Monthly Archives: July 2013

God is on the Golf Course…(Part 2 of 4: Do You Know Where God Is?)

One sultry summer evening, a room full of hopeful parents gathered…

“Okay, folks! Listen up!  Here’s the schedule of our team’s matches and tournaments.  You’ll also see dates where it’s your turn to bring Gatorades, water, snacks, etc.

…Additionally, you’ll need to get a Parks’ Pass for your son.  Make sure the uniform shirts fit.  Someone please coordinate carpools for the ones who aren’t old enough to drive to these courses…”

The Golf Coach rattled on and on, and on, the information overflowing somewhere, no longer connecting in our brains, evaporating outside of them…

Remember the snake in Disney’s cartoon movie, The Jungle Book?  He had those scary, hypnotic, swirling eyes?  Such was the glazed-over look for us Moms of these boys on Christian Academy of Louisville’s High School Golf Team. The Dads were excited.  We Moms were already mentally managing schedules. Frantically filling in our calendars, thinking, “Oh boy….here we go…”

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Golf season is fun, just busy.  Hard to adjust from a slow summer’s pace, to a several-match-per-week-during-the-school-year schedule. Especially if you have more than one child, you’re presented with more hurdles to jump.

Most sports are gearin’ up this time of year.  (This applies to you football and soccer moms, and any-other-team-sport or vocation mom.)  If you’ve got that schedule or schedules in hand, I’m praying right now you’ll have one of your best seasons yet.

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Allow me to share with you a lesson I learned a few years ago:

God is on the golf course, (football or soccer field) and anywhere else you lookBut, you must look.

Walk with me for a few holes on Iroquois’ course…

Better than scorin’ an eagle on the golf course, several years ago God orchestrated a meeting of someone who’s become a dear friend and mentor in Phoenix, Arizona named Naomi Rhode.  Wise woman.

Gwen Paten, Jane Chilton, Elizabeth Hoagland, Naomi Rhode and her daughter Katherine Magnuson

Gwen Paten, Jane Chilton, Elizabeth Hoagland, Naomi Rhode and her daughter Katherine Magnuson

In one of her visits to Louisville, over lunch one day, Naomi could tell I was beyond frazzled.  She assessed my emotional health as if she could see into my soul.  She could tell I was simply going thru’ the motions, in a fog, and not enjoying much of anything.

This could parallel a slice into the woods. (Hunting for wayward golf balls is not a talent of this Golf  Mom.)

Getting me “out of the woods”, Naomi gave me a prescription.  “Read this book.  Do what it says.  Call me when you’re finished.”

The book?  Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper.  It’s a small, almost pocket-sized paperback book, easily tote-able wherever you go.

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Think an “even par” for a final score and you’ve got the essence of this book.  Think “seven under”, or “a miracle” (!), and you’ve now grasped and absorbed the aim of the book.

John Piper says, “The question I’m trying to answer is ‘Who is Jesus Christ’? “Seeing and savoring Jesus Christ is the most important seeing and savoring you will ever do.”

The aim of the book:  “…is that you see Him as solid truth and savor Him with great joy.”

Piper helps us see with the eyes of our hearts, with spiritual eyes.  Additionally, he helps us savor Jesus Christ as the treasure He is, one whom we cherish, admire, and prize.

Chest of treasure

All ten chapters are full of Scripture, pointing us to seeing and savoring Christ. Throughout the book, you’ll see how Piper, thru’ God’s Word, teaches and transforms us the readers, with Jesus as our role model.

My favorite chapter is called, “The Indestructible Joy—The Gladness of Christ”.  Jesus tell us, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 and 17:13)

Piper also has a sense of humor:  “It is not glorious to be gloomy.”  You’re not spreadin’ joy if you look like you have a weather system hovering over your head.

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One of Piper’s best, most often seen quotes is:  “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  That fateful day at the lunch table with Naomi, it’s an easy guess I was gloomy, not glorifying the Lord in any way, shape, or fashion.

