The cross is the greatest example of humility and devotion in the universe. Jesus put your needs ahead of His own. He considered you more valuable than Himself. - Chip Ingram

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This Bears Repeatings.............

A few months back, my wonderful friend Barb sent me an email telling me about a wonderful blog called The Conversion Diary. It is one of those blogs that speaks to your soul EVERY SINGLE TIME you read it. I particularly liked the following post. It was something I needed to remind myself of and I thought maybe you would enjoy it to!

Earlier this week, I had a falling out with a relative. We haven't spoken since. I've been praying about this (though my prayers are admittedly along the lines of "DID YOU SEE THAT?! I am NOT going to apologize. I did not do ANYTHING wrong..."), and I keep getting this nagging feeling that I'm supposed to do something here, and it's not whine about it more to my husband. As much as it galls me to admit it, I think I'm called to humble myself and re-initiate conversation, even though some pretty bizarre/rude/untrue insults were said to me and it's my opinion that the other party is 100% in the wrong.

Interestingly, about a month ago a similar situation played out with this same person and I was actually able to immediately call them and offer an olive branch, even though, once again, it was my opinion that I'd been gravely insulted for no reason. The person admitted that they were just upset about something else and we had a beautiful, love-filled conversation about how much we cared about one another. But that was back before the spiritual dry spell. Now my attitude is that I have checked the "forgiveness and humility" box once and now I'm over it. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? We turn the other cheek once to prove to God we're serious and then he'll prevent annoying things from happening to us forever more?Anyway, every time I try to forget about the whole thing and go back to sulking, this quote from Mother Teresa keeps coming to mind:

It is easy to love the people far away.
It is not always easy to love those close to us.
It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger
than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home.
Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.
I'm sort of a living testament to the first part of this quote right now. I would happily go on a mission to feed the poor, to spread the Gospel in hostile territory, to state unpopular opinions for Christ, give gobs of money to charity (if I had it), defend the truth of Christianity to a group of atheists, write and talk and think about how great God is...anything, anything but actually showing love to someone close to me who is on my last nerve.
I think this is yet another manifestation of the "start by carrying the crosses you already have" lesson, one that Tienne was talking about recently. To act in humility, love and charity when you don't want to, when it's not fun, when you don't even feel God's presence there with you...that's hard! That's painful! That's inconvenient! ...And that's Christianity.
Well...didn't that just smack of reality? It is so me, but I'm gonna work on changing that!
Thanks Barbie, for thinking to send me this blog. It just fills me up!
Hugs! (oh....go and be loving be loving to someone close, even if you don't feel like it!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

There's Your Sign

Many changes are coming to the Blackburn household, and the signs are everywhere! First, our lovely Paige turned 15. Are you thinking, well heck...that isn't a sign Val? You are right. It isn't. The sign would be continually hearing the following statement: "I can get my temps in six months." There's your sign. (Said in my BEST Jeff Foxworthy voice, of course!) Paige is growing up...quickly. Too quickly. And yes people, she is six months away from her temps. So let me just state this now.....FORWARNED IS FORARMED. I now relieve myself of all responsibility. hee hee

(Paige. Aka...The Birthday Girl)

As for another sign, there is this:

We are now the home of a Lutheran West Volleyball player. Birthday girl made the freshman team and is having the time of her life. One good thing about making volleyball your freshman year is that you can meet different people before the school year begins. That makes the first day a little easier. PLUS, she has a few friends on the team who played at St. Paul and were on her J.O. team. So, this should be a fun season! There's your sign.

This, dear people, is the sign of a working man:

I know I have mentioned to a few of you that Austin comes home dirty from work. Well....this is what I'M talking about. I love the filthy hands, but I think the smudge under his nose takes the prize. Yeah....that's my favorite. But, I must say this. The boy is demolishing houses and is earning every penny he makes. That makes me a proud momma. There's your sign.

