency? As much as I like the speed and ease of a microwaved meal, there’s also something about making a meal from scratch (or at least actually having to use the oven).

As for me, I’m thinking I may try radical inefficiency. No, I’m not going to sleep on the job or anything like that. But I am trying to reevaluate the things that I do, and to not put pressure on myself to get so much done. This does mean letting some things fall to the wayside, but that’s ok. Every minute of every day I don’t have to be “productive” rather I can leave time to just be…

As Ellul noted, we are more than production machines. At our core, we are relational beings, and relationships simply aren’t efficient. Life often is not efficient. We are called to more than efficiency.

What about you? What do you think of our culture’s perspective on efficiency? Have you exhausted yourself by always trying to be productive and efficient?

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.

Midday blog: Bounty

2013-08-21 18.54.51This is the first year that I’ve had a “for real” garden.  It’s been a struggle, joyful, and fruitful experience.  I’ve learned about patience and trust and nurturing.  I’ve found that I need to take time to look – really look – at the plants to see what’s going on – it’s not enough to just take a passing glance at the garden from my house.  No, I have to get in close and touch the plants, feel the soil.  My garden has helped me to slow down and be present.  And, of course, it’s thrilling to harvest a bunch of beans and a couple beautiful tomatoes – and to think they come from just a little seed!

I’m curious… what have you learned from nature… a potted plant, a garden, a tree, a cloud, a bird… ?


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.

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