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!  :)

ferrara-9.jpg

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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Worthy to be Praised...

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Worthy to be Praised...

I know we don't always feel like praising the Lord.  Life can be hard, it can break our hearts and get us down.  Just read my last blog post... it's been so hard for so many people who love Jamie Story. 

I'm reading an AMAZING book right now though that I highly recommend:

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

And let me tell you it's a game changer! One thing that has jumped out at me so far is how WORSHIP IS KEY.  We don't just worship when all is good... no,

Worship is the way out!

"Worship is forgetting about what's wrong in our lives and remembering what's RIGHT with God."

Going to talk about this in length tomorrow on the blog... but this is transformative ladies!  He is soooo worthy to be praised!

Praise Him this morning, even through all the hurt and junk in our lives, Praise Him and watch your life have a newness and light that only comes from the Lord! ❤️

Psalm 147:1-3 "Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds."

Come back tomorrow with some coffee and a little time... it's going to be another long one. 

Hugs,

Laura

P.S. This was my breakfast this morning... and let me tell you it brings back memories of enjoying an almond croissant in Paris like nothing else!  If you have a Trader Joes around you, try these!

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Love, Tuesday...

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Love, Tuesday...

Today is a hard day.  The school our daughters go to lost a dear soul today.  Mrs. Jamie Story was a beloved teacher and will be very missed.  Isabella had her last year for History and English and was in her ASB class this year.

Here is the backstory if you are interested in keeping her family in prayer and if you want to donate to their fund.

We love you Mrs. Story and we know heaven gained a beautiful soul today.

Laura

 

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Planning for Paris...

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Planning for Paris...

It has been SO FUN to plan another Creative Retreat in one of my favorite places!  Rebecca and I are finding some great places to share with everyone who will be joining us and I wanted to give you a taste of some of those places...

Isn't this just the cutest place!!  It's a coffee house... and guess what else... CREAM PUFFS!  Hello?  You KNOW I will be taking everyone here.  I LOVE CREAM PUFFS! 

We all know where this is right?  Well last time this was such a FUN day trip from Paris to Monet's Garden!  

Biking along the Seine and having a picnic in the same place that Monet painted is one of the best parts of this day trip...  

I love seeing the different architecture of the homes as you get outside of Paris.

This is a pretty mellow bike ride and really for anyone who is able to ride a bike.

Monet's garden is just so beautiful... I can't wait to take everyone back here!

Getting outside of Paris really gives you a better feel for France and the beauty of this country!

Of course most of the time we are IN Paris, so I'll be showing you all the MUST SEE places...

Shakespeare and Company now has a cafe as well!

We will be enjoying a day of walking in Paris and seeing these beautiful icons of the city!

We will be enjoying a beautiful dinner within walking distance (and view) of the Eiffel Tower and of course taking some photos too! (this photo is blurry but just too cute note to show you.  Next time I will make sure I have my good camera at the Eiffel Tower!  oops...)

A day spent at a museum in Paris is a MUST and we will decide which one/s to go to during our week in Paris...

Love the "Cafe Culture" in Paris and will be talking about this as we show you some of the places Hemingway and Monet and Picasso came to "think"...

If you haven't had gelato in Paris... this is one of THE BEST.  Yes, I know we are not in Italy... but this place is SO good and within walking distance of our hotel...

Merci!  Love this place and had so much fun shopping here last time with the ladies!  If you love to shop.... oh you are in for a FUN week!  I can't show all my photos but let me just tell you we know THE PLACES TO GO!  I even have a friend in Paris that can take us to the best shopping streets and hidden gems in the city!

A trip to Paris isn't complete without two things... A trip up the Eiffel Tower...

And a cruise on the Seine!  Both of which are on the itinerary and waiting for YOU to join us...

This was so fun looking at all my old photos for this blog post!  All of these photos were taken by me with my Nikon D80 or my iPhone (except for the top photo that I found on IG)  I am looking forward to this trip with everyone and will be sharing the details in the next few weeks with pricing, availability and the firm dates.

