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Love, Tuesday... Work & Italy

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Love, Tuesday... Work & Italy

I know... that sounds like an oxymoron.  Work and Italy together.

It's rough.  ;)

But seriously... we DID work, and even though it is the most incredible, inspiring and enjoyable place TO work, we want to make sure that when you come to Italy WITH us, we are showing YOU the most incredible, inspiring and enjoyable places while you are there!

Here is a snapshot of some of the places we saw while we were working:

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We have been to Lake Como many times, (I think this was my 16th time) but this was the first time we were there so late in the fall.  It was STUNNING.  I just didn't realize you would see so much COLOR.  Someone told me while we were there that on the lake they have about 40% of their trees that change color.  Wow, was it gorgeous!

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This little hamlet of Bellagio is one of my favorites.  It's very hidden and most people never explore it, but it has some amazing views of the other side of the lake and this building is one of my favorite buildings in all of Bellagio.  As we were walking here I had an inkling that this house would be beautiful, because in the summer it is covered in these green leaves.  Well, I have to say that at this time of year it is just showing off!  hahaha

I couldn't get enough of it... I think I took photos from every angle I could get.  :)

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We both just couldn't stop taking pictures!  And that is why I could kick myself for not taking the good camera!  I know the iPhone has a great camera, but it just doesn't have the capabilities of a good digital camera.  So remind me next time... take your good camera Laura!

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This is another angle of the photo I posted yesterday on "What path are you taking?" blog post.  This door and path is on the way to that same hamlet in the photo above.  I walk past this door every time I'm there and I had such a urge to open it and see what was "behind that door"   :)

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And of course I always find a "heart" rock.  Ok, they might not be perfectly shaped like a heart, but I'm ok with that.  To me it's just a "God wink" that I always find one.  It's like my little sign that I'm where I am supposed to be and the Lord is IN THIS.  This job, this dream, this mission... He has it all in His plans and we are just a tiny little part of the equation.  We have been praying over this place and what the Lord is calling Rebecca and I to do here and we know He is showing us some amazing plans! 

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And this lady right here, Rita, she is a BIG part of that!  The Lord brought her into our lives for a reason and we are so blessed by her.  She has such JOY and PASSION for her Bellagio.  I am so grateful we have been able to "team up" with her and that she WANTS to show us her lake!  It was such a fun WORK WEEK with her and we have lots to show YOU now.  

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Rita also introduced us to an amazing artist, right there in Bellagio!  We were so honored that he would take the time to meet with us in his studio and talk to us about his art, his plans for a studio he is building and how we can work together in the future.  Exciting things happening and I will be sharing more very soon!

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So there you have it!  We have some new things on the horizon for our Art & Faith Creative Retreats!  We look forward to what God is doing and what He has in store for those who come.

We are looking forward to meeting the next group right here in June of 2018!  If you are still interested in joining that group, there are a few spots available and I always, always say this... if the Lord is putting it on your heart to come, then listen to Him and trust that He will make a way.  

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He brings the people to our retreats that He has already planned to be there... for a reason.  There are way too many examples of this to tell you right now, but the ladies who have come can tell you.  They needed to be there and it changed their lives in some little or big way...  For that reason we will continue to do these retreats as long as the Lord allows.  

Which brings me to the reason why we went in October... (although we didn't know it at the time... but the Lord is ever patient with us and guiding us to what He wants...)

We are going to do TWO retreats in Bellagio next year!!

Yes, we are!  We will be sharing the details of the next one VERY SOON.  We are so blessed by the lady who will be teaching with me and I still can't believe it!  We are praying about what this will look like and the exact dates, but it will most likely be the last week in September or the first week in October.  

If you are at all interested in coming to Lake Como, Italy with us next fall then please send me an email via the CONTACT page up at the top.  I will put you on the email list when we announce it... very soon!

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The Lord is gathering people.  He WANTS us to meet together.  I pray you consider joining us in that and seeing what He has in store for you.

Hugs,

Laura

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Go out in faith...

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Go out in faith...

Have you asked yourself this question lately... or ever??

What are you called to do?

 

No, not what you are doing... your job, your family, your everyday tasks...

Bigger.

