Paris Creative Retreat...

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Paris Creative Retreat...

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We are 6 days into our Paris & Bruges 10 day Art & Faith Creative Retreat!  It has gone by SO fast, I can't believe we all arrived last weekend and it's already almost the weekend again.

Each day has been full of adventure and new things and these ladies have been so much fun to share Paris with!  Most of the ladies have been to my Bellagio, Italy Creative Retreats so it's been fun to show them a new city.  Paris is completely different than Bellagio though... so getting used to a big city takes some getting used to.  With a group of 18 in Paris I have found some interesting challenges.   Why do Parisian stores and restaurants not like groups of people?  Isn't is more money for them?  hahaha  

Well anyways, I've realized that the next retreat here (in 2020) will have to be a bit smaller because they just don't like to accomodate that many people.  I'd share a story about Ralph Lauren's hostess at his restaurant... but I won't.  YIKES.   Thankfully these ladies have been so great and have really showed so much kindness and love everywhere we go!  In fact, they totally turned the situation around at Ralph's and even the people at Ralph's were won over and ended up accommodating us in their beautiful terrace!

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On Monday we had a beautiful Photography Tour with a Paris photographer who took Rebecca's Senior photos last year.  He did a wonderful tour of the Montemartre area of Paris and at the end gave us a SD Card full of photos!  Here's just a little sampling...

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Other things we have been doing are Art Classes,  a picnic of the Seine, a Cooking Class and today they are all on a Fat Tire Bike Tour!  (You can see photo's of these things on our IG account:  @Creativeretreats

Yesterday I did something that moved me to tears... a devotional in front of Notre Dame.  I can't explain how moving it was to stand in the shadows of this beautiful Cathedral in the literal center of Paris, with such history, and talk about HOPE in Jesus Christ!  Then we all went inside for about 10 mintues and took some time to pray on our own or just sit and feel the Lord's presence.  It was something I will never forget.

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Saturday we are onto Bruges, Belgium for the last 3 days of our retreat.  We are already sad just thinking about having to say goodbye to all these women!  What a JOY it has been to do another Art & Faith Creative Retreat.  We are so blessed to share our lives with so many wonderful people each time. This group is already family to us.

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Thank YOU for believing in us.  That you come along with us and travel far to get here means so much to us!  We love what the Lord has given us to do and we are so thankful for the people we cross paths with. 

This summer the theme of both retreats has been HOPE.  I can't believe the connection each woman has had with that one little word!   It's amazing to see how we have bonded over our faith and gained strength from each of our experiences in life.   What the Lord is weaving together through these retreats is just incredible.

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So in AWE of our God!

I'm a little sad to say that we don't do Paris Art & Faith Creative Retreats every year... but we are excited about our Venice and Bellagio, Italy one next June.  If you are interested in finding out more details on our retreats, please don't hesitate to contact us!  We are more than happy to answer your questions, and we look forward to meeting you some day at one of our retreats.

Hugs to all,

Laura

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P.S.   Art class in Luxembourg Gardens??  YES!  What a great class with Stacy Stultz in this beautiful location, learning about Rodin and sketching in our sketch books.  NO, you don't need to know anything about art, the artists we study or how to hold a paint brush!  We have every level of artist join us on our retreats.  It's a beautiful thing to watch the process in each person as their Creative spirit comes out! (yes, I believe we are ALL creative... because we have been CREATED by THE CREATOR!) So don't feel intimidated to join us at one of these retreats, we are just wanting you to prayerfully consider joining us and the Lord will put that on your heart if you are supposed to be here.

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Creative Retreat in Italy - June 2019

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Creative Retreat in Italy - June 2019

We are so excited to announce the news about next years Creative Retreat! For 2019 we have added a NEW location and some exciting things for everyone.  It will be in:

 

Venice AND Bellagio, Italy! 
 

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Come join our Summer 2019 Art & Faith Creative in Italy!  We invite you to enjoy a week away... to step away from life and be RENEWED and INSPIRED.  To relax and enjoy time being creative in beautiful Italy.  