If you are already on my INTEREST LIST then you are good.  If you haven't emailed me or messaged me in some way, then go ahead and send me an email via the CONTACT page on this website.  I can only take a select number of people each time because it's hard to navigate too many people around the city.  I am thinking about 15 -20 people max on this trip, but it may be a little less if I can't find a way to transport us in an easy way from point A to point B each day.  I know everyone takes the Metro in Paris, but I'm not a big fan and would prefer walking and Ubers.  

So check back here in a few weeks and I will be emailing everyone on the Interest list as well.

Have a GREAT day,

Laura

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Scared to move?

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Scared to move?

Raise your hand if you are scared to speak publicly?  Like you still remember when you were in High School Speech class and had to get up in front of class and talk for 10 minutes, let alone 2 minutes, and you just worked up a sweat about it for a good week before the time came.  You were counting down the people who had to speak in front of you... and then it was YOUR turn.

No, not you?  Well, that was me.  It still is me.  I'm so much better one on one.  In group settings I just don't like to speak up and I'm usually the one nodding my head, listening intently.  That's why when I'm in a group setting like a big meeting or conference the speaker seems to find me and then keeps coming back to me.  I guess they see someone paying attention and my eye contact with them helps them to know someone is making the effort to listen to what they have to say.  But better them up there than me...  :)

It really all boils down to FEAR.

I love these verses in Jeremiah 1:4-10: "

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

I'm not exactly in my youth anymore... but I still feel this applies to all of us.  If He is calling you to something, then He will provide everything you need... including the STRENGTH to overcome the fears!  

I was reading in the FERVENT book by Priscilla Shirer today about just this thing.

Fast forward from High School (waaaaay too many years ago) to now and I still don't like being the one to talk in front of a group.  So what does the Lord bring into my life??  An AMAZING dream job/ministry where I get to share the Love of Jesus with people in beautiful places!!  I LOVE IT!  It's so obvious that He is the one that brought this together where I get to blend so many things I am passionate about and share it with YOU!  But with that comes back my fear.  I'm in charge of organizing 20-30 people for a week... speaking many times a day to them.  Opening the week with them in a speech, morning devotions with them in the event room, sharing my testimony, teaching classes... 

But...

Here is a FACT:  "Fear is one of Satan's primary schemes to cripple God's people."  

"For God had not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

See the Lord has BIG plans for you and me.  Your destiny.

He wants you to discover all that He has for you to do, and He says it over and over and over in His Word... Do NOT be AFRAID.  

"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can mere man do to me?" Psalm 56:3-4

So then who is telling you/us to BE afraid?

Oh yeah... the enemy.  Is he telling you,  "you CAN'T?"  or do you have lots of excuses piling up??  lots of fears that stop you?? or is he filling your mind with the reasons to not fulfill your dreams and the Lords will in your life?  Is he telling you to just GIVE UP...  It's not worth it.  Satan has every reason why he does NOT want you to fulfill the Lord's calling on your life.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 6 and I want you to read it:

Chapter 6: YOUR FEARS. Confronting Your Worries, Claiming Your Calling.

"Hear me out, and hear me good.  I'm about to write a long, run-on sentence, but I want you hanging on every word:  If God has given you clear direction, like He gave the children of Israel - direction that's confirmed by His written Word and by the sounding board of wise, godly counsel - and your only real reason for resisting Him is because you're AFRAID of what following Him down this path might mean or cost or entail, then you're not only on the threshold of being disobedient, you're about to miss an opportunity to give God some fresh, new GLORY by doing what He's wanting to do THROUGH you, which is the true impetus behind His invitation for you to join Him on this scary adventure in the first place."

That's convicting isn't it?

The Lord gets that we are scared sometimes.  And I'm not talking about the scared when there is a big thunder storm or you just got in an accident.  The Lord understand that and is there for you in ALL situations!  He didn't tell us about fear and trust so many times for no reason...

