Does Fear Hold You Back?
January 29th, 2013
I’m all about communicating Freedom to Women. I believe that is my calling but often I find that fear holds me back. Fear is the antithesis of freedom. So how can we live free and fearless? A number of years ago God answered that question for me in an unexpected way.
A piece of my story is about divorce. I went through one about 12 years ago and one of my biggest fears was that life was over, I was finished, all washed up! God couldn’t use a divorced woman. I believed I’d been sidelined. That’s what some people told me. God, however, had another idea! He sent some amazing people into my life to speak a different message into my heart and soul, a message of life, hope and healing. Today I speak to thousands of women every day on the radio program Midday Connection and get to share that same message of freedom and healing and life.
What’s your story? What is one of your biggest fears that you’ve watched God dismantle as he helped you see His truth?
Good Women Worth Reading
April 2nd, 2012
What inspires you? We don’t ask that question often enough. One of the things that inspires me is seeing women walk into the fullness of who God created them to be. That means discovering how God has gifted you, embracing that gift, polishing that gift and using that gift. You might be asking, where do I begin. I believe reading good blogs and books by strong women who are Christ followers is a good start. Let me suggest some places to begin.
Now for some books:
No More Christian Nice Girl – Jennifer Degler
Awaken Your Senses – Beth Booram
Grumble Hallelujah – Caryn Rivadeniera
My Own Worst Enemy – Janet Davis
What Women Tell Me - Anita Lustrea
Global Soccer Mom – Shayne Moore
Missional Mom – Helen Lee
Go discover your gifts and use them for God’s glory!
Don’t Lose Track of Important Stories
January 16th, 2012
This is a guest blog post by my husband, Mike Murphy. It’s really worth the read!
Author Frederick Buechner once said “To lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.”
Many will have a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.. And, I for one, am glad we honor his life and accomplishments. I don’t want to lose sight of his story.
The life and work of Martin Luther King paved the way for much of what we enjoy right now. Every time I see a group of young women play high school or college sports I am very thankful. I grew up in a time when young women didn’t have access. As I sit with co-workers at Breakthrough Ministries around a leadership table, I’m thankful that there are not just white faces looking back at me. When my wife and I toured the Martin Luther King Center a few years ago in Atlanta I had to chuckle. Our guide was a white man. And he was blind. He wouldn’t have had that job unless others stood their ground and demanded equal access to opportunity. Martin Luther King would have been smiling and proud.
These things are the good result of what civil rights workers called ‘the struggle’. The struggle for opportunity. The struggle for access. The struggle for color blindness. The struggle to see all people as having worth. The struggle to help the spiritually and morally blind to see again. The struggle to wrestle power from those who abuse power. And it was done, not for the hope that someday, a national holiday would be proclaimed and schools would be closed. No it was done with the hope that America could live into its belief that all men and women are created equal. That they are children of God.
King and the civil rights community believed that every person deserved to be free, to be treated as persons not things, and to be valued as full members of the kingdom of God. And in order for that to happen people like us would form a ‘beloved community’ where diversity is embraced, where the content of one’s character is more important than skin color; where love, justice, and peace emerge as the preeminent norms for all relationships; and where institutional power is humanized by moral values so that justice reigns.
That struggle is not complete.
There are great divides still in our world. In big and small ways we find people at odds. Sometimes it’s economic divides, sometimes geographic, sometimes ethnic, sometimes gender, and still there are racial divides. We cannot sit comfortably, in our world, when we know the world is a mess for others. And I think God wants us to walk into the midst of those messes by standing against injustice and by changing the world through one act of love after another.
The civil rights movement was a turning point in the life of America. It opened doors, clarified mission, and called an entire nation to reconsider what it means to be the home of the brave and the land of the free. It would be a shame if we lost the meaning of this story for in many respects the ‘struggle’ continues. May we choose to be part of it
When Life and Beliefs Collide
October 16th, 2011
When Life and Beliefs Collide is a book title. It’s a great book written by Carolyn Custis James. It’s a book that opened my eyes to how we neatly put things in boxes and make everything rather black and white. That’s easy to do if you live in a bubble. Last time I checked most of us don’t. When we actively engage in ‘living’, often our beliefs are challenged, there is tension, because what we thought to be true doesn’t always work out the way we believe it should.
