Midday Connection

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Archive for the category “Guest”

Guest blog: Embracing Community

Community is not a word that comes naturally to a Christian artist. It is for those who are the same, let me rephrase that, it was meant for normal non-artists. Artists of any kind balance ourselves in a place of in-between, most secular artists are not sure what to do with us, because we are not on the same search of what boundaries can we push and most Christians aren’t sure how to take us because of that boundary pushing stigma. So when Midday Connection asked me to lead a “community” through Lent a second time I was a bit unsure of what the outcome might look like.

Last year was my first real year to walk through Lent and what community could look like; it was raw, messy and honestly scary. I processed not just Christ’s death, but also my mother’s out in the open for all to see. I struggled with what I was going through and a few listeners were kind enough to join me on the journey. They poured into me as I poured everything I had out. Not one of them had ever met me in person, but they prayed for me, my family, they joined me during my sorrow – and for the first time I began to understand the idea of community and how I could use my art to help connect others together.

This year, I had hoped for the same, a small group who “got me and my conversations with God”. What I didn’t expect was for over 550 people from all over the world wanting to see how creativity could impact their daily time with God. They embraced their creativity and in turn were able to experience God in a new way as they themselves began to visually interpret their quiet time with God. This year my fear of being me, the creative being that God made me to be, was taken down a notch. I realized that when I finally allowed myself to be who God created me to be, a fully creative being, not only do I experience Him in new ways, but allow others to have the freedom to do the same.

 

Tamara PetersonTamara Peterson has her undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas in Communication Design, she has worked at Fossil, Fellowship Church and now freelances from home. Three years ago, she started a ministry called Safe Blankets that gives handmade quilts to children in crisis situations. Since that time they have given over 150 quilts to children in the Chicago area. Tamara has been teaching art and journaling classes for the past 2 years at women’s retreats, various small groups and even at her own studio. In that time she has taught almost 200 women this way of connecting with God and discovering themselves. She lives in Skokie, IL with her husband and son. For more information,  please visit her website .

 

Guest blog: 10 Ways YOU Can Fight Human Trafficking

This week, we’ve decided to bring you a guest post from Marla Taviano.  This is a portion of her entire post, which you can read here:  http://www.marlataviano.com/cambodia/10-ways-you-can-fight-human-trafficking/

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Today I want to share 10 Action Steps you can take to help fight human trafficking.

And it’s perfectly okay (and awesome) to just choose ONE of them right now.

Just one. You can totally do this. Like a guy named Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

You don’t have to do everything, all the things. You don’t even have to do most of the things. Just start with one thing. One.

But whatever you do, refuse to do nothing.

You ready? Here we go!

10 Simple Action Steps to Fight Human Trafficking:

1. Pray. Yes, prayer is an action step. And, by far, the most important one. You can pray for victims, for law enforcement, for rescuers, for the men who buy children for sex (this is a tough one), for wisdom about how you can help, for God to intervene. And if you don’t know what to pray, this wonderful booklet is a great place to start. (And here’s a really helpful list of things to pray.)

2. Donate $10 to The Hard Places Community. We spent a month with this organizationin Cambodia two years ago and got to experience God working through them in the city of Phnom Penh. They (mostly Cambodians and a few Americans) are sharing the light of Jesus in a very dark place. ($10 is not a magic number. You can absolutely donate $5 or $6.50 or $100; just open that wallet and give something.)

3. Ask a friend to listen to today’s Midday Connection program and discuss it with you. This is not a fight we can fight alone. Having a friend get involved is such a blessing.

4. Watch (and share) this 5-minute video (IJM celebrates 15 years of Justice). IJM (International Justice Mission) is one of the best organizations out there, working with local law enforcement to free modern-day slaves around the globe.

5. Watch The Dark Side of Chocolate. And commit to buying Fair Trade chocolate. (Here’sa good post from my friend, Tsh, to get you started.)

6. Read We Dream of Cambodia: A Family Leaves Their Hearts on the Other Side of the Globe. This is an e-book I just released two weeks ago about our family’s trip to Cambodia. It’s available on Amazon, or I’d be happy to send you a free PDF if you just shoot me an e-mail here.

7. Get a few friends together in your city/town/neighborhood on April 6 and Walk Against Traffick for 10 miles. I’ll be sharing more details soon. Here’s a link (and here’s another) to the events we’ve done in the past.

