Murl and Ray Lorrig with Nativity Set on mantle

Pre fire nativity on mantle

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. ~Charles Bukowski

The first Christmas spent with my future in-laws, I noticed a unique and spectacular nativity set on the mantel above their fireplace. When asked about it, my future mother-in-law told how she had handcrafted it in a ceramics class. It was beautiful, and I could tell that it held special meaning for her. When I inquired more about it, she responded with a short explanation. “Working on that set gave me hours of time to pray through some challenging situations in my life.”

Later, I learned that she and a good friend had taken the ceramics class together. Instead of picking a simple “first attempt” type of project, Murl had chosen the large thirteen-piece nativity, which she decided to finish in a complex, multilayered glaze design that created a stunning modern-art effect. It was truly eye-catching.

Over the years, various Christmas tree and stocking styles came and went from my in-laws’ Advent décor, but that nativity set remained the standard feature. The holiday decorating was not complete until the entire set, including the floating angel that was secured above the display on a strategically placed nail, was in its place on the mantel. The individual pieces were large enough to fill the five-foot-long mantel, and they were always arranged in the same order. Mary and Joseph, looking lovingly at the baby Jesus lying in the manger, were placed in the center. The wise men and camels were set on one side of the Holy Family, while the shepherd, sheep, cow, and donkey were on the other.

As the years went on, I knew that each time Murl looked at that nativity, she saw more than an artistic portrayal of a beloved story; she saw her answered prayers.

On June 11, 2013, nearly 500 families lost their homes in the Black Forest Fire. Our little cabin in the woods and the retirement home of my in-laws on the lot next door were included in that loss.

Fortunately, we were able to get computers and photo albums out ahead of the fire, but Ray and Murl had evacuated without grabbing more than essentials—imagining they would be returning home shortly. We were especially glad to have had those computers with the photo files, which we had used to create a slide show several years back when we had celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. As a result, we were able to replace some of their wedding and family photos, and we set them around their bedroom and living space at the rental house just a few weeks after the fire.

We invited just a few close friends over to celebrate Ray and Murl’s fifty-seventh anniversary with us while we figured out how we should move forward after such a devastating loss. Some of those who joined us that evening had also lost their homes in the fire. It had been several days since we had been allowed to return to the burn zone to attempt to retrieve any surviving items. The fire had burned fastest and hottest through the area where we lived, and there wasn’t much left in the ash heaps where our homes had been. The children used wood and wire-mesh frames constructed by local Boy Scout troops to sift through the debris. Each day, they brought back what they found. A portion of a singed page to a beloved children’s storybook, the contemporary-art-looking shape of melted aluminum that had been a hub cap, and a ceramic teapot were some of their treasured finds.

Ceramic and fired-clay items were the most recognizable articles in the box in the garage where they stored their collection. A few of the pieces they had found were in an alcove at the entryway and were noticed by one of the other fire “survivors” who came by to celebrate Ray and Murl’s anniversary with us that day.

“Look at the baby Jesus from your nativity set!” my friend Susan exclaimed, turning over the blackened figurine in her fingers. “Our nephew found the lamb of our Precious Moments nativity set in the rubble, too. Isn’t it just like a breath of hope to have found those tiny pieces?”

Murl walked into the room just then and piped up enthusiastically, “Well, you will never believe what the grandchildren found in the rubble at our house—all thirteen pieces of my nativity! I don’t know how none of the pieces broke, since it was in the attic above the garage when the house burned down. How do you think that happened?”

No one had an answer for how every piece of the large nativity set could possibly have survived all that when so little else was recognizable. Each piece was easily identifiable and laid out on a shelf in the garage, looking like dirty, unfired ceramic pieces. The beautiful glaze was gone, but entire set was complete.

Murl smiled over the soot-stained pieces and said, “I have no idea what I’ll do with them, but I’m glad to have them.”

The coming year was filled with dealing with insurance and construction issues, and the nativity and other rescued items went out of mind. When Christmas came, the treasured nativity was not on the mantel for the first time in over thirty years. Although it seemed like a small thing in the midst of everything we were dealing with, I made a mental note to remember to look for a ceramics shop that could restore the set before the following Christmas.

A year after the fire my in-laws moved into their new home on the old lot. At first, there was a lot of joy and excitement as new furniture and furnishings were being picked out. However, shortly after the move, Murl began to decline. Her chronic back issues seemed to intensify, and then she was hospitalized several times while they tried to figure out how to treat her symptoms. Over Thanksgiving, she took a turn for the worse. After an extended hospital stay, she moved into rehab. We took turns staying with her, and she seemed to be losing the will to live.

Out of the blue, I remembered the nativity set and decided to set out in earnest to find a ceramics shop. I called Paint & Fire Pottery which I found online and explained the situation.

“Bring in the set, and I’ll have a look at it,” said Brenda, (one of the shop owners), thoughtfully. “I cannot make any promises as I’ve never had such a request before, but I’ll see what we can do.”

I brought in the set that evening, Brenda examined each piece carefully.