 

Why are you here? What do you think is your calling?

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I'll be completely honest with you and tell you that that was not something I spent ANY time thinking about.  For way too long actually.

Oh there's that time in everyone's life when you're about to graduate High School and you think about what you want to do with your life.  Where should I go to college... what kind of job would I like to have... but "my calling"...  it's just not really something I spent time thinking about.  I think more of my life was spent LETTING things happen.  As a girl growing up 30 years ago I knew I wanted to be married, have children and I wanted to be able to stay home and raise them.  Those were my goals and even though they may seem so simple in this day and age, that was my hearts desire.  I don't see anything wrong with that, but maybe I can dare to say it was not giving God a big enough place in my life?  Or maybe it was a little self centered, or at best just "safe"?  Don't get me wrong... I want my daughters to have those same things even now and they are NOT bad things to want!   

But beyond those simple goals I had, I don't think I asked myself that question I just asked you.  But it IS a question to be asked.  It's SO important to ask yourself.  Because it gets to the heart of WHO God is.  

Who He wants YOU to be.  

We aren't here to merely grow up, find a job, get married, have kids, etc. etc...

Those things are going to happen.  But getting back to the bigger question, I want my daughters to ask themselves that NOW... I want YOU to ask yourselves that question now, at whatever age you may be.  So that you are driven by a purpose set in motion the moment you were born.  Each one of us has a purpose.  Do you know what that is?

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Think of anyone you know who has a PURPOSE in life.  You can tell who they are.

I can think of some dear friends that I know KNOW their purpose.  I think of someone like Franklin Graham (and of course his dad Billy) who KNOW their calling.

I also know an author that is stirring up these thoughts in my head... here's a quote from his book "Chase The Lion"

"In every dream journey there comes a moment when you have to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.  You have to go after a dream that is destined to FAIL without divine intervention."  Mark Batterson

I know I have mentioned his name and his books many times... but it's because nothing, outside of the Word of God, has spoken to me so loudly at this point in my life!

"In God's book, success is spelled stewardship.  It's making the most of the time, talent, and treasure God has given you.  It's doing the best you can with what you have where you are."  Yes, that's Mark Batterson again.

Now let me tell you that long story I've been meaning to tell you:

This past summer we were supposed to be gone for 6 weeks.  We were also supposed to go to Paris, France as part of our trip.  I LOVE Paris and as you saw in past photos I took Rebecca this Spring, was there last week and plan to go next summer with a group of ladies.  

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BUT, I felt like we weren't supposed to go this past summer as a family.  So after talking with Lance about this feeling we changed our plans.  We had to change our plans again because when we were in Italy we felt like we needed to go home.  Which meant that we didn't go to Prague, we didn't go to Bruges and we didn't go to Michigan on the way home...

I say all this because it's part of the reason we are in escrow on 35 acres in Colorado!!!

You see I have been on a journey with the Lord these last few years and I am amazed at how much of a real, true relationship you can have with the God of the Universe!  I shouldn't be shocked about this.  I've always loved the Lord and have followed Jesus my whole life.  But I don't know that I have followed Him my whole life... WITH my WHOLE life.  And I also don't think I really listened to that "Still, small voice"... and that is SO important in this whole story.

A while back I told the Lord to USE me.  I remember writing it in my journal and crying over those words.  Because those are SCARY words to say.  There's a verse in 2 Chronicles 16:9 that says "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."  He is looking for YOU, for anyone who is willing to surrender their lives to Him and let Him use you!  He has AMAZING plans for you!  Trust that.

I know that because I have seen that in my life!  (Remember, I'm the one who wanted to get married, have children and live happily ever after in safe town...)  I didn't desire for big dreams or to travel the world or to be in ministry... all over the world!  I'm the one who hates getting on an airplane... or speaking in public!! But He is using my Art & Faith Creative Retreats and I know He has given me such a heart for the women that He has brought into my life through this.  I will do those retreats for as long as He allows and I am SO blessed that I get to share His love with women in beautiful places like Italy and France!!  But He is stirring my heart to more.  To be used in more ways and maybe even in bigger, scarier ways.

Getting back to the story...

