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Archive for the category “Anita Lustrea”

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: Authentic Friendships, Part 2

Last month when I blogged, I focused on Authentic Friendships. You can read it here. This is part 2 of that important conversation.

Many of us have experienced betrayal in relationships. Some have even been abused or struggled with codependency issues. These things all color how we seek to develop and maintain close relationships, or whether we seek to develop them at all. When I was in Jr. High, I had a close friend betray me. After that deeply wounding event, I guarded my heart and wouldn’t let others in, especially other women. The year after I graduated college I had two women call me on it. I was traveling for a year with a singing group and there were only 3 men and 3 women in the group. The other two women confronted me and said, “If you won’t open up to us, first of all it’s going to be a long year, and secondly we don’t think God will work as deeply through us as he could.” I knew they were right. God used their loving confrontation to break me and begin opening my heart up to them, to Him, and others. I realized I was making them pay for something that happened in my past. In reality, I had been living with an open wound that had gotten infected and couldn’t heal.

I said in part 1 of Authentic Friendships that going deeper takes risk. It is much less risky if you know how important it is to link up with safe people. Henry Cloud and John Townsend are well known for their book Boundaries, which I highly recommend. Before they wrote that, they penned a book that greatly helped me called Safe People. They emphasize how crucial it is to be in relationships with safe people. It will help eliminate some drama in your life.

Here are the 3 characteristics of safe people:
1. A safe person will always lead you closer to Christ.
2. A safe person will always lead you closer to others. They will not isolate you and keep you to themselves.
3. A safe person will always draw you closer to your authentic self. They will see the gem you really are and help you move toward becoming all God created you to be as they encourage the development of the gifts they see in you.

There is one more crucial piece to the ‘safe people’ puzzle. I’ve shared this important equation with people for years and still had people come to me and say I make sure people in my life have these 3 characteristics and I still can’t maintain friendships. I started to notice something in common with those who had this experience and I realized something important. We have to run ourselves through the safe people grid. If we don’t possess the safe people characteristics, we cannot hope to find and retain quality friends with whom we can be authentic.

How’s your people picker? Has it been broken in the past? Do you think the Safe People characteristics can help?

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: Authentic Relationships, Part 1

All I wanted was a friend. A best friend. My family had just moved from Northern Maine to suburban Philadelphia after my 5th birthday. Friends, I thought, I‘d finally have friends. Who doesn’t want a best friend, or desire a lifelong friend? You know, the kind you make in kindergarten who stays loyal and true for a lifetime.

I don’t know about you, but I never found a ‘best friend’ or ‘lifelong friend’. As a Pastor’s kid who moved several times in my lifetime, most of my relationships didn’t move with me. In adulthood I have a tapestry of friends who are crisscrossed around the country. The deeper question, though, is how many of those who have woven themselves into my life am I authentic with? How many do I communicate with about the real stuff of life?

The deep heart cry of most women I meet has to do with relationships. Most of us have amassed a long list of acquaintances that we pass off as friends. We throw around the term ‘community’ yet I think a deep experience of it is elusive for most of us. So how do we develop authentic relationships? How do we know others and allow ourselves to be known? Just so you know, I’m a fellow traveler on this journey.

Going deeper in relationships takes risk. If you are new to a church or workplace the risk might be asking someone out for coffee. If you are already in a relationship that seems stalled, maybe it’s taking a risk to share something deeper about yourself that might open the doorway for your friend to start sharing. It might be committing to pray for a friend to come into your life. God does hear those deep heart cries. The work of friendship, yes work, also requires some action on our part.

What will you do this week that might move you toward developing or deepening a friendship?

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: 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.

Midday blog: Having Some Fun

I’m a closet fan of the PBR. For those who aren’t familiar, that stands for Professional Bull Riding. I watch the competition on television when I can.anita cotton candy

I’m also someone who thinks having fun is for other people. Chalk that up to a poor view of God and of Christianity in general, or eating too much spinach as a kid. For a change, I gave in and decided to have some fun, thanks to my husband.

