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My Christmas/Annual Newsletter--2005
by Brenda Kern 
Not For Sale
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I now have plastic taped on my car. My descent into the redneck lifestyle is nearly complete...

Let me take you back to where the last BK newsletter left off, and maybe we can trace where it all began...(imagine the screen getting all swirly and fuzzy)...it's January 2004...

My roommate, Lacey, moved out late that month, and I didn't pursue getting a roommate again, deciding it was time to live alone, like a grownup might. Also, I had been talking about getting more serious about my writing, and Lacey suggested that I check out a web site called "FaithWriters." In February I joined--more about that on the insert.

In March 2004 I hit my five-year anniversary of working at Mission of Mercy. Only a few months later, though, they were experiencing financial difficulties, and on May 17th I was laid off, with several other employees. Things looked pretty bad financially, but I did still have my part-time job working for a Mary Kay Senior Sales Director, and this income, along with the unemployment checks I received in July, carried me through monetarily, somehow. Your prayers and God's strength carried me through in every other way!

In June I struggled with computer problems (yes, again) and went to a sleep study-see enclosed supplement. Otherwise, I spent a lot of my time in June and July job-hunting. As you may know, Colorado Springs is home to MANY Christian/nonprofit organizations, and I much preferred to find a new job at one of them. I started at Compassion International on August 2nd, an answer to my prayer. I work as a Fulfillment Associate, an entry-level job working with "Child Consignment." Out of more than 700,000 children, it is my job to select children and reserve them for events (concerts, speakers, seminars), volunteers, and churches. It keeps me busy, and I'm blessed to have a wonderful bunch of co-workers in my immediate work group.

In the fall of 2004, famous people left messages on my answering machine three days in a row: first John Elway, then Rudy Giuliani, and finally Madeleine Albright. Yee Haw! They wanted me to vote for somethin' or other, or so they said, but I'm guessing' that their time just ran out before they got to the personal stuff.

In November I hosted a team get together at my place for my coworkers, and got obsessed with cleaning. So it was that I had another mishap while trying to clean my windows, this time breaking a big picture window: I got it out of its track and cleaned it (uselessly), but then had trouble getting it back in, pushed too hard, and crunch! Glass everywhere. Kind neighbors helped me with the cleanup, and with taping big black trash bags into the open space. I was luckily able to get a replacement window and get help installing it, all before the day of the party. While the plastic was up, though, it gave the living room a breezy, back-to-nature kind of feeling. Hmmm...

Also in November, for Thanksgiving, I traveled back East, to Maryland, to visit my family as usual, and to meet my mother's boyfriend, a widower from her church named Bob Lopez.

In December I donated my clarinet to an organization called "Musicianaries," to be used for someone overseas. As I drove home from shipping it at the post office, I surprised myself by crying about it. Lots of memories there, but I just wasn't using it anymore... Also, for Christmas, Mom got me a gift: one of them new-fangled cellular telephones! Boy, did I ever feel fancy and modern!

Movin' on: in 2005 I produced the newsletter three times for the townhome complex where I live for a little bit of extra income. (So, if you're keeping track, I have a full-time job, a part-time job, a more-or-less quarterly job, and I write something for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge almost every week.)

My mom and Bob Lopez got married in Houston on January 31, 2005, while on a trip to Texas to meet his relatives. So now she's Faith Lopez, and I have a whole new collection of family members!

In March I was thrilled to be able to purchase plastic patio furniture at Wal-Mart. Woo-hoo! During another visit to my favorite store, I noticed this actual price tag: "Was $1, now 2 for $2." What a steal!

In June I drove to a coffee shop after work with some coworkers. I had parked and opened the door slightly to exit the vehicle when a gust of wind took the door from my hand. Unfortunately, the edge scraped the passenger side door of the neighboring car. The other driver was just approaching, and I gave her my insurance information so she could make a claim (because it was my vehicle's door which had caused the damage). I found, to my joy, that my premiums wouldn't be affected because this was the first claim made. Remember this little incident, though...it'll come back to haunt me later...

In August I got a wonderful surprise: I was contacted through FaithWriters by the founder of a new Christian web site called "EZRAweb.com," and he wanted me to be a weekly columnist! More on this in the insert...