Jeremiah 31:25 says: "For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish."

Our prayer for everyone who joins us on our Art & Faith Creative Reteats is to seek out that time to be renewed in your faith and refreshed in your spirit.

This retreat will start off in Venice, Italy where we will explore this incredible city of canals and bridges.  We will enjoy all the important historical sites, but we will also share with you the hidden parts of Venice that capture the true heart of the city.

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Then we will be transported to Bellgio, Italy "The Pearl of Lake Como" where we will spend a week feeling like we've stepped back in time to the Italy we dream about.  We will wander down cobblestone paths that lead to lakefront gardens.  We will create ART in beautiful settings that INSPIRE us.  We will enjoy delicious meals with new friends, and draw closer to the Lord through Art & Faith.

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This is where we will meet by the lakefront upon arrival,  enjoy our classes taught by inspiring teachers, spend time exploring incredible villages around the lake and find time to relax, be refreshed and leave renewed.

Here's a preview of what the 10 night / 11 Day Art & Faith Retreat in Italy will include:

- 3 nights at an Apartment or Hotel in Venice, Italy by St. Marco Square

- 7 nights at an Apartment or Hotel in Bellagio, Italy

- 2 Dinners in Beautiful Venitian Restaurants

- 2 Lunches in and around Venice

- 1 Group Breakfast in Venice

- 1 Gondola Ride through the incredible Canals of Venice 

- 2 Tours through the hidden areas as well as the historical sites

- Private Transfer from Venice to Bellagio

- Welcome Receptions in Venice & Bellagio

- Tour of Bellagio, including the history of this region by a local tour guide

- Day trip to a beautiful Monastery or Historic sight on Lake Como

- Classes in the beautiful event room by amazing Artists!

- Gifts and Surprises throughout our time together

- Exploring Lake Como's little villages and Villas on a Boat Tour

- Ferry's to and from surprise locations for exploring 

- Tours of Famous Villa's and Gardens on Lake Como

- Cooking Class with a Local Chef - OR - an Outdoor Adventure such as Kayaking or Hiking

- 6 Dinners in gorgeous locations around Lake Como

- 4 Lunches together in Bellagio

- 3 Breakfasts together during our time in Bellagio

- Taxi's and/or Ferry’s to and from dinners and excursions

- Hotel and room taxes included

- Free Make-n-Takes

- FUN SURPRISES I can't reveal yet…but they are AWESOME!

- Grand Finale last night in Bellagio

- Plus time to relax, stroll the cobblestone streets and enjoy LOTS of Gelato in Italy!

- Live music in the music room each night

- And…an unforgettable experience in Italy you will treasure forever!!

** This price does not include airfare

Price for the 10 Night/11 Day Venice & Bellagio, Italy Creative Retreat:

$4895 Per Person/Double Occupancy

$5950 Per Person/Single Occupancy

REGISTRATION WILL OPEN THIS SUNDAY, JULY 1ST, 2018!  

PLEASE CHECK BACK ON SUNDAY TO SIGN UP.  You can sign up BELOW, or it will be under the SIGN UP button at the top of the website.  Simply click on SIGN UP and the drop down menu will appear. Click on REGISTRATION and it will take you to the page to sign up.

REGISTER NOW

*If you are interested in the 7 Night Bellagio portion only, the price will be:

$3595 Per Person/Double Occupancy

$4495 Per Person/Single Occupancy

You can let us know in the comments section of the SIGN UPS if you plan on joining us for just the 7 Nights in Bellagio.

