Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mamma Mia! We’re really in Italy!

While taxiing down the runway, our plane suddenly came to a screeching halt.  “Sorry folks, we have a passenger with a medical emergency.  She’s being taken off the plane.”

This was the first leg of our first trip ever to Italy.  Not exactly how one would wish for one’s adventure to begin…

Minutes crawled past.  Most passengers were getting antsy about missing connections including my sweet husband and yours truly.  The pilot finally came back with, ”We’re now returning to the gate as some other passengers wish to deplane.  This will take a few minutes as we have to locate their bags underneath.”

Ninety minutes later, we resumed our take-off.  “Really,  Lord?”   I was immediately convicted with my attitude toward the poor person having the medical emergency, not even worrying about her, and worse…being angry with her for potentially making us miss our overseas connection. Angst at its’ finest…

Stop and pray for her.”  Oh, that still-small voice from the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, He didn’t quit there!

Be patientTrust me.”  The conversation playing in my brain resembled “shifting shadows” (See James 1:17 below). Waffling comes to mind!  Max Lucado often recalls when he gets impatient to not only pray, but to trust that God is protecting him from something else.  Busted.

Max doles out an excellent prescription for worry and fretting in his book, Fearless—Imagine Your Life Without Fear.  Watch what the first letter of every point spells:

“1 – Pray first.(I Peter 5:7)

2 – Easy, now. Slow down. (Psalm 37:7)

3 – Act on it.  Treat frets like mosquitoes!

4 – Compile a worry list.

5 – Evaluate your worry categories.

6 – Focus on today. (Hebrews 4:16)

7 – Unleash a worry army.

8 – Let God be enough. (Matthew 6:32-33)”  See pages 49-51 of Max’ book for a more detailed explanation.

Did you spell the letters out?  PEACEFUL… Should’ve had that packed in my purse!

By God’s grace, John and I made our connection and arrived in Rome.  We simmered down and began soaking in all the wonderful Italian culture.  “Thank you, Lord.  Please forgive my worry and selfishness.”

pic in front of st peter's basilica  DSCF0007 2

Do I ever love, and need to be reminded of  Lamentations 3:22-23:  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning:  Great is your faithfulness.”  My Life Application Bible offers, “God willingly responds with help.  His steadfast love and mercy are greater than any sin, and He promises forgiveness….Trusting in God’s faithfulness day by day makes us confident in His great promises for the future.” Whew.  Should’ve packed that too!

Indulge me in sharing just seven (!!!) serendipitous discoveries from Italia…

#1 – The Italians truly say, “Mamma Mia!” all the time.  They say it about traffic, food, their dilemmas, you-name-it.  Made me laugh every single time I heard it!

pic of mammamia restaurantDSCF0046 4

#2 – We never met a pasta OR a pizza we didn’t like.  Always fresh ingredients, crisp, hot crusts, melt-in-your-mouth sauces, Mamma Mia! Molto bene!  And, this’ll getcha:  the Italians, nine times out of ten, do not rush thru’ a meal.  Rushing is insulting to them.    Long conversations enhance long meals.  Chill.  Relax.  Ahhhhh.



#3 –  Salad dressing doesn’t exist.  Olive oil and balsamic vinegar dominates.  No wonder the Italians are so thin.  They’d have a coronary over our Ranch dressing in America!  Mamma Mia!

#4 – ALL Cathedrals, in ALL the cities we visited (Rome, Orvieto, Assisi, Siena and Florence) were amazing in unique ways.  The architecture, sculptures, ornate windows, etc. took our breath away. Heavenly.  Mamma Mia!

Sienas Duomo

#5 – Our first gelato, in Rome, still makes our mouths water! Mamma Mia!

First Gelato

#6 – We learned about two of many celebrities who hail from Italy:

First discovery: Pinocchio!!!  Who knew?

On our first walking tour in Rome, I asked Ricardo, our tour guide, why every souvenir shop sold Pinocchios.  After he looked at me as if I had four heads, he said, “Don’t you know-uh, Pinocchio-uh is from Eeeetahlee?” …all  the while shaking his hands. (My cousin reminded me Pinocchio’s Father was named Gepeto! Slightly  Italian, huh?)  pinocchio

Second discovery:  Andrea Bocelli.  Yep, from the Tuscany region.  Wow….

And, you won’t believe this!!!  We came so close to seeing Andrea Bocelli….sorta:  While we were in Assisi, many guys were setting up a stage where he’d perform the very next night right by the Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.   Mamma Mia!

pic of Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and conventCF0046 3

pic of stage for Andrea Bocelli in Assisi

Two days later in Florence, we read in our hometown paper via John’s i-pad,  that the Assisi monks sang “Happy Birthday” to Andrea prior to his performance, right there, right where we’d walked!  So close and yet so far! Mamma Mia!!!

