Friday, April 28, 2006

It's been snowing since we woke up this morning. Still hard for me to believe that May is just a few days away and we have snow, but we need the moisture and this is the form it takes for us, so I'm not complaining. It's very cold outside though--the weather icon on my screen reads 30 degrees with a wind chill of 22. Fun spring weather, huh?

Twenty-six weeks ago today, I had my last Diet Coke! That's half a year without one! I'm pretty proud of that. I was on the 2, 3, sometimes 4 a day plan, so this was a pretty drastic step for me. A good step though. I feel much better, and I've actually lost about 5 pounds. I'm convinced it's from not drinking soda because I haven't drastically changed my diet.

Last night I gathered with some ladies from my church to pray/listen for the needs of the women in our body. I seem to be the "young mom" representative. When asked about what I was sensing, I just couldn't keep my honest tears from falling as I confessed that I was tired. Really tired. Physically, yes, but also emotionally and spiritually. If you're a mom, you know what I'm talking about. Meeting the many, many needs of my family is exhausting. Yesterday was a hard day to begin with, but that question just opened up a range of emotion I was keeping at arms length. Initially, I was a little embarrassed by my raw display of emotion, but the ladies surrounding me seemed to be grateful for it. It confirmed for them what they were sensing too...that most of the young moms in our body feel the same way. One dear lady thanked me for my tears (wow) that she felt represented the tears of a lot of moms. And I really think she's right. We spend so much time trying to hold it all together and make things look "good" and perfect on the outside when we're just dying on the inside. And it's so tiresome. It's hard to confess your fears and struggles and indadequacies to fellow mom if they seem all too perfect and never appear to struggle with their kids, their husband, their finances, their faith, and on and on and on. I've been on both sides of this, and I am sorry for the times I tried so hard to appear together and perfect! The reality is I'm not. I'm a mess most of the time. A ragamuffin as Brendan Manning would say. And I'm so okay with that. I know who I am, but more importantly I know whose I am and I know how He sees me. So, my tears last night were in some sense healing for me. The most basic reason I went last night was to escape by myself for a few hours. However, God had more in mind for me, and I came home with a deep sense of peace, a new friend, and a lot of affirmation that we're in exactly the place (church-wise and in life) that we're supposed to be right now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Below is a piece that John wrote this week. He said I could share it here...

Well, I saw it. I waited until it came out on DVD and watched it in the safety and comfort of my own home – Brokeback Mountain. I really wanted to see how the movie dealt with male friendships. I had heard and read all the hoopla about it being the gay cowboy movie, but I also knew, from the storyline, that it began as a friendship between men. And that is what I was curious to see unfold; however, the story didn’t so much unfold as it unraveled, for somethin’ got broke, long before that mountain, and everything else ended up broke as well.
As the final credits rolled across my screen, the overriding emotion I felt was sadness. I told my wife the next morning, Boy that was sad. The two main characters, Jake and Ennis, sit at a bar early in the film recounting a little of their past. Jake talks about how he could never please his father and so he eventually just stopped trying. Ennis lost both parents at a young age and ended up being raised by a brother and sister. Can anybody say father wound? And their lives, from those points on, were painful attempts to assuage those original wounds. They both married women and had kids and tried to present (for 1963) a normal face to the world. But both men ended up passing their pain onto their wives and children. As Richard Rohr says: If you don’t transform your pain, you’ll transfer it, certainly to those closest to you. You see, once the heart is broke, all the denim, boots, pickups, and longnecks can’t put it back together again.
I read one pastor’s blog where he declared that Brokeback was a movie all Christians must see. He felt it boldly exposed the prejudices we all carry. Sorry to burst his bloggle, but I didn’t feel that at all. Now I know that may indicate just how prejudiced I am, and I’m willing to look at that, but that’s just not the truth I believe the movie holds. I feel it boldly exposes the wounds we all carry and how we try to heal them. And how so many of them can be traced back to our fathers.
After the movie, I watched a special feature on director Ang Lee. He kept describing Brokeback as a classic American love story. I don’t know much about the American love part; there are some aspects of America these days that I just don’t have a context for. But I do know that it a classic story, because it tells the story of the heart’s longing for the father and how it gets broken along the way. And whether the names are Adam and Eve or Jack and Ennis, sadly, we go lookin’ for love in all the wrong places. And even though a mountain named Brokeback might look to be the key to unlock the door, even the psalmist knew that when he lifted up his eyes unto the hills or mountains, that wasn’t where his help cometh from. His help came from the LORD. And so does ours, whether cowboys or doctors and lawyers and such.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Not so fond of Mondays

