Creative Retreat... in the U.S!

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Creative Retreat... in the U.S!

Yes, Italy and France are beautiful... and I will continue to do retreats there as long as the Lord allows.  But I feel that it is time to do some closer to home.  I want to bring the same time and attention, and beautiful detail to restoring women's hearts and souls here in America as I do in Europe.  

This is a ministry I feel the Lord has given me to help women be refreshed and renewed in Him.  To be able to take time out of our crazy, busy lives to hear the voice of the Lord showing us how to BE STILL and KNOW that He is God and loves us right where we are.

So, with that in mind...

I know I had mentioned an Art & Faith Creative Retreat coming in the Fall a while back.  I wanted to let you know that it is still in the works and I just met with a friend yesterday to go over some of the details!  I should have all the details about the event within a couple weeks and will have it on here to SIGN UP before June. ( I can't believe that is just next month?? Is this year go by lightening speed for you too?)

This "mini" Art & Faith Creative Retreat will be in my part of the world... Southern California!  We live in a beautiful area that is in a wine region less than an hour away from San Diego and Orange County.  It's a great place "in the middle" that allows me to show you some really beautiful places, while also being able to relax and have time to be creative and do art in our Bibles.  Of course their will be great conversations over meals together and also time to be by yourself to spend time in prayer and the Word of God.  And... I couldn't have you come all the way to Southern California and not take you out to explore and do a little shopping... so there will be some time for that as well!

I am so excited to see what the Lord does through this first retreat here in California, and I hope you will join me on this new adventure!

If you are interested in joining me, please send me your contact information via the CONTACT page at the top of this website.  I will put you on the Interest list and get the information to you via email once I have all the details wrapped up.

Have a GREAT day everyone!

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

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Class Schedule -  2017 Art & Faith Creative Retreat

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Class Schedule - 2017 Art & Faith Creative Retreat

We are getting so close to another Art & Faith Creative Retreat in Italy!!  

I am amazed at how the year goes by so quickly as I announce a new retreat and we get the sign ups, then we get to know each person through Facebook and our email correspondence, and then we start planning for our time together.  Then it's here before we know it and we are sooooo excited to go an this amazing adventure together!  

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What they don't know (if they haven't gone on one before)  is that it is going to be such a transforming trip for them and that is what I look forward to the most!  The time spent in Italy is such a beautiful time of restoring our souls, meeting new people, and experiencing amazing places... each person comes away with a new set of friends, life long memories and Lord willing a new sense of closeness to Him.  Oh... I can't WAIT for June!

So for those of you who ARE joining us this summer in Italy, here are the classes you will be taking!  

For those who live close enough to come for a day trip... these are the classes YOU can sign up for right now, under the SIGN UP page at the top of the website!  I have always welcomed the local community to be a part of my retreats and that's what I think makes it extra special.  So if you would like to join us for a class, or 2 or 3... please go check them out and see if a time will work with your schedule and we would love to meet you and spend this time together!  I have about 10 spots I make available for local sign ups, so you will find out all the details under SIGN UP and then click on the REGISTRATION button to find each class.

Here is a sneak peek at each class we are teaching this June in Bellagio, Italy:

Class One | Creating a Junk Journal | June 26 - 9:00am

I am a huge believer that carrying a journal and a few supplies with us everywhere we go changes how we see the world. We will be creating in one of the most gorgeous locations in the world and I want to share some techniques that you can use as you explore and then also later when you return home. We will start by creating a handmade art journal full of watercolor paper, mixed media paper, vintage ephemera, fabrics and more. Each journal will have a hand stitched vintage French linen spine and will close with a leather strap.

Class Two | Stamp Carving | June 26 - 1:30pm

In this class Stephanie will show us how to create our OWN one-of-a-kind stamps!  She has been doing this for a while and will share her tips and techniques on making these fun stamps and using them in our classes during the week.  I don't know about you, but I'm excited to learn how to do this and I hope you will join us in this unique class!

Class Three | Mixed-Media Canvas | June 28 - 9:00am

During the week I will be teaching you some Bible Journaling techniques and we will be enjoying this time of art in our bibles!  But I also wanted to have something you could take home with you and hang or display in your home.  So this class will be on a thin canvas board and I will be teaching you some of the basic techniques of mixed-media.  We were learn how to create a collage base on our canvas and then we will be adding layers of dimension to the canvas.  In keeping with our theme for the week, you can add some wording with stamps and hand lettering or add your own saying to the canvas

Class Four | Prayer Journal Midori | June 28 - 1:30pm

In this class we will learn from Stephanie how to make a beautiful Prayer Journal.  She will share with us her insight on how to bring our prayer requests before the Lord and to remember to journal those answered prayers as well!  We will have fun putting this Midori styled journal together with all her colorful paints and stamps!

