Midday Connection

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Archive for the tag “values”

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: Good Samaritan

As I’ve heard Anita talk about the release of her novel that she wrote with Caryn Rivadeniera called Shades of Mercy, she has said that the book addresses, “Who is my neighbor?”  That got me thinking, so the other day, I read Luke chapter 10.  And there I read about the religious leader who asked Jesus that very question… Then Jesus answered by telling the parable about the good Samaritan.  I was struck again at the sacrifice of time and money that the Samaritan gave.  It made me think – Do I have the margin in my life to give like he did?  Or (a bigger issue for me), am I willing to have my plans derailed when something more important arises?  Do I recognize that greater importance or am I too stuck on my to do list to deviate?  I thought about this as I passed a homeless man on my way to work.  Am I willing to stop and say hello and risk an uncomfortable few minutes to buy him a meal?  I thought about this as I waded through the crowd of morning train commuters.  Am I seeing people as God’s image bearers, each with their own stories or do I see them as annoying delays in my way?  I’m sitting with this parable for a while.  I’m beginning to see it as more than just doing more and serving more, but it’s also a deeper attitude of respect, honor and dignity toward our fellow humans.

Take a couple of minutes and read Luke 10:30-37. There’s a lot in this parable. What do you sense God bringing to your attention?

Lori Neff

Lori 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 and she’s currently in school again studying counseling and spiritual direction. 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: Non-Resolutions

It’s that time of year where most people need to do a reality check… when you know you’re on the good path to following through on that “New Year’s resolution” or that you realize it ain’t gonna happen.

Statistics say that 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually follow through and achieve their goal. Am I a part of that statistic? Yes… and no.

In 2013, I decided I wanted to avoid eating at a particular fast food establishment. Though opinions will vary, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this restaurant – but I know that I would abuse (and have abused) my choice in what I eat there.

I didn’t make a deliberate decision on December 31 or January 1. But, by late January, I realized I hadn’t made the almost-routine visit to that drive-thru, so I thought I’d see if I could avoid it for a longer period of time. By summertime, I had felt good about my achievement so far – and it seemed to be an easy task.

In the fall, I had no cravings for my favorite sandwich. And by winter, I was excited to be close to the finish.

I visited my brother and sister-in-law who live near the eastern coast over the holidays. We talked about this unlabeled goal – this non-resolution – that I never really thought about as a big deal. I didn’t put up motivating Post-it notes. I didn’t tick off days on a calendar. I didn’t set up any milestones to achieve. But we did discuss if a celebration was in order.

And on January 1, 2014, we treated the whole family to one lunch meal at this place. I got to eat my favorite sandwich. We all had some a share of the unbeatable french fries. The kids got a taste of the little nuggets of chicken. It was a good day.

It’s now about a month into this year, and I haven’t had a hankering for it since then.

It was one “small” goal. Sure, I ate at other fast food joints, but on a rare occasion. Am I any healthier because of this? Maybe, maybe not. But I know I can set a goal that works into my everyday life and see how far I’ve come.

What’s next? I’ve always wanted to read through the Bible in a year. I want to write a new song, maybe one a month. I want to get back to the gym. I don’t have to wait until next January 1. I can start now… and work it into my everyday routine.

Is there anything you’ve wanted to do – and just need to quit thinking about it and do it?

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. His now once-a-year craving is the double cheeseburger. You can follow Mark at his website.

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).

Midday blog: A Thoroughly Unexpected Conversation

“To take the train you have to be a people person”

I overheard these words while riding the elevated train system in Chicago (affectionately known simply as the El). The speaker of these words continued on to talk about how the train was “her car.” It got her everywhere she needed to go. Somehow the conversation quickly morphed into tithing. This lady and her friend were going on about how crazy it was that some people in church don’t tithe.

“It’s 10 cents out of every dollar, it’s not that much!”

What I then heard was these two ladies discussing how God had been faithful in their lives. Neither one has a lot of money, but they do what they can to support themselves, and give faithfully to God. In return they have seen His faithfulness to them…once again though the conversation took an unexpected turn, at least for me.

They started talking about God’s faithfulness in providing for medical expenses. One of the ladies expressed how thankful she was for the “Affordable Care Act” (also often referred to as Obamacare) which from her perspective was God being faithful in taking care of her. Suddenly I was experiencing a communications concept called “perspective taking.” I was seeing a controversial issue through a different perspective, and I could understand that perspective.

It made me slow down and wonder, how many issues, or more importantly people, do I think I understand and yet there are important perspectives I have yet to consider. I may not change my stance on an issue, but then again maybe I will. It makes me more prayerful as I consider what I think I know. Lord, may I have the humility to hold my positions loosely and be willing to be wrong.

What about you? Has anything happened recently to make you reconsider a position that you hold?

Josh Klos is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Radio Communications, he has served as the engineer for Midday Connection since 2010. He is also a part of the volunteer College & 20’s group staff at his church and enjoys spending time outside, as well as at libraries, bookstores and various coffee shops. He’s busy these days with graduate school, where he studying communication and culture.

To learn more about Josh and read his blog, please visit his website.