I just really don't care for Mondays. Before John and I had kids, I always dreaded Monday mornings. We'd spend the whole weekend together, then have to enter our separate worlds of work and school during the week. I hated the feeling of separateness (is that even a word?). After our children started arriving, I dreaded Mondays even more, probably because I lost my helper! I love it when all of us are together, and Monday mornings just seem to pull us all apart. Now Abbey and I dread Mondays together. John usually goes to REI, and Sarah and Will go off to school. She usually spends the first hour after they all leave whining and crying. And many times I want to do the same. It just feels right when we're all together at home! Another reason I'm ready for summer.

Speaking of summer...we're not experiencing much of that today. We spent a good part of the weekend outside in the beautiful springtime weather. Yesterday, we didn't go outside without wearing shorts, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Today, the kids left for school wearing coats, hats, and gloves. That's because it was snowing. Yep, you heard me correctly. Snow. It's still snowing right now. Not a lot, but those are definitely snowflakes. Weird, huh? I think I mentioned before that April is our snowiest month. Not true this year though. We are WAY behind on snowfall and things here are so dry. That means we have higher risk of forest fires. Colorado has already seen more fires than last year, and we're barely into the fire season. Scary! So today's snow is very welcome.

Yesterday Abbey found a darkling beetle outside and she put it in a container because she wanted it to be her "pet". She screams and comes running inside if she sees an ant within 6 feet of her, but she's taken a liking to beetles. Go figure. Will and Sarah informed her that hers is a darkling beetle, and Will told her that it is harmless, so she walks around telling me that it's only a harmless beetle. Kinda funny. Well, she's been keeping the container in her room and she goes to check on it about every 10 minutes. Last night before bed, the beetle escaped. I think it was because she tried to transfer it to a plastic easter egg. She cried and cried because we made her go to bed without finding it. By the way, this beetle is about 2cm long. I kinda figured we'd come across a dead beetle sometime this week, but when I was making up her bed this morning, guess what I found on her pillowcase? The harmless beetle. It kinda grossed me out--but she was elated that we found it, and has been playing with it all morning. I'm actually surprised it has survived as long as it has the way she's been handling it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Church Skippers

Today our family skipped church. We don't do it very often (I can probably count on one hand the times we've intentionally missed) but I gotta tell you it was really nice. John has been working quite a bit lately. Even when he's home, he's working. So, it really was a no-brainer to stay home today. We needed the family time and we needed the rest. Restful it was. We all slept in, made a big breakfast, read the newspaper--on Sunday morning rather than late Sunday night!, played outside in the beautiful weather, made a cake, exercised, played Connect Four and cards, made dinner, and watched Funniest Videos together--complete with popcorn. It was the best day we've had in the longest time. The pace was leisurely and restful. A true Sabbath.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Well, for all you folks suffering in the south in the 90+ degree April temps, just know that we didn't make it out of the 40s yesterday (in the 50s today). Last night at 9:30, it was 27 degrees outside. How's that for April weather? Anyone wanna move to Colorado? Or come for a visit?

We got our taxes finished up late Sunday night and mailed on Monday. What a relief that was. We got a small refund on our federal return, but we owed the state of Colorado. Our federal refund was enough to cover what we owed and still come out $50 ahead. We were thrilled!

Just when we begin to think that all the freelance work has dried up, God seems to show up for us in big ways. Like yesterday. John got a call from an editor wanting him to write a book on Christian denominations. Back in December, he wrote on one worldviews (he actually did a re-write) and this is to be a book in the same line. I think he's going to give it a shot. Exciting, huh? We're grateful for any and all work that comes his way.

