This is a post about both of those things up there…totally separate, yet intertwined this last weekend.
When we lived in China there were some pretty great people who looked out for us.
And helped us survive. 
Yes that sounds dramatic, but seriously, for that first little while I started to wonder how in the world I would ever be able to feed my family!  We didn’t have a car, I didn’t speak the language, I had no idea how to navigate to a grocery store, everything was completely foreign including the food, and I had five growing kids who were HUNGRY.
So quite a few kind, good souls came to the rescue.  One of them was Kellianne (along with her family).  We met them at church one Sunday and they whisked us off, fed us dinner (which tasted more Heavenly than anything ever could at that point in our journey), and showed us the ropes, including having her driver take us all over (a lot of expats over in China have their own drivers, he was the best!).  We grew to be good friends over there on the other side of the world through our book club and recipes and child rearing in a foreign place.
So when she and her daughter got tickets for the Adele concert here in the desert, we were excited they were going to come stay with us overnight.
But plans changed when Adele got sick and cancelled her concert and Kellianne and her daughter decided to stay for the funeral of a family friend.  Such sad stuff right there.  
So they “got” to be here right in the midst of planning and heading out on our little Mia Maid retreat we had been planning for months and a few other crazy things swirling on around here.
They were awesome to help me go check out the place where we were going to go canoeing:

And listened to me glory in my love of the desert.

There is this place nearby at a lake that I’ve heard a bunch about and where we finally determined we’d do our canoeing (I’m not including all the changes of plans on this thing, along with changes in leadership in the YW, because that would take way too long).

But we got to this gorgeous spot on a HOT day and loved the wild horses there.

There were swimmers there, but we regretted our decision to join them when we got in to cool of and learned that it’s not so great to swim next to horses.  Ha!

The next day Grace and I took Averi (Kellianne’s daughter) along with us to the retreat and got to hang with thirteen crazy Mia Maids (she’s Grace’s age).

For people reading about this and wondering what in heaven’s name “Mia Maids” are, click HERE to find out.  Yes, it’s an old fashioned name but we go with it, and boy oh boy do I ever love these girls I get to work with!

We held our little over-nighter at my in-law’s house since it was close and they are still off on their mission in Africa.  It was so nice to get to be there, thank you Nana & Papa!!

Among other things we had a human piñata:

 Had some “lessons” on snapchat:

Ate dinner:

Played a whole slew of games:

That one up there was the one where someone is wearing headphones with loud music playing so they can’t hear you and they try to guess what people are saying.
I think the favorite game for all of us was “psychiatrist” where one person goes out of the room and everyone else figures out what their “issue” will be that the psychiatrist has to figure out.  One game we were all Disney princesses and the person in the middle had to guess what that theme was, another game we answered trying to impersonate the person to our left (that one was the best I think, we laughed so hard!) and the person in the middle had to figure out what in the world we were doing.  It’s hard to explain but it was pretty fun.
But the best thing we did in my opinion, right after dinner, right after breakfast the next morning, and right before we left for our picnic lunch, was devotionals.  Oh man I loved them.  We assigned all the girls into three groups before we left (with the Mia Maid presidency in charge), and they chose their topics and what they would present.  That way everyone was presenting in one way or another.  Each devotional was only about ten minutes long, but they were powerful.  The girls worked together beforehand and then presented their great thoughts about the choices we make in life, how to focus on what matters most, and how to keep Christ central in our lives.
One of my favorite things was to watch these girls present such beautiful things and see their parents in how they presented and what they said.  I know most of their parents pretty well and so much of them came out in how their daughters spoke and what they related.  It just made me so grateful all over again not only for the gospel that leads and guides us so much, but for families and how we can learn and grow together, and how amazingly well the parents of these girls have taught them to love and to serve and to strengthen their faith.  
There wasn’t a lot of sleep that went on on this little retreat.  
Nope, there were girls still swimming at almost 3:00am.  But it was such a great bonding thing and I loved watching the girls look out for each other and become even better friends.
After breakfast, clean-up and the devotionals the next day we headed to the lake.  Here’s my car-full:

 (the others were in the other car)

 We had a couple dads (Dave included) help us lug all those canoes out there.  We were so grateful for them!!

(We took a little dip…well away from the horses this time:)
And then soaked in those beauties from shore.

 So grateful for these girls and all they taught me this weekend!

 …and grateful for all the leaders taught me too. Love these ladies!

Back at home, we spend our last night with Kellianne getting rocked by her and Lucy in Rummikub.

Do you think Lucy was happy about that?  She’s a Kellianne fan forever 🙂

We bid goodbye to those great souls Kellianne and Averi after church and I scrambled to get all the last pictures of the Young Women I was in charge of for something else and to teach a lesson (on family, which didn’t turn out how I planned, dang it, but I hope the girls at least got a few things from my tired rambling) and hit the two other farewells of kids we love that afternoon and different open houses that evening in between listening to our own missionary’s new voice memo from Taiwan.

Phew.  Life is good.  And full.  And crazy.  And I’m grateful every day for all that we get to learn along the way.  And get second chances.  And get more sleep.

Happy Tuesday!

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