Piper adds Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Therefore, joy in suffering…

The Apostle Paul tells us how“You become imitators…of the Lord, for you have received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” (I Thessalonians 1:6)

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I’ve since given this book to countless friends.  It’s well worth your time. My copy actually has some of our middle son’s, Gordy’s, golf scores in it from that day I traipsed over the course at Iroquois, and later several other courses.

John Piper taught me to savor the fairways, the greens, the trees, and the time with Gordy, watching him master the game of golf.  Rather than groaning, which I confess I did more than once, God opened my eyes to my surroundings, and His presence, all thanks to Naomi’s wise counsel and Piper’s insight of seeing and savoring Christ.

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Do I sometimes forget God’s always with us?  (Notice the bracelets the girls are wearing in the picture near the beginning with Naomi.  They’re engraved with  Matthew 28:20:  “And lo, I am with you always…”) Not to mention forgetting His many blessings He’s showered me and my family with?  Absolutely. But because of God’s grace and mercy, He keeps pursuing us.

One more favorite aspect of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ is a prayer at the end of each chapter.  Here are a few pearls from the chapter on indestructible joy:

“Father, it is a great comfort to us that you and your Son are never glib and never gloomy.  We stand in wonder that the light of Jesus’ joy makes a rainbow in the tears on his face.  We want to be strong and unshakable in the joy of our faith.  O God, fulfill in us the purpose of your Son in promising that his joy would be in us and that our joy would be full.  Make the fruit of the Spirit—joy—flourish in our lives.  Waken our slumbering souls from the sleep of listlessness.  Take away the lukewarmness of our hearts.  Fan the flame of zeal for the glory of your name.  May Christ so dwell in our hearts with his indestructible joy that day by day we are conformed more and more to his glad image.  And so may we be a place of refuge and eternal refreshment for a hopeless, joy-seeking world of people who do not know they are starved for the glory of the gladness of God in Jesus Christ.  In His name we pray, amen.”   (You can learn more about John Piper by visiting his website at:  www.desiringgod.org )

 May we find God on the golf course, or any other sport or vocation your child may be practicing for,or if your children are out of the nest, may you find Him with you throughout your day,  along with JOY in Jesus Christ.

 ‘Til next time!

(This post has a two-fold dedication:  First, to our middle son, Gordy.  He’s still a great golfer today.  He’s all grown up, living in Lexington, working in commercial real estate, for Block and Lot Real Estate.  www.balrealestate.com He has the patience of Job which is what makes him such a great golfer.  He loves the Lord and spreads the Gospel wherever he goes.  Dad and I are so proud of you, Gordy!  God Bless you. See you soon!

Eliz and Gordy

Second:  To my dear friend and mentor, Naomi Rhode, whom I don’t see often enough, but in whom I find great joy.  I’m forever indebted, as are so many of us, for your dedicated, devoted, discipling discernment which you share with effervescent JOY!!!  Hurry back to Louisville!!!

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God is in the Delivery Business…(Part 1 of 4: Do You Know Where God Is?)

Crunch time…

After months, and months, and months of planning, Monday, July 8th finally arrived.  Hundreds of people would soon be setting up exhibit booths, stages, wiring mics, speakers, more setting up of chairs, tables, workshops rooms, and meeting speakers at the airport, etc.  Most downtown hotels would be scrambling, checking in several thousand attendees.

My responsibility for this first day was meeting a furniture delivery guy for our twenty-by-twenty foot exhibit booth.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, I was running late.  Rushing downtown.  (Major oxymoron.)

Driving in downtown Louisville is not in my comfort zone.  Murphy’s Law resumed and I missed the street I needed, taking me way out of my way.  My cell phone chirped as I hit yet another red light.  Sigh…

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Thankfully it was the furniture company and they were just loading up the truck.  That bought me time to get in the parking garage.

Quickly I snagged a parking place and dashed thru’ the pedway.  It was a mere four hundred degrees, akin to a tubular glass oven, thanks to our heat and humidity.  Finally I found our exhibit booth in the abyss of the convention center.