Class Five | Altered Journal Pages | Friday June 30 - 9:00am

We will then explore fun and easy contour sketching so you can learn to capture the beauty around you in landscapes, architecture and even people.  We will then create a two page spread in our journals as we practice mark making, collage and stitching to create beautiful works of art. My hope is that your journal will become full and well worn as you explore and create in Bellagio and back in your own towns.

So that is all the classes for this summer.  Again, feel free to sign up if you are local to the area and can be there for any of the classes listed.  You can go to the SIGN UP button and the click on the drop down menu on REGISTRATION and you will see all the classes and can pay as well.

If you have any questions you can email me via the contact page at the top of this website.

For those interested in joining one of these trips to Bellagio, Italy there will be another Art & Faith Creative Retreat NEXT SUMMER!  I will have all the details about that in the next month or so.  The dates for that will be most likely the last week in June of 2018.  If you want to be on an Interest List for next year you can also send an email via the Contact page at the top.

Have a GREAT day,

Laura

 

 

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Love, Tuesday... in Paris!

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Love, Tuesday... in Paris!

I know it's been a while since I've been on here and I'm so sorry for that.  Life has had some busy moments lately and an unexpected trip... to Paris!

 

It's crazy how it came about but we knew it was the Lord working and couldn't say no to that, right?

I took my daughter Rebecca, who is graduating this year from HS and going into college for Women's Ministry, to Paris and Bruges over Spring Break!  It's amazing how it all came together at the very last minute... not even planned or on our mind two weeks beforehand.  But that's when you know it's meant to be and God just gives you crazy good moments like this when you are open to it!  And I want to add that not at any time while we were traveling in Paris and Bruges did we feel unsafe.  I know there's a lot of media unease about things in Europe but I will tell you that there is security everywhere and we felt safe in all the areas we went.  In fact because we travel abroad so much and know the areas to be careful in or stay out of, we really had a great trip and did not worry at all.  You just need to be aware of your surroundings and know the right places to avoid and not be fearful.  Life it to short to live it in fear and let that fear keep you from experiencing the beautiful world God created.

 

Rebecca was supposed to have surgery over spring break on her nose (it was broken in volleyball and needs to be re-aligned some day soon) but that didn't work out so I happened to check online one day at flights to Paris.  We had been talking about how we needed to go and do some work there for our upcoming retreats and we weren't sure how that would all come together, the if and when.... but when I checked flights I found one for around $450 ROUND TRIP!  Now that's next to impossible people... On British Airways no less.  So I surprised her and told her I was taking her somewhere over Spring Break and the planning began! 

 

What transpired was a beautiful time just one on one with one of my daughters.  I have been blessed to have had that special time alone with my oldest as well and I know I will make an effort to do this as well at some point with my youngest. It's just a really special time to bond with them as they are becoming an adult and going off into the world as a young woman.  And the cherry blossoms... Oh my goodness where they beautiful!

It was also a time for us to work together on future plans for our retreats and to get things organized and make these Art & Faith Creative Retreats as awesome as possible for all of you!

I also had a special surprise for her ON the trip!  Since we have been so busy and we hadn't scheduled her Senior Photos yet, I decided to have them done in Paris!  I actually found a photographer and hired him to do them while we were there.  It was such a special day and I LOVED watching him take photos of her all throughout the city!  It was AMAZING to watch her have this experience and he was so kind to her and really protective of her as we were going from place to place.  I appreciated the comfort level I felt and the joy just watching Rebecca have fun in the moment. I loved the photos and couldn't possibly pick a favorite... so here's a couple of the ones I loved.

 

Overall it was a GREAT success of a trip and I am SO excited to say that we DO have another Paris & Bruges trip planned!  I know the first one sold out instantly and we we're trying to come up with a 2nd week for all of you that we're interested and wanted to be on the WAIT LIST.

 

So the 2nd week will be scheduled for:

June 10 - 20, 2018

 

I will be emailing all those who are ON the WAIT LIST first and then it will be open to anyone signing up if there are any spots to fill.

 

This truly is an great opportunity to see Europe, experience a special time with other women of faith, explore history and art with a mind towards our Creator... and I hope you will prayerfully consider joining us!