It's the fear that the ENEMY gets into your head to stop you from your God DESIGNED path in life.  The fear of flying... (yes I have that) the fear of public speaking... (well you already know that about me) the fear that something might happen in a foreign country...  That's why the song Oceans by Hillsong brings me to tears almost every time... Yup, I have a list just like you probably do.

But, we have to PUSH THROUGH... or as Mark Batterson says: 

PRAY THROUGH

And prayer is honestly the answer to it all.  I really can't tell you enough how much prayer has changed my life.  I'm scared just like everyone else, but I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW that the Lord has a plan for each of us!  And in the plan for us, He gets to show us how great He is, His glory gets to shine forth for others to see!  It looks different for everyone, but those same fears are the enemies tools to destroy our calling...  

And we need to FIGHT those fears with prayer!

Psalm 32:8 says: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."

I don't know about you but that REALLY gives me HOPE!  

By the way, this topic of fear came up because our middle daughter has a big speech coming up for her Senior Project and she is doing it on the Promises of God.  But she is so nervous about it.  (Brings back memories for some of us I'm sure...) She has such an outgoing personality, yet when it comes to speaking in a group setting, it scares her!  What's funny (maybe not so funny to her and she keeps asking me to stop praying for it ;) is that I know the Lord is going to use her in public speaking some day because she has been given a gift to speak.  She does a GREAT job at it!  So sometimes the things we fear the most are the things the Lord is testing us in and showing us that:

 OUR WEAKNESS is HIS STRENGTH.

So remember, if we realize that God is always there for us, that He is leading us and if we are on the right path and following the calling He has for our lives (remember Priscilla's words above?), then we have nothing to be afraid of!  

So next time you think about all those CANT'S...

Remember that YOU CAN, with Jesus by your side!

I LOVE this image I saw on Instagram this morning!!  

He did SO much for us... remember that as you face your fears today.  Don't be scared to move... Be scared NOT to.  The Lord has so much more for you than you can ever imagine!  Pray about what He is calling you to do and then step out in faith... BOLDLY.

Hugs,

Laura

P.S.  Just playing around in my journal with some white paint pens.  He MAKES a way... He always does.  

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Rest...

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Rest...

How's life going for you?  Have you had any time lately to "Be Still" and rest like we talked about a couple weeks ago??  If you're asking yourself what is rest... I hear ya!  There is just so much out there that wants to fill up our time that there isn't much "time" for rest.  Or if you're like me you think you are slaking if you take some time to do nothing but rest and be still...

I want to help change that for you.

I shared my bible journaling page last time on the verse "Be Still" and talked about how in order to hear the voice of God we need to be still.

I know that's not easy to do and it does require us to be still.  But it's not just about finding time to take a nap or go find a beach to sit at and just unplug... It also means to rest our minds, rest our hearts and be still in the Lord.

I found a quote on Pinterest the other day and I decided to change it just a bit and add it to this peaceful photo. (I took this photo on vacation a couple years ago...) 

 

Yes, it is a beach and I just said you didn't need to find a beach to rest... but it was so pretty I couldn't resist sharing!

So why should we "Be still" or "Rest in the Lord"??

On Sunday I'm not sure that our pastor was thinking about this (Be still or Rest) but what he said really hit home with me on this topic and I wanted to share it with you.

Here's the LAST thing the pastor said:

Hand in your mask...

What does he mean, you ask? Let me back track...

We're in Matthew 23 right now and we went over verses 1 - 12..  Jesus is talking about the scribes and pharisees and all the "greatness" that they esteem to. They want to be great in their places, they want to be seen as great, they want to be found saying great things.  But in verse 11 Jesus says:  "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

How does these two things tie together?

I think of those things that they (the scribes & pharisees) wanted to be found "GREAT" in and I fast forward to today...