Hurrying-while-frazzled in horrific heat-n-humidity makes for ugly results.  Trust me on that one.  Oh, but I was on a mission to find out if anyone would be on hand to help unload the furniture.

Only girls were manning our booth, so I prayed we’d find some helpful, strong soul along the way.  Lo and behold, in bright, neon green shirts, there was an army of God’s angels.  Well, they were guys with the words, “NACC Volunteers” on the back of their neon green shirts, but one in the same for this frantic female!

I reported the good news to Allison, my “furniture friend”.  Thankfully, the day continued to improve.  Her furniture delivery guy found the loading dock and “God’s angels” proceeded to help unload the furniture.  We had it in our booth in no time.

God has a sense of humor, too.

 Follow me with these connections:

I was blessed to talk with Bruce, who happened to be our furniture delivery guy that day.  I introduced him to my friend, our Women’s Ministry Coordinator, Judy Russell.  Bruce  had heard her husband, Bob, speak before.  (www.bobrussell.org)  He excitedly shared with her how Bob had truly blessed his life.

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Next Bruce and I talked about the owners of Summer Classics, my friend Allison and her family.  Summer Classics is where Bruce works.  This amazing furniture store generously allowed us to borrow some of their beautiful things for our booth. (www.summerclassics.com ) Bruce said, “You have no idea what a difference it makes to work for Christians.”

Summer Classics

Allison and her family attend Northeast Christian Church.  Their senior minister is Bob Cherry.  His wife, Vicki Cherry, was also on our Committee.  (www.necchurch.org )

After about our third trip of unloading, Bruce asked, “What is all this for, anyway?”

I said, “Oh, we’re setting up for the North American Christian Convention.”  I told him about the speakers, the expected crowd, the theme “Victorious”, etc.  (www.gotonacc.org )

He said, “Oh my gosh!  I had no idea!  I am coming to this very convention!

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Can you hear heavenly laughter?  Is God in the details, or what? Friends, God is in the delivery business!!!

He delivered Christian delivery men with our furniture.  And, a message many of us need to hear:  God seemed to be sayin’, “Elizabeth, I’ve got this one…”

The  exact same phrase was uttered by my dear friend and mentor, Liz Curtis Higgs two days later.  I’d emailed her on Wednesday morning asking her to pray Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, in to Louisville.  Ann’s flight was due to arrive at the same time severe storms were predicted.

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Additionally, another one of our speakers, Nancy Sleeth, would be driving in from Lexington at that same stormy hour.   Liz said, “I’m praying and will be praying, but rest assured, God’s got this.”  Okay, Lord, I’m listening…

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Never mind that this very same week, Liz Curtis Higgs’ most excellent blog was on Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Her message sums it all up:  Fret not…Hello? (www.lizcurtishiggs.com )

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Pictured from left to right: Nancy Sleeth, Judy Russell and Ann Voskamp

God continued to cover us the entire week.  Our women’s luncheon sold out in advance for the first time.  We served eight hundred and fifty women on Thursday.  We were beyond blessed by Ann Voskamp’s message.

A couple of favorite quotes include:

“When you let something steal your joy, you let that something steal your strength.”

 “Joy is a function of gratitude and gratitude is a function of perspective.”

 “The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ.”  Yes, I’m listening!!!  Are you?

Ann’s blog is another resource you do not want to miss:  www.aholyexperience.com

The next morning, at our minister’s wives’ breakfast (which also sold out), we were blessed to hear Nancy and Matthew Sleeth’s message.  They coached us on how to simplify our lives and savor the Sabbath.  (www.blessedearth.org )  Their message paralleled Ann’s.  One quote in particular stopped my heart:

“The more we simplify, the greater our joy will be.  And the more we give up, the greater our blessings will be.”

Count your blessings.  Wield your pen (your “sword” as Ann said).  See if your attitude doesn’t change for the better.

God kept on blessing:  workshops filled, evening sessions were packed out.  Countless individuals were filled to overflowing.  IF you missed the NACC, you can go to their website to order copies of various sessions.