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Here are some testimonials from past students:

Attention to detail, people focused, life long friends made... The ONLY way to see Italy is with Laura.  No other time spent will you make friends, feel the cobblestone streets, meet the butcher, the baker and the leather shop owner, all friends of Laura’s, and sip Prosecco under the stars as you thank God for every Italian moment... ~ Lora-Lori Rutt

If you are even thinking about attending one of these retreats, do it! I just returned from the Art and Faith Retreat with Laura, and her two fabulous teachers for the event this past month, Jeanne Oliver and Stephanie Ackerman. Every detail of the retreat was so well thought out. It was an amazing mix of art classes and opportunities to fall in love with the people and the sights of Bellagio and surrounding area through the varied experiences that Laura planned for us. We were thrilled with the teachers in our retreat--we had sooooo much fun----and the teacher's she has lined up for this coming year also promise to be a real treat! The friendships we developed with the other women attending proved to be authentic and meaningful, and will last well beyond the actual calendar days we were together. Laura and her daughters, Victoria, Rebecca and Isabella, were constantly working to make sure that all details were attended to, and that everything ran smoothly. Their teamwork and genuine care for the women and the goals of the retreat was a lovely thing to witness. Bellagio is a hidden treasure! It is worth the effort to see it, and worth the money and effort to be a part of one of Laura's amazing retreats. ~ Cindy Taylor

I took a chance and decided to take my 14 year old daughter to Laura’s Creative Retreat in Italy this last May.  She was an unbelievable hostess and all her custom and personal touches made this a trip of a lifetime that we will never forget!! Thank you Laura! ~ Jolie Jessie

This retreat was a dream come true for me.....Italy & scrapbooking. Laura shares a once in a life time week of fun, creativity, adventures, unbelievable sights & food. Lake Como is beautiful. I just had to come back again for another, once in a life time week! Thank you Laura for this amazing opportunity. I highly recommend A Kiss on the Chic Creative Retreats. ~ Priscilla Taylor

Being an instructor for Laura’s “A Kiss On The Chic Creative Retreat” was truly amazing. Each and every detail was thought out perfectly and Laura’s knowledge of Bellagio and the surrounding Lake Como area is astonishing. Laura’s event was the perfect blend of creating art, making lifelong friendships and sightseeing. ~ Lisa Pace

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Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have or contact me via the Contact Page above.

We hope to see you at the next Creative Retreat!

Hugs,

Laura

 

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Love, Tuesday...

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Love, Tuesday...

Well, we are back in Italy and enjoying beautiful weather on Lake Como!

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This is the week of our Art & Faith Creative Retreat here, and we have welcomed another group of people here for a beautiful gathering in Italy.  I am still amazed at how the Lord orchestrates each person who is here and how there is a reason for each and every person to be here.  The theme this year the Lord gave me is on HOPE and it is already evident that God's divine wisdom is in this and that HE truly does get all the glory for ALL of it.  I am blown away at how just in a couple days we can see Him working in the lives of the people here and how this place is truly a place that gives rest and peace.  

Just look at this gorgeous sunset at dinner the other night and see what beauty He has for us here...

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On the first day we welcomed everyone lakefront on the pergola of the hotel and enjoyed the perfect weather before we showed them to their apartments.  

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Then it was PIZZA time that evening at our favorite place for a casual dinner the first night.  Off to bed for most of them, but those who wanted to experience the San Giovanni Torchlight Procession (and were awake enough) gathered at the front of the hotel for the walk through town with actual TORCHES... yes that is real fire... and a truly Italian experience that would NEVER go over in America.  hahaha  

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Sunday is usually a very relaxed day with a tour of Bellagio with Rita, our dear friend and tour guide of Lake Como, in the morning.  Then it's time to REALLY relax and enjoy this amazing pool and lake all afternoon.  

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While everyone was enjoying all of this, Rebecca and I got into the event room and prepared it for our classes that start on Monday.  I still LOVE this room and it's views out all the windows of the amazing lake.  I know it may seem hard to stay inside when that view is beckoning us, but the classes are always so much fun the ladies don't mind it at all.  Plus we really try to balance the week with classes, free time and exploring all the beauty around the lake.

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Here's a little sneak peek at one of the classes we started today! 

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Tomorrow is a day for getting on the lake and exploring another village.  One of our favorite places to visit is Varenna and we will be walking through the town to the Monastery there and then enjoying a beautiful afternoon lunch before heading back to Bellagio for a Cooking Class.