“Well,” she said thoughtfully, “they are actually in a lot better condition than I had expected. If you are willing to allow us to attempt to clean them up, re-glaze and fire them again, I’ll give it a go. No guarantees, of course. We just can’t tell how delicate the ceramic may be after all it’s been through. And there is a slight crack on the back of the Joseph figure. It may break down all together, but there is also a possibility that the new glaze will act like a glue once it’s fired again.”

“How much will it cost?” I asked.

“I’ll do it for $100,” came her reply.

That seemed like a bargain to me, and I left all the pieces there and gave them my phone number.

A few days later, I received a call from the ceramics shop.

“I’ve invited a friend to help me with the restoration project, and we’ve been brushing and scrubbing all these pieces. They look like new, and we are ready for you to pick out a glaze.”

I was excited to head back to the shop and stunned to see how the figures had been transformed—solid white and looking as crisp as the ready-to-go figurines on the shelves. I couldn’t believe these were the same black and singed items I had brought in. The hairline crack in the back of Joseph, my mother-in-law’s carefully etched M-U-R-L, and year she had inscribed at the bottom of some of the larger pieces were proof that they were one and the same.

The shop owner had never heard of the multi-layered glaze I described, so I chose a speckled brown glaze that I hoped would give a similar effect. She told me that it would take another a week for the project to be completed, and I was getting excited about the prospect of my mother-in-law having her treasured nativity by Christmas.

When I went to pick up the set, I couldn’t have been more delighted! It looked brand-new, and even the delicate Joseph had survived the restoration process.

Knowing that two people had worked so hard on the whole project, I asked, “How much do I owe you? I know it must have taken more time than you originally anticipated.”

“We’d really like to donate our services to this project,” the shop owner stated. “It was a pleasure to work on that beautiful set, and we think this is a wonderful thing you are doing for your mother-in-law.”

Tears were in all our eyes, but I insisted that they at least accept the originally quoted $100.

“I think this will be a perfect Christmas gift for her this year,” I said. “Thank you so much for all you did to make it happen.”


Fire scorched wise man and cleaned angel from Murl’s nativity


Once each piece was carefully packed in bubble wrap, I hurried to Murl’s room at the rehabilitation center. I noticed a box of white Christmas lights in the back of the car and decided that they would add a perfect touch to the surprise.

Entering her room quietly, since the lights were dimmed, I made my way to her bed and saw that she was asleep. I unwrapped every piece and arranged them in the familiar pattern on the counter next to her bed, interlacing the string of lights around the bases of the figures so they would be illuminated with a soft glow. Just as I plugged in the twinkle strand, Murl began to stir.

“That is so beautiful,” she whispered. “Where did you find that nativity set?”

“It’s your nativity set,” I explained. “I found a ceramics shop that was able to restore it.”

Tears welled up in her eyes, and a few trickled down her cheeks. “My nativity? Restored? It looks the same—but different, too.”

She was a little groggy, but I could tell she was cognizant and understood what I was saying.

“Yes,” I replied. “The same set.”

I shared with her all about the cleaning, how I couldn’t find the same glaze, and how the ladies had worked so hard to clean and brush each figure down to the raw greenware. She listened intently.

“It’s like a Christmas miracle,” she said softly. “It came through the fire different, but still beautiful.”

“Just like you,” I said.

She looked at me intently and said, “Beauty for ashes…”

The joy of the restored nativity set notably lifted her spirits. She told each doctor, nurse, and attendant about it over the rest of her stay at the rehab. She was released to go home shortly after the New Year, and I carefully packed up the nativity and took it home. For the past three years, it has been displayed on the new mantel above the fireplace in the familiar pattern, and a nail for the angel is permanently wedged between stones in the fireplace in the perfect spot for it to hang over the display for the holidays.

Murl still has her ups and downs, but I will never forget how the nativity she created in prayerful need brought her encouragement and hope so many years later, just when she needed them most.

Paint & Fire Pottery owner, Brenda Apland

Brenda Apland of Paint & Fire Pottery oversaw the restoration process

You can also read this story and 100 other inspiring Christmas stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Wonder of Christmas.

Wonder of Christmas 2018 cover

Chicken Soup for the Soul The Wonder of Christmas 2018

You can order your copy online at amazon.com


Reflecting on Mother’s Day.

Some people have one mother. She may be a praised saint or a vilified tyrant and her children may never know what made her so, but she bears that weight alone.

Being born into a military family set the stage for me to have many mothers in my life. It would be a challenge to identify ‘The One’ who had the greatest impact.


My mother

One of the few actual memories I cherish of my original mother, is hearing her merrily singing popular Broadway tunes as they came over the car radio. It is no surprise to me that few things have brought me greater joy than belting out the lyrics to musicals with my own children as we travel the roads of life together. The medical emergency which transported my mother from this life when I was a seven-year-old child, cannot change the power of those few treasured recollections.

When the first ‘step-mother’ walked into my life, she happened to have been my older brother’s 5th grade teacher the year my mother passed. While her stay in our lives was a mere six months in duration, the memory of her hand clasping mine as we stood in line to see ‘The Sound of Music’ at the theater, impressed on my young heart that while no one can actually take the place of another in our hearts, simple acts of concern, care, and compassion can go a long way toward bringing hope and reassurance to a grieving soul.

