Tag Archives: North American Christian Convention

God Sees You When You Escape from a Monastery (Part 3 of 4: Do You Know Where God Is?)

The woefully weary minister reluctantly met with his doctor.  Guessing the doctor’s diagnosis,  his ears began shutting down.  Never mind his heart had shut down months before…

“Wayne, are you listening, buddy?”

An almost undetectable nod followed.

“This is in your best interest.  Best interest for your church.  Best interest for you and your health.  Best interest for your marriage.  Your church, can survive without you for a few months.”

“But who will take my place?  Who else knows how to run our church like me?  Who cares as much as I do?”  The all-about-me questions spewed forth like rain.

Doc answered sharply, “If you want to avoid a nervous breakdown, and you are very close to it right now, you must take a season to refill and recharge.  A sabbatical is no longer a suggestion.  This is mandatory.”

Wayne soon found himself registered for a retreat at a monastery.  As he drove up the long, winding hill, two and a half hours in the middle of nowhere, doubts hovered.  He forced himself to park his car.

bigstock-Madonna-del-Sasso-medieval-mo-26607995

He walked into the entryway.  Discovering several monks, he asked them where to register.  Funny, they didn’t answer him.  They didn’t talk at all.  Not one word.  One monk pointed to paper, the other to a map.  No talking.

Once in his cabin, Wayne also realized there were no phones, no TV, no wifi…Therefore, no checking email, no receiving texts, no voicemail, etc.  Only silence.

The monks did make some noise twice a day:  At five o’clock in the morning, they could be heard in the Chapel, singing psalms in Gregorian chants.  At five o’clock in the evening, they could be heard singing vespers.

The only time they used their voices, they were praising the Lord.  (Think about that for a minute…That very point stopped me cold.)

Day, after painful day while in the monastery, time crawled. Worse: No caffeine could be found anywhere.  By day three, Wayne’s eyes had been opened, but the pain was almost unbearable.

He was beginning to hear from God.  God was giving him a message. And he was slowly writing it down.

Yet, discontentment still gnawed at Wayne’s soul.  “If only I could escape, just for a few minutes…I’ve had enough of this place!” he told himself.

Mountains travel

Realizing the monks would be distracted while singing, Wayne made his escape during their praise time. He jumped in his car, and quickly drove to an internet café.  Ordering the biggest cup of coffee they had (!), he fired up his laptop, and placed a call to a friend.

Whispering, he informed his friend, “I’ve just escaped from the monastery!”

Can you imagine receiving such a phone call?  Can you hear God chuckling over Wayne’s efforts?

Yes, God saw Wayne escape from that monastery. And in His faithfulness, He softened Wayne’s heart, and taught him some lessons, we too, can learn.

After loading up on some of “the world” at the internet café, Wayne did in fact return to the monastery.  He finished out the week and savored the quiet.  Savored the sabbatical.  Studied God’s Word.  Filled legal pads.

Handwriting with broken pencil point on yellow pad

My husband, John, and I were blessed to hear Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, from New Hope Church in Hawaii (www.enewhope.org ), speak at the North American Christian Convention (NACC) a couple of weeks ago.  We could not take notes fast enough.  Very engaging, (the escape story was shared during his workshop) Wayne taught us how to care for our souls.

Wayne confessed to enduring “profound burnout, to the point of clinical depression.”   Years prior, he’d started a church which led to numerous church plants.  He wrote book, after book, after book.  He helped start a Bible college. He had a leadership role in every single endeavor he’d begun, squelching any ounce of free time.

He drew a huge picture of a cup.  Its’ contents were nearly at the top.  His point was, “We must be intentional about what fills our cup and what drains our cup.”

Cup with Levels

“If you keep draining your cup, physical consequences will take their toll on your body”:  an anxiety breakdown leads to an emotional breakdown which can lead to a full-blown nervous breakdown.

Wayne continued:  “Worse, these breakdowns eat up margin in our schedules.”  (Click here for more on Margins. If you want to read more from this 4-part series, click: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4)  One thing Wayne  learned to do is before he ever writes down an event or commitment on his calendar, he builds in the rests first.  MARGIN…White space in your calendar, rest notes in music, room to breathe…

 

Music sheet

 

He reminded us that God will hold us accountable for what He’s gifted us specifically to do.  It equates to five percent of your life.  He said that eighty-five percent of what you do, anybody can do.  Ten percent of what you can do, someone can do with some training.