8. Make something (a piece of jewelry/a scarf/a batch of chocolate chip cookies/a set of note cards/an ornament) or find something “valuable” around your house (books/picture frames/necklace/Pampered Chef stuff you never use/etc) and sell it on Facebook and give the money to an organization fighting human trafficking. Like this one. Or this one. Orthis one. (My girls have started their own “business” called The Dancing Elephant, and they give all their proceeds to Cambodia.)

9. Buy a t-shirt from an organization like She Has a Name and wear it every time it’s clean. Great conversation starter.

10. Pray. I know I already used that one, but it’s super-duper important. Super. Duper.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Did one of those 10 catch your eye? Watch a video? Read a free e-book? A t-shirt? Sell something?

I’d love to hear from you. Either:

1. Which # you decided to go for.

2. What you’d add to the list.

Marla TavianoMarla Taviano is an author and speaker. Her biggest passion is loving the poor, seeking justice, and sharing the hope of the gospel in her city and around the globe. Marla and her husband, Gabe, live in Columbus, Ohio and have three daughters.  For more information, please  visit her website  or follow her on  Twitter: @marlataviano

Guest blog: In Praise of Large (and Small) Families

It’s one of those cases where both sides are completely wrong.

In one corner, you’ve got Christians who proclaim that large families are the Christian ideal. They argue that the more kids you have, the more spiritual you are. As a result, they frown upon small families. They carry an air of self-righteous superiority as they pull their 12 passenger vans into the church parking lot.In the other corner are Christians who scoff at large families. They decry the financial irresponsibility of having more than two children, citing the need for massive college funds, new cars and annual trips to Disneyland. They roll their eyes at those weird people pulling 12 passenger vans into the church parking lot. I know. My examples are a bit melodramatic. But you get the point.

Full disclosure – My fifth child is due early this year, and I own a 12 passenger van. That makes me no better or worse than you. Instead, I’m convinced that large family advocates and large family scoffers are ultimately flawed in their thinking.

In spite of their errors, each side has some valid points. For example, the Bible clearly states that children are a blessing. Proponents of large families rightly remind us that children are one of the only Biblical blessings that people willfully reject. You don’t often hear prayers for less health or financial stability. So why dramatically limit what God calls a blessing?

At the same time, large family fanatics all too often callously forget the pain of infertility. In their zeal, they send a hurtful message to those God has clearly called not to have a large family. That’s why numbers aren’t the issue.  
God’s calling is the issue.
It’s common to hear someone desperately pleading for God’s calling for their career path. We quickly yield to His plans for our relationships and our ministry work. But I’ve rarely encountered followers of Jesus who bother to consult God when determining how many children to have. Instead, many turn inward for this major life decision.
I’m not aware of any Biblical equation for determining how many kids to have. So where do you start when seeking God’s intentions for your family size? Here’s a few questions to consider that have been helpful for me:
  • What are your motives for preventing more kids in your family? The Bible doesn’t have a directive regarding family size. So, we’re forced to closely examine our motives. Can your reasons for not having any more kids be supported by Scripture? Are you guided by selfishness, or by Godly thinking?
  • What physiological messages have you received? A few friends of mine have one child. It’s not that they don’t want more kids. They simply can’t have more kids. And they praise God for His clear answer regarding their family size. On the other hand, some women experience severe physical or emotional distress after multiple pregnancies. These complications may make it unwise and unhealthy to have more children. Either way, take time to consider what God may be telling you through your emotional and physiological realities.
  • Where is your heart regarding your finances? American culture can easily corrupt Godly thinking about money. Society tells us that we deserve the newest and best of everything. Sadly, this message creeps into our thinking about having kids. Many believers cite finances as the primary motive for not having any more kids. But is that what God really has in mind for us? Be sure to prayerfully reflect upon what He says about the love of money, and the storing-up of treasures on earth.
  • Are your “can’ts” really “won’ts”? I’m not a fan of the contraction “can’t”. Why? Because it’s seldom accurately applied. I do this all the time in my own life. I’ll say, “Honey, I can’t take out the trash right now”. What I really mean is that I won’t take out the trash now. Carefully evaluate all of your “can’ts” when thinking about not having any more kids. Meanwhile, don’t forget that responding to God’s call isn’t necessarily going to be easy. In fact, Biblical precedent would indicate that it’s usually pretty challenging. How is God convicting your heart about your true “can’ts” and “won’ts”?
  • Are you unintentionally limiting God’s ability to provide for you? Faith is often the act of doing the right thing with confidence, even in the face of an uncertain outcome. Do you feel called to have more kids, but are afraid of the logistics? Is money a concern? Be careful not to limit God’s divine ability to provide you with everything you need to answer His calling. Not all that you may want, but all that you need.
Please don’t read into my questions looking for implied answers. There aren’t any. I’m simply sharing my conviction that we should seek God’s divine direction when deciding how many children to have. In the end, if you’re upset by some of my inquiries, perhaps it’s because you’re uncomfortable with your answers.

