Midday Connection

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Archive for the tag “transformation”

Finishing the 8 Challenge

As I happily wear a red sweater that I missed wearing all last month, I’m reflecting onoutfit2 the 8 Challenge that Randi and I did during November…

It was so great to do this with someone else (and several listeners who said they joined us!).  Processing our thoughts and feelings together was so helpful.

This challenge really did grow my gratitude and helped re-calibrate my attitude about clothing and my appearance.  I no longer feel that I am greatly lacking. Oddly, with fewer items to choose from, my creativity greatly increased and I felt really good about what I wore most of the time. I have always felt that my fashion/wardrobe skills are lacking, so being able to do so much with so little was encouraging. I’m looking forward to carrying that creativity forward (especially as I try out the capsule wardrobe concept next).

In November, I took the opportunity to clear out a bunch of clothing, jewelry, and shoes that I no longer need or wear. This was a great “cleansing” process for me as I lived out some simplicity/minimalism with my clothes. It also motivated my husband and me to clear out other areas of clutter in our home! Hooray!

This paring back to 8 items of clothing in November forced me to really, honestly look at my views of consumption, image, creativity, commercialism, beauty, and provision. It was a convicting thought to me that this was a rather “privileged” experiment (I have the option to go back to my ways of excess in December) and I am a little embarrassed about how much energy I’ve put into feeling discontent over the years about what I’m wearing. I hold that in tension with the understanding that clothioutfit1ng can be an expression of my personality and that’s not unimportant, either. Whether I like it or not, the image that I present by the clothes I wear, does matter – but, of course, it’s not the only thing that matters.

A smaller realization was that color really matters to me. I missed red and purple so much during this challenge! I actually never thought much about how good those colors make me feel when I wear them. About halfway thought the challenge I was really bummed to wear blue/grey/black… *again*!

Now that I have my fuller wardrobe available to me once again, I feel so grateful for all of the options that I have. I’m grateful for the variety and options – something that I took for granted before the challenge. I’m thankful for the perspective shift that has taken place deeper within me.

If you did the challenge (or a similar one), what are some of your takeaways?

The Faithful 8 Items of Clothing that Lori Wore, November 2014

The 8 Items of Clothing that Lori Wore, November 2014

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: 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: Jesus Loves Her, Too

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

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

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: Halt

This past Lent, I decided to set aside a food item that’s been a comfort and a go-to item at the end of the day when I want some comfort. I felt the desire to set it aside so that I could take time to ask God if I was avoiding anything deeper. Was this benign comfort item hiding a deeper ache that needed my attention?  Thinking about this one day, I vaguely recalled hearing the acronym “HALT”…something about a checklist to help us pay attention to what’s going on when we’re feeling stressed. So, I did some searching and found more information on it.  Here’s what the acronym stands for:

H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired

The idea is to check in with yourself when you’re feeling stressed or out of sorts – are you hungry?  Are you angry?  Are you lonely?  Are you tired?  Usually, when I feel restless or want to reach for comfort food or zone out with some mindless TV, I’m actually feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  When I take that minute to pay attention to what’s going on, I can address the anger, hunger, tiredness, loneliness instead of either engaging in unhealthy habits or things that could become unhealthy if the core issue is consistently pushed aside.  I can use this to rule out and address things that are irrelevant to what’s *really* going on.  Maybe I’m afraid of failing while also feeling tired and hungry.  Addressing my hunger and sleep issues can help me handle the fear better and with a clearer head.  I’ve also found it helpful as I walk home from work feeling stressed and cranky, to slowly and prayerfully breathe deeply as I go through HALT and realize that, yes, I am hungry and tired right now… and once I’ve identified those real physical needs, I’m less likely to misdirect my crabbiness toward my husband when I get home – or at the least, I can communicate to him where I am emotionally and that my crankiness isn’t about him.

How about you?  Are there some helpful tools that you use to identify what the deeper issues might be?

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: 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: Dark Cloud on the Horizon

I received some unexpected news recently that got my world spinning. I’ve talked in the past on Midday Connection (and this blog) about my struggles with depression…well, this news brought back the invitation to the familiar and comfortable black pit. I could feel myself slipping right back into that known place and feeling right at home. I felt tired and depleted and I wanted to just ease into the dark clouds, numb out, and not fight it.

Sitting on the train, looking out the window, I felt the dark shadow wanting to take me over.  Honestly, I wanted to settle into a dark melancholy.  I did.  It felt like it would be a safe, warm, dark room that I could hide in for a bit.

I recently attended a seminar and the speaker said that self-awareness is 90% of the healing/recovery process.  That has stayed with me in a profound way.  In the past, when I felt the melancholy approach, I just sank into it and hung on for the ride – feeling that I didn’t have a choice about it at all.  But, once I became aware of this shadow in my life, I realized that I do have a choice.  I refuse to deny my feelings of sadness and disappointment and shock…but that doesn’t mean I need to settle into a dark place.

I sat in my gloom and realized that I know where that familiar dark spiral goes.  I needed to remember that I’ve gone down that path before and that old way of handling my sadness just doesn’t work for me anymore, though it may feel familiar.  God has shown me better and healthier coping mechanisms.  It took (and is still taking) much effort to keep reminding myself of where I’ve been and that I don’t want or need to go back to that pit.

I’m pretty surprised that awareness and mental reminders are helping me greatly!  Thanks be to God!

How about you?  Do some of the ways that you’ve dealt with stress, sadness, other issues still work?  Or, is God showing you a new way?

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: Feeling Anxiety for Our Needy Loved Ones

If you are the parent, spouse, friend, or care giver of someone who is needy, see if you identify with these thoughts from Frederick Buechner in his book, Telling Secrets. He writes about his daughter’s very serious eating disorder and his varied responses:

– I wasn’t living my own life any more because I was so caught up in hers.

– She had given up food. I had virtually given up doing anything in the way of feeding myself humanly. To be at peace is to have peace inside yourself more or less in spite of what is going on outside yourself. In that sense I had no peace at all. If one particular day she took it into her head have a slice of toast, say with her dietician supper I was in seventh heaven. If on some other day she decided to have no supper at all, I was in hell.

– The love I had for my daughter was lost in the anxiety I had for my daughter.

Here’s a prayer I found online that might help to express to God the anxiety you feel for your needy person:

“I intercede for _____who is in ______,  struggling with issues relating to _________. I feel extremely frightened and worried and it is overwhelming me in my daily life.”

“Please help _____ with self esteem and self confidence and _________,  and I plead for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for her to choose ________,  to  be honest with me, surrounded by the people who will love and guide her in the right direction. I love_______ unconditionally. She won’t confide in anyone. Holy Spirit please pour out your blessings on ________.”

The peace of the Lord go with you, friend.

 

Melinda Schmidt

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: @melindaschmidt

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