Midday Connection

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Archive for the tag “relationships”

Midday blog: Sorry

The other day I watched this video and while I cheered, I also got a little teary-eyed.  I believe that most women can tend to apologize too much for things that aren’t their fault!  I left the house feeling confident and we went to a party.  As I entered the room that was loud with laughter and conversation, I immediately felt my introverted, shy self feel less confident.  I heard someone mention a cheese tray, which gave me something to look for and do, so I wound my way through the crowd, seeking cheese and crackers.  As I navigated the crowd, a man suddenly stepped back and waved his arms as he told a story and he ran right into me.  Immediately, I said, “Oh! Sorry!”  He said, “That’s okay.” and he went back to his story.  Sigh.  I was so disappointed with myself!  Why did I apologize when I’d done nothing wrong?  How did I so quickly step back into being a “Christian Nice Girl”, saying “sorry”?

This issue of being quick to apologize is bigger than “who’s right/who’s wrong” – it’s an indication of something deeper going on.  Why do I so naturally fall back in to apologizing for taking up space?  For most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling like I don’t have the right to take up space.  I would often dismiss my own voice, feeling insignificant and unworthy of being listened to.  God has been healing me in this area over the past few years.  I want to live confidently and fully into how God created me, living as God’s good woman.

For one week, try to notice how often you and women around you say, “I’m sorry”.  Reflect on what you noticed and ask God if He might be speaking to you about that.

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.

Midday blog: Failure in Love

The late founder of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and author of The Mark of a Christian, Francis Schaeffer, wrote about Jesus’ desire for His people. (You can find it in John 13:34, 35.)

“The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. How, then, is the dying culture going to consider us? Jesus says, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians.” (italics mine) He adds: “That’s pretty frightening.” I agree. Since Jesus gave the world the authority to judge us, we might ask ourselves, “How are we doing?”

From my perch, more and more I am struck with increasing polarization within our evangelical community. Of course, we will often find differences in our interpretation of God’s truth. (Not much different from the differences of the early churches, right? Take a look at the letters of the New Testament as well as books that cover early church history.) But how are we handling those conversations in these days? Are we expressing our thoughts cautiously, kindly, lovingly with old-fashioned good manners, or do we use combative, superior, self-righteous language? I fear the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, blogs), with its opportunities for a growing number of faceless conversations, has given us a false sense of empowerment to frame our thoughts and responses in boldly Jesus-vision-less ways.

Schaeffer sums up, “In other words, if people come up to us and cast in our teeth the judgment that we are not Christians because we have not shown love toward other Christians, we must understand that they are only exercising a prerogative Jesus gave them.”

Or in Jesus words,  “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) Ah, there it is: humility.

God, please give us hearts of love toward our own, so that we may authentically show the world: we are Yours!

Melinda 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: @melindaschmidtMelinda Schmidt

Midday blog: Simply Loving

Recently, I visited what is probably one of the most deplorable gypsy communities here in Romania. The gypsies are our stereotyped group of people. They are the kind that you do not want to have anything to do with, the kind you avoid, look down on, or think very little of.  So there I was, waiting outside of the church for some people, when Cristina, a 10 year old, approached me.  She saw the kind of clothes I was wearing, the kind of car I climbed out of, the kind of people I was visiting with, and she kept herself pretty distant at first. It seemed like she was afraid of something. Five minutes later though, she jumped into my arms, and right there to me was one of those moments when I was convinced, once again, that I am to share or offer my love regardless of the response. It really did not matter at all that she was dirty, sticky, and smelly. Her embrace was a loud enough cry for love.

But that truth resonated with me deeper inside; it actually made me think of my friends, not just the people that are hard to love. In the past few years the dynamics of most my relationships have changed. Some friends got married, others moved, others became more involved in different communities, and so on. Plus, my constant transition in between Romania and the U.S. has not really helped either. So I became frustrated. Truly, many friendships have been born along these years, but also many of my friendships have been tested and have become quite hurtful. During these years, I have had friends who never invested the same amount love and care as I did; friends who compared me with others, or pressured me with all sort of expectations; friends that genuinely did not know how to love back on me; friends that I lost. But these are also people that I know I have to offer love to regardless of the response.