If you want to be added to this WAIT LIST just leave a message via this website and I can add you to the list.

Here are a few more pictures from our trip that capture the beauty of this city:

We didn't realize we were going to hit the PERFECT timing to view the cherry blossoms in Paris!  It was so incredible to see and we were so blessed to be there at the exact perfect time!  They were blooming and full and then fallen and blown away within a few days, but we saw the whole process and were so happy about it!

One of our favorite things in Paris is to walk along the Seine and enjoy these green boxes.  They have been handed down from generation to generation and some have original artwork and some are just trinkets... but it's always fun to look through them and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Of course we had to come here and get a book for Rebecca's English teacher...and check out the new Shakespeare & Co. Cafe!  What a cute spot for a coffee or lunch...

Here's a little "behind the scenes" of the photo shoot for my daughter...

We were able to get a few photos together and I'm so glad he was able to capture these moments for us!

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Of course we HAD to find this place!  I found it a few months back through Instagram and reposted it.  What's funny is I think my other daughter and some friends found it as well through my post and now everyone is talking about this place. It was so adorable and on the cutest little street... and the CREAM PUFFS.... dreamy!  I will for sure be taking everyone here next summer!

I'm still thinking about these babies... they were SO good.

Well, thanks for coming along on this photo journey with us... 

We look forward to next year and our travels with YOU!  

I will share more photos next week from the Bruges portion of our trip... and give you the details on the other Art & Faith Creative Retreats going on in the future...

Have a GREAT Tuesday!

Hugs,

Laura

P.S. The classes for THIS summers retreat in Bellagio will be listed this week under the SIGN UP button at the top of the website.  If you live local to the area you are welcome to join us and sign up for a class!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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REGISTRATION is OPEN!

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REGISTRATION is OPEN!

SIGN UPS are Live! And just SOLD OUT...

You can go to the SIGN UP button at the top of this website, click on REGISTRATION and find the Art & Faith Creative Retreat in Paris & Bruges and secure your spot for next summer.

Feel free to email me any questions you may have and I can't wait to meet you in Paris next year!

Hugs,

Laura

UPDATE:  WOW, THIS RETREAT SOLD OUT IN RECORD TIME!!!  

If you are trying to sign up and there are no more spots left, please email me via the contact page to be put on a WAIT LIST.  Since this retreat was a smaller group size and I had a feeling it would sell out fast, I will start a wait list and if there are enough people for a 2nd WEEK, I will add a second Paris & Bruges trip the same summer!

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Registration opens THIS SATURDAY...

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Registration opens THIS SATURDAY...

This Saturday, April 1st the SIGN UPS will go LIVE for our 2018 Art & Faith Creative Retreat in Paris & Bruges!

Thank you to everyone who is excited about joining us on this adventure of Art & Faith through France & Belgium!  I am humbled by your words and your willingness to spend your time with us!  It is just such an honor to do these Creative Reteats for YOU and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  That you allow me to continue my passion of sharing God's CREATION and CREATIVITY all around the world with all of you is such a blessing! 

Here's a few more photos from past trips to get you excited:

One of the beautiful Cafe's in the Saint Germain area of Paris...my favorite part of the city.

yup, that's my family... quite a few years ago in front of Notre Dame. (the girls probably don't want me to post this :)

One of the prettiest little streets in the Latin Quarter.

A great angle of the Sacre Coeur.

And believe it or not, this little cutie has grown up and is soon becoming my business partner! She really has a heart for women and all that these retreats are about, so she is going to be heading off to college soon and is praying about joining me in this business/adventure... and I could sure use the help!  We are praying big prayers over where the Lord wants us to go and what He is calling us to do out in this big, big world.

Here's a more recent photo of us at the last Art & Faith Creative Retreat this past September in Bellagio, Italy...

Speaking of the WORLD...

We WILL be going other places and I wanted to give you a little highlight of some of the future Art & Faith Creative Retreats in the next year...

This year I have the following Art & Faith Creative Retreat in Italy:

This one is SOLD OUT for the weeklong retreat, BUT you can join the classes if you are local to the Bellagio, Italy area!  I will be posting pictures of the classes from Jeanne Oliver, Stephanie Ackerman and myself in a few weeks and then they will be on the SIGN UP page to sign up for the day classes.  I'll post more information on that after Spring Break is over.

We are doing another Art & Faith Creative Retreat this year... but somewhere TOTALLY NEW!!  

