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!

Transformed in 10 Minutes: Mom-Mom’s Story

Mom-Mom's near-death experience when she saw Jesus

Mom-Mom with Jesus, played by Steve Abel, embracing Mom-Mom after The Promise, a church musicale

Indomitable woman though she was, my grandmother had feared death since she was forty. Now, at eighty-five, she was dead. She had flatlined in the hospital, and the nurses struggled to revive her. Images of Mom-Mom passing before she was ready—before we were ready—shot through my mind.

Mom-Mom was the kind of woman you knew loved you even as she scolded you for lackluster bow-tying skills or an inability to pick decent paint colors. (To her, Betty Jean, the only acceptable hues were bright green or canary yellow.)

She was the kind of woman who always wanted to give you something. You might not know it, but you probably needed a couch from Goodwill, tomatoes from a farmer’s market, or peanut butter fudge she’d made with an oar-sized spoon. (Betty Jean made regular trips to The Restaurant Store.)

And she was the kind of woman who always wanted to take you somewhere. Her favorite places were yard sales, Amish country, and the Sight and Sound Theatre. (Betty Jean loved their musicals that bring Bible stories to life.)

Now, she was gone.

Four days earlier, she had been admitted to the hospital for a persistent infection. Her health had been declining on several fronts. Even so, we thought she had at least one more year.

The Day Everything Changed

“Mom-Mom is dying, Christy!” My mother’s voicemail turned my blood cold. “She’s dying!”

I took a deep breath and called my mom. After fifteen minutes of CPR, the nurses had revived Mom-Mom. But they didn’t think she had long.

Warm tears poured. Mom-Mom was alive. For now.

Driving to the hospital, I faltered between crying out to God, and—submerged in a stunned silence—processing what was happening.

I hurried into the ICU, hoping and praying Mom-Mom’s heart was still beating. The waiting room overflowed with family.

Mom-Mom with family on her eightieth birthday

With Our Family on Her Eightieth Birthday

After two hours, we saw her. A ventilator sustained her, and she couldn’t speak, but she knew us and squeezed our hands. The next morning, they removed the ventilator, and she started talking—all about Jesus. She had seen him.

At first, we thought she met him in a dream. The more she talked, the more we realized she had glimpsed her eternal home.

“I know a lot of people there!” She mentioned a door, and then she described birds, gardens, and a river. “The water is so beautiful.”

“The streets, they are really gold,” she told my cousin Abby. “And you should see my house. It’s glorious!”

Anyone who knew Mom-Mom knew she was frank, not poetic. In the forty-one years I was blessed to be her granddaughter, I had not heard her use the word “glorious.” Now it was a regular part of her vocabulary.

Curious, Aunt Debby asked Mom-Mom, “What does Jesus look like?”

Mom-Mom cocked her head. “It’s hard to describe. He’s just beautiful.”

Continue reading Mom-Mom’s story in my second book, When Losses Become Legacies. Click here to buy or borrow it.

A Short Christmas Story: The Last Tribute

Happy Three Kings Day! In honor of this holiday, I’d like to share the beginning of a Christmas story I wrote about the magi. If you’d like to read the rest, just click the link at the end to subscribe to my blog!

The Last Tribute (A Short Christmas Story)

A Christmas story about the magi by Christy Brunke

Photo courtesy of haileyburiana.blogspot.com.

Bethlehem: 4 B.C.

Who was I to be blessed with such a child? I still struggled so much to be the woman Yahweh was calling me to be.

Jesus cooed, and I kissed his warm forehead. He beamed up at me—his first toothless grin.

Laughing, I kissed him again, but this time a tear rolled down my face. I ran a hand over his downy head. “I promise to do my best to raise you well and always keep you safe.”

A commotion outside caught my attention, so I grabbed the oil lamp and hurried to the window.

Foreigners from the east, richly clad in embroidered robes, were dismounting camels as they spoke to each other in a strange tongue.

Goosebumps rose on my arms. What were they doing here, in this small village of farmers and herdsmen?

