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My Christmas/Annual Newsletter--2001
by Brenda Kern 
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January 2002

First: no, I didn't drop you from the list last year; my life was just too boring, so there was no letter for Christmas 2000. From a wider, family perspective, a few things of interest did happen that year: my nephew, Andrew, was born on March 2, 2000 (born to my sister, Tina, and her husband, John, joining my niece, Cassy), and my brother, Bob, married his sweetheart, Jennifer, in November.

Second: Hello everybody! Pretend this is a Christmas newsletter that you received in a timely fashion sometime in December 2001. Okay?

2001 started fairly slowly-nothing much to mention happened until March-my roommate, Lynne, decided to move out, and through the Lord's intervention, a new roommate, Lacey, moved in very quickly. I spent a lot of the month of March busy with home maintenance and cleaning-just call me "PruneFingers!"

In early May I finally pursued something I'd been thinking about since 1988-vision correction surgery. I found that people who wear hard or gas-permeable contact lenses (that was me!) have to be completely out of them for a minimum of six weeks prior to the surgery. I had the surgery on June 22, and couldn't see much for the first three weeks thereafter. So, for those 10 weeks, you could have called me "Stevie!"╣ (As of the three-month follow-up appointment, I see 20/20 when looking through both eyes, nearly that with the eyes individually.)

In July, while the eyes adjusted, I went to a concert of a favorite group (Depeche Mode, the third time for me to see them), went to the dentist (cavities this time, bummer), and then flew off to Boston near the end of the month. My sister, Tina, and her husband, John, went on a cruise to the Bahamas, and Mom and I did the babysitting duties for the kids (Cassy, 4, and Andrew, 1 1/2) while they were gone. We had an especially interesting time there, in that a homeless couple and their 21-month-old were staying with John and Tina upon our arrival, and we voted to allow them to stay through the rest of our visit, while Tina and John were gone.
(You could have referred to me as "glad to be childless" at this point.)

I left Boston before they returned because I was a bridesmaid in the joyous occasion of the marriage of my very good friend, Rhonda. The lady who did our makeup, from Mary Kay, told us she was looking for someone to assist her part-time with clerical work-newsletters, invitations and flyers, etc.-and with help with a data base. Though I wasn't actively looking for a second job, I found myself to be "intrigued..."

And I began working for her as a second job in September, working at home. This required a fairly major computer upgrade for me, which I did at the same time as my ISP (Internet Service Provider) went through a buy-out situation, where they handed their customers off to another company. For the next two months, my whole life seemed to be one big battle-multiple problems developed with the computer, the new printer that came with it, this new ISP, and other areas of my personal business dealings. For example, between September 3 and September 17, I spent over 15 hours on the phone (mostly on hold) with the (unhelpful) Help Desk of this ISP, trying and trying to actually get service provided from my Internet Service Provider! After all the hours on the phone, purchasing a new printer, all the e-mails, and the pile of business correspondence I sent out, with gritted teeth and fierce determination, I am NEARLY (but not quite) where they promised I would be WAY back in September! Just call me "Xena!"▓

September 11 came and went, and God remained in control.

In mid-September I went on a weekend outing (a scenic train ride in the Rocky Mountains) with three long-time pals-it was great to see you, Judy, Terri and Sherry! I needed the contact with these supportive friends, more than I even realized at the time.

In October I had an article published in Mercy magazine, the quarterly publication of the company I work for, Mission of Mercy. Thanks to all of you who were sweetly encouraging to me around the time of this happy event, and since-just call me "Smiley!"