I am in the process of organizing a retreat this year that will be in... California!  Yes, it will be in my area and I am exited to share more very soon!  I know so many people who have asked me to do these retreats here in the U.S. and so I have listened and am excited to have some locations coming up in the USA!  This first one will be on the West Coast and I have asked Stephane Ackerman to join me on this "mini" Art & Faith Creative Retreat the weekend of October 19 - 22, 2017!  I will have more details and SIGN UPS the middle of April.  But maybe some of the photos below will give you a few clues to the location in California...

Looking ahead to NEXT YEAR...

For 2018 there is of course the Paris & Bruges trip that is going LIVE this Saturday for Sign UPS... (don't miss out!!)

I am also doing another Art & Faith Creative Retreat in Bellagio, Italy for 2018!  I don't have the exact dates yet or the teachers, but most likely it will be in Mid to late June.  This is where I started my retreats and where I truly feel the Lord called me to, so I hope you will prayerfully consider joining us in the beautiful Lake Como region of Italy.  SIGN UPS and details for this retreat will be COMING SOON! 

If you want to be on the INTEREST LIST for this retreat or any other one, just leave your information on the CONTACT PAGE at the top of this website.

We have so many ideas for future retreats and we are just excited to see where the Lord leads us!  Thank you AGAIN for joining us on this journey.  We pray the Lord will use these retreats to draw you closer to Him and if He puts it on your heart to join us, I know He will make a way for you to come!

Have a blessed day and we hope to meet you some day at one of these (or other) retreats.

Hugs,

Laura

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Do not Fear...

Easier said then done, right?

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." ... v8 "it is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."  

Oh how I love these verses! ❤️

I don't know about you but I'd love to be reminded of these words on a daily basis. Maybe I need to write these words on a sign or post it note... This past Sunday in church we were in Matthew 25 in the parable of the talents.  It's talking about what we are doing with our talents (which was money in that day), but we can also tie it to our gifts and abilities.  

What are we doing to use those "talents" He has given us?  Are we scared to go forward and even try? Are we playing it safe? I think of what He has blessed me with and I do have to say fear plays a part. I absolutely LOVE what I feel is a gift from Him... my faith based retreats! I'm passionate about sharing His love with others and connecting people to His Creation and His Creativity! But I have a fear of flying and a fear of speaking in front of big crowds!!  So I do need to be reminded of these verses daily.  I have been praying BIG prayers over these retreats lately and I know the Lord is stepping myself and my daughter out in faith. What that looks like we don't know yet... but I do know that our Lord God is going before us and He wants us to be strong and courageous.

I hope and pray these words help you also in your journey to step out in faith and use the talents He has given you! Have a blessed day. ❤️

Hugs,

Laura

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Paris & Bruges 2018 Creative Retreat...

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Paris & Bruges 2018 Creative Retreat...

Paris is a city I have fallen in LOVE with countless times.  I think it's a city we've ALL dreamt of going to!  But getting there and being overwhelmed by all there is to see and do can be daunting.  That is why it is my passion to share cities like this with you in a very enjoyable way, that removes any of the uncertainty of traveling alone to a big city like this.  I have traveled to Paris many times and have found the best way to balance your week so you can experience all the amazing aspects of Paris.  We will explore the little hidden gems I have found throughout the city, visit the incredible landmarks of Paris, of course taste all the best food Paris has to offer and see the beauty in Parisian art and architecture. There is a simplicity in walking around this magical city of love and we want to share that with you.

After a week in Paris we will be transported to the much smaller city of Bruges, Belgium and it will make you feel like you've stepped back in time!  Bruges isn't one of the big cities most people think about when traveling to Europe.  It was actually a city that we discovered on a school trip a few years back. Rebecca and I fell instantly in LOVE with this city and cannot wait to share it with all of you! Every corner you turn is another breathtaking square with Medieval architecture or a canal path that explains why this unique city is known as "Venice of the North."  There are many  lovely little bridges with flowers and greenery growing everywhere, and you can't forget the smell of chocolate flowing out from the countless shops that sell the famous Belgium chocolate!  And let's not forget the best thing about Belgium (to me anyways)... their WAFFLES!  This isn't just your average breakfast waffle from Ihop... this is a waffle you will be dreaming of and scheming ways to get back to, trust me!  So much so that I had to rave about it on Trip Advisor... 