I laid Jesus in his hammock, grabbed hyssop, and hurried to the hand mill. In case they were here to see the Anointed One, like the shepherds six weeks ago, I needed to prepare something to serve. Spinning the handle, I ground the leaves against the stone, and a minty aroma filled the air.

Before I was finished, someone rapped on our door.

My heart skipped a beat. So they were here to see Jesus. With one last glance at him, I took a deep breath and opened the door.


A stately man towered over me with onyx eyes and an elaborate headdress. He bowed, and my mouth went dry. I had never entertained such wealthy guests.

“Peace be on you,” I managed to say.

“And on you, peace,” he said, his words coming out choppy in our language. Then the man looked past me and stared at Jesus. “Is this he who has been born King of the Jews?”

I swallowed hard and nodded.

“We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Star of Bethlehem Christmas

Photo courtesy of verytopsecret.info.

His star? I glanced above me and gasped. The star that had lingered above us for some time was glowing brighter than ever before.

Click here to continue reading!

Daddy Will, One of My Favorite Veterans

Who’s your favorite veteran? Mine is my late grandfather, whom we affectionately called Daddy Will.

Christy Brunke nee Litzau with Daddy Will

Daddy Will carrying me down the aisle when I served as a flower girl in Aunt Marty and Uncle Tom’s wedding.

As a young man, he served in Army intelligence during the Korean War. On one dangerous mission, he lost most of his men. Many had wives. Some had children. He had neither. Riddled with guilt, he wondered why he survived while the men with families died.

I’m one of the reasons. My mom, aunts, brothers, and cousins make many more. After the war, Daddy Will married my indomitable grandmother, Betty Jean. Together they built one of the biggest, closest, and strongest families I know. Though Mom-Mom and Daddy Will both passed away years ago, their legacy outlives them.

Want to know more about this amazing man? Read his story below.

Daddy Will and His Million-Dollar Donkey

Are you familiar with Mr. Ed, the talking horse? How about Willie, the million-dollar donkey? You may have spotted his T-shirt on FBI agents, or in such faraway places as the People’s Republic of China.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I need to introduce my grandfather. One of the most hardworking men I’ve met, he was incredible with a hammer. Being patriotic, red, white, and blue were his favorite colors. And, though generally quiet, he loved to joke and tell tall tales.

Who Was Will Reincke?

Most people called him Will Reincke. They knew him as a construction manager who supervised prominent building projects like Memorial Stadium, Laurel Park racetrack, and Harrison’s Pier 5 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

My grandmother called him Will or, sometimes, William. She knew him as the handsome husband she eloped with who provided well for their family. Though Mom-Mom shook her head at his cock and bull stories, she loved him loyally until death did them part.

My mom, Denise, and my aunts, Darlene and Debby, called him Dad. They knew him as the father who adored them and called them his “Darling D’s.”

The ten of us grandkids called him Daddy Will. As the oldest, I had the honor of bestowing that nickname. We knew him as the grandfather who loved us, believed in us, and would do anything for us.

Will and Betty Reincke with children and grandchildren

1988: Mom-Mom and Daddy Will’s family at Christmastime

In fact, Daddy Will relished spending holidays and vacations with us. Every summer, we spent a boisterous week together in Ocean City. Every winter, we enjoyed quieter weekends—if you exclude the rumble of snowmobiles—at Deep Creek Lake.

To keep reading Daddy Will’s story, buy or borrow When Losses Become Legacies here.

Breast Cancer: My Friend Becky’s Battle

My friend Becky Pedroza's battle with breast cancerWho have you lost to breast cancer? This week, my funny, gifted, and beautiful friend Becky would have turned forty-one. In honor of her birthday—and Breast Cancer Awareness Month—allow me to share part of her story.  If you so desire, you can read the rest in my second book, When Losses Become Legacies: Memoirs on Grief, God, and Glory.

Pepper’s Very Bad Day: Rebecca Pedroza’s Story

Have you ever had a bad day? A really bad day? Have you looked back later and decided it was ultimately a good day?

Pepper’s Good & Bad Day by Marci McGill is a classic children’s book that my mom read to my brothers and me many times. The normally cheerful Pepper possum wakes up grumpy because he lost his favorite hat. Now, everything seems to go wrong. By bedtime, he recovers his hat and realizes it was a good day, after all.