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I still pinch myself that I get to share this place with a new group of people each year... and sometimes TWICE a YEAR!  (There is another retreat this October with a couple spots left if you are interested in joining us with the beautiful fall colors on the lake.)

We also have a retreat NEXT YEAR and all the details & pricing we be on the blog in a few days.  We'd love to have you come with us as we host another ART & Faith Creative Retreat next June.  Our plans are all set and we are excited to announce some exciting new things!  Our retreat next summer will have the option to start out in VENICE!  We will be exploring one of the most unqiue and inspiring cities in the world, Venice, Italy for 3 days before we head north to Bellagio for the weeklong event here.  

Registration will be open this coming Sunday, July 1st for next years retreat!

If you want to join us, you can come back here on Sunday and click on the SIGN UP button at the top of the website and you will see the image for next summers retreat and once you pay the DEPOSIT, you will be sent an email confirmation.  

You can follow along to see what we are doing THIS week on Instagram at:

Creativeretreats  or Lauramccolloughcreative

Or feel free to email me via the Contact page at the top of this website if you have any questions. I will try to answer them as soon as possible, but the time change may make it a bit delayed.

We truly pray each year that the Lord will let this be part of YOUR story.  We hear such incredible stories of how each person came and what reasons behind this trip made them come.   So prayerfully consider joining us and we look forward to meeting YOU in Italy next summer!

Hugs,

Laura

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Art and Faith Creative Retreats...

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Art and Faith Creative Retreats...

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If you are here because of our mutual friend Jeanne Oliver, thank you for coming.

Jeanne is one of the most creative and generous people I've ever known and I am blessed to call her friend. We met many years ago while teaching at an event in L.A. that Kim Caldwell put on.  It was one laugh after another that weekend and our friendship has grown from there.  I asked Jeanne to teach with me in Italy the following summer and she has now been back 4 times to Bellagio for our Art & Faith Creative Retreats.

Last summer when she brought her whole family with her, we had such a special time together that we planned up dreams for another one some day!  But she also opened up her heart to share a friend of hers with me, and she connected Sheila Atchley and I last summer while in Bellagio.  

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We casually started getting to know each other via FB and IG, but what I saw was such a deep love of the Lord in Sheila that I had to get to know this woman more.  She not only has a connection with God that you don't find very often, but she has such an amazing way of speaking His truths in ways that are so beautiful and raw, that go WAY beyond me.  You THINK when you listen to her... in ways that really stretch you.  I know I want to learn from her and grow in my faith through her insight into God's Word, and so I invited her to teach THIS October with us in Italy!

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This time of year is so beautiful watching the leaves change on Lake Como.  Not only will you be surrounded by beauty everywhere you look, this week together with Sheila will be a time to step away from life and draw closer to the Lord.  Through Art, through time in the Word of God and also just through strolling the cobblestone streets and taking in the beauty of God's creative world!

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I hope you will ask the Lord what He has for you here.  I always pray that He will bring the women who need to be there... and He does.  Maybe you need to step away for a week to be RENEWED.  Maybe you need to be there to meet someone that will forever be in your life.  Maybe you need to be encouraged and given HOPE again.  I am telling you there is a reason the Lord brings EACH person, and it's so humbling to watch each and every time how He knows you need this gift of TIME.

There are a few spots left for this October and I know if the Lord is calling you to this, He will make a spot available for you, even if it's a decision you make at the last minute.

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I can't wait to share this beautiful place in Italy with you... and I know Sheila is ready to meet you here as well.

Hugs,

Laura

P.S.  I am leaving for Italy THIS week for our Art & Faith Creative Retreat in a couple weeks!  If you have any questions, I will be checking my email daily.   If want to follow along to see what it's all about, you can follow our Instagram at:

lauramccolloughcreative  or creativeretreats

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A month is a long time...

Well, the last month just FLEW by... BOXING UP A WHOLE HOUSE!  Sorry I haven't been blogging and filling you in on the process.  It's just been a month of packing and working non-stop.