I’m not talking about big theological issues. I’m talking about the last 3 weeks of my life, and how I’ve barely had time to breathe. Multiple times I’ve said to my husband Mike, “When this week is over I can take a breath.” But you know what? Next week comes along with equal or more force to it. My dilemma is, ”How do I live out the theology of Sabbath in the midst of non stop life?”
I’m more convinced than ever before that solitude is an essential spiritual practice in our world filled with television, home phones, cell phones, iPods, iPads, computer video games, hand held video games, gaming system games, facebook, twitter, and I’m sure, something else that has just been invented that I don’t even know about yet!
I can hear you right now yelling, maybe screaming, “How can I have solitude with so much coming at me, and you only mentioned electronics? What about babies and toddlers and teenagers, and oh yeah, my husband, my church, and my friends (O, I actually don’t have any because I don’t have time for them).
I’m not here to give you an answer that will wipe away all the roadblocks to solitude. Rather I’m here to challenge you to start small, just to start at all. If we don’t decide it is a priority, the hamster wheel will never stop.
Let me speak briefly to women in different stages of life. Moms of babies and toddlers. When you put them down at night. Tell your husband you are beginning a spiritual practice and you need 5 or 10 minutes alone. Find a comfortable spot and sit, take some deep breaths, and say, “Lord, I’m here with you. Please be here with me.” You don’t have to ‘do’ anything, just sit and listen and sense his loving presence. I hear your other questions, “What will happen as I sit?” I don’t know, and really, it doesn’t matter. Jesus will be right there with you.
Empty nest mom, or mom of teenagers. We do have it easier. We have more options of when we can practice this spiritual discipline. We just need to tell those around us to please give us some space and alone time. Bottom line. We need to make time for this, for the sake of our spiritual health. As you are able, increase the amount of time you spend in solitude.
I’d love to hear how God meets you there.
Junk Mail Takes Over
September 21st, 2011
I’m annoyed at the amount of time I have to spend daily erasing junk mail that has managed to make into my ‘in’ box and not get filtered out. The general content centers on sex or sex enhancement, or “buy these pills now”. Who in their right mind would buy any of these products?
For me these junk emails are distractions, interruptions, or time wasters as I have to wade through them to get to the real emails that require a response.Our email box is not unlike the content and flow of our days. One interruption and distraction after another.
So how do you stay focused on the job at hand? How do you stay present to the Holy Spirit as you walk through your day? How do you determine which distractions are actually appointments that God has set up for you?My prayer is to increase my attentiveness to the work of the Spirit of God throughout my day. Want to join me?
On My Heart
April 6th, 2011
I’ve been thinking a lot about justice issues lately. I’ve watched a couple of movies set in South Africa. I haven’t fully formulated my thoughts, but I want to talk about it here and get your feedback.
We’re starting a series on Midday Connection that will air for 8 or 9 weeks called “Half the Church”. We’ll have a focus on the plight of women around the world and what we can do to make a difference. We’ll also talk to women about how they are engaging in kingdom purposes. Do they know their gifts, are they using them. This is an issue that regularly occupies my mind. I love seeing women walk into the fullness of who God created them to be, and not hold back.
This is what is currently occupying my mind…..what is swirling around in your head?
January 2nd, 2011
After I read my husband’s latest blog post I decided to invite him to be a guest blogger for me. Well actually I just decided to cut and paste his thoughts. He said it was O.K.
It’s a new year, and I think we need to be asking the questions Mike poses.
Here is Mike’s blogpost: I think it was Socrates who said that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” He’s right. For those who love to be reflective at the end of the year here are some questions that may be helpful.
Do you like the person you’re becoming?
What or who do you keep stumbling over?
Are the people who need you the most only getting the emotional scraps?
How is your soul?
Where do you need to be encouraged most right now?
What, if anything, is holding you back from living more fully for God?
What is bringing you joy?
In what ways are your deep passions meeting the deep needs in our world?
What is the root of any sadness in your life?
Is there unresolved sin in your life?
Where is your source of accountability?
What’s your next step?
Who are you trusting with your secrets?
What needs to change?
Anita back with you now…..maybe you have questions of your own to add to the list. Feel free to post them via a comment. Now I need a week to sit around and contemplate….but, since that is highly unlikely to happen, I need to make space each day to reflect and look forward in 2011. Happy New Year Everyone!
