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Tending the Soul: 90 Days of Spiritual Nourishment

Tending the Soul: 90 Days of Spiritual Nourishment

by Anita Lustrea (Editor), Melinda Schmidt (Editor), Lori Neff (Editor)

Every day, tens of thousands of women turn to Midday Connection for spiritual nourishment and encouragement through the radio program and Facebook community.  The hosts, Anita Lustrea, Melinda Schmidt and Lori Neff hear the heartfelt needs of these women and understand their desires to grow in body, mind, and soul.  

In response,


Every day, tens of thousands of women turn to Midday Connection for spiritual nourishment and encouragement through the radio program and Facebook community.  The hosts, Anita Lustrea, Melinda Schmidt and Lori Neff hear the heartfelt needs of these women and understand their desires to grow in body, mind, and soul.  

In response, Midday Connection along with prominent authors and artists – Staci Eldridge, Shannon Ethridge, Carol Kent, Sara Groves and many others – compiled Tending the Soul:  90-days of Spiritual Nourishment. 

This devotional combines transparency with biblical truth, as each reading begins with scripture, followed by a short devotional including a deeply personal prayer, and closes with an application question.

Product Details

Moody Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Tending the Soul

90 days of spiritual nourishment

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2011 Anita Lustrea Melinda Schmidt Lori Neff
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8024-1533-2

Chapter One


Tending the Soul

Inconvenient Circumstance? :: ANITA LUSTREA ::

A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters', Mary and Martha. [Mary's] brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, "Lord, your dear friend is very sick." ... So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.

JOHN 1 1:1-3, 5-6 NLT

Life circumstances are rarely convenient. God's idea of good timing rarely lines up with mine. I remember when I got a call from my mom that my dad had collapsed on the patio of their home in Florida and was being transported by ambulance to the hospital. She didn't know why it happened and she didn't have enough information to put my heart at ease. I was helpless to do anything except wait.

Mary and Martha sent word for Jesus to come, but He didn't. I'm sure they waited in expectation of His coming. But Jesus didn't come, and Lazarus died. God, in the flesh, was nearby and He chose not to preempt His friend's death. Jesus had another plan in mind. He would display His power like never before. He would raise Lazarus from the dead.

As Jesus finally turned toward Bethany, Martha got word He was on His way and went to meet Him. Scripture says, "But Mary stayed in the house." I think Mary remained behind because she was hopping mad at Jesus for not dropping everything and coming to her brother's rescue, to her rescue. Once we turn our lives over to Christ, we enter a new playing field, one where we cannot predict the outcome, but where we can trust the character of the one at the helm.

Rarely do we have a view of why circumstances occur ... why my dad needed open-heart surgery, for example. We can trust our good God to work every situation for our good, even if it appears He's lingering somewhere else for a few extra days.

Lord, help me trust You even when Your timing doesn't line up with mine. Give me vision to see Your goodness even in the middle of the mess. Amen.

REFLECTION: Look back on a difficult circumstance. What aspects of God's character can you now see because of hindsight? How might that encourage you for the future?

* * *

Journal, sketch, compose a poem, write a letter to God, meditate on a hymn or worship song that comes to mind.



I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Psalm 119:16 ESV

Many days, when cross-referencing from one passage to another, I discover a tie-in between stories I never knew were related. It is so cool! I will talk about it for weeks. It's easy to delight in God's statutes on those occasions.

What about days when I'm prone to worry? Do I delight in His words that address my fear? When I'm depressed over my mistakes, do I take joy in His words that remind me of His mercy? When I'm nursing a grudge, do I love His words about forgiveness? I can easily live like a child who loves commandments that are naturally appealing but despise ones that tell me to do something I don't want to do.

Every single day brings a set of circumstances that challenge my love for God's ways. I will not instinctively love His Word when it corrects me, when it causes me to stretch be yond what's comfortable, when it beckons me to move out of a familiar set of emotions that aren't good for me. They may be as comfortable as my favorite old shirt and pair of jeans but the outfit is really a set of grave clothes. Jesus' call is to come out of the tomb into resurrection life. That sounds inspirational and appealing until I find how resistant I am to the Light. I prefer, many times, to live in my tomb. The ways of the flesh are the ways of death. I know this, yet they're just so ingrained in this fallen nature. I must tell myself, many times a day, to embrace the ways of God.

David's promise to delight in God's statutes is really two things—it is a sentimental expression, and it is an expression of commitment.

Heavenly Futher, I know myself well. I will forget if I don't vow to delight. Sometimes I will feel like it and just embrace You without a thought. Other times, I will need Your grace. Help me, Lord, at all points today. Amen.

REFLECTION: What area in my life feels the riskiest to trust God today? Am I willing to stand on a new promise that reveals the opposite of how I feel? God, help me!

* * *

Journal, sketch, compose a poem, write a letter to God, meditate on a hymn or worship song that comes to mind.

Keep Paddling


Be steadfast.