Brian DahlenBrian Dahlen is a broadcaster, teacher and musician who loves to talk and appreciates the value of sarcasm and bad jokes. He blogs about faith, life, radio and race at  briandahlen.com. He and his wife Sara have four kids and live on the South Side of Chicago.

Brian Dahlen was a part of the Millrose Club on December 13, 2013, where we talked about this topic.  You can listen to that program on our website. 

Midday blog: Poem reflection

maryAs we reflect on this holiday season, read this poem by Nicola Slee called “Fiat”. This poem is in the voice of Mary, mother of Jesus:

Fiat

I uttered myself
I claimed my voice
I was not afraid to question
I held my ground
I made my yes
looking straight into the angel’s eyes
(any slave girl could have been beaten or raped for less)
There was no mastery here
Nothing was taken from me
Everything was given
Here I am:
See me
Listen
As you read this poem, reflect:
How do you feel as you read this poem?
What most stood out in the poem?
Why do you suppose this poem is called “Fiat”?
Are you being shown a different perspective? If so, how do you respond to it?
Can you relate to this poem, personally?

Guest blog: For a Sad Advent

There is so much brokenness. My brain is on overdrive, filled with stories. The pain of the people dear to me is a loud white noise in my head, keeping me awake at night. The idea of Advent being a time for introspection and penitence is still true, but it doesn’t fit this year. This year I can’t “God’s sovereignty!” myself out of the questions I carry, all balled up in my pocket.

Now that I have wept, now that I have grieved, now that I have lost, now that I have learned to hold space with and for the ones who are hurting, now I have a place for Advent. Now that I have fallen in step with the man from Nazareth, I want to walk where he walked into the brokenness of this life, and see the Kingdom of God at hand. Now that I have learned how much I need him, I have learned to watch for him.

Advent is perhaps for the ones who know longing.

Advent, the messy season of the soul at its most human and most holy — when we don’t know what’s coming, we don’t know what we need, and we’re waiting and getting so antsy for something to change that we half don’t care what it is.

Some days I don’t know if I believe, or if I do, what I know. But it’s human to hope, and it’s Christian to hope, and the messianic impulse of expectancy is strong. Things can get better. Things should get better. Love is real, and it is healing. The Incarnation is mystifying and surprising and good and I expect no less of final redemption. I don’t want a bow. I want a minor chord, I want the slice of surprise of the unresolved, the unknown. It’s more true.

(read the full post here: http://wineandmarble.com/advent-a-venir/)

Guest post: I Don’t Believe Everyone Should Adopt

In you the orphan finds mercy.

Hosea 14:3

adoptionA few years ago, I received a phone call from a woman I’d met just once or twice. She was nearly breathless and clearly on a mission. She said she knew my husband and I had adopted our younger daughter. She wanted me to help spread the word about an adoption event and the message that every family should adopt a child.

Everyone?

“I have to stop you,” I said. “But I don’t believe that everyone should adopt.”

There was silence for a moment, but then she began speaking faster, citing figures about the number of orphans in the U.S. and abroad and reminding me that God mandates that we care for them. 160 million orphans. True religion is caring for widows and orphans.

“We are so fortunate,” she said. “Look around. We have so much to share.”

I had to explain that of course I agreed that every child deserves a family. I like how the ethical adoption organization Both Ends Burning puts it: “Growing up in a family is a child’s most basic human right.” And I’m quite sure as people of faith, we are directed to serve and protect vulnerable children.

In my adoption memoir, I explored what I believe is a Christian’s responsibility to the poor. I also tried to articulate, as clearly as I could, that there are many, many effective ways to care for widows and orphans that don’t entail adopting a child. We can, for example, support humanitarian organizations such as World Vision, CARE, and Sustainable Harvest International that work to alleviate poverty and empower women and girls all over the globe.

