Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Midday blog: Serving as We Age

I’m in my 50’s. For anyone, woman or man, it is a decade where we usually have great energy and creativity.  If we’ve married and had children, they are usually older and we have time and energy to put into other things. If we are single, we often re-evaluate and determine where we want to spend ourselves. Church, volunteer work, employment, all of those are options for our time and energy.  We often have a bit more margin for spiritual and personal growth as well. But how will we choose, what will we choose?

I’ve also seen people get restless in their 50’s and choose not to reflect on why. Instead they’ll look to vacations, purchases, endless media consumption, unhealthy relationships, and a variety of things outside themselves to quell their uneasy souls. There is nothing inherently wrong with a vacation.  Everyone needs rest, relaxation and refreshment. The underlying motive is what we have to look at.

We have an attitude of entitlement in the West.  One that says, “I’ve worked hard all my life! I deserve a rest!” But usually we don’t mean a 2 week break, we mean we’re done and it’s someone else’s turn. We retire from work, and sometimes from life.

There are young women crying out for mentors, will you be one? There is a young single mom down the block struggling financially who needs a caretaker of her 2 year old one day a week, would you consider it? Your church needs a part time accountant, do you have those skills? A missionary your church supports needs a car for 3 weeks while they are in town, do you have a spare?

Get creative in ways you can serve and still have flexibility to visit and care for grandkids. Take an online class from Moody Bible Institute’s Distance Learning to help your spiritual growth. Choose to read a great book, a biography of Fanny Crosby or Nelson Mandela, a voice that might bring a different perspective to your life and challenge your faith. Think outside the box!

How are you continuing to serve and continuing to grow as you get older?

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.


Midday blog: Codependents Identified

“My name is Mark… and I’m codependent.”

In those seven simple words, I’m opening up a door of vulnerability.

One of the definitions for codependency on Wikipedia states that it’s “the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.”

On the first read, how could that be a bad thing? Romans 15 encourages us to serve others and not please ourselves. Verse 3 says that Christ is the example of this!

I hope you sense my slight sarcasm and see the challenge I myself have found to think more deeply about this. The Wikipedia article also says that “codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.”

There are those in my life that I consider close – whether they are my blood family or “brothers from another mother.” There aren’t many things that I wouldn’t do for any of them. I enjoy nearly every minute I spend with them. I want to make sure they know how much I care about them.

You might say, “That’s so great, Mark. You love deeply and care intensely.” Okay, I might agree with you! But as some of my relationships grew, at a certain point, I had realized how much I had depended heavily on some of these people for my happiness. If I wasn’t doing something fun or hanging out with them, it bummed me out – to the point where I was sad and emotionally paralyzed.

I eventually had to realize that I couldn’t rely on other people to be happy. It was definitely easier said than done, and it didn’t happen overnight. But through self-examination and reading God’s Word, I can say I’ve experienced the peace that surpasses all understanding – and as Philippians 4:7 says, it guards my heart and mind through Christ.

Do I still struggle with it? Every day.

Are there times – or people – that cause you to lose focus on yourself, or on God? How do you reset when you face those times?


Mark BretaMark Breta has been with Moody Radio since 2007 and has worked with many of its programs. Mark currently works with Midday Connection, the Bring to Mind podcast and Treasured Truth. He has led worship at conferences and events, and more recently, at Chicago area churches in Arlington Heights and Oak Park. Mark has been posting a daily audio blog throughout the month of June at his website.



Midday blog: Holy Neediness

I used to be defensive about needing God. I’d push back on the language that described God or religion as a crutch. Certainly, I’d roll my eyes at Karl Marx’s famous words that “Religion is the opium of the people.”

Until last week, when I ran across that quote and thought, My word. Karl Marx is right!

Well, kinda, sorta.

Opium, of course, is dangerous stuff. It lures people in with promises of relieving pain, with mountain-top highs. But ultimately, opium leaves its users depleted, empty.

Nothing like God.

But here’s what Marx got right: opium leaves its users needy, desperate, looking everywhere for it.

Though God doesn’t promise pain relief or mountain-top highs—instead, he promises walking with us in our pain, in both valleys and mountains—and certainly doesn’t leave us haggard and depleted, truth be told: true intimacy with God does leave us needy, desperate, on the lookout for God everywhere.

At least, it has with me. And I’ve found needing God—as a crutch! As our hope!—is one of the great blessings in life. Learning to lean on God and God alone for our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort, our security, our rest is how we learn that God is able, that he is trustworthy.

Caryn Rivadeniera

Caryn Rivadeneira is an author, editor and speaker. She earned a B.A. in English from Calvin College and attended the University of Chicago’s publishing program. Caryn lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Rafael, her three kids, and a rescued pit bull terrier. Caryn and her family are members of Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Ill.  To learn more about Caryn, please visit her website. Twitter: @carynrivadeneir


Midday blog: Jesus Loves Her, Too

I often begin my day with some time of silence.  I think of it as sitting with Jesus and enjoying being with Him.  I just sit, palms open, eyes closed, breathing, aware of Jesus with me.  One morning, I was sitting quietly with Jesus and my beautiful, long-haired cat, Scarlett, jumped on my lap.  She’s a little on the chubby side, so when she laid down over my hands, I could feel her soft, full, warm belly spilling over my lap.  She immediately began to purr, tail swishing back and forth contentedly.  This.  This moment is wonderful.  My heart is happy and I feel great love for this little creature on my lap.  I sighed and said to Jesus apologetically, “I sure do love her. A lot.  I know there are starving children in the world and lots of pain all around me… I feel guilty sometimes for loving my cat.  But.  I do.”  I sighed again, and felt Jesus say to me, “So do I.”  I was stunned!  Really, Jesus?  You love her, too?  Immediately, tears came to my eyes.  Could it be that I’ve been feeling guilt over something that I didn’t need to feel guilty about?  Could it be that this warm, soft, comforting, purring creature is a gift?  An expression of God’s grace and love?

Have you ever had a moment when you were shown a comforting truth that released false guilt?

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.

Midday blog: Controllers Anonymous

Well I’ve started a new club with a girlfriend. You may have one in your area; I’m sure there are others around. Lynda, and I are calling ourselves Controllers Anonymous!

Here are some questions that helped us know we qualified for this new club. We found out we have both said things like:

“Why don’t you….”

“Well, you should/could/might have….”

“Did you do what I asked yet?”

“I would have….”

Ahhh, that well-intentioned advice or comment. Or is it? Sure, when others are ready to take a fall, we want to help them avoid it with some of our wisdom. And sometimes we need to follow up as leaders, making sure tasks are done and done well. But by whose definition? More often than not, I sense I just want my way, because, after all, it’s the best way, right? At least I believe it is! Oh boy, talk about arrogance.

Lynda and I talked about how our controlling comments can show a lack of trust that God is God. When we step in all of the time, we exhibit doubt that God is enough for the task of ___________(fill in the blank).  And we miss seeing what He will do, as well as then missing an opportunity to give Him glory as we see His empowering. Do we believe He is mighty, adequate, powerful or not? Or do we just want our way, by our methods?

I told Lynda about how I had wanted to have magical powers when I was a little girl – yep! I wanted to be GOD way back then! And she told her story of being in the car headed somewhere with her husband. She “suggested” he go a different way. He said to her, “Lynda, we can go your way or my way, but either way we are going to get there!” Okay then. Point made.

Anyone else part of Controllers Anonymous out there?

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

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