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Isn't it amazing how much "STUFF" we accumulate over the years.  At least in our case... I realized it's WAY too much!

I've also been thinking how this move affects each one of our family members.  It's been interesting how we have all dealt with this big move.  We ALL are excited about this next chapter, but it comes with so many emotions.  Happy to leave California.  Sad to leave friends and family...(we leave behind Victoria and Dany, and Rebecca while in college) and we can't forget our church "FRAMILY."  Scared for the unseen.  BLESSED beyond imagination that THIS is our path.  Tired beyond tired.  The list could go on and on...  But I don't think I've had time yet to process it all since there just isn't time to sit and reflect.  It will hit me when I pull out of the driveway for the LAST time, and hit the road to Colorado.  Then the waterworks will definately be flowing. 

Yesterday the loaders came to load the Pods and ALL I wanted to do was sit in my backyard and enjoy the beautiful roses that finally bloomed!

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But alas, it was time to get this show on the road... and leave us with an empty house for the next week...

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Came up with a creative way to still watch TV though! (and give Sophie a place to nap) 

I have to say that this has been one of the hardest things I've ever done.  Not necessarily the hardest thing I've GONE through, but definately the hardest work I've had to put in over months and months.  To pack up a house takes SO much time and effort and back-breaking muscle.  And then on top of that to be planning a new home build in a different state and having to go back and forth the last few months.  On top of all of that, having 2 retreats this summer in Europe...  and planning for next years. WOW.  

But through it all, I have experienced the most amazing GRACE and PEACE.  It's so amazing for US to sit back a little and watch the Lord moving.  I feel like WE are bystanders in this in some way.  I know so many people are praying for us, following our move and encouraging us in so many ways.  So THANK YOU.  But truly we feel like God is driving this whole thing and He has given us so much through it all.  He truly does supply all our needs.  The night before the move I was just DEAD.  Like I could not do another thing.  But I just layed on the floor and cried out to the Lord for help.  There was so much more I had to do, and I just couldn't.  

But God.  He got me through.

The next morning...

While I was admiring the roses that finally bloomed, I got out my "Coffee for your Heart" devotional and quickly read it before the movers came and what was the topic for this chapter...

"SUPPORTED"

"God also supports who we are and who He has designed us to BECOME."

That's IT!  I feel supported... I know this move is Him moving us closer to who He has designed us to become.  What He wants us to do.  So I feel that support from the Lord and ALL of you... and THAT is how we can do this!

I'll leave you with the verse at the end of that devotional because it is a beautiful verse to memorize and remember and soak in:

Deuteronomy 33:27 "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

I wish I had time to journal that verse in my bible, but some day I will when this is over and it will remind me of this time I FELT those everlasting arms.

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!

I'll leave you with one little exciting TID BIT of news:

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You heard it FIRST!  I'll share more details next week... but 2019 is going to be a GREAT summer!

Hugs to all,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Email problems...

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Hi everyone.  I wanted to let you know my email that is connected to this blog has been giving me issues.  I have had people tell me that when they email me it says my "inbox is full" and their emails are not going through.

I feel terrible because last week I offered a GREAT last minute opportunity to come to Italy this June and most likely some of you sent me an email to ask about the special price and I didn't respond because I'm not getting the emails!  ugh...

So I'm trying to get it fixed, but in the meantime if you were interested in this discounted pricing for the retreat this June or any other questions you may have, please use my other email account through Google:  artandfaithcreative@gmail.com

Today we are showing our house and need to be out of the house most of the day, but I will respond as soon as I can with any emails I recieve.

Have a GREAT day,

Laura

 

 

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Love, Tuesday...

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Love, Tuesday...

Good morning!

Our house is finally ON THE MARKET TODAY!!  Wow... is getting your house ready to sell a HUGE JOB or what!?!  We can't believe it's "GO TIME" but it is and we are excited to see the Lord direct our next steps.  

