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Listener blog: Holding My Father’s Hand

Today, we’re bringing you an “encore” blog from a Midday Connection listener…

~~~

In 1982, when my sister, Peggy disappeared, never to be seen again, I had questions; questions that never got answered. Eight years ago, I sat in her murder trial where I was to testify. I would be identifying her husband, the suspect, by pointing him out. I didn’t want to even look in that direction.

Led to a quiet room to wait my turn, I was thankful I was alone. While my flesh was scared to death, my spirit reached out to God and I began softly singing. My body might have been in that waiting room, but I saw myself in God’s throne room, sitting on his lap, singing to him. When my turn came, God took me by the hand and went with me.

And when I pointed across that courtroom, and identified her little boys in photographs of long ago, God steadied my shaking hands.

All of us experience hard times. Maybe you are sitting by a loved one’s bedside, watching as cancer strips him of his healthy cells. When we are overwhelmed we have to trust in what is true instead of how we feel.

I do not understand my life

it’s difficult for me,

some questions have no answers

at least that I can see

and yet, with every year I’ve grown,

there is a truth that God makes known

I do not have to understand,

but simply hold my Father’s hand.
Sometimes when trials come into our lives we scratch our finite heads, look up and ask  “why?”

Our questions are often met with deafening silence. God wants us to trust him. To look past the raging waves and howling winds and focus on him.

We may not know what is around the corner, but we do know God will be there.


Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of 42 Bible studies with Christianity Today as well as the author of numerous articles. Anne’s poetry is sold through Christian Book stores throughout the United States and in 23 countries. Originally from Chicago, Anne resides in Peoria, Illinois with her husband of 36 years, Michael. If you see Anne smiling, it’s probably because she is thinking about her two grandsons, Jude and Charlie. To find out more information about Anne, go to  www.annepeterson.com.

Listener blog: Just Say “Thank You”

I’m going out on a limb here. This won’t sit well with some of you, but it needs to be said.

Sometimes we need to respond to others with a simple “thank you.”

I have cringed so many times when trying to encourage someone. Perhaps they sang a song. They recited a poem. Whatever.  I’d approach them and try handing them my gift. A compliment wrapped in beautiful paper with a shiny bow.

I just wanted to bless them with my gift, like they blessed me with theirs. But instead, they refused my gift.  No, they weren’t obvious, putting their hands up in protest. They just quietly handed it back, stating four words I’ve heard over and over: “It was the Lord.”

Now before you pick up proverbial stones to throw at me, hear me out.  I am NOT opposed to giving God glory. It is one of my favorite things to do. I know that without him we can do nothing. God tells us that in John 15:5.  Everything we are is from him. Every good gift is from above. James 1:17.  It’s just that sometimes people stand behind their insecurities thinking they are wearing humility.

A Bible teacher once told me, “Humility isn’t crouching down, trying to look humble. It’s standing to your fullest height next to someone mighty.”  God does give us gifts. But we still decide whether to display those gifts, or hide them.

Let me challenge you. Next time someone approaches you after you perform in any way. And they tell you how it blessed them. Smile and just say, “Thank you.”

Just take the gift.

pic of Anne PetersonAnne Peterson is a poet, speaker, an author of 42 Bible Studies and 25 articles with Christianbiblestudies.com. In addition, she has written devotions for Trochia.org. Anne recently published her book, Real Love: Guaranteed to Last and is presently working on a book about her sister, a victim of domestic violence. Anne resides in Peoria, Illinois with her husband of 37 years, Michael. If you see Anne smiling it’s probably because she’s spending time with her two grandson’s Jude and Charlie or maybe she’s holding her new granddaughter, Ruthie. To find out more information about Anne, go to www.annepeterson.com.

Listener blog: I Deserve It!

We live in a culture of entitlement. Whether it’s being healthy, having nice clothes, not having to wait too long in line-ups, taking  holidays to exotic places, living a stress-free life,  having a marriage where we always get what we want… it seems that nowadays people not only want these things, they almost demand them. I think there’s an epidemic of me-itis going around. And I’ve been infected.

What if we lived like every day was a gift? Nothing we deserved  but truly a gift. Every simple thing. Waking up in a warm bed with a roof over my head. I’m alive. Waking up next to my husband – he’s alive and he loves me. A fridge that has food in it, even though the fridge seems too small.  A washing machine that works (even though it’s probably over 20 years old and it’s not a fancy schmancy front loader). Carrying around extra weight (hey, I get to eat more than I need!). An imperfect life reminds me that  I need God.

I really believe the most unhappy people are those who only think of themselves and what they want.  It really is more blessed to give than to receive, even though it seems backwards. People who get everything they want  and spend their life acquiring it are not really the most satisfied people. These are truths I must regularly remind myself of.