Years later, I encountered a real-life Pepper: my friend Becky. In May 2006, we served in China for three weeks, teaching English at Jiangxi Normal University. While we were there, Becky faced her own bad day. Though the details are hazy now, her experience illustrated Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Rebecca Pedroza in China in May 2006“I’m going to call you Pepper,” I said with a grin. I shared the story from The Six Little Possums series but misremembered the title as Pepper’s Very Bad Day.

Laughing in her endearing way, Becky tried out the name a few times: “Pepper.” After that, the day took on a different tone.

And the name stuck.

Servant Year and Starting a Family

That year, Pepper served as an intern at our church in Chicagoland. The program was called Servant Year.

Becky was uncommonly beautiful. Everything she touched was transformed as if by stardust, glittering in her wake. She dreamed up dazzling bulletin inserts and flyers for church events. She converted the dingy basement into a warm-and-inviting lounge for Saturday night services. Coffee brewed. Soft sofas beckoned. Autumn-colored fabric hung from the ceiling. Cream-shaded lamps cast a comfortable glow.

For Christmas, she decked the halls with wreaths and tastefully trimmed trees. She launched a poinsettia project, with fresh plants gracing our Advent stage. On Christmas Eve, people who paid for them in advance would carry them home. Unfortunately, Pepper forgot to water the plants, and they withered and died. With a diffident grin, she sprang into action, determined to right her wrong. And she did. She replaced the lifeless plants with new poinsettias, no one the wiser.

While she lived with the interns, I stayed with her mom and enjoyed Becky’s bedroom, elegantly decorated in stunning shades of purple.

Two years later, on my wedding day, she styled my hair, applied my makeup, and served as our wedding coordinator. Pepper was even armed with my lip gloss whenever I needed it. Thanks to her, her mom—Mariann—and another friend, I knew no worries that day.

By the time Becky was thirty, she had her own charming family. She had married her high-school sweetheart, Tony, and given birth to two children. But when Mia was five and Mateo just three, Pepper lost something much dearer than a hat.

The Pedroza Family: Tony, Rebecca, Mia, and Mateo

Photo by Natalie Hantosh.

You can read the rest of Becky’s battle with breast cancer in my second book, When Losses Become Legacies. Click here to buy or borrow it.

Second Chances: A Miracle of More Time

Second Chances to Say Goodbye Kristina Cowan's Story

Kristina Cowan with her dad on Easter Sunday, 2016

What would you give for one more week with your loved one?

Today would’ve been the 88th birthday of my co-author’s father. As she writes in our book, “The human heart isn’t wired for separation. It’s unnatural. Unsettling. But separation can make us stronger. If we let it, it edges us closer to the golden promise of the Christian faith. A reunion without end awaits us on the other side of forever.”

In honor of Kristina Cowan’s dad, here’s an excerpt from a memoir she wrote about second chances:

Somewhere in Time: How Second Chances Heal

Four years ago, my dad died. Twice.

The first time, he was alone, slumped over the wheel of his truck. A swarm of good Samaritans revived him. One smashed through the glass of his passenger door. Several others hoisted him onto the sidewalk. A nursing student skilled in CPR restored his breathing. Emergency workers shocked his heart back to life and sped him to the hospital.

Dad was almost eighty-three, his health declining. His rescuers—a group of average people passing by—managed an uncommon feat. Even an experienced emergency room team would have struggled to do it.

Some of our family believed God had started a miracle in Dad’s rescue. Soon he would regain consciousness, and the miracle would be complete. Why else would God have allowed it?

I wasn’t so sure. Two weeks earlier, I had talked with my dad about his heart condition. He didn’t want procedures to extend his life. “If the Lord wants to take me, it’s my time,” he had said. God isn’t predictable. I too wondered what he was doing. Dad might die before I reached him. Or he might wake up and go home a changed man. As I tossed my clothes into a suitcase, I braced for whatever awaited on the other side of my plane ride.

To continue reading, buy or borrow When Losses Become Legacies here.