This leaves five percent of what you, and only you can do.  Therefore, concentrate on the last five percent.  This is where the health of your soul is.  Don’t miss what God has for you.

Wayne shared several lessons he learned from his week at the monastery.  (You can hear him, or see him, depending on your preference, by going to www.catapes.com. Christian Audio Tapes is the company who made cd’s and DVD’s from the NACC.)  I’ll share three of these with you.

First was the five percent lesson.  Wayne added an exercise for us to do, suggesting we do this with our spouses.  (It can have positive results for your marriage as well.) Make a list of what fills your cup and what drains your cup.

His examples of what fills his cup are: water sports on the ocean, reading, riding horses, riding his motorcycle, and Bible study. (Let’s hope the Bible study comes before the motorcycle riding.  I’m just sayin’…) Filling vs. draining equals your passions vs. your “I-dread-this” list…

Teamwork

John and I had a hey day with this little exercise.  The next morning he scooped up our perpetual-puppy, Gracie, and said, “Gracie FILLS my cup!”  To which I retorted, “Wonderful!  Gracie DRAINS my cup!”  Get the picture from that very bad example?!!!

Remember John Piper telling us we can’t be gloomy and glorify God at the same time?  See…”God is on the Golf Course…”    Same idea.

My favorite lesson Wayne taught us is:  Refuel daily.  Be disciplined in your devotions and Bible study/reading.

He added, “By diligent daily reading, you get to know the characters in the Bible.  There’s not one scenario you’re going thru’ or will go thru’ that one of the characters in the Bible hasn’t gone thru’ already.” They’ll become your friends, divine mentors, if you will.

Divine mentor

They leave you “crumbs” to find which are the key to your sanity.   Wayne built this case beautifully and ended it with:  “If you never visit them (the characters in the Bible), how can they possibly help you?”  (Go to:  www.lifejournal.cc  for help with daily devotions.)

Hebrews 4:12 reinforces this point:  “But the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Finally, Wayne cited the second chapter of Mark,  where Jesus heals the paralyzed man.  He pointed out that the man had four friends to take him to Jesus.    Carol Kent calls these “stretcher bearers” and expounds on this concept in her compelling  book, When I Lay My Isaac Down.

When I Lay My Isaac Down

Wayne implored, “We must have friends who will take us to Jesus.” Friends who’ll take us out of harmful situations and place us in safe respites.  “No matter how sick you are, figuratively or literally, you must have friends who will care for you.  Close friends recognize your needs.”

Don’t “go it alone”…because God sees you, whether you’re escaping from a monastery (!), or just about your daily to-do’s.

Psalm 73:23 is a good reminder:  And, “yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to Pastor Wayne Cordeiro.  What a bummer to “have to” minister in Hawaii!  Kidding…Thanks for coming to Louisville and teaching us from your heart.   Thrilled you discovered fried green tomatoes!!! Your honesty and lessons you learned during the hard times are pure pearls for us to live by.  Blessings to you and your family and your ministry!)

pw

7 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Conferences, Life Lessons, Margin

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…

Red Traffic Light

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.

bobrussell

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!

1020x300web_01

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.

One Thousand Gifts

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…

Almost Amish Sleeth

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 )

IMG_0560

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.)

3 Comments

Filed under Conferences, Friends

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

1020x300web_01

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 )

Almost Amish Sleeth

24-6 Sleeth

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!)

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

Filed under Conferences

Throwing a Surprise Party is No Piece of Cake…

Ahhh, the web of lies we weave… If you’ve ever thrown a surprise party for that special someone, you know you begin with just one teensy-weensy white lie, which leads to another, and another, quickly mushrooming-n-multiplying until you have no idea WHO you told what.

My friend Michelle and I miraculously pulled off a colossal surprise party for our husbands, Mark and John.  At the time, lo these many years ago, they were turning the big 4-0.

bigstock-Birthday-Party-Invitation--Y-2898852

We were blessed with generous friends who offered their company’s facility for the venue.  We created “mock” invitations which invited ourselves to a black tie pre-Derby party.  We feigned excitement over dressing up for the party while our husbands groaned over donning tuxes.