The second step-mother entered our lives in a fashion which would have been comical if it hadn’t bordered so close to the desperate. On the verge of deployment to Vietnam from his assigned base in the Caribbean, the obvious need of someone to watch his three children may have nudged my father into a hasty marriage to a fairly recently divorced mother of four.

A back-yard wedding was followed by a cruise of nearby islands for the honeymooners. Meanwhile, the seven children between the ages of 6-16 years old, began exploring our new life together. One of the most fascinating aspects of this arrangement is how nonchalant the involved adults appeared to be over the clear language barrier. Our four new step-siblings were native Spanish speakers and the three of us, fairly new to the island and mostly enclosed on the military base, spoke only English. Over the next few months we created a language hybrid dubbed ‘Spanglish’ and somehow managed to communicate fairly effectively in this unique manner over the next five years.

Yet, in the midst of these new challenges and transitions, our new step-mother impressed upon us all the values of determination and hard work. She added to the family income through both her small tailor shop (a skill in which she was impressively self-taught) and as the neighborhood beautician with our screened in carport housing her ‘salon’. In addition to the responsibilities of raising the seven children of a blended family, she ran two entrepreneurial businesses and kept an immaculate home. All of this she managed largely on her own as my father volunteered for three back to back deployments as he pursued his military career and the extra pay which helped to keep our motley crew afloat.

A final tour to Europe and my father’s retirement seemed to strain the union and another marriage dissolved into divorce. Through this new set of circumstances, the love of another kind of mother came into my life, the foster mother.

Friends of mine were about to be stationed to the Pacific Northwest and while helping them clean, organize, and prepare for the arrival of the moving company (skills which often grow to be second nature to ‘military brats’), my friend’s mother looked at me with brimming tears in her eyes and said, “I’m going to miss you so much! Why don’t you come with us?”

Cookie Ballard 1975

My first Foster Mother

At first this expressed desire appeared to be merely a stressed induced emotional response to the impending move. But as phone calls were made and meetings ensued which covered guardianship issues and detailing plans to cover travel and living expenses, I came to experience the love of this new kind of mother. She may have no biological, marriage, or legally induced obligation to care for the child she is ‘fostering’, yet she embraces mothering another soul simply because she has in her heart to do so. What a special kind of blessing it is to be so loved! The foster mothers in my life encouraged and guided me through sometimes tumultuous teen years while helping me to navigate schools, hormones, and budgets.

Murl and Ray Lorrig 2006

My Mother-in-law

Several years and another foster mother later, my college education was interrupted by my own marriage. Here I found the love of yet another kind of mother, a mother-in-law. My MIL had seven children of her own. Her only son was my new husband and she also had six daughters ranging in age from 12-20 years old. In the midst of her own bustling life, she had the heart to welcome another daughter into her circle-the woman her son had chosen for a bride. Through her example I learned that there is a way to make room in your heart to love someone new-even when your cup is full!

Almost four years of infertility in the early years of our marriage revealed to me that mother instinct can be powerful enough to propel a woman to overcome tremendous obstacles. When my firstborn child arrived after a challenging pregnancy, the kaleidoscope of love from all the mothers in my life seemed to arrange themselves into a beautiful pattern, illuminated by the dawn of my own motherhood. Early motherhood insecurities gave way to joy as our family grew over the years through birth and adoption to seven children of our own. Now I have experienced myself the joys and sorrows of being a natural mother, an adoptive mother, a mother-in-law, and more recently, a grandmother too.

A friend of mine had shared with me once that her mother had commented about me, “She is a natural born mother. It comes to her like falling off a log.”

She obviously had no idea how the very thought of being a mother had caused me to break out into a cold sweat as a young woman. Yet, the host of beautiful mothers who impacted my life through a variety of situations and circumstances encouraged me along the way – as only mothers can.


My grandmother and I with a dear friend

I marvel at all the mothers who have touched my life. Those mentioned here and grandmothers, pastor’s wives, and mother friends who have all encouraged me through many stages of life. What measure can determine the mother who impacted me most? The one who gave me life? The one who reached out to me in my deepest need? The one who stayed the longest? The one who sacrificed the most?

While the limitations of life may have prevented any of them from being able to fulfill every need in each situation, my life is blessed beyond measure because they were willing to mother me.



Gabriel and Donna Lorrig 2017

Some young people enlist in the military to discover what they want to do in life. Others make serving a life goal which they pursue intentionally. Such is the case of my son, Gabriel, who spent his childhood playing war games. As a teenager he applied himself as a member of the Civil Air Patrol. Completing his Search and Rescue training, becoming a certified First Responder, and reaching the rank of Lieutenant-when he achieved his Billy Mitchell award-are just some of his early accomplishments. Although his best friend had accepted a commission into the United States Air Force Academy, Gabriel’s desire was to begin serving right out of high school as an enlisted airman. He intended to work his way through the ranks as his grandfather and great uncle had before him.

Gabriel Billy Mitchell Pic

During his Basic Military Training he developed a pretty severe case of bronchitis, but was still able to graduate without being held back. We knew he was disappointed not to have achieved honor graduate status. But were not really surprised when the honor graduate from his flight stopped by to chat with us while we were enjoying lunch after the graduation ceremony.