Don't you like it when John posts on here? I love it, but can't seem to get him interested in doing it too often. I was laughing out loud as he was typing the post about Sarah's easter vomiting episode. I'm going to stay on him (nag, nag, nag) to share on this blog more often!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I'm posting here (John) while my dial-up service is downloading some tax documents. Yeah, ssllooww!

I left yesterday for work about 10:00. By that time, our kids had been eating jelly beans for about three hours. Mer had given them the "today, I don't care" green light to eat their Easter candy with abandon. I later learned that for lunch, and we'll focus in on Sarah here, she ate 10 chicken nuggets from Chik-Fil-A and french fries. You totaling all this up? After lunch, the kids dyed eggs. Meredith boiled 24 eggs and by the time I got home, there were three left on the counter. When I inquired about this, she said, "Well, Sarah ate 7 boiled eggs this afternoon. And then she blew." Yes, death and resurrection in the old Blase household on bad Saturday. I tried to step back into the flow of the house, but realized there was no flow to step into, but there was something else to step into; and there was more to come. One more upchuckin' two-step occurred about an hour after I got home. There was this cry, like a stuck Easter bunny, from the hall: "Bring the bowl." But Sarah managed to strategically hit the floor between the bowl and the toilet bowl. Bullseye! There ain't much on a Easter-eve evening, when you're trying to prepare yourself for the holy hallelujahs of Sunday morning, than to have to clean up the remains of the day. But that's life - cleaning out the muck of the stalls, literally and figuratively. Sarah finally fell asleep from a post-jelly-bean-chicken-nugget-boiled-egg intestinal roller coaster ride in the middle of Saturday Night Live. She was o.k. this morning and when asked in Sunday school if she wanted any jelly beans, she resolutely answered, "No thanks." You go to sleep some nights wondering just what in the world keeps your kids alive. Same stuff that always has - God's hands.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Today is April 14th, and we have not yet finished our taxes. Last weekend we bought TurboTax, and Wednesday we opened it and made quite a bit of headway. Seems we'll likely owe a little but we're okay with's a manageable amount! We've never used TurboTax before. Probably because John was a pastor and our taxes were so complicated. Last year we got a CPA to do our taxes and get us set up with John's self-employment stuff. We felt brave enough to do it on our own this year and I gotta tell you that TurboTax is awesome. So simple to use and we saved about $200 by doing them ourselves. Since we owe, we're going to mail our stuff on Monday!

For the last 8 years, the Easter bunny has visited our house on the evening of Good Friday. That's tonight! It's a little different, but it allows our kids to play with their stuff and stuff their faces all day Saturday, and on Sunday we can keep the focus on Jesus. So, the Easter bunny gave me his list and recruited me to help him gather some stuff for the kids this morning. I think they'll have a few surprises in the morning.

I was listening to the radio this morning. We have a Christian station that I really like (and, no, it's not K-LOVE) and they were talking about Good Friday. I've always felt it was a sort of somber day...and in some sense it is. I know that Easter Sunday is the pinnacle day of this week, but I really think that today is also celebratory. Jesus' death is what gives us life. And He rose from the grave to give us hope. So tonight at dinner we're going to celebrate life and what Jesus did on the cross to ensure that for us.

I hope and pray that you have a blessed Easter weekend. We tell our kids all the time that Jesus loves them the most and He loves them the best. I hope you get a glimpse of His extravagant love for you today.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Our community is really growing. It seems we can't go far in any direction without seeing new constuction. Currently, we're watching a Walmart being built. A popular chain restaurant is due to open any day now, and there are houses going up like crazy. We've also gotten a new Mexican and Chinese restaurant, and a new strip mall in the last couple of months. Yesterday, John went with me to deliver something to a friend and was commenting on all the new development. He told me he was ready to start looking for a cabin in the mountains...far, far away from all this stuff! I think I'm with him.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It has been beautiful here for the last several days! And, we've spent much of the last two days outside. This morning Abbey and I ran lots of errands, and I stopped by McDonalds to get her a Happy Meal for lunch. I thought she might want to take it to the park (her FAVORITE place) and have a little picnic with me since the weather was so nice. Nope, she wanted to go inside and eat it in the play area. Probably because I always say no to that. Today, though, I said yes, and we had a fun time together and then played outside when we got home.

