Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.


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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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2016 Natatia Sleeping Beauty rehearsal with Christopher and PR pics with Jewel Fairies 223adjusted

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.

2016 Natatia Sleeping Beauty rehearsal with Christopher and PR pics with Jewel Fairies 198

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.”

2016 Natatia Sleeping Beauty rehearsal with Christopher and PR pics with Jewel Fairies 332

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

2016 Natatia Sleeping Beauty rehearsal with Christopher and PR pics with Jewel Fairies 139

Natatia Warzabluk as ‘Aurora’ The Sleeping Beauty

2016 Natatia Sleeping Beauty rehearsal with Christopher and PR pics with Jewel Fairies 469

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

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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

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cruise sunrise 2014

Ocean sunrise 2014

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)



Take courage. For destiny smiles on the bold.
Take courage wherever you find it,
For when you take courage-
It’s yours to hold.

If you find courage in your heritage
Wield it deftly and generously share.
But many sons of cowards
Have found courage where they dare.

Reaching into ridicule,
There is courage to be found.
The mocking voice of failure,
Can be followed by victorious sound.

Have friends or foes despised you?
Take the courage that they give.
Reminders that you are different,
You have a destiny to live.

Courage-take courage,
Wherever you find the source.
Because courage begets courage,
Be brave without remorse.

COURAGE-take courage. For destiny smiles on the bold.
Take courage wherever you find it,
For when you take courage-
It’s yours to hold.

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Judy cookbook pic 2015

Savoring Today food blogger, Judy Purcell, with newly released cookbook Serve and Savor. Purcell will be at the Venice Olive Oil Company from 11am-3pm on Saturday, December 12, 2015. Books will be available for purchase at the event.

General release date of the publication on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble will be December 17.

Get a jump start on holiday shopping for all the foodies on your Christmas list this Saturday, at the Venice Olive Oil Company at University Village Colorado, shopping center at 5214 North Nevada Avenue near Costco. You’ll be able to browse the specialty store while sampling choice recipes from the new cookbook.


Serve and Savor is the title of Judy Purcell’s new book which will be released later this month at Barnes & Noble and Amazon; but advance copies can be purchased and autographed at the store this Saturday, December 12, between 11am and 3pm.


Sharing her heart and practical knowledge of serving healthy, delicious meals for more than 25 years, Purcell is an author and recipe developer dedicated to making dinnertime nourishing and relational. Her passion for authentic connection at the table has withstood the various stages of her life which has included times of working, homeschooling, and throughout the countless phases of raising her family.


“People I know avoid whole food cooking because it seems intimidating,” says Purcell. “And they are afraid their results won’t really be tasty.” But her own specific passion for developing a healthy food philosophy was greatly influenced by the impact of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gluten intolerance, and inflammatory diseases among family and friends. Her blog has long reflected this journey and now key aspects of the ideas surrounding a whole food diet are documented in print.


This unique cookbook is arranged based on your specific goal or need rather than food type. The first chapter ‘Simplicity’ features easy and straightforward recipes and the book concludes with ‘Adventure’ which highlights more complicated processes including grilling and baking. If you need a foolproof dish for a party or potluck, look for the ‘Gathering’ chapter. There is also a ‘Convenient Slow Food’ section for those ready to kick the habit of grab-and-go processed foods, and stock their freezer with convenient wholesome meals.

Thai Chile Sesame Chicken Wings-24

Thai Chile Sesame Chicken Wings


Each recipe includes helpful suggestions for gluten-free conversion, make-ahead tips, ingredient substitutions, enhancements for entertaining, as well as making the most of leftovers. Helpful meal planning tips and techniques for saving time and money are also spread throughout the volume.


“I enjoy whole food recipes which anyone can follow,” shares Purcell. “Even if you have never cooked before, you’ll find something in this book that will become a standard favorite for your family.”

Serve and Savor Collage

Serve and Savor collage

Purcell’s interest in cooking began at a young age in the kitchen of her family’s Missouri farmhouse, learning the traditions of gardening and preparing animals. Her observations have led her to believe that beyond the farm, modern living has introduced processed and convenience foods which directly impact a variety of health issues.


“But you don’t have to live on a farm to get the benefits of whole foods,” shares Purcell, who lives in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. “While gardening can provide healthy produce and be a relaxing pastime, all of my recipes can be recreated with items you can purchase at the grocery store even if you live in the city, like I do.”


Early release of Serve and Savor at the Venice Olive Oil Company, Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 11am-3pm. Author Judy Purcell, will be on hand to sign books and share samples of some of her favorite recipes. Pre-orders online at www.savoringtoday.com/cookbooks is recommended.

Online resources for Savoring Today include:

Read   | www.savoringtoday.com Tweet | www.twitter.com/SavoringToday Like     | www.facebook.com/SavoringToday Pin     | www.pinterest.com/savoringtoday





Who:            See local Author and Food Blogger, Judy Purcell, at early release book event at the Venice Olive Oil Company


What:           Serve and Savor – Enjoy browsing the store while sampling some of the choice recipes from the new cookbook. Early release editions will be available for purchase and autographs (online pre-sales recommended).


