A little over a year ago, I was watching Superman plan, make lists, line things up and train for his next adventure. He was getting ready to climb the highest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley to celebrate making it to his 50’s. When he turned 40, he climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland. The man knows what he wants and goes for it.
I thought to myself, “Mar, what the heck would you do, if you could plan a dream get-away?” Hmm…in my wildest dreams? Yeah. Dream big, girl.
I would love to do faith based art in a beautiful setting. So I got to looking. As my mom would say, “Ask the Google.” So I did. A couple of retreats came up in the search. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m completely sure that Wisconsin is a beautiful state, but it wasn’t quite the exotic beauty I was looking for. There were some in other places around the country, but I really felt strongly that it needed to be focused on Christ. I wasn’t having much luck. Oh well….
Two days later, I got a blog post from an artist I drool over.She was inviting readers to join her in Italy. WHA-THE-WHAT?!? ART-FAITH-BELLAGIO, ITALY!!! All in the same place? Crazy! I screamed out “Superman! Get this…(blah, blah, blah)…in Italy!” Never. And I mean NeVer, did I think that I would actually do it, but I just thought that it was pretty cool. Then my sweet husband says very casually, “Sounds cool. You should go.” ?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Her said “AHHHH!!!”
Then Superman added “But you can’t go by yourself.” No problem I thought , as I was speed dialing Sissy.A year later, Sissy and I toasted to an amazing adventure ahead. A week ago we made it to Milan in the only way that MerryMary could do it. It was an adventure from the start. Being the great thinker of all possibilities, Sissy packed for every situation, thus having a suitcase weighing 12 pounds over the limit, before a $100 penalty. I opened up my bag and we put ten lbs into my suitcase. Her bag was still a few pounds over and not knowing how the new guy at the ticket counter would react, I put my foot up to the scale and kinda sorta helped the numbers. Having on shoes with rubber toes, I was able to lift the scale up ever so slightly to bring the numbers down into free zone. The next morning in Milan, a van was picking up the retreat participants at the hotel and taking us to Bellagio, an hour and half away. While Sissy and I were a eating breakfast these two beauties sat down at a table near us. “Could they be part of our group?” While in the little girl’s room with an alarm ringing, I ran into the younger lady. I asked her if she was with the Art&Faith Retreat, she said she was. She also confessed that she was the one who pulled the emergency cord in the stall by mistake. All of a sudden a waiter and manager came into the bathroom and started knocking on the stall doors. “M’am, are you ok?” This poor lady in the last stall was just minding her own business, doing her thing, when the staff starts knocking on the door and jiggling the handle thinking she was in trouble. Let’s just say, Courtney and I slipped out with a giggle.
The four of us joined the rest of the group downstairs and met our new friends. We loaded the bus and landed here an hour and a half later at the The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy. Whoa. Just gorgeous!This is the hydrangea path that led to our apartments for the week. The apartments are part of the hotel.Snacks and sweet gifts awaited us in each of our apartments. The view stunned us.Am I really here?!Shanna Noel, the beautiful, wise, creative, joyful, sweet soul of Illustrated Faith, inspired us with her testimony and encouraged us to explore different ways to be with God in our bibles.Washi tape, stamps, stickers and paint…oh my!Junelle Jacobsen, funny, whimsical, talented, shepardess, radiant beauty of Yes and Amen challenged us with sketching and water colors. Love letters from God, my unfinished piece about what my bible means to me.Yummy treats in the bakery shop window. Painting with water colors definitely took me out of my comfort zone. We toured Lake Como in a hand built boat.We ate amazing food in some amazing places.We walked the neighborhood streets, watched the boats in the harbor, smelled the flowers and were filled with awe at the beauty all around us.This Italian cutie taught us to cook.TiramisuGnocchiBruschettaGelato was a must…e.v.e.r.y single day.We laughed. We cried. We laughed until we cried.Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends…Here’s to you Bellagio! To your breath taking sunsets…To the blessing of friendships…..To pizza and Jesus…Until we see each other again.