Back in November Andrew was approached by some friends to host a multi-parish retreat for the Diocese of Phoenix. If you've ever been to a Steubenville West conference, it was kinda like a mini version of one of those. At first he was hesitant to commit because leaving us for a whole weekend would be tough. Then they explained where the retreat was and how he could bring the whole family. Done and done! So last Friday we loaded up the car and headed to Williams, Arizona where the Lost Canyon, Young Life Camp is located.
Looking at the forecast we knew there was going to be a pretty good chance of snow. Thankfully my parents kept all our snow gear from our time in Indiana so we were able to borrow snow boots and such. Then I scored 3 winter jackets for the kids at a resale store for under $20 total. We were pretty much set. We also borrowed my sister Gabi for the weekend to help us with the kids. She was pretty excited to be coming along too.
When we arrived there was already a little snow on the ground and that alone was exciting. So we made sure the kids were good and bundled and the retreat got underway. Andrew did a fantastic job hosting the whole weekend. I was/am so so incredibly proud of him. It is so easy to see how much he loves youth ministry. Though it is tough on our family at times, seeing the impact he makes on the lives of these teens, makes it worth it. But I won't always readily admit that piece of information.
When Andrew was first asked to host, they told him they still needed a few more speakers. Call me crazy but I volunteered. I love youth ministry as well but being a mom comes first now and it leaves me with little time to do much else. Nonetheless I still miss speaking to teens so I asked if I could jump in on the retreat. The whole retreat focused on Mary the Mother of God and how she brings us closer to her son Jesus. At the beginning of the retreat all the classic misconceptions were debunked. The teens were reminded that we as Catholics to do not worship or "pray to" Mary, we simply honor her has the Mother of God and ask for her intercession. My session focused on how Mary brings us out of the shadows into the light of her Son. We started out with a two minute dance party (Shake it off) and the rest went smoothly from there. It felt really wonderful to give a proclaim about something that means so much to me.
On Sunday we woke up to 4 inches of fresh snow and it was still coming down. The camp had suddenly turned into this magical snow globe. It was breathtaking. I know that most of the country is sick and tired of snow but to all of us AZ natives this was incredible. There were snowmen being built, snowballs being thrown, and everywhere you turned someone (aka me) was singing "Do you want to build a snowman?". For a while there we were unsure if we'd be able to make the trip back home. Thankfully by the early afternoon the roads were cleared and we made our way back to the heat. I was happy to be headed home but a little sad to be leaving our winter wonderland.
It was such a wonderful weekend. I know Peter and James probably won't remember much (or any) of it but I'm so thankful for the memories that I have in my heart.
Here are some of my favorite images from the weekend!