1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB

I love kayaking. The fresh air, warmth of the sun, the splash of the water, and the adventure draw me into a God-woman conversation. When my book Woman of Confidence: Step into God's Adventure for Your Life was released, I wanted to celebrate with an adventure. I gathered my "seasoned sisters" (friends over forty), and together we headed to beautiful Echo Ranch on Berner's Bay outside Juneau, Alaska. My friend Debbie, an experienced adventurer who has headed up numerous mission trips worldwide and is an award-winning outdoor educator, trained this all-girl cadre with safety tips.

I also learned much for life from Debbie's wisdom. There is a 50/50 rule in Alaska: if you are 50 feet from shore and fall into frigid water, you have a 50/50 chance of making it out alive. Training is vital to safety! Often in life, God places training reminders of His truth along life's journey.

One morning, we set out on glassy water but the wind picked up, causing whitecaps. Debbie spoke courage into our hearts that I continue to carry with me as it echoes God's approach to handle the storms. She advised, "Face it head-on. Aim your bow directly into the wave."

God tells us, "Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God" (Philippians 3:14 NASB). Dig deep. Push hard. Aim for the shore. It may hurt, but you can do this.

And, "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB). Keep paddling. Paddling is your stability.

Remember what He says: "But you must keep your faith steady and firm. Don't move away from the hope that the good news holds out to you" (Colossians 1:23 NIRV).

Lord, give me power to paddle through the waves of my storm! Amen.

REFLECTION: Mary Slessor, who as a single woman missionary paddled deep into the African jungle alone to take the gospel, had a line scribbled in the margin of her Bible, "God and one are a majority." With God's help, where does He want you to "keep paddling"? With God's help, how can you navigate the waves head-on?

* * *

Journal, sketch, compose a poem, write a letter to God, meditate on a hymn or worship song that comes to mind.

Faithful Love In Spite Of"


Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?

Proverbs 20:6 NIV

We come to understand the importance of our faithfulness to others when we ourselves experience the bitterness of betrayal.

Relationships should be a two-way street with reciprocal care and kindness, but when hurts and misunderstandings come into play, it becomes easy to disregard faithfulness. Wounding words and actions make it difficult to love faithfully, but they don't give us a right to react unlovingly.

God calls us to a higher road in relationship—to be His hands, feet, and mouthpiece to the world. Yet, when we are mistreated, our inclination is to fight back with gossip or judgment, or to simply jump ship. This comes from a false assumption that love requires a return; but when Jesus is our example, we know that real love and faithfulness will love others even when we are not loved back.

This doesn't mean we have to be there for everyone at all times. It doesn't mean we are to be a doormat to those who will take advantage of us. It does mean, however, that we are to be loving in the way we speak of one another and be faithful in prayer (Ephesians 4:29), even if that's from a distance. We will all fail one another at some point; not one of us is completely faithful or trustworthy. Only one man held true to those characteristics: Jesus. And only through Him can we be declared righteous.

If the question posed in Proverbs 20:6 is speaking to us today, then we should strive to love more faithfully. Never forget that you've received mercy and undeserved forgiveness. When you have a choice between spewing judgment and bitterness or extending mercy and love, I challenge you to let love and mercy win.

Father, I submit to You my relationships and the hurts that go along with them. I acknowledge that You redeem, restore, and reward those who earnestly seek You and live out Your commands. Help me to love the way You love me, forgive as You have forgiven me, mid to be faithful as You are so faithful to me.

REFLECTION: As a reflection of God's faithfulness to us, to whom is God asking you to reach out with the same faithfulness and love?

* * *

Journal, sketch, compose a poem, write a letter to God, meditate on a hymn or worship song that comes to mind.

Envying the Arrogant


They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man.

Psalm 73:4-5 NIV

I'm partial to this psalm because I lived out this very conversation with God. My heart had been growing cold, and I was up to no good. A natural rule follower, I was exhausted from trying to do everything right, and began to blame God for my troubles. I felt like I was bearing the weight of the moral universe somehow, and wanted to live carefree, without regard for some great battle between good and evil. I envied my neighbors who seemed to live for themselves without apology, and wondered why I tried so hard to be "good."

"If I had said, 'I will speak thus,' I would have betrayed your children." The psalmist Asaph starts to wake up in verse 15, as he asks God to please explain why those who disregard God's commands seem so happy. I wish I could see with my own eyes what God reveals to him in the next few verses, but in the ancient biblical text he conveys the revelation: wicked men are swept away like a bad dream. There is nothing built, nothing grown, nothing eternal in the life lived for self.

In contrition, Asaph realizes that external circumstances, wealth, health, fame, and so on are no reflection of what is real and eternal.

The most meaningful part of this psalm, and of my own story comes next. Here Asaph has been "senseless and ignorant ... a brute beast before you." But almost in surprise, he continues, "Yet, I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand" (vv. 22-23). God does not abandon us to our hard questions, but reveals Himself, and His love for us instead.

Asaph and I cry in unison, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever ... it is good to be near God."