Yesterday morning as I was vacumming the upstairs (we had 2 showings yesterday even though technically it wasn't even on the market) and I was just having a conversation with the Lord and just at peace with whatever He wants.  This house could sell really quick or take a long time...  and I'm really OK with whatever He wants.  We feel so strongly that He is calling us to Colorado, but we truly want it to be in HIS perfect timing.  So as we were doing those final little things, I felt like ok Lord, we are doing the work and I know You will show us the next steps and the timing in all of it.  This feels right.

So here's a few photos from the lisitng on Zillow if you'd like to see them:

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We are going to miss the Mccollough Spa & Resort... hahaha  

Here's the listing if you want to see the whole thing HERE.

 

But we are ALSO going to miss these two!

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They leave right about now as I'm writing this post for Sicily and then Austria. So please pray for their flights and for peace for Victoria (she HATES to fly)  They are going to get Victoria's equivelant of a "green card" in Italy and then head to Austria for four months to serve there with Dany's family at the Castle that the church runs as a conference center.  We love them and miss them already and we so thankful to enjoy the last couple days (yes, in the middle of this crazy house business) with them here at the house and then some nice time on Sunday at church and Ponte for lunch.  Yesterday I drove them to LA and we got to spend the afternoon with them in LA having one more day of fun... pretty much eating our way through The Grove. :)

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Laduree!!  They have a brand new store in LA at The Grove and we went!  It was so beautiful... come on, just look at those little works of art for our tummy's! I was dying over that little strawberry thing... for $8.00!  But I settled on a macaron for $2.80 EACH.  Wowza, these people are crazy... but I guess they know they can get it in L.A.  ( It's much cheaper in Europe but then I guess you have to fly over there first... so maybe not.  lol)

Well, I hope you have a GREAT Tuesday!  If you know of someone moving to the Temecula area, share our listing with them please.  

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

 

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Create in Italy...

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Create in Italy...

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Want to create in Italy THIS summer?  We have a GREAT opportunity for you that doesn't come around very often!

There is ONE apartment available for our Art & Faith Creative Retreat THIS June 23 - 30, 2018.  This apartment can accomodate up to three of your friends, (1 - 3 people can fit in this apartment) so this is the perfect chance to grab YOUR spot, and bring a friend if you want to!  

Usually our summer retreats in Bellagio, Italy are sold out, so if you've been thinking about coming, this is a great chance to join one of our retreats.

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The details are under the SIGN UP page at the top for this week together, BUT you need to message me directly via the CONTACT button at the top to find out the SPECIAL pricing for this last minute opportunity! (Yes, there is an awesome last minute DEAL on the price)

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Come be inspired, refreshed and renewed... in Italy this summer.

Have a GREAT day everyone!

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

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Travel Blog...

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Travel Blog...

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If you've been to my blog at all, you know I LOVE to travel.  We host Art & Faith Creative Retreats around the world and we travel multiple times each year.  I think last year was a record for the amount of trips we took!  It was a crazy schedule, but we were so thankful for each trip the Lord brought us on.  

So I've been thinking about travel blogs lately and if that should be part of this blog.  

By the way, the photo at the top of this blog is from our 20th wedding anniversary trip to Europe in 2009.  It was our 2nd time to Venice and some time I will explain how that trip was paid for, because that was a crazy good story! Isn't Venice just beautiful... it's almost beyond our imagination.

I don't know how many of you follow any travel blogs, but if you do I would love to hear about them!  I am thinking with all the trips we take, I should be blogging more often about travel.  What do you think?  I have so many people asking me what to do, where to go... especially in Italy, that I didn't really realize how much information we could impart on a blog. 

Lance is such a FOODIE that everywhere we go he has to check out the restaurants beforehand and make all the arrangements so we are set on that.  I like to see what special things there are to do and always check if there are any flea markets or events going on while we are there. And it takes us days to research where to stay and I always go through all the Trip Advisor reviews to narrow down our search.  Even for my retreats when I need a place to stay or restaurants and things to do, I am constantly looking online for all of that.  So why not help YOU with that too?!