In addition to these two beautiful cities and 11 days together, the time we share growing in our faith will allow us to make the connection between "Art & Faith". My prayer is that through this retreat you are able to seek the Lord's will and live your life to the fullest!  He has a plan for each and every one of us and I am HOPEFUL that He will awaken that plan during our time together.  We will be sharing with you some classes in photography, art, and Bible journaling in the hopes that it will draw you closer to His Word and give you time to reflect on His calling in your life. I hope you will join us next summer on this journey of a lifetime in Paris & Bruges!

So without further ado...I am thrilled to finally REVEAL all the details:

2018 Paris & Bruges Art & Faith Creative Retreat  

The 10 night/11 day ~ Art & Faith Creative Retreat ~ July 15 - 25, 2018

 

Come join our adventure to France & Belgium and let us awaken your senses to the beauty Europe has to offer!  We will begin our adventure on July 15th in Paris, France.  We will discover this picturesque city for 7 days, stay in my favorite Arrondissement, and enjoy our time exploring around. We can't wait to share all the tucked away little side streets, the unique "cafe culture" and of course the landmarks that make Paris the city it is! Next, it's off to Bruges, Belgium for the remaining 3 nights as we step back in time to a medieval city that is known for it's chocolate, canals... and dreamy waffles!

You can find all the details on pricing and what is included on the SIGN UP page at the top of this website.

Just click SIGN UP and the drop down menu will appear.  Go to PARIS AND BRUGES RETREAT DETAILS and click on that.  

Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions.  The SIGN UPS will be LIVE on Aprils 1st.  You will need to pay the non-refundable deposit of $695 to secure your spot.  There are VERY few spots for this retreat because I have found it best to travel around Paris in a small group. Since it is a smaller group we are able to enjoy the connections we make and really get to know each other. The retreat is limited to 12 people for easier access and transportation.  Please know that I have a very large list of people on my "Interset List" and it will be on a First come/First serve basis as far as sign ups.  So, if you are interested in joining us, please be ready to SIGN UP on April 1st at 8am, PST.  You have a couple weeks to think about it, ask me any questions you need answered, and be ready to sign up on April 1st.

Rebecca and I look forward to sharing this journey with you! We pray you will enjoy this time we have together in Europe and see where the Lord leads us during this adventure!

Hugs,

Laura

P.S.  Most of these photo's were taken by myself, Rebecca, or my husband Lance during our many trips to Europe... but I HAD to post a picture of the waffles I've been tempting you with and this one below I found on Google b/c my photo isn't as lovely. :)

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Love, Tuesday... It's a food thing

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Love, Tuesday... It's a food thing

Thinking back on all the Creative Retreats I've done in Bellagio, Italy...  I have been blessed by the little things as much as the big things that the Lord has given me through this endeavor.  

I have met so many truly wonderful people... 

 

I feel like I have a "second home" in Bellagio where I am loved and cared for...

 

I have beautiful memories from each and every retreat... 

and so many beautiful moments are centered around the FOOD & meals we have together!

 

This last blessing makes me think of ALL the food that has been shared together...

Look at the ART in this... It may be a small thing to some, but it's a BIG thing to others!

It's hard to really share about this retreat to people who've never been.  It's hard to explain the week and I have tried, many times.  So many people ask me... "So what exactly do you do??"  and unless you come and experience it it's really hard to truly understand what this week is all about and what it does FOR you...

But one of the ladies who came to my Art & Faith Creative Retreat is a real "foodie" and she wrote an article for a Travel Blog all about the food that we enjoyed during the week...

This is her and her mother at her FAVORITE meal she had during the week she came.

You can read the article by Valerie Sisco here.

It's on the Culture with Travel, Online Magazine website and I would love for you to read it!

So the food is a BIG part of the week...  Now I didn't know who Valerie was when she came.  Most of the time I don't know the ladies who sign up for my retreats.  That is a big part of the fun of doing these retreats and getting to know each person throughout the week that we share together!

It makes me SO happy to know that the ladies really enjoy the meals that I have worked hard over the years to find for them.  We have tried many, many different restaurants on Lake Como and I can certainly tell you they are NOT all created equal!  But part of what is unique about my retreats is that I have taken the time to really find the special restaurants, the unique places that a tourist wouldn't even know about, and I get the pleasure of bringing YOU to them!  Not only to enjoy the meals... but to really enjoy the ambiance, the people who own these restaurants, the stories they share with us and the friendships we are building during these times together.

So thank you to all of you who entrust me with your time, your money and your trust that it will be a memorable week!  It is such a JOY to experience the whole week with you...

