About Christy Brunke

Welcome, friends! I’m blessed to be a mom, a pastor’s wife, and the bestselling author of the fictional book, Snow out of Season. But my greatest claim to fame comes from being a child of the King. Because of that, I’m passionate about my family, unborn children, and God-written love stories. Though I used to live in China, now I love serving in ministry here in Maryland. Praying you’ll be blessed as you read my blogs, my story, and my award-winning novel!

Five Reasons I’m Grateful for My Mother-In-Law

Christy Brunke with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-lawHow has your mother-in-law blessed your life? Here are five reasons I’m thankful for mine.

Snow out of Season by Christy Brunke1. My mother-in-law chose to give my husband life.

My husband, Mark, complements me perfectly and has been an incredible blessing to me and many others. But when my mother-in-law discovered she was pregnant with him, her circumstances would’ve led many women to have an abortion. 

What if Mark had never been born? How different would my life be? How different would the lives of countless others be? 

But Angie chose to give Mark life. As I wrote on the dedication page of my novel, “For Angie Brunke, because your choice changed my world.”

2. My mother-in-law worked two jobs, so Mark could go to private school.

Where ten is best, the public high school Mark would’ve attended had a GreatSchools rating of one. Perhaps even worse, the school was notorious for drugs and gang violence. 

But Angie was determined to provide better for her child. So, Mark attended Catholic and Lutheran schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. He did so well there, in fact, that he earned many awards and was even offered a full ride to Loyola University.

My mother-in-law with our daughters3. My mother-in-law loves caring for our daughters.

When we lived in Chicago, Angie babysat our girls on Wednesdays and Sundays after church. This enabled Mark and I to enjoy a weekly date night.

It also gave me more time to take fiction classes and work on my first novel, Snow out of Season. As a result, I was able to write, edit, and see my novel traditionally published within six years. That may seem like a long time but getting your first novel published takes, on average, ten years. 

Since we’ve moved, Angie has visited often. She’s always been happy to babysit while Mark and I travel for a wedding or an anniversary trip. In fact, she enjoys spending time with them so much she refuses to call it babysitting.

My mother-in-law cooking with my daughters4. My mother-in-law always wants to give.

Like my late grandmother, Angie is the kind of person that always wants to give you something. That something could be enough chili to feed a family for a week or one of many packages she’s sent since we’ve moved. Some of our favorite clothes and other belongings were gifts from Grandma Angie.

5. My mother-in-law has a teacher’s heart.

When Mark was growing up, she let him buy whatever books he wanted to further his education. That included a set of encyclopedias he ordered for himself at the age of four. 

More recently, she’s given our girls backpacks, school supplies, and educational workbooks. She even created word flash cards for them and used them to help the girls make sentences.

My mother-in-law teaching our daughters

For these five reasons and many more, I’m incredibly grateful for my special mother-in-law.

Want more inspiration for Mother’s Day and beyond? Read “Five Principles I Learned from My Parents.”

 

Five Principles I Learned from My Parents

Christy Brunke with parents Mike and Denise LitzauHow have your mom, dad, and other guardians blessed your life?

This past Sunday, my husband preached out of Proverbs on family relationships. At the end of his sermon, he encouraged each of us to write down five things we’ve learned from our parents.

Narrowing down the ways my parents have blessed me to only five was challenging, but here’s what I came up with:

1. Be generous with your time, talents, and treasures. 

When we were growing up, my parents modeled generous giving. They took in a young man who needed a home. They hosted parties for friends, family, and my high school theater group. They gave to families in need, so parents could buy their children Christmas gifts.

Dad sang and preached at churches and led a Bible study out of our finished attic. Mom taught the high school Sunday school class and cooked for hundreds of inner-city kids at summer camp.

Today, they continue to model generous giving.

Denise Litzau with Brunke and Litzau Grandchildren

They devote much of their free time to babysitting their grandkids. They supported a family in China, so the daughter could go to school and the mom could get the medicine she needed. They gave me and my brothers down payments on our first homes and helped fund my healing from Lyme disease.

Dad remodeled our basement and stripped and stained our hardwood floors. He also helped my brother landscape his yard and put new roofs on our shed and my brothers’ houses. Mom gives to important causes, helps lead a Bible study, and “adopted” a girl from the cancer ward.

2. Family means fond memories together.

I come from a big family that loves spending birthdays, holidays, and vacations together. Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but with more blondes, an Asian, and lots of blue eyes.

Easter: The Brunke, Carter, and Litzau Families

Growing up, every Sunday after church, we went to Mom-Mom and Daddywill’s house for dinner. There, we joined my aunts, uncles, and cousins for lunch, laughter, and lots of love. The menu often included roast beef and mashed potatoes, the smell of apple pies wafting from the oven.

Today, we still vacation together and celebrate many birthdays, showers, weddings, and holidays together. Mom and Aunt Darlene host many of these events at their homes, offering hot food and warm hugs to everyone who walks through the door.

Celebrating Pat Litzau's Eightieth Birthday Party

3. Save, live within your means, and maintain a high credit rating. 

My parents are well-off now, but I didn’t grow up that way. They married when Dad was twenty, and Mom was nineteen, and got pregnant with me on their honeymoon. Over the next ten years, my two brothers were born. 

Mike Litzau doing carpentry with Landon LitzauDad was a carpenter, and Mom was a stay-at-home mom. (She also worked as a waitress, caterer, or day care provider, depending on the year.) In other words, my parents didn’t exactly bring in the big bucks during my childhood years. Still, we never wanted for anything.

We got new clothes for Christmas, our birthdays, and before school started each year. The rest of the time, we shopped at Goodwill and yard sales. We rarely had name brands, but we had plenty, and we didn’t go into debt

Mom bought day-old bread, always had coupons handy, and knew all the best deals. Instead of seeing movies when they first released, we went to the cheap theater and still had a great time. 