“Gabriel really helped me through this whole basic training and made it possible for me to achieve this award,” he shared. It is very much in Gabriel’s character to help others reach their goals-even if his own aspirations ended up on the back burner.

Over the next two years of his active duty, he was proud to have been ‘coined’ 5 times by a variety of his superiors and attracted the favorable attention of a three-star general at Maxwell, AFB, in Alabama. In the fall of 2012, he was excited to find that he was being deployed to the Middle East. He had always enjoyed traveling and experiencing different cultures.

2012-11-29 13.20.54

We knew that he had been experiencing some complicated health issues and growing up in a military family myself, I understood the seriousness of the call I received which let me know he was being ‘medically evacuated’ to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for treatment. The most challenging health conditions of soldiers from deployments often ended up in Germany.

Once the news came that he had been admitted to the hospital, I immediately began to make the arrangements necessary to get to his side as quickly as possible.

Colorado Springs area, where we live, is a military town surrounded by Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, Fort Carson, NORAD, and the US Air Force Academy, and it seemed that everyone I encountered that day was filled with compassion and understanding. At ENT credit union, the teller seemed upbeat and interested as I made my withdrawal.

“Big plans for the weekend?” she asked kindly.

“Heading overseas,” I replied with tears beginning to brim in my eyes.

“Where to?” she countered.

“To see my son in Landstuhl…” the ‘Germany’ caught in my throat and I couldn’t say anymore.

Immediately assessing my situation, she replied, “I was born at Landstuhl. Quite a complicated delivery they tell me. All the best doctors in the world are there and I’m sure he is getting the very best care possible.”

Words were impossible for me but as I completed my transaction, she spoke encouragingly again, “I’ll be praying for you both.”

How thankful I was that she seemed to know the situation was dire and didn’t ask for details that I couldn’t share.

Within twenty-four hours of the initial call, I had boarded a flight headed to Germany.

While on the plane and waiting in line for the lavatory the man behind me asked amiably, “Where are you headed?”

“To Landstuhl,” I replied, almost choking out the, “Visiting my son.”

“I spent some time there many years ago,” he replied reflectively. “I’m glad you are able to go. The doctors there are all top notch. Thank your son for his service for me.”

After the plane landed in Frankfurt, we waited to get off the aircraft. Finally, the pilot announced, “There’s been a delay with the plane sitting at our gate. We will disembark here and shuttles will take you from the tarmac to the terminal.” As I boarded the shuttle and sat down, the woman behind me asked cheerfully, “What brings you to Germany?”

“My son has been admitted to Landstuhl,” came my vague reply. After a quiet moment, her husband leaned forward and put his hand on my shoulder. “Would you mind if we pray for you? I’m a retired military chaplain…” I nodded my consent, not trusting that I could actually form the words to reply.

When we arrived at the terminal the chaplain asked, “Is anyone planning to meet you at the airport?” Shaking my head, the realization dawned that while my focus had been on getting to get to Germany, I had neglected to make plans for getting to Landstuhl or for where to stay once I arrived.

“Follow us,” the chaplain had directed. “We’ll get you through customs and take you to the USO.”

Falling in line behind them, we shortly arrived at the USO. A spot on a van headed for Ramstein and Landstuhl was secured for me, and along the autobahn, I marveled at the serene landscape filled with vibrant autumn colors and dotted with white farm houses, each with identical red roofs. Appearing to be generations old, yet as if ordered to uniformity, they all looked indistinguishable. Maybe my mind simply couldn’t process differences, but I allowed the revolving scene lull me into a measured calm.

The van driver dropped off each of the other passengers before me when we arrived at the gate of Landstuhl, obviously the last stop on his route.

“Do you have your orders?” he questioned me.

“Oh, I’m not in the military,” the words stumbled out, “I’m here to see my son who has been admitted to the hospital.”

“Didn’t you get an email with instructions from the Red Cross?” he inquired.

“No, I didn’t even think to wait for that,” I admitted. “I just got here as quickly as I could.”

He seemed mildly surprised, but since there was no one else to drop off, he came with me to the gate. After explaining the situation to a few different people, a passerby overheard the dilemma and offered to sponsor me on to the base. Once through the gate, we walked across the street to the hospital and the kind stranger gave me directions to the information station.

With just a small carry-on in tow, I was escorted to the elevators and through long hallways toward my son’s room. The large bio-hazard notice on his door took me by surprise, but the assisting nurse explained that he was in isolation. My belongings would remain in the hall and everyone entering his room was required to ‘gown up’-including gloves, booties and hairnet-‘as a precaution’ they said.

My cell phone battery had died during the trip, so I was unable to call ahead to announceGabriel Landstuhl 2012 my arrival before I reached his bedside. Nothing could have prepared me for the overflowing sensations I experienced walking into that room. Looking down at my young warrior son-emaciated, yet, laying peacefully asleep with wires and tubes attached to his frail broken body. Could this really be the same young man who had so recently run a ten-mile race through Garden of the Gods? No, this shrunken version of that young man was more reminiscent of his ten-year-old self. The little boy who dreamed of growing up to be a hero. Frail, pale, and barely making a lump in the sheets of the bed, laid my precious son.