Over Labor Day I visited my sister, Tina, and her family in Boston, and I also attended a Hunter family reunion (Mom's side of the family) at a coastal park in Maine. Beautiful, rugged, soul stirring. Visit the Atlantic in New England if you ever get the opportunity-you won't regret it.

In October 2005 I finally got a lump on my back checked out-my doctor felt it was probably a "sebaceous cyst" (not sure of that spelling), a common skin problem. He said he could cut it out right there in his office. It was around Halloween, and I told him that if he screamed like a girl when he cut into it, and thousands of microscopic spiders went running every which way, I'd know it was probably something else.

He laughed. It was what he thought it was, no big deal.

My mom's new husband has relatives and friends in the Colorado Springs area, and the men have a longstanding tradition of spending a week hunting together here in the fall. Arrangements were made that Mom would stay with me while he was out with the hunting party, so I had the motivation I needed to furnish the empty basement (empty for over a year and half by late 2005). So, with some input from friends and other help, I purchased furniture, and the delivery and set-up process was just as smooth as silk. Not! (ha, ha, ha, good one! Not for Brenda Kern!)

Though six different roommates had lived in the basement, each with a couch, when the guys with my couch arrived, they declared that it wasn't possible to get a couch around the corner and down the stairs. (They offered to leave the couch in the kitchen, but I declined.) So, the maintenance guy at my complex helped out by taking off the stair railing, and the second time they came with the couch, they were able to navigate the corner okay.

But, they knocked the thermostat off the wall while doing it, so I had a couch for the basement (yay!) but no thermostat, i.e., no heat (boo!). And my mother was coming in one day! Again, the maintenance guy rides in to the rescue, installing the replacement thermostat that I bravely guessed at/bought at Home Depot.

Her visit went really well, with Bob staying here a few nights, too, and I got to meet some new family members along the way.

Over Christmas I went to visit Mom and Bob in their new home in La Plata, Maryland, and saw most of the Kern relatives (Dad's side of the family) as well. Overall, I saw more family members during the course of this one year, 2005, than I think I ever had before in my whole lifetime.

So far in 2006: January 20th: On the way to the emissions test required for auto registration renewal, I slid in snowy road conditions, crashing into a guardrail, putting out the right front turn signal (plus body damage). (But both headlights still work!) The signal light cover was orange, so I used one layer of red plastic and one layer of yellow plastic inside it, held on by electrical tape, to try to create the illusion of a signal light cover just like the other one. It wasn't orange enough, so I took a yellow marker and colored on the red plastic. Now, if the sun hits it just right, it does look like the same color orange as the other one! It turns out that I can't have this damage repaired by making a claim on my insurance because of the wind incident in June 2005. That would make two claims in seven months, and any two claims within three years of each other would cause my premiums to double. So, if it is to be fixed, it would be a completely out-of-(my empty)-pocket cost. Sigh. Oh, well. It's not so bad. I kinda like my workmanship on it, and the artistic flair involved. (The car did pass the emissions test, by the way.)

I've been researching what is left for me to do for my neck to be completely scarlet: let's see...

Tape/plastic on car and/or home: Check!

Occasionally unemployed: Check!

Tek-no-la-gee-kul-lee challenged: Check!

Relatives in Texas: Check!

Wal-Mart shopper: Check!


Wait. Is this absolutely required? I don't think I can...too-loud, over-decorated cars wastefully driving around in circles?

And the next one. N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!!!!! I can't, I won't, and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME:

Must exclusively listen to AND ENJOY country music

So much for my transformation--never going to happen now.

Anyway, keep in touch, y'all, or come on by. I'm still here, but heaven awaits, with riches untold.

And no plastic at all.

Your pal,

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Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley  12 Dec 2006
Hehe, great newsletter! I feel for ya on the car damage thing. I scraped a minuit amount of paint off another car accidentally and did the right thing by leaving a note about it... Looks like it'll be $400!! Uff da.
Betty Castleberry 21 Oct 2006
This is fun! I wish all of my Christmas letters were this entertaining. I do have to take issue with you on a couple of things, though. I live in Texas, and I like country music. ;0) Thanks for sharing this piece.


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