December 23rd, 2010
My son John and I did something we’ve talked about for a decade. If you’re waiting for the story of how we climbed Mt. Everest, or back packed Europe for a month, or something grandiose like that, you can stop waiting. We got in our PJ’s, made hot chocolate and tea, grabbed some Christmas cookies, and jumped into the car to drive all over Chicago’s western suburbs looking at Christmas lights. We’ve talked about it every year for at least a decade, and this was possibly our last chance. At least our last chance before John heads off to college and life is never quite the same.
John is 18 years old now, a senior in high school, with a strong bent toward nostalgia. He loves looking back to fond childhood memories, of course he doesn’t have far to look back. Out trip to view the Christmas lights is one of those memories he’ll look back on with delight. We got into the car, plugged in my iPod and played Vince Guaraldi Christmas Music from the Charlie Brown Christmas special, then some great London Brass Christmas tunes, and we drove all over the western suburbs of Chicago, well at least Elmhurst and Oak Brook, before coming home to the less decorated suburb of Villa Park!
I told John about when I was young and how there were neighborhoods who went all out with lighting and decorating. I even drove him through a neighborhood that 15 years ago was a regular on the list of neighborhoods to drive through and view. Only one house had any significant decorations on it in that neighborhood this year. John found it very sad. Times have changed. The economy has changed, and not everyone celebrates Christmas. He found all of that quite sad. John is an old soul. It took me forever to get him to carry a cell phone, then a little longer for me to get him to turn the cell phone on. I’m the texter. John does it in a pinch. I’m lucky that he sporadically checks his email now. Facts that are sometimes annoying, but mostly I thank God for this sensitive young man who loves God with his whole heart and wants to serve him.
I’m thankful to add Christmas light viewing to my list of memories with John. John is already looking back on the memory with nostalgia.
Anita’s Christmas Favorites
December 3rd, 2010
It’s Christmas time and I’m starting to think about gift giving….actually I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. I’m making a number of gifts, though I think I need another month and a half to get them all done! I’m a big book lover….so let me recommend some of my favorites that might make good gifts.
These won’t be brand new, except for my book “What Women Tell Me“….but it wouldn’t be cool to put that on my recommended gift list.
So here are my gift suggestions: The Feminine Soul by Janet Davis; The Real Mary by Scot McKnight; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo(children’s book that will make you ‘ugly cry’); Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan; Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire(possible ‘ugly cry’ associated with certain chapters); No More Christian Nice Girl by Jennifer Degler & Paul Coughlin; Jayber Crow(a novel) by Wendell Berry(more potential ‘ugly cry’ moments); Days of Deepening Friendship by Vinita Hampton Wright.
When in doubt, give an amazon gift card, or do what my friend Shayne Moore is doing, giving fair trade coffee along with a book and all you need is some nice Christmas ribbon to tie them together and their’s your gift. To get some good coffee and benefit two ministries head to www.breakthrough.org and click on the ‘Drink Coffee. Do Good.’ icon on their home page. Merry Christmas!
Book Release Party
November 21st, 2010
Celebration, it seems like a natural part of life. We celebrate the birth of babies as well as people’s anniversaries and accomplishments. So why has it been so difficult for me to celebrate my own accomplishment of writing a book. My husband Mike and I had a book release party last night for “What Women Tell Me: Finding Freedom From the Secrets We Keep”. I’ve worked hard writing the book and I’m now working hard promoting the book, so why can’t I work hard celebrating the book? Last night I DID!!
I wasn’t going to have a book release party until people came up to me in shocked horror and said, “You have to have a celebration! We are proud of you and want to help you celebrate.” I finally realized, as I told my fellow Redbud Writers Guild member Helen Lee(soon to release her book “The Missional Mom”) at my party, that a celebration is as much for other people as it is for you.
I looked around the room at those attending, and my eyes were filled with tears of gratitude at being surrounded by friends and supporters who would take a night out of their busy lives to help me celebrate. It was a bit overwhelming to look across the room at my friends Tom and Claudine who opened their home to host this event. I understood in that moment that it is much easier to give love than to receive it, and I needed to open my heart and hands and receive the love and support freely given in my direction.
I heard over and over, “We are proud of you and are thrilled to be here for this moment!” In the end I saw that God isn’t just moving through the content of the book, but even through the celebration of launching the book. I’m thankful that I could finally embrace and enjoy the moment.