And if you haven't been to one of my retreats yet... I have to warn you that you will be dreaming about the food for years to come.  This little dish above definitely leaves them dreaming of coming back!

I am ALL about ambiance when I eat out and some of the most beautiful places to eat, in the ENTIRE world, are right here in beautiful Lago di Como, Italy.

I hope you can join us one of these years... it is a passion of mine to share this and other beautiful places with you as we learn to create art, learn to share in our faith together, be refreshed and enjoy beautiful time and meals together!

This precious moment at the end of our last day of classes was captured by the talented photographer who took all these photographs for me, Cathy Walters.  

I hope you enjoyed this little walk down memory lane for me and all of you that have joined one of my Creative Retreats.  It truly is a gift to get to know you, spend time with you, enjoy meals with you and share in our lives together in such beautiful places like this. 

My prayer for anyone interested in joining me on a future retreat is to seek out that time to be renewed in your faith and refreshed in your spirit with other women. To ask the Lord to draw you closer to Him as you open yourself up to these kinds of opportunities.  I get so many emails and messages from ladies that have been to Bellagio or Paris with me and they are so thankful they took the time to come and experience it for themselves!

Have a beautiful week everyone.  I will be REVEALING all the details on the 2018 Paris Art & Faith Creative Retreat THIS THURSDAY!  So come on back and find out how you can join me in Paris next year!

Hugs to all,

Laura

 

 

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Wedding Memories...

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Wedding Memories...

I am SO excited to share the video of Dany & Victoria's wedding!  We finally got it yesterday and it was so beautiful to relive it!  It made me cry... of course... but not just because it's our daughter. Because it was such a beautiful testimony to their love of the Lord and their waiting on Him.

We also got the wedding photos from the photographer, so here are some of my favorites! How do you decide your favorites among hundreds and hundreds of photos?  I want to frame each and every one!  :)

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Victoria's grandma cut up her wedding dress so that each granddaughter could have a piece!  So Victoria had the florist (who by the way she worked for in the past and is AMAZINGLY talented and we are SO thankful for all the beautiful flowers) wrap it around her bridal bouquet! <3

They wanted to have their first communion as a married couple together during the ceremony.

Grandma (my mom) wanted to have all her grand babies with her in a photo!

Love this photo... almost 28 years together and we still got the LOVE!  

Girl got the bouquet!  Now just wait a while... we don't need another wedding for a long time! :)

If you'll remember Massimo was going to do all the desserts but because of his emergency was unable to.  So Dany's family from Italy stepped in and helped so much, making all the cannoli, tiramisu and little pies... but Rebecca made the "naked cake" that you see here!

I hope you enjoyed these photos and the video!  We feel so blessed that the Lord brought these two together and it gives us so much hope for the future... and for our other two daughters to find their soulmates!  We pray for these two to always put God first in their marriage and seek direction from Him.

Have a beautiful weekend everyone!

Hugs,

Laura

 

P.S.  The photographer's who took these beautiful photos travel all over the world.  You can check out Sanford Creative here.

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Exchange program...

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Exchange program...

Today we're going to get a little deeper than normal... so grab your coffee and stay a while.

I saw this on IG a few days ago from @lifelivedbeautifully and it really hit me.

Prayer is exchanging our temporary desires for GOD'S eternal vision.

That's powerful... but can we really "let go" of our desires?  I've been trying to do that lately.  It's certianly not easy.  We all have desires for our lives, we want certain things.  Health for sure... to find love and have a family...A good job and enough money to pay our bills, and then some? Peace is a big one... how about wanting our kids to be happy, healthy and find love as well?  The list goes on forever right?   Let me say that these aren't BAD things to want.  I know most all of us want these things, right? 

But life doesn't always fit inside those parameters...

My husband and I have just finished a 40 prayer challenge.  It was HARD.  But is was also sooooo GOOD!  I highly recommend the book:  The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson.  (Yes, I know I have been reading a lot of his books lately, but they are so great!)

I wrote in a journal each day after we read the chapter for the day and then prayed.  It was such an emotional process and I'm not sure I've ever cried more in 40 days then during this challenge.  But it made me realize how much we have to pray for and how important PRAYER IS!  I am learning this more and more. Not just to pray for us and our kids... but for friends, for family, for co-workers, for our country, for our President, for organizations fighting evil.  During these 40 days we prayed for chains to be broken, for healings to take place, for lives to be changed, for direction and clarity, for miracles to take place and for answered prayers!  

And through it all it reminded me of God's sovereignty!

His VISION.  