The “real” invitations asked our friends to come to a surprise party for Mark and John and the dress code was casual.  The guys fell for it, hook-line-and-sinker.  Thus the birthday boys stood out just a tad in their tuxedos! The surprise party was a success and as they say, “a good time was had by all”…

John Tux

Everybody loves a good party.  We all know someone, who even in regular settings, is the “life of the party”.  Just off the top of my head I can name three of my friends who I seek out on a regular basis simply to soak in their life-of-the-party-positive-attitudes.

For the past several weeks, we’ve learned about all kinds of “chicks” from Holly Wagner and her fun book, God Chicks—Living Life as a 21st Century Woman. (If you’ve missed the earlier ones, you can click on these to learn more:  Just-B-U, Princess, Warrior, Champion, and Friend) Holly’s encouraging style shows us God created us to be ALL of these kinds of chicks.

God Chicks

 

This week we’ll learn three tips on how to be a Party Chick.   Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”  Holly encourages us in this chapter to love life.  She reminds us, “Jesus told His followers that He came to bring life…not death or destruction…but life.

The word Jesus used for ‘life’ is the Greek word zoe.  This word implies more than the breathe-in, breathe-out kind of life…meaning abundant, overflowing, rich, and plentiful life!”

 Tip #1:  Party Chicks live life with passion“We should be celebrating the life we have been given…not just trudging thru’ the days…”  Sigh.  I know this.  But, some days I just don’t feel like it. You?

I don’t want to walk the dog. I don’t want to iron. (Oh, we may just spend some time on that “hot” subject down the road….) I don’t want to straighten my desk.  (Do NOT ask my husband about “our” desk!) And I really, really, REALLY don’t want to cook!

Kitchen sign

Holly doesn’t let up on us, she digs deeper…. “We are given the moment called now. And this moment will not come againWe are to live each moment.  Time then becomes our responsibility.  We are given now only once.”

 “What are you doing with your now moment?”  Truthfully, I wanted to leave that little question out, but…  we’re in this together!   Let’s pray that the Lord will open our eyes to live in the now moment, as in right now.

Tip #2 – Party Chicks are joyful.  They choose “happy” in the midst of their circumstances.  I know, this is tough too.  Believe it or not, an overwhelming amount of research has proven that if you’ll just count your blessings, listing a few each day, your attitude, your health, and your relationships will all improve.

Best resource to turn your attitude right side up:  Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts –A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  I double-dog-dare you to try it!  Don’t forget she’s coming to Louisville for the North American Christian Convention and will be speaking at the Ladies’ Luncheon, and teaching a workshop on blogging Thursday, July 11th!  (www.gotonacc.org )  You do NOT want to miss the chance to hear her! (For a taste of her Gospel-laced wisdom, click on Magnificent Manifesto in Minneapolis… and visit her website:  www.aholyexperience.com )

One Thousand Gifts

Philippians 4:8-9 is an excellent challenge for all of us from the apostle Paul:  “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received, or learned from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV)

John and I were blessed a few years ago to hear Zig Ziglar speak about the above Scripture.  He used it to warn us about the “G-I-G-O” method.  He said, “If you put garbage into your mind, garbage will come out of your mouth or worse, into your lifestyle…Garbage in, garbage out…”

But… if you make a concerted effort to filter what goes into your mind, thinking on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, THEN look at the promise in that Scripture, “the God of peace WILL be with you.”

Tip #3:  A Party Chick’s words bring life.  Proverbs 18:21a says, “The tongue has the power of life and death…”(NIV)

Holly makes an eye-opening point:  “See the good…Be the encourager…Do NOT be the girl who is a master at life-liposuction…sucking ALL the life out of someone.”  (Think blood-sucking leech!  This goes right back to last week’s post about Healthy or Unhealthy Friendships…)

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Polar opposite from those lovely leeches, let’s camp on encouragement.  It has such a ripple effect.  Holly reminds us, “There is power in encouragement.  It is a gift that can change lives.”

Florence Littauer wrote a beautiful book called, Silver Boxes—The Gift of Encouragement.  It is all about the words we speak and their influence on others.  It is based on Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 Silver Boxes

Holly teaches, “The word encourage means ‘to put courage in’, and courage means ‘facing danger in spite of fear.’ As we encourage people, we are saying, ‘Keep going! You can do it!’”

To add icing to our party cake, on top of encouraging others, let’s throw in a little laughter.  Proverbs 15:13 in the NCV says, “A happy heart is like good medicine.”  (We talked about the benefits of laughter in the post Get Over the Guilt –Grab a Nap…from Feb. 13..)