We ended up taking a road trip to Michigan because we needed to get there from California now that we didn't have the plane ticket from Paris to Michigan.  Yes, it was long and boring and hours upon hours of driving.  But along the way we stopped at some friends houses and had fun.  One of those special places we stopped was at my dear friend Jeanne Oliver's home in Colorado.  They have such a special place and you can SO feel that when you are there.  She was so open with us and loved on us and truly is a gift in my life that I thank God for.   We also had some sweet moments with the Lord on our trip.  And... something about Colorado made us stop and FEEL His presence.  It happened on the way TO Michigan and on the way home from Michigan.  The mountains stirred in me something I didn't understand yet. 

Isaiah 55:12 says “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

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Rebecca and I talked about it all the way home.  We felt like Colorado WAS home.  That was so strange to us! All I can say is that the Lord was stirring our hearts and we were trying to understand it, but it didn't make sense.  Lance wasn't even on this road trip with us!  He's also a committed Californian... hahaha  He loves California!  We've talked about moving before and it just never worked out, but mostly because my hubby LOVES California!  Do you see what I'm trying to say?  This whole idea/desire brewing in us was CRAZY!  (God kind of crazy...)

So when we got back home we talked about the trip, all the long hours of driving, the great time we had in Michigan... etc, etc.  We told him how much we loved Colorado... and left it at that.

But in my own prayer time I started praying BIG PRAYERS.  Why did I feel so connected to a place that I didn't even think two thoughts about a month ago?  Why is my heart wanting to go back?  Would I REALLY consider moving out of California?  So in my own time with the Lord I asked him to do something.  I asked that IF He was stirring my heart to move to Colorado, then He would need to change Lances heart.  He would need to put a desire on his heart to want to leave California!  (I really thought "fat chance of that happening")

But things started happening...

One day a couple weeks later Lance said "I think I could move out of California".... What the what?

Then another day he said... "It would be nice to have space and land..."

Ok God... I see you.

At the SAME time, the Lord started showing ME things in His Word and in my prayer time.  I felt like He was directing me to the word "Gather" or "A Gathering Place" and He also lead me to some verses in Hebrews 10-:23-25 that confirmed this.  So at the same time that I'm hearing a foreign language come out of Lance's mouth (I could move out of California??) I'm feeling some confirmation on what is stirring in both of our hearts.

So I started doing some research.  Finding some reasons to move.  We started talking to people about moving.  It was crazy how fast things started moving.  Then one day Lance said, "Let's go check it out..."  

Now I'm all about moving and doing this if it's the Lord calling us to move and He has a purpose in all of this.  But I will tell you that I kinda freaked out for a bit.  I like California too!  And if I'm honest... I like my house, my backyard, my friends here, the nice warm weather here... we have it pretty nice here, in California!

But I also couldn't deny that the Lord was stirring our hearts and moving in our lives, and that is exciting!  It's scary... but it's also exciting when you can clearly see that the Lord is speaking and working in your life, for His purpose to be glorified.

So we went to Colorado... to look.

And it wasn't all sunshine and roses my friends.

The first full day we were there we met with a real estate agent who showed us some homes and land.  Lance wasn't all that impressed.  That day was long and rough and there was arguing and the girls were fighting and we didn't feel anything.  Oh Lance thought some places were nice, but not really what he was thinking it would be like.  So we got back to our hotel and it was not pretty.  Everyone was tired and less then in a good mood.  I thought ok Lord... we're going back home after this trip and California it is.  But I also cried and prayed and cried that night.  I asked the Lord to show us clearly.  I felt like He was opening doors and stirring things in our hearts, but was He?  Was this bad day we just had part of the enemy trying to step in the path of the Lords will and mess things up?  Was this just all my imagination/desire to move out of California and we weren't really seeing signs from the Lord working in us to fulfill a purpose?  I asked the Lord to show us or close the doors.

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The next day we met with a home builder.  I had talked with him briefly a week before we came and told him the vision I felt the Lord was showing me.  He was also a believer and shared some things with me that I really thought were pretty awesome.  So that day we met at their office and we talked about what we were there for.  He then showed us about 5 or 6 properties.  The first one was 35 ACRES!  What?  We were thinking 5 acres, maybe 10 would be HUGE... 35 ACRES... that was CRAZY!  (But ok Lord... You have plans that we don't understand.)  