You see, when Christ entrusted us with the second greatest commandment, He did not condition our love.  Quite the opposite, He asked us to love our neighbor just as much as we love ourselves. He asked us to simply love. How many times do we make the mistake of loving with expectations? Including our friends and family…

So I challenge you to think about how you offer your love. What is that person in your life that you know you should be simply loving?

Adelina GhileaAdelina Ghilea comes from the city of Arad, Romania. Her previous experience as a volunteer radio show host and producer not only deeply shaped her vocation and calling, but also brought her to Moody Bible Institute. She is currently a senior in the communications department and is serving as station manager for the campus station. Adelina is also serving with JoyFm, a new Reach Beyond (HCJB Global) radio plant in her hometown. After graduation, she is planning to return home and invest in the ministry there. Twitter: @AdeGhilea

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: 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

Midday blog: Can we shape another’s personality?

Have you ever noticed the subtle suggestion out there that parents can actually shape the personality of their child? Beyond the natural desire to guide children toward Biblical character development, there’s this hint that we can turn them into something – else. Something better?

The Biblical stories of Jacob, Cain, Abel, Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, Paul, Joseph, his brothers, and others demonstrate that each were born with a unique personality that sometimes served them well (Mary, Esther, Abel) and other times did not (Samson, Jacob, Ham, Jezebel).  Some lives came to good ends (Jews still celebrate Esther’s Purim today) while others came to tragic ends (Lot), never able to overcome their bents. Jacob continued to wrestle with his personality into adulthood and eventually wrestled with God, figuratively and literally in Genesis 32.

And actually, none of these Biblical characters were perfect.

You’ve probably scratched your head wondering how children can come from the same parents but be so different! There’s no doubt genetics play a part in who we are, but from the beginnings of humankind, we understand that God is the Creator of us all (Psalm 139). We arrive on earth imperfect, but we can gift others with God’s love, joy and truth with the Holy Spirit’s power. After that, their next steps are their own.

As we send an aroma of prayer to God (Ps. 141:2), and let our loved one go, releasing them into God’s hands, we give them freedom to accept or resist truth. They are making their own choices. Will I carry my anxieties and worries about my loved one to God, and confirm my trust in Him? Fill in the blanks of Psalm 31:15 with your loved one’s name: “ _____’s times are in your hands; deliver _____from the hands of _______’s enemies (Satan for one! as well as drugs, an emotional affair, deceit, etc.), from those who pursue _______ (evil friends or ideas or destructive habits, or other temptations).”

Melinda 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: @melindaschmidtMelinda Schmidt

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 .


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: Terms of Identity

Those close to me know that I have an appreciation for terms of endearment (the words, not the movie… ha!) and there are special meanings for these terms associated with those in my inner circles.

Some use the term “bro” for someone they work with, their group of buddies, or maybe to any random person. I only use it for my three brothers (two of whom are non-biological brothers). One of my cousins and I refer to each other as “Cousin” as if by name:
“Hey, Cousin. Wanna grab a bite to eat tonight?”
“Sure, Cousin. What time do you wanna meet up?”

My brother and sister-in-law and younger cousins call me “Kuya,” which in Filipino is a title given to an older sibling or relative. To my nieces and nephews, I am “Tito Mark” or “Uncle Mark” — and some of them are not blood-related. This also include the kids of close friends with whom I grew up and still regularly keep in touch.

These are just a few reminders of special relationships in my life. When any of them call me, email me, or even send a text message, and they call me by that unique “term,” I get that special link of identity that affirms the bond I have with that person. There are times when they use my “real name” and, being used to hearing the other name, it somehow sounds strange!

One of my co-workers refers to her closest girlfriends as her sisters. Many have different names for grandparents. Then there are the current colloquialisms, “BFFs” or “besties.” My sister-in-law’s siblings occasionally call their mother Sandra, “San,” sometimes meant in jest, but truly a demonstration of love.

What special identity markers do you have with those who know you best? And what does it mean to you?


Mark BretaMark Breta is a radio producer/announcer, musician and foodie. He has been with Moody Radio since 2007 and has worked with many of its programs. Mark currently works with Midday Connection and Treasured Truth. He has led worship at conferences and events, and more recently, at Chicago area churches in Arlington Heights and Oak Park.  You can follow Mark at his website.

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