Lord, thank You for hearing me out when I was senseless and selfish. Thank You for showing me how Your precepts are lifegiving, and are for my good!

REFLECTION: Have you ever "envied the arrogant"? Do God's rules feel oppressive, or life-giving?

* * *

Journal, sketch, compose a poem, write a letter to God, meditate on a hymn or worship song that comes to mind.

Peace in the Challenge


God is the blessed controller of all things.

1 Timothy 6:15 Phillips

My son Eric was diagnosed with autism when he was a toddler. After a year in a very intensive early intervention program at a clinic at UCLA, we returned home, where I was expected to direct his ongoing training. I was overwhelmed by this responsibility! The consequences of failure were so serious that I exhausted myself trying to manage every detail perfectly.

One evening, after spending hours trying to teach a difficult task to an uncooperative four-year-old, I collapsed on my bed in tears. Eric's future was at stake, and I thought it would be my fault if he didn't develop to his full potential. The responsibility was too great for me to bear! How could I ensure that he'd learn everything he needed to know? Full of fear, I cried out to the Lord.

He met me in a powerful way, showing me that in trying to bear this crushing burden alone, I was behaving as if I had no God. I was burning myself out, relying on myself instead of Him. He didn't give up on me, but continued to direct the circumstances of our lives for good. What a relief! I realized that He's committed to us, loves us, and is in control of everything.

Today Eric's a man, and it's even more obvious than when he was a toddler that I can't control what happens to him. But the Lord can. Although sometimes I still forget to look to Him in faith, He's always faithful to Eric and me. He's just that good to His beloved children!

Gracious Father, my responsibilities overwhelm me when I forget that You're in control, and live as though it's all up to me. Thank You that You always forgive me when I fail to see Your loving hand guiding. directing, and caring for me, and try to do life on my own. I'm so grateful for Your faithfulness to me! Please give me the grace to look to You in faith through every challenge I'll encounter today.

REFLECTION: Find some art books or pictures online that portray a restful scene. Pray the prayer above and know this is where God wants to lead you today.

* * *

Journal, sketch, compose a poem, write a letter to God, meditate on a hymn or worship song that comes to mind.

Trusting God with Our Burdens


When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?

Psalm 8:3-4 NIV

Being in nature gets us in touch with God's immense power and greatness. The sky filled with stars at night, ocean waves crashing, magnificent mountain peaks, wildflowers scattered over a meadow. All these and more reflect God's creative wonder and extravagant attention to detail.

While backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, I was intrigued by the mushrooms I saw along the path. I learned there are more than 14,000 different species of mushrooms. God could have created one kind of flower, or perhaps two or three, and the world would have been beautiful. But there are over 30,000 identified species of orchids alonet There is effusiveness to God's character, an overflowing extravagance. In his book City of God, Saint Augustine called it the "plentitude" of God, as the lavish, overflowing love and creativity of God is bountifully displayed in nature.

Like the psalmist who was awestruck at the beauty of the sky at night, the grandeur of God's creation leads us to wonder, "Who am I that you care about me?" The God who takes the time to design and maintain a garden of more than 30,000 species of orchids has all the resources needed to look after you. You are created with intimate care and precision. Every detail of your life was known by God before you were even born. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16 NIV).

You can rest today in the truth that God loves you and cares about the details of your life. God is big enough and resourceful enough to meet your needs.


Excerpted from Tending the Soul Copyright © 2011 by Anita Lustrea Melinda Schmidt Lori Neff. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ANITA LUSTREA has been with Moody Radio for nearly 30 years. The past 14 as executive producer and host of Midday Connection, an NRB award winning radio program. Besides speaking and writing, Anita's other loves include her husband Mike and college aged son John. Anita has co-edited and contributed to Tending the Soul: 90Days of Spiritual Nourishment (Moody Publishers 2011) and authored What Women Tell Me: Finding Freedom From the Secrets We Keep (Zondervan 2010). If you want to start a conversation with Anita that might go on for a long while, ask her about her beloved Maine! Anita hails from the coastal town of Blue Hill, but soon after headed to The County, Aroostook County, that is, and with Shades of Mercy, she hopes to put Aroostook County on the map.

MELINDA SCHMIDT graduated from Moody Bible Institute and holds a B.S. in Broadcasting-Bible from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. She is now a co-host of the radio talk show for women, Midday Connection (www.middayconnection.org) . Melinda has served as an editor and contributing author to Come to Our Table: A Midday Connection Cookbook, Daily Seeds from Women who Walk in Faith, and Tending the Soul. Married to Dave, they are parents of two young adults, Kelly and Kevin.

LORI NEFF is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and today she works as the Senior Producer of Midday Connection (www.middayconnection.org), a radio talk show for women. Lori has been general editor and writer for Come to Our Table: A Midday Connection Cookbook, and two devotional titles Daily Seeds from Women who Walk in Faith, and Tending the Soul. She lives with her husband, John, in the Chicago metro area. Check out Lori¿s website for more information www.lorineff.com.

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