Will just started running track. He and Sarah both ran last fall (cross-country) but only Will wanted to run this spring. Last fall, they both had to run a mile at their meets. During one of Sarah's races, she got pretty tired towards the end, and with her typical dramatic flair, Sarah flung her arms back and LAID DOWN on the track for a little rest. Yep, that's our Sarah. She got back up after a couple of minutes and finished strong. She is quite the little actress and keeps us laughing. She came home last week with the proofs from her school pictures. She told me that even though I forgot it was school picture day, she still looked fabulous because she wore her poncho. She's definitely not lacking in self-esteem, huh? We're really proud of her--dramatics and all.

Friday, April 07, 2006

April snow

Well, I'm sorry to report that we didn't get the day off from school due to snow. It is snowing here though and coming down fast. Late last night they downgraded the blizzard watch to a blowing snow advisory. Until I moved here, I always assumed that a blizzard was a HUGE snowstorm, with snow accumulations measured in feet. That is usually a consequence of a blizzard, but the defining criteria is the wind/windspeed. Strong wind and snow constitute a blizzard. White out occurs when the wind is blowing the snow so hard you can't see very far in front of you. We had a blizzard last April and for most of the day, we couldn't see the swing-set in our back yard or the houses across the street. The snow was deep, but the drifts were up to my waist! Today we're only expecting 1-3 inches of snow, but the wind is blowing very hard. But not hard enough to be declared a blizzard! So, there's your meterology lesson for the day.

Will was thankful to have school. His class is going on a field trip and he's already missed one this year because he was sick. Sarah was glad to go to school today too. She knew she was having a substitute and she loves this particular sub. I guess I was the only one who was bummed they had to go. I still hope to get one more snow day before the end of the year!

Last night, John and I watched Memoirs of a Geisha. I actually read the book a few weeks ago and loved it. The richness and beauty of the Japanese culture really drew me into the book, and the film was even more spectacular. I was disappointed that the movie wasn't completely true to the book (is it ever?) but they did manage to keep the important storyline elements intact. John liked it too. We're movie lovers...can you tell? We don't have cable, so we tend to watch movies instead. There are lots of nuggets of spiritual truth in Memoirs of a Geisha though. That's one of the reasons we enjoyed it so much!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random News and Notes

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a popular phrase we have around here, "Springtime in the Rockies". Well, we've had some very spring-like days lately with highs in the 70s. And today we have a Blizzard/Winter Storm Watch in effect until noon tomorrow. Weird, huh? I'll keep you posted...especially if we get a snow day tomorrow. I'm not planning on it, but it would make me happy if it happened to work out that way!

Remember back in January when my friend photographed John and Will for Pray! magazine? Well, I got some copies from her last week and their picture turned out great. If you can find a copy of the March/April issue, see if you can spot them! I don't know if you can buy it from Christian Booksellers/Retailers. It's a publication of NavPress and is a sister magazine to Discipleship Journal. I guess you could always try to find it online. Sorry I don't have a link.

John's sermon from last week won't be available online after all. A new girl was manning the sound booth and it didn't get recorded on Sunday. Sorry you can't hear it. It was a good one.

Here's a funny story I wanted to share. I was working in the library at the kids' school a few weeks ago helping the kindergarteners check out books. The kindies are only allowed to check out one book per visit, and they have to return their book in order to check out a new one. One little girl I was helping had forgotten her book and was so disappointed that she had to leave without a new one. I reminded her the name of the book she had out and she couldn't remember where it was. I asked her to get her mom to help her look for it. She told me she didn't have it any longer and when I asked her where she thought it was, her eyes got REALLY big and she told me she put it under her pillow and the tooth fairy took it. It was ALL I could do not to laugh. Too funny! I think she really believed the tooth fairy took it because she kept telling me she didn't have that book at home.