In November, a light bulb blew out in my bathroom in a "swag lamp" (the kind that hangs from the ceiling on a chain). I had recently begun noticing the collection of dust high up on that chain, and had decided to climb up on the counter to clean it, and the necessity of changing the bulb clinched it. Those of you who know me well are probably cringing already, recalling my strong tendency toward klutziness...you're smart to cringe. Here's the scenario: my bathroom is split into two areas--the tub and toilet are in the back half of the bathroom in a little room by themselves, and the rest of the bathroom is a fairly narrow area. A counter houses two sinks, with a towel rack on the right wall, and I just measured three feet between the counter and the wall to the back half. Now I had worn a skirt to work that day, with the attendant pantyhose, etc. I had already kicked off my shoes, but hadn't changed into "comfy clothes" for the evening just yet. I had brought a small stepladder-two steps-upstairs with me, and set it on the floor area between the counter and the back half, so that stepping onto it would put the counter and mirror to my left. I thought to myself "This isn't a big deal. I can do this real quickly before I even change clothes-just step up on the counter and dust, change the light bulbs out, and I'm done." So I stepped up there in my stocking feet and began to do the dusting. I had a tiny slip (on the smooth surface with my hose-clad feet) and talked myself into what was to become an unfortunate decision: "Brenda, this really is not very safe. You should get down and at least put your shoes back on before you continue this job-you're going to slip." So, I got down and put my shoes back on. I stepped back up onto the counter...no, that's not quite right. I began the motions of stepping back up onto the counter, but never really made it. I had removed my left foot from the stepladder and placed it on the countertop, and was removing my right foot from the stepladder when disaster struck! The right "front" leg of the stepladder gave (completely bent, in fact) while I was in the process of removing my weight from it, triggering what must have been quite a wonder to watch. I began a strange and desperate kind of pin wheeling, trying to get my right foot up onto the counter, too, or at least the right knee...OR, trying to summon the strength in my left thigh/haunches (HA!) to stand straight up...OR, trying to grab onto something and pull myself up. Alas, to no avail. This valiant little struggle seemed to me to last a long, long time, but I was just experiencing it in the "super slow-mo" perception you get in a moment of panic or trauma. I don't know exactly how all of this happened, but I fell onto the floor of the bathroom completely laid out on my right side, with the entire side taking an evenly distributed impact. My first thought when the "dust settled" was "Okay, I've fallen. Am I hurt?" The stepladder was partially under my right hip, and I was bruised from that. (It has since been chucked and replaced...) I noticed that both shoes had fallen off in the meantime, and my toes were sore for a little while-they must've scraped something (?). Here's a hoot-I had a "boom box" radio sitting on the counter between the right sink and the right wall, below the towel rack. It was on (radio) when I began to fall and to try to grab for something. It was still in place after my fall, still plugged in, etc., but the volume was much lower-I must have brushed the volume control in my mad grab! Also, I pulled the towel rack right out of its brackets, partially broke one of the brackets, and somehow managed to scrape the top of my head on the broken bracket on the way down--there was a tiny area of broken skin and I had a pinkish scalp (like a sunburn there) for a few days. The most lasting injury seems to be something deep in my right knee-if I move in a certain way when going up steps I can feel a twinge, even now. Otherwise, miraculously, nothing was broken, no stitches, no teeth were knocked out, and even the boom box was okay! (And, the towel rack has since been fixed.) God was definitely in that bathroom with me that day, watching, guiding, carrying, etc. A co-worker joked: "You did a half-gainer!" So, just call me "Greg Louganis."│

About three weeks later, there was a break-in at my house during the day on Tuesday, December 4. I got a call at work from my roommate that the police were there, and I needed to come home right away for a walk-through, to note what was missing. After the long, Herculean struggle I'd been through with the computer to reach a point of stability again, I was just sick with the thought that it was probably gone, and I'd have to start all over again from square one! I went home, trying to get there quickly, but mindful that I didn't want to set a new land speed record for a Toyota and get a ticket! When I got there, there it was again: evidence of the all-powerful presence of God in my life-nothing had been stolen, not so much as a piece of paper! We were part of a group of break-ins (four units in a row in my complex, and other homes in another part of the city) by the same three guys. In the unit that is two down from mine, the would-be thieves surprised a couple sleeping, and one of them drew a gun on the couple while the other two fled, then left himself. (Two of the three had been caught by mid-December, according to the newspaper.) The police officer wanted to "dust for prints" on some things that we knew had been touched by the "invaders," but had to wait for a fingerprint kit-one is shared by many officers, it seems. While he was waiting (interviewing us and others and doing paperwork), he unfortunately left his lights on in the squad car, and it was "dead" when he went to move it to let my roommate leave. Luckily the other squad car (delivering the fingerprint kit) arrived just then, and the other policemen gave the officer a jump--with my jumper cables-they don't carry them! I guess the new motto of the police must be "To serve and protect--if we can get the car started..."

I headed off to Maryland to visit Mom for Christmas feeling a little beat up and beleaguered, and fell ill while I was there. To round out a fun year, on Sunday, December 30 I coughed for about two hours solid, (just call me "Wheezy") and was feeling a panicked sensation of "this coughing will never stop! I can't breathe!" We didn't know what else to do, so we went to the emergency room. I was diagnosed with "acute bronchitis," and I'm still coughing at night a little, but am worlds better now than I was at that low point.

Awesome-I had something in 2001 to recount to my friends and family!

Looking ahead, I can be called "Aunty Brenda" once again when Bob and Jenn welcome their first child into the world in mid-June, 2002.

Sorry this was so long! But, I figure it averages out to two pages a year between 2000 and 2001, so sue me! Or just call me "long-winded."

I am ever grateful to you all, for your prayer, your supportive words, and your kind understanding when I've "bent your ear" this year with my complaints, prayer requests, and news of my challenges and troubles. You're more appreciated than you know. I don't take the time to say it often enough, do I? Once again, with more clarity: thank you. And this, addressed to the Heavenly Father:

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Jude 24-25



Key to references, just in case...
╣"Stevie"-Stevie Wonder, blind musician
▓"Xena"-"Xena, Warrior Princess" of a syndicated "swashbuckler" TV show
│Greg Louganis-champion Olympic diver

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