Suddenly realizing his nurse was attempting to update me on the specifics of his care, diagnosis, and treatments, I strained to comprehend all that she was saying. Dragging my gaze away from the sight of his motionless form on the bed.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “He tried to tell me that you were coming but I thought he was hallucinating. Let’s see if we can rouse him.”

She moved closer to the head of his bed and placed a gloved hand gently on his shoulder.

“Mr. Lorrig,” she said, giving him a gentle nudge. “Your mother is here to see you.”

His blue eyes blinked open a few times, unseeing, and then he was able to focus.

“You’re here,” he whispered and a brief smile caught the edges of his mouth. “I knew you would come.”

The next morning the doctor on his rounds caught me in the hall.

“I’m so glad you came when you did,” he shared. “Yesterday, we were not sure he would make it through the night. But, I’m happy to see him still here today-and I think he is going to make it.”

Gabriel Landstuhl 2 2012

It was a long month of treatment and recovery until Gabriel was stable enough to return to the USA for continuing treatment. Three years later, he is medically retired and finishing up his bachelor’s degree and reaching toward some new life goals.

That trip to Germany reminded me that it’s good for our heroes to know that we understand the sacrifices they make for us, and it’s not too much for them to expect that we’ll be there for them when they need us too.

Dr Dobson and Eileen 2017Canadian Armed Forces Chaplain (Retired), Mike Adamczyk and his wife Eileen with Dr. James Dobson

At the end of a four-year military posting in Colorado Springs, a friend asked the Adamczyks if there was anything they hoped to do in Colorado before returning to Canada. Their only request was the opportunity to tell Dr. Dobson, face-to-face, how thankful they are for the guidance and hope he has given them over the years, first as parents, and now as grandparents.

On Thursday, March 30th, Eileen and Major Michael Adamczyk met briefly with psychologist, author, and radio personality, Dr. James Dobson, founder and president of Family Talk (and previously Focus on the Family) to share their appreciation for his ministry to families over the course of their lives.

Like many who come from troubled childhood backgrounds, the Adamczyk’s aspired to raise their family with a different set of values and experiences than those they had grown up with.

“Mike and I both came from unchurched, highly dysfunctional homes. As children, we experienced emotional abuse, neglect, exposure to immorality, and continual verbal affirmation that we would never amount to anything,” shares Eileen. “My father never talked-only yelled. My mother never talked. She was silent on all fronts. There were no words of love, no affectionate touches, no relational interaction.”

Her husband’s background was not painless either.

“Although he had a good relationship with his mother, his father had very little to do with him. Scarce times spent together usually ended in harsh words intended to remind a little boy that he was useless and would never amount to anything. As a teenager, his parents gave Mike a t-shirt which proclaimed, ‘Number 1 Useless Son’.”

Eileen and Mike Adamczyk 2017“We looked to Dr. Dobson through the years for guidance to raise our children to be responsible godly people,” shares Eileen. “We gained confidence to train our children differently from how we were raised. Our marriage and family life were forged in a new direction through listening to Dr. Dobson over the radio speaking in such a loving and caring manner. I felt embraced with comfort, God’s love, hope, and godly counsel, and was overwhelmed with the extension of God’s love through Dr. Dobson. This was God’s father-heart exemplifying parenting as it should be.”

“As our oldest two children reached school age we heard radio interviews Dobson aired with Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore,” Eileen laughs. “We launched into home education with wide-eyed trepidation and ended up home schooling all three of our children through high school.”

“We decided early on that, because his counsel was based on God’s Word, he could be trusted,” says Eileen. “Amid a barrage of voices telling us how to live, we settled on tuning into his guidance and instruction.”

The Adamczyks followed the guidelines of Dobson’s ‘Dare to Discipline’ book released in 1970 which was creating a controversial parenting standard for that generation of parents, by advocating for spanking as a correction tool for children up to eight years old. Following on the heels of the permissive ‘anything goes and everything allowed’ trends of the 1960’s-this return to common sense parenting was embraced by millions of readers who made the book an instant best seller. Many editions of that original book (and over a dozen other books which followed) have propelled Dobson onto a lifetime career championing for the family.

“We felt like pioneers with an essential “guide book” from Dr. Dobson,” Mike confides. “Our decisions were not always popular with our friends or family, but we were able to move forward without constantly questioning ourselves.”

“We took Dr. D’s advice and took action – discipline- as soon as the set boundaries were crossed,” reflects Eileen. “Through the years people would tell us ‘you’ve got such great kids!’ We would smile and say, ‘Thanks, Dr. Dobson raised them!’”

“We’ve learned so much about the value of family by reading Dr. Dobson’s books and listening to his radio programs. Life is really all about the family unit. Work, things, ourselves, sports, and even making money, take a back seat to our largest priority-family. It’s about raising children who will be effective for God’s kingdom. Time, love, patience, investment, and instruction are essential elements to parenting which we learned from Dr. Dobson.”

