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My Christmas/Annual Newsletter--2003
by Brenda Kern 
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Greetings, Everybody!

I'm back! Here's another roundup of events going on in my life since my last letter to you (Feb. 2002). A few things just cried out to be told in a slightly longer format, so here's what I did: I created separate documents for four short stories, and they will be separate attachments (if you receive this electronically) or on separate sheets. Read just this or any of them that intrigue you, your choice.

In the spring of 2002, I had a scary experience in the middle of the night-see "A Bump in the Night" for more details!

My niece, Kayla, was born in June 2002, my brother's firstborn child. She is so cute!

I refinanced (yes, again) in July 2002.

Also in July 2002, on the 14th, in fact (I have a weird ability to recall some specific dates), I first noticed some pain in my foot. My doctor diagnosed "Plantar Fasciitis," a common foot ailment. He put me on Celebrex, for reduction of muscle inflammation, but that didn't really help. A friend who had had this ailment in the past recommended some foot stretching exercises, and they helped a little. Mostly it was just a matter of tolerating it, and the last of the pain finally faded away in about July or August of 2003. (Yes, a full year later.) I joked with people that I had a "Fascist Foot," and that I was struggling with random thoughts like "Die, you imperialist Yankee pig!"

In August 2002 I got a new dishwasher, and the installation process was educational. See "Did You Know" for more details.

My mom retired from teaching English ("Language Arts") in the public school system in September 2002, and now is a foster parent.

In October of 2002 I discovered a lump in my jaw, on the left side, about the size of a peanut M & M. The location of it was of concern, because it could have been something associated with the lymph system...It turned out to (probably) have been related to a cut I got in my nostril that mysteriously developed a staph infection-this lump, I was told, could have formed because of drainage from the infection, and might very well dissolve as antibiotics treat the infection. And that's what happened. Something like this, though, sure gets your attention and turns your thoughts toward mortality and what really matters.

I had to get a new refrigerator in November 2002; the old one quit out of the blue. (an appliance problem to "rack up" with all the others-there's quite a long string of them now, huh?)

Many of you contributed toward a fund raising effort in which I participated-bowling for Junior Achievement. In March 2003 I raised $500, which was the highest total for an individual representing my company, Mission of Mercy. Thanks, once again, to all of you who made that possible. (and, hint, hint, I'm doing it again next year. If you would like to pitch in to the cause once again, and receive a receipt for tax purposes, just send me a check made out to Junior Achievement. It would be much, much appreciated!)

One goofy little life goal I had set for myself was accomplished for the first time (and probably the last time) this year. I have been trying for a long time now to see all of the movies nominated for what I call "mainstream" Oscars before the night of the awards telecast, and I did it in 2003! Hooray for me!

I had a serious eye problem in June of 2003-what originally was diagnosed in the "After Hours Clinic" part of the emergency room as pink eye in one eye rapidly developed into infection and inflammation in both eyes, and about a 50% loss of vision went along with it. At the peak of it, the "whites" of both eyes were completely changed to a vivid red and both eyes were nearly swelled shut, with lots of gunk being produced. (Please excuse the use of the technical term!) The doctor prescribed two kinds of drops, and the pharmacist filling the prescriptions inquired, "Oh, honey-do your eyes feel as bad as they look?" I didn't blame her-I was truly scary looking, even to me. Driving to the appointment and the pharmacy was also scary... After the third day of the drops, improvement and relief finally set in, and my appearance and vision were completely restored.

My clothes dryer was becoming VERY loud over the spring and summer of 2003, and, given my run of luck with appliances, I was dreading the thought of another major expense...then a friend took the thing apart, identified the problem part (small enough to fit in your hand, surprisingly, given the huge noise problem), installed the replacement part, and put it back together, all in one afternoon. Big thanks to my friend! And, a lesson to me: it's okay to ask for help, sometimes. I'm not so good at that, being a VERY independent woman and all...

My mom and my cousin, Carole, visited me in September/October of 2003 as a part of an extended road trip. We did a number of fun things, capped off by attending a Bill Cosby performance. (They also did touristy things while I worked.) It was such a great time, full of laughter and love!

I've had a few wacky experiences to wrap up the year-see "Day of the Purple Turtleneck" and "Our Friend, Ralph" to get an insight into these events.

I'm still a loyal Washington Redskins fan. A true fan doesn't turn away just because their team has a [decade-long] losing streak, right? At this point, though, I sense that a bunch of junior high girls (who don't practice together much) could beat the Redskins. Enough said.

Over the last two years at work I've felt a bit like the ball in a pinball machine. I hope that I've found a position (and location!) of some stability now. Mostly I want to be used by the Lord, wherever He decides that should be, however He decides that should be.

Don't forget to remember Jesus this season. He loves you so.

Me, too.


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