Butter Babes laughing

My three friends I mentioned earlier, who are life-of-the-party-positive-attitude girls, ALL love to laugh.  They make laughter seem effortless.  Their outlook on life is contagiously optimistic.

Nicholas De Chamfort said, “The most wasted of all days is that during which one has not laughed.”  Let’s all go out and find something or someone who’s funny and be the best Party Chick God has called us to be!  May God be glorified.

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to my three Party Chick friends, whom you’ve heard me talk about before, and will again soon:  Nancy Aguiar, Jane Chilton and Gwen Paten. They lift my spirit every single time I’m around them and THAT, my friends, is worth a million bucks.)

6 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Conferences, Family, Friends, Life Lessons

Is It Possible to Have Lunch with Ann Voskamp and Breakfast with Matthew and Nancy Sleeth?

Yes, yes, and yes to LOADS of opportunities to meet and hear incredibly gifted authors and preachers at the North American Christian Convention (NACC), from July 9th to the 12th, right here in Louisville, Kentucky! (www.gotonacc.org)  ‘Tis time to get this on your calendar!

The Women’s Ministry portion of the convention has two exceptional offers which include the opportunity to hear Ann Voskamp speak at the Ladies’ Luncheon on  Thursday, July 11th, from 12:00-1:15 p.m.  Ann is the author of the best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts—A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  (A  must-read for us all.)

One Thousand Gifts

I was blessed recently to trek downtown with my sweet friend, Judy Russell, to taste what we’ll be having at the luncheon.  You will be delighted in so many ways, not to mention the piece de resistance, the chocolate mousse cake! Chocolate and more chocolate!!! (Hey, I’m not beyond bribing!!!) Add to that the chance to hear Ann speak and you have a win-win scenario.

I also had the pleasure, this past March, to meet Ann at a conference where she and Liz Curtis Higgs were speaking in Minneapolis, MN.  (to read more, click on….Magnificent Manifesto in Minneapolis…)  She is a profound and sincere speaker.  She was written up recently in Christianity Today for being one of the fifty most influential Christian Women in the country!

Ann Eliz and Judy

Believe it or not, our other speaker, Nancy Sleeth, was also one of the top fifty most influential Christian Women in the same article!  Nancy’s newest book, Almost Amish–One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Lifeis delightful.  She spoke at our Book Club last fall and was incredibly encouraging.  You’ll get the opportunity to have breakfast with her on Friday, July 12th.  It begins at 7:30 a.m.

Almost Amish Sleeth

To add further intrigue to that early morning breakfast (We must have incentive to rise so early, huh?!!!), Nancy’s husband, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, will also speak.  He, too, has a new book out (Quite the inspirational pair, aren’t they???), 24/6—A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life. The first chapter will hook you while the entire book enlightens and inspires you to cherish and savor the Sabbath.

24-6 Sleeth

Matthew and Nancy will be speaking on “A Simple Plan that Simply Works.”  You do not want to miss this opportunity!  Look at their company, Blessed Earth, and you can see where their hearts are. (www.blessedearth.org )

Judy and I were also blessed to get to taste our menu for the breakfast (Well someone must take the time to make sure you won’t be disappointed!!!) and it, too, will be delicious!  The breakfast will get your day off to a great start coupled with fantastic teaching and information from the Sleeths.

blessedearth_port_426 (800x533)

Both events, the luncheon and breakfast, are ticketed events.  You can purchase tickets via the North American Christian Convention’s website:  www.gotonacc.org

Please join me and several others at these highly inspirational events. Incredible workshops will also be offered.  Checkout the program line-up on the NACC website.   You will be BEYOND blessed.

The convention’s theme this year is VICTORIOUS:  When Life Seems Hopeless, Read the End of the Story—The Message of Revelation.  Meanwhile, please pray for all of these speakers, all of the details to come together, etc.  Pray for the attendees whose lives will be changed because of the Gospel.  VICTORIOUS!!!

See YOU in July!!!

‘Til next time!

4 Comments

Filed under Conferences

Vacation-mode to Real World-mode: Piece of Cake???

“Ladies  and Gentleman…  Greetings  from the flight deck.  This is your captain speaking.  We are number three for take-off.  Flight time to Cancun is two hours and forty minutes.  Current weather is clear skies with a temperature of eighty-four degrees.”