I think I'll check out some travel blogs and see what this world looks like...

It would definitely be different to have a faith aspect to a travel blog, but because my faith is an integral part of my life, it is weaved into every aspect of it.   Travel is where we feel the Lord calling us to step out more and more and GO, so it makes sense to share that as well on this blog.

So if this is what we are going to add to this blog, I can't start this new chapter without sharing some of our favorite places TO travel.  I'll go back in time to our early travels when we took a year off and traveled the world and then some more recent trips we took in the past few years.  Yes, we took a year off when our oldest two daughters were 3 & 7 and we decided to travel for a year around the world.  It was 2002 and just after 911, so needless to say our family was a bit nervous about this idea.  But we had a peace about it and set off on a journey we will NEVER forget.  Unfortunately it came to an end about 6 1/2 months into it, but that time we did have as just our family unit was truly priceless!  

Here's a few photos from the first time we traveled to Venice, Italy.  This was on our "trip around the world" in 2002/2003 and you will notice the photos from the digital camera/video recorder were not superior quality.

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This last one is CLASSIC in our family.  My husband will never live down the fact that he poured bird seed ON our daughters head to get this shot!  Oops... bad daddy moment. 

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Much better moment here with dad on the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower in 2011.  

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On of the prettiest staircases in Italy.  Love taking the boat over to Varenna and walking along the waterfront and getting some gelato right at this spot.

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This is such a FIND in Paris!  The lady who opened this restaurant is from the South... as in "good ol' southern" South.  She is so much fun, the restaurant is all southern food and a complete enigma in Paris, but so worth the visit!  She is moving locations (boo... going to miss this beautiful spot) but I'm sure her new location by Jardin de Luxembourg will be beautiful as well.

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A beautiful day in Monet's Garden.  This was only made MORE magical by the lovely bike ride through the countryside of Giverny.  I dream of having a retreat in this little village and just painting all day...

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Beautiful Brugge with it's canals.  I love this small city that is walkable and a great place to explore!  We can't wait to go back this summer with a group of ladies for our Paris & Brugge Creative Retreat.  

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Our favorite hidden jewel on Lake Como.  This truly is one of the most relaxing places to enjoy a few hours lakefront, with the most delicious meal of your life.  Just ask the ladies who have been here on our retreats... they will tell you about the most delicious lemon ravioli EVER.

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And if you're wondering if we just travel to Europe, the answer is definitely no.  We love our country and part of our trip around the world was actually spent half of the time in our own country!  Since that trip we have been to almost every state in the U.S. and plan to finish that list.  This is one of my favorite states in our country though... Montana.  I spent my summers traveling there with my family growing up.  We would usually go to Montana or Wyoming and I have so many memories there.  It was great to take the family back to the Bozeman area of Montana last summer and explore the Big Sky with them.

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Beautiful beaches are also a place close to my heart.  If you were to ask me where I wanted to go... it would most assuredly be close to water.  There is something about water, isn't there... something so peaceful, yet powerful.  We lived 14 years right by Laguna Beach and it still is one of our favorite places to visit.  But I also love lakes, and this beach is so quiet in the mornings you can have it all to yourself.  The picture above is from Lake Michigan and it's a place we go almost every summer to visit my brother. 

Isn't travel such a gift!  I LOVE home, but travel opens up your life is such unexpected ways.  To me it's about seeing and being in the presence of such splendor of the world that God created.  It's an amazing way to get a perspective on this big world.  I am in AWE of the One who created this big world we live in!

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Like this place.  This was a "bucket list" place for my husband.  Bora Bora was unbelievable!  I want to do a retreat here some day, because it truly is as amazing as everyone says.  The water is every color of blue and turquoise.

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This is us in 2015 outside of our overwater bungalow.  

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Look at these rays swimming right by our bungalow!  What an incredible moment.