Midday blog: Good Samaritan

As I’ve heard Anita talk about the release of her novel that she wrote with Caryn Rivadeniera called Shades of Mercy, she has said that the book addresses, “Who is my neighbor?”  That got me thinking, so the other day, I read Luke chapter 10.  And there I read about the religious leader who asked Jesus that very question… Then Jesus answered by telling the parable about the good Samaritan.  I was struck again at the sacrifice of time and money that the Samaritan gave.  It made me think – Do I have the margin in my life to give like he did?  Or (a bigger issue for me), am I willing to have my plans derailed when something more important arises?  Do I recognize that greater importance or am I too stuck on my to do list to deviate?  I thought about this as I passed a homeless man on my way to work.  Am I willing to stop and say hello and risk an uncomfortable few minutes to buy him a meal?  I thought about this as I waded through the crowd of morning train commuters.  Am I seeing people as God’s image bearers, each with their own stories or do I see them as annoying delays in my way?  I’m sitting with this parable for a while.  I’m beginning to see it as more than just doing more and serving more, but it’s also a deeper attitude of respect, honor and dignity toward our fellow humans.

Take a couple of minutes and read Luke 10:30-37. There’s a lot in this parable. What do you sense God bringing to your attention?

Lori Neff

Lori 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 and she’s currently in school again studying counseling and spiritual direction. 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: Radically Inefficient

I’ve been thinking a lot about efficiency recently. In fact, I even posed the question on Twitter, “Is efficiency a Christian value?”

French thinker Jacques Ellul was not so enthralled with efficiency, which according to Ellul efficiency is a primary value promoted by technology. For Ellul the results of efficiency “perhaps would have meaning if man were merely an animal, but which have no conclusive Significance if man is something more than a production machine” (Technological Society, 110).

However we live in a culture where efficiency has come to rule. For me the jury is still out on what kind of value we should place on efficiency, but here’s what I do know: We certainly have elevated efficiency to an idolatrous place in much of our culture. I don’t believe that being efficient is bad in and of itself…but we should ask ourselves, to what end are we practicing efficiency? And do we miss something when we focus too much on efficiency? As much as I like the speed and ease of a microwaved meal, there’s also something about making a meal from scratch (or at least actually having to use the oven).

As for me, I’m thinking I may try radical inefficiency. No, I’m not going to sleep on the job or anything like that. But I am trying to reevaluate the things that I do, and to not put pressure on myself to get so much done. This does mean letting some things fall to the wayside, but that’s ok. Every minute of every day I don’t have to be “productive” rather I can leave time to just be…

As Ellul noted, we are more than production machines. At our core, we are relational beings, and relationships simply aren’t efficient. Life often is not efficient. We are called to more than efficiency.

What about you? What do you think of our culture’s perspective on efficiency? Have you exhausted yourself by always trying to be productive and efficient?

Josh Klos is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Radio Communications, he has served as the engineer for Midday Connection since 2010. He is also a part of the volunteer College & 20’s group staff at his church and enjoys spending time outside, as well as at libraries, bookstores and various coffee shops. He’s busy these days with graduate school, where he studying communication and culture.

To learn more about Josh and read his blog, please visit his website.

Midday blog: Present Tense

Present Tense
by Jason Lehman

It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,

The warm days, and the great outdoors.

It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,

The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.

It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,

The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.

It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,

The warmth and the blossoming of nature.

I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,

The freedom and respect.

I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,

To be mature, and sophisticated.

I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,

The youth and the free spirit.

I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,

The presence of mind without limitations.

My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

As you reflect on this poem, what are you feelings and thoughts?  Do you sense God speaking to you about anything in particular?

Midday blog: Quiz time

influenceA few years ago, our guest Janet Davis read these quizzes on Midday Connection. Let’s see how you do…

First quiz:

1) Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2) Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3) Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

4) Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

5) Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor or actress.

6) Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

Was that hard?

None of us remember the headliners of yesterday. They are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Now, here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1) List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2) Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3) Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4) Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5) Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Was the second quiz easier?

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care.

(Charles Shulz did not actually author these quizzes, but it has come to be commonly called “The Charles Shulz Quiz”)

Midday blog: New Year Transitions

As Christmas approaches I’ve found myself thinking about the New Year already and what changes might happen at this natural transition point. Below are simply some thoughts about the transitions happening for me in the coming year, and I hope they might help you as you think about entering the new year well.

1)      Not continuing something just because you’ve been doing it. For the past year I have led a small group at my church. However transitions are happening with several the members of the group. We decided that the wisest decision was to disband the small group. I was tempted to try to keep the group going because it has been around for several years. In the end however, sometimes the wisest decision is to let something “die.” As I go into the New Year I’m excited about the new opportunities that will open up as my schedule changes. What is difficult to for you to give up that might actually create more space in your life?

2)      Looking forward to finishing. Right now I am looking forward to January as at that point I will be done with the classes portion of my Masters degree and will simply be focusing on my thesis. This next year will require more discipline from me, and yet at the same time introduces new motivation of getting close to finishing my degree. What is something that you’ve been working on that you can finish this coming year? What will it take to make that happen?

3)      Moving to better health. Given the craziness that has been my life the last couple of months with work, school and church all contributing much to my life,  one of the casualties has been that I often find myself grabbing “convenient” food. This year I am looking to make my own meals more often and to make them healthy meals. It will also be healthier for my wallet. For you this might look like moving to better spiritual health, or actively seeking improvement in another area of life.

Josh Klos is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Radio Communications, he has served as the engineer for Midday Connection since 2010. He is also a part of the volunteer College & 20’s group staff at his church and enjoys spending time outside, as well as at libraries, bookstores and various coffee shops. He’s busy these days with graduate school, where he studying communication and culture.

To learn more about Josh and read his blog, please visit his website.

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