I just attended one of the tour stops for the PBR in Chicago this past weekend. This seemed to surprise a lot of people. Probably because I’m the farthest thing from a boot wearing, hat wearing, gun toting cowboy there is. But my husband bought tickets to the event as a Christmas present for me, and the closer the date came, the more excited I got. And the good part, I didn’t stuff that excitement, I let it see the light of day.

Where did this love of Bull Riding come from? When I was in grade school, my father took our family to the Cowtown Rodeo a couple of times. I loved it! Everything about it! I guess I was amazed at the skill of the cowboys and cowgirls. The precision of roping steers and racing around barrels made me sit up and take notice. But when the bull riding took center stage, I was transfixed.

So all these years later, I decided, with the help of my husband to go enjoy myself. I experienced it all. I bought the program and even some cotton candy (personal guilty pleasure). I resisted saying no to the full experience, which I normally would have done. And the experience lived up to my expectations, something that rarely happens in life. I suspect because I was ‘all in’. I pressed into the fun experience my husband planned for me.

I’ll leave you to draw your own spiritual conclusions. There are many. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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: Images Are Important

I love art. I buried that love for years. I thought it was silly, superfluous, unimportant. That, however, is an immature view. Thankfully, I grew up (read still growing up).

This Advent season I learned about an exhibit at the Loyola Museum of Art in Chicago.  Just 5 short blocks from Moody Radio, I walked over one afternoon after work. The exhibit is called Art and Faith of the Crèche and it captivated me.  I took picture after picture of Nativity scenes that spoke to me. The Crèche’s, all from one collection, were procured all over the globe. Beautiful ethnic faces of Mary and Joseph brought these scenes to life for me.

I decided to post a Crèche a day, sometimes two, on my Facebook page. I’ve not only enjoyed seeing the photos on a larger screen that my small iPhone, but I’ve enjoyed the response from so many. A comment from a friend on Facebook put my own thoughts into words. “I’m really enjoying these nativity posts of yours – they are really helping me focus.”  Focus, that does seem to be an issue. My mind rarely stops spinning and swirling. The cell phone buzzes, another text, another news notification. No wonder we find Advent such a hard season. We talk of the impatience of our children. We are no less so. Caught up in the frenzy, even, at times, helping to produce that frenzy.

Here are a few of my favorite Nativities from the exhibit.  Take a deep breath, be still, take time to explore with your eyes the scenes from a variety of cultures and contexts.

This is from Ghana.

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This is from Albania

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This is from Bolivia

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This is from Poland

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This is from Vietnam

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This is from Ecuador

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This is from Haiti

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This is from Alaska

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Midday blog: The Judging Machine

Most of us have things we think about, but dare not say out loud. At least not in a space where others actually might hear us and judge us. And let’s face it; if you are a recovering Pharisee like I am, then you might assume every one is a ‘judging’ machine like I used to be.  And, unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence that shows this to be true in the church. Since I wrote What Women Tell Me, back in 2010, the idea of keeping things to myself went out the window, so I might as well open my mouth on another topic I’ve been thinking about.

Protestantism and Catholicism. There, I said it! I get tired of all the snide comments Protestants make about Catholics not really being Christians, or saying we are better than them because they have that awful theology of praying to Mary and to the Saints, or they believe the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ. Or, you fill in the blank. What do you make backhanded comments about whether you’re Protestant or Catholic?

I read a blog post recently that got me thinking about this ongoing conversation. And lest you think I’ve gone rogue and left ‘the faith’, whatever faith you think I might have left, read this thoughtful blog post I found on the Facebook page of a Moody Bible Institute Professor.  And, while I’m on a bit of a rant, I think there are way too many good people in the ranks of Protestantism who have jettisoned their intellect. On Midday Connection last week, we had our book club discussion. Our selection was The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. Dr. Rosalie de Rosset, Moody Professor of Literature and Communication had barely opened her mouth to say Graham Greene was a Catholic author when the emails began to roll in. “How could you elevate Catholicism, do you have any idea what you are doing?” Well, actually, yes, we were having a book discussion about a great work of literature. For me it begs the question, “What are we really afraid of?” That’s a blog post for another day.