Eileen and Mike Adamczyk flowers“We also took his advice on how to keep romance alive in our marriage,” says Eileen. “We STILL go on dates, hold hands, and remain intentional about investing in our relationship. Recently, Mike took me on a date to IKEA-just because he knows how much I love to go there.”

When asked how they think Dr. Dobson’s message can benefit young parents today, Eileen explains, “There are even more voices these days trying to sway young parents, than there were when we started our parenting journey. Media is relentless, but Dr. Dobson is so wise and consistent with a no-frills plan for raising a family in this generation. His experience as a counsellor and parent/grandparent are proven and priceless. Our daughter has expressed to us how thankful she is that we had Dr. Dobson to guide us through her growing up years. Now that she is mother to four busy children of her own, she is glad that she has the same Family Talk resources to fall back on.”

“Mike and I thank God daily for our three amazing adult children,” says Eileen. “First, and most importantly, all three love the Lord and strive to follow God’s heart.”

Aaron is a technical advisor for a leading oil company in North America. His wife, Stacey, is a stay-at-home-mom who creatively fits home business into their active schedule. Aaron and Stacey have two beautiful little boys.

Bethany is a stay-at-home-mom to four busy and bright children. She lovingly supports her husband Jon, who is a pastor/church-planter. The Adamczyk’s especially enjoy how Jon and Beth are intentional in teaching God’s Word to their children on a daily basis.

Josiah is moving towards getting his Master’s in counseling with intention to help those who are broken, helpless and hopeless. His wife Sarah is just finishing teacher’s college and will begin her career as a teacher shortly.

Eileen and Mike Adamczyk Collegiate Peaks

“We thank God for Dr. Dobson. He gave our home stability and helped us apply God’s Word as we moved forward,” says Mike. “Now we look forward onto two new generations that come from our family tree. We are renewed. We are planted by the streams of water!” (Ps 1:3)

Major Michael (Mike) Adamczyk and his wife, Eileen, have been married for 37 years and have three grown and married children who have presented them with six wonderful grandchildren. After 30 years of service as a chaplain with the Canadian Armed forces, they are returning to Canada to enjoy their retirement years.


A couple of years ago, we found ourselves in the uncomfortable situation of needing to rebuild a home from scratch-zero, zilch, nada… From the ground up, we needed to figure out every single detail. Under normal circumstances, I may have viewed a project like this as fun. Rebuilding after a total loss fire-not so much.

After we moved into our new home one of my favorite house warming gifts (given to me by a close friend who knows me quite well) was a pair of adorable kitchen hand towels that say, “My Kitchen is for Dancing” and “I Only Have A Kitchen Because It Came With the House”.

So how come I to be singing the praises of such a thing as a ‘prep kitchen’??? Hear me out.

As a general rule, I don’t particularly care to cook. However, I love to have people over to visit and basic hospitality requires feeding friends if they stay for any length of time. Hence, loving people visiting=cooking.

Our cozy cabin in the woods (pre-fire) sported an efficient 11’ x 11’ kitchen. It was really quite effective and if it had a pair of saloon doors across the entry, it could have almost been a prep kitchen on its own. Silly me, I didn’t even know what a prep kitchen was in those days.

As in many homes, our old dining room and kitchen were side by side and it seemed to me that nothing ruined the effect of a beautifully set table, as the background view of the kitchen mess created during the preparations of the edible portions of the event.

Although I had developed quite efficient habits of washing and cleaning as I went, invariably there would be some unsightly clutter lingering in the kitchen in spite of my best efforts.

During a visit to a friend’s Open House I discovered the prep kitchen. Having also lost their home in the Black Forest Fire of 2013, a local builder/designer team, All About Home, had taken the challenge to rebuild their home for whatever the insurance settlement was and they made it into the multiple award winning Field of Dreams, for the 2014 Colorado Springs Parade of Homes. Somehow, I had missed those details of their story but had gone to the open house and toured their new home. All of it was lovely and exactly reflected the French country charm which embodies my friend. But one element in particular stood out to me as being an innovative, practical, and a ‘really should have if at all possible’ feature: the prep kitchen.

Check it out, what is not to love!


All About Home ‘Field of Dreams’ prep kitchen

The window over the sink made this one perfect to me but really it was the general concept which struck me as genius.

Extra sink and additional counter top for food prep. Shelves and cabinets, bright lights, and cold storage. Honestly, this prep kitchen felt like most everything needed was right here-and when you walk out, the door closes behind you. Image having friends over and sitting down to dinner while the kitchen looks fantastic and your prep mess is hidden behind the door of your prep kitchen!

Our rebuild was in the framing stage at this point and the original plan did not include a prep kitchen. Fortunately, it did include a good size walk-in pantry which shared a wall with an oversized laundry room.

After stopping by the construction site to see if alterations looked possible, to my optimistic eye, it looked as though no supporting walls would be affected and only one vent would need to be moved. Our contractor confirmed my assessment and said the prep kitchen was a great change in the plan. Bless him! A contractor intent on a happy costumer is a huge bonus in life.

img_3709Our prep kitchen at approximate 7’6” X 5’6” ended up being perhaps a quarter of the size of the one in our friend’s house but – I LOVE IT!