Let me state for the record, that my "working man" has been using most of his earnings to pay for college and school books. ( proud!) This hasn't made his personality very pleasant. Next time you see him, you may want to mention how AWESOME his parents are and that he will appreciate what he has done FOR HIMSELF down the road. OR you may just want to avoid us entirely until the dust settles.'s not pretty!

God Bless Your Day!

Quote of the day: WHO are those kids, and WHY are they calling ME mom?

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's Not Often

It's not often that you get this kind of smile out of Trent.

If you haven't noticed, he is on the shy side. BUT, put this kid with his cousin, Kyle and he is all smiles. Today, Jane, Kim and I took the two boys to the Natural History Museum. We had the best time. Both boys had been to the museum when they were much younger, but they don't remember it.

We learned about a Barn Owl and an Opossum (named Polly Pocket) and even petted a snake. That darn Barn Owl had a little accident. (Notice anyone plugging their nose at the scent?) This whole petting the snake thing was quite an undertaking for Trent. Remember, this is the same kid that wouldn't milk the cow on his school field trip. Times are a changin'! Eh....and a little healthy peer pressure doesn't hurt either!

There was also a special "toadally cool" exhibit on frogs. (No I didn't come up with that. Give credit to the museum for that little ditty.) You know how us Blackburns LOVE frogs, so it was a hit. They even had a computer with videos of different frogs catching and eating insects. YOU GOTTA LOVE THAT! HA!

BUT, the things I loved most about this trip was:

1) Kyle was the "instructor." Honestly, Jane, Kim and I walked around chatting while Kyle explained all the exhibits to Trent; and

2) the genuine curiosity that comes when touring a museum.

Couldn't have had a better day!
Lastly, I have to leave you with this quote that I found. I wish I could have it made into a T-shirt. I simply love it.
Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says 'Oh No.....She's Awake'

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Oldest Bursley

I spent my weekend with these people:

(Wanna know my favorite part of this photo? Those two little ones with their arms around each other. Too cute!!!)

And here, my friends, is the oldest living Bursley to date. {{drumroll please}}

Yep, that is him. That is my Uncle Burt. He celebrated his 79th Birthday this weekend. He is so cute!!!

My cousin Bill and his wife, Carol had an awesome picnic at their house and we had such a great time. Before I ramble on, let me give you a tad of family history. My dad (aka Bill) and Burt (aka Birthday Boy) are brothers. These two brothers married sisters (my mom and my Aunt Ann). Therefore, I have four (count 'em) FOUR double cousins. They are Bill, Mark, Deanna and Michelle. I don't really see them that much, which is a shame. Mostly because we live so close. But MANY, MANY of my childhood memories involve this group! We always lived fairly close. We spent MANY holidays together. AND who could forget football season. So....let me introduce the cast of characters.

First off, these are two of the three crazy Bursley brothers. You probably can't tell by their faces that they can be a handful!

Next come these two rascals. On the left is my cousin, Michelle. She sings like a lark and has the patience of Job. I have never heard her yell. Never. Ever. I think there is some genetic flaw, because she IS a Bursley and we aren't necessarily known for being quiet. On the right side is Mark. He is the character of all chacters. He has THE BEST STORIES. I cannot even repeat some of them online! hahahaha....... He is also EXTREMELY good hearted. My dad has a total soft spot for that one! (Did I mention he was a total cutie when we were growing up? Oh and I remember him having a "thing" for Olivia Newton John. HA!)

Next are these two lovelies. This is my cousin, Deanna and her daughter, Jessica. Deanna is ....what I would refer to as...A HOOT! She is always laughing. But better than that, after living with her two brothers for years, she has the best comebacks EVER! She can spar with the best of them and it had me ROLLING when we were at Bill's house! And Jessica....what can I say? In all truth, she is probably one of the nicest young ladies I have met in a LONG time.