Whoa!  Vastly different scenario from the snow-covered runways we’d just left in Louisville!  Our “Mexican Adventure” was about to begin…

Airplane flying over tropical beach.

John and I were traveling with four other couples, all of which are dear, long-time friends.  We all met when our oldest children, now fast approaching their third decades of life, were starting grade school at Dunn Elementary.

While we frequently gather for dinner, or lately parties and weddings, we’d never traveled together collectively, ten for ten of us, much less stayed in the same house  for seven days.  So how did this transpire?

Group pic from Mexico0012

Last fall, at the most gracious invitation of one of these couples who’ve invested their lives helping and leading Boy Scouts, the ten of us attended a Fund Raiser Dinner for the Scouts ( www.scouting.org ).

Upon entering, we were presented with many tables of silent auction items. Each item was more tempting than the next.  Unbelievably, we all agreed on bidding for one particular vacation home in the Caribbean.  (Never imagining we’d win.) The description of this item read:  “Sleeps ten to eleven adults, located on the beach, with a pool….”  Say no more.

We appointed a designated bidder in our group, agreed on a do-or-die bottom-line price, and went along enjoying the evening.  Before we knew it, the auction began…

Fast-as-lightening verbiage spewed from the auctioneer’s microphone…

Quickly, the bidding boiled down to our friend against another guy across the room.  Palpable tension mounted.  Nine out of ten of us leaned closer and closer, toward the stage, while our bidder bravely held his own.

We were nearing our do-or-die bottom- line price when, the next thing we knew…..

“BANG!” went the gavel.

“SOLD!” went the Auctioneer.

bigstock-Gavel-12355394

What just happened?  Oh my word….WE WON!!!!

Now what?

WHEN can we go?” became the Land of Denial question.  How do you begin to coordinate ten calendars while most of us have aging parents whose health can turn in an instant???

Brave souls that we were, the girls soon met with calendars in tow to plan our “prize”.  (What a way to support the  Scouts!)  With one of each of our feet already planted firmly in the Land of Denial, we discovered just a few challenging  details:

feet in sand

“You’ll need to fly into the Cancun Airport.  We recommend you rent a car as the house is seventy-five miles south of Cancun.  Be certain you do not exceed any speed limits.  Be certain you only drink bottled water.  Pack antibiotics just in case.”   Alrighty  then.

Water bottles

Amazingly, we found a week in February we could all go.  The list-making ensued.

The Lord truly helped orchestrate our trip or it would have never happened with all ten of us.  He also protected us while we were there, not to mention the well-being of our parents back in the States.

 While in the Land of Denial, some of our more amusing challenges included watching the ever-changing speed limits on the highway.  With our two mini-vans (!), our two very competent drivers, their co-pilots (usually not the spouses…),and a few back seat drivers (which usually were the spouses, thank you very much) navigated just fine.

If only you could see the dirt road we had to traverse just to get to the road to our house!!!  Interspersed with iguanas and major, no-foolin’-major,  dips-n-holes, we finally hit concrete toward the house.

Iguana on the rocksDSCF0047

A lovely concierge named Guillet greeted us upon our arrival.  Our neighbors from Louisville, Kentucky, came down the beach to say “hello”. (No, I am not kidding!)  Remember, we were in Akumal, Mexico!!!

And so the week  went, one “gift” after another.

Ann Voskamp, who wrote one of my all-time favorite books, One Thousand Gifts, challenges us to constantly be on the lookout for blessings, or “gifts” from God, from  the littlest to the biggest of things.  She says, “Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on.”

One Thousand Gifts

Here’s a sampling of “gifts” from our trip:

Picture-perfect weather every day.

The only-God-could-have-created-this-beauty of the beaches and Caribbean waters.

palm tree on beachMG_0046

Swaying palm trees.

Take-your-breath-away sunrises by morning.

sunrise on beachMG_0019

Brilliant stars, too numerous to count, by night.

NO health issues!!!

Delicious food, both in restaurants and prepared by a sweet couple, Noemi and Jorge, in our house.

Noemi and Jorge cooked for us twice while we were there.

IMNoemi and JorgeG_0040

I’m still dreaming of the gargantuan bowl of homemade, to-die-for- guacamole that Jorge whipped up both nights!

Jorge making guac

The lizard we spied scurrying along the ceiling in our kitchen never made it upstairs to our bedroom!!!