The basic concept of a dedicated, organized pantry/work space, enabling the best possible entertainment experience and providing personal peace, is worth the additional square footage and expense it might require.

Since our prep kitchen is relatively small, the cost seemed rather reasonable. Kitchen cabinets were ordered from Lowe’s (to match the ones in the regular kitchen), left over bathroom tile was used for counter tops (after we discovered that a pre-cut counter would not fit through our sliding pocket pantry doorway), and the kitchen flooring simply extended into it as had been planned for the pantry. Cabinets, counters, sink (with disposal), and mini-fridge, are the main features of our prep kitchen. Besides groceries and other storeroom items, it conveniently stows other often used (but unsightly) kitchen appliances including a microwave, toaster, popcorn popper and more. A bread box and knife block stay on the counter and a shelf above the sink holds handy items and knick-knacks.

Our builder wisely advised us to install a large flush mount ceiling light fixture which provides plenty of illumination no matter where you are standing, and ensures clear visibility while you are working.

If you like your kitchen organized and beautiful, and your work spaces convenient and accessible, do yourself a favor and see if there might be room in your home for a prep kitchen!

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Sleeping Beauty principle cast: L-R Anastasha Williams (Gold Fairy), Kira Walton (Princess Florine), Josie Hawkins (Sapphire Fairy), Christopher Moulton Guest Artist of Colorado Ballet appearing as (Prince Désiré), Natatia Warzabluk (Princess Aurora), SarahRose Lorrig (Topaz Fairy), Brianna Kline (Lilac Fairy), and Julia Goodrich (Diamond Fairy) Photo courtesy of Ballet Society

Award Winning dancers of Ballet Society of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Youth Ballet, will be featured in leading roles of the upcoming production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at 3:00PM on April 16, 2016 at Mitchell HS theater.

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Christopher Moulton (Prince Désiré) guest artist of Colorado Ballet and Natatia Warzabluk (Aurora) Photo courtesy of Ballet Society

Sixteen-year-old, Natatia Warzabluk, is cast as Aurora in this classic telling of the timeless tale of the enchanted princess who is awakened from a sleeping spell by true love’s kiss.

“Natatia has been featured in many lead roles over the years in local productions,” says Ballet Society and Colorado Youth Ballet founder and director, Patricia Hoffman. “We are thrilled that her hard work and dedication is paying off, not only as the star of this show, but also by way of top awards and company offers she is receiving this spring.”

Natatia is a multiple time award winner in both Denver Ballet Guild and Colorado Springs Dance Theatre’s scholarship competitions. She has been a student at Ballet Society and a Youth Ballet company member for the past seven years. Partnering her as Prince Désiré, is Christopher Moulton, of Colorado Ballet.

When asked what she attributes her success to, Natatia responds, “The training I have received and my natural self-discipline. At Ballet Society my motivation has increased and I am much more knowledgeable about the professional dance world than I feel I would be if I attended another studio,” she explains. “Especially Ms. Patty’s understanding and passion for each dancer. Although she teaches us to take our art seriously, the joy of dancing is also experienced and promoted.”

Natatia has already been offered a studio company contract with Colorado Ballet in Denver and a trainee position with Oklahoma City Ballet, which she performed with in 2014 as the lead Angel in the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Nutcracker. Earlier this month, Natatia was awarded the 2nd place in Senior Division and a $1,500 cash award from the 2016 Denver Ballet Guild’s Young Dancer’s Competition. She also received the 2nd place and $250 cash award from the 2015 Colorado Springs Dance Theatre’s Jazz Competition. Next year she will be attending either John Cranko school in Stuttgart, Germany, or Princess Grace Academy in Monte Carlo, Monaco. She has also been pre-selected to audition at companies including: International Ballet of Munich; Hamburg Ballet School; Palooka University in Dresden, Germany; Ballet Dortmund Jr. Company; and the Ecole Supe’rieure de Danse de Cannes.

“It is literally unbelievable,” says Natatia when asked how she feels about being offered contracts to professional companies at the age of sixteen. “It still always shocks me when I get an offer. I can barely believe it is true.”

Kira Walton PR pic 2016

Kira Walton Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

Another rising star of the Youth Ballet is seventeen-year-old, Kira Walton, who will be featured as Princess Florine, and will be partnering with Ballet Society graduate, Colton West, who is appearing as The Blue Bird. West is currently under contract with Ballet Idaho and is a recurring guest artist in Ballet Society and Youth Ballet productions.

Kira starred in the 2015 production of La Sylphide, and also has a long history of lead roles and scholarship competition awards.

Although her hands literally touched a ballet barre for the first time at age 12, Kira is currently in the UK auditioning for post-secondary programs at the professional schools of Royal Birmingham Ballet and English National Ballet in London; and Northern Ballet in Leeds.

In January, Kira had surgery on her foot and after only three weeks of returning to dance, she participated in the 2016 Denver Ballet Guild’s Young Dancers Competition and earned a 4th place award and an $800 scholarship in the senior category. She was also one of the special award recipients and was given a full scholarship to the Goh Ballet Academy and Youth Company Canada in Vancouver, for the summer. In 2015 she was awarded 1st place at the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre scholarship competition and a $500 cash prize.


