Good evening from Bellagio!  We have started the classes this morning with all the ladies and it has been a wonderful day with everyone!  It is the biggest group ever and it has been great getting to know everybody and show them around Bellagio.

They all arrived on Saturday afternoon and we welcomed them on the Grand Hotel's terrace by the lake.  Then that night we had a quick dinner at our favorite pizza place since most everyone was really tired and that was the best choice for a quick meal.  Check out the size of the pizza in Jeanne's photo! ;)  That night happened to be the Sagra Di Bellagio... the Festival of San Giovanni... and the Torchlight procession from our hotel to the town of San Giovanni.  It is quite a special event and we have planned our retreat around this yearly event in the past but since it usually falls on the night they arrive I know so many people are tired and may not be able to handle doing this event.

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But I told everyone about it and about half of them wanted to participate and even just walk with the crowd for a while.  It really is something to see and I know they had fun watching such a neat traditional Italian festivity!

Here are the two town light bearers who lit my torch while I took this photo.

Then you just pass the fire around and light other torches so here's some in our group as they get started.

That night after the Festival we had quite a storm pass through the town but by Sunday morning it was all washed away and a beautifully clear day for our tour of Bellagio.  Rita is our lovely tour guide (and my dear friend) and she is always loved by everyone who comes to Bellagio with me.  You can't help but fall in love with Rita within 2 minutes of meeting her!  And we got to take her Mother-in-laws dog Molly with us on the tour too because Isabella loves Molly so much. :)

We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon with her showing us her beloved Bellagio and telling us so much of the history of this place. Here she is explaining the church in the square by our favorite Caffe Bar sport where we go get a cappuccino every morning...  It was such a joy to watch everyone be captured by the stories and passion that Rita has for her lake!

She takes us to her mother-in-laws home that is literally on the point of Bellagio.  It's an amazing location and you can see the mountains far North at the end of the lake that are the start of the Alps.  Such a beautiful day it was... you can see the town of Varenna off to the right in this photo as well. 

Here's Molly and her walker for the day...

Villa Melzi is a beautiful villa still owned and lived in my the Melzi family.  They are gracious to open it to the public and we get to enjoy the beauty of their gardens.  Here is Rita explaining all the different vegetation and the history of this amazing family!  (Think Napoleon and Leonardo Di Vinci... I won't spoil it for those who plan to join me here next year...)

I don't know why the kids are so tired... we adults did just fine... 

Then that night we enjoyed an amazing meal with our friend and talented chef Luigi.  It is quite the experience and I won't tell you everything... so if you come to one of my retreats you will still be surprised.

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Today was our first day in the classes and we started off with an hour of devotions and some quiet time to bible journal or be in the Word out on the terrace of the Grand Hotel.  I shared my heart for these retreats and talked about my devotional that I shared a little about last time on here...

 

So I will put the first 2 days of the devotional down here below that I wrote and I hope you will spend some time on it this week as I post each day.  I will try to do all 7 days on here so you can also work through them with us.  I hope it blesses you in some way.

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Pray… Day 1 ~ What is Prayer?

1. Prayer is communication with our Creator.  

2. It is a relationship with the living God.   But just like in any other relationship when you don’t communicate, it falls apart.  So God wants us to seek a relationship with him and come to Him in prayer.  But to truly understand prayer, we must first have a clear idea of who God is.  

God is a personal being… meaning we can communicate and interact with Him. He cares for us, He has a plan for us and He loves us.  This is critical to prayer because if He wasn’t an all loving, all caring, all knowing, all powerful God…prayer would be meaningless.  

We know these things to be true because the Bible shows us all these things:

Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loves us.”

Matthew 6:8 “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 ” … if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 

He is all powerful and in control of everything in His creation.  He created prayer to commune with us and it is our way of serving Him and seeking His will for our lives.

Do you believe He is loving and cares about every detail of your life?

What do you want to bring to Him in prayer today?

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Pray… Day 2 ~ We are Called to Pray.

Throughout God’s Word we are called to pray.  In fact God commands us to pray. Prayer is also our weapon against a war the enemy is raging against us.  “Prayer is what brings the power of heaven down to earth.” Priscilla Shirer

When we pray we are:

~ Praising & Thanking Him 

~ Confessing our sins

~ Bringing our requests to Him

~ Interceding for others

Here are examples of how He calls us to pray:

Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray …"

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." 

Ephesians 6:18 ”And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."

Philippians 4:6 ”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Here’s a prayer “framework” from Priscilla’s book Fervent:

P - Praise.  Thanksgiving is one of the most important aspects of prayer.  Gratitude to God for who He is and what He’s already done should thread throughout every prayer because ultimately His name and His fame are the only reasons any of this matters.

R - Repentance.  God’s desire is to claim your heart and the hearts of those you love.  So prayer is also about what’s happening on the inside, where real transformation occurs.  Expect prayer to expose where you’re still resisting Him - not only resisting His commands but resisting the manifold blessings and benefits He gives to those who follow Him. 

A - Asking.  Make your requests known.  Be personal and specific.  Write down details of your own issues and difficulties as they relate to the broader issues as well as how you perhaps see the enemy at work in them or where you suspect he might be aiming next.  You’re not begging; you’ve been invited to ask, seek and knock.  God’s expecting you.  He’s wanting you here.

Y - Yes.  “All of God’s promises are YES!  (2 Cor 1:20) You may not understand what all is happening in your life right now, but any possible explanation pales in comparison to what you do know because of your faith in God’s goodness and assurances.  So allow your prayers to be accentuated with His own words from Scripture, His promises to you that correspond to your need.  There is nothing more powerful than praying God’s own Word.

If we are to be obedient to His will, then prayer must be part of our life in Him.

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Tomorrow we are headed across the lake to another town if the weather is nice and some of the ladies will be taking a cooking class in the afternoon.

If YOU are interested in joining us here NEXT SUMMER... don't forget the SIGN UPS for that will be THIS SATURDAY, JULY 1st!  You will be able to sign up for the retreat by clicking on the SIGN UP button on the top and then the REGISTRATION PAGE on the drop down menu.  I am not sure how to work the time change b/c I will be here in Italy, but I will let you know sometime tomorrow more of the details and the time that they will go LIVE on Saturday.

I know some of you have expressed interest in next year, so if you also want to be included on a email list just send me a message via the CONTACT PAGE at the top of this website and I will make sure you get the details before THIS Saturday.

Have a blessed day!

Laura

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