Friday, April 22, 2016


Wow! It's been a long time since I've posted anything on here. Perhaps this entry will help explain why.

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated with journeys. The very first journey I remember was going to Grandma’s house. She lived far enough away that it was always an overnight trip. At the time, it was the destination(Grandma’s arms) rather than the travel that appealed to me, probably because I had to share the back seat of the car with my three brothers. Baby sister was in the front seat.

When I was old enough to read, my favorite books usually involved someone going somewhere. Little Heidi took a trip to see her grandfather in Switzerland and was in awe of where he lived and his simple lifestyle. Then I discovered the books about families going west in the 1800’s to find new homes. Their journeys were difficult ones and I marveled that their dreams and goals were so important that they faced many dangers to reach them. Many of them walked all the way across the country with limited resources and fewer comforts. Their courage inspired me.

My parents were not rich, but they made sure our family took a few journeys. We went camping in Kentucky for several years, living in a pop-up camper and living on fried potatoes and the fish we caught. It was the simple life…the kind that minimalist now days only dream about.

As a young mom, I loved to watch “Little House on the Prairie” with my kids and was amazed at the courage of the Ingalls family as they lived with only the bare necessities of life after they traveled to their dream.

Then it was my turn to start taking trips with my family. We did the camping thing too, then graduated to condos, hotels and even a cruise. Those journeys took us to some interesting destinations and family time I will never forget.

Then there was the trip of a lifetime when my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. We climbed on his Harley and went all the way to the Pacific Ocean, taking with us again, only the the bare essentials. Now that trip was more about the journey than the destination.

There are emotional journeys too. There are those paths that take us through bad times like grief, disappointment and financial stress. And, some that take us to the very pinnacle of happiness.
There are journeys through the phases of our lives. Marriage, parenthood and retirement are just a few.

Probably the most meaningful journey throughout my life has been my spiritual one. I’ve learned that if I’m not moving closer to God, I’m drifting away from Him. There doesn’t seem to be a holding pattern in that journey.

In the past couple of years, I’ve journeyed through a difficult time. It’s been a time of transition and there have been major losses that resulted in intense grief. There has been disillusionment and what felt like betrayal. The transition from a career I loved to being retired was unexpectantly difficult. 
Fear and anxiety from a combination of situations pushed me to the edge of clinical depression that resulted in a lack of pleasure in life, and the disappearance of the creativity that had always helped to define who I was.

But there were slivers of unbelievable joy that shone on me through that difficult time and they helped to save me. Watching my children become successful, not only in their careers but in their personal lives as wives and mothers brought a sense of satisfaction and pride. Just being a grandparent brought me indescribable joy and the patience of my lifelong companion brought a sense of security. The support and prayer of some special friends and family was invaluable. Most of all, it was the unfailing faithfulness of my Shepherd who has walked through every valley with me that helped me through the darkness.

As I come out of that dark time, I am planning a journey that I never thought I would be able to take. Because I’m a lover of natural beauty and simplicity, and because my enjoyment of walking (that has helped to keep me healthy at the age of 64), I am going to endeavor to do what those inspiring pioneers of old once did. I’m going to walk across part of our beautiful country. On May 15, I’m going to begin a section hike of the Appalachian trail. A friend with a mutual desire will go with me on my forty days in the wilderness. If you know your Bible, you know that 40 days in the wilderness can result in some drastic changes in a life. I am open to whatever lies ahead.

If you’d like to follow me on this journey, you can do so by reading my Appalachian Trail journal at the following website.I would suggest you read the "about" section first and then start at my first entry on the prehike part of the journal.

© Brenda J. Young

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Long Time Dream Comes True

A Long Time Dream Comes True

Forty-three years ago, when I was nineteen, I had a lot of dreams. One of them was to move to the sunshine state where my dearest friend lived. (Why she was my dearest friend is a different story for a different day, but I will tell you that she was my life-saver when I was fourteen). I wanted to be where she was, and she promised me sunshine all winter long. Even then, I hated cloudy November days with their promise of cold and snow on the way.

So I packed my car with everything I owned, and headed down the highway, going south. With a new license to practice nursing in my hand, I planned to spend the winter, and maybe forever, if my destination turned out to be as perfect as I thought it would be.