We all read LOTS OF BOOKS!

Writing while basking on the beach!

Daily walks on the beach.

NO SCHEDULE!

This is worth repeating:  NO health issues!!!

TWO POINTS I’d like to bring home: 

 1 – While it is tough returning to the real world from a vacation, it is possible to continue to count your blessings regardless of your surroundings. (Sorta/kinda a piece of cake–perhaps more petit-four in size.)

And, while returning to cold February temps in Kentucky wasn’t ideal, and while the gray skies and leafless trees seem not-so-much-a-piece-of-cake compared to the tropical palms of Mexico, we remain blessed.  May we see things with your eyes, Lord.

Ann maintains that “…ingratitude makes the poison course.  The cure against thanklessness’s bite?  The remedy is in the retinaHow we behold determines if we hold joy.  Behold glory and be held by God.” 

Prior to that, she reminds us, “Without God’s Word as a lens, the world warps.”

Super exciting:  Ann Voskamp  is COMING TO LOUISVILLE for the North American Christian Convention, July 9th – 12thShe’ll be speaking at the Women’s Luncheon, on the 11th and will be leading two workshops on blogging that afternoon.  For ticket information, please visit www.gotonacc.org .

 Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to read her excellent blog.  Go to:  www.aholyexperience.com

  It’s EQUALLY important to count the blessings of friendships.

My sweet little small group of Bible study buddies is currently studying Angela Thomas’ Brave—Honest Questions Women Ask.  We have found it very helpful and empowering.  Angela takes challenging topics, such as “I am worn out,  I am undisciplined, I am trembling inside, I am suffering a thorn, etc.” and gives us promises from God’s Word on how to survive.

Brave

As a bonus, we have all loved discovering “pearls” or gifts Angela drops into each week’s lesson.  One discovery is a beautiful phrase:  “soul refreshers.”  What are “soul refreshers”?

 Soul refreshers are “Godly friends who refresh your soul.”  I pray as you read this, you’re saying to yourself, “Oh, yeah, mine are so-and-so…”  Angela adds, “If you don’t have a soul-refreshing friend, would you write a prayer asking God to bring you one, OR to bring YOU to someone who needs such a friend?”

Angela took us to I Corinthians 16:18 in the NCV,  where Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, “he said that his friends Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus ‘have refreshed my spirit and yours.  You should recognize the value of people like these.’”

 Don’t miss that point!  “We should RECOGNIZE THE VALUE of people like these.”

I love what The Message says:  “They’ve refreshed me by keeping me in touch with you.  Be proud that you have people like this among you.”

group of girls pic from MexicoDSCF0012

group of guys pic from Mexico

Angela offers three excellent suggestions for us all:

(1)    “We carve out time for Godly friendship, even when there is distance involved.”

(2)    “We let them know in thoughtful ways how much they mean to us.”

(3)    “We give to them as they have given to us by listening, remembering, and laughing.”

While I’d like to quit there, Angela takes it one step further (Yes, sometimes she steps on our toes!!!).  She says, “While we’re at it, as the Holy Spirit is really convicting me in the moment:  Am I a soul refresher?  For  my husband?  My  children?  My  neighbor down the street?  Oh may it be.”

Lord would you just show each and every one of us who it is, perhaps this very day, who you would have us ‘refresh’ in you?  We thank you and praise you for the many blessings of friendship you so graciously have given us.  Amen and Amen.

  ‘Til  next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to SIX  fantastic couples:  One very obvious one: To the multi-talented Noemi and Jorge, of Akumal, Mexico, who can seemingly cook anything, delighting ten-for-ten of us every single time! To Kathy and Joe Daniels who got this group of truly twelve together in the first place.  Kathy is still with us, right up in Columbus, Ohio, while her precious Joe, is with our Lord in His Heavenly Home, patiently awaiting us to talk football with him.  We had more fun laughing at what Joe would have said to some of our um, “antics”.  Finally, let’s not forget the ever -patient FOUR couples we just traveled with:  Randy, our birthday-boy-of-the-week, Happy 56th!!!, Susan, Jon, Denise, Steve, Bev, John and Jayne:  we’re a/k/a “The Ya-Ya’s and the Yo-Yo’s”. Another  story for another day.  Thanks for the   memories!!!  Love all y’all….You define “Soul Refreshers”.)

photo

 

8 Comments

Filed under Friends, Travel, Uncategorized