I got this old hymnal through Etsy and am using it for as an art & faith journal.  

Be Thou my Vision... oh Lord of my heart...

So how do we get from our own wants and desires to giving them all to the Lord and wanting His WILL, His Vision?

That's the million dollar question, right?

It reminds me of the song by Hillary Scott called "Thy Will:"

One of the verses says:

It's hard to count it all joy,

distracted by the noise,

just trying to make sense,

of all your promises.  

Some times I've got to stop and

remember that you are God...

and I am not.

So, Thy will be done.

Here's the beautiful video of her song:

Didn't that touch your heart? Find the video on the story behind this song that she wrote.  It's powerful.

The Lord has a plan for each of us.  It may look totally different than what we think it should.  But we have to come to a place where we can honestly trust that His will IS best.

Let's not forget that NOTHING is impossible for God.  He can heal, restore, increase... He IS the Creator and miracles are His business!  But sometimes that's not in His plan.

Does that mean that He doesn't love us or is not always good?

I think you know the answer...

God is good all the time; and all the time...God is good!

You've probably heard that saying before, especially if you watched the movie God's Not Dead.

But let me remind you of a couple verses:

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

And the most important verse that shows our God's unfailing love for us:

John 3:16 "“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

I'm going to share something with you that happened this week.

If you saw my other posts this week you know that we lost a dearly loved teacher at the girls' school.  Mrs. Story was such a light.  She loved the Lord, loved others and gave of herself to everyone who came into her life.  She was so loved and she died two days ago after a battle for her life in Paris, France after having to be taken off of a flight back home from a missionary trip to Africa over Christmas break.  Our school had been praying for her for months.  So many people have been.  The kids are devastated and this week has been hard, I'm not going to lie.  We know that she is with her Heavenly Father and she is so happy to be there!  Isabella had Mrs. Story as her teacher last year and one of Isabella's teachers this year was a close friend of Mrs. Story and we were talking yesterday and she said to me "She is probably in a beautiful meadow running with lots of children in heaven..."   How beautiful is that image!

But what breaks my heart...

The chapel the High School kids had the day of her death was so disheartening.  I'm not sure if this was also spoken in the Middle School Chapel, but my High Schooler came home just infuriated! The pastor of the church that is associated to the school talked about how "No good can come from this." 

What the what?

I'm heartbroken that these words were spoken to hundreds of kids ranging in age from 14-18 years old!  This is an age group that is just forming their opinions on WHO GOD IS TO THEM!  You're telling them God can't use this for GOOD?  That He can't turn this tragedy into lives changed?  That this can't be a catalyst for those who knew Mrs. Story to give their lives to the Lord BECAUSE of her life testimony?  

Now I don't know this pastor very well and he may have just been overcome with grief and said things he regrets...

But I am so blessed by what happened next...

As my daughter was walking to her car after this chapel, she was so upset.  She saw one of her friends who was also going to his car and he looked SO annoyed!  She asked him what was wrong and he said he was so upset about what the pastor had just said at the chapel too!  GOOD FOR THEM!  I am so proud of these two young adults who saw how wrong those statements were, and wanted to do something about it!  After they talked about it, this young man called the churches youth pastor and told him how he felt about the pastor's chapel!  Well guess what, the next day they had another chapel... and the youth pastor talked!  He was able to correct things that were said, point out the bible verses that DIRECTLY state God IS GOOD, and ALL things DO work together for GOOD, for those that love Him... ( Romans 8:28 ) and Lord willing the kids learned that the Lord loves each and every one of us and desires to show us how GOOD HE IS!

Thank you Lord for these kids who don't just listen and accept what is said, but who have the Word of God in their hearts and can filter what is said through the TRUTH written in God's Word.  Amen to that!

So, how do we then get through tragedy and SEE the GOOD in it?

That's where that "Exchange program" comes into play...

I mentioned this a little bit in my last post.

It's by WORSHIP!

 

I'm reading a book I highly recommend you read:

"In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson

Yup, that guy again.  I promise I read other authors... hahaha

I'm only on chapter 5 and I have to say this book is "perspective changing!"  I say that because that's where the change needs to be! Our perspective in life.

Chapter 4 REALLY got to me.

He talks about Paul and Silas in jail from the story in Acts 16.  They are doing ALL this work for the Kingdom of God and what do they get?  Landed in JAIL!?!  Their circumstances are about as dire as you can get.  I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty bent out of shape at that point!  But what do we read in verse 25?

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them..."

Ok...

That's probably not what I would have been doing.