Before I mention the others, you may notice that the pictures have become more formal. That is for two reasons. 1) Most of the pictures I took at the picnic were not flattering, and 2) We were all in church together on Sunday. On Sunday, my Uncle's church recognized him (more like a roast) for his years of service. Being the indecisive Bursley that he is, there were EIGHT hymns my Uncle elected to have included in the service. Oddly enough, I think you can find these same eight hymns at most Bursley spiritual gatherings (funerals, etc.) We must all love the same hymns! HA!

Anyways, now to finish the introductions:

This would be my Uncle Burt with his oldest son Bill, Bill's wife Carol and their grandson. He may quite possibly be the cutest boy on the planet. He has a darling, outgoing personality and check out the spiked hair! Gosh, I look at Bill and all I see is my Aunt Ann. He looks so much like her!

Last, but most certainly not least, this is a picture of my dad and uncle with my Aunt JB. Yes people, I do have an Aunt as young and beautiful as JB. I was looking at her during the party thinking, "Man, do you age?" Funny thing is, when we got into the car and shut the door, Mike said, "JB looks EXACTLY the same. She doesn't age." thoughts exactly. The question is, "WHY DIDN'T I GET THOSE GENETICS?"

After returning home that evening I had a thought. This is family. You laugh, you argue, you share, you push eachother's buttons, you reminisce. But, in the end, you are still family. There is always a common ground to bring you back friends. And you know what? I genuinely love each and every one of these people. I can't wait until we can all get together again. I want to hear more stories from Mark, more comebacks from Deanna and I want to hear JB giggle. I don't want to miss anymore.

And to my Uncle Burt, you are glue. People like you are the reason our family keeps coming back together. And for that....I am thankful.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Squeezing the last little bit out of summer! I have been trying to get the kids to the pool each day. On Monday, Paige starts volleyball tryouts. That will be the majority of her day. It kind of begins the school year for her, because she will spend each day at the high school.

We are also working on finishing summer reading. Why oh why did God invent summer reading? It's not that I don't want my kids to read over the summer, but THE BOOKS they choose! It is like punishment! HA! We are working on summer reading at the pool (to hopefully ease the pain)! In addition, Trent and Paige were working on their pool "moves." Paige has taken to doing back handsprings in the pool and Trent is working on the back float. And Trent's back float is.............interesting. To say the very least.

And, yes, that IS Trent's back float pictured above!

Last evening, Austin was out with his friends. Paige went to Katie and Maria Bell's birthday party (God Bless, Biba! Paige said there were about 60 kids in attendance!) So, Mike decided to surprise Trent with a trip downtown for Brown's Family Night. We watched the Browns practice and there were fireworks. Afterwards, we went for a walk in the dark by the lake. BOY was there a lightening show!! It was beautiful. Oddly enough, we weren't the only people with this idea. We went to two different parks in Bay that were packed with people watching the storms roll in over the lake.

See that smile? Well, it didn't last long. You see, it turned to tears when he didn't get any autographs. Soooo sad. Soooo sensitive. Apparently, nothing in his life goes right (and I DO quote). And to top it off, his ears were too sensitive to withstand the sound of the fireworks, so we had to watch them from inside the car. (And I still have the stiff neck this morning!) Poor Dad. He really did try to provide an exciting evening!

And THIS, my friends, is one of the easiest, most yummy summer desserts. This picture does it NO JUSTICE, because it is that good...and that easy......AND, as I have mentioned before, I need a new camera. I am sure this would look WAY more delicious had I taken the picture with a...shall we say...a REBEL? (Had to get the plug in!)

I have decided to share the recipe with you, my most beloved friends. So....READ ON!


1 (3 oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding

1 c. milk1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip

3 regular size Snicker bars

3 Granny Smith apples

Mix pudding with milk; beat well. Fold in Cool Whip. Cut up the Snicker bars into small pieces. Add cut up apples with or without skin; add. Easy and delicious salad to make and eat!

(Just so you know, I added bananas and crushed walnuts. You can add other interesting items too such as marshmallows and cherries.)