When I start feeling a ‘winter of discontent’ coming on, I need to remind myself of this prayer:

Lord,

Give me enough food to live on,
neither too much nor too little.
If I’m too full, I might get independent,
saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’
If I’m poor, I might steal
and dishonor the name of my God.”

Lord, thanks for all you give me.

aneta coulterAneta Coulter has been married almost 31 years and has 4 young adult children and one wonderful daughter in law. She works as an online support teacher  in Kamloops, BC and has enjoyed blogging in one place or another since August 2005.  She enjoys reading, writing, knitting, dragonboating (a new sport for her!),  time spent with her family, coffee with girlfriends,  and being involved in her church and the local Pregnancy Care Centre. She is  thankful to God for the big and little blessings around her and is learning to trust Him with her cares, living one day at a time.  She has a blog called Maybe It’s Just Me…

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.

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?

Listener blog: Freedom from Complaining

“Grandma, how come you never complain?”

I asked this question as a teenager. Even then I excelled at finding fault with the world around me and was amazed by my cheerful grandmother. I had watched her care for my grandfather, an invalid confined to a wheelchair. She pushed him or lifted him wherever he needed to go, always maintaining her positive, peaceful demeanor.

“If complaining did any good, I might try it,” she explained, “but since it doesn’t, why bother?”

Unlike my grandmother, I believed for many years that complaining could accomplish something. My habit was to pour out my heart full of woes to anyone who would listen. I saw grumbling as a release, like tears or laughter. If I could just get it out of my system, then I’d feel better.

But I’ve discovered as I’ve sought the Lord about the subject of complaining that it’s like scratching a bothersome itch. The more I do it, the worse I feel. Psalm 77:3 describes it this way: “I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” KJV  And the less I whine about the negative aspects of my life, the more clearly I see the positives, which I tend to take for granted.

If I feel I must complain, I can take my complaints to God. He does not feel overburdened when I moan to Him. I can count on my Lord to listen objectively—and then to open my eyes to see from His perspective. He brings my past into focus as I recall the many times He has worked His best when my life was at its worst.

Instead of having a “Life—isn’t it terrible?” attitude, my goal is to more and more hold out to others the word of life, speaking about Jesus and the truths He brings.

As God continues to free me, I’m hoping someday my granddaughter will ask, “Grandma, how come you never complain?”

Elaine Creasman
Elaine Creasman is a wife, mother and grandmother.  She lives in Florida.

Listener blog: Courage

courage ritaOh, Dear Papa, me grow up?!   What does that really mean? Will I look like what everyone else thinks I should, will I be free to be a fun-loving, kid-loving, Jesus-loving gal?   Or am I really a quiet woman, always thinking up question after question, trying to find answers to all the ‘big’ questions?  Classical music or Bluegrass?  Writing books, or just reading them?  I believe…. if I keep my heart and mind focused on You…. knowing and believing that You will continue the work you started in me (Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  NIV) that You will!!  Could you please give me the courage to do so?!   Thank you, Papa!!! amen

Do you sometimes find it difficult to just be yourself? What fear is holding you back?

rita beedy

Rita Beedy is a wife, mother, grandma, rural mail carrier.

Listener blog: Growth

Today I set aside my weekend schoolwork and planning, opting instead to attend a seminar on “Secondary Trauma and Compassion Fatigue.” I knew I needed to hear what this visiting expert had to say to those of us who are, as she said, “living this reality.” One thing that stuck out to me, considering the realizations I had over the summer, was when she mentioned the common talk about PTSD, or Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. What she noted was that most of us in settings like these are not actually experiencing PTSD. Rather, we are experiencing “The natural consequent behaviors and emotions resulting from knowledge about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other. It is the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person” (Figley).

A few things resonated in me as I digested this information. One is that it is “natural.” How comforting to think that the wounded heart is a natural reaction, and not, presumably, a permanent damaging. What I worry sometimes is that the portions of me that are wounded are also permanently hardened. But I don’t think that’s the case. As she told us, most often those who are experiencing Secondary Trauma can successfully use it as a life growth tool.

Another thing that struck me relates to the sense of inadequacy that I felt for much of my first year here. I had a great deal of insecurity about my work and person; as a result, I felt that I somehow didn’t deserve to struggle as much as I was. Those with more responsibility and more impact on others here could justify weariness and emotional reaction; I, as a “newbie” with little apparent impact on others here, surely could not justify being personally impacted as much as I felt I was.

But the truth is that, if this concept is true, the “wanting to help” is as valid as the actual helping . . . thus giving gravity to even the emotional reaction of inexperience, and inadequate, souls such as I.