Colton West and Josie Hawkins Photo courtesy of Ballet Society

Fourteen-year-old, Josie Hawkins, will be featured as the Sapphire Fairy. Josie won a 6th-10th place finalist award at the 2016 Denver Ballet Guild’s competition and tied for 2nd place at the CSDT’s competition in 2015. She has enjoyed being featured in several ballet productions including the role of Clara in The Nutcracker at the Pikes Peak Center this past December.

“We are really blessed to have so many talented students at Ballet Society,” says Hoffman. “We are especially thrilled for those whose dance dreams are becoming a reality. However, our production will have eighty student performers and four guest artists. Students have been rehearsing for months and making sure their roles will be executed to perfection. That is what it takes to make the magic happen on stage; a team effort by well-trained young artists, working together to bring the story to life. I know this will be a great show because these dancers inspire me every day.”

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L-R: Anastatia Williams, Josie Hawkins, Brianna Kline, Christopher Moulton, Natatia Warzabluk, Kira Walton, SarahRose Lorrig, and Julia Goodrich

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Natatia Warzabluk as ‘Aurora’ The Sleeping Beauty

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L-R: Anastatia Williams, Josie Hawkins, Brianna Kline, Natatia Warzabluk, SarahRose Lorrig, Kira Walton, and Julia Goodrich


Sleeping Beauty 2016 poster

General information Ballet Society of Colorado Springs and the Youth Ballet available online at: coloradoyouthballet.com  danceinthesprings.com

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Ballet Society of Colorado Springs       Colorado Youth Ballet       Praise Dance Ensemble


Who: Colorado Youth Ballet and Ballet Society of Colorado Springs Pre Professional division dancers

What: Sleeping Beauty – Enjoy this classic story ballet with award winning dancers of Colorado Youth Ballet and Ballet Society’s Pre Professional level dancers. Fully staged and costumed and set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. The whole family will delight in this version featuring: Aurora, the Prince, Carabosse, Lilac and other Fairies, Puss-n-Boots, Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, with a cast eighty-four!

Where: Mitchell High School Theater 1205 Potter Drive; C/S
When: 3:00pm; April 16th
Tickets: $15 Adults; $11 Children (12 & under) and Seniors. Pay with cc over the phone by calling: 719.272.7078; purchase at Ballet Society’s Front Desk; at the theater on show day; or order tickets online: https://on.spingo.com/e/sleeping_beauty

Jerusalem Palm Sunday depiction

Jerusalem Palm Sunday depiction

Over 200 local cast and crew will be part of opening tour season of The Thorn at the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs on Friday, February 19th at 7pm. Four shows will take place over the weekend including two on Saturday (3pm & 7pm); and a 3pm show on Sunday.

Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are past. Christians across the world are observing the 40 days of Lent, which culminates in the triumphant celebration of the risen Christ on Easter Sunday. In Colorado Springs that means it is time for The Thorn.

“This is our 20th season here in Colorado Springs,” says executive producer, Sarah Bolin. “And we are excited to begin our tour this year in our hometown.”

The Thorn is an historically accurate portrayal of the gospel story-known for being realistically graphic in depicting Roman times, especially in regards to crucifixion practices.

But don’t expect it to be the ‘same old show’.

Scourging of Jesus

Scourging of Jesus

Also known for being “Cirque”-esque, with martial artists, aerial acrobatics, dancers, and emotionally powerful dramatic performances joining forces to engage audiences across the United States while bringing the timeless story to life.

Roman Centurions

Roman Centurions

“Over half of the show features all new music this year,” says Bolin. “And we are thrilled that the downtown location will give us the opportunity to use a theater space to tell the traditional story in a different way.”

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Over a million people have witnessed the production in person to date, and countless others have seen the production via broadcast by Daystar television in 2012.

Originally created as a visual account of the story of Jesus for a youth group at New Life Church which John Bolin was leading in 1996, The Thorn has grown into a nationally traveling production, a non-profit ministry, and a nine-month internship program (The Thorn Conservatory) for young people with a passion for sharing the gospel message through dramatic performance.

Following the Pikes Peak Center performances, the production will travel to four other cities in three different states, including: Fort Worth, TX, March 4-6; Denver, CO, March 11-13; Dallas, TX, March 18-19; and Lenexa, KS.

General information on The Thorn available online at: http://thethorn.net/

Find The Thorn on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheThornLive



Who: The Thorn

What: Dramatic presentation of the passion of the Christ – cast and crew

Where: Pikes Peak Center 190 South Cascade, Colorado Springs, CO (downtown)
When: Friday, February 19, 7pm; Saturday, February 20, 3pm & 7pm; and Sunday, February 21, 3pm
Tickets: $15-$55 are available online at thethorn.net; the Pikes Peak Center Box Office; all TicketsWest locations and over the phone at: 719-520-SHOW

Palm Sunday Celebration in Jerusalem

Palm Sunday Celebration in Jerusalem





As the story is told by Doubting Thomas

Roman Centurion

Roman Centurion