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 patient. Trust 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.”
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!
#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!
#5 – Our first gelato, in Rome, still makes our mouths water! Mamma Mia!
#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?)
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!
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!!!)