7 – THE MAJOR HIGHLIGHT of our trip, was a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. (Our group only had twenty-three people in it.)  Our tour guide warned us, “If we don’t make it to the door by 7:00 p.m., they’ll quickly shut the door.  We do NOT want this to happen!”

You’d better believe all twenty-three out of twenty-three of us were on that bus at our appointed time and all twenty-three out of twenty-three of us were standing at that door, which is typically lined up with thousands of people, ready to enter.

Can you imagine, walking in, thru’ the Vatican Museum, winding our way up into the Sistine Chapel?   Just  our little group?   A reverent hush came over us.  You could have heard a pin drop.

One thing I’d prayed for during our trip to Italy, was for the Lord to show us “moments of awe” and to recognize them when they happened.  Needless to say, our time in the Sistine Chapel was exactly that. Bravo Michelangelo.  Bravo God.

This week, perhaps even today, take a moment to survey your day.  Look for a “moment of awe”.  Stop, and praise your Heavenly Father. (Key word:  “Stop”, if only for a second!)

Checkout Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts – A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are.  She’ll help show you how to watch for your many gifts/blessings/moments of awe. Take her challenge to record your own one thousand gifts.  You’ll be surprised how your perspective changes.  Mamma Mia!

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

‘Til   next time!

(This October  2012 entry is dedicated to a fine young man who’s married to a lovely gal, has one son, another baby on the way, all while he teaches and coaches football at a high school in Toledo, Ohio.  I’m choosing Matt Daniels today because the first time he ever stepped on Italian soil, and experienced all it entails, he had quite a life-changing Epiphany.  Matt, we get it!  May God Bless you and Jenny and Baby Joseph and Future Baby Daniels!  Ciao!!!)


Filed under Travel


“Here’s your all access pass.” Such were the words from The Big Kahuna of Women of Faith, as she gave my friend, Liz, and me “All Access” passes to wear throughout an arena in Columbus, Ohio, this past August.  Whoa!

Women of Faith Stage 450

Are you kidding me?  You mean we can go backstage, we can enter thru’ any door, we can go anywhere?  You really trust us?  (Even better, we don’t have to stand in line for the bathroom???)

I was already a tad giddy from dining with the speakers for that weekend. Look with me around our table: There sat Marilyn Meburg, Patsy Clairmont, Brenda Warner, Mark Lowry, Sandi Patty, Lisa Harper, Mandisa, and Amy Grant.

Not only did we eat dinner with them, we got to pray with them beforehand and ultimately hear from each of them during the two-day conference.  While I’m not a fan of the word “surreal”, that’s flat how it was.  Oh, and they seated us on the second row.  (Did I mention the bag of chocolates the speakers kept passing back and forth???  Slice of heaven!)

I’m sure the question now burning in your head is “Exactly HOW did you get to do this?” Just so happens my “friend named Liz”, who is truly a very dear, long-time friend and mentor of mine, is none other than Liz Curtis Higgs, author and speaker extraordinaire.

Liz would be joining Women of Faith the following weekend and wanted to go to the event as an attendee to get a feel for the program.  She invited me to go with her and well, really, who could refuse that?

Great speakers, meaningful teaching, over-the-top worship, staying up into the wee hours of the night talking, plus the road trip from Louisville to Columbus and back, made for a 100% blast-of-a-weekend.  Not to mention a favorite memory in our friendship journey!

While sporting our “All Access” passes, it occurred to me that each and every one of us, who believes in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, dying on the cross for each and every one of us, taking on our sins, and giving us His mercy and grace, has an “All Access” pass to the Kingdom, our Heavenly home.

John Stott, in his book Cross of Christ, said, “Until you see the cross as that which is done by you, you will never appreciate that it is done for you.”  Let that thought soak in for a minute…Stott also said, “The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us.”   Getting near enough equals one thing:  all access.

All Access Pass

So while the “all access” passes made us feel pretty special, let’s not forget our final destination.  Eternal life:  far more important than simply attending a conference here on earth!  Romans 5:1-2 tells us “…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Don’t miss this!

We are therefore able, as Hebrews 4:16 says, to “approach the throne of grace with confidence…”  ALL ACCESS.  Take your pass and run with it.


‘Til  next time!

(This October 14th,2012 entry is dedicated to a brave, new friend.  This inspirational guy received a call to the ministry while working in the corporate world.  He left  all of that behind, attended and graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary!!! After numerous meetings, hours upon hours of prayer, he and several others started a new church.  His name? Jay Roy.  His church?  Throne of Grace.  Kudos to Jay and Liz and  their two girls as well as to their new congregation, two members of which, happen to be some more brave soldiers:  our brother and sister-in-law, Billy and Marte Hoagland.  Please add Throne of Grace to your prayer list.  Check them out on Facebook:  Throne of Grace Community Church.)


Filed under Conferences