So the next time you’re on the frazzled side, STOP.  “Fret not!” Remember, “God’s got this.”

God is Sovereign and we must remember to scoot over to the passenger seat and let Him drive.

Yes, God is in the delivery business!

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to our “furniture friends”, Allison, Bruce, and Fred at Summer Classics. Your alls’ generosity made us “look good” for the whole week!  You went above and beyond given this week is Homearama too!  For you readers out there near Louisville, run, don’t walk to Westport Village and visit Summer Classics.  My husband, John, will tell you it’s been a “bad” discovery for our wallets!  Wink.)

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The North American Christian Convention is HAPPENIN’ in Lousiville THIS WEEK!!!

Here’s just one more reminder to head downtown to the Commonwealth Convention Center if you are anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky this week!  The North American Christian Convention (NACC) begins this Tuesday night, July 9th and runs until noon on Friday, July 12th.

There are multiple sessions with phenomenal speakers/authors/preachers.  You can find the schedule by going to www.gotonacc.org

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The theme of the NACC is “Victorious”.  No telling what the Lord has in store for all of us!  I plan on taking lots of notes and will be sharing some pearls with you in the near future!  Neat exhibit booths will be plentiful as well.

Don’t miss this opportunity! Here’s a sampling of the keynote speakers and workshop leaders:  Matt Proctor, Jon Weece, Kyle Idleman, Aaron Brockett, Eric Metaxas, Wayne Cordeiro, Ken Davis, Joni Erikson Tada, Kurt and Kristen Sauder, Nancy and Matthew Sleeth, Les and Leslie Parrott, and Ann Voskamp, just to name a few.

I am blessed to be helping with some of the Women’s Ministry portion of the program.  The offerings for women alone are outstanding.  We have our sweet friend, Judy Russell, to thank for this.  She has thought of every single detail (and then some) to make your experience more than worthwhile!  Come see us at the Women’s Ministry booth.  It will be right next to the Registration Desk.

Judy and Eliz

There are only a few tickets left for the Women’s Luncheon with Ann Voskamp (www.aholyexperience.com) as our featured speaker on Thursday, July 11th.  Ann will also be leading a workshop on blogging following the luncheon!

One Thousand Gifts

Another spectacular offering is for breakfast on Friday, July 12th  at  7:30 a.m.  BOTH Matthew and Nancy Sleeth will be speaking. (www.blessedearth.org )

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Last I heard over eight thousand people had registered, and that was over a month ago.  You do not want to miss this convention!

Please keep this week’s event in your prayers, down to the last detail.  Please pray for attendees, for health, for the speakers, for the volunteers, for all details to flow smoothly, and most of all, for God to be glorified in every event and every conversation.

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to my very devoted friend who has a huge heart for Women’s Ministry, Judy Russell.  She said a few years ago she would not chair this part of the convention again, and here she is!!!  I believe it’s because the Lord gifted her for this and she knows what it takes.  She makes our heads spin…and she makes things happen.  Blessings and thanks go to you, Sweet Judy!  God Bless You!)

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Encouraging Perspective on Death—When it SEEMS too soon…

Two words spewed by my math teacher used to cause me to hyperventilate…

Two words included in our homework helped me find an excuse not to complete the assignment.

Which two words equate to a guaranteed nightmare?

Story problem…

Ah well, some of you are laughing.  Some of you love story problems.  That’s your problem! Just means you’re a great deal smarter than this math-phobic-girl.

I forgot how much I detested story problems until our boys got to be old enough to have them in their homework.  Thankfully hubby John loves math.  Opposites attract, obviously!

My all-time favorite comic from The Far Side shows a pitiful, bewildered looking man speaking to an angel at the pearly gates.  The angel informs him, “Okay, now listen up…  Nobody gets in here without answering the following questions:  A train leaves Philadelphia at 1:00 p.m.  It’s traveling at 65 miles per hour.  Another train leaves Denver at 4:00…Say, you need some paper?”  It’s entitled “Math Phobic’s Nightmare”. 