Today, Mom owns and manages a settlement company, and Dad buys and remodels homes to rent or sell. They can now afford name-brand clothes, a Mercedes, and even trips to Europe. Still, Mom’s always quick to point out any amazing deals she finds.

Mike and Denise Litzau on vacation

4. Even in the little things, honesty is always the best policy.

Despite my parents’ limited resources when we were kids, they never encouraged us to lie about our age to save money. Instead, quite the opposite. Truth was honored as one of the highest character traits. After all, if you can’t trust each other, how can you have a healthy relationship?

5. Have boundaries, but forgive, and make every effort to live in peace with everyone.

My parents are both strong-willed, intelligent people, but they don’t hold grudges. They speak the truth in love and do their best to live in harmony with friends, family, and coworkers. 

All in all, I’ve been incredibly blessed by both of my amazing parents. What five things did you learn from yours? Comment below!

Introducing My New Website, OurLymeJourney.com!

Never Alone: Our Journey with Lyme Disease

An estimated 300,000 Americans contract Lyme disease every year. My dad, daughter, and I are three of them. (Click here to read my daughter’s ‘s story.)

Last month, I launched a new website called OurLymeJourney.comStarting this Saturday, I’ll share must-have information about this tick-borne illness. Journey with me and others as we illuminate a path toward prevention, early diagnosis, and effective treatment. 

Learn how to recognize Lyme disease as the Great Imitator. Untangle the controversies about the diagnostic tests. Become your own best advocate and get the upper hand on this too-often debilitating disease. 

This blogged book will include four parts, dozens of chapters, and at least a hundred or two blogs. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the content I’ll be covering:

Part One: Our Family’s Story

  • What on Earth is Wrong with Me?
  • Saved by My Seven-Year-Old
  • My Journey from Hope to Healing
Mark, Christy, Michaela, and Angelina Brunke

Part Two: All About Lyme and Insect-Borne Infections

  • Lyme’s History, Biology, and Global Threat
  • Eleven Ways to Lower Your Risk for Lyme
  • How to Recognize the Great Imitator
  • Why Standard Testing Might Not Be Enough
  • Lyme’s Common Co-Infections and Other Tick-Borne Diseases
  • A Concerning and Controversial Theory
Eleven Ways to Lower Your Risk for Lyme

Part Three: Treatment Protocols for Tick-Borne Diseases

  • Antibiotics and Anti-Malarial Medications
  • Healthy Habits: Complementary Approaches to Treating Lyme
  • Lyme Disease Triggers and Related Health Issues

Part Four: Stories of Friends and Family

The final segment of Never Alone: Our Journey with Lyme Disease is all about you! I’ve already had the honor of hearing many of your stories, and I hope to hear and learn from many more. If you’re willing to share your experiences with the world, I’d love to interview you

Side note: Most of the part four memoirs will be exclusive to the published version of the book. Others will be exclusive to the blog.  

Join me on this journey by clicking here

11 Ways to Lower Your Risk for Lyme

Protect Yourself Against Lyme Disease: 7 Tips

Photo courtesy of lymediseaseguide.net.

In my last post, I shared my daughter’s story and tips to help you catch Lyme disease early. But how can we protect ourselves from getting it in the first place? Studies show at least 20% of people with Lyme disease don’t remember a rash, and the number could be as high as 73%.

And, unfortunately, the other symptoms can mimic everything from the flu to rheumatoid arthritis. Many with Lyme have been misdiagnosed with depression, multiple sclerosis, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease by Lyme BlueSo how can we decrease our chances of getting this debilitating disease? I wish I could tell you the tips are easy, but for busy moms and nature-lovers like me, they certainly aren’t. However, they might just prevent our minds and bodies from giving out on us before their time.

So here they are! The more we do, and the more often we do them, the more we’ll lower our risk of getting Lyme disease.

When hiking, playing outdoors, or doing yard work from the spring through the fall, take the following precautions:

Wear hats, long-sleeved shirts, and pants tucked into socks. (Lighter-colored clothing is best, because it makes it easier to see the ticks.)

Size of Blacklegged Ticks: Nymph, Adult, and Larva

Photo courtesy of cdc.gov.

• Wear shoes—no flip-flops, sandals, or bare feet—and spray them with permethrin every six weeks. (This tip is one of the easier ones, but it’s been shown to have a big impact.)

Pre-treat your clothes with permethrin and use EPA-approved insect repellent on your body. (Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil are most effective.)

Walk in the center of trails to avoid brush, tall grass, and leaf litter.

Don’t sit on logs or lean against trees.

Tick Hotspots: Where to Check for Ticks

Photo courtesy of hikeitbaby.com.

• After being outdoors, check yourself and your children for ticks. Don’t forget hidden places like the underwear area and scalps, armpits, and belly buttons.

Bathe or shower within two hours of coming inside.

Toss your clothes in a dryer for 5-10 minutes to kill any ticks that may have traveled inside with you.

Plan ahead:

Avoid tick-infested areas from May through July when the nymphs are feeding. (Nymphs are the main disease-carrying stage of the deer tick.)

Deer Ticks Life Cycle and Risk of Infection

Photo courtesy of cdc.gov.

• If you live in a high-risk area, hire a professional to spray for ticks between mid-May and early June.

Discourage deer from coming into your yard through building fences and removing plants they enjoy eating.

Photo courtesy of bugspray.com.

Those are the best tips I’ve found for preventing this debilitating disease. I don’t expect us to do all of them, but every one we do will help lower our risk of getting Lyme. 

For more information about Lyme disease, read “Lyme Disease! What It Is & Why You Should Care.”