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!

Snow Out of Season: The Story behind the Story

From time to time, people ask me when I decided to become a writer and how I came up with the idea for Snow Out of Season.

My Earliest Muses

Christy Brunke named after Catherine Marshall's Christy novelWhen I was born, my parents named me Christy after the bestselling novel of the same name. You might say Catherine Marshall and her famous heroine were my first muses. (Tweet that!)

But as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved reading, especially fiction.

As a little girl, I was always dreaming up stories. I remember going into a patch of woods near our house and pretending I was the queen of a small kingdom.

In sixth grade, I won a short story contest and started dreaming of penning novels and memoirs. But first the Lord led me on other adventures.

I completed a bachelor of arts in English and moved to China to study Mandarin and teach at a university. Then I returned to the States to attend seminary, direct school musicales, and work at a church.

As a teen and young adult, I longed for a God-scripted love story.

I devoured books like Elisabeth Elliot’s Quest for Love and Passion & Purity. Realizing my Creator knew me better than anyone, and knew every man as well, I asked Him to choose my husband. And He did. Mark complements me perfectly and has been an incredible blessing to me and many others.

But when my mother-in-law was pregnant with him, her circumstances would have led many women to have an abortion. I started wondering what my life would’ve been like if she’d made a different choice. What if Mark had never been born?

The Significance of a Single Soul

What’s the significance of a single soul? How far does one life reach?

In Psalm 139, King David says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

You knit me together in my mother's womb.

A story grew in my heart, one I felt compelled to share. I wanted to speak about this issue of life in a way that readers could experience its impact. I wanted to teach these truths through a story, so I could reach more people with the message.

So began Snow out of Season, the dual stories of two women of two generations who struggle with the same questions. Is the child each carries worthy of life? What will it cost to keep the child? What will happen if each decides not to?

These are questions women across our country have wrestled with for 44 years. Since Roe v. Wade, 60 million unborn children have died in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I want you to pause a moment and take in that staggering number.

The number of Americans we’ve lost to abortion is greater than all the Americans we’ve lost in all our wars. That includes the world wars, the Civil War, and the Persian Gulf War, not to mention all the others.

In my novel, I attempt to give faces to two of those 60 million unborn lives. To help readers feel the significance of each lost—or saved—unique person. (Tweet that!)

An Impossible Dream

However, 98 percent of books submitted to publishers get rejected. And only 16 percent of traditionally-published writers were able to debut with their first book. Most wrote at least one novel before finally being able to get the second, third, or fourth published. Did this story even have a chance?

Two-year-old Michaela Brunke with baby sister Angelina BrunkeDespite the odds, I decided to pursue that long-delayed dream, knowing the faithful One who had called me was the God of the impossible. To learn how to write fiction, I took classes, attended conferences, and joined critique groups.

In 2014, my second daughter was born on June 10. Meanwhile, the deadline for the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest was September 10. Between round-the-clock diaper changes, plus caring for my two-year-old, I finished my story and submitted it.

The next month, I was shocked to learn the Christian Writers Guild had closed. Was the Operation First Novel contest cancelled too?

A Desire Fulfilled

The following month, New York Times bestselling author Jerry Jenkins decided to continue the contest under his own name.

Jerry B. Jenkins Clarice G. James Christy Brunke

Me and Clarice James with bestselling author Jerry Jenkins.

That December, I discovered I was one of eleven semifinalists.

The next month, at the Writer to Writer conference, Jerry announced I won third place. Snow Out of Season—that original story that wouldn’t let go—would be published!

From March to May, in-between moving, starting a new ministry, and trying to sell our house as well as buy another, I revised my story. Then I worked with Carol Kurtz Darlington from Mountainview Books to hone it more. Finally, my novel was off to the copyeditors and typesetters!

Snow Out of Season

Bestselling author Sandra Byrd read an advance review copy and said, “The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever story telling.”

Snow Out of Season novel by Christy BrunkeLibrary Journal gave it a starred review, calling it an “astonishing tale with a gratifying ending,” and named it their Christian Fiction Debut of the Month.

In January 2016–a month after it’s release–the Kindle version topped Amazon bestseller charts.

But what is this bestselling, award-winning novel about? Two pregnant women, separated by time, each face a decision that could change the future—and the past—forever.

Read the synopsis and the first chapter here! Already sold on Snow Out of Season? You can order it for yourself or a loved one here.

Boundary Building for Sensitive Souls

Boundary Building for Sensitive Souls and Selfless Givers

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Do you have the biggest heart around? Does your sensitive soul sometimes work against you? Is boundary building a foreign—or frightening—concept?

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged here. Click here to discover why. I’m writing today to encourage you to attend Boundary Building for Sensitive Souls and Selfless Givers! 

This fun, uplifting, and interactive workshop is hosted by my friend Renée Burkett. My husband, Mark, and I will also be speaking. Mark your calendars for this Saturday, September 26 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m!

Join us for the entire three-hour Facebook live event or just drop in for a module or two! Either way, you’ll receive tools and tips to create a healthy, balanced life. Discover how to choose well, keep your yeses in check, and live happier in your wonderful, others-focused life.

Boundary Building Modules

Renee Burkett Boundary Building for Sensitive SoulsToo Many Yeses Got Me in Some Messes

If your sensitivity to the needs or wants of others makes you a go-to for listening, caring, and saying yes—even to your own detriment—get tools and build boundaries to create better life balance.

Mark Brunke, Youth Pastor at Greenridge Baptist ChurchA Million Choices and a Million Voices: Choosing My Next Step

Whether you feel overwhelmed by options, pressured by the expectations of others, or stuck waiting for a sign, decision-making can be crippling.  If it’s hard for you to discover your own opinions and then give them a voice, you’re not alone.  At the end of this session, you’ll have tools to process the choices ahead of you and step forward with confidence in the real world.

Christy Brunke, author of Snow Out of SeasonBaby Steps to Meet Your Biggest Goals

Do you dream of starting a blog, writing a book, or remodeling your house? Whether your aspirations are practical or imaginative, finding the time to pursue them can be problematic. Learn how to break your big goals into baby steps to make them achievable, even amidst a busy life. After this session, you will have the tools you need to start turning your dreams into reality.

Renee Burkett Boundary Building for Sensitive SoulsStaying True to Your Inner You

Like chameleons, we can easily morph for others. Our inner sensitivity and compassion are gifts. And they can be a gift for us too! At the end of this module, you will recognize—when chameleon opportunities come—how to stay true to you.

Schedule

  • 1:00: Too Many Yeses Got Me in Some Messes (with Renée Burkett)
  • 2:00: A Million Voices and a Million Choices: Choosing My Next Step (with Mark Brunke)
  • 2:30: Baby Steps to Meet Your Biggest Goals (with me)
  • 3:00: Staying True to Your Inner You (with Renée Burkett)

This event is perfect for teens and adults as well as tweens with a parent. Ready to join us? Sign-up for this free event here!

Why 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. She 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. She 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. She 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 My Parents Modeled

Christy Brunke with parents Mike and Denise Litzau

How have your parents 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. Hosted parties for friends, family, and my high school theater group. 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. When my brothers and I bought our first homes, they gave us the down payments. More recently, they 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.

Christy Brunke with her parents and other relatives

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 Litzau

Dad 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.

Christy Brunke's parents Mike and Denise Litzau

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!

New Lyme Disease 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 story.)

Last month, I launched a new website called OurLymeJourney.com. Starting 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 Lyme Disease Story

Christy Brunke with daughters and husband, Mark

Part Two: All About Lyme and Insect-Borne Infections

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