I arrived in sunny Florida with my pots and pans, my linens, and all the clothes I owned. Until I could find my own place to live, I moved in with my friend and her poor mom. I soon discovered for myself that Florida was everything she promised it would be. Sunshine and blue skies kissed the gentle waters of the Gulf of Mexico and its sandy white beaches. There was no need for heavy winter coats, and I loved it…for two weeks.

What I had not factored into my plan was the blond guy with blue eyes I left behind in cold Ohio. I had only known him for six months when I left, and wasn’t even sure he was important for my happiness. But absence did make the heart grow fonder. (That too, is another story for another day.)

So, once again I packed my belongings into that blue Ford, but this time I drove North…right into a snow storm.  But it was okay, the blond guy was waiting for me.

After he asked me to marry him, I ask him if he would ever consider moving south where it was warm and sunny. His answer was brief and to the point. “No, I like home.”  He had spent a year in a hot and humid place far from home, a place called Vietnam, and it gave him a great appreciation for people and places that were familiar and safe. And after that time in a muggy jungle, he even loved cold winters.  I decided a home in cold Ohio with him would be better than year-round sunshine without him.

Forty-three years of life have now gone by. The blond guy and I built a home and made some babies. There have been thousands of beautiful sunny days, but there have been some cold and cloudy ones too. The lovely days have outnumbered the ugly ones, and the joyful days have more than made up for the painful ones. Our three daughters grew into lovely young women, but our son had to be buried.

Together, we learned that there were days when we had to take turns being strong, being loving, and even being kind. We recognized that when one of us failed, the other was there to make up the difference. When one of us was sick, the other had to be well. And on the days when we didn’t think we loved each other any more, marriage was the bond that kept us together, until we could love again.

The blond guy (I still call him that, even though he has little hair, and what he does have is now gray) and I spent our years together, trying our best to put God and family first. We both worked hard at jobs that paid the bills, and gave us a little extra to save.

The girls got married and gave us more sons and beautiful babies. On the days when we had time to look around us, we saw that life was good, in spite of the difficult days. And, most of our mutual dreams came true.

But, on snowy, windy, frigid days, I still thought about my dream of spending the winter days in the sunshine. I would sometime mention my old dream to the blond guy, and he would always say, “someday, maybe.”

Then, on a cold day last winter, when the snow was piled high, the blond guy looked at me and spoke the words I never thought he’d say. “Next winter, we’ll make that old dream of yours come true. It’s time.”

But, life had changed me and my dreams. I didn’t want to go south in the winter anymore. We now had nine grandbabies, and they had tied my heart to home. They were all the sunshine I really needed. I had to tell the blond guy that the dream had changed and I couldn’t go.

“But I’ve saved our nickels and dimes for forty-three years to make your dream come true. And it’s my dream now, too.” 

I argued and gave him a list of all the “what ifs.” I told him we could do it, “someday, maybe, when the time is right.”

Then one day last spring, one of my hospice patients took my hand and said this to me, “Honey, don’t ever put off for tomorrow, what can be done today.”

In the months that followed, I tried to convince my daughters that they couldn't live without me close by. But the blond guy and I had raised strong women who had chosen good men, and they assured me they could take care of my grandbabies just fine, without me. They told me it was time to follow the dream. And they promised me that if I’d go with their dad, they’d bring my grandbabies to visit me, so we could all play in the sand and the sun together.

Last week, even though we both love home, the blond guy and I piled some of our junk into an old RV, and with retirement ahead of us, we traveled south, together. Our dream day had come.

As we drove, I reminisced about the path my life had taken while I was waiting for the dream to come true. I learned that living is about making the best of each day God gives us. It’s about moving forward, and accepting changes in time and people.  It’s about becoming a stronger and better person.  And yes, it’s about never giving up on your dream to spend a winter day in the sunshine with an old friend. Yes, she is still here and was waiting for me.

The blond guy and I plan on spending the winter in the sunshine together. When it’s over, I’ll know whether reality is as good as the dream has been. If it isn’t, then next winter, instead of sitting at the beach watching the waves caress the sand, I’ll sit beside my wood stove and watch the snow blanket my world in a coat of white.  Instead of drinking ice tea to cool me off,  I’ll drink hot chocolate to warm me up.