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I can't talk about travel without mentioning my love of all things New England.  Covered bridges are some of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in my opinion.  They are so simple, yet so beautiful and nostalgic... a part of our history.  My husband and I planned our entire wedding around the fall colors changing!  Yes, it's true.  We wanted to go see the fall foliage and so we decided to get married on September 30th so we could go visit the New England states for two weeks in October.  This was almost 29 years ago... wow, I'm aging myself!  

Last fall we went back to some of the places on our honeymoon and Woodstock, Vermont will always be a place deep in our hearts.  This is such a beautiful little village that feels like you've stepped onto the set of Gilmore Girls!  I highly recommend putting this place on your list of travel destinations!

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And I can't end this post without mentioning our move to Colorado.  I was born in California and have only known California my whole life as HOME.  But something happened on a trip last summer that stirred my heart.  I've shared my story on this blog and why we feel the Lord has called us to move to Colorado and build a home and "Gathering Place," but it goes deep down into our souls and I think travel can do that to you.  It truly can stir your heart to something more.  Something I believe the Lord wants for you to do, for His purposes.  

So I encourage you to GO.  

Go travel.  

See what God has so beautifully made.  

Seek Him while you travel.  

Be still, and ask Him what He is stirring in your heart.

It's the WHY behind my retreats...

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My heart is to share that with you and I hope some day to meet you on one of our travels.

In the coming months we will be giving our website a fresh new look!  It will also make it easier to find blog posts on specific topics, like travel, or information on our retreats and art classes.

Have a BLESSED day,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Walk this way...

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Walk this way...

 

Last weeks "Love, Tuesday" I touched on the subject of how to know "what to do."  I was talking to someone this week and that same thing came up and it was funny because we all do want that "sticky note" from God spelling it all out for us!  

But it's not that easy.  Not that the Lord is trying to make it hard.  I wrote in a blog post about how He is calling us NEAR to Him, to have that close relationship where we are so close to Him that He can whisper in our ear.

This verse in Isaiah speaks to that:

Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

I love the picture of this.  Being so connected and close to our Creator that He is with us, whispering in our ear.

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My daughter asked me last night if I just sat still in the Lord's presence and listened.  I was having a bad headache again and just physically and emotionally drained, and I was a mess.  I've shared how the Lord speaks to us many different ways, and one is through other people.  So it was just so sweet how He spoke through her last night.  Reminding me that I KNOW this, but I'm not practicing this.  I don't even know the last time I did this... probably this past Fall in the backyard, but I'd have to go back in my prayer journal to find exactly when.  So thank you Jesus for reminding us that You are here... we just need to lean in and listen.

Prayer is supposed to be a conversation with our God.  Yet I think we can get so caught up in our prayers and the long list of people to pray for, cares to pray for, needs to be prayed for, etc. etc...  that we don't have a two way conversation, it's a one way conversation.  Which really isn't a conversation at all, right?  Mark Batterson talks about this in his book Whisper, but last night it was Rebecca reminding me that we ask God things as we pray, we seek Him earnestly as we pray and we talk, talk, talk and then Amen.... we're done and we go about our day.  But He's up there ready to speak and we're finished with our prayers and onto the next thing!  Sound familiar to any of you? I know it does for me... hahaha

Yes, there is a LOT to be praying for... just turn on the news or read Facebook... we live in a hurting world.

But the one who MADE us, LOVES us, CARES for us, wants to SPEAK to us.  And, He will CARRY us. Love this image I found on Pinterest.  It just seems like an image of a peaceful moment where she is looking out and listening to her Savior's voice.

 

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I pray you will take the time to draw close to the Lord in prayer and have that conversation He's wanting to have with you. I know I need it so deeply as we go forward in so many new things and put a season behind us.  

What I am finding in this "middle" is that He is not only "behind us" whispering in our ear, He is also going "before us" and I want to share a really cool story about that next time.  It ties in with this and also how the Lord speaks through people, because this time it was the guy who came to fix our wood floors!  True story... 

I LOVE these little confirmations along the path that He is preparing for us, don't you?

Have a GREAT day!

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

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