Last week I decided after a lot of though and a lot of prayer to sign up as a Creative Memories consultant. Creative Memories is a photo-preservation/scrapbook supply company. I've loved and used their product for nine years, and preserving my family's memories/stories is really my passion. So, it wasn't a big stretch to decide to do this. In fact, I've had people trying to convince me to do this for years. This time, though, the time felt right and I'm pretty excited about it. Yesterday I got my consultant kit and I was like a kid in a candy store. It was three boxes worth of stuff I get to play with! Poor John, he got a box from UPS too that had some copies of his Mark/Luke LTQ Bible studies but it got opened last. His books look GREAT by the way! I'm so proud of him. Last week when his parents were here we visited Focus on the Family (Abbey refers to it as Family Pocus) and they had copies of his studies in their bookstore. That was really great to see and we were all so proud of him!

We've had a busy week and are looking forward to having NOTHING to do tonight.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday morning

I wish I knew who came up with the idea of spring break so I could thank them! What a wonderful break it was last week. I woke up later than I wanted to this morning...and feel like I've been ten steps behind since my feet hit the floor. I'm really ready for summer to arrive because I'm ready to chunk my calendar and schedule! All five of us hit the ground running this morning. Like I said yesterday, I have a lot of sloth in me. I think it would have helped to ease into this week but no such luck.

Abbey and I have been to the kid's school twice this morning. We went the second time to take a class picture for Sarah's teacher, then we went to "AFEWAY" to have some prints made. One night last fall, we were driving past SAFEWAY and the light behind the "S" was burned out, so it read, "AFEWAY". Sarah and Abbey thought that was hilarious. As we were leaving school this morning, I told Abbey we were headed to Safeway. She quickly corrected me and said we were headed to afeway. They ALWAYS correct me because I ALWAYS seem to say it wrong. It makes me laugh every time!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Long Time...

Wow...I just logged on to check my email and to post here. I didn't realize my last post was a week ago! Time certainly flies when you're having fun...and it certainly seems to fly on the day after we've set our clocks forward an hour! I can't believe it's already 3pm!

We had a really fun time with John's parent's last week. They enjoyed being with the kids, and the kids loved having them here. (We did too!) Abbey was funny yesterday morning when I was admiring the toenail polish that Mimi put on for her. She told me that she didn't like to look at her toes because it made her think of Mimi and that made her too sad. Cute, huh? Mimi and Papa kept us on the go the entire time! I guess we were so busy trying to make the most of every minute they were here. John and I decided after they left that we have a lot of "sloth" in us. We like to take it easy and we always manage to find time in our day to rest. One of our neighbors is a busy guy. He always has some project going. One day last summer, I was commenting to John about his latest undertaking and John asked if I wished he was more like our neighbor. I replied, "Absolutely not. If you were that busy all the time, I'd feel too guilty for wanting to sit around. I like that you want to sit with me!" Yeah, we both have a lot of sloth in us. And we're not ready to give that up.

John preached at our church this morning. He did a great job. I think I said this after he preached a couple of months ago, but it just makes me realize that preaching/teaching isn't completely written out of our future. We don't have any idea what this might look like, but we both sense that it's a part of our future. If you care to listen to his message, visit our church's website (on the right sidebar of this page--International Anglican Church) and click on sermons. You can download and listen. It may take a few days for his sermon to be available though, so if it's not there, check back in a day or so.

One afternoon while John's parents were here, they let us go out for a date. It's been a very long time since we've done that. We went to downtown Colorado Springs and walked around all the cool shops. We ate some amazing Mexican food, and then we saw a movie called the Three Burials of Melchiades Estrada (or something very similar to that!). It was a really good movie. It's an independent film so it's not on at every major theater, but if it is on close to you, I'd recommend it. It was a really neat story of redemption. Tommy Lee Jones directed and stars in it. We like him a lot and thought he did an excellent job with this film. to enjoy the rest of this day and get ready for things to start-up again tomorrow. I will say that I haven't missed packing lunches or spelling homework or the rushing out the door this week. But...all good things must come to an end. And we only have 7.5 more weeks of that before summer vacation! Can't wait.