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Today I’d like to tell you about a discovery of the best-of-the-best kind of “story problem”.  This excerpt I’m about to share with you will encourage you, especially if you’ve lost a loved one and their death seemed too soon.

Chris and Kerry Shook have written an excellent book called, One Month to Live—30 Days to a No-Regrets Life.  It’s a resource to read over and over.

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They tell of a pastor from Owensboro, Kentucky named Jess Moody.  Some of my relatives knew him.  Jess became friends with a young couple in his church.  One day the husband came to his office and was clearly upset.

He said, “Jess, I’ve just heard the most awful news.  My wife has terminal cancer, and it’s spread all over her body.  The doctors have told us she has only weeks, not even months to live.  Jess, she’s at the hospital.  She’s asking for you.  We don’t know how to handle this.”

Jess went to the hospital immediately.  The young wife and mother asked him, “I remember in one of your sermons you said a thousand years is like a day to God and a day is like a thousand years.  Is that true?  Is a thousand years like a day to God?”

Jess answered, “Yes, it’s in the Bible.”

2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.” (NIV)

Psalm 90:4 parallels this, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (NIV)

The wife then said, “Good, because I’ve been doing the math, and I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour.  I’ll be leaving my husband and the children soon.  He may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven.  When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour?  Did you just go to the office, or were you running errands?  I’ve missed you.’

My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me.  When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today?  Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours.  I wonder how you are doing, because mommies don’t like to be away from their children long.’”

Jess Moody said two weeks later she went to be with the Lord, and the last thing she said to her husband was, “I love you.  Take care of our children.  I’ll see you in an hour.”

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Now that’s an eternal perspective! (This story can be found on pages 218-219 in the Shooks’ book.)

That’s the best kind of story problem for two reasons:

1 – The precious young wife and mother did the math for us!!!  Biblical math! Heavenly math!

2 – It gives us an encouraging eternal perspective along with the reminder that God’s timing isn’t ours and we must trust in His sovereign will.

Last week we talked about dealing with a sudden death.  Click on… Losing a Loved One Overnight…  We are still reeling over losing Stuart Thompson. But, we know we will see him again.

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Pictured from left to right:  Frank Thompson, Stuart Thompson, Woody Hoagland and Jonathan Slevin on June 20th, 2013.

As my friend Cynthia Kragthorpe said during hard times, “Last time I checked, God was still on the throne.  We cannot question His timing.”  She really encouraged me then and I’ll never forget her words.

I pray you may find encouragement to press on today, thanks to the Shooks sharing the young couple’s story of facing a death that seemed to soon.  There are countless ones of you out there who have endured a similar scenario.

Sweet Kristen Sauder, who I’ve talked about before (www.furtherstillminstries.com ), wrote a wonderful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal—A Journey through Luke 15.  As God would orchestrate, my reading for today says, “Securing a spot in God’s family doesn’t change the fact that you and I must keep hoofing it.

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Kristen gives us three great Scriptures encouraging us to press on:

Ephesians 4:1b says, “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Colossians 1:10 says, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy  of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”

I Thessalonians 2:12, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

Let’s not forget to keep Kristen in our prayers as she is patiently enduring cancer.  Her weekly blog not only has updates, but great faith-building words. (See her website above.)

Share this excellent Heavenly “story problem” with your friends and family!  Be encouraged.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Blessed Fourth of July!!!

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to two very dear friends and mentors of mine.  Both of these gals endured the tragic loss of an adult child.  They encourage me each time I’m with them to press on.  Their faith is their rock they cling to daily.

Please join me in praying for Betsy Heady, whose son, Paul, died at the age of forty.  And my friend in Indiana, Shirley Garwood, whose daughter Susan, died shortly after delivering her precious daughter Emma, Shirley’s beloved granddaughter, who’s now eight years old.

May God continue to bless you, Betsy and Shirley, and hold you tightly as you shine the light of Christ on us and many others.)

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