I think we talk out of both sides of our mouths about the whole Catholic/Protestant debate.  We’ll say be careful how close you get to ‘those’ people, shore up your beliefs so you don’t head into heresy. But, Protestants are okay to publish books by ‘those people’, like The Confessions of St. Augustine, and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. And have you ever read C.S. Lewis’s story? If you don’t like to read anyone who believes anything slightly different than you do, Lewis’s story will leave you scratching your head and wondering if you should continue reading his books or letting your children watch the Chronicles of Narnia Movies.

Now be nice in your comments!

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: When “Suddenlys” Come

When crisis crashes down on us we can become, in the words of Ray Kane, reflective or reactive.  To be honest, last week crisis hit our family and I struggled with my response.  Actually trouble hit my family of origin and my Midday Connection family, so it felt like a double whammy.

Melinda and I share an office and we found mold in our office.  We had to vacate and we were shuffled around for a few days until a suitable space for us was located.  Feeling a bit like a vagabond, I was unable to get all the work done that I would have liked, I had trouble concentrating, and I was generally irritable. I wasn’t very happy with how I responded.

My dad was admitted to the hospital for a week. His situation caught the family off guard. He need some help because depression had gone untreated for a while.  I remember thinking, how did we not know this? What could I have done differently?  All those worthwhile and yet condemning questions start racing through your mind.

Then Melinda received a call that her mom, who has had Dementia for 7 or 8 years, was not doing well and possibly near death.  Melinda flew to California and while she was flying last Friday, her mother passed away.

My mind, after I’d grumbled and groused and cried and questioned, went to the program we did on October 8 with Gordon and Gail MacDonald.  It is worth listening again, or for the first time, by the way.  They talked about the ‘suddenlys’ in scripture. What happens when things happen to us suddenly? Things we didn’t expect.  Has our walk with Chris prepared us for those moments? Do we have a relationship with him that helps us navigate the darker passages of life? I’d like to think I do, but I struggled this week.  Where did I turn?  Toward grumbling or toward a conversation with Jesus.  It was about 50/50 and I wish I could say it was a better split toward time talking with Jesus. How do you do with the ‘suddenlys’ in your life?

If you missed the program on October 8, then you didn’t hear Gordon talk about his own ‘suddenly’. He will be having surgery on Oct. 25 to remove a brain tumor.  It is believed to be benign.  But surgery of this kind is always difficult and can be tricky.  Please pray for our dear friends the MacDonald’s in the coming days, and for Gordon and the surgeons especially this Friday.

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: 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: Back to School & Empty Nest

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It’s the beginning of the school year and I keep seeing Facebook posts from moms.  Check these out and see if any of these reflect your spoken or unspoken thoughts:

“What a perfect last-day-of-summer this is! But tomorrow–with its 7+ child-free hours-is gonna feel pretty perfect too.”

“School. Starts. Wednesday. (Cue delicious sigh here.)”

“Wow, the house is quiet!”

“another school year…another senior…another high schooler…another driver…another year of college…..wow…I’m so glad that my God is unchanging!”

“Tomorrow, after I drop the boys off at school, I’m going to have a complete thought. Maybe two.”

Another friend private messaged me on FB after dropping her daughter at college and asked, “Have you done a show on parental adjustment after kids go to college? :p I could sure use it.”

I told her I was going to blog about it, but it wouldn’t be anything new.

My son drove from Chicago to Gettysburg for the start of his Junior year of college.  He drove 700 miles by himself with all his earthly belonging.  Had this been his freshman year I’d have been right there with him.  But his level of independence has changed……dramatically.  I’ve found with each year of college I’ve gotten a little sadder, shed a few more tears. I was a “7+ child-free hours is gonna feel pretty perfect” kind of mom.  I couldn’t wait for John to go to school all day.  And now I get weepy thinking about his life, his future and his college graduation.  In a good way. Mostly.

One word to the wise. Develop yourself now.  It is not selfish for mom to have her own interests, her own hobbies, and her own group of friends that she goes out with.  When the focus is solely on the kids and the day arrives when Sally or Billy head off to college it can be extremely difficult. Knowing how God wired our children and helping them find their way is really important. Knowing yourself and how God wired you…..equally important.

What’s one way you are developing life outside your children?

OK, I’ll start…..I’m doing some painting and craft work……..

Ok, it’s your turn…

 

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.

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