Where:         Venice Olive Oil Company, 5214 North Nevada Avenue; C/S, CO

When:            Saturday, December 12, 2015 from 11am-3pm

Portabella Mushrooms with Blue Cheese & Veg Stuffing-40

Portabella Mushrooms with Blue Cheese & Vegetable stuffing

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SarahRose Nutcracker nightgown Clara 2013

SarahRose as Clara for the Colorado Youth Ballet’s 2013 Nutcracker at the Pikes Peak Center Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

Holiday traditions have been a source of joy in our family for over 35 years. Some carefully crafted, others evolving over time, but all seeming to add delight and happiness to the season. Nutcracker performances will be attended, cookies baked, ornaments handcrafted, candles lit and devotions read by the advent log… actually, there have been almost too many traditions in our household to list. But one thing was sure, the Colorado Lorrig family (usually including 20+ extended family members and friends) would gather at our little red log cabin in Black Forest for Christmas.

But on June 11, 2013, ‘Whispering Pines’ our home of twenty-seven years vanished in the Black Forest Fire. We were fortunate to be able to gather the children, pets, some photos, computers, and important documents before we evacuated ahead of the flames. We gathered at the Comfort Inn in the north part of Colorado Springs, which also happened to be the headquarters for the firefighters who had come from all across the country to help battle that ferocious and consuming blaze.

After the official word arrived that our home was among those listed as a total loss with nearly 500 others, our youngest child, SarahRose, was understandably distraught. This young carefree bundle of life and energy, whose grandfather had often teased by commenting as she waltzed through the room, “Someone should really teach that girl to walk,” was overwhelmed with grief and seemed nearly paralyzed. Her cheeks were still wet with the relentless deluge of tears which had followed the great waves of breathless heaves which seemed to engulf her twelve year old frame and steal her voice. She finally managed to whisper, “I’ll never dance again.”

Lorrig House adjusted 2011

Little red cabin in the woods

In the midst of the sorrow and in spite of summer month, all of a sudden, Christmas came to her mind. “This will be the worst Christmas ever!” she exclaimed. The idea of celebrating Christmas anywhere else seemed – impossible – and improbable as well. Many of her family, friends, and neighbors had lost their homes in the fire too. Including her grandparents who had built and lived in the house next door. She knew that Christmas would not be at Grandma’s house or at any of her Aunt’s and Uncle’s who were also evacuated because of the fire. Yes, the rest of the world might celebrate Christmas this year, but it seemed that there would be no joy in this holiday season for SarahRose.

In the following days we navigated insurance agencies, looking for someplace to live, and dealing with family issues as best as possible, I encouraged SarahRose to attend her regularly scheduled summer dance programs at Ballet Society of Colorado Springs. “It will do you good to focus on something else,” I told her. But she was reluctant. “Maybe it will help,” I said. Expectations were low, emotions were volatile, and stress levels high. We knew moving forward was our best option but, we were unsure of what ‘moving forward’ meant. However, it did seem logical that spending all day with her friends doing what she had always loved, would be the best first step in the right direction.
By the time her summer programs were over and the fall semester began, she was excited to be dancing again. There had been days and times when grief was overwhelming and the tears came at awkward moments, but there were also flashes of comfort, hope and slowly peeking its way back into her life, joy seemed to be just around the bend.

Stockings hung by the chimney with care...

Stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Nutcracker was on the horizon and as a family with three dancing girls, this is a greatly anticipated season. Our girls have been toy mice, soldiers, toy dolls, sugar babes, party girls, sugarplums, garland girls, angels, marzipan, flower, and probably some parts we can’t even remember. Yes, The Nutcracker is a huge part of our family’s traditional holiday celebration. And one of the few traditions which could be recreated by our family that year.

By now, although we were renting a lovely house in town, there was no chimney to hang stockings on, and our homemade stockings with the children’s names carefully embroidered on the satin topped edge had literally gone up in smoke. Although a friend made us a new advent log, we had no mantel on which to place it. So many traditions were changing for us, whether we wanted them to or not. Feeling a bit apprehensive, SarahRose decided she would dance only in the Colorado Youth Ballet‘s Nutcracker that year. It’s sometimes fun to be part of two or three Nutcracker productions in the same year, but this year she thought it best to attempt to manage her time and stress levels.

In September the chatter around the studio was all about Nutcracker casting. Everyone wanted to know what parts they’d be cast in and what everyone’s roles would be. A few people had commented to SarahRose, “I bet you’ll be Clara this year.” or “I hope you get to be Clara this year.” She thought they were all being especially kind and encouraging because she was still recovering from the fire. Although she received their words as compliments, she didn’t anticipate being cast in that leading role. The year before she had auditioned in the age/height group in which the Clara’s are usually chosen from and hadn’t been selected. This year, she figured she would have been too tall for the part.

But by way of taking a tragically anticipated holiday and turning it into the best Christmas ever, SarahRose was cast in the coveted role of Clara for the Colorado Youth Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker which took place at the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs. Tears had turned to laughter, and mourning into the oil of joy for this little girl who had experienced such tremendous highs and lows in recent months.

SarahRose Clara Nutcracker performance pic 2013

SarahRose on stage in The Nutcracker at the Pikes Peak Center Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

This year, two Christmases later, SarahRose will spend her first Christmas in her new home back in Black Forest. Her little part of the forest is without trees and although the rebuild is on the same lot, everything is much different from the day she left the cozy little cabin in the woods in a fire evacuation. She’s learned that life is filled with ups and downs. Change is inevitable and difficult, but sometimes good.

The production this year will feature her in Winter and Italian numbers, which she is very excited about, but she will always remember with a smile the year she was Clara-in THE NUTCRACKER!

You can see SarahRose and her friends from Ballet Society and the Colorado Youth Ballet in The Nutcracker this holiday season at the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs on Monday, December 21 at 7pm and Tuesday, December 22, at 4pm and 7pm.

Click the link on the performance times above to purchase Nutcracker tickets online.

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