In Love You More, I wrote that, “In finding our children and falling in love with a country far from home, many adoptive parents find a calling to change their lives and serve those whom they have met there. They know that members of their children’s first families struggle just to survive; suddenly the crisis of global poverty is personal. Is that part of the divine plan of adoption? Not only to give permanent loving families to orphaned children and to answer the prayers of the childless, but to link those who have much with those who do not have enough? To make us all, truly, extended family?”

November is National Adoption Month. In what ways can you and I be Christ’s hands and feet in the world and show mercy to orphans?

jennifer grantJennifer Grant is the author of Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter, MOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family, Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by Skeptics, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels (co-editor, forthcoming, 2014), and 12: A Daybook for a Wholehearted Year (forthcoming, 2014). She is a grateful believer, a reader, a sometime poet, a dog lover, and, with her husband of 25 years, mother to four wonderfully creative and quirky tween and teenaged children. Learn more at jennifergrant.com.

Jennifer Grant’s memoir, Love You More (in e-book format) is now on sale for just $1.99 for National Adoption Month (November).

Guest blog: It’s Still in There!

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” Genesis 19:1-2

If Lot were your nephew, or son, or husband, would you have long given up on him? He had made a series of foolish decisions while in relationship with you. The last one took him to Sodom to flirt with a culture that was hostile to your God. As a family member, wouldn’t you be grieving for his spiritual condition? Yet, two men arrive, danger is imminent, and Lot’s courage and faith spring into action.

He is not dead to faith. His sojourn into spiritually dangerous territory has not killed every righteous seed God had planted in his heart.

The calendar months move slowly when I’m waiting for the spiritual return of one I love. I envision the bleeding effects of their environment on their love for Christ. How could fidelity not waste away by the day? How will any vestige of faith be preserved for the day God comes calling?

Seeds of faith are preserved when loved ones pray for the one who strays. All is not dead in his heart. Though the culture of lawlessness has surely influenced him and, by all appearances, he seems to have completely caved to its pressures, we underestimate the strength of a God who stirs the embers of faith in places no one sees. He even does spiritual surgery in the subconscious while someone sleeps to keep words and memories alive.

Over whom are you crying today? Over whom are you tempted to stop praying? Don’t do it! Weep, certainly, but not without hope. If any of us sow our prayers in heartfelt tears, we will reap a harvest with joy. God would tell many, and perhaps you are one of the many, that the faith you long to see evidence of ~ is still in there.

Even in Sodom, you can keep the embers of faith alive. I remember that and fight on my knees for their return. Amen

ChristineWyrtzen

Christine Wyrtzen is a recording artist; author, speaker, and host of the nationally syndicated radio program Daughters of Promise, heard daily on many stations. She is also co-host, along with her daughter Jaime, of Daughters of Promise Nighttime.

She has been known for 37 years as a musician and writer with 15 albums and 4 books to her credit. She has been nominated for a Dove Award and long admired for her ability to communicate to an audience. An artist with words, her poetic bent is evident in whatever she creates.

She has been married for 40 years to Ron Wyrtzen. They have two adult children, Jaime – married to Todd, and Ryan. Jaime and Todd gave them two beautiful grandsons, Gabriel and Andrew.

To learn more, please visit her website. 

Midday blog: Art Reflection

Pierce_Strawberry JamAs you look at this painting by Bethany Pierce, think through these questions using your sacred imagination:

1) What do you notice first in this painting?
2) How do the drops of jam on the table make you feel?
3) What’s the setting? What else is going on in the room?
4) What do you smell, taste, and hear?
5) What might God be saying to you through this painting?

Midday blog: Poem reflection

On September 23, 2013, Janet Davis read a poem by Nicola Slee called “Fiat”. This poem is in the voice of Mary, mother of Jesus:
Fiat

I uttered myself
I claimed my voice
I was not afraid to question
I held my ground
I made my yes
looking straight into the angel’s eyes
(any slave girl could have been beaten or raped for less)
There was no mastery here
Nothing was taken from me
Everything was given
Here I am:
See me
Listen
As you read this poem, reflect:
How do you feel as you read this poem?
What most stood out in the poem?
Why do you suppose this poem is called “Fiat”?
Are you being shown a different perspective? If so, how do you respond to it?
Can you relate to this poem, personally?

Midday blog: Art Reflection

breton_The_Shepherds_Star

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”?

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