Living Education Retreat: South Dakota Edition

I just spent the weekend with some really great people at the Living Education Retreat. This year the retreat was in South Dakota, of all places. We stayed at the beautiful Buffalo Ridge Retreat Center.

I thought there would be more buffalo… 

Instead, there were barns. One of my favorite things in the whole world. Look at this beauty:


All I really need to be happy is a quiet field with a barn in it. And maybe a comfortable place to sit. And a blanket and a few books. And plenty of coffee, and maybe some cake…

(Thankfully, my husband doesn’t read this, so he can’t snort and comment. (!) )

Okay. Anyway.

This continues to be an amazing retreat put on by some very gracious women. Thank you Nancy, Karla, Sally, Kristen and Heidi!

Nancy opened the retreat with a talk on courage, which turned out to be good timing, because I was needing some courage…that talk reminded me of a few things I’d forgotten, so thank you Nancy!

Courage became the watchword during the retreat. It turns out that there are many ways to apply courage, and we even came up with a few new ones. We had a little fun with it, categorizing our situations into which type of courage we needed at the time! (You can go listen to that talk here, and then you’ll know just what I’m talking about.)

There were several sessions on architecture this year. Jenn Stec very helpfully brought to my attention how lacking our school is in the knowledge of architecture.

I will get right on that.

Since I’d never thought too much about architecture, I was a little surprised at what I picked up and began noticing on my drive back to the airport. There are beautiful buildings scattered around the middle of nowhere. I mean, western Minnesota.

I bought as many books as would fit in my luggage, which happens to be just a 16″ carry on. I have (unfortunately) become militantly paranoid about the airlines losing my luggage. I can barely handle having it out of my sight in the overhead bin during my flights. Yeah. It’s a little crazy. I’ll do a lot to avoid the gaze of the person at the lost luggage desk…

Okay, I bought as many books as would fit in my carry on and my purse. And maybe one under my arm.

I got to spend a bit of time laughing at/with this charming lady. (I know. My eyes are closed. But she was smiling. If you need to see my eyes, you can look at the next picture.)


It was so fun to room with a sweet friend I met at my first LER:


A highlight of my trip was eating flourless chocolate cake made by the amazing Jessi Strom. Seriously. It was possibly the best cake I’ve ever had.

Since I forgot my bug spray, I left with an unthinkable amount of bug bites as a little “thanks for visiting the Midwest” gift.

I was thrilled to meet some fellow adoptive moms, Rosie (Mom of 9!!!) and Jackie, a new friend who is about to take the the plunge into the foster-adopt world. If you think of it, pray for them this year!

Art Middlekauff (of Charlotte Mason Poetry) spoke on “How to Learn the Mason Method”. It was fantastic. If you get a chance,  I’d listen to that talk if I were you. He’s turned into quite the witty CM presenter. It was the sort of talk where you don’t want to step out for a moment for fear you’d miss something, so you just stay…no matter how badly you might need to use the bathroom or grab a sweatshirt. Or what have you.

Hanging out with Joy and Betty was quite hilarious and enlightening. I think we solved several world problems together. Or created more, it’s hard to tell.

I noticed something that I notice every year but especially this year: how patient Nancy’s kids are with all of the retreat attendees. They nicely answer questions, again and AGAIN (I watched). They run the book table, they are kind to alllll the people. They take chairs and stools upstairs, and then downstairs. And then outside. And then back upstairs. They play with the gobs of babies that come along with their mothers.  Nice work, Nancy’s kids. I’m impressed.

Here I am, being very impressed with one of Nancy’s kids:


(That’s my “very impressed” look.)

Well, I can’t believe another year has passed, and we have another Living Education Retreat in the books. It is always a special time with wonderful people. Thank you to all of you who worked so hard to make this a memorable and encouraging time!

One thought on “Living Education Retreat: South Dakota Edition

  1. You are always so funny, Mary! You didn’t mention your heartfelt talk that you gave at the retreat – which was so raw and encouraging. But my main question has to do with the cake. Where was I and why didn’t I know about Jessi’s confection??!

    Liked by 1 person

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