Tag Archives: Florence

What’s on your Bucket List? NO REGRETS…

Could there ever be a better cast movie than The Bucket List ?  (Let’s push pause for a second, because if you haven’t seen the movie, read no further ‘til you have.  It’s a must-see.)

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman simultaneously steal the show while attempting to cross off all items on their Bucket List.  (“Bucket List” being defined as “all things you wish to do before you kick the bucket”.)

Bucket List

Two favorite lines from the movie include one from Jack Nicholson, who plays Edward Coleman, billionaire hospital magnate.  “I run hospitals, not health spas!!” This was a ploy to ensure each hospital room had two beds and no  private rooms.  He’d no sooner sputtered that phrase when suddenly, he fell ill and became one hundred percent infuriated upon landing in a hospital room with Freeman for a roommate!  Oh, the irony…

Second favorite line comes from Morgan Freeman, who plays blue-collar mechanic Carter Chambers. He shrieks, while skydiving toward Edward, something totally out of character, akin to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum: “I hate your rotten guts!”  Seems he failed to mention his fear of heights!!!  Hysterical.


We, the audience, become completely enthralled with their mission to complete their Bucket List. Edward Coleman’s wealth allows them no limits, so quite the fun fantasy.

How ‘bout you? Do you have a Bucket List? Thought much about it?

The past couple of years have found John and me attending more and more funerals. Maybe you’ve noticed this too. Many of us say, “Cancer’s just more prevalent.” Last week at a bookstore, I found myself, yet again, buying a box of sympathy cards. Catch my drift?

Carter Chamber’s advice to Edward Coleman bodes well for us all: “May you find the joy in your life.” Nehemiah 8:10b reminds us, “…do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

After losing three dear friends within a thirteen-month period, John and I decided to mark off one thing real fast from our Bucket List: a trip to Italy. No regrets there!

Sadly, my Mother’s first words upon my Father’s death did include words of regret. It’s my personal goal, and I pray will become yours as well, to live a life with no regrets. Queen of the “shoulda-coulda-wouldas”, living with no regrets is no piece of cake. Already I could give you a mega list over raising our boys.

“I should have read to them more. I should have held them more. I should have played with them more. I should have prayed with them more. I should have planted more seeds of God’s Word in them. I didn’t teach them enough before leaving for college! I should have cooked more.” (Just seeing if you’re still awake…you know that last phrase is not true!!!) Oh, but the list rattles on…and on….and on.

Chris and Kerry Shook have co-authored a phenomenal book called One Month to Live–Thirty Days to a No Regrets Life—They point out that most tombstones include a date of birth and a date of death, separated by a little dash. Here’s their CHALLENGE: “You get to choose how to spend that little dash of time between the two dates of your earthly existence.

What are you spending yours on?  Are you living the dash, knowing fully who you are and why you’re here?  Or dashing  to live, hurriedly spending precious time chasing things that really don’t matter to you? “

Ouch.  That hurts.  Daring dasher that I am… My perpetual challenge du jour is “beat the clock”.  Sigh…Can you relate?

Beat the clock runner

The Shooks continue, “The psalmist prayed, ‘Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should’  (Psalm 90:12 TLB).  God wants us to realize that our time on earth is limited so we will spend it wisely.  But He gives us the choice about how we spend this most valuable currency.”

Don’t you love those last four words?  “This most valuable currency.”  Oh, that we’d really choose to cherish each day.   Corrie Ten Boom said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration but its donation.”

Allow me to introduce you to a dear friend and mentor of mine who recently completed an over-the-top bucket list item and quite a donation to the people in Florence, Italy.  Knowing she had a “milestone” birthday (Not tellin’, y’all have to guess…), and being the consummate planner, this smart gal researched all avenues of how she could spend a chunk of time living in Italy.

No easy feat given she’s a successful business woman, speaker, coach, and writer in  Louisville, Kentucky.  She also travels frequently for business and pleasure.  Oh, and small detail:  she’s married to an equally successful businessman, Stephen Tweed, who also travels, speaks, leads seminars, etc.

How in the world she made it all work with both of their schedules remains a mystery to me!!!  But….I’m thrilled to tell you that John and I had the pleasure of spending three nights with her in her lovely palazzo in Florence, Italy!

Sunset in Florence

Please meet Elizabeth Nardi (Yes, very Italian!) Jeffries.  Elizabeth did what she set out to do: She and Stephen lived in Florence for three months.  You may checkout her very fun and informative blog, chronicling her adventures by going to:  www.90daysinflorence.blogspot.com

EJ & me in Florence

Much more than just accomplishing a “check off” of the ole’ Bucket List, Elizabeth was determined to meet and get to know her neighbors, her landlords, the restaurateurs, the people who worked in the nearby market, the gal at the gelato store, the nail tech, shop keepers, church members, etc.  Shining the light of Christ and doing what Jesus did, building relationships one by one, were her goals.  She lived out Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  I’d say Elizabeth’s “dash” is full from Florence!

So don’t miss the point here.  Yes, it’s all well and good to have a Bucket List.  But, it’s more important  to do as Elizabeth did and build relationships along the way, with no regrets..  I love the quote, “What in the world are you doing for heaven’s sake?”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Let’s ask God this week  to show us people along our paths.  May we all shine the Light of Christ to those we meet along the way, keeping eternity in our hearts, with no regrets..


Erma Bombeck said, “There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there.”  Don’t be packing your dreams away…Live the dash, with no regrets..

As Thanksgiving Week approaches, I pray you and your family have a most Blessed, Happy Thanksgiving and share your blessings with your loved ones.  ‘Til next time…

(This November 2012 blog entry is dedicated, bet you can guess, to my friend Elizabeth Nardi Jeffries. Elizabeth dared to dream and blessed a boatload of people in the process!  Happy 70th Birthday!!!  Oops, I told.  Well, no one will believe it. Let’s have some more  gelato!  Ciao!)



Filed under Book Reviews, Travel

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