Monday, September 22, 2014


By Jennifer Nahrstadt

Empty nester. I have been struggling with this label for a year, unable to discern what God has for me in this new season. When I asked him to give me some verse that would speak to my situation, almost immediately the story in Mark 5 of the woman with the issue of bleeding came to mind. I was perplexed until I began to examine her story and God revealed some interesting similarities.
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"There was a woman who had suffered continuous bleeding for 12 years..."
Twelve years. I groaned empathically when I considered that she could've felt like she was on her period for 12 YEARS! "Lord, have mercy" never seemed so appropriate. Very likely, her bleeding was her last thought each night, and her first thought each morning. It dictated the rhythm of her days, her weeks, her months, her years.
I thought about what had dictated the rhythm of my life. Ironically, my son-also "the issue from my womb"-and his activities no longer brought structure to my days. The years of making lunches, overseeing piano practicing, and double-checking the calendar to make sure we didn't miss whatever activity was scheduled had come to an end. I ached as each day began without an agenda, and wondered what could restore purpose to my days.
"Bleeding that made her ritually unclean and an outcast according to the purity laws."
Jewish women could not attend synagogue while they were menstruating. They were considered unclean by Mosaic Law. They went through a cleansing after every cycle in order to be restored to spiritual fellowship.
So, if she was bleeding continuously for 12 years she would never have been allowed to join her community and participate in services. She was in a spiritual desert. Again, I could relate. As a parent, my life had been so busy that I'd neglected my soul life with Jesus. Now I didn't know how to nurture my inner life with God again.
For she said to herself, "If I can only touch his coat, I will be healed."
One little prepositional phrase opened my eyes to a startling reality: what if this woman had no friends? "She said to herself..." I imagined and was pained by the real possibility that she had no one to talk things over with, no one to help her figure out what to do.
Surely this wasn't my situation-or was it? Then it dawned on me that the natural activities that brought me in contact with other women as a mother of a student no longer existed. In the months after graduation, I looked around and realized I was alone.
As I thought about all this, I realized the difference between this woman and me was that her hope was not placed in a change in her situation. She knew that although she had expended all her resources she still had one option. She placed her hope in Jesus to change her situation. She believed she could entrust her future to him.
It was clear God was whispering to me: You have the same choice, daughter.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your sickness."
Just as he did then, Jesus is passing close by today. He invites you to reach out your hand and touch his robe. A new life, a new season awaits.
A born and raised Midwesterner, Jennifer Nahrstadt now lives in Georgia while her only son attends college "back home." After eight years in the South, her friends say she still can't say "y'all" convincingly.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saying Yes to Flips

By Caryn Rivadeneira

Seven minutes before the show started, my co-host Melinda leaned over and asked if I'd take the reins that day. We'd switch roles: She'd be the co-host, while I assumed the host role.

I said yes-as I usually do-before I even fully realized what saying yes entailed. Four months into this new job I'd become used to co-hosting Midday Connection, meaning I'd go ahead and ask questions of our guests, occasionally welcome listeners back after breaks. I'd even gotten close to good at simultaneously reading Facebook comments, listener emails and notes from the producer while listening to our guest, but I had never before signaled to our engineer that we were ready for our first "break," nor had I watched the clock creep closer and closer to zero as I tried to "hit the post"-ending my words with the music.
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My first attempt failed. I started a new sentence without enough time. Time ran out. The music stopped mid-sentence. I stopped talking, letting "Hope," of all words linger alone in the air, thinking we were off air. Turns out, I could've finished my thought (" stay with us."). The engineer would've worked me in. 

I didn't know. But I do now. And I'll never forget.

This is just one example of the crazy ride this-venturing into a career in radio without much (okay, any) experience-has been. Though I am a trained journalist and know how to identify angles and ask conversation-inducing questions, a print journalist career can only prepare you so much for radio. Questions need to be sharpened; background affirmations or chuckles need to be axed (there's no editing "um-hmms" and rambling questions in live radio!). And all this learning has only been compounded by my mid-life status. When I thought my career path was obvious, here I am again. Starting something, learning something new.

Although this results in-requires, actually-failure, anxiety and life being flipped upside-down, being given an opportunity to learn something new is one of life's great blessings. Because in newness, though we have failure, we also have growth. Though we have embarrassment, we find opportunities for accomplishment. Though new opportunities may flip life upside down, in newness, comfort and complacency-two things that get in the way of what God is calling us to do-get tossed overboard and let us fall right into a sweet dependency on God as we step into his calling.

So how about a little challenge in the back-to-school season: What if we all start or try or commit to learning something new? Something way out of our comfort zone? Something that terrifies or stands to humiliate us? But something that will stretch us toward becoming more of who God has called us to be?

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Caryn Rivadeneira is a writer and speaker, along with being co-host and producer for Midday Connection, a production of Moody Radio. She's the author of five books, including the newly released Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed About God's Abundance
(IVP, 2014). Connect with her at

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Painting as Worship

By Christa Parodi 

When I heard the words, "He won't love you any better when you become better. He loves you 100% right now," I desperately wanted to believe, and even more than believing, I wanted to live with that kind of freedom. I had the head knowledge, but I had not really experienced the "I love you as you are" kind of love. The "try harder" and "do more" part of me wanted to see what it would be like to safely gaze into the Father's eyes and see what he sees.

As this journey unfolded, I found myself on the floor one day moving paint around a canvas with my fingers in circular loop patterns. Bravely I showed up at a Christian worship arts conference all by myself. For this serious, color-inside-of-the-lines kind of girl, this was a long over-do invitation to play-to get messy. Insecurities and the pressure to perform started to mysteriously melt away as the tears started to flow and drip onto the swirly painting. Salty tears were mixed with a rainbow of vibrant colors. Even though I did not know where this worship art experience was taking me, I knew it was my custom designed ride to finding that place in the Father's heart that I was desperately hungry for.

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While this healing encounter on the floor was messing me up in the best way possible, Jesus was gently opening doors that would impact my community back home. Sliding open two barn doors and inviting women into a sacred space where worship and art collide was the next step that took place in this unlocking of the heart journey.

Stepping foot into what I have named The Worship Barn is an invitation to simply receive love from Jesus. This isn't one of those step-by-step painting classes. Tenderly an atmosphere of vulnerability is birthed and worship flows heavenward and is so brilliantly poured right back all over us. There's nothing to produce. It's worship. It's wholeheartedly partnering with the Holy Spirit and realizing that he really is steadfast and we don't have to be afraid.

As I host workshops for women I have realized that craving a space filled with permission and wonder isn't just my own unique longing. Creatively, women are opening up those dry, weary places in their hearts. Brush strokes glide and fingers pitter pat while healing oil is released over them by the Lord. Learning how to live from that place of not having to strive has been given fresh revelation and experience in this barn. In the process of painting, God has lifted my head and led me on a journey that has helped me come to him and bring others along as well. May we stay wide-eyed, sit on the floor with our King and let him fill our lives with color so we can spread the color of love to a "God-hungry" world that is waiting with their paintbrushes.

Don't forget to register for our September webinar on "Answering God's Call"
Christa Parodi is passionate about inviting others into a creative space to discover more about the extraordinary love of God. As founder of The Worship Barn she gives artists permission to let their worship and art collide. Christa lives in Ocala, FL with her husband and three children ranging from ages 12-19.