But no matter where I am next year, I'm thankful for today, for life, and for dreams that do come true


© 2014 B.J. Young

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Family Blended by God

Of all the articles I've written for Front Porch Publishing, this is one of my favorites. Thank you Tracy family for sharing your story with us.
A Family Blended by God
In January of 2000, when high school sweet hearts, Alyssa Roehrig and Adam Tracy were married on a Jamaican cliff overlooking the blue Caribbean, they started on a journey that took them to places they never thought they’d go. They were  just nineteen and twenty years old that day when they established their family, and their dreams were simple ones…they wanted to have jobs that would take care of their needs, own a home, and have a couple of kids.
In 2009, just nine short years after they married, Adam and Alyssa had the house, two sons, and the jobs.  But now they found themselves wanting more…not more for themselves, but more of God’s will for their lives. And God had a plan for them that was to exceed all their dreams. He wanted them to make a difference in the lives of children who needed a home.  
With the blessing of their sons, Noah, age 8 and Dominic, age 5, and their supportive extended families, Adam and Alyssa began the process to become foster parents with the intent to adopt.
In October of that year, the Tracy family received the phone call that would change, not just their lives, but the lives of three other children. A sibling group of three boys, ages 8, 2, and 1, needed a home. The granny that was caring for them couldn’t keep them any longer. In one day, the Tracy family grew from four people to seven when Chris, Carvelle and Reggie joined them. The boys were officially adopted on August 12, 2010.
Ten months later, on May 9, 2011, the Tracy family received another phone call. This one was to inform them that eleven month old Jesse was at the hospital and needed an emergency placement. He was brought to them that evening. He was with the family as a foster child until his adoption was finalized on August 15, 2014.
The last to join the Tracy family was Ellie. Alyssa says they received the call for her on May 2, 2012. They couldn’t refuse her, she was the biological sister of Chris, Carvelle, and Reggie, and adding a baby girl had been the goal of the original family of four. She was just 3 days old when she was picked up at the hospital. Her adoption had to be put on hold for several weeks to wait on paternity testing, but was finalized on December 17, 2012. Christmas that year was the best ever for the family of nine.
When asked if they had any fears before starting the fostering process, Alyssa  explains that they thought the same thing every other foster person thinks: “what if you have to give them back after getting attached to them?! But, just like our biological kids, our foster and adopted kids are not really "ours" anyway. They are on loan to us from God who places them with us to nurture and grown them up in the way they should go.”
Although the Tracys are hoping their story will inspire others to open their hearts and home to children in need, they think it’s important to share that it isn’t always easy to do what they have done. Fostering to adopt is a bitter sweet experience.  Every aspect is bitter but sweet. For me to adopt, there will be an extremes loss in the child's life—the loss of their family. Yes, they gain another, but there is a HUGE loss first. I wouldn't trade the heartaches, the joys, the hours of stress, the tears or the laughter for anything.”
Today, Adam and Alyssa are parents to six sons, Noah (13), Chris (13), Dominic (10), Carvelle (7), Reggie (6)  and Jesse (4). Rounding out their family is Ellie, age two, who is often referred to by her brothers as “the favorite” child because she’s the baby sister they all wanted.
At one time, the word “family” was defined as a group of people connected by blood, but the Tracy family has their own definition. They are a group of people God has blended together, to love and support each other—for the sole purpose of living lives that shine for God.
On Alyssa’s blog,  you will find this Bible verse that became their motivation for fostering and adopting children. It’s found in Romans 12.  :
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Will there be more children for the Tracy’s?  If there are, they may have to get a bigger house. The family remains in the small home that Adam and Alyssa first bought when they married. This writer is totally convinced though that it’s not the size of the house that makes a family, it’s the amount of love found in it.
Adam and Alyssa not only get to work as a team at home with the family God has given them, they also get to do it in the new jobs God has provided for them. They are co-administrators at Children’s Lantern, ( a non-profit organization whose mission statement is this: “Helping Helpless Children in 4 areas: Feeding Kids, Foster Care, Funding Adoptions and Freeing Sex Slaves”
Adam and Alyssa find great joy in serving God and others, but there are days when they wonder where they’ll find the time and energy they need to be the best parents they can be. They say they just do their best with what God has given them, and are comforted by the fact that they are making a difference in the lives of all their children by giving them a Christian foundation.  
© Brenda Young