We want our houses to look great, we want to look great, we go to great schools to sound great and get the all accolades... and the list goes on and on doesn't it?  

We want to look good on the outside or to the outside world...  

We put on MASKS.

I'll be honest.  This is a reality check for me.  I'm definitely the one scrolling Pinterest to see the latest trends or to look at things to do to make my home better or my skin prettier... I'm checking out Instagram and Facebook and posting pictures...sharing my "best self" on line, even putting my best bible journaling pages out there for the world to see.  I don't think this is ALL bad so don't misunderstand me.  I will still be doing those things in the future, hopefully with the best intentions and not for self pride. 

What I'm trying to get at is this:

What is going on in the inside?  

It says in Psalm 51:6 "Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom."

 

Are we so worried about what the world sees?  Concerned or self conscious about looking good on the outside, or worried we will make a mistake or mistakenly show our true selves and wonder if people will not accept us any longer?  Are we running around being busy with all of this "stuff" that makes us look better that we don't have time to be still and rest in Him? Boy that's exhausting isn't it?  Not a lot of time to rest with all that going on in our heads, right?

Are we more worried about the outward appearance than the inward heart?

Back to why we are to rest in the Lord and Be Still...

Look back on the "Be Still" Bible Journaling page.  Psalm 46:10-11 says: "Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

It comes back to pride and humility... or maybe I should say Pride OR Humility.

These two character traits can't co-exhist... if we are truthful with ourselves.  Oh we can pretend to be humble, to be so Godly, to look so "clean cut" to the outside world.  But the Lord knows our hearts and we can't MASK anything from him.  We can certainly mask things from the world... for a while.  

And when we have that mask on, God can't work in our lives...

 Psalm 1: 1-4: 

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

It's NOT a waste of time to rest in Him.

It's NOT a waste of time to meditate on the Word of God.

And it's Life-changing to take that mask off and let the Lord shine through in your life.  That is when you WILL find rest.  Rest from the pressures we have put on ourselves.  Rest from the world... and rest from our pride.

Spurgeon said it best:

The way we rise is to sink self...

 

It's not US that needs to be exalted.  It's not US that is GREAT.   Let the Lord be exalted.  

Let Him shine through in your life.

I pray you will be blessed today and take the time to Be Still.

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

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Love, Tuesday...

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Love, Tuesday...

Happy Valentines Day on this Love, Tuesday!!

Love is from God and I am so thankful for all the love he has brought into my life. 

This guy... who takes me on a Vespa through Paris, and so much more!

These two... who give so much HOPE to those waiting on God to find their love.  And give us parents so much joy to watch grow in their love,  and know that our prayers were answered from when this beautiful woman was born and we prayed for her future husband.

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This family... the Lord has blessed me with!  Family is my life, but it isn't easy and no matter how many perfect looking photos we can post, it takes the Lord in the center and a lot of work to grow a family that truly loves each other.   I wish parenting came with an owners manual! 

This girl... who has grown stronger in the Lord through the good and the bad!  I am amazed at who she is and what the Lord is doing in her life.  WARNING: When you pray for your kids to be a light in this dark world... well then you know the enemy is going to try and destroy that light.  Pray HARD for your kids, they are the future and need to be bold in their faith, but make sure you are praying for a protection around them as well.  It's a scary thing to pray bold prayers on your children but the Lord didn't intend for us to live in a bubble of safe christianity...  

More on that in the next few blog posts.

And this girl... who is growing up WAY too fast in some ways, and still the baby in other ways. :)  This is the child who we didn't think was possible, so we are thankful for this miracle baby and can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for her.

I LOVE that I get to bring woman together in beautiful places to share our lives together and grow in our love of the Lord and in our love of being Creative.  

And I love that my hubby knows me... 

I hope you all have a great day of love.  No matter who you are sharing this day with, or if you are alone by yourself... know how much the Lord loves you and is waiting for you to cling to Him.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 

5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

8 Love never fails.

Hugs to all,

Laura

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