Apparently, history of personal trauma also intensifies one’s susceptibility to struggling with Secondary Trauma. Suffice it to say, I had plenty of reaction–and something to say–on this topic

There was a wealth of information covered in this short seminar–more than I could really go over in one of my in-the-moment blog posts. I will not try.

Yesterday evening, in the midst of busying about the work of the day, I paused as I went up the stairs of my house. I noticed the way the light was shining in through the windows and knew that something watch-worthy would be happening outside. So I paused in my own agenda and walked around on the roof till I found this: an ethereal mixture of gray and white clouds; a near-sunset glow upon the hills; a child in solitary play, stopping to sit for a bit, perched upon his soccer ball; a piece of peace.

Anna G. Joujan was born in South Dakota, as a Canadian citizen, and was raised in Zambia, the child of missionary teachers.  Since her family’s move to the U.S., Anna spent her childhood and early adulthood traveling throughout the world thanks to various educational and work opportunities . . . France, China, Peru, and Jamaica being some of the stops in her journeys. Her undergraduate degree in French Literature led to a Masters in Information Sciences, and to work as a college and high school librarian, and a cross country coach. She has also returned to Zambia multiple times to teach for individual families and for local schools. All the while continuing pursuing her passions of writing, artwork, photography . . . and card-production.  You can find her online at http://annajouj.wordpress.com

Listener blog: Redeemed

Redeemed how I love to proclaim it!

Redeemed by the blood of The Lamb;

Redeemed through His infinite mercy,

His child and forever I am.  (!!!!!)

Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed, redeemed,

His child and forever I am.    (!!!!)

blue jewelry

A couple of years ago at a ladies luncheon I met a gal who makes jewelry out of broken liquor bottles. She had moved to a bad area in her town, and there were broken bottles everywhere.  She had worked in textiles, and thought
Alcohol caused a lot of grief in my life, and it amazes me how my Heavenly Father, Papa, can take the things that seem useless, even harmful, and turn them into something beautiful!  He takes my broken life, dreams, hopes, and turns them into things of beauty.  Like the special order pieces, He has a plan and is working it, even when I can’t see.  I did not see my friend Jackie make the jewelry, but I trusted that what I wanted she would produce!she would try something new.  ‘Viola!!  The teardrop piece was the first I purchased, the cobalt blue I special ordered.

Oh, Papa, thank you that you give folks like Jackie the talent to make beauty out of rubbish, so we can have a picture of what you are doing in us!!!  Thank You, that you will continue to work on us until you send Jesus for us.  Love you, Papa!! amen

rita beedyRita Beedy is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a rural mail carrier.

Listener Blog: Footy Pajamas

There are two kinds of people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): those who make lists and those who think they don’t have to. Me? I’m a list-maker convert. And a calendar keeper. And a smart phone alarm setter. Of course, I didn’t start out this way. God has a way of making us face our limits. Countless missed appointments with penalty fees and mixed-up schedules were mine. My final day of reckoning came when I sent my three young children to school in their pajamas on Pajama Day only to learn with a phone call from the school secretary that it wasn’t.

It was time to admit I had a problem and it wasn’t just organization. It was the illusion that I could be God. My whole life as a parent was devoted to giving my children a pain-free existence complete with sidewalk chalked driveways, bugcatching adventures and Bandaids for every occasion. But on this day, I finally realized I couldn’t keep my kids from pain. Sometimes, I am even the cause of it.

By trying so hard to be the end-all of my children’s world, I was offering them the lie that I would never let them down. Looking at the tears in my daughter’s eyes that morning in the school office as she stood looking up at me in her footy pajamas, I knew it was time to admit that there is no one who can offer them a pain-free ride. But we can trust God to heal us and get us through life’s hard knocks.

It’s a lesson I still keep having to learn. God isn’t a rabbit’s foot ensuring that, as Christians, we lead pain-free lives. So like Luke, writing God stories to Theophilus, we tell our God stories about footy pajamas that cannot be told without admitting that we have needs and confessing that we have problems.

It’s scary to come out of hiding, to admit we aren’t more than we seem. But then that’s how we know beyond any doubt that God is God, and we are not.

kelli raKelli Anderson lives with her husband of 22 years, three teens and one large goldendoodle in the far western suburbs of Chicago in St. Charles, Illinois. Kelli has a degree from Grinnell College in English, is a freelance writer for several magazines including “Leadership Journal”, a blogger and an author of her first recently published book,  Divine Duct Tape, ( a devotional for women) and is a co-director a special needs ministry at First Baptist Church of Geneva. Although she often writes to inform her readers about everything from lifestyle issues to parenting survival 101, she loves writing most about how God reveals Himself to us through the mess that is often the norm of our lives. To learn more, please visit her blog: www.kellira.com

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