But guess what? Paul & Silas WERE, and BECAUSE they were WORSHIPING the Lord they were "zooming out of their external circumstances and REFOCUSING on the BIG picture."  I love that quote from Mark in Chapter 4!

Like Mark Batterson says:

We need to "zoom out" and WORSHIP.  

"Don't let what's wrong with YOU keep you from worshiping what IS right with God."

Stop focusing on what is wrong.  Make the choice to worship God... in spite of external circumstances!

I know... this isn't easy to do.  I am learning this daily and I think it may be a life long lesson we are learning.  "But it is one of the purest forms of worship to praise God IN THIS STORMS of life, because it proves that your worship isn't CIRCUMSTANTIAL."    

Oh boy.. that is a zinger.  Mark... you got me there!  

Am I "praising" the Lord when all is good?  Sure I am!  But am I still praising and worshiping Him when life sucks?  When cancer comes back to a loved one?  When you have a bill to pay and not enough money to cover it?  When you watch your child in pain and don't know what to do about it?  We've all had these "circumstances" in our lives.  I'm not so sure I can say that I praised Him every time something like this has happened in my life.

But Paul & Silas were worshipers.  Their hands and feet may have been chained, but no-one could chain their spirit!  

Its a CHOICE we have to make.  We can choose to complain... or worship.  

As Mark says in Chapter 4 "Your internal attitudes are far more important than your external circumstances.  Joy is MIND OVER MATTER.  Worship REFRAMES our problems and refocuses our lives.  It helps us get through bad days by reminding us of how good God is.  And when you are WORSHIPFUL, your eyes are more open to notice the miracles that are happening all around you, all the time."

"One way or the other, your FOCUS determines your reality.  The outcome of your life will be determined by your OUTLOOK on life."

Powerful words.  

There is so much more just in this Chapter!  so go get the book, and read it.  

I WANT to be the person that WORSHIPS the LORD in ALL circumstances.

Let us Sing songs of Praise:  Psalm 97:1-6

1 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him
    and burns up his adversaries all around.
4 His lightnings light up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.

 

Worship is KEY.

I love Romans 1 where Paul is so thankful.  So thankful for the people the Lord brought into his life through sharing the Gospel with them.  So thankful FOR the Gospel.  That he is NOT ashamed of the gospel...  and that Jesus is his EVERYTHING! That is WORSHIP.

I want that to be my mantra!  Thankful.  That Jesus IS my all and all.  That I can worship Him in every circumstance!  And that I can share what He has done in my life with others.  

Going through the "40 Day Prayer Challenge" has been a journey.  I think part of why I cried so much is just hearing the stories in the book of other peoples faith!  GIANT FAITH. Amazing things happen when you give ALL of you to the Lord.  When you ask the Lord to give you HIS VISION for your life.  He so greatly wants you to step into His plan for your life.  No matter what pain you have had, no matter how many "bad days" you have had.  No matter the circumstances your life has journeyed...

He can RECYCLE that pain to HELP OTHERS.

I have seen this over and over again.  I think of present day hero's like Victor Marx and his All Things Possible Ministry. God used such tragic circumstances in his life to eventually help so many people, to this day!  God is Good people!  And he has a way to "recycle our pain for someone else's gain."

I was talking to my daughter about this recently.  Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through the "bad days"  to appreciate the "good days" and to let Him USE them for His glory!

What about you?

What adversity have you been through?  Can you turn it into your ministry?

 

I am convinced that the Lord CAN & DOES & DESIRES for us to turn our adversity into our ministry!

"God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." From In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day"

And that gives me SO. MUCH. HOPE.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."  Hebrews 10:23

I pray that we can all "exchange" our desires for the Lord's VISION for our lives!

That we can have hope that through ALL of it... the good, the bad and everything in between... He is working things out for our Good!  That He can restore us, fill us with hope and use us to help His vision be fulfilled!

Here are a few points that Mark Batterson ends Chapter 4 with:

- We should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants to get out of those difficult circumstances.

- Prayer is less about changing our circumstances and more about changing our perspective.

- God wants us to learn to see bad experiences through the good we have gained from them.

- God is in the business of recycling our pain and using it for someone else's gain.

 

Please remember this:

The Lord IS good.  

Let Him work in your life to help you see that good.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalm 34:8

Have a beautiful day,

Laura

P.S. Tomorrow I promise to be a LOT lighter!  We just got the video back from our daughters wedding and I'm going to try and post it here!!  

 

 

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