And that land was pretty awesome.  

We were all looking around and seeing the potential, and I felt it.  The tears started.  Rebecca felt it too.  Of course Lance was trying to keep his cool and not get too excited (always the negotiator) but we prayed over that land right then and there, with the guy!  

We left and saw the other properties and they were nice too.  And... we were just there to LOOK.  Right?

Nope...

Lance was in the front seat with Drew as we were done for the day and heading back to his office.  Lance was talking to him about the area, business in the area (because He is starting a new business soon) and then Lance says: "So Laura, do you want to put an offer on that land?"

What!!??!! Ok... YES!  

And then tears again, and more tears from Rebecca... and then tears from Isabella (but unfortunately for the wrong reason... she didn't want to move.  but more on that at a later time)

So we went home that following Sunday IN escrow on LAND in COLORADO.

There is much about that that can be said.  But I would call it a MIRACLE.

The mountains certainly spoke that weekend and I think of this verse in Psalm 121:

Psalm 121: 1-2 says: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."

But I would also say that it started by listening to that "Still, small voice."  That it's more about the Lord looking to and fro for those who He can use.  That when you open yourself up to the PURPOSES of the Lord God who made you, He starts shifting things around.  Making things happen in HIS timing and in HIS ways.

That's not the end of the story though.  It's just the beginning...

And I'm going to be completely open with you.  It WILL take a MIRACLE to make this happen.

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I've shared a little about this move on social media and here on my blog.  We've shared this with our family and close friends.  But I'm going to tell you now... It will ONLY be God if this vision that He has given us comes to fruition.  You see, we don't have what it's going to take to make this whole thing happen.  35 acres of land, a house, a "gathering place," a vision for serving and loving others... It's all beyond our abilities.  But that is EXACTLY where God gets all the glory!  There are so many little things that we have needed to have answered in this process, doors to be opened, money to be available, (remember my husband isn't working...not so good for lenders looking to loan you money...)  and each time through this process we have had each one answered in the affirmative.  It's been amazing to see God working and we are trusting Him through all of this.  It's not an easy, stress free process as I'm sure you know.  But giving it to the Lord and trusting that He will shut or open the doors is where we need to be.  I'm so thankful to friends and family for praying with us, helping us with so many questions we have, and just listening to us talk it through.  Our church "framalies" our "Bellagio Girls" and so many more have been pray partners with us and we can't thank you enough!!

As we are going through this journey I have been reading "Chase the Lion" by Mark Batterson and there are so many things that speak straight to my heart.  It's really the perfect book at the perfect time.  Here's a few snippets from the book I have to share:

"God's dream for your life is so much bigger, so much better than breaking even.  If you focus on not making mistakes, you won't make a difference."

"When we lack the guts to go after five-hundred pound lions, we rob God of the glory He deserves.  By definition, a God-sized dream will be beyond your ability, beyond your resources.  Unless God does it, it can't be done!  And that is precisely how God gets the glory.  He does things that we can't do so we can't take the credit for them.  God honors big dreams because big dreams honor God."

"God is in the business of miracles and He also is wanting us to have FAITH in Him."

 

So we are going out in faith...

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And we should know by next week some time if this land is ours.  (or I should say God's)

If the Lord blesses us with this land, then we will take the next steps, in His perfect timing.

And I will share those steps with you as well.

Because it's also for YOU.  This "Gathering Place" isn't just for us.  

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Hebrews 10:23-25 "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together(gathering together), as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."

Thank you for taking the time to read this LONG post.  You certainly don't have to and there is certainly so much more entertaining media out there then my blog!  But if you are here, I know the Lord is speaking to you and showing YOU that He has a PURPOSE for you.  He WANTS you to ask Him what that looks like... and He wants you to not be afraid to TRUST Him with your life.  

Go out in FAITH...

Hugs,

Laura

Next time I will share my week in France and Italy with you!  It was an incredible week teaching in France and working on some new things for our retreats in Italy.  So much fun stuff ahead!  Here's a photo I